So What’s REALLY so Funny about Aging?
This idea of linking aging and fun began when I received my Medicare card four years ago. I didn’t quite know how to respond to the unmistakable evidence of my newly acquired entrance into senior citizen status. Until that card arrived in the mail, I hadn’t given the age of 65, along with its many negative connotations much thought. After all, I was still gainfully employed, physically and socially active, and with a reasonably intact memory and intellect. So, without attaching a lot of “ageisms” to my newly acquired status, I decided this event called for a celebration! As I age, I’ve discovered the importance of celebration for all of life’s milestones, big and small.
So I had my Medicare card enlarged and laminated, placed it on an easel in the living room, invited all my friends, cooked up a table full of party food, hired a good natured vocalist/guitarist and celebrated! Thankfully I’ve learned that a sense of humor is usually the best way to respond to life’s challenges. Guests were instructed to bring gifts only if they fit into the theme – humor. Of course I received the expected package of prunes and other symbols of the stereotyped slowdown of both bodily functions and wit. These gifts were received with gratitude and hearty laughs, knowing they were well-intentioned and not a true reflection of society’s bias against its elders! (After all, most of the gift-givers were at least my age!)
So what I’ve learned as I age is that I can – and frequently do – laugh about the changes that have taken place in my body. For example, I now understand the reason for failing eyesight – It’s nature’s way of protecting me from a really good look in the mirror! I’ve also learned that I do not have to succumb to society’s “ageisms” regarding my abilities and usefulness. There is value and meaning to every age. With age comes wisdom, increased coping ability, mellowing, increased enjoyment, less concern about what others think, increased authenticity and willingness to share who we really are, and a sense of humor about some of the necessary losses that accompany aging.
Oh, there’s also that 10% discount on Tuesdays, reduced theater prices, no penalty for IRA withdrawals, and senior fares on public transportation!
What’s REALLY so funny about aging is that no one ever told me how great aging could be!
For an upbeat, honest look at aging, check out “What’s so Funny about Aging?” – a workshop that takes a closer look at the topic. Call Amanda: 508.862.6395
Available for the month of February only as a Valentine Special: Purchase 2 Essential Touch sessions for $100.00 (a $130 value.) Must be used in the month of February 2015. Essential Touch is a Wellness Path for those who desire deep, healing relaxation as part of their overall stress-reduction and wellness plan. An Essential Touch session can contribute to your overall health, well-being, and need for relaxation. Gentle bodywork similar to massage therapy is combined with Aromatherapy using pure essential oils and organic carrier oils, energy techniques including Reiki, and a nurturing environment . Essential Touch can best be described as “physical hypnosis,” an exceptionally relaxing experience which counters the effects of everyday stress.
Your practitioner is a licensed Registered Nurse certified in Holistic Nursing, Whole Health® education, Holistic Stress Management, Clinical Aromatherapy, and the “m” Technique ® (bodywork similar to massage) among other modalities. Unlike typical massage practices, Essential Touch includes a holistic health assessment and stress management tips as part of an overall wellness and stress reduction plan of care. Health education, coaching, and/or referrals are provided if desired. Holistic health care recognizes the importance of self-care and self-empowerment – individual choices are always respected.
Is holistic health care, also called integrative health care, gaining momentum
and if so, what are some of the reasons? Health care in the United States is mainly
concerned with symptom management, using drugs and/or surgery as the major
tools. (This form of management is referred to as sick care by many because
this system focuses on illness rather than on health.) This focus, termed
conventional or allopathic health care, is allowed to dominate due to
multiple socioeconomic factors including the proliferation of profitable
pharmaceuticals, diagnostic and treatment equipment, and advanced
surgical techniques; insurance reimbursement practices; physician
education programs; and the public’s silent complicity as quick fixes are
often accepted if not outright demanded.
Conventional or allopathic health care is often termed reductionist
by those of a more holistic outlook as it tends to look at parts rather than
the whole. It often excludes factors such as spiritual and psychosocial
components of a person’s life which are deemed unimportant to the
diagnosis. The importance of feelings of powerlessness, stress, isolation,
hostility, and grief are rarely considered as risk factors for disease. This model
tends to suppress symptoms rather than look for the underlying cause(s)
which might provide more sustainable results.
Symptom management, while affording sometimes necessary,
often life- saving care, neglects the uniqueness and wholeness of the
individual. It fails to consider the interrelatedness of body, mind, and spirit
in the spectrum of wellness to illness and thus also misses opportunities for
meaningful relationship between practitioner and client. Symptom management
strategies that might mitigate or eliminate the need for drugs or surgery. Preventative
strategies, notably lifestyle changes, call for a new approach, one that fosters
relationship between the consumer of health care and the health care professional.
Mutual respect and trust which develops in a model of caring rather than curing
allows empowerment of the client who is presumed to be a partner in their
health care. It also fosters compliance as the relationship is built on trust
and the consumer has a voice and a choice in their health care strategies.
Consumers often feel victimized by the impersonal conventional health care system as
well as by the disease. It is well known that feelings of victimization contribute to
disease rather than healing; in order for true healing to take place, the person needs to
feel empowered. People under the care of conventional health practitioners are
seldom taught to become responsible (and thus empowered) for their own
health care needs – engaging in self-care practices, for example.
Unfortunately, conventional health care fails to recognize
that the most powerful weapon in their arsenal may very well be the
person with the disease. By engaging the health care consumer as a
partner in their recovery, thus fostering collaboration, conventional
practitioners might find more compliance, symptom reduction, and overall
improved health and wellness. Methods of engaging the client include mindful
listening where the practitioner puts aside his/her own agenda and is fully attentive
to the needs and concerns expressed by the client. This shift in focus,
from the practitioner to the client, fosters trust and relationship which can
set the stage for true healing.
The recent shift of some practitioners to a more holistic/integrative model of
care attempts to address the inadequacies of conventional medicine.
Bernie Siegel, a holistically oriented physician, author and speaker, often discusses the need for
“reparenting” of health care consumers; genuine love and caring allows deep
connection with the client, improving self-esteem and fostering true healing. The
holistic model tends to regard illness as an opportunity for growth and self-discovery.
The newer model of holistic health care, functional medicine, recognizes the
interrelationship between environment, genes, and lifestyle in disease manifestation. It
also recognizes the importance of higher needs such as values-based living, loving
relationships, fulfillment, and purposeful work in addition to physical needs of rest,
relaxation, and nutrition.
The solution to the challenge of moving into a more (w)holistic model of health care is
multifaceted. I believe it ultimately begins with the consumer of health care who is
beginning to demand a more personalized, less cookie-cutter approach to their health
care needs. Consumers are beginning to understand that they have a large responsibility
in maintaining and/or improving their health and are seeking alternative methods and
practitioners to help them. Economics are also involved here. Perhaps Obamacare
is setting the stage for mainstream preventative health care which will reduce our need
and dependence on symptom-based health care.
Have you ever heard about the effects of kindness on your brain? In his book The Power of Intention, Wayne Dyer shares the amazing science of kindness.Serotonin is the drug that makes you feel good, which is why the pharmaceutical companies have been able to sell so many anti-depressants which chemically increase your serotonin level. We can activate our own internal pharmacy, however, and increase our serotonin levels in several ways. For example, serotonin is released when we do things to help others – it’s like nature’s way of rewarding us! Not only does the helper get a boost in serotonin, the person you’re helping also has serotonin released in her/his brain! You both feel better! Amazingly, not only do you both feel better but so does some random person who happened to watch your act of kindness.
The holidays seem like a perfect time to perform random acts of kindness while you increase your happiness quotient while improving your health – it’s well-known that mood affects our physical health. Can you find ways to bring joy to others this season, thus improving the health and well-being of yourself, the “others,” and all those who are “watching?”
Stay tuned here for more ways to boost your serotonin and Happy, Healthy Holidays!
Several years ago a burgeoning Functional Medicine doctor explained this concept to me as it pertains to health. Feeling crummy without specific symptoms and having had a long bout of chronic fatigue syndrome some ten years previous, I wanted to improve my health in a manner that did not involve masking symptoms with drugs nor labeling my ailment as an “unknown etiology” with an equally unknown path to recovery.
The concept of the “straw that broke the camel’s back” was probably the most useful thing I learned from this physician. Since we are all individuals with varying degrees of health and “dis-ease,” that proverbial “straw” could come at any time from any number of causes. Understanding that health involves mind, body, and spirit, and that attention to all three realms is critical in disease prevention allows me to periodically check for possible “straws” that may find entry and threaten my all-important health.
In the intervening years I have had the opportunity of increased study into holistic/integrative thought, furthering my understanding of just where these “straws” might come from. One certification course I undertook proposed that most disease stemmed from stress – mostly “intra-psychic” (that which originates in our minds) although other stressors such as environmental also play a role. With the number of stressors present in any of our lives today, it’s not hard to see how this factor impacts our health.
Another certification course I took looked at “5 Aspects” of health and disease, noting environmental and nutritional factors in addition to the usual triad of body, mind, and spirit. This concept makes sense since research shows that each of these areas can contribute to our level of health or disease; in combination, what is the exact straw that prevents the enjoyment of health and wellness?
Yesterday, in researching “smart phones” I began to wonder just what that magic “straw” might be for any given individual. Worried about SAR (specific absorption rates) of cell phones in general and smart phones in particular, I wondered if perhaps an individual’s risk of cancer due to the radiation from cell phones might be reduced if, for example, they had an unusually healthy diet or even belief system. I also wondered why more people weren’t concerned about this risk and why they didn’t modify their behavior accordingly. Is it because they don’t know there IS a risk? Has the risk been down played? Are they “in denial?” or do they simply believe, as many of us former smokers once believed “cancer happens to other people, not healthy people like me.”
Through both formal and informal education, I have learned that disease is usually not the result of one lifestyle habit or one environmental toxin but, rather, the result of the interplay of many aspects of our lives – our thoughts, beliefs, lifestyles, expectations, level of education, diet, environment, relationships, stress levels, and genetic predispositions to name a few. Just as we know that the more risk factors one has for heart disease (e.g., high blood pressure, diabetes, smoking, sedentary lifestyle) the more likely that person is to succumb to a major cardiac event, we also know that the more risk factors we have threatening our body/mind/spirits the higher the risk for any number of “straws” to cause an infinite variety of diseases. We never know quite where that final “straw” will come from that will interact with the whole of us to produce disease.
As for me, I’ve learned to mitigate some of the risks of serious disease by modifying my lifestyle – eating a whole foods diet, exercising daily, fostering meaningful relationships, questioning my beliefs, nurturing a positive attitude, and avoiding environmental toxins as much as possible. Our body/mind/spirits are amazing. They take countless assaults and keep on performing, allowing us yet another chance to reconsider our thoughts and behaviors. But at some point, if healthy options are not undertaken, each individual’s body/mind/spirit will have reached a tipping point where disease is allowed to take hold – the straw that breaks the camel’s back.
Oh, the cell phone? I decided to keep my old “dumb phone” based on my presumption it has a lower SAR level, and therefore, a lower “straw” level!
I was having dinner with friends recently when the issue of high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) came up as my habit of reading labels did not go unnoticed. Of course my dinner mates snickered when I said I wouldn’t eat this particular “food” due to its inclusion of HFCS, obviously knowing I was on my usual rant about unhealthy foods and practices.
So I decided to outline here the reasons for my concern with this particularly evil and dangerous ingredient.
HFCS is a man-made ingredient manufactured from corn (most corn produced in this country is genetically modified, another reason to avoid it.) It is found in soft drinks, ice cream, and a wide variety of processed foods. It has been well documented that HFCS became prevalent in processed foods at about the same time the obesity epidemic took off. A coincidence? Probably not since we know that it is an appetite stimulant and, unlike glucose which is naturally present in carbohydrates, does not stimulate release of leptin, the hormone responsible for appetite suppression. Obesity is linked to inflammation which triggers a host of diseases included heart disease and cancer.
HFCS also contributes to fatty liver, insulin resistance leading to diabetes, and elevated triglycerides (fats that are produced in the liver in response to excess calories and especially HFCS.) These effects contribute to heart disease, the leading cause of death in this country, seemingly enough of a reason to avoid this dangerous (and unnecessary) ingredient.
The solution? Live and eat “out of the box.” Avoid processed foods. If you must eat processed, take Michael Pollan’s advice and eat only those which limit the number of ingredients to 5. Better yet, quoting Michael “Don’t eat anything your great great grandmother wouldn’t recognize as food.” And she surely wouldn’t recognize HFCS as food – our bodies don’t either. And so, even while I rarely eat processed foods of any type, I will continue to read those labels for evidence of toxic ingredients such as HFCS which even my grandmother wouldn’t recognize!
For more info and to add your voice to the ban of this unsafe additive, click on the photo above.
A conversation developed yesterday during a Holistic Health presentation by Amanda. A participant noted that she has become happier while deliberately learning to become more authentic. I asked the group if they thought perhaps becoming more authentic might allow others to do the same. Most agreed that was probably true. I was reminded of this excerpt from ““A Return to Love” by Marianne Williamson which was recited by Nelson Mandela during his inauguration:
Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.
Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.
It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us.
We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant,
Actually, who are you NOT to be?
You are a child of God.
Your playing small doesn’t serve the world.
There’s nothing enlightened about shrinking
So that others won’t feel insecure around you.
We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us.
It’s not just in some of us; it’s in every one of us.
And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.
As we are liberated from our fear of our own excellence, our presence automatically liberates others.
And excellence becomes the standard of all our lives.
Powerful words! What do you think about the power of both authenticity and excellence? Do we perhaps have a duty to present these qualities to others so our example – our “light” – liberates others from their own fears? We can only wonder at the value of self-liberation for improved health and wellness. Spread the word.
It’s October again – a month of incredible beauty with brilliant color thanks to Mother Nature. It’s also the month of continued “pink washing” by countless numbers of purveyors of women’s products and services. Purportedly designed to “raise awareness” pink washing is actually a way of selling to women through the pretense of prevention. Large corporations want us to believe they will donate money to research which will put an end to this tragic disease which affects one in eight women. (MA has the largest incidence of breast cancer in the country and Cape Cod has the unfortunate distinction of having the highest rate in MA.)
The truth is, however, that the money donated to research does not, by and large, go toward research to prevent breast cancer by determining and reducing the causes of this disease. Instead, the money goes toward “the cure” as more and more drugs are developed to treat symptoms once breast cancer has been diagnosed.
Pink washing disallows focus on the known contributors to the development of breast cancer as it focuses on profits at the expense of people in the name of “awareness.” Most of us are well aware of the stats and have close friends or family members who have been diagnosed with this disease. Pink washing fails to acknowledge the environmental factors which link known toxins to this deadly disease. More than 84,000 chemicals are registered for use in the US but only a paltry 7% of these have complete toxicology data. Wouldn’t our money be better spent on identifying the possible toxic effects of the remaining 93% of these chemicals and advocating for the elimination of those found culpable of contributing to the development of cancer?
And, in case anyone out there doesn’t already know, many of the companies who engage in “pink washing” are selling products with ingredients known to be linked with cancer and/or endocrine disruption. They are apparently counting on our ignorance to continue this practice.
The Breast Cancer Fund Blog lists 10 ways to reduce your chance of breast cancer:
- Lower your exposure to medical radiation. (There is no “safe” dose.)
- Eat only hormone-free meat and dairy products
- Avoid pesticides – eat organic fruits & veggies
- Choose chemical free cleaning products/make your own
- Avoid Teflon pans
- Avoid flame retardants present in clothing and furniture
- Read labels on health and beauty products. “Natural” is a meaningless term.
- Avoid triclosan. (Washing hands in plain soap and water is an effective way to reduce bacteria)
- Avoid canned foods (Contain BPA – a known endocrine disruptor)
- Avoid plastics that contain phthalates, especially polyvinyl chloride (PVC), which often has the recycling code 3.
Raise awareness that PREVENTION IS THE CURE! and forego the pink ribbons.
For more info the following sites are advised:
Stress Management, Wellness, & Humor
Bodywork with Aromatherapy
Come to a premier Cape Cod horse farm
for a life-altering, informative, and
Amanda Murphy, RN and Brenda Tri,
RT and equine therapy instructor have
teamed up to
bring you a unique experience on Cape
Go to www.wellnesspaths.com and click on
“Retreats” for more info