Finally time for a new start

It’s time for a new year and for a new start.  Though I haven’t been the biggest New Year Resolution type, some things have lined up in such a way that I might as well take advantage of all that New Year energy and ride it for a bit.  With much more functional teeth and a head cleared of decay, I’m actually feeling better.  I’ve learned a lot of tips about weight loss and health, so time to be better about taking my own advice.

So, since this blog is about helping others to live the best creative life they can, I’ll offer some of the ideas I intend to use in the New Year.  I’ll personally be doing most of these, however it’s certainly possible, and often better, to just pick one or two things to change, wait for it to become a habit and part of your new normal life, then pick one or two other things to change.

Ideas for a healthier life

A new haircut or trim – it helps you feel better and look better right away.

Stay Positive – it may not be easy to be positive all the time, but when you notice yourself straying, just refocus.  It does get easier, like with every habit.

Focus on Courtesy – this is a rude world, especially if you are living in the US and certain other countries.  I have a definite goal of being more polite to everyone.

Take vitamins – for anything you can’t get enough of through your diet.  In particular I need B vitamins and calcium.

Eat yogurt – and other probiotic foods like kefir, kombucha, or non pasteurized sauerkraut.  Or probiotic supplements.

More protein – whether plant based or animal based, protein helps with growth of lean muscle and keeps you full longer.

Nuts, seeds, berries – all are good for brain health, good nutrients in general, and make healthy snacks.

Upgrade snacktime – my local asian grocery has some great things to replace my sugary, fatty snacks with.  They have everything from seaweed crisps to kale chips to rice crackers.  Let’s not forget seasoned carrot slices, celery chunks, or cucumber rounds.

Make it easy for yourself – make snacks ahead, pack them so they are easy to grab and go.

Move when you can – take stairs, walk across parking lot, do a few wall pushups here and there, a few squats etc.  It all adds up.  I’ll be doing this more.

Apple cider vinegar – check out my article on the drink called Switchel.

Chocolate – I’m going to make eating a small amount of dark chocolate a priority.

Cut down on sugar – I really have a love affair with sugar but it has so many bad properties, so I’m going to refocus on limiting it.

Chew gum – if you have bad teeth like I do, kinds with xylitol and without aspartame are generally best.  It’s good to keep your mouth busy, keep your teeth clean, and burns a few calories.

Drink water – we’ve all heard it but I’ll keep on doing it.  I’m actually pretty good about drinking water, but I can always improve.

Listen to music – the right kind helps your attitude, keeps you on the bright side, and motivates you.  Personally, I love heavy metal because it’s often very motivating.

Every week at least, do something creative.  Depending on your interests, that may be anything from painting to writing in a journal to drawing to practicing music to coloring in a mandala.  If you keep up with the things that feed your mind and creativity, you will feed your happiness.  And you’ll have something to show for it.  Make sure it’s non electronic!

If you want even more hints and tips, check these out:

Recipe

Amazing, heart healthy, cold soak oatmeal

It’s astoundingly simple and yet very tasty.  Simply soak old fashioned rolled outs overnight in your choice of liquid.  You can use water, like I do, or fruit juice, milk, soy milk, almond milk, cashew milk, coconut water, really anything wet.  I’ve even done it with green tea.  However, it gets better than that.  Along with your oatmeal you can put other things – like walnut pieces, chia seeds, pepitas, cashews, dried fruit, spices, really anything you can think of that would go with oatmeal.

Once done, you can warm the oatmeal or eat it cold – the soaking keeps some of the oat texture without turning it into mush.  I eat mine without sweetener, you may want to try this too before adding something.  I’ve you’ve added dried fruit or a spice like cinnamon, you may not even want it.

 

Enjoy your New Year, and here’s to your health!

 

via Daily Prompt: Finally

Almost a total disaster

A small town zoo and rescue needs help, and there are some great ways to do it.

The following is copied from a site called Aywas, however I thought my readers might like knowing about this, too.

“This place is called The Little Ponderosa Zoo, and it is located in Clinton, Tennessee. They started out as a zoo, but quickly after opening their doors they were flooded by requests from people asking to drop off their exotic pets. So they soon became a zoo and rescue. They are located in my very small town, but the impact they have is country-wide. They have taken in animals from all over the states, from monkeys to foxes to camels to kangaroos. They even have a couple tigers they took in from an animal sanctuary that couldn’t keep them permanently. The Little Ponderosa Zoo has been a household name in our little town for years.

On December 4th, an electrical fire burned down the main barn on the property. Employees and fire fighters suffered from burns trying to save as many animals as they could. But unfortunately, they still lost almost 50 animals, including several primates, small cats, foxes, birds, reptiles, and more. But in addition to the loss of life, the barn also held all of their feed and feeding containers. They are desperately reaching out to the community for donations, both monetary and items.

I have been completely heartbroken over this, along with everyone in my community. And I know that this is the sort of thing that Aywas users would want to know about, and would want to help out with. I would love to see my amazing virtual community reach out to this very deserving staple of my offline community. Aywas users have done so much good, and I know they can do that again.

No matter what you can give, be it money, items, thoughts, prayers, or spreading awareness, everything is appreciated!”

If you would like to donate Here is a link to their Website

I have also compiled a list of other relevant links:
More Ways to Help
More Information
List of Animals Lost in the Fire

 

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/almost/

An Extravagant wish?

For many of us, health is an extravagant wish.

It was for me, and still seems so sometimes.  I had to get a really good job (really good for me is a salary of roughly $30,000 a year with decent benefits so I’m not talking upper middle class here) in order to even be able to approach dental health!

It’s quite amazing how much dental health affects every other part of you.  Trying to lose weight with messed up teeth?  Good luck eating all those healthy proteins, vegetables, nuts, and grains!  That’s just one of many examples.

I’ve been able to find a good dentist who thinks creatively and is working in an office with awesome staff.  I’ve gotten some tips that have really changed my whole outlook on dental health.

Previously I had written off my weak enamel and many cavities as just another thing to deal with that couldn’t really be helped.  Crowns are expensive, so are root canals, and dentures?  Very expensive too.  I was looking forward to spending at least a third of my life toothless.  And it turns out it wasn’t just eating sweet stuff as a kid, I really DO have weak enamel!

I learned though, that enamel can reharden and dentin can regrow once the decay has all been cleaned out.  I learned that yesterday from the dentist himself.  He says the teeth are continuously regenerating themselves.  Not so much in shape, like a cavity won’t grow back in, but renewing in other ways.  He recommended fluoride mouthwash (of course) which I’m a bit up in the air about but am willing to try if I make sure and don’t swallow any.  Other suggestions were flossing regularly, of course, swishing with water instead of brushing after I eat sweet or citrus foods, and chewing gum that has Xylitol.  That helps harden enamel a couple of different ways, by stimulating saliva production and by changing its PH so that the bacteria doesn’t grow as well.

I happened to find some gum that has calcium in it as well as xylitol, and I’m looking forward to trying that too.  Unfortunately it’s not made in the US (of course) so I’m buying it from Amazon.  It’s made by Trident.

I feel hopeful about my teeth for the first time in years.  And I’m ready to lose some weight, by eating less of those soft processed foods!

Wishing you a happy, healthy New Year.

 

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/extravagant/

May all your journeys be mild

I’m generally a fairly mild mannered driver.  I drive defensively, keep an eye on what’s going on around me, and look ahead so as to avoid trouble.  I know what places are going to be congested so I get to the part of the road I need to be on before I reach those places.  That’s part of the reason why the only accident I’ve ever been in occurred at slow speed, at a stop actually, when I was rear ended by a sixteen year old driving her Daddy’s big pickup.  Her foot slipped off the brake.  I haven’t, to my knowledge, caused any wrecks either.

I’ve needed all those skills this holiday season.  I don’t know what it is but this is the most intense year for holiday driving that I’ve ever seen.  One night, I nearly met disaster no fewer than five times!  A neighbor nearly plowed into me as I was leaving my driveway (I had looked both ways before starting) because he felt the need to zoom through our unusually crowded neighborhood without looking, even though there were lots of holiday visitors walking back and forth looking at lights, then he had the temerity to blare his horn as if it had been my fault.  On the same trip, a couple of distracted drivers decided to stop suddenly without giving warning.  Another did a U-turn in the middle of the road through fairly heavy traffic.  A pedestrian ran across that same busy street, mid block (posted limit is 40 and there are five lanes plus a bike lane), apparently aiming for our car.  Luckily, the pedestrian missed and made it safely to the other side.  I’m pretty sure two new eyeballs had grown on the back of my head by that point.  I stayed relatively calm but didn’t come down off Alert Status till I’d pulled the car into my spot, locked it, and gotten safely inside.

Every time I have poked my head out of my domicile between maybe four PM and 10 PM, I have witnessed something that can only be called holiday insanity.  People are acting as if their brains have been scooped out by a melon baller and replaced by something resembling warm tapioca.  I’ve also seen a heartrending number of accidents, several each day, far more than I’ve ever seen before.  I think people are maddened by having to do EVERYTHING RIGHT NOW, feeling pressed for time, frustrated and frazzled, and probably not used to the area because many of them seem to be new Snowbirds.

I’m happy to stay out of those accidents.  I’m staying most firmly INDOORS today and tomorrow.   I’ll be eating spice cookies and chicken, thank you very much, watching some good anime and spending time with the love of my life.

So here are a few tips to protect you, dear reader, at these frenetic times of year.

 

Tips For Holiday Driving

Stay calm.  If someone cuts you off or does something stupid, don’t let it get to you.  Honk only when needed for safety.

Look ahead and all around  you.  Keep your head on a swivel.  Somebody should be looking, after all, and they certainly won’t.

Keep in mind the distractions other drivers have.  Phones, lane change alerts, automated braking, in-dash navigation systems or other screens, screaming kids, meals grabbed on the go.  Be extra vigilant.

Don’t go unless you have to.  If you can, plan your trips for calmer times.

Know your alternates.  It’s nice to have another way to get somewhere if you see a wreck or an obstruction.

Don’t distract yourself.  Conversation with others in the car or MAYBE music on the radio.  No phones, for pity’s sake no texting.  Nothing is more important than keeping your car, and yourself, in one piece.

Think ahead.  Along with looking ahead, think ahead.  Watch other drivers, observe how they are reacting and acting.  Get away from ones who can’t hold their lane or are driving erratically.  I can’t tell you how many times this has saved my skin.

Allow a bit extra following distance.  This includes at stoplights.  Aim to be able to see the tires of the car ahead of you, at the least.  That way you won’t get stuck behind someone, and you’ll also have more time to react.

If you are too stressed out to travel or shop, find another way.  Shop online, plan the trip another time, ask for help, or find some way to reduce the stress burden.  A few extra deep breaths work wonders.

Stay safe out there, and may your holidays be merry and bright!

 

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/mil

Mending what’s been torn

I sometimes have a tendency to complain – hey, who doesn’t?  Life is often frustrating and hard.  However, today I have had a great experience and I want to focus on that.

Even considering the fact that I have had a murderous headache most of the morning, I have actually had a pretty good day.  I had some work done at the dentist and needed to pick up the holiday meal.

I went to Albertson’s to pick up the chicken and mayhap a small Christmas cake, which we are going to enjoy in the Japanese tradition.  I don’t always have the best experience with their deli but today the workers went the extra mile, doing everything I needed with a minimum of fuss.  The lady in the bakery went out of her way to help me find the perfect five inch round cake, exactly suited for what I wanted.  She even commiserated with me about the sad lack of buttercream in much of today’s baking, and made sure the cake I bought had it.

Amazing Christmas Caek.JPG

At the dentist, all the hygienists were exemplary, the office staff quick, and the dentist his usual cheerful, amazing self.  My cleaning went really well and I actually enjoyed it!  Lisa was really amazing.  It’s so good to deal with people who truly enjoy their jobs and are good at them.  She was informative, good to talk to, and gave me some excellent tips about managing my dental health.  (Shout out to Associated Dental on Campbell in Tucson!  You guys rock!)

So, even though my headache only got worse as the day went on, I was really happy with everyone I dealt with.  So here’s a big thank you to everyone in the service sector, thank you for doing your jobs with a smile.  You help mend what’s torn, fix what’s broken, and the world would be lost without you.

Happy holidays!

 

 

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/torn/

A Winter Thought

As I write from normally sunny Arizona (today it’s cloudy and dry) I cast my mind back other Yuletide seasons in my past.  I don’t miss snow and cold but it sure makes some beautiful memories.

One thing I recall is the silence of a fresh snowfall.

Have you ever heard anything so quiet as when there is no traffic on the street, no one chattering or clumping along in snow boots, and all the night sounds are muffled in a fresh blanket of snow?  And have you ever seen anything so peaceful as when the flakes are swirling down and looking up into the black night sky is like gazing into hyperspace?

I remember one particular night when there were ice crystals rimming every branch and pure white covered the ground, mounding up on every horizontal surface.  I stood in my front yard, breathing in that dry snow-smell, admiring the crystalline icicles and not wanting to shatter that quiet.  I just watched, letting my senses drink it all in.

I rarely saw deep snowfalls as a child so each one was special to me.  I lived in the rather wet Pacific Northwest so snow was sporadic at best.  Back then I didn’t have to drive in it, or go to work, and my main concern was simply if the snow would pack down well or not.  I miss those snowfalls, and that lack of worry, but at the same time I really appreciate my new, dry, sunlit life.

Icy branches

(Photography by Lenore Plassman)

via Daily Prompt: Silent

Inherited Tales

Both my parents are storytellers.  I have become a storyteller too.  Deep in my family history on both sides are bards, singers, and tale spinners, hard workers who like a good joke and a laugh but can also tell a story to chill your bones.  Scotland and Ireland are lands both rich with wordplay and stories fit to warm the coldest night.

Having this inheritance, I like to use it where I can.  Considering the time of year, here’s a story that I may yet tell to someone young and make it their inheritance.

When I was a lass, and still went to church, my favorite thing to do around Yuletide was the Christmas play.  I loved the chance to don different clothes, wear a different face, play to an audience.  I probably would have loved to be in theatre.  Foreshadowing the time in high school when I would play Christopher Columbus, one year I got to play Joseph.

How exactly does one play Joseph?  He has no lines.  You might say it’s an entirely physical part.  So I, the happy actress, having thought about all this, proudly stood behind Mary, held a staff and guarded my “wife” and doll-bodied child.”  Privately, I thought I was the best Joseph there ever was, and didn’t think much of the whole gender issue.

The next year I had my dream role – an angel!  I loved angels and drew them often.  After all, they had wings and could fly, and that was just the ultimate in awesomeness to me.  Now, this particular play had a main part, Gabriel, and an ultimately infinite number of bit parts, the Multitude of the Heavenly Host.  It truly was a play designed to expand and contract to the needs of any size parish.

However, our parish was really rather small, and there weren’t that many kids for the taking.  I ended up being the only one member of the Multitude.  I was so proud of my costume with its white polyester robe and sparkly gold halo.  I even figured out how to flap the tinsel edged wings.  I was really looking forward to the play and practiced my line every chance I got.

Disaster struck!  My budding acting career was nearly cut short as I was kicked in the very chin!  To this day I can’t recall exactly how, but I think it happened at Sunday school the week before, and I had a big red mark.  It was odious!  Hideous!  How could I go on stage in such a state?  Really I’m sure it was barely visible, but I was embarrassed to go on stage.  After all, who would believe an angel with a red chin?

My intrepid dad came to the rescue.  He made up a song all about a red chinned angel, to the tune of “Rudolph the red nosed reindeer.”  He made me laugh and forget my troubles.  So when the day came I donned my robe, went on stage, and said my line with pride and panache.

Now that I think of it, the Multitude were probably all male angels too.

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Speaking of inherited tales, if you haven’t seen my family’s book of Holiday Tales called ‘Yuletide Lights,” you may want to give it a look.  The book is fully illustrated and consists of sixteen stories that bear quite a passing resemblance to Christmases that really happened – or nearly did.

You can see it here in paperback,

or here in eBook.