Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Why women run

This evening I was having a conversation with my husband about why women run.  Or more specifically why I run.  There are the obvious reasons - being able to eat without guilt, and the energy that I feel once I have completed a run, but for me, a run is not about exercise - it is about therapy.

I realized the other day that for about the last 12 years my sister and I have met on a fairly consistent basis once, sometimes twice a week to run.  We have run through a total of five pregnancies and several jobs and the ups and downs of marriages.  During this same time period, I began to run with a friend who was not a runner, those first months were hard - there was a lot of walking on my part and days when I didn't log as many miles or sweat as much as I would have liked.  Through the years the tables have turned my now non-running friend has to slow down for me to catch up and there have been many times I am the one needing to walk.  Why do we do this? - it's therapy.

Relationship with my sister and my friend have grown in ways probably not possible without our early morning meetings.  We are the only two around, no kids, no husbands, no work, no phones, no distractions.  We run and we talk.  We talk about our week, our kids, our husbands, our jobs.  We talk about our fears, our desires, our joys, our disappointments.  We talk and we run - we have one hour of uninterrupted time.  This is guilt free time because we are exercising and it is 5:30 in the morning so the rest of our families are still sleeping.

I believe the surge in women's running over the last 20 years has less to do with running and more to do with friendship therapy.  Meeting in this way does have great benefits for your cardiovascular system and your "bottom" line, but I think mostly its therapy.  When I am feeling stressed and anxious, worn out and uptight I just need a good run.  But what I need most is a good run with a great friend.

Why women run ... its friendship therapy.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Kick'n and Scream'n

The title of my blog brings to mind a picture of a small child being pulled out of the toy aisle by a distraught mother at Christmas time.   There are times (right now is one of them) that I feel like this small child - my thoughts are "I don't want to do this, this was not part of MY plan, did you hear me I DON'T WANT TO DO THIS! "   This past year as been a year of "WHAT???!!" is going on? At first I tried to blame it on hormones, then I tried to blame it on my husband, then I wasn't sure what to blame it on - so a mid-life crisis, I think I need a new career - law school sounds like a good idea - process began to take over my thinking.  Slowly and quietly God began to speak, (He probably was all along) and surprisingly, I began to listen.  Not my ways, but yours Lord - became my mantra.  In the middle of the day when I am exploding out loud at life (and my children) I have to remind myself that God is in control, there is purpose it in all and I scream (sometimes silently) "God, show me your purpose, I am not sure I can take much more of this!"   In the quiet moments, those would be when I am quiet, God reminds me of that purpose.  To disciple, to raise Godly children, to instruct so that our children can be leaders, to stand above the crowd, to really set a higher standard is a lot of work. I constantly have to explain to my children that just because everyone else might be doing it doesn't make it right, just because that is the social norm we do not have to live by it, just because it has a certain rating doesn't mean that its acceptable.  We are called to a higher standard, we are called to love in a way that is not normal, we are called to show people there is joy everlasting.... as moms we are called.  Sometimes what we are called to leaves us feeling like that child in the aisle - screaming - just let me stay here in my fantasy world,  and sometimes what we are called to leaves us feeling like the mom dragging that kicking child through an aisle of onlookers (most likely shaking their heads)  - But know this, whether as a mom in the physical sense or the spiritual - YOU are called.

So whatever you struggle with today - God has given you the courage to tackle, He has given you the strength to press on, He has given you what you need - HE has given you JESUS.    This year my Christmas letter (if it gets done) will be more about my failures and more about HIS success because without hopelessness I have no hope, without coming to the end of myself I can not come to the beginning of Him - without struggle I cannot wallow in Grace -
Merry Christmas!!!!

Monday, November 7, 2011

Gold Mine in my Trunk

With the price of gold climbing at an ever astonishing rate - and my bank account falling at about the same velocity I decided to be proactive.  With my children back in school for the first time, five days a week, I have had a little free time to organize, clean, and restructure as well as have time to run errands, that take me a fraction of the time that it takes with children in tow.  While spending time organizing I came across several items that I had been meaning to return and just didn't get around to it - Well last week was the day!!

I set out with my bagged goodies and receipts, which was quite a feat in itself, and proceeded to chart my course - not with a list of things to buy but to return.  Several stops later and a trunk lighter, I declared "There's a gold mine in my trunk!"  Last week I was able to put $250.00 back into my account. Armed with enthusiasm and the desire to begin a new trend I began to scour my home for all the bits and pieces of projects that were not needed and could be returned - coming across several more items I was able to return another $70.00 - after I figure that I have paid tax on that money it really is the equivalent of about $400.00 - that had been riding in my trunk and hiding in my closet.

How often do we saddle ourselves with clutter and unwanted items because we do not take the time to unload.  Not only does this happen with the physical but also with the emotional.  We are so busy running and doing and thinking "we will get to it later" we don't realize how many times we have moved that return bag and what value there is in just letting go and making a return.  Sometimes we need to slow down and take care of the items in our trunk to realize there really is a gold mine there.  We need to take stock of what we have and are blessed with and not be burden by the items we don't want or need or even possibly relationships that are too heavy.  Sometimes it takes the return to realize the true value.  As you enter this holiday season may you be blessed with all that you have and especially by letting go of the things that  burden you.    

 Amplified Matthew 11:8-30  “28 Come unto Me, all you who labor and are heavy-laden and overburdened, and I will cause you to rest. [I will ease and relieve and refresh your souls.]
29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn of Me, for I am gentle (meek) and humble (lowly) in heart, and you will find rest (relief and ease and refreshment and recreation and blessed quiet) for your souls. 30 For My yoke is wholesome (useful, good – not harsh, hard, sharp or pressing, but comfortable gracious and pleasant), and My burden is light and easy to be borne.”  
Jesus gives an invitation to everyone of us who are weary, fatigued, heavy-laden and overburdened – because we have been working hard, toiling, and laboring in our own strength – to come to Him. He offers help and a solution. He was not talking only to us about physical labor alone, but also about mental, emotional and spiritual labor.
There are some burdens that we were not designed to bear. We were not designed to bear the burden of sin and everything else that hell has to offer. We were designed, by the Father, to live in His presence and to draw our life from Him and to be sustained by Him, not to be lone rangers – struggling and limping along under the weight of our heavy burdens.
There is no help, no salvation, no relief from our burdens in anything that is in our wisdom, strength or ability – nothing we can do ourselves can come close to what the Father does for us if we will humble ourselves to receive from His hand all that He has already provided for us.


Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Why can't we just ride a bike?

   Last week I was driving and happened to go past 2 guys riding bikes. They were average looking guys - probably worked a corporate job and were out on a beautiful Saturday getting some fellowship and exercise. What really got me thinking as I drove past these guys was not what they were doing but how they were doing it.  There was a time when people would just get on a bike and ride - now everyone who is seen riding looks like they have just completed the Tour de France.  They wear shirts and shorts that have logos and the right amount of padding in the right places, they have shoes with clips and helmets with aerodynamic molding. What ever happened to just riding a bike?
   When did we make the turn and now you can't just play baseball you have to be in training.   You can't just play volleyball - you better be in a select club.  You can't just ride a bike, you have to invest an entire college fund to buy a bike.
    I am not opposed to the new clothing and gear, in fact I am very appreciative of my dry lite running gear when it is below 35 degrees and I don't have to be bundled up like a baby eskimo. I  am just reflecting on what has brought us to the point of super extremism.  And, if possible, how do we get off this constantly moving treadmill (you know, the one that allows me to run a 5 minute mile at a 15% incline.)
    There was a day that kids could go to school, they could be involved in a team sport and they still had time to play.  There was a day when a game of backyard kickball didn't require special equipment and a designer ball (or a liability attorney).  How do we get back on the humble biking path?
    In this day of extremism and reality t.v. everyone wants to be a star, to push themselves to go where no one has gone before.  I am a strong believer in raising the standard, in setting high goals and in driving to be the best.  I just think we have gotten a little carried away and we as a society are pushing people away from fun activities because they don't feel like they can compete financially or athletically.
     I think  a big piece of the puzzle is that we are trying to fill a hole that continues to grow larger as we become more extreme and more reliant on our own abilities.  This is a hole that can only be filled by Christ - if not we will continue to chase the - he with the most toys wins theory and be okay with it because it is in the name of health or fitness.
     The extremism to go beyond what most in an honest conversation would say is way too far just needs to stop - so tie up those keds, jump on that schwinn, pick up that wooden bat and just go play.  Invite the neighbors over and use a plain rubber ball, gather your friends and stroll down the street.  Life doesn't have to be over the top - let it just........be.

Friday, October 7, 2011


Once again running in one of my favorite spots - I was processing this word - "airbrushed".   I was on vacation at the Jersey Shore - this year I decided I would go with a tan - so before we left I made an appointment to get a spray on tan.  I arrived at my assigned appointment time and was escorted by a very young girl into my room.  Not knowing what to expect I was a little surprised when I found myself in a 6 x 6 fairly stark room and she looked at me and said you can leave your clothes on that chair, step on these sticky feet and stand on that pad - I'll be back in a minute.  WHAT!!!!!  - Not one of total modesty, having already paid my fee and being a little vain (I was going to the beach) - I complied.  Without too much description here's the brief scenario - standing in this room wearing only my birthday suit a very young girl proceeds to spray paint my body, asking me to hold out my arms, turn around, lean forward, lean back and when it's all done - I'm tan. (This is available for everyone by the way - it only costs about $30 and most of your pride).

Why am I telling you this?  Because as I ran, bronzed and tan, down the beautiful beach, I looked down and noticed that I had white streaks on my arm - apparently spray on tan is averse to sweat - I begin to consider how much a spray on tan is like life,  we want the simple, quick, get it done, make - it - happen answer.  We may not be completely comfortable with the process but we know in the end the look will be complete.  When the job is done we can be in public and all that view us will have an impression we believe will be better, stronger, more likeable.

In reality, it is very obvious to those whose choose to see that I am airbrushed, note the white streaks and orangish non-human tint.  And eventually, usually in about 5 days the tan begins to fade.  The newness and color wears off and I am once again who I really am.  The quick, simple answer is really no answer at all but just a facade for those not really interested - its just a veil, that I can hide behind for a short time, eventually fading to expose me.  I can continue to go see this girl at the tanning place once a week and keep up the illusion, or I can face the reality that my life cannot be airbrushed.

I am in a much better place when I allow people to view me as I really am, when I allow them to see below the surface and experience the real me.  Let's face it, they will all know eventually.  Making that trip once a week becomes exhausting and expensive and not something that I can maintain.

So, even though my skin may not be completely transparent I would like my life to be.
 Matt 11:28  “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
1 Corinthians 1:26 Brothers and sisters, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. 27 But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. 28 God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are,29 so that no one may boast before him. 30 It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption. 31 Therefore, as it is written: “Let the one who boasts boast in the Lord.”
Its a blessing to know that God loves me just as I am.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

The Suite is Reserved and The deck is under repair

A couple of weekends ago I attended a bloggers conference, mostly to get out of town, but with the hopes that I might become a little more versed in the social media world.  From beginning to end I was in awe of how much I do not know - I am way behind on hash tags and @ anything and RSS feeds galore.  My head was spinning and my brain quite sore.  I walked away from the conference feeling like I may need to be on permanent ADD medication as the entire tweet world does nothing except cause my already active brain to follow a trail I didn't even know existed.   Needless to say I am working through this insane new way of connecting and marketing as fast as my brain will allow - and I am quite intrigued at all the possibilities.  I have entered the twitter world, established a tweetdeck and hootsuite or is it hootdeck and tweetsuite - they both have their uses.  I cannot quite bring myself to have either of those as my landing page - but will try.  I do find that this constant influx of information can be quite distracting and overwhelming from the reality that sits in front of me - so as I learn and grow I will keep you posted or fed.  For now the suite is reserved and the deck is under repair - Stick with me.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Weeding the Garden

I recently read a statement, where the question was asked, "How do you start your morning?" the reply was, "weeding my garden with a cup of coffee in my hand."  Instinctively I thought, "I like her."  I have been known to weed my garden with a cup of coffee in my hand and a phone on my ear.  Why is this so appealing to me - because it takes care of the job without making it a chore.  As life imitates itself I am reminded that weeding the physical garden (and my life garden) this way can be the most effective.  I may not have it all done at once and it may not look pretty and finished but it is a work in progress.  And it is something that is constantly being worked on.  When I look at my garden and see the weeds growing and think - "that is going to take awhile" and then walk away waiting until I have a four hour slot to do the job the weeds continue to take over my garden and my life.  Sometimes it then requires a complete overhaul of the entire area to start the foundation.  If I slowly weed a little a day bit by bit - the weeds never take over - they are always there waiting to claim the space but as long as I deal with them constantly they never take root.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Summer Reading - Part Two

Summer is not officially over so I believe I am still within my window for posting this.

My summer started off reading a book that inspired me (read last post) it was then followed by picking up a book that I chose purely for entertainment to read while on vacation.  I had seen the movie posters for this book and it was listed as a great book - heartfelt, romantic, humorous - I thought I give it a shot.  Now my review of this book may not have been quite so critical if I had not just read Do Hard Things, but I had so.....

Spoiler Alert - if you want to read to the book One Day - I will discuss plot - discussion to be read with parental guidance.

I am highly recommending AGAINST the book and then the movie One Day by David Nicholls.  This book was the total opposite of the challenge created by Bret and Alex Harris in Do Hard Things.  I continued to read One Day with the hope that surely there would be some redeeming qualities, that surely there would be some moral point or growth in character.  Much to my disappointment there was not.  The main character Dexter is a twenty something (who grows to age 40 by the end of the book) who wants nothing more out of life than that prescribed by the devout Hedonist - excerpt from  page nine "He hoped to be successful, to make his parents proud, to sleep with more than one woman at the same time." "He wanted to be in magazines and be famous for his work with no idea what that work might be - he wanted to live life to the extreme without complications, if a picture were taken of him at random it would look "cool" and there should be a lot of fun with no more sadness than necessary."  The other character Emma freshly graduated from university on the brink of "adulthood"  - " has a ripple of anxiety pass across her shoulders at the thought of it: independent adult life - she didn't feel like an adult."

The entire story is a sad case of the excuses we have been given and are passing on to our children about why they do not have to be responsible - why they do not have to live a life where they are called to be better.  The entire plot made me feel as if I had just been vomited on and could not find a towel to wipe it off or clean it up.

There are times I struggle in the day to day to teach my teenager and pre-teen biblical moral values and feel like I am fighting a losing battle.  After reading this book I have a better idea of why - society is teaching our children that it is cool and respectable to be a slug - "I think you actually get a kick out of being disappointed and under-achieving, because it's easier. That's okay we are [meant to be a bit rudderless and oarless] at twenty-four.  In fact our whole generation is like that - it's because we never fought in a war or watched too much t.v. The only people with oars and rudders are dreary bores and squares."  From the books, to the songs, to the t.v shows and movies - every piece of society is driving our children to be an under-achiever - its easier.  This book One Day hit me at my core and made me furious - angry at a society that says they care about standards and excellence but then do nothing to teach their children how to accomplish a higher standard.  There are pockets of hope in society, Do Hard Things is a cry for that - but it is a true battle.  A battle for the mind, body and soul.  My generation may have never fought in a physical war but we are fighting a spiritual war daily, minute by minute, for the hearts and minds of our children.

I discuss frequently with my teenager the need to guard what is put in our minds and hearts through what we see and hear - and in that have been challenged to take a closer look at what I put in my heart and mind.  Books turn Movie like One Day are a great reminder of the propaganda that is being thrown in our faces.  The cover caught my eye as I feel it was a take off from the World War II photo upon the soldiers return.  I knew nothing about the story and was somewhat expecting a romantic war reuniting storyline - what I got was something much different.  People magazine claimed "One of the most hilarious and emotionally riveting love stories you'll ever encounter."  Wow - there was nothing funny about this book - it was incredibly sad.  A story about a guy who trashes his life through drugs and sex, a girl who pines for something that never existed, a friendship that is surface and tries to make out as if it is a deep, spiritual bond, lives that are racked and ruined by selfish, immoral choices that have absolutely no consequences other than to create minor setback for the character.

I write this review to say if you haven't read One Day - don't and if you haven't seen the movie don't.  I have not seen the movie but can not imagine how any producer could create anything on screen that would have any redemptive qualities for this book.  There simply is nothing in it that can be recommended.

I do however recommend that you read my last post on Do Hard Things and challenge yourself, your children and your grandchildren to rise above the mediocre standard that is being set.  To tackle the hard things that God has placed in front of you, to be a leader for the life that is morally and biblically sound.  In doing this, you will create a story that is worthy to print and a movie worth watching.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Summer Reading - Part One

Summer is a time for lazy days and reading.  (Much to my children's dismay) They have a list of books they have to read, I end up with a list of books I finally have time to read.  This year I added to my list one of my incoming high schoolers "have to read" books.  Do Hard Things, by Brett and Alex Harris - was one of the most inspirational books I have read in quite sometime.  This is a book by teens, for teens and it challenges them to make hard choices, to follow their passion, and to go against what modern day society says is the standard.  They encourage teens to raise the bar to go beyond what society says is exceptional and really rise to the calling that God has placed before them.  As I read this book, I was elated and saddened - elated that some "boys" were able to inspire so much passion and saddened that I had missed opportunities - that I didn't read this book when I was 15.  I finished the book with my own list of "hard things" and how I might approach them, I also walked away from that finished book with a revelation that growing up in the 80's as a teenager was a strange time.  As youth we were not challenged by society, we were able to party and just get by - until "ya know" we had to be responsible.  I distinctly remember my 25th birthday and remembering that it was very difficult for me - I was now at the age when I had to decide what to do with my life - I now had to be an adult and be responsible.  Not that I didn't have some responsible acts as a teenager - I was class president, went to girls state, was a senate page - made good grades -received a college scholarship - but all of these were things I chose to do - society didn't expect anything of me.  Faced with the age of 25 I knew now there would be expectations.  Oh, how it would have been great to approach the age of 25, 30 and even 40 having stood with a group of peers that knew how to make hard decisions and accomplish the hard things.

I think as someone in their mid 40's I lived in a strange time - it was the time of do whatever - have fun you'll have to be responsible soon enough.  It was the time of both parents or all four working.  There was dot.com money and there was a stock market climbing out of control.  Not only were we living in a time when we were not required to be responsible we were living in a time when our parents were able to say - finally we have arrived and I am going to make life easy for you, don't you worry about it.

Is it no wonder we have parents in their 70's still working full time jobs and 30's somethings still living in the basement?  Or currently, I have seen first hand several mid-life crisis breakdowns.  Life was easy, we had no responsibility, we played at being grown up but never truly made the hard choice.  Now faced with society and an economy on the brink of complete meltdown, the let's-do-lunch and go-golf-six- figure jobs have diminished and we personally are faced with "doing the hard thing".

Oh, if my 15 year old can even get a little out of this book and make one hard choice and feel the exhilaration that comes from reaching out and going beyond what is expected, what is demanded, or what is the easiest way to get the job done - he will be one step closer to possibly be in a better situation when the true "Hard Times" come.

I highly recommend Do Hard Things, by Brett and Alex Harris for anyone who was a teenager, will be one or who has one.  Be encouraged, Be passionate, Be inspired. www.therebelution.com

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Planning vs. Preparation

I have a confession ..... and an announcement - during the past month I have been meeting with a Life Coach.   This past month for me has been both exhilarting and off-balancing.  Let me explain.....
A life Coach, or those I have worked with, is an individual who helps draw out that which is already within but gives it clarification, direction, or voice.  This is my experience.  About seven years ago I had the opportunity to work with a life coach - and the one thing that stuck with me was eliminate tolerations.  I have attempted to do this.  My current Life Coach, who I would highly recommend, has worked with me through several different avenues.  We began our session with forming a personal mission statement.  We then followed that with a personality profile and discussing what that looked like.  We then moved on to discussing a values system and our last meeting included looking at how that all plays out and where does that lead.
Part of our discussion brought an awareness in me that my personality lends itself to being a planner.  I am a great planner.  My calendar is synced to my phone, my computer and is imprinted in my brain, it is color-coded and detailed -  I have a plan.  My discovery this past week was .... although I have a plan I may not always prepare.

For example - I may plan all the days of the week, all the field trips, all the parties and all the events - what I have not planned for is the preparation required to fulfill all these plans.  You see I am a launcher - I have great ideas, I can put them on the schedule and then I forget or have no desire to make sure there is time to accomplish all that was "planned".  How does knowing this help me?  It helps to know that I can plan and in that plan I need to plan time to prepare.  I need to acknowledge that great ideas and events come with a price of time.  I need to recognize that a plan does not equal completion.  In order to complete a plan I must prepare to complete.

As I write this I am reminded of the boy scout motto "Be prepared".  As I desire to fill the life I am living and improve the legacy I desire to leave - I realize it is not enough to plan, I must prepare.  I must decide to be intentional in my thoughts and actions and allow enough margin to handle all the things I have planned.  I believe in doing this I will become less frazzled, less frustrated, more easy going and possibly less controlling - because I have prepared for the plan vs planning with no allowance for  preparation.

The Bible states God has plans for us for a hope and future (Jer. 29:11) but more importantly He prepared a way through Jesus Christ for us to have eternal life (John 3:16 and 14:6)  both planning and preparation are important - I must follow after the example that was given and not just have great ideas but prepare a way to carry them out.

plan |plan|nouna detailed proposal for doing or achieving something (usu. plans) an intention or decision about what one is going to do
preparemake (someone) ready or able to do or deal with something • [ intrans. make oneself ready to do or deal with something :

Sunday, May 8, 2011

"Destroy the family, you destroy the country." Lenin

As I sit here on Mother's Day reflecting over my day and the joy (and the heartache) that being a mom has brought me I am struck by this quote.  When I think about society, I run through all  the ways  the family unit is being attacked, from the 25 year attack on men and their ability to do anything right - just watch any current sit-com- to the attack on women who must do everything right - to the attack on our children who are taught by society and the media that their parents can't do anything right - the family is under attack.

It is a struggle every day to guide my children toward Godly life and responsibility - it is work to respect and support my husband when I think I should do it my way - it is almost near impossible to desire to create, nurture and cultivate a harmonious home when the entire world around me says this job is meaningless.

Today, I was blessed by my husband who made a wonderful brunch and then by my children who were somewhat forced to say what was the best thing about me being their mom - I then in turn asked them what I could do to be a better mom - unanimously they replied - stop working so much and just be there to get us from school.  Those of you that know me - know I am around my children a lot - I also work a lot - sometimes the two get turned upside down.  I have a quote on my FB page that states, "I am a better mom when I take the time to be a mom."  In the hustle bustle of life and the list of things I must get done - I am guilty of spending quantity time but not quality time with my family.  (Not all the time, but  a lot of the time). I can excuse it away or live in denial that I am paying attention while my daughter is trying to explain to me her newest fashion creation and I am typing an email while staring at her blankly but this does not change the fact that I am not taking the time to build relationship.

As women, I believe we have a hard row to hoe - our family unit is actively being destroyed - it is methodical, planned and intentional.  The number of women who are in the midst of divorce and marital strife in my life at this moment is staggering.  Make no mistake - we are being attacked and it is coming at us from all sides.

I have no battle plan - except to stop, take a breath and pray.  I love God, my family and my country and I am very aware that if I do not pay attention to love and live in that order - I most definitely will lose not only the battle but the war.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

The Doctor and The English Teacher

Twenty some years ago, when I married my amazing husband and was completing my degree, I had no idea just how helpful that degree in English Education would be.  It appears the marriage between a physician and an English Educator is now much more valuable.  From an article published in Medscape on April 21, 2011, healthcare workers are now responsible to make sure that all their patients are literate.  The article does state "health literate" and then goes on to explain what this means:

"The problem of health literacy is widespread and goes beyond those who can't read or those who don't speak English." P Weiss Chairman of ACOG Committee on Patient Safety.

Here is the US Department of Health and Human Services Quick Guide to Literacy:

  • Tailor speaking and listening skills to individual patients. Use open-ended questions starting with the words "what" or "how," and use medically trained interpreters when needed. Especially during the informed-consent process, but also in general, check patients' comprehension by having them restate the health information given in their own 
  • words. Encourage staff and colleagues to use culturally sensitive plain language to obtain training in improving patient communication.
  • Tailor health information to the intended user by ensuring that it reflects the target group's age, social and cultural diversity, language, and literacy skills. Include the target group in the development (pretest) and implementation (posttest) phases of developing information and services to improve effectiveness of the program. Consider cultural factors, including race, ethnicity, language, nationality, religion, age, sex, sexual orientation, income level, and occupation when preparing health information.
  • Develop written materials conveying no more than 4 simple messages per handout. These materials should focus on action and give specific recommendations based on behavior rather than on the underlying medical principle. Use the active voice instead of the passive voice, use familiar language, and avoid jargon. Use culturally relevant visual aids such as drawings or models for key points, use 12-point type size or larger, and leave sufficient white space around margins and between sections.

In general, I am not opposed to any of these and completely agree that it is important for patients to understand fully their choices.  But, I, who consider myself literate have a hard time comprehending how one of the items they suggest is even remotely manageable.  The suggestion to develop written materials conveying no more than 4 simple messages per handout - sounds easy enough - but contrast this with what the Texas State Medical Board requires when informing patients about non-conventional treatment:

(2) Disclosure. Prior to rendering any complementary or alternative treatment, the physician shall provide information to the patient that includes the following with the disclosure documented in the patient's records:
(A) the objectives, expected outcomes, or goals of the proposed treatment, such as functional improvement, pain relief, or expected psychosocial benefit;
(B) the risks and benefits of the proposed treatment;
(C) the extent the proposed treatment could interfere with any ongoing or recommended medical care;
(D) a description of the underlying therapeutic basis or mechanism of action of the proposed treatment purporting to have a reasonable potential for therapeutic gain that is written in a manner understandable to the patient; and
(E) if applicable, whether a drug, supplement, or remedy employed in the treatment is:
(i) approved for human use by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA);
(ii) exempt from FDA preapproval under the Dietary Supplement and Health Education Act (DSHEA); or
(iii) a pharmaceutical compound not commercially available and, therefore, is also an investigation article subject to clinical investigation standards as discussed in paragraph (7) of this subsection. 

All of this seems incredibly reasonable and patients should absolutely know what they are choosing - but physicians can't do both - they can't be simple and thorough.  To the rescue, the English teacher who may or may not have certification in ESL - the one who was taught that the general population doesn't read above the 8th grade level (no matter how much money we throw at our public school system).   And regardless of the amount of time and money you spent on your own education - the physician or teacher should never assume that you can think past the end of your nose.

My remedy - Those that are choosing to go into the healthcare field should be matched with a spouse that has an English Teaching degree with a focus in grammar and technical writing.  This should not be optional.  It will be an arranged marriage of sorts - that way we can make sure that all patients receive their medication and can read the prescription too.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Organic- When it matters

Organic: If you're a parent or a savvy foodie, this word passes your lips everyday. It describes produce that is grown without potentially harmful pesticides. Sure, many experts insist such chemicals are safe. But with a rise in information, you're probably more vigilant about what goes into your body and/or your child's, and with good reason. "Babies eat more than adults, pound for pound, and are more vulnerable to environmental toxins," says Alan Greene, MD, pediatrician and author of Raising Baby Green.

To lower your chemical load, you don't need to take an all-or-nothing approach. Start with a change or two based on what your family regularly eats. These seven staples are a good beginning.

Organic milk can cost about 50 percent more than conventional milk costs. But, Dr. Greene says, "If you want to make just one change, this is it." Conventional milk contains antibiotics and artificial hormones, as well as pesticides. Experts worry that all these hormones could kick-start early puberty, considering how much milk kids drink on a daily basis. Plus, recent research from Newcastle University in the United Kingdom found that, compared with conventional milk, organic milk contains significantly higher levels of heart-healthy fatty acids and antioxidants.  Also milk is not your best source of calcium - and comes with problems of its own.  According to some sources, milk is the number one cause of childhood asthma.  In our house we opt for organic rice milk - if you are choosing soy make sure that it is organic - NO exceptions.
Potatoes make the Dirty Dozen list put out by the Environmental Working Group (EWG), a nonprofit devoted to food safety, meaning that potatoes are one of the 12 most pesticide-contaminated fruits or vegetables. The EWG also found that 81 percent of potatoes still contained pesticides after being washed and peeled. Kids take in plenty of spuds as french fries -- another reason to limit their consumption. Adults, too, love the taters: According to one survey, they account for 30 percent of all veggies eaten by adults.
Peanut Butter
If PB&J sandwiches are a lunchtime favorite with your kids, it may be time to try an organic spread. "The pesticides used on peanuts are found to be especially toxic," Dr. Greene says. What's more, since 1996 there's been a dramatic rise in peanut allergies. Is it the peanuts or the pesticides....? Genetically modified soy may cross over into the peanut crop, he adds, which could account for this upswing.  In addition, if you are not using organic PB you need to be aware that most are filled with high fructose corn syrup or sugar.  
Baby Food
"Our body and brain grow faster from birth to age 3 than at any other time," Dr. Greene says, adding that "if you're going to pick only one time to go organic, it should be from conception to age 3." Kate Clow, of Chatham, New Jersey, adheres to this rule: "I try to give Owen, my 10-month-old, all organic because he's so young, but for the older girls, who are almost 3 and 5, I avoid just the Dirty Dozen."  Now take this information and apply it to LOTS of other items which will be in another blog.
The average American consumed 94 pounds of tomatoes in 2006, mainly in the form of tomato juice, tomato paste, and ketchup. Kids love this condiment: It makes the perfect dip for everything from veggies to eggs. It's superhealthy, too, as it's the number-one source of lycopene, a nutrient that helps to lower the risk for cancer and heart disease. Research has found that organic ketchups are 57 percent higher in lycopene than their conventional counterparts and dish up double the antioxidants. Also notable is what most organic ketchups don't have: SUGAR and artificial flavors -- which is why we say Ketchup is for the hot dogs and hamburgers - all other meats - JUST EAT!
If yours is like most American homes, the fridge is stocked with apples, applesauce, and apple juice. This fruit is the most commonly eaten after bananas and the second most commonly used in juices after oranges. However, apples are second on the Dirty Dozen list. What's more, the organic version has been found to have higher levels of disease-fighting polyphenols and other phytonutrients, so go organic with this one.
Antibiotics are used to promote growth in livestock, and those drugs may make it into your system too. And most American beef comes from cattle that is corn- or grain-fed, which is not healthy for us. Organic, grass-fed beef tends to be leaner and has five times the omega-3 fats, which are good for the heart. Organic beef can be tough to find. To locate organic beef in your area, visit organicconsumers.org or your local farmers' market.  Or visit your local SPROUTS.  Nolan Ryan beef found in most Kroger stores is a great alternative.
The Dirty Dozen
These earn the distinction as the most contaminated by pesticides; buy organic when possible!  In addition, fruit from Chile is HIGH in pesticides.  I am a huge fan of Costco because they do such a great job of supplying organic products -  but in the winter almost all fruit is from Chile, where standards are not the same.
* Peaches
* Apples
* Sweet bell peppers
* Celery
* Nectarines
* Strawberries
* Cherries
* Lettuce
* Grapes (imported)
* Pears
* Spinach
* Potatoes 
Should be bought organic if at all possible - when not possible make sure that all are washed and peeled well.  Then make a great dinner knowing that you are "serving" your family well.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Parental Control

We recently have entered the world of the "big-time" teenager.  We made the leap into the cell phone world at Christmas time - and for those of you who don't know we managed to hold off until the age of 14.  I am sure there will be necessary therapy for deprived teenagers.  The teenager and his cell phone has been an interesting experience.  It does have its pros and cons.  I can now contact my child when I am running late to carpool line, I have instant contact with him no matter where he is and I now have something that can be removed when teenage behavior is not to my liking.

Before making this leap into the cellular world that would grant unknown freedoms I did a little research.  I wanted to make sure that I could limit internet browsing, I wanted to be able to track calls and I wanted to be able to restrict phone usage.  In discussing these issues with other parents I have been astounded that they were not aware all these controls were available. And yes, I use them liberally.

My teenager, believes that I am way too strict and over-protective and I am okay with that.  I think the downside of protecting him from himself is relatively low to the downside of the trouble he may acquire untethered.

The phone came with rules - no more than 6000 text a month (you do the math) this was quite generous, no phone time between the hours of 9pm and 9am, you must answer a call from mom or dad immediately and no deleting of text until mom has been able to look at your phone.

For the most part all of these were adhered to .... and then I decided to check the phone log.  A good portion of text were being sent during school hours (granted he does have quite a bit of study hall time but...) so I opted to spend an additional $5.00 a month to give myself a little more control.  I now have the ability to block certain numbers and to not only set voice and text limits but to set the times in which his phone will actually work.  Yes, I am very mean.

The entire point to this ranting is that when I discuss this with parents they have no idea this kind of control is available.  At what point did we as a society begin to believe that our children's independence was a right?  When did we start to abdicate our rights to the media world?  Why do we think that because everyone else allows their children technology that we should just go with the flow?  It is a little difficult to understand the parent that will purchase a phone, pay the monthly bill, give it to their child and then feel like they have no right to control what happens with that phone because it is the child's property.  I think we are doing our children a huge disservice to allow them freedoms without boundaries, to not call them to account and not have them be a part of a family that has rules and consequences or rules and rewards.  There are times when I know it would be much easier to allow constant texting at the dinner table or when grandparents are at the house, but I believe that children should be taught to engage with the person who is front of them not the one who is on the other end of the phone.  (Now I understand why it was so difficult to get my twenty-one year old employee to deal with the customer standing in front of her versus the one on the phone.)  Children are being trained to not engage with reality ...... and that is a blog of its own.

So parents I am here to say ...if you were not aware you have control on many levels -you do-and  I support you in using it.
****disclaimer my teenager follows the rules well on most occassions.

Proverbs 22:6
Train up a child in the way he should go;even when he is old he will not depart from it.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Class Wars.... Really?

Recently, in a mainstream magazine there was a 5 page article devoted to the idea of class wars and what that means for people to eat well and how different socio-economic groups are even more separated by the new "foodie" craze. The upshot of the article was that with the new "foodie" craze those in lower socio-economic groups are even more discriminated against and feel even more "out-cast" because they are not able to "keep up" with the expensive food trends.
I am constantly floored at the stupidity and the lengths people will go to - to create problems that do not exist. Recently, on a talk show Michelle Obama was heard to say, "It's not enough to teach mothers that they need to feed their children fresh vegetables, if they don't have access to those vegetables then the education doesn't matter." I applaud the first ladies efforts to increase awareness about the value of fresh, wholesome foods, but seriously question whether there is an access problem to whole foods or the problem lies with desire to obtain the fresh whole foods and to expend the effort to acquire them. (In many low socio-economic neighborhoods their are ethic food stores with an abundance of fresh whole vegetables.)
It really is not a matter of not being able to obtain or afford - it is a matter of choice. I am tired of people not taking responsibility and doing the easy things. And it is not a matter of class, people in all socio-economic groups choose not to educate themselves. They choose to purchase pre-packaged, high convenience foods, they chose not to read labels and they choose to in the end blame someone else for their health problems. This is not a matter of class wars, it really is a matter of desire.

So what is a good economical solution? I recently purchased a book on container gardening and in it are plans and instructions on creating a perfect vegetable garden. It does not require much space and one will receive enough vegetables that not only will their family eat well but they will probably have some for their neighbors. The cost is not that great -for the same price of one or maybe two months' cable bill - you would have enough vegetables that a trip to the grocery store may not be necessary. There are issues with winter months and true lack of space (for those who live in a NY high rise) but it really is about - where there is a will - there is a way. The biggest problem is that most do not have the will. We love the idea of eating well and the colorful bounty of vegetables that would be worthy of a Martha Stewart display, we just don't want to have to put in the work.

This spring (March, April and May) we are taking the the money that would have been spent on our cable bill - about $30.00 a month- and we will set up our container garden. My children will be able to plant, tend and harvest the bounty that will become our dinner meals. Its a win, win - they get outside, they are able to participate in helping the family achieve it's survival goals, I don't have to tell them to turn off the t.v. and we will save a vast amount of money not having to buy our vegetables at the store. If successful we may just extend it 3 more months and learn how to can our bounty to save for the winter.

I believe its about making choices, not war. This is something almost every family could do if they chose to. It probably won't be easy, we may have some failed crops, we may not have vegetables some nights but that is all part of life and the learning process.

In the meantime, if container gardening is not for you low cost doesn’t have to mean low quality. In fact, some of the most inexpensive things you can buy are the best things for you. At the grocery store, getting the most nutrition for the least amount of money means hanging out on the peripheries near the fruits and veggies, the meat and dairy, and the bulk grains while avoiding the expensive packaged interior. By doing so, not only will your kitchen be stocked with excellent foods, your wallet won’t be empty.
1. Oats
High in fiber and complex carbohydrates, oats have also been shown to lower cholesterol. And they sure are cheap - a dollar will buy you more than a week’s worth of hearty breakfasts.
Serving suggestions: Sprinkle with nuts and fruit in the morning
2. Eggs
You can get about a half dozen of eggs for a dollar, making them one of the cheapest and most versatile sources of protein. They are also a good source of the antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthin, which may ward off age-related eye problems.
Serving suggestions: Huevos rancheros for breakfast, egg salad sandwiches for lunch, and frittatas for dinner.
3. Kale
This dark, leafy green is loaded with vitamin C, carotenoids, and calcium. Like most greens, it is usually a dollar a bunch.
Serving suggestions: Chop up some kale and add to your favorite stir-fry
4. Potatoes
Because we often see potatoes at their unhealthiest,as fries or chips, we don’t think of them as nutritious, but they definitely are. Eaten with the skin on, potatoes contain almost half a day’s worth of Vitamin C, and are a good source of potassium. If you opt for sweet potatoes or yams, you’ll also get a good wallop of beta carotene. Plus, they’re dirt cheap and have almost endless culinary possibilities.
Serving suggestions: In the a.m., try Easy Breakfast Potatoes; for lunch, make potato salad; for dinner, have them with sour cream and chives or top with chili.
5. Apples
I’m fond of apples because they’re inexpensive, easy to find, come in portion-controlled packaging, and taste good. They are a good source of pectin,a fiber that may help reduce cholesterol, and they have the antioxidant Vitamin C, which keeps your blood vessels healthy.
Serving suggestions: Plain; as applesauce; or in baked goods like Apple Breakfast Bread
6. Nuts
Though nuts have a high fat content, they’re packed with the good-for-you fats—unsaturated and monounsaturated. They’re also good sources of essential fatty acids, Vitamin E, and protein. And because they’re so nutrient-dense, you only need to eat a little to get the nutritional benefits. Although some nuts, like pecans and macadamias, can be costly, peanuts, walnuts, and almonds, especially when bought in the shell, are low in cost.
Serving suggestions: Raw; roasted and salted; sprinkled in salads.
7. Bananas
A dollar usually gets you a banana a day for the week. High in potassium and fiber (9 grams for one), bananas are a no-brainer when it comes to eating your five a day quotient of fruits and veggies.
Serving suggestions: In smoothies, by themselves, in cereal and yogurt.
8. Garbanzo Beans
With beans, you’re getting your money’s worth and then some. Not only are they a great source of protein and fiber, but garbonzos are also high in fiber, iron, folate, and manganese, and may help reduce cholesterol levels. And if you don’t like one type, try another— black, lima, lentils … the varieties are endless. Though they require soaking and cooking, the most inexpensive way to purchase these beans is in dried form; a precooked can will still only run you around a buck.
Serving suggestions: Throw them in soups or process with garlic and salt and eat with veggies as a dip, in salads, curries, and Orange Hummus
9. Broccoli
Broccoli contains tons of nice nutrients - calcium, vitamins A and C, potassium, folate, and fiber. As if that isn’t enough, broccoli is also packed with phytonutrients, compounds that may help prevent heart disease, diabetes, and certain cancers. Plus, it’s low in calories and cost.
Serving suggestions: Throw it in salads, stir fries, or served as an accompaniment to meat.
10. Watermelon
Though you may not be able to buy an entire watermelon for a dollar, your per serving cost isn’t more than a few dimes. This summertime fruit is over 90 percent water, making it an easy way to hydrate, and gives a healthy does of Vitamin C, potassium, and lycopene, an antioxidant that may ward off cancer.
Serving suggestions: Freeze chunks for popsicles; eat straight from the rind; squeeze to make watermelon margaritas (may negate the hydrating effect!).
11. Wild Rice
It won’t cost you much more than white rice, but wild rice is much better for you. Low in fat and high in protein and fiber, this gluten-free rice is a great source of complex carbohydrates. It packs a powerful potassium punch and is loaded with B vitamins. Plus, it has a nutty, robust flavor.
Serving suggestions: Mix with nuts and veggies for a cold rice salad; blend with brown rice for a side dish.
12. Beets
Beets are my kind of vegetable — their natural sugars make them sweet to the palate while their rich flavor and color make them nutritious for the body. They’re powerhouses of folate, iron, and antioxidants.
Serving suggestions: Shred into salads, slice with goat cheese. If you buy your beets with the greens on, you can braise them in olive oil like you would other greens.
13. Butternut Squash
This beautiful gourd swings both ways: sometimes savory, sometimes sweet. However you prepare the butternut, it will not only add color and texture, but also five grams of fiber per half cup and chunks and chunks of Vitamin A and C. When in season, butternut squash and related gourds are usually less than a dollar a pound.
Serving suggestions: Try Pear and Squash Bruschetta; cook and dot with butter and salt.
14. Whole Grain Pasta
In the days of Atkins, pasta was wrongly convicted, for there is nothing harmful about a complex carbohydrate source that is high in protein and B vitamins. Plus, it’s one of the cheapest staples you can buy.
Serving suggestions: Mix clams and white wine with linguine; top orzo with tomatoes and garlic; eat cold Farfalle Saladon a picnic.
15. Spinach
Spinach is perhaps one of the best green leaves out there — it has lots of Vitamin C, iron, and trace minerals. Plus, you can usually find it year round for less than a dollar.
Serving suggestions: Sautéed with eggs, as a salad, or a Spinach Frittata
16. Pumpkin Seeds
When it’s time to carve your pumpkin this October, don’t shovel those seeds into the trash they’re a goldmine of magnesium, protein, and trace minerals. Plus, they come free with the purchase of a pumpkin.
Serving suggestions: Salt, roast, and eat plain; toss in salads.
17. Coffee
The old cup-o-joe has been thrown on the stands for many a corporeal crime, heart disease, cancer, osteoporosis, but exonerated on all counts. In fact, coffee, which is derived from a bean, contains beneficial antioxidants that protect against free radicals and may actually help thwart heart disease and cancer. While it’s not going to fill you up like the other items on this list, it might make you a lot perkier. When made at home, coffee runs less than 50¢ cents a cup.
Serving suggestions: Just drink it, or for the out-of the box detox - organic coffee enemas. (for instructions on this see www.naturalhealthcoach.com or the Gershon Institute)

Although that bag of 99¢ Cheetos may look like a bargain, knowing that you’re not getting much in the way of nutrition or sustenance makes it seem less like a deal and more like a dupe. Choosing one of these items, or the countless number of similarly nutritious ones, might just stretch that dollar from a snack into a meal.

Monday, January 24, 2011

"In your FACE"

When I was growing up the term "in your face" meant that I had just "one upped" you, generally stemming from a basketball game when the shooter was denied the shot and ended up with the ball "back in his face". Today that term means something not even conceived of in the late 80's.

Today, we eagerly seek to build a network of online friends in unguarded ways; that would never happen in a face to face world. We browse online purveyors of products and services while forgetting our digital footprints. We click and tweet while distracted with other tasks. We share personal information with people we have never met, and encourage our online “friends” to help us build an even larger circle of colleagues we won’t ever really “know.” And we knowingly, regularly break the rules that were established to protect our hearts and our minds.

It is hard to believe that in only a few short years the word "friend" has evolved from not only functioning as a noun but also as a verb. Thanks to the social media website Facebook, the characteristics of a true friend and personal relationships have diminished due to the incessant need to spend time on this website collecting as many "friends" as possible.

In today’s world it seems as if whoever "friends" the most people, posts the largest amount of status updates, or has the greatest number of tagged photos on Facebook, has a higher popularity status than those who have a fewer number of friends, pictures, or status updates. The majority of "facebookers" feel the need to check their Facebook multiple times a day and publish every moment of their life. They also feel as if they will miss out on gossip, news, or events if they do not check their pages regularly. In reality, however, many people do not actually care what others do twenty four hours a day. (Especially my sister who on a matter of principal alone will not even contemplate acquiring a FB account.) How did we move so rapidly from a society that embraced the, "are you kidding me?" $5.00 for a cup of coffee Starbucks idea of hanging out with friends to a society where we would rather sit alone pretending to have relationship. How did we become a society where we would not seek to maintain true friendships but rather obtain virtual numbers?

I am not a "hater" of Facebook or any other social networking sites. I like the fact that I have been able to reconnect with childhood friends and see what they are up to, but the friend status creates no more of a relationship than that of one when you receive an annual Christmas letter expounding how the family has done the last year. This type of relationship in the past has been called acquaintance. As our children get caught up in the social networking and don't understand the difference between friend and acquaintance they are setting themselves up for disastrous relationship scenarios.

By spending hours on the computer each day, our, and more specifically the, generation after me has lost a skill that our elders still possess: personal communication. Many children have not learned to confidently look into someone’s eyes and hold face-to-face conversations with peers without feeling uncomfortable. Instead, they revert to "wall posts" and Facebook chatting to convey messages. Although on the surface this discomfort may barely seem to hurt one’s performance throughout their years in high school, the effects will carry on throughout the rest of their lives, severely hindering their future careers when they find themselves struggling to hold a conversation with a job interviewer. (Not to mention the fact that I have trouble finding an employee who can spell properly).

Furthermore, Facebook serves as the main distraction throughout many peoples’ lives. While dealing with the stresses of balancing school with jobs and other extracurricular activities, this website only seems to get in the way of accomplishing tasks. Instead, we should prioritize our time effectively rather than wasting hours each day scrolling through Facebook. Getting my 14 year old to finish his homework is nearly impossible when he is constantly checking facebook - for what? Absolutely nothing! The fact that we are so connected to the outside world completely removes us from the one that is staring us in the "Face" - pun intended.

Although Facebook offers many positive features that allow people to maintain friendships with those with whom it may be difficult to see regularly in person it should be used with caution. While we think we may be maintaining friendships by posting our everyday happenings we are moving further and further away from the joy to be in fellowship. And although social network sites may allow us an outlet to share personal information to many people at one time, there are times when it is the sharing of that information many times on an individual basis that brings about the healing or joyful reminding.

As parents and as friends, we need to be careful to teach ourselves and our children the true meaning of friend and what that looks like from a biblical perspective.

James 4:3-5 (English Standard Version)
3You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions. 4 You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. 5 Or do you suppose it is to no purpose that the Scripture says, "He yearns jealously over the spirit that he has made to dwell in us"?

James 2:22-24 (English Standard Version)
22You see that faith was active along with his works, and faith was completed by his works; 23and the Scripture was fulfilled that says, "Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness"—and he was called a friend of God. 24You see that a person is justified by works and not by faith alone.
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