Returning the Favor

By Stacy Thompson

So first of all…the flu stinks – don’t know if I actually had the flu, but I certainly felt pretty bad for several days and kept myself quarantined just to avoid any contamination.  Still not at 100%, but I’m back in the swing of things—apologies for my late blog submission, but just couldn’t stay upright to get it in earlier!!

So, as excited as I am about both South Carolina teams this Spring – baseball and softball, that is – I have to rave about my new favorite Facebook obsession, and the absolute best feel-good moment you will experience…EVER!  Yes, I realize that Facebook is likely mocked by those born in the 2000s and the butt of any joke which includes the terms “grandma” or “so-last-decade” or accompanied by a serious eye-roll – but, let’s face it, I love to keep up with my friends who are from that decade, many of whom are in fact, grandmas, and I could care less whether I see an eye-roll, as long as I can wish a long-lost-friend a most Happy Birthday or Anniversary!!

Returning the Favor

By far one of the best experiences I have had on Facebook recently doesn’t involve politics, or recent meals, or even prom invites…if you need to feel good about humanity, and know for sure that there are still wonderful people doing amazing things in their community, look no further than Mike Rowe – he of Dirty Jobs (which was an awesome reality show before reality shows became laughable) – Mike not only loves his mother (see no further than his podcasts, in which he reads her e-mails and hilarity ensues…’Old Blue’ being one such example — http://mikerowe.com/2016/09/mondays-with-mother/) but is a genuinely good guy as well.  He has started a show on Facebook called ‘Returning the Favor’ – if you haven’t seen it yet, please, do yourself a favor a check it out, as it will restore your faith in humanity, inspire you and give you a good cry…all in about ½ an hour.

One of the first episodes I caught on Returning the Favor was about a once homeless kid who decided to make soap for homeless shelters – here was this guy who now had a home, but decided to give back nonetheless, and in the simplest way possible – by making soap.  If ever you thought that a small gesture could not make a big impact, you were sorely mistaken – he and his mom are true examples of paying it forward.  https://www.facebook.com/ReturningTheFavor/videos/1941259262812001/

Other amazing stories I cannot get enough of:

 

The main message in all of the above is not what these individuals are doing (although it should be noted that they are all amazing!!) – it’s that we can do this in our community, in our towns and to help our people – please watch, please listen and, more importantly, please Return the Favor!!  Love you Mike Rowe, and we all look forward to Returning the Favor!!!

Acquired Tastes

By Rachel Sircy

Normally, I write blog posts that are meant to be instructive and helpful – hopefully someone has found them helpful. And for this post I was going to write about an article I’d read recently about things in your home that you should buy organic other than food – the list includes everything from cotton swabs to couch cushions. Apparently, we live in an incredibly toxic world. However, I decided against it, not only because that article seemed a bit far-fetched to me, but also because I’ve been thinking about something random and strange lately, and I just thought I’d share. Do you ever notice how people change over time? Like, when you go back to a high school reunion and they tell you that so-and-so just married what’s-his-face, and you stare for a second before you manage to ask, “Didn’t they hate each other in school?” People are full of surprises and the funny thing is that sometimes the people who surprise us the most by the way that they change are the ones that we know best.

Take my husband and me. Before we were married, my friends and I used to refer to my husband as the human garbage disposal. Not the nicest name, I know, but we were referring to the fact that he would eat anything that was put in front of him. My friend Shannon and I in particular loved this about him because when we were all in college together (before my husband and I were even dating), if Shannon or I ordered something at a restaurant that we didn’t like, we could always feed it to Elisha. (Elisha is my husband’s name. It’s pronounced sort of like Elijah. Don’t call him anything that sounds like Alicia. He hates that.) In those days, the only thing that Elisha positively would not eat was mayonnaise. This thing with mayonnaise began when he got a stomach bug as a child and the last thing he remembered before barfing his guts up was eating was a submarine sandwich with extra mayo on it. You know how those things go. The last thing that you eat before you get sick becomes the food you can’t stand to even talk about. Well, some people get over those aversions given time, but my husband has gone in the opposite direction. Not only will he still not eat mayonnaise, he now will not eat sour cream, ricotta cheese or pretty much any food that is both soft and white. He doesn’t even like white icing. In fact, he told me recently that his culinary tastes are narrowing. Things that he used to enjoy like curry, tea, etc., are now things that he just can’t stand to eat or drink. And he informed me just last weekend that he really isn’t up for trying anything new. I wonder if it’s my cooking…

Conversely, my culinary tastes are expanding. As a child I was an irritatingly picky eater. I remember time and time again my mother getting frustrated with my whining over having to eat this food or that. I remember my parents and grandparents bribing and begging me to eat things. I didn’t like ground beef. I didn’t like cheese. I didn’t like mushrooms. I didn’t like lima beans or Brussels sprouts After getting sick once, I wouldn’t eat cheesecake or cream cheese in any form except smeared on a plain, toasted bagel. I didn’t like any food that looked, smelled or tasted different than what I was used to eating every day. Once, my mother who was normally as honest as the day is long lied to me about the eggs I happened to be eating. We were staying at my great-grandmother’s house. Great Grandma Deaver raised ducks and chickens, but mainly got her eggs from her ducks. My mother put a plate of over-easy duck eggs and toast down in front of me. I was, of course, immediately suspicious and I began asking what was wrong with these huge eggs on my plate. My mother smiled sweetly (I’m sure she wanted to shake me) and said that Granny just happened to raise really, really big chickens. I ate the eggs and found that they tasted better than chicken eggs. But then my mother triumphantly revealed that they were actually duck eggs and I screamed and refused to ever eat eggs at Grandma Deaver’s house ever again.

Over the years, I’ve grown to love cheese, cheesecake, mushrooms, lima beans and Brussels sprouts. Of course, in the case of each food, I had to choose at a particular moment to force myself to eat them. Cheese was something I came to love somewhere between the ages of three and seven, I believe. Cheesecake, mushrooms, lima beans and Brussels sprouts were foods that I only decided to try after I had been married. brussels-sprouts-1856706_1920

Initially, I was inspired by my husband’s openness to food. I wanted to be as open minded to food as he was. Then, about 6 months into our marriage, I was diagnosed with celiac disease. I found myself cut off from easy and familiar foods like take-out pizza and doughnuts. I was forced to try new, bizarre foods like quinoa (which I pronounced quin-Noah until some nice hippies at the health food store corrected me) and cakes made from rice flour and potato starch. This re-routing of my dietary habits was the final sealing of the deal. At first, I wanted to try new foods and then I had no choice about it.

Recently, I’ve surprised even myself by my willingness to try seafood. I HATE seafood. Nothing that I have tried so far in my life has made me change my tastes on this front. In fact, the only reason I’ve been willing to try fish lately is that my cholesterol has become a problem and fatty fish are touted as the culinary cure for cholesterol issues. I think that people who love seafood (and this is most people that I come across) don’t understand what I mean when I say that I don’t like seafood. I’m going to try to explain this here because I want it to be clear what a miracle it is that I’m even willing to put the stuff in my mouth. When I say that I can’t stand seafood, I do not merely mean that I baked salmon fillet on boardprefer chicken or beef. I mean that everything about seafood – the sight, the smell, the texture – is repulsive to me. I find the smell of the ocean itself to be slightly nauseating and that smell of fish, even the stuff that people swear is “not fishy”, is a concentrated dose of that oceanic scent. When I say that I don’t like fish, I mean that often times I have to hold my breath when I take a bite of salmon or tuna (two of the only fish I have managed to choke down) and that there have been times that I’ve had to hold on, white-knuckled, to the edge of the dinner table in order to force myself to swallow the bite I’ve taken. I gag and dry-heave the whole time that I eat fish, but the point of pride for me is that I DO eat it. I don’t enjoy one second of it, to be sure, but I force myself and (occasionally) win the war against my food aversion.

I guess the thing I’m wondering – and I would love some feedback – is, does it seem worth it to choke down food that I hate in the hopes that it will one day become an acquired taste? I’ve always heard that a varied plate is a healthy plate and frankly, that is why I try new foods. I once knew a nurse who could count on one hand the foods that she would eat. They were all white, starchy foods. She believed that it would be better to die young and happy, eating the foods that give you pleasure, rather than live a long time gagging on stuff that you find disgusting. So, what is the general consensus? To eat or not to eat stuff I don’t like, that is the question. You can comment with your thoughts below. I am excited to read them!

 

The storm before the calm: getting ready for vacay

By Jeanne Reynolds

“Why do I have to do everything myself?”

I’ve been silently screaming those words in my head for several days as we – or more to the point, I – get ready for our upcoming vacation.

Vacay image

I’ve been planning this dream trip for at least 8 months, and thinking about it long before that. Plane tickets, B&B reservations, car rental, passport renewal, international driving permit, shopping for necessities, obtaining local currency, coordinating with the cat sitter and what feels like a million other details are being checked off my to-do list.

My husband bought electric adapters.

Now, you should understand we’re both planners and list-makers. When he gets excited about a project, he’s a one-man army: researching options, talking to experts, calling and visiting vendors, scheduling work and following up like crazy. He recently fell in love with the idea of planting a palmetto tree to fill a hurricane-decimated spot in our yard. That sucker was in the ground before you could say Bob’s your uncle.

But for our upcoming adventure, he’s been content to let me make nearly all the arrangements. One the one hand, this has meant I’ve been able to plan the trip exactly the way I want. On the other hand, it’s meant I’ve done all the work.

I’m a little stressed about that. For one thing, if there’s a screw-up, it’s my fault. What if the accommodations that look so charming and conveniently located on the booking website are on the icky side? Can we really navigate the roads in a foreign country without bodily injury? What if I’ve forgotten something really important?

And for another, I’m worried he’s not really looking forward to this trip, although he readily agreed to go when I first broached the topic. If he’s as excited as I am, he’d be more involved, right?

Then it suddenly occurred to me I’ve been judging his feelings through my own filter, based on what it would mean if I acted that way. But that’s me, not him. I enjoy the anticipation of an event almost as much as the reality. Truth be told, all this planning has been fun, filled with what-ifs and ooh-how-about-thats. He’s given me free reign to create my dream trip. And if past experience is anything to go by, he’ll be an enthusiastic and unflappable traveling companion no matter what happens.

Oh, and that car rental agreement? It has only one named driver: him. I’m going to sit back, buckle up and enjoy the ride.

 

Calling all Midlands Women!

At Every Woman Blog we aim to unite and inspire the community of women within the Midlands, and now you have the opportunity to be a part of it. This month, we are looking to add talented new bloggers to contribute to this community. This competition is open to women of all ages in the Midlands and comes with a $250 cash prize for each blogger selected! workspace-766045_1920

Entering the contest is simple:

  1. Visit http://www.facebook.com/LexingtonMedical.
  2. Send a message or video about why you would be a great blogger to represent and inspire women in the Midlands

Use your message or video to let your personality shine! The five women with the most persuasive, funny, touching or engaging submissions are the ones who will be selected to become featured bloggers. This is an opportunity to join an exceptional group of women who share a passion for connecting with and inspiring those around them.

So, what exactly would you be a part of?

The award-winning Every Woman Blog has been active for more than seven years, with over 327,000 views of the posts by local female bloggers (that could be you!). The featured bloggers write at least one blog post per month.

Wondering what you would possibly blog about?

Anything and everything. 

There’s really no end to the type of things you can blog about! Past and current bloggers have posted about healthy recipes, travel, relationships, health issues, personal anecdotes and staying fit – the list goes on and on. Every blogger brings their own unique voice and stories to the blog, sharing anything they feel the women of the Midlands can benefit from. If you need some inspiration, the featured bloggers also get the chance to meet in person at “blogger reunions”, where they can share ideas and brainstorm topics.

Head on over to Lexington Medical Center’s Facebook page and tell us why you would make a great blogger!

 

Ways to Become More Resilient

By Mary Pat Baldauf

In my world, resilience is a new buzz word. Usually used in connection with climate change, resilience is defined as the ability of a system or community to survive disruption and to anticipate, adapt, and flourish in the face of change. In simpler terms, it’s the ability to bounce back from adversity, whether it be climate change, disasters or other unfortunate incidents.

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It’s not only important for communities, but also for us as individuals to be resilient. Resilient people may encounter dark moods, bad days and adversity, but they have strategies to help them bounce back and move on.

From Psychology Today, here are ten tips to help build your personal resiliency:

  1. Get adequate restorative sleep. Poor sleep patterns and stress go hand-in-hand.
  2. Engage in adequate physical exercise daily. Exercise is a major buffer against stress, including stress from depression.
  3. Maintain a healthy diet and keep your weight within a desired range. You’ll have fewer health-related problems.
  4. Nourish your quality social support networks through reciprocally supporting others who support you. Quality social support correlates with higher levels of resiliency.
  5. Meet challenges as they occur. Avoid procrastination and the stresses that come from it and crises that arise from delays.
  6. Build tolerance for ambiguity and uncertainty. You are less likely to experience anxieties related to a need for certainty.
  7. Express higher-order values, such as responsibility and integrity. This gives you a compass for taking a sound direction.
  8. Work to build high frustration tolerance. High frustration tolerance, cognitive flexibility, and problem-solving actions are normally interconnected.
  9. Stretch to achieve realistic optimism. This is a belief that you can both self-improve and act to make things more workable for you. You exercise realistic optimism by acting to do and get better.
  10. Boost resilience with preventive actions where you reduce your risk for negative thinking and increase your chances for realistic thinking.

resilient

 

 

Curried Eggs and (No) Ham

By Rachel Sircy

I love eggs. I have them pretty much every morning for breakfast despite the fact that I have cholesterol problems. I really wouldn’t recommend this for anyone else who has cholesterol issues, but we all have to take baby steps toward better health, right? Well, that’s what I’m telling myself for now, anyway. I’m taking a few baby steps right now toward eating more whole and organic foods. I am trying little by little to purge my diet of chemicals and high glycemic index foods like white flour and sugar. It’s really slow going. But then, so was the change that I made when I switched to eating totally gluten free. Believe me, I would love to tell you that I was a gluten free crusader from the first minute I got that awful news from the doctor that I was a celiac, but that would be a lie. It took me almost a year just to decide to really eat gluten free all the time. I kept wondering whether the doctor might not be wrong. I actually went back to the gastroenterologist about 9 months or so after I was initially diagnosed just to have him check all the lab and endoscopy reports again and make 100% sure that what he was telling me was right.

So, my latest discovery of food that can be used as medicine is turmeric. Turmeric is a powder made from a dried and ground root that is vibrantly yellow and is related to ginger. I had always kind of heard from one person or another that turmeric is supposed to be good for you, but I never knew how or why. I had some sitting in my spice cabinet that had been there for quite a while just waiting to be used. I love to eat curried things: Singapore style rice noodles, chana masala, etc. Somehow, though, whenever I try to replicate these recipes at home, they never taste right. So, my poor container of spice just sat there, ignored for quite a while. It wasn’t until I was reading the transcript of a lecture series given by Dr. Mimi Guarneri, the founder of the Scripps Center for Integrative Medicine, that I decided to get my little container of turmeric out and put it to good use.

As it turns out, all of those things that I had heard people mention now and again in passing about the health benefits of turmeric are true. There have been a number of scientific studies done on the compound, curcumin – the compound that gives turmeric it’s signature yellow color – has some significant health benefits. Curcumin has been used as an alternative treatment for cardiac patients, reducing the number of heart attacks patients have after a bypass surgery. It has also been used as an anti-inflammatory and pain reliever for osteoarthritis patients and has been found to work as well as ibuprofen. It also has been shown to reduce inflammation in the digestive tract. All of these health benefits were of interest to me. As a celiac, of course I deal with a lot of inflammation in my digestive tract. I also wake up with back pain every morning and, last but not least, I am at a higher risk for chronic cholesterol problems. So, each morning for about three weeks I’ve been sprinkling a little turmeric on my scrambled eggs. Of course, it would be best if I could get myself to just eat the scrambled egg whites. One day I’ll get to the place where just plain egg whites don’t seem so hopelessly tasteless, but I’m not there yet. I can’t really tell you if turmeric is healing some of the inflammation in my digestive tract or if it’s improving my cardiovascular health. What I can tell you is that it seems to be significantly decreasing the amount of pain that I have in my back. I’m actually kind of shocked at how much it seems to be helping.

Now, the caveat here is this: I put a LOT of turmeric on my eggs in the morning. I usually don’t cook it in the eggs, I sprinkle it on top. It’s definitely not the most delicious way to consume turmeric, but it seems to work a bit better for the stiffness and pain when I eat it that way. Also, in most of the scientific studies on turmeric, the patients involved were taking way more than your average culinary doses of turmeric. You can get turmeric supplements at health food stores or almost anywhere you can buy vitamins, but you need to talk to your doctor before you start taking any new supplement!

Right now, I’m focusing on just using more turmeric and curry powder as I cook and seeing how much better I feel after that. I really don’t like taking pills, even supplements. So, food first, capsules later (if the food doesn’t fix what ails me).

You can read the abstracts or even the whole articles on turmeric on the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health’s website: nccih.nih.gov.  You can also checkout this article on Healthline.com, which breaks down some of those studies for you and also has links to the medical studies from which the information was taken: https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/top-10-evidence-based-health-benefits-of-turmeric#section5. (Truth be told, I hate any article titled “Top 10” Anything. I always feel like they’re trying to fill space or sell me something, or both, but I appreciate the way the author on health line included references for everything he wrote. I’m married to a teacher, so bibliographies and reference numbers always make me feel warm and fuzzy inside.)

Here is a picture of my Curried Eggs and (No) Ham. I put the turmeric in the eggs and then scrambled them and also added spinach to compensate for the fact that I actually did eat some bacon with these…

eggs

Nature Deficit Disorder

By Shannon Boatwright

My name is Shannon and I am suffering from Nature Deficit Disorder.

I read a most fabulous article in the recent Columbia Metropolitan Magazine, titled “Forest Bathing – A walk in the woods for the soul” by Warren Hughes.  What a wonderful read and at a time in my life when I’m definitely at a deficit for getting outdoors to enjoy myself. Ironically the only reason I even had the opportunity to relax and read was because my back was hurting so bad after a long school day of moving too many heavy objects around on my stage at school and my sweet husband had prepared the bathtub for me so I would soak in an epsom salt bath and hopefully feel better. I made myself put up my phone and actually try to relax. I took the opportunity to flip through the latest magazine that had come in the mail that I had not had the time to look at in the past weeks.  As I soaked and read, I was pleasantly surprised at the inspiring information within the magazine. It was almost as if the universe was sending me a very strong message!

Rainbows over Lake Murray, SC

Rainbows over Lake Murray

According to what I read, I totally have a nature deficit disorder!  Being a drama teacher, whose classroom is a stage – a large room with NO windows, and whose office is a small concrete room, with NO windows, who spends hours upon hours after school directing productions in theatres, with NO windows, …well, it starts to wear on you after many years. Especially during the school year’s busy season of productions and after school commitments, I get home exhausted and taking a walk or bike ride just doesn’t seem like an option.

But I know well enough that it’s something I can’t put off. Like exercise, I realize that it’s a requirement in order to feel better overall. I have to make it happen. Even when I’m so busy. Yes, even when I’m so busy! I don’t want to be the person that always says, “someday or whenever I’m finally less busy, I’ll do such and such.” At this point in my life I have to recognize the importance of making it a priority and a requirement so that I can live my healthiest life, mentally and physically.

Last summer when I had the honor and great privilege of traveling to France and Switzerland with my mother, I was truly refreshed, invigorated, inspired and overwhelmed in a most wonderful way being in, breathing in and seeing a part of nature I’d never ever seen before. Being in that beauty, in person, was truly glorious. There really are no words to adequately describe it.

Nature's Glory in Switzerland

Nature’s Glory in Switzerland

Switzerland Overflows with Nature's Beauty

Switzerland Overflows with Nature’s Beauty

Quoting John Muir in the article, John Cely says, “Climb the mountains and get their good tidings. Nature’s peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you, and the storms their energy, while cares will drop away from you like the leaves of autumn.”

I mean, come on! Is that not beautiful!? I know I could really use some of nature’s peace flowing into me like sunshine flows into trees! And who doesn’t want cares and worries to drop from your body like the leaves of autumn?

Sipping Coffee Amongst the Gorgeousness of France

Sipping coffee amongst the gorgeousness of France

In the article it speaks of getting into nature as an imperative, not just a luxury. It’s crucial. Crucial to our well-being on so many levels.  There are studies that prove that being indoors for too long is literally physically and mentally bad for our health. It makes complete sense to me. Our society’s dependency on screens, all our gadgets that we of all ages seem to be so addicted and attached to nowadays, is turning us all into very sick people. It’s a sad state of unwell being.

How do we deal in today’s society? How do we combat this overwhelming deficit? Awareness is a start for sure. This idea of a disorder resulting from a nature deficit is no new concept. It’s been growing for decades, most of us have just been too busy in front of our screens to notice.

In The Nature Fix, subtitled “Why nature makes us happier, healthier, and more creative,” bestselling author Florence Williams explores state-of-the-art research from three continents to explain the inestimable benefits that spending time in nature has on the body, mind, and soul.

Columbia Metropolitan Magazine

“Forest Bathing – A walk in the woods for the soul” by Warren Hughes

I don’t know why anyone in their right mind would argue that getting outdoors isn’t good for you. It just makes sense. Mother Nature is not just powerful in negative ways, her amazing, positive ways far outweigh the negative. She has a glorious abundance of healing power and beauty to offer if we just take the time to see it, be in it and experience it.

Even in the Suburbs, Nature's Beauty is Present

Even in the suburbs, Nature’s Beauty is Present

Now that I’m aware of my deficiency, I plan to dedicate time to fixing it and filling more of my time refreshing myself basking in nature’s glory. Like so many others, I need it. I know I need it. My body, my mind, my heart, my soul needs to soak in the healing powers of nature. It lies right outside my door and doesn’t have to cost me a thing, doesn’t even have to cost me tons of time. A bit of an awakening is on the horizon – one that will benefit me on many positive levels. I’m ready for journeys and adventures that will allow peace, freshness and energy to flow into me! Here’s to combating the nature deficit disorder!