OZONE AWARE: Help Take Care of the Summer Air

By: Mary Pat Baldauf

We have another month until it’s official, but it already feels like summer in the Midlands.  Here in the Midlands, summers are known for festivals, homemade ice cream and playing in Lake Murray. But there’s something else that heats up when the Midlands starts getting warmer: ground-level ozone. Here’s the dirt on ground-level ozone:

Good up high. Bad nearby. Unlike the good, protective ozone layer in the stratosphere, ground level ozone is a harmful air pollutant that affects all of us. It’s formed when emissions from everyday items combine with other pollutants and “cook” in the heat and sunlight. (Gasoline-powered cars and trucks are the most common source of emissions in our area.) Weather also plays a key role in ozone formation. The highest ozone levels are usually recorded in summer months when temperatures approach the high 80s and 90s and the wind is stagnant or light.

Ground-Level ozone affects everybody. At ground level, ozone is a health hazard for all of us, especially the young and elderly. Those who are active and exercising outdoors may experience breathing difficulties and eye irritation. Prolonged exposure may result in reduced resistance to lung infections and colds. Ozone can also trigger attacks and symptoms in individuals with pre-existing conditions, like asthma or other respiratory infections like chronic bronchitis and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

Stay alert all summer. Remember, the highest ozone levels are typically found on days that reach the high 80s and 90s and when the wind is stagnant or light. Stay tuned to your local meteorologists, as they will be notifying the public of Ozone Action Alert days when ozone levels are forecasted to reach unhealthy levels. Or use Enviroflash to sign up for free air quality forecasts.

Don’t just breathe, do something. Fellow breathers, you can become a part of the solution. There are simple, easy steps you can take to reduce harmful emissions during ozone pollution season. Be a clean air warrior and click here to get started. 

For more information on ground-level ozone, visit Clean Air Midlands or SC Department of Health and Environmental Control.

 

Tailgate Withdrawal

By: Stacy Thompson

For those that may be concerned about my lack of recent posts and a lack of sports-related themes…fear not!! I am merely a victim of TWS (Tailgate Withdrawal Syndrome) — a very real affliction that will likely play itself out in 120 days (or so). If you think someone you know may suffer from this same illness, read the warning signs below and have them contact me to assist in my endeavor to form a meaningful support group…

  1. You watch the sun come up over Williams-Brice Stadium from your tailgating spot and wonder why your friends are running so late…in May.
  1. You sit in your fold-out chair under your Gamecock tent on Saturday morning drinking a cold one and eating chili…at 8:00 a.m.
  1. You begin purchasing family-sized bags of Tostitos scoops during the week…and large quantities of mayo…and jumbo-sized bags of shredded cheese…
  1. You begin to tear up and jump up and down when you hear Sandstorm or cry like a baby and break out in goose-bumps when you hear 2001.
  1. You obsessively troll the food.com, recipes.com and cook.com websites for new ideas to fit with your tailgate theme menus for the upcoming season (which you already have marked on your calendar with the preceding day off to execute your masterpiece of a menu).
  1. You view utensils, food receptacles and serving ware at Target only for their value in terms of tailgate utility and aesthetic.
  1. You pack and unpack your car with tailgate gear, with the same rhythm and grace as a Nascar pit crew…while timing yourself to achieve maximum efficiency and speed.
  1. Your ears perk instantly when you hear the words “tail” and “gate”…even when used in a derogatory fashion to describe your rear-end’s inability to pass through an entryway (you may have to talk this one through, but eventually you’ll get it).
  1. You make large quantities of appetizers and sweets…just because.
  1. You watch and re-watch most every game from the 2011, 2012 and 2013 football seasons…remembering not only the grandeur that is college football but the amazing food and camaraderie that was had by all.

See you all soon!

Don’t Ever Say ‘No’ to a Life Experience

By: Stacy Thompson

antarctica

Antarctica

I once read an article about a study by Cornell University psychology professor Dr. Thomas Gilovich in which he noted “One of the enemies of happiness is adaptation.” Meaning, although buying material things will provide initial happiness and excitement, the feeling fades through time as one becomes accustomed to the new object and then seeks to move on to the next material thing. (Anyone else singing Madonna’s “Material Girl” in her head?) To contrast, Dr. Gilovich’s study indicated that over time, those who spent money on experiences noted increased satisfaction and reported that the experiences became an ingrained part of the person’s identity, and in general fostered greater happiness.

I have traveled not only early on in childhood (moving around with my Army Dad) but since settling in Columbia, my parents have continued to place a premium on creating experiences for us individually and as a family. As the real world has taken over (i.e., jobs, mortgages and other responsibilities), I still believe that breaks from reality through travel are an absolute must – which is why I have for several years repeated to my mother my new mantra, I will never say ‘no’. Yes, it’s a double negative, but it is nothing but positive!

penguins1

Penguins!

Below are some of the experiences that have become a part of me (the international version), and a short list of excursions I highly recommend as additions to your bucket list:

  1. Antarctica – Truly one of the most remote, untouched and amazingly beautiful places on Earth. The coldest, driest, highest and windiest of all continents also boasts fascinating villages of tuxedoed, flightless birds that captivate for hours!
  2. Brazil – Became my second home when I moved there in high school and again during graduate school. I’ve studied there and worked there, but can attest to the fact that there is no place better to actually LIVE. The people are full of love, music, dance and true appreciation for taking each day as it comes.
  3. New Zealand – Trapped in a rental car with your parents for two weeks??? To some it may sound like the perfect nightmare, but for me it was beyond a perfect dream, particularly when that place was the land of the Kiwis. It boasts a gorgeous countryside, charming natives and just enough thrill-seeking (bungee anyone?) to keep you on your toes.
  4. Zambia – A nation within the last continent I had to touch to reach all seven, but the one that touched my heart the most. No touristy stops during my time there, but the dedication of the missionaries living there and the lives they constantly impacted will stay with me forever.

    everest

    Mount Everest

  5. Nepal – Not simply my most challenging trip ever, but one where the people made the adventure even more meaningful. My mom and I hiked on foot from Lukla (the most dangerous airport in the world. Google it, you won’t be disappointed) to Kalapathar, the overlook to Base Camp of Mt. Everest. It took over two weeks to complete the “Mother of All Bonding Experiences.”

Don’t ever say ‘No’ – and may the sum total of your experiences be beyond anything money can buy!

Check out Our Every Woman Blog Contest Entries

Every Woman Blog contest

We are so excited about the Every Woman Blogger contest submissions we have received so far that we wanted to share them with our readers! Check out the great entries we have received so far and let us know who would you like to see featured as a permanent blogger.

And if you’d like to enter the contest to become a featured Every Woman blogger, don’t wait! The contest ends Thursday, June 30th. To enter the contest, upload a video or post a short written statement to our Facebook Wall about why you would be a great blogger to represent and inspire women in the Midlands.

Kimberly Smith: Hello! I’m so excited that you have opened up this opportunity again. As an Irmo native, LMC patient (2 babies), wife, mom, community advocate and business owner- I have the pleasure of meeting so many wonderful people and hearing some amazing stories. I absolutely love to write (and speak actually). I began writing inspirational poetry at a very young age and have continued to write to encourage those of whom I have an influence. I would love to serve as an Every Woman Blogger because that is exactly who I am! I am your everyday woman who works hard, deals with life’s disappointment, loves family and happens to be pretty good at sharing captivating stories.

Jondalynn Holmes Johnson: I would love being able to share what is on my heart as it relates to “Every woman” from various walks of life. I have recently started my own blog page because writing enables me to express not only words but healing words for what all we experience and encounter. I have been a healthcare employee for nearly twelve years, seeing and being a part of helping patients, families, visitors, and even fellow healthcare employees bring hope and inspiration in challenging times. It would be an honor to be a “Every Woman blogger” using writing to bring and promote another form of healing for the women of the Midlands.

Tiffany Willis: What an exciting opportunity to share thoughts, opinions, and ideas with women from our community! I live in Gaston and am a wife and busy working mother of two boys, a senior and a kindergartener. I meet so many people throughout my day from all walks of life. As a healthcare provider, I have heard so many touching stories, and have so many wonderful ideas on how to advocate for not just my patients and their families, but our community as well. I would love the chance to be an “Everyday Woman Blogger” because that’s just what I am and it’s an experience that I would love to share with others!

Azure Crum Stilwell: Being an “Every Woman Blogger” would be an awesome opportunity for me. I just started my own blog (http://peckedbychickens.com) because let’s face it being a bipolar, overweight, pre-diabetic mom of two boys (ages 9 and 18) is both hilarious and tough so I needed a creative outlet. I am a bit sarcastic with a whole lot of funny mixed in. I come from a long line of wonderful women who have experienced just about everything you can think of from complete happiness to unthinkable sadness and yet we all get up every day and keep swimming. Sometimes we just float but at least we try. My personal experiences and those of the women in my life have helped me to already feel like an “Every Woman Blogger” so I know whoever you do choose is going to be great. Best of luck to all who are brave enough to share a piece of their story.

Jordan Tate: Hi! I’m Jordan Tate, wife to a Lexington Medical ICU nurse, adoptive mama, and infant loss survivor x2. My husband and I lost our first two children to a rare genetic disorder in back to back, full term pregnancies. Each of our girls lived for a few minutes outside the womb before passing away. We wrote about the whole experience on our blog while walking through it all, and four months after we lost our second baby, we brought home our adopted son in a whirlwind domestic adoption. I am dedicated to writing in a voice that is genuine and transparent, especially through the harder moments in life. We like to keep it real. I especially love to reach out to mothers who have experienced infant loss and second degree infertility, as well as families who are walking through the rollercoaster of adoption! You can check out some of our story here: http://tatesatsea.blogspot.com/p/us.html

Felicia Snider: I’d like to be an “Every Woman” blogger for Lexington Medical Center because I’d like to encourage other women as we deal with various aspects of life including: tragedy and triumph, living and loving. As we journey through life, I want women to know that there’s nothing a little laughter, prayer, charm and a tube of lipstick can’t fix. Oh yeah, throw in a cute pair of shoes for good measure! There’s nothing like being a woman! “Living, Shopping and Twisting My Hair” feliciaspeakes.blogspot.com
Antoinette Cain: What an awesome opportunity! I would be honored to be selected to join your team of bloggers. Your mission goes hand in hand with the premise of my blog trulycharmedlife.com. My blog is a platform for women to share their stories, trials and triumphs, so that others are encouraged to claim their charmed lives! Awesome things happen when we come together, heal together, and work toward making our dreams into reality.

angsfamilysandwich: Hello there! I am new to the Columbia area and saw your blog contest advertised in the Irmo News. I am single mother who has been caring for three kids and two parents for years. I am the face of the sandwich generation! This post is about an experience I had with my mother while she was in a nursing home. Please let me know if I need to do anything else to enter the contest. Thanks, Angie Sloan.

Tamara L. Dreher: What can I say? I’m a young, single mother of one, who believes in achieving goals and living life to the fullest! My journey of life in almost 28 years has not been the easiest, raising a son and obtaining two degrees, but still there is no defeat in sight. One of my biggest goals is to become a prominent blogger who gives advice ranging from the beginning of parenthood to the escape of parenthood; most call this traveling 😉. I love to travel the states, serve my community, stay in-the-know about health and wellness, encourage philanthropy, and inspire every being in my path. After all, what is life without the ability to help or inspire others?

As a resident of Lexington, SC who has lived on every side of town in the Midlands, I think it’s safe to say I know my community well. I love exploring what my home has to offer, as well as spreading the word to those who consider my findings interesting or helpful. I am that person who loves to engage in the mind, heal the body, and touch the soul. Even if my thoughts do not initially spark the interest of others, there is always flexibility and optimism!

I can honestly say I have the “gift of gab”, but I’ve learned to transfer that gift from mouth to hand. Expressing my thoughts in a manner that allows others to experience and learn more would be the opportunity of a lifetime for any woman entering this contest. Although my submission is terse, just know my heart and mind have far more to offer. I appreciate the opportunity to participate in this contest, and may the best bloggers win!

Ashley Whisonant: The beauty of the Every Woman Blog is the diversity of women featured. I would love the opportunity to share my point of view and experiences with the Midlands Community. As a University of South Carolina Graduate, former Alpha Chi Omega sorority member, mother to two rambunctious toddlers, and working mom, I have experiences many can relate to. I am lucky enough to have a SAH hubby who supports my full-time work career in the business world. I am obsessed with Disney travel and saving money while doing it! I am a social butterfly that loves to share my money saving travel tips with ANYONE who will listen! I am currently navigating the world of second boy potty training-not for the faint of heart! I would be over the moon if chosen as one of the newest bloggers!

Jeanne Reynolds: As the French say, I’m a woman “of a certain age.” Here’s why I’d like to be an Every Woman Blogger:

I’ve never been so insulted in my life. And friends, get ready, because it’s going to happen to you, too, sooner or later. It was the day I got that special envelope in the mail. The one with an invitation to join … AARP!

What?! I’m not old. I’m not even middle-aged. Hmm, pause on that. Anyone who’s at least 50 — and apparently AARP knows who you are, because that’s when this shows up — is, at best, halfway through life. The middle. Maybe that’s why my middle seems to be expanding.

And that’s not the only life stage-related change I’m looking at. With retirement now peering over the horizon, I’m starting to wonder about things like:
• Who will I be when I’m not a working gal?
• How will I keep the friends I made at work?
• Where do I want to use my experience and talents outside a cubicle?
• What are family members going to expect from me now that I’ll have all this “free time”?
• Will my outside and my inside ever be the same age? (I hope not.)

Maybe you have some of these same questions if you’re changing jobs, leaving the work world to care for family, changing relationships or becoming an empty-nester. Because they all boil down to one essential question: Who am I now?

Let’s find out together.

Stacy Thompson: To blog–1. a regularly updated website or web page, typically one run by an individual or small group, that is written in an informal or conversational style.

Stay with me folks, I realize I started with a definition piece copied from a Wikipedia search on blogs, but I assure you, you like it or not, the rest is from my own hand and somewhat bizarre perceptions and ideas…

I have heard of and subscribed to blogs on various topics written by an eclectic and varied group of people–blogs on running, hiking, politics, health and literature–you name it, and I’ve been bewitched by the blog. But to write my own? Haven’t given it much thought until just now…

I am mostly informal by nature and love a good conversation, no matter the topic–so to have a forum to share my experiences, anecdotes and highly entertaining tales would be a ton of fun…really what is the point of doing anything in life if it isn’t fun, anecdotal and/or to gain experience? I am a long-time resident of Lexington County (grew up in the shadows of Lexington County Hospital, as it will forever be known to those of us who remember the location of not only the ‘old Lowe’s’ on Highway 1, but also the ‘old, old Lowe’s just down the street–and who among us does not miss the Cromer’s monkeys at Dutch Square Mall???) but have explored all seven continents. I am a lawyer working in her own firm but consider myself beyond fortunate to represent those unable to work due to their health; I am a huge fan of all sports but can appreciate the theater and arts (although I may refer to Intermission as ‘Halftime’ and bemoan the concession stand offerings–what? No corn dogs and ginormous soda that takes two hands and a spotter to lift??). I love to cook, but begrudgingly admit that casseroles and tailgate food comprise my meal plan. I occasionally run, but, unless being chased, can only call my pace Tortosian (not a word, but describes my turtle-like attempts). I am immensely proud of my mother and father but cannot deny the fact that my iPhone photo album contains many more pics of my dog at a ratio of about 12 to 1 (although he is pretty freakin’ cute!). I adore the written word and read voraciously, but will not hesitate to watch The Terminator, Roadhouse or The Princess Bride on cable, no matter at what point I channel-surf upon them and despite the fact I own them both on DVD (and Blu-Ray).

If chosen to participate in the Every Woman blog, I promise to deliver just that–random musings, memories and tales from an Every Woman–my travels and escapes from reality; the doldrums of daily life–stories of woman against machine (wait until you hear about my plethora of uses for duct tape), stories of woman against the system (stranded in Monaco and Moscow, each for entirely different reasons), woman against nature (i.e. times you wished that Bear Grylls dude would just permanently affix himself to your leg), woman against parent (my mom gets us involved in a lot of weird stuff–skydiving, bungee jumping and mostly anything involving the signing of a waiver) and, last of all, woman against self (may get somewhat deep, do you have a psychiatrist on staff?? Just asking…)

I’ll write to entertain myself and my close family and friends who will be compelled to follow the blog or risk bodily harm (just kidding, no bodily harm, but extreme stink-eyes and a refusal to make my beyond de-lish oatmeal raisin cookies for the next gathering) and to hopefully entertain others, or at least provide them with a guide of what NOT to do–or how to extract oneself from a potentially embarrassing situation if they do what they shouldn’t, or how to best talk themselves out of said embarrassing situation like a pro.

Thanks for sticking with me and reading this rather long missive — I wish the very best to all who apply! (But my competitive nature precludes me from wishing you luck, I’m sure you’ll understand!).

Sincerely,
Stacy

Teri Keener Mewhorter: I don’t know what I want to be when I grow up! I’ve been a mother to 4, so I am an expert in pyschology, first aid, limo service, and logistics. As empty nesters, my husband and I have decided at 3 p.m. we wanted dinner in Charlotte, so it’s in the car we go! In my earlier years you couldn’t get me on the 2nd step of a ladder; at 50 I lost my fear filter and started ziplining and crossing the singing bridge at Grandfather’s Mountain (in 42mph winds with wind chill of 5 degrees). I am adoptive “mom” to an arctic wolf at a NC zoo & rescue center, novice photographer and create original recipes that people not only request a second time, but they don’t require a trip to ER. Each day brings a new adventure, want to come along?

Inventors Wanted

By: Lara Winburn

hulahoopAs summer is upon us there are many things I celebrate. Time outside, time in the pool, time at the beach. I love lightening bugs and snow cones and lazy summer days but there are brief hiccups in these idyllic summer days when I wish I had some summer survival inventions. When we are not Instagramming our perfect S’mores or finding the most perfect seashell on the seashore, there is the occasional short fuse and too much togetherness. For those times, dear friends, please make me one of these.

First of all, I would like a personal space hula hoop – you know, like a parent perimeter or a baby barrier. I love hugs and kisses and snuggles but sometimes I need a little space, particularly in the summer when it is hot, sticky and humidity reaches 198 million percent. I could slip on my breezy hula hoop that would prevent anyone, particularly of the toddler variety, from making contact with me. Maybe a little something pleasing to look at like a hula skirt just with a larger more rigid rim – let’s say a hoop skirt meets impenetrable force field of personal space or a mote around this fortress called motherhood.

The other thing I would like as we hit some summer boredom or one rainy day too many is a recording of my own voice. My voice repeating the phrases that it seems I say over and over again. Maybe if it was a little like the Easy button from Staples except when you push it says things like, “Keep your hands to yourself.” OR “Put on your shoes.” OR “Wash your sticky hands.” You know sometimes it is physically exhausting to utter even another word especially when it is the same word you have said 9 million times. See a squabble between siblings – just hit the “hands-to-yourself”button. Finally ready to leave the house and realize someone is still bare footed? Just slam on the “shoes-now” button! Push it 100 times without ever raising your voice. There is a chance you could look at a magazine and regulate behavior at the same time….maybe.

The other thing I would like to own, while maybe not a new invention, is just not in my possession. I would like the darkest, thickest blackout curtains known to man. You know, nothing makes bedtime easy and breezy like daylight savings time. I need these curtains to provide the pitch-black trickery necessary to put small children to bed before everyone runs out of patience. (And before the go-to-bed-now button doesn’t work anymore.)

So happy summer to all of you out there! I hope your days are filled with smiling freckled faces, ice cream sundaes and daring dashes through the sprinklers, but when things get real – I’ll let you know when these prototypes are ready!

Oh, The Places You Will Go

By: Shannon Boatwright

Go into the Wilderness of Your Intuition...

“You have to leave the city of your comfort and go into the wilderness of your intuition. You can’t get there by bus, only by hard work and risk and by not quite knowing what you’re doing, but what you’ll discover will be wonderful.

What you’ll discover will be yourself.”

Alan Alda (American actor, director, screenwriter, and author. A six-time Emmy Award and Golden Globe Award winner, he is widely known for his roles as Captain Hawkeye Pierce in the TV series M*A*S*H and Arnold Vinick in The West Wing.)

In the wake of graduations all across the state, so many thoughts cross my mind and fill my heart. As I see former students graduating and hear dear friends of mine with children at that age, declaring, “I can’t believe my baby is graduating!” – a whirlwind of emotions come into play.

First, I cannot imagine my own children being old enough to graduate from high school, much less college – them starting preschool was traumatic enough! When both my babies are in high school, it’s going to be quite the reality check for this little Mama.

Second, I think back to when I graduated and boy does that ever send the memories flooding through the mind! So when I read the quote above, by the amazing Alan Alda, I reflect and wonder if these brilliant young graduates truly grasp the fact that they’ve got the whole world at their feet. They’ve got so much opportunity within their reach! Oh to be young again and be in that position to decide all the exciting places I could go!

When I look back to my days right out of college, one of the best things I ever did was venture out on my own and move across the country to Los Angeles. I definitely left my comfort zone, took huge risks, and learned that it took hard work to accomplish great things. That big move helped me to discover myself. And I would’ve never experienced that level of discovery had I never adventured away from my hometown. My wish for all these young ones oozing with potential is that they will allow themselves the opportunity to discover, take life by the reins, own it, and make great things happen, as they hopefully discover the most wonderful things about themselves.

You have brains in your head.
You have feet in your shoes.
You can steer yourself in any direction you choose.
You’re on your own.
And you know what you know.
You are the one who’ll decide where to go.

– “Oh, The Places You’ll Go” by Dr. Seuss 🙂

Here’s Your Chance to Become an Every Woman Blogger!

Every Woman Blog Contest

We’re excited to announce that we’re sponsoring another Every Woman Blog Contest to select new bloggers to join our team! Women of all ages are invited to enter the contest from June 1st to June 30th. Each selected blogger will receive a $250 cash prize.

To enter the blogging contest, visit Lexington Medical Center’s Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/LexingtonMedical. Upload a video or post a short written statement on the Wall about why you would be a great blogger to represent and inspire women in the Midlands. Five women with the most persuasive, funny, touching or engaging posts will be selected to become featured bloggers on the Every Woman Blog.

Each featured blogger will write at least one post per month. The topics will vary greatly depending on the personalities of the bloggers and their daily experiences in the community. The bloggers will also meet in person at “blogger reunions” to share ideas and brainstorm topics.

Make sure to visit us on our Facebook page and leave us a message on the Wall stating why you think you’d be a great blogger – and you could win!