Who Are You Hanging Out With?

By Shannon Boatwright

Ok, so I already had this whole idea ready, notes written and all, for a blog entry I was all into and passionate about. But then, I see this post on Instagram by Prince EA (@prince_ea) and I had to drop everything and write about this topic. The post said…

“Who are you hanging out with? There was a 20- year study done at Harvard, it said that your physical health is determined more by your relationships than the food you eat, the exercise program you’re on or the genes that you have inherited.”

SMiley

Wow. So on one level, YES, but Wow. Shocking to really think about. And I mean, really think about it…

#1 – How is your physical health?

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#2 – What kind of foods do you eat?

#3 – What kind of exercise are you getting?

#4 – Ya got good genes?

#5 – How are your relationships?

#6 – Who ARE you hanging out with?

 

This one has really made me think….

For me, as a public school teacher, I know my health is not as good as it could/should be. Why? Because, I’m overworked, overwhelmed and grossly underpaid. And let’s face it, I don’t have or make enough time for ME. Who do I spend most of my time with during the work week? Adolescent, middle school kids.

Of which, maybe 30% are well behaved, respectful children who make an honest effort.  50% are lazy, rascals that test a teacher’s patience at almost every turn. And 20% are inconsiderate, disrespectful punks that need a good dose of real discipline.  Add to that equation the fact that I’m a person of great passion and dignity, that cannot help but give 150% to my job – which means, I attempt to reach all these kids that I spend most of my time with during my work week.  It’s exhausting.

I should work out daily. I fortunately do a lot of moving within my school day, whether dancing, doing warm up after warm up with each class or simply being on my feet, walking the halls of the school or constantly dragging seating and/or set pieces around on my stage. But, do I do a focused work out just for me? Nope. Not usually. I’m always teaching or doing activity for something else/someone else. Do I need to make the exercise happen for me? All for me? YES!

Do I eat good? Sure, compared to most. I’m not a soda person.  I have my coffee every morning, usually only one cup. Do I put too much sugar in it? Yep. Two whole spoonfuls with French vanilla creamer. I can’t do it any other way. I’ve tried. I’d rather have no coffee, than have to endure drinking dirty water – aka black coffee. I discovered that firsthand when I did the Whole30 healthy eating program. My other drink of choice, besides a relaxing, lovely glass of wine, is good ole southern sweet tea. Which in my house, we only make green tea since the hubby has battled kidney stones. I like to think I do pretty darn good with drinking water. I have my days of course, but generally I do really well with drinking a lot of water because it just flat out makes me feel better.

Food wise, quite honestly, I don’t count calories and I take pride in the fact that I never plan to. I love food. I love to cook. I could eat pasta every day. But, the cool thing, … as you get older, you start listening to your body. At least I have. I’ve learned. I know when I need fruit. I know when I need veggies. I know when I need grains and/or red meat. I’ve learned to listen to my cravings. Even those rare times when I need chocolate. 😉 Our bodies speak to us. We just have to listen.

Do I have good genes? People tell me I do. I like to think I do. My family is beautiful, in my opinion. All mostly healthy people. Any critical issues, etc they have suffered from in my bloodline have been due to injury or sickness for the most part. No tragic hereditary ailments. For which I am incredibly thankful.

My Mama is beautiful. Fortunately for her, she has been blessed with a strong dose of the Italian bloodline of her family tree, which has graced her with gorgeous, dark skin that seems to age half the amount of time most normal people’s skin ages. Of course it helps that she takes amazing care of her skin. But she indeed has genes to thank for that. Me. I’m a different story. Though people constantly and consistently say that I look like my mother, it’s really only that my mother and I are two peas in a pod. We have the same mannerisms, the same manner of speaking at times… let’s just say we are artists born of the same brush. It’s a magical thing. But the reality of my exterior is that I have a lot of my father’s genes. And, my dear Daddy is of Scottish decent. Even some Irish may be in there. Therefore, yep, I am a true blond/auburn/strawberry little lady with white, freckled, easily prone to wrinkle skin.

Now fortunately, on the talent scale, I’d like to think I should be very thankful to have equal parts of both my parents, as they’re both very charismatic, outgoing, friendly, talented individuals. But I’ve come to the harsh reality that I just don’t have all the exterior genes that my mother has. I think the only Italian genes I inherited are definitely that of an interior nature, which is that I have a naturally determined, strong willed, very passionate, sassy temperament that either wows a person or scares them.

So all this being said, you’d think that all of this would have a heck of a lot to do with my physical health. I mean come on!

Yet this Harvard study stated that “your physical health is determined more by your relationships than the food you eat, the exercise program you’re on or the genes that you have inherited.

This is huge and I totally get it.

The reality for some people, despite what they eat, how much they work out or what genes they were graced with, is that they’re miserable. Their physical body may look good or their life may seem awesome to others, but internally they’re a mess. Is this because of unhealthy relationships in their lives? Ever heard the stories about the celebs, rock stars, actors, sports stars, dignitaries, etc who seem to have it all? Success, fame, power, riches….yet, they struggle consistently with emotional demons and some even end their own lives? Whew. Wow.

Yep. Doesn’t matter how fabulous the exterior may seem. It’s the relationships that mold the person.  Just maybe, the people we surround ourselves with…the people we have true relationships with, are what truly defines us.  ???   Hmmmmm…

Does my stressful job within the public school system affect my health? Heck yea it does. On more levels than I could begin to describe here. And, let’s face it, if I didn’t have the fellow teachers, the ones that have become truly best friends among the battlegrounds of public school, I would never survive the war that is public school. The relationships I have been graced with while soldiering through the dirty platoons of teacherdom, well, some of these friendships are everlasting. Seriously. I don’t know what I’d do without some of these fellow warriors I’ve had the honor and pleasure to work with. And during those school hours, despite the brats and rugrats I may have to deal with, I still build faith in my grand, underappreciated profession, thanks to the precious few students who make an effort, make me smile and remind me of why I try so hard to inspire.

And my family and real friends, my oh my, I could write page after page about the true family and friends that I have faith, security and thankfulness in knowing that they love me, they forgive me, they adore me, they have my back no matter what …it’s a truly priceless thing to know I have loved ones I can go to for support no matter what I may be going through.

I can absolutely attest to the fact that in my older, more recent years, I have become a healthier person due to the people I surround myself with. My husband, my Love… he makes me a better person. He adores and supports me in a way that words cannot begin to describe. Sometimes just the look in his eyes gives me the push I need to be myself and pursue my dreams. His genuine adoration and love allowed me to find myself. His humble, supportive, loving nature reminds me that it’s ok to put myself first. He has this grand ability to love me and allow me this priceless opportunity to be ok with sharing my talents. So I can say with utter confidence, when I hang out with him, I am complete. I am a healthy, awesome individual because I can be me.

Relationships? Are they really that important to our health?

Oh My Goodness, YES YES YES YES and YES.

So, who are you hanging out with??

Wedding Season

By:Ashley Whisonant

Sure enough, once the spring and summer roll around, wedding invitations begin to arrive. The older I get the less wedding invitations and more children’s birthday party invitations arrive. I do usually get the chance to witness at least one or two friends or family members get married each year. I love a good wedding. Weddings are the essence of love, giving of oneself, and sharing with loved ones. I can’t help but think back on my own wedding in 2009.

Our engagement was short lived before the wedding planning, appointments, parties, and tastings began. Everything seems so important and life altering. Each decision kept me up wondering if I made the right choice. It all seems silly now. The show of a wedding is not important. If I could marry my husband, Matt, all over again, I would do it differently. No fuss, no expensive cake, fancy decorations, and oodles of people we rarely speak with now. It would be just him and I-sharing that special moment.

Today I am thankful for my forever wedding date. He is the man who makes me stronger, confident, and never lets me accept less than I deserve. Looking back on our honeymoon pictures, we were babies. If we could just go back to these two and set them straight. Knowing us, the old Matt and Ashley would never listen in the first place!

Time to Kiss and Make Up

By: Jeanne Reynolds

The company I work for has locations in both the United States and the United Kingdom. As our communications team worked together last week deciding what kind of internal story to do for the Fourth of July, I started to feel awkward. I mean, there we were talking with our British colleagues about celebrating a holiday that says, to them, “Nyah, nyah, nyah!”

OK, it’s been more than 240 years since that ugly parting of the ways and most people on both sides of the Big Pond would agree we’re now BFFs. So I thought let’s look at it another way: the great gifts each culture has given to the other and things we love about each other.

That led to some pretty interesting research. For example, American as apple pie? Umm, not so much. We can thank the early English settlers for bringing that to our shores. And if, like me, you think everyone in England enjoys a big roast goose on Christmas (hello, Charles Dickens), then we’re both a little outdated. Brits long ago went cold (well, hot) turkey and adopted America’s native bird for their feasts.

And there’s so much more to love. The British sent us the Beatles and Cary Grant. We shared Elvis and Paul Newman. One of theirs invented the World Wide Web, one of ours created Google. We gave them the magic of Disney and they gave us the delight of Downton Abbey. We both love Jane Austen (theirs) as much as Mark Twain (ours). We’re equally dazzled by the royal family and Hollywood celebrities.

If two of the greatest powers on earth can successfully move past a tumultuous past to a shared future, I wonder if we as individuals can do the same in our own relationships. Of course, a couple hundred years and fighting side-by-side in a couple of world wars surely smoothed the way for the U.S. and the U.K. to become pals. Still, it’s hopeful to think bitter divorces, gut-wrenching breakups and long-standing family rifts could eventually evolve into more cordial relationships and mutual appreciation.

For now, hurry up and cut me a piece of that apple pie. There’s an old Cary Grant movie about to come on and I don’t want to miss it.