Familiarity Breeds Respect

Guest Post by Mari L. McCarthy, www.CreateWriteNow.com

Journal writingThe year I celebrated my 50th birthday, I achieved two goals: ending my menstrual periods and going to a real writer’s retreat in Glastonbury, England. How did I do it?  No expensive miracle drugs, no laser-lead surgeries. Just mega doses of journaling, my favorite gift from Multiple Sclerosis (MS).

At my diagnosis, my doctor explained to me that MS involved plaques blocking communication between my head and body. We discussed my immune system attacking itself. That certainly described me — ignoring my body, pushing, pulling, and pressuring myself for perfection. So, MS was here to show me how to get out of my own way and learn how to live.

In one of the myriad MS episodes I’ve had over the last 20 years, my right hand suddenly departed for parts unknown taking the right side of my body with it. I needed to become left-handed, like yesterday. Ah, synchronicity! Within weeks of deciding to become a southpaw, a Borders bookseller introduced me to Julia Cameron’s “Morning Pages.”

Each morning, I wrote three stream-of-consciousness pages and in relatively short order got not only a functional left hand but exciting discoveries – introductions to the woman who truly lives in my body.

I added new words to my vocabulary – like trust, confidence, compassion, and respect. Even the word “fear” began to take on a new meaning: it’s fear of success that’s my current challenge as I heal more and more wounds and create a positively healthy life for myself.

As time went on, I noticed a growing passion for journaling, as I recognized more and more amazing benefits of the regular habit. Eventually, I began to work with the concept of journal writing for therapy. One day, the Universe affirmed that I was on the right track when the phrase ‘Journaling for the Health of It’ showed up in my journal. I knew then that I must spread those words. To everyone.

As I journal, I learn how my mind and emotions affect me physically. I examine my complexities and see how I’ve placed myself in dis-ease. I uncover the origins of unhelpful thoughts and feelings (from childhood, from genetics, from society). Then I choose to change, and continue to create a healthy self-relationship with loving, supportive dialogue, positive feedback, and constructive criticism.

Using a journal to find out the truth about yourself is great; using it to achieve your goals is thrilling; and using it to become whole and healthy both inside and out is just about the coolest thing I can think of!

Mari L. McCarthy is The Journaling Therapist.  She’s the creator of www.CreateWriteNow.com , home of the personal growth tool ‘Journaling for the Health of It ™.’ She believes “Journaling creates space for the healing to take place.”

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The Least You Need to Know about the Current Egg Recall

Suspected salmonella contamination is behind the ongoing recall of 380 million eggs in the U.S.  Salmonella infection is a bacterial disease that affects the intestinal tract.  (For an updated list of the eggs being recalled, go to: http://www.fda.gov/Food/NewsEvents/WhatsNewinFood/ucm223536.htm.)




Symptoms of salmonella infection typically come on quickly and occur within 12 to 72 hours of eating the contaminated food.  Symptoms include: 

  • Fever and chills
  • Cramps
  • Diarrhea
  • Severe headache
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Loss of appetite

Having most or even all of these symptoms does not indicate salmonella poisoning, but is a good reason to talk with your doctor to ensure appropriate treatment. 

The illness can last from 4 to 7 days and most people can survive without medical treatment.  However, in some cases, the symptoms – especially diarrhea – may be severe enough to require hospitalization.  Infants, the elderly and those with impaired immune systems may be more severely affected and should seek treatment promptly.   

What to Do? 

  1. If you think you might have salmonella poisoning, consult with your doctor.
  2. Keep checking the list of recalled eggs at http://www.fda.gov/Food/NewsEvents/WhatsNewinFood/ucm223536.htm .

Stay healthy!

Posted in Health and Fitness | Tagged , , | 3 Comments

The Romance of Things Past

Push MowerYou know you’re getting older when you mistakenly think some of the things you did as a kid could still be fun. Take a look at the photo. Remember these?

Even though electric and gas mowers were reasonably priced, my husband and I purchased a push mower when we bought our first house. We both try to be green when we can, and I was still under the illusion that I would happily mow the yard in my shirtwaist dress, high heels and pearls (I must have been channeling June Cleaver).  Bright blue birds would sing while circling my head and colorful flowers with smiling faces would dance nearby.  That was the adult translation of my fun-filled childhood memory.

Instead, the bumps in our lawn thwarted forward motion and the recalcitrant weeds seemed only too pleased to play dead while the mower passed over them before happily springing up again. After a couple of laps over the same stretches of uneven, unhappy lawn, I gladly let my husband replace me.

He decided the trick was speed and began running pell mell across the lawn. I fully expected him to fly over the handle and be subjected to a number 2 haircut from an unstoppable mower. Unable to watch, I went inside, grabbed the newspaper and, resigned, began leafing through the inserts looking for lawn mowers with motors. Hmm. Maybe my ‘feel good’ memory had to do with how I felt when I was FINISHED mowing the lawn. Outside, my husband tired quickly with no mishaps.

It’s funny how time changes things. When I was long and lanky in grade school, they used to call me ‘trash can’ cuz I would gobble up all the unwanted cakes and cookies from lunch trays and metal Barbie lunch boxes. Foods that used to taste so good, so ‘just right’ then, just don’t have the same flavor anymore.  Nowadays, one Little Debbie does me just fine…for a month. Were things really that sweet back then?  I’m lucky I still have my own teeth!

And things we used to do don’t have the same appeal. I can remember roller skating at the local rink for hours, holding hands with the boy du jour, my long hair flowing behind me  as we’d skate over that smooth wooden floor as long and hard as we could. There was nothing else like that feeling. It was like flying!  When they announced the last song, I can still remember that crestfallen feeling, knowing the magic was ending.

Some 40 years later, I tried to recreate the experience at a little rink tucked away in a nearby shopping strip. Soon enough, the smell of greasy popcorn and burgers, the odor of the stained, rented, leather roller skates and the flashing disco ball had my stomach heaving. Kids who barely reached my waist wove in and around me, actually scraping my wheels with theirs as they rolled ahead, slyly looking back to see if I’d tumbled yet. (I hadn’t and I didn’t.) And, speaking of rolling, you should have seen my husband’s eyes as he gripped the half-wall surrounding the rink while trying to get his balance. He’d never been to a skating rink before and, no doubt, never would again. And I wasn’t flying so much as I was desperate to get my money’s worth before taking off skates that were starting to make my feet itch inside two pairs of socks.

So, I’m grudgingly accepting the fact that our memory plays subtle tricks on us. I think the answer is to let sleeping illusions lie. While many of the things we did and ate as a kid were right for the time, they’re probably not worth revisiting or reconstructing now.

So, when I get the urge to try out a trampoline or buy a strawberry pop or think about the rusting pogo stick at my mom’s house, I head to the garage. I look at the push mower hanging dejectedly on the wall in our garage. I smile as I run my fingers over the handle and remember my husband flying across the yard with a maniacal gin on his tanned, lean, handsome face. To my way of thinking, that’s a better memory than the earlier one, but it’s also a good reminder that I should leave some of those old memories intact.

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Why the Text on Labels is Getting Smaller

Guest post by Kim White, WebDesignforWriters.com

I don’t generally buy into conspiracy theories, but I’m really getting suspicious about the font size on the products I’ve purchased lately. Is there something these big name, multi-national corporations don’t want me to know? Is there saccharine in my tea? Asbestos in my undies? I think something’s up and here’s why.

When I was a kid all the print on products was large and easy to read. We were able to scan the fine print and then blatantly ignore the warning on the Reddi  Wip can that said not to insert the nozzle directly into the mouth for an instant shot of whipped cream.

We took this kind of labeling for granted back then and it has cost us. Now, to read the warning label on  a can of Reddi  Wip, I have to take the can into strong light and then practically hold it out at arm’s length to maybe make out a few words!  (Note: I was hoping that with all the technological improvements in the last 30 years, it might now be ok to do a whipped cream shot. It’s not. NASA, can you look into this?)

Why hasn’t anyone else pointed out this problem of fine print getting not so finer but ever so smaller? The answer is simple, it has happened so slowly that we didn’t notice the change. How? Now that we’re into the digital age of printing, half point font sizes are possible. Companies have likely reduced the font size on labels about that much each year. In ten years, they could go, for example, from 12pt type to 7pt type and we’d never notice.  And younger people have never known it any other way so they haven’t noticed at all!

You’ve gone too far now, big companies hiding secrets from us. What next? Government secrets embedded in shampoo labels, used to pass Intel from the grocery store shelf to a carefully planted operative wielding a high-powered magnifying glass? Well, I’m blowing your cover! We know you are deliberately making the print on labels too small for us to read. My hope is that in exposing your scam you’ll soon get back to a printing a label that I can easily read. Something around 48pt type would be good.

Kim White lives on the Gulf Coast of Florida with her husband and two Egyptian Mau cats. She’s a graduate of the Herron School of Art in Indianapolis, Indiana, and has over 12 years professional experience in Web design and management. For more on Kim, go to WebDesignforWriters.com.

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New Bill to Combat Toxins in Personal Care Products

Mascara wandA couple of days ago, I met a friend for coffee.  We were talking about cosmetics, and she happened to mention a study of 2,016 British women released by UK deodorant-maker Bionsen last fall.  The findings concluded that British women apply  over 515 toxins to their bodies daily.  I’m guessing the count for American women is pretty similar.  (Read what Reuters had to say about the study here:   http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSTRE5AI3M820091119 .)

Toxins are defined as substances that are harmful to living organisms.  They run the gamut from heavy medals such as lead and aluminum to chemical toxins like tobacco and alcohol to microbial and environmental toxins.  The list keeps on growing.  And, unless you’ve been living under that proverbial rock, you know that toxins have been linked to cancer, allergies, birth defects and other health issues. 

As for personal care products, some of the toxins you might find lurking in your bathrooms are mercury in eye drops and mascara, formaldehyde in baby shampoo, coal tar in dandruff shampoo, and triethanolamine or TEA in shaving cream.  It could be that the perfume you spritz on for a night out contains up to 400 toxins and the moisturizer you slap on after a shower has over 30 different chemicals in it. 

The sad thing is, right now, manufacturers of personal care products can put anything they want into their products and aren’t required to list every ingredient on their labels. 

But, there’s good news.   In July 2010, the Safe Cosmetics Act of 2010 (H.R. 5786) was introduced by Reps. Jan Schakowsky, D-Ill., Ed Markey, D-Mass., and Tammy Baldwin, D-Wisc.  If the bill passes, it will give the U.S. Food and Drug Administration the authority to ensure that personal care products are free of harmful substances; it also requires manufacturers of these products to list all of the ingredients on their labels.  

Meanwhile, you might want to start reading labels (even realizing that 100% of the ingredients may not currently be listed) on your personal care products, same as you do with food. 

For more information on toxins, visit the websites for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention  and the Food and Drug Administration.  Another resource is the Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep database which ranks the safety of some personal care products.

As with any purchases you make, be an informed, educated consumer.

Posted in Skin care | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

The Sense of Silliness

Head of Cabbage

Cabbage. On your plate OR on your head?


At the risk of offending family, friends and readers, I’m going to tell you something.  During the weekend, there were three people in my house over the age of 50.  To protect the innocent, I will not name names, especially since two of these individuals might wish to deny what I’m about to tell you.   

Which is:  For a period of approximately 10 hours over two days, each of us wore a cabbage leaf on our head, regardless of what we were doing.  One of us started the fashion while fixing dinner.  The trend was apparently so enticing that the remaining two happily perched cabbage leaves on their heads as well.  We even went so far as to utilize clips and bobby pins to ensure the leaves didn’t fall off.  We agreed that, fresh from the fridge, the leaves felt cool and quite comfortable.  

Over dinner, we kept looking at each other thinking how silly the other looked, forgetting we were all wearing similar toques; it was only when we happened to catch our reflections in the mirror that we remembered.  And the jokes kept coming until we almost made ourselves sick laughing.   

Silly? You better believe it!  But, sometimes silliness makes sense.  Laughter, fun and a positive outlook are some of the tools that take the edge off our fraught, busy lives and keep us young.  It’s too easy to get caught up in the seriousness of today, so, when you see the chance to grab a harmless laugh or do something silly, do it.  You’ll be amazed how good you feel.  

And, the next time you make coleslaw, set those outer leaves aside and give a whole new meaning to ‘dressing for dinner.’  It will change the course of your meal!  

So, what do YOU do for fun or silliness?

Posted in Health and Fitness | Tagged , | 5 Comments

Make a “Me” List for Grainy Days

Do you ever have one of those days when you feel like your stuck in an old, grainy, black and white movie?  You’re just not your crisp, clear self.  Instead, you’re feeling down on yourself, like you’re just a shadow of who you thought you were.  Maybe you’ve struggled out of bed, sat down with your cup of tea or coffee, stared off into the other room or out the window and thought, “What have I accomplished?  What have I really…done?”

The thing is, each of us has accomplished a lot, achieved  a ton,  made a difference and completed a splendiferous amount of thing-ages which, at any given moment, we won’t recall, especially if we’re starring in “Pleasantville” with the organist playing the “what have I done lately” soundtrack on the stage.

One of the things that brings life back into focus for me is to keep a list – my favorite four-letter word.  On this list, I track all of my successes – large and small – for the year.  Yes, it’s a “me” list and everyone needs one.

If you don’t already have one, start it today.   Get out a pen now while your wheels are turning and you’re starting to remember all that good stuff you’ve done or that’s happened to you.  Put your name in big letters at the top of the paper and just start jotting anything and everything down that you can think of that made you feel good about you.  And, if it’s your first “me” list, don’t restrict yourself to just one year.  Go back in time a little bit.

Your list doesn’t need to be fancy.  You can dedicate a page in your journal, put a piece of paper under the donut magnet on the fridge, tuck a small pad of paper into your nightstand…whatever.  Just keep it handy and, from now on, every time you get that ‘dang, I am okay’ glow or sense of accomplishment that comes from doing something and doing it well, add that particular event, award, etc. to your list. 

This list exercise fits right in with those who set goals each year, but even if your goal setting is more haphazard than structured, it’s always good to know where you are and what you made, attained, received, conquered, etc.  And, remember, it’s your list.  You can put anything on it you want.  Nobody else has to see it.

Then, on those days when the your inner light is flickering and you’re looking gray around the edges, study that list and remember the glorious feeling that accompanied each of the items on it and know that this list and the feelings it evokes are a bright, luminous reflection of you.  Wallow in the light! 

Your list will remind you that, yep, you are just as great as you think you are.  THAT should put a little color and clarity back into your world! 


Posted in Health and Fitness | 8 Comments