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Health (209 posts)
I like fun months, like National Honey Month (September) and Women's Friendship Month (also September). Then there are the not-fun-but-important months, like Childhood Cancer Awareness Month (uh, also September). I'm not sure there's any combination of words more awful than "childhood" and "cancer." Okay, so I wrote that sentence and then stared at it for about ten years. How to transition from there? It's just too awful. Arnold Palmer Hospital's Illuminate Blog acknowledges the difficulty of Childhood Cancer Awareness: "People really don’t want to talk about it...We don’t talk about it because it scares the living daylights out of us. The very idea that it could happen to my child, to my family is more than we can bear. It’s an unbelievably heart-wrenching thought: caring for your child as they suffer and knowing that you are powerless to take away their pain. But, for some it is their reality; it’s the hand they were dealt."
Then there are the kids who have to live through it all, and who display strength of spirit that makes most adults look like overgrown pansies. Kids like Talia, a 13-year-old who has been battling cancer for six years. Six years. When she first started to lose her hair from chemotherapy, she tried wearing wigs, but according the Illuminate blog, she said, “It just didn’t feel like me...Makeup is my wig.” Talia started posting her makeup tutorials online and has become something of a YouTube phenomenon. This girl is really gorgeous, with unrealistically huge dark eyes right off an illustrated princess, but as her vlog reveals, she's also incredibly fierce, brave, and (you knew it was coming...) beautiful on the inside.
It's easy to glaze over at the words "Childhood Cancer," to shut down out of self-preservation -- some things are just too sad to comprehend. But kids like Talia make it real, and help us to understand that if a 13-year-old can say, "Having cancer has been a gift, but yet a horrible, horrible, terrifying thing," then the least we can do is listen to her.
Collecting Jokes To Help Kids With Cancer
Unexpected Help for A Teenager In Need of a New Leg
Who knows why we all keep saying ridiculous things like "I'm too old for that," when this is proven to be nonsense again and again? For example, say you're past your 20s (or 30s) and looking to take up a new, non-old-ladyish hobby. "I always loved gymnastics as a kid," you might say to yourself, "but that's impossible now, so I guess I'll take up crocheting." If you're German athlete/grandma Joanna Quaas, however, you resume your former gymnastics habit, and by 86 you're winning a Guinness World Record for oldest gymnast alive. And the unofficial Life Lift blog award for awesomest gymnast alive. You absolutely must see the photos and videos of her performing -- in her granny-glasses and all (and, bonus, the video also features a female sumo wrestler):
Of her world record, Quaas told The Daily Mail,"I hope the record inspires others to realize it's never too late." She also explained that her exercise routine includes running up and down the stairs, yoga, and running. She is in much, much, much better shape than I have ever been or ever will be, but that's okay. She reminds us all that in a world more than ready to discourage a lady, or a senior citizen for that matter, we might as well encourage ourselves to try. Besides, I have a couple decades to attain my inner athletic greatness. And to find the perfect crushed-velvet leotard of my own.
San Francisco Chronicle TV Critic David Wiegand asked several Emmy nominee what they do to calm their pre-award-show jitters, and their answers ranged the gamut, from drinking "buckets"-worth of alcohol to drinking "small children's pools"-worth of alcohol. Mood-altering substance aside, some of the actors had some great advice to share.
-Mayim Bialik, of "Blossom," whoops I mean, "Big Bang Theory," said, "Music soothes the savage beast," recommending Adele and The Decemberists.
-"New Girl" Zooey Deschanel reminded us quite sensibly that actors are used to being nervous, but conceded that she "would just drink a glass of water and take a deep breath."
-And finally, her fellow "New Girl" actor Max Greenfield dispensed some advice we could all do to follow, every day: "A case of presence. Yes. Not 'presents.' Presence. Yes, we want to bring ourselves into the present moment and say, 'Hey! Look at this. Look what's happening. Let's be grateful for this moment and take it all in.' You know what I mean?"
Mr. Greenfield, we do.
More relaxation tips -- and drink ideas! -- from the stars at SFGate.com.
Meditation for Beginners
Three Unexpected Ways to Relax
Okay, so maybe that's not always the case. And even being acclaimed as a genius (by your artistic community, by your mother, whoever) doesn't usually come with mundane perks like health insurance. Enter the brilliance that is upstate New York's O+ Festival.
Now in its third year, the O+ festival is, in the words of co-founder Alexandra Marvar, "a super-fun, weekend-long party, and one small community's band-aid solution to inaccessible healthcare for artists and musicians." Musicians and artists barter their services for free dental work, physical therapy, eye exams, and other medical services they would otherwise not have access to. It's a lovely way to connect different sectors of a small town, and it's also a creative, DIY solution to the country's current health care crisis. Even non-performing participants of the festival glean healthful benefits, with workshops on yoga and nutrition. It's not exactly drunken head-banging, but okay, it sounds like a pretty fun way to spend a weekend -- and actually feel better afterwards.
Visit the O+ Festival official site to learn more, and, just possibly, to start thinking creatively about sources of healthcare in your own life...
How Much Do You Know About Health Insurance?
Dr Oz. Starts a Record-Breaking Free Clinic
But as anyone who's ever tried to do anything knows, sometimes it's really hard to have willpower. We all have 20 zillion things to keep track of (had to stop typing that sentence to make a note to buy dogfood), so it's not always easy to monitor our own "non-essentials" (just ignored a text from my mother!) -- which is why I downloaded Lift, a free app that helps you to build good habits.
Lift is an easy way to track what habits you want to build, but unlike other "to-do" apps, it connects you with other users. I have to admit, in the week I've had the app I have not been great about updating my lists all the time, but even just knowing I should be checking in has induced me to lace up those stinking running shoes a few more times than I would have otherwise. I think maybe what I like best about the app is the list of habits it suggests, along with the number of people working on each one. The list reads like a poem of hopefulness, a song of self-improvement: Good Posture (2500 participants) / Inbox Zero (2280 participants) / Pray (2251 participants). Write for 30 minutes (2203) / Stop and enjoy life (2063) / Call mom/dad (1993). People want to remember to floss regularly and drink more water and go to sleep on time, but they also want to meditate and work on secret projects (!). One aspirational habit on the list even made me stop short: Tell my wife I love her. (1688 participants).
Lift offers very real and practical help, yes, but it's also telling a story: In many ways, and in every day, we all want to be better.
(via The Next Web)
Fix Your Life
The No-Gimmick Way to Make Real Change
It's one of the more annoying aspects of growing up, but it's undeniable: at some point, you are forced to admit that many old saws turn out to be true. I almost gagged the first time a stranger said to me, as I walked with my 5-day-old firstborn, "The days are long, but the years are short!" And what do you know, a blink of an eye later, that kid is starting school. Wise Crone Stranger was totally right! Weird!
Speaking of aging quickly, how about going from 0-years-old to 100 in 150 seconds? This video is not only the most uplifting way ever to learn to count to 100 in Dutch, but also a beautiful portrait of time. Filmmaker Jeroen Wolf asked people on the streets of Amsterdam to look into the camera and say their ages. The result is a fascinating compendium of faces, of the different ways people show their age, as well as the different attitudes they have toward their age. Just watch the range of emotions with which these people say their ages: happy, resigned, proud, reluctant. (According the filmmaker, it took him nearly a year to complete the project, and the hardest person to find was the 99 year-old.)
Singapore's Secret to Aging Well
How One Actress Refused to Admit Her Age
For most of us, sweat is annoying. But for some, it's so debilitating that reducing it is life-changing. The most promising and minimally invasive treatment beyond antiperspirant for hyperhidrosis (the clinical name for excessive sweating) has been Botox, but the results typically last only about seven months. Last year the FDA approved MiraDry, a treatment that delivers microwave energy beneath the skin to destroy most sweat glands in the underarm area. In a study that followed 31 people, 90 percent of patients described their sweating as "never noticeable" or "tolerable" after a year. The downsides: Two treatments are required, at a total cost of $2,500 to $3,500; the procedure is painful, so most people get around 30 shots of numbing lidocaine under each arm pretreatment; and right now fewer than 40 doctors in the United States offer MiraDry. The big upside: There's hope for a long-term solution for serious sweat.
Prunes are loaded with potassium, high in fiber, and, of course, help keep you regular. But for those who still see prunes as a treat only a senior citizen could get excited about, Sunsweet takes chewy prune bites and covers them in dark chocolate. These good-for-your-gut Raisinets are perfect for munching at the movies.
South Beach Diet Sweet Delights
Tiny sunflower seeds are high in Vitamin E, iron, selenium and other important yet underrated minerals. They also have B vitamins and magnesium that have been shown to boost your mood, so when they're enrobed in dark chocolate like they are in these snack packs, they become the ultimate feel-good poppers.
Trader Joe's Dark Chocolate Edamame
Vegetarians with a sweet tooth will love this delightfully unexpected pairing of soybeans and candy. Each serving of about a handful has 7 grams of vegetable protein.
Rawfully Tempting Gourmet Chocolate-Covered Kale Chips
Kale is having its own moment of fame right now, but of all the ways we've heard of eating the nutritional powerhouse, this version is the most appealingly offbeat. Raw food aficionado Barbara Shevkun coats the crispy leaves in raw chocolate and adds a dash of Himalayan salt. The result is like a chocolate-covered potato chip.
Dr. Oz's favorite healthy junk food
It's true, women are famous for not asking for help when we need it. We think we can do it all. We can do it all! But sometimes it's okay to ask someone else to open that jar of pickles. To help pick the weeds. And when you think about it, this is just a reminder of all the ways in which we wear ourselves out by doing too much. A reminder that bodies wear out. That we only make so much cartilage, have so much energy. So consider this your friendly non-doctor-blogger's prescription to you: if you're hurting, or even if it's just that you're tired, ask for help. Your hands, your whole entire self, will thank you when you're older.
The Best Way to Get The Help You Need
Why Asking For Help Is Not a Sign of Weakness