Sign the Petition

petition2I just signed the petition to remove barriers that prevent Advance Practice Registered Nurses from practicing to their full scope.

According to the American Nurses Association, “the petition is part of  ‘We the People,’  a platform on the White House website where individuals can create and sign petitions that call for action by the federal government on a range of issues facing our nation. If a petition gathers enough signatures, it will be reviewed by White House staff and receive an official response.In order to get a response from the White House, the petition needs to garner 100,000 signatures in 30 days.  There are currently 7,368  signatures on this petition. The deadline for the current petition is April 22, 2013.”

Whether you are a nurse or not, please sign the petition in order to promote safe, affordable health care for everyone.

Sign the petition today.

Radio Interview

NEWS MIC

Thanks to everyone who listened to my Blog Talk Radio interview with Elizabeth Scala. It was fun and I learned a lot myself about self-care and balance. If you would like to listen, click here. I would love to get your feedback on the topics we discussed, which included:  How to achieve balance between work and personal life, stress management tips for burn-out, and the importance of :heart-to-heart connection in healing, to name a few .

 

 

Stress management quick relaxation tips

Stress-relaxSeveral years ago I attended the Clinical Training in Mind/Body Medicine at Harvard Medical School and learned the importance of taking small “mini” relaxation breaks throughout the day. Practice them while you are waiting in line, stuck in traffic, taking a test, experiencing pain, can’t sleep, etc.

Countdown:   Count very slowly to yourself from 10 down to 0, one number on each outbreath. Breathe in, and on your first outbreath, say “10” to yourself. With the next outbreath, say “9,” working your way down to “0.” When you get to “0,” notice how you feel.

Count to 4:   As you breathe in, count slowly up to “4.” As you breathe out, count slowly back down to “1.” As you breathe in you say quietly to yourself, “1..2..3..4,” and as you breathe out you say quietly to yourself, “4..3..2..1.” Repeat several times and notice how you feel.

Pendulum Breath:  Count the space between your inbreath and your outbreath. After each inbreath pause and count, “1…2…3.” Repeat several times and notice how you feel.

I am at Peace:   On the outbreath think, “I am” and on the inbreath think “at peace.” Repeat several times. This is an excellent Mini to use while walking.

Square Breathing:  Visualize a square. On the inbreath, visualize a vertical line and then a horizontal line. On the outbreath, visualize another vertical and horizontal, to complete the square. Repeat several times and notice how you feel.

Is it Really Age-related?

My mom Verna

My mom Verna

When my mother was 79 years old, I had just finished my doctoral dissertation. She called me and congratulated me and said how proud she was of me. Then she told me that it was  time for her to go to a nursing home. She said, “I know how busy you’ve been with your education, so I waited until now to tell you that I just can’t balance my checkbook anymore, and I can’t control my gambling. I’m getting old and a nursing home is what I need now”. I was sad to hear that my mom was declining, but at the same time I was glad to know that she would be safer with other people to watch over her in a long-term care facility. So I began the complex and time-consuming task of finding just the right place for my mom. I was blessed to find a wonderful place that took excellent, loving care of her. After she was there for about a month, she looked at me and said, “Spike (my childhood nic name), this feels like home.” I was so happy about that. She loved it there.

Just a few months after she arrived in the nursing home, she began to exhibit unusual behavior. Her alcoholism seemed to worsen, and she asked me to take her drinking every time I visited. She refused showers, and was having trouble feeding herself and making the smallest decisions. The staff assumed she had a urinary tract infection, which often causes dementia-like symptoms in older people. But that wasn’t it. I took her to the emergency room when she exhibited very child-like behavior. It did not take long for the ER staff to diagnose her with a brain tumor in her frontal lobe. She chose not to have it treated and she died peacefully a few weeks later in the nursing home at 80 years of age.

Now here is what concerns me about my mom’s story: She, her care providers, and even myself assumed that her initial difficulties with her checkbook and gambling were just a normal part of aging, especially for alcoholics. So we didn’t really follow up on her symptoms like we would if she were younger. So the brain tumor was missed early on. Now, I doubt that the outcome would have been different for Mom. But it would have been nice to know the diagnosis sooner, so she would have been more aware of what was going on, and make decisions with a clear mind.  And her loved ones may have made different decisions too, about the quality and quantity of time we spent with her.

My point to this story is that when an older person exhibits unusual behavior, let’s not assume that it’s a normal part of aging. It might not be normal.

 

No More Anti-Aging Please

I was excited to receive my first copy of a magazine aimed at helping people to achieve healthy aging. Now that I am about to turn 60, I thought it would be the perfect magazine to help me get familiar with issues of aging. I loved the picture of Dolly Parton on the cover and began to skim the magazine from cover to cover and was happy to read about people who are 50+ and still going strong.  I must say however that the ads were disappointing. A full ten pages were devoted to women’s spring wardrobe. I was very surprised to see that the model was 20-something, gorgeous, and thin. That’s confusing. I figured that a magazine devoted to healthy aging might have models in their ads who were, well, aging! I am not a huge fan of fashion, but as I age I notice that some of my body parts are “shifting.” Wouldn’t it be great if I could find some help here? Every fashion model I see has very little resemblance to women who are aging. Honestly, I don’t even know where to shop for clothes these days. Everything I see in the stores just looks too young for me.

I’ve been watching daytime TV lately, and the same pattern has emerged. All of the fashion pieces show young people modeling clothes. It’s refreshing when the models are audience members, but seriously, the fashions are targeted to young audiences. Have we all closed our eyes to reality? There are millions of people over 50 and in the popular media, we just don’t seem to exist. And when an older model  comes on, she/he is usually talking about ANTI- AGING. There is really something off when we have a word that is AGAINST a natural life process.

All of what I am saying is not new, but I just had to say it. I am happy being my age. I’ve had many experiences, easy ones and hard ones, that have made me who I am. It is time  to honor and embrace aging, not be AGAINST it. NO MORE ANTI AGING! Enjoy my Grandma’s picture below. Doesn’t she look fabulous?Grandma's picture

Smile

Pepper & Marlo Christmas 08What’s the first thing I did when I woke up this morning? I smiled. For about 5 years now, that’s my morning routine. Before I get out of bed, and really the very first thing I do every morning, I smile. Smiling puts the icing on the cake before I have even thought about baking the cake. It starts my day out just right. Although we tend to think that we have to have a reason to smile, perhaps we have it backwards. When I smile, the smile itself gives me a reason to feel happy and healthy and optimistic and enthusiastic to start my day. Smiling actually creates positive thoughts, which create positive emotions, which boost the immune system and before you know it you are happier and healthier. And it’s a much better way to start the day than laying in bed thinking negative thoughts, which cause negative emotions, which dampen the immune system, and before you know it you are having a bad day without even getting out of bed. No icing, and no cake!                                  So….SMILE!

Come to Conference

2013 conference flyerJoin me at the AHNA 2013 conference in Norfolk, Virginia June 5-8, 2013. If you are a nurse or other health care professional who wants to find a “home” nursing organization, consider the American Holistic Nurses Association. OK, I am biased because I am the president, but so many nurses who attend our conference tell me that they feel like they finally found a professional home. Our conferences have a lot of heart and positive energy and I hope you can come. This year we are planning to have a bloggers/entrepreneurs meeting so we can discuss the challenges and successes of blogging and having our own business I will be there and would love to meet you. Other workshops at conference include: Holistic stress management, integrative healing, starting your own holistic business, creating a professional online presence for a profitable practice, and many many more. For more info visit www.ahna.org.

Positive Thinking Technique: “Cancel cancel”

We all have thoughts running through our heads every day. There are positive thoughts, negative thoughts, and neutral thoughts. Although we may not be able to control our thoughts, we can control our reactions to those thoughts. Thoughts are just thoughts. We choose to label them as positive or negative. If we pay attention to a  thought, it results in an emotion. And then the emotion causes biochemical changes in our bodies, including an increase or decrease in stress hormones, which directly affect our health. For example,  you might think, “I’m fat.” That’s just a thought, but then you assign an emotion to it, such as shame, sadness, or frustration. That sadness or frustration sends a message to your brain to release cortisol (among other hormones). Too much cortisol has negative health consequences, such as increased blood pressure, decreased immunity, etc. So if you pay attention to your negative thoughts throughout the day, you will have negative health outcomes, such as frequent colds, depression, high blood pressure, nausea, achy joints, and weight gain, which is the very thing you were frustrated about to begin with!! So you can see that negative thoughts can become self-fulfilling.

CancelHere’s a tip about how to stop negative thoughts from creating negative health outcomes. When you notice a negative thought, just notice it. Just notice the thought and don’t assign an emotion to it. When you notice the  thought, simple say, out loud or silently, “Cancel cancel.” Then replace that negative thought with a positive affirmation, such as “I am perfect,” or “I am happy, healthy and beautiful.”  Now pay attention to the new positive thought. Once you start paying attention to positive thoughts throughout the day, you will notice that you feel happier and you will certainly be healthier.