Sunday, September 27, 2009
Earlier today during the rain I went picking Cortland apples. All throughout this rainy autumn day one of my favorite mellow songs has been playing in my mind: After The Rain by John Coltrane. There is something so soulful, serene and restful about this ballad...it just smooths out anything and everything that may be going on for me.
Coltrane can be so frenetic and jarring with avant garde squonks and beeps and his famous "sheets of sound" approach to his sax, but yet on a ballad, backed by his sparse trio of piano (masterful McCoy Tyner), bass and drums, Coltrane just blows such peace, serenity and body and soul through his tenor sax...
This song is suitable as a lullaby, as a meditative reflection, as a pause to soak up life and the world about us, to reassure that all will be well. I know it so well that I suspect if I were to sing the melody along with what I hear in my head I would be right on key with the recording.
It's available at Amazon for an 89 cent mp3 download and invite anyone to treat yourself to such a lovely musical meditation:
Enjoy your autumn everyone...
PS...a bonus song along the same line: Half the Perfect World by Madeline Peyroux...a VERY talented female vocalist, 99 cents at Amazon:
Saturday, September 26, 2009
Yesterday's NPR program Science Friday featured an interview with the authors of this FASCINATING new book:
CONNECTED: THE SURPRISING POWER OF SOCIAL NETWORKS AND HOW THEY SHAPE OUR LIVES
All throughout the radio show and now, looking up reviews about the book I can't help but get SO EXCITED because this is the SCIENCE behind how SparkPeople works! I HIGHLY suspect Chris Downie will be incorporating some of these thoughts into his upcoming book "The Spark":
I've pre-ordered two copies of The Spark and hope everyone out there has ordered at least two yourselves...at least ONE extra copy to pass along! :-)
But in the meantime I'm getting so PSYCHED to hear more and more about the POSITIVE and GROWTHFUL POWER that we've built amongst ourselves here at SparkPeople!
Here are some quotes from reviews which, to me has SPARKPEOPLE written all over:
"Connected argues convincingly that itís not enough to understand how individuals behave. The book details examples of how individual behaviors affect other members of a social network. In short, you are your brotherís keeper. And your motherís best friendís brotherís keeper, too."
"Our connections matter much more than the color of our skin or the size of our wallets...When we lose them we lose everything"...and my follow up thought to this is "when we GAIN them we gain EVERYTHING!" Woo hoo!
"This wonderful book by Christakis and Fowler could well be one of the most important works of the decade. In a clear and engaging way, the authors apply their creative and provocative findings on social networks to understanding not only our social relationships but also the forces that shape our world. Full of fascinating stories and examples, this book is essential in understanding our very nature. A must read."
"Margaret Thatcher said there is no such thing as society. Hillary Clinton wrote that it takes a village. In their new book, Christakis and Fowler write, "We don't live in groups, we live in networks," and they back this up with dozens of interconnected stories of research findings by themselves and others, ranging from bank runs to suicide prevention, from nut allergies among schoolchildren to epidemics in virtual worlds, from the spread of happiness to the spread of voting. The combination of speculation and science is fascinating and leaves me eager to learn about the next wave of research in this area." ...and the spread of healthy and well LIFESTYLES! (my addition)
"What makes us human -- for good and bad -- is our social nature. Nowhere is this complex, wonderful, and sometimes dark part of us more clearly revealed than in Connected. In a social world exploding with new ways to interact, Connected is a user's guide for ourselves in the 21st century."
"A God's-eye view of social relationships that may make you dizzy. Every business leader, teacher, and parent should see their life from this vantage."
From Amazon: "Your colleague's husband's sister can make you fat, even if you don't know her. A happy neighbor has more impact on your happiness than a happy spouse. These startling revelations of how much we truly influence one another are revealed in the studies of Drs. Christakis and Fowler, which have repeatedly made front-page news nationwide.
In CONNECTED, the authors explain why emotions are contagious, how health behaviors spread, why the rich get richer, even how we find and choose our partners. Intriguing and entertaining, CONNECTED overturns the notion of the individual and provides a revolutionary paradigm-that social networks influence our ideas, emotions, health, relationships, behavior, politics, and much more. It will change the way we think about every aspect of our lives."
This is the science that explains how we can make each other healthy, happy and fulfilled human beings!!! Which is what we're accomplishing here at SparkPeople!
"I loved this book. Sensitive, aware people perceive on a daily basis that actions, behaviors and emotions impact the lives of those around us, but the science that proves conclusively that your behaviors are impacting mine, my spouse's and friend's in Idaho offers such hope for improvement in the cosmic social network of which we all have our "connectedness". I loved the anecdotal stories - Nicholas and Erika meeting, the Starbucks employee, crazy unstoppable laughter - to which each reader will add additional network stories. We are connected, like it or not, so perhaps we can all start behaving in ways that benefit the entire network. Everyone who reads this will think twice about the impact of cutting someone off in traffic. Dr Christakis and Dr. Fowler have written for the scientific world, NY Times and lay reader - all who are part of the network."
Another reviewer @ Amazon: "As an author, psychotherapist, and teacher, I read a lot of books. Most are read, enjoyed, and soon forgotten. However, occasionally I come across a book that is hard-hitting, informative, and changes the way we understand ourselves, each other, and the world.
Connected is such a book. To give you an idea I usually put little flags on pages with information I think is significant and want to remember. I usually have 10 or 12 little flags in a good book. In this book I have 120 flags and many of the flags have little notes I've written.
For instance, I've flagged this important point: "So while the observation that there are six degrees of separation between any two people applies to how connected we are, the observation that there are three degrees of influence applies to how contagious we are. These properties, connection and contagion, are the structure and function of social networks. They are the anatomy and physiology of the human superorganism."
Why is that important to everyday people? Well, how about because happiness as well as depression can spread along our social networks and make us joyful or sad, or because your future spouse is likely to be your friend's friend, or because your friends' friends' friends can make you fat, or thin.
If you really want to be happy, healthy, wealthy, and wise, I recommend you read Connected: The Surprising Power of Our Social Networks and How They Shape Our Lives."
SparkPeople.com harnesses the power of surrounding ourselves with the healthiest, most positive community which influences you and I in the most positive and healthiest way!
How BLESSED we ARE!
Friday, September 25, 2009
Coach Nancy's latest blog got me thinking...I'll share my post and other thoughts related to aging:
This 52-year-old is just waking up to the potential that my body has for ACTION, for MOVEMENT! I just don't want to HEAR about the aging process slowing me down just when I'm getting my GAME ON! I see, hear and feel various signs of evidence that I am NOT being spared the aging process and I don't like it one bit!
Part of me hates to complain at ALL about anything physical as I know MANY of you out there are struggling with medical matters far more serious than anything be-deviling ME these days. My personal reference, however, is that despite all the abuse I've inflicted on myself through the years, my health has pretty much held up admirably well. And in many ways I am healthier now than I've been all my life.
NOW, however, I've got these *issues* cropping up which are such NUISANCES and also giving me cause for some worry. I really begrudge taking the time away from work to see doctors, yet I know I've got to take care of business also.
For the squemish among you, feel free to pass over the next section about my colon...I REALLY didn't want to post this, but I'm struggling to find a solution and felt I couldn't pass up running this by all you knowledgeable folks! :-)
I recently *attempted* to have a colonoscopy screening. For some off-color, scatological (you've been forewarned...lol!) humor about colonoscopies, check out Billy Connolly's skit on Scottish Colonoscopy:
It was quite serendipitous that a friend who knew nothing of my recent attempt had forwarded this to me...!
Anyhow, I flunked! Took all the pills and mixtures, waited for Mt. Vesuvius to erupt...nothing happened! Went to the hospital anyway and they attempted to *assist* my colon, thought things were clear and put me under for the procedure...but no dice...still not clear. Now I've never ever had this sort of problem before in my life! What's worse? I'm four days out from the attempt and have yet to have a bowel movement. I'm usually a once a day, two days at most kind of guy! I've followed up with the gastroenterologist and we have another date set for attempt #2...not until Oct. 16th...ugh, what a birthday present to myself...! But I've alerted them to my problem and am awaiting further instructions. In the meantime I've been doing my own 'net sleuthing and just about the only thing I'm turning up is info about the "lazy colon" syndrome, which sounds like it fits my symptoms, but doesn't fit ME!
It's said that lazy colons that don't have the peristaltic motion they ought to can occur as the result of too little water, too little fiber, too little physical activity or if one has abused laxatives...of which I've never laid my hands on and am extremely reluctant to do this now! Me, who drinks all this water, eats more veggies than ever and am doing my daily cardio faithfully! Now I'm bumping the water and veggies up even more and adding a Metamucil type stuff to 3 glasses of water a day...and I'm waiting...and waiting...and getting nervous that this is signaling something worse than constipation. Is it possible that in the bad old days of horrible eating that I've stretched my colon out so that it doesn't function the way it should and the only thing that moves food through is MORE food...? Is it taking all this time to fill up what has been cleansed before more can be evacuated...? Nasty questions and thoughts...apologies for these but I'm worried.
Let's add to that the return of the mysteriously disappearing hernia...!
Along with an inner ear pressure problem that likes to get infected...!
I tip my hat off to those of you who struggle so successfully with chronic illnesses...as I just don't have the patience for such things...argh!
Okay, for the good news:
As most of you know, strategy #1 in my quest for ONEderland has been to temporarily swear off nuts. Well yesterday I had to stop off at CVS to pick up a couple of prescriptions. The 5 bell alarm did not go off immediately, it was only when I had the thought of sliding into my old habit of going in to pick up the prescriptions...along with a big can of cashews or some such! Caught myself and went through the drive-through instead...woo hoo!
AND this morning I broke through my 35 min. record and NAILED THREE MILES on my treadmill session...a BIG WOO HOO! :-)
Thursday, September 24, 2009
Recently I had a bit of time free and enjoyed a leisurely walk along our downtown riverwalk and visited our local, home-grown bookstore. I took time to meander through the stacks and shelves, browsing the covers and liners. As an adolescent, young adult I had immersed and OVERWHELMED myself with books! I was always deep into a book and looking for more. Especially great fiction. While I still pick up a book once in a blue moon, usually while on vacation, I have not been reading much of anything appreciable for DECADES. I was awestruck by the worlds, stories, knowledge and inspiration that I've been passing up! It was IMPOSSIBLE to pick a single book up and decide *this* was the one I was going to read!
In the past my reading was usurped by food and the apathy that prevented me from doing much of ANYTHING in my life. NOW, on the other hand, my workouts and online SPARK time have taken over. While I truly miss the world of books, I can't see dislodging the time for it...at least not now.
We're all making choices as to how we want to spend our time. Any choice we make FOR something is a choice AGAINST something else...we just can't do it ALL, can we?
Earlier tonight I was chatting with another member of SparkPeople in which she was making the case for attempting to educate and enlighten those who are just embarking on this wonderful journey to reclaim their health and wellness. Especially regarding "short cuts," "quick fixes" and fast, easy, painless, effortless weight loss results.
It's odd, you know, my first response to the other person's note was: Yep, we have to keep sending out the message that "there is no magic!"
But as soon as I said that to myself I thought: Hey, there IS a lot of *magic* in realizing that there is no magic "out there," because then one can begin to find the magic within! :-)
Let's everyone keep making our lives an adventure!
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