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P is for Procrastination.

Friday, April 27, 2012

I will be going to my sister's house to spend the night before tomorrow's race. I gotta blow outta here soon so I don't want to write a lengthy post tonight.

So it's not really procrsstination. Right?

It's going to be cool (as in chilly, not hip) in Newark DE tomorrow morning so I am packing probably more than I need. Probably no rain though.

You know what? Procrastination might be a good subject ot explore more fully for my REAL P blog post.

We'll see.

Wish me a good run tomorrow and another on Sunday as I will be doing the Port to Fort 6k in B'more.

O is for Optimism

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Pessimists are never disappointed. And do you know why? No not because IF the worst happens, they can say they expected it. It's because the worst happens more often to them because that is exactly what the are looking for.

The optimist, on the other hand, if looking for the best possible outcome, and yes, they will find disappointment. But they will find success more often because that is what they are looking for.

I have great optimism for my half marathon this weekend. The web site says "Don't expect a PR." It's a trail race, not a road race. But success on the PR front is in my hands. And Success can be measured in other ways. It's my first trail half. No matter what I do, if I finish, I am successful.

So good things happen to the optimist. Because the optimist looks for good things. And it is healthier to be an optimist. Studies have found self-reported optimism predicts lower rates of mortality and cancer, and better cardiovascular health and immune function. Optimists also tend to land the better jobs and the better relationship. Could that be because optimists cope better when they canít meet their goals? They adjust their goals, maybe even redefine success when necessary.

Our physical, social, and economic health improves by seeing the better possibilities. Gimme some of that!

I came across this list of ways to be more optimistic: greatist.com/happiness/how-to-be-opt

* Find the good. Even in less-than-great situations, thereís a way to find something positive. It may be hard to see at first, but try looking closer! (I may be completely lost, but the view from here sure is pretty.)

* Write it down. At the end of the day, write down a few good things that happened, like finishing a big report at work or getting an e-mail from an old friend. The habit makes it easier to appreciate the positive parts of life.

* Speak with success. Sometimes itís not the specific situation that determines a good or bad mood, but how we talk about it. (The exam may have been super hard, but telling friends we tried our best may cheer us up.)

* Forget the Green-Eyed Monster. Itís easy to compare ourselves to others, becoming envious of what we donít have. Instead, try to appreciate the good qualities and remember what weíre grateful for.

* Take control: Science has shown people feel more optimistic about situations they can control. So take a seat behind the driverís wheel and remember choices like working out more and eating healthfully are (almost always) yours!

* Smile! Grin at this: In one study, participants who held a pen in their mouth (causing them to use their smiling muscles) perceived cartoons to be funnier than those without the pen. So not only are smiles contagious, they may actually make situations seem better!

* Stay Balanced. Life isnít all good, all the time, so donít worry if those positive thoughts donít flow freely. Staying realistic is also important to help manage anxiety and boost productivity.

When life give you lemons,

make lemonade!

N is for Napping

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Ah, the nap. It's not necessarily from sleep deprivation and it's not necessarily for the little ones.

I used to be able to nap anytime, anywhere. If I felt like nap, I would just sit down, drop my chin to my chest and slip away. Sometimes, I would nap for hours! But mostly I would take a little power nap in the afternoon. I would have a cup of coffee, lower the lighting, and lean back in my chair and sleep for 10 to 20 minutes. The coffee's caffeine takes about 20 minutes to kick in, so just as I am waking, the power of the coffee to help with concentration was beginning to kick in. Longer than 20 minutes, REM sleep takes hold and then you are passing from a nap to real sleep.

She(WMBO) was always convinced that naps were a waste of time. "If you'd go to bed earlier, you wouldn't need a nap." But when we would work on project, she discovered that when I didn't take a nap around 2-2:30, I was cooked by 5:00. When I had a 20 minutes nap in mid afternoon, I could go until 7:00. It was, according to her ledger, and time investment.

It's really more than that. A Spanish study found that workplace accidents tended to be more serious after lunch, possibly due to failure to take a lunch time nap. A Hopkins study looked at airplane passengers. On morning, noon, and evening flights, people tended to be looking out the window, reading, talking, working, and in general, awake. Flights in the middle of the afternoon had a larger percentage of travellers sleeping. Even among business travellers. Studies also show that a short nap can lower risk for a bunch of health problems from high blood pressure to obesity and diabetes. Plus, napping has been known to enhance creative thinking, improve memory, and aid with learning ó so maybe itís time we take a cue from kindergarten.

There is one other type of nap I became good at. I called it the "Mommy Nap." I used to get these when I was a stay at home Dad and the kids were little. I would fall asleep but somehow I was fully aware of everthing going on and being said around me.

Now that my restless leg syndrome has moved from mild to moderately severe, naps are few and far between. But when I do get one, it is sweet.

M is for Music

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

There are many ways to bust stress. Kissing, Laughter. I posted those over the last two days. A lot of us use exercise or running to break our stress. Sex works, sometimes but you need to find someone else in the mood.

One of the most misquoted and misattributed quotes says it best: "Music has charms to soothe the savage breast." It's not Shakespeare and it is bReast not beast.

Here is the complete poem:

The Mourning Bride, 1697
by William Congreve

Musick has Charms to sooth a savage Breast,
To soften Rocks, or bend a knotted Oak.
I've read, that things inanimate have mov'd,
And, as with living Souls, have been inform'd,
By Magick Numbers and persuasive Sound.
What then am I? Am I more senseless grown
Than Trees, or Flint? O force of constant Woe!
'Tis not in Harmony to calm my Griefs.
Anselmo sleeps, and is at Peace; last Night
The silent Tomb receiv'd the good Old King;
He and his Sorrows now are safely lodg'd
Within its cold, but hospitable Bosom.
Why am not I at Peace?

And I think it does. It works in more situations than the alternatives ... maybe excluding laughter.

Music can also help with a situation that stresses out even the bravest among us: heading to the doctor or dentist. And one study found music can be beneficial for cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy and radiation. Patients showed better moods, lower blood pressure, and lower heart rates when they listened to music or worked with a music therapist. Researchers think music can distract patients from their misery and even increase their ability to tolerate pain.

Music can help ease pain and depression and could even enhance creativity. (Who needs booze or drugs?) Slower musical beats can also alter brainwave speed, creating brainwave activity to when weíre in a more meditative or hypnotic state. This may help to reduce stress, headache pain, and even symptoms of PMS. On long runs, I find that music helps set the rhythm of my pace and if I just put my iPod on shuffle, the beat varies and make my run at different paces, holding off the boredom or the LOOOONNNNNG run for just a few more quarter-miles.

Still stressiní at night? Classical music may be an effective way to ease into falling asleep, which will hopefully lead to feeling more refreshed in the AM. Not a huge Beethoven fan? Donít you worry íbout a thing ó just listen to this song instead. youtu.be/zywDiFdxopU

Here's a tip I learned. Listening to music (especially slower tunes) can alter brain activity, which may lead to a reduction in stress and pain. So out with the punk, ska, hip hop, and in with the torch songs and slow ballads.

L is for Laughter

Monday, April 23, 2012

--- The teacher in our Bible class asked a woman to read from the Book of Numbers about the Israelites wandering in the desert. "The Lord heard you when you wailed, 'If only we had meat to eat!' " she began. "Now the Lord will give you meat. You will not eat it for just one day, or two days, or five, or ten or twenty days, but for a month -- until you loathe it." When the woman finished, she paused, looked up and said, "Hey, isn't that the Atkins diet?" ---

Humor is infectious. The sound of roaring laughter is far more contagious than any cough, sniffle, or sneeze. When laughter is shared, it binds people together and increases happiness and intimacy.

Laughter us good for your health. It reduces stress and relaxes the whole body. It boosts the immune system. Laughter triggers the release of endorphins, the bodyís natural feel-good chemicals. Endorphins promote an overall sense of well-being and can even temporarily relieve pain. Laughter protects the heart. Laughter improves the function of blood vessels and increases blood flow, which can help protect you against a heart attack and other cardiovascular problems.

--- Kimberly announced that she had started a diet to lose some pounds she had put on recently. "Good!" her friend Katie exclaimed. "I'm ready to start a diet too. We can be dieting buddies and help each other out. When I feel the urge to drive out and get a burger and fries, I'll call you first." 

"Great!" she replied. "I'll ride with you." ---

Laughter also helps us to stay emotionally healthy. It feels good! It helps us to stay positive. We often use laughter to help us to face difficult situations. It is not uncommon t find mourners at a funeral telling jokes and laughing. It may be at stories about the deceased or memories of the last time the family got together. It seems to give us new sources of meaning and hope.

It is always more powerful to laugh with others than to laugh alone. Laughter tends to increase bonds between people and to heal anger and resentments. It is often used to bring people together in difficult times.

--- Best line from the Godfather, diet edition: "Bring the gun, leave the cannoli." ---

So bring more laughter into your life. Smile! Count your blessings! When you hear laughter, turn toward it. If it's a private joke, that's ok, but usually jokes are meant to be shared. Hang out with playful, fun people.

Develop you sense of humor by taking yourself less seriously. Laugh at yourself. Self deprecating humor is some of the funniest. Mom once asked me why I had "that stupid beard." With it, I told her, I'm cute and cuddly, a teddy bear, I'm Santa Claus! Without it I'm just another short fat white guy. My brother looker at me and said, "Well, not much you can do about short or white." It was funny.

Lighten up! Is it worth getting upset over? Is it worth upsetting others? Is it REALLY important? Is it that bad?

--- I was talking to my doctor about a weight-loss patch I had seen advertised. Supposedly you stick it on, and the pounds melt away. "Does it work?" I asked. "Sure," he said. "If you put it over your mouth." ---

"Laugh! Don't take the world serious!" -- Abner Doubleday

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