Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Whatever Ye Sow

My dear friend, Joni, in Oregon sent me this wonderful segment from one of her favorite books, “Come Away My Beloved,” written in the 1960’s. It sure fits perfectly with the articles I've written on the book, My Stroke of Insight: A Brain Scientist's Personal Journey, which shows how we can control our thoughts. We're physiologically and anatomically wired for "taking every thought captive." Thank you, Joni!

How can I give you healing for your body whilst there is anxiety in the mind? So long as there is disease in thy thoughts, there shall be disease in thy body. Ye have need of many things, but one thing in particular ye must develop for thine own preservation, and that is an absolute confidence in My loving care.

“Come unto Me”, it is written, “all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” (Matt. 11:28). Only when your mind is at rest can your body build health. Worry is an actively destructive force. Anxiety produces tension, and tension is the road to pain. Fear is devastating to the physical well-being of the body. Anger throws poison into the system that no anti-biotic ever can counteract.

“Be sure your sin will find you out”, the Bible states. One of the most common ways that hidden sin is revealed is through the maladies of the body. More arthritis is brought about by resentments and ill-will than is caused by wrong diet. More asthma is caused by repressed fury than by pollen or cat fur.

There was no illness in the body of Jesus because there was no sin in His soul. There was weariness as a natural result of labor and sacrificial service, but there was no undue fatigue and exhaustion brought on by anxiety.

Ten minutes of unbridled temper can waste enough strength to do a half day of wholesome work. Your physical energy is a gift from God, entrusted to you to be employed for His glory. It is a sin to take His gift and dissipate it through the trap doors of the evil emotions of the disposition.

Look not upon others and condemn them for jeopardizing their health by harmful habits and wasting their energies on vain pursuits while you yourself undermine your health by unworthy emotions and take time which by keeping your mind in an attitude of praise and faith could be constructively employed, but instead you allow this time to be a period of destructive action by entertaining such things as self-pity and remorse and evil-surmisings.

You cannot risk giving your thoughts free-rein. They will never choose the right path until you bridle them and control them by your own disciplined will. You are master of your own house. You do not have to invite into your mind the foul birds of evil thoughts and allow them to nest there and bring forth their young.

Whatsoever ye sow in your secret thought-life, that shall ye reap. Sow love and kindness, and ye shall be rewarded openly. Sow charity and forgiveness, and ye shall reap in kind. Sow generosity and gratitude, and ye shall never feel poor. Sow hope, and ye shall reap fulfillment. Sow praise, and ye shall reap joy and well-being and a strong faith. Sow bountifully, and ye shall reap bountifully. Sow! Ye shall see your seed and be satisfied.

Moving Towards Vegetarianism

It wasn't so long ago many people in North America thought vegetarians were weird, lived in hippie communes and lived off of tofu and brown rice. Our cultural ideas have shifted enough in the last decade that this concept has mostly fallen away. There's no question that more people are embracing a vegetarian diet, especially in the under 30 age group, but there is still some resistance.

There are many people out there who are flummoxed by the idea of cooking and eating a meal without meat. We'd like to change that. The challenge this week: Eat just one dinner without meat or fish in it. Read the entire article.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Agave Nectar Fraud

Agave nectar is in reality not a natural sweetener but a highly refined form of fructose, more concentrated than the high fructose corn syrup used in sodas. Refined fructose is not a 'natural' sugar, and countless studies implicate it as a sweetener that will contribute to disease. Therefore, agave nectar is not a health building product, but rather a deceptively marketed form of a highly processed and refined sweetener.

Agave nectar is found on the shelves of health food stores primarily under the labels, "Agave Nectar 100% Natural Sweetener," and "Organic Raw Blue Agave Nectar." In addition, it can be found in foods labeled as organic or raw, including: ketchup, ice-cream, chocolate, and health food bars.

The implication of its name, the pictures and descriptions on the product labels, is that agave is an unrefined sweetener that has been used for thousands of years by native people in central Mexico. They made a traditional sweetener from the agave sap/juice (miel de agave) by simply boiling it for several hours. But, as one agave seller explains, the agave nectar purchased in stores is neither of these traditional foods: "Agave nectar is a newly created sweetener, having been developed during the 1990's." Read the entire article.

Update: 12/31/08 This information has been contested by Madhava Agave Nectar.

Winter Is Time For Birdhouses

By Cynthia Berger, National Wildlife Federation

Because many birds are busy shopping for their spring nesting sites, winter is the perfect time to put up birdhouses around your property

I thought I’d hate being a landlord. But my tenants are great: They’re pleasant to have around, they have strong family values and I like their music. Now I’m even thinking of acquiring more units. You see, my “rental” is a wooden birdhouse, mounted on a pole at the back of my yard, and the tenants that move in each spring are a pair of Carolina wrens.

If you’d like to try your hand at being a bird landlord, this is a good time to get in the game. Right now — in the middle of winter — is a perfect period to put up backyard birdhouses, because the cold months are actually when many species that use these accommodations are shopping for their seasonal homes.

“A lot of birds start prospecting as early as January or February in the mid-Atlantic region where I live,” says NWF Chief Naturalist Craig Tufts. “We tell people to have boxes up no later than March 1.”

Don’t expect every bird you see in your backyard to be attracted by your offer of a cozy room. “People are always calling me to ask, ‘How do I get the redbird to go in the box?’” says Keith Kridler, another Cornell volunteer and expert on birdhouse design who lives in Mt. Pleasant, Texas. “Not going to happen!”

Redbirds (a.k.a. northern cardinals) simply don’t care for the confines of a birdhouse — they build their open-cup nests in the concealment of a conifer or shrub. Read the entire article.

Building a great birdhouse doesn’t have to be complicated. Try this one-board birdhouse, perfect for first-time builders! Although the design is for a bluebird box, the size will meet the needs of many species of birds that visit your backyard. Start building.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Get Extraordinary

by Robert White, from an article entitled, "The Beginning of an Extraordinary Life"

Around the beginning of the 20th century, psychologist William James said, “The greatest discovery of my generation is that a human being can alter his life by altering his attitude of mind.”

Creating an attitude that works is much more than just thinking positively. It requires attention to a deeper part of ourselves than can be gained by just listening to a motivational speaker.

It requires the sometimes challenging work of gaining a new level of self-discovery, self-understanding, self-acceptance, and audacious self-declaration. It’s our experience that truly extraordinary results are created by people who know their purpose for living, have a compelling vision that draws them to accomplishment, and are clear about their personal values, those bedrock qualities of being and doing that must always be practiced.

And, finally, extraordinary results are created by people who take action, action in alignment with their purpose, vision, and values. It’s a powerful mental model that, when followed, produces brilliant results for people and organizations. In today’s uncertain times, it’s a model we all need.

The Warmth Of Friendship

by Donna L. Watkins

Winter has not gotten the best of me yet and I plan to stay positive until the first daffodil pops its head out of the ground. I miss my garden blooms greatly, but having photographs makes the world of difference, and in reality, I only need close my eyes for a stroll through our garden. The only thing missing is the scents.

© 2008 Donna L. Watkins - Deer Resting Beside Our Front Porch

We are currently Grand Central Station for the birds so gardening for wildlife has paid off. We have enough cover and wildness to qualify as great bird habitat. Even a deer enjoyed the area beside the porch for afternoon naps this past summer.

Since we've developed quite the wildlife habitat here at our home in Virginia, which we considered to be a temporary residence, the hard part of leaving, when the time comes, will be to let go of the garden.

There are several reasons this location doesn't "fit" but we felt while we were here we wanted to improve it as much as we could. Natural habitats are being destroyed around the world, so if we create more backyard habitats, we'll be doing a great thing for the other creatures that share our planet.

We have wonderful neighbors, so that's another reason we're still here. We've never lived anywhere with bad neighbors, but we've also not lived anywhere that's been this great. Maybe because most of us are home all day, it makes for more time to enjoy people. Too bad life doesn't always allow people to be a priority ... or is it the choices we make that makes life that way? Hmm ... that's another topic.

One of my neighbors, Ken Bushell, loves wildlife photography as I do, so it's been fun to share that common ground. I've mentioned him before and you may have seen some of his photos on this website.

One day he offered to paint a picture for us of our place from photographs. At first thought I didn't care about having a picture of our home. It was/is the garden that we love and will miss seeing, so later I asked if it could be a picture of the garden.

© 2008 Ken Bushell - Bluebird Cove - Palmyra, VA
What I visualize the most is when I head out the front door and off the porch to the walkway garden. That's my "image" of our place here that we fondly call Bluebird Cove.

Ken is quite the fascinating guy and always up for a challenge! After retiring from an engineering position he went back to a childhood hobby .... painting. However, as you can see from this painting, it's not really a hobby, it's a talent! He felt all the greens and diversity of a garden might be more than he could handle, but wanted to give it a try.

With his wife, Yvonne, the constant critic and angelic voice behind him, he did an amazing job. Randal and I have been enthralled with the image being put on canvas. Fortunately he did not make it as wild as reality ... some friends call it the jungle. With the plants a bit subdued he got a real feel for the house (porch) and even the beautiful Butterfly Bench that has brought such meaning to the garden.

What a thoughtful gift and one that we will treasure even more after we've left here. For now, it hangs above the fireplace and is a daily reminder of not only the garden ... but also of the importance and treasure of having wonderful people to share your life with. This winter instead of thinking about arthritis and dreary weather, I'm focusing on the warmth of friendship.

Creating art is like making something magical happen. Maybe because I would need a miracle to draw more than a stick man on paper. There's something precious about a "living" scene on canvas. I have often wished I had a painting or at least sketch of our home in Alabama that we called "The Refuge." We were so buried into the woods that you couldn't see much of the house from any camera angle.

Ken has done many paintings since getting back to it and he's recently put them on a website. Visit Ken's Art website. If you'd like to have him paint something you see there or something from photographs, send him an email. His email address is on the home page.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Green Space Reduces Fatal Diseases

Across the country, there are "health inequalities" related to income and social deprivation, which generally reflect differences in lifestyle, diet, and, to some extent, access to medical care.

This means that in general, people living in poorer areas are more likely to be unhealthy, and die earlier.

However, the researchers found that living near parks, woodland or other open spaces helped reduce these inequalities, regardless of social class.

When the records of more than 366,000 people who died between 2001 and 2005 were analysed, it revealed that even tiny green spaces in the areas in which they lived made a big difference to their risk of fatal diseases.

Although the effect was greatest for those living surrounded by the most greenery, with the "health gap" roughly halved compared with those with the fewest green spaces around them, there was still a noticeable difference. Read the entire article.

How Much Donated Money Helps Animals

From Pet Connection Blog by Gina Spadafori

Long ago, I decided that big charities of any sort are pretty much the same: They raise a lot of money to raise a lot more money to raise a lot more money, and relatively little of any of it goes to the programs and services those tear-jerking entreaties tell you about.

Big national animal-advocacy groups are among the worst offenders, based on a study by the Los Angeles Times looking at the money raised vs. the return:

Ever wonder where your donations go when you give to charity by mail or over the phone? On average, commercial fundraisers deliver just 46 cents of each donated dollar to the charity. While some charities enjoy much better success, ineffective fundraisers can eat up the majority of money raised.

Read the entire article.

Although this article focuses on California, there is reference to national organizations and you can search their database for information on organizations. This will help all of us animal-loving people to give where it will best be managed and use FOR the animals.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

2008 Heroes For The Environment has done a special report on the eco-pioneers fighting for a cleaner, greener future. The various categories include:

* Leaders & Visionaries
* Moguls & Entrepreneurs
* Activists
* Scientists & Innovators

Read the entire article.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Healthiest Supermarkets

Your weekly (or daily) run to the grocery store is the foundation for your good health. So it’s thrilling news that the supermarket industry is on a health kick — these days you’ll likely find organic produce and “natural” packaged foods at almost any store.

But which chains are outdoing themselves to deliver the freshest and healthiest food? And which provide the best tools to help you make smart choices? Health magazine asked six prominent health experts to help pick the top 10 healthiest grocery stores out of the nation’s largest chains.

And surprise: Many are the traditional, affordable grocers close to your home! Read the results.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

When God Offends Us

This is an excerpt from an article by Francis Frangipane entitled, "Unoffendable."

The fact is, false expectations can become a source of many deep offenses. However, one of the worst offenses we can suffer is when God Himself purposely offends us.

In 2 Kings 5, we read the story of when Naaman, a Syrian general, sought to be healed of leprosy by Elisha, the prophet. When Naaman and his entourage arrived at Elisha’s house, Elisha didn’t greet him personally, but instead sent his servant with a word/cure for Naaman. It was a simple assignment for the military leader: wash seven times in the Jordan River. However, the cure offended Naaman. Why didn’t the prophet himself come out? Why this muddy Jordan? Scripture says that “Naaman was furious.”

An offended spirit is an angry spirit. In this case, Naaman was beyond mad; he was furious. Do you find that you are always mad at a particular person? It’s because they have offended you and you haven’t forgiven them. Naaman was offended at Elisha, but what was the real cause of Naaman’s offense? Listen to his words. He said, “Behold, I thought, ‘He will surely come out to me, and stand and call on the name of the Lord his God, and wave his hand over the place, and cure the leper’” (v. 11).

Catch the phrase, “Behold, I thought . . .” In truth, Naaman was not offended by Elisha, but by his own failed expectations. He probably spent many hours envisioning the moment of healing. He even pictured himself testifying of how the man of God healed him. When it didn’t happen according to his plan, he was offended.

Friends, before the Lord heals you or assigns you some new, elevated position of service, He will often offend you. Why? What is it that gets offended in us? Usually, it is our pride. We come to God desiring physical healing, but the Lord wants us not only to be healed, but to be humble. Yes, God heals us through our faith, but there our times when our own pride keeps us from receiving the method of God’s healing. The Lord offends us to humble us, so He can give us grace. Faith works through grace, but God only gives grace to the humble.

Look at how often Jesus offended people before He healed them. Once, He actually spit on the ground, made mud and put it on a blind man’s eyes, and then told him to walk across town that way! Imagine if you were next in the healing line and saw what the guy before you had to do. Admit it, we each would be looking for another healing ministry, one that is a little less offensive! On another occasion He told a woman who came seeking her daughter’s healing that she was an unclean dog; another time, He stuck His fingers in the ears of a man to heal his deafness. The Lord often offended people before He healed them.

If we would learn to humble ourselves in the offense, we would discover that the apparent offense was, in realty, a door that led into the manifest power of God. When Jesus called the Canaanite woman a “dog,” instead of being offended, she said, “Yes, Lord, but even the dogs feed on the crumbs” (Matt. 15:27). When Jesus told the man to walk across town with mud in his eyes, the man didn’t argue or ask for a more dignified healing; he humbled himself and came back seeing. When Elisha told Naaman to dip in the Jordan seven times, the offense wounded him. Yet, when he humbled himself, his leprosy was replaced with the skin of a little child. His skin became as a child, because his heart, through humility, became as a child.

Maybe you haven’t received your healing or breakthrough yet because to walk the path set before you is beneath your dignity. Maybe you need to get rid of your dignity and go to that Pentecostal or Baptist church you’ve been making fun of, then ask them to pray for you. God wants to heal you, but He also wants to renew and transform you with His grace.

Overcome Offenses

When we study what Jesus taught, it is obvious that He came to make us “unoffendable.” Consider: He says that if someone slaps you on one cheek, offer him the other. He said to love our enemies and bless those who curse us. What He’s really doing is showing us how an unoffendable heart of love overcomes all adversity.

We pray, “Lord, I want to change.” To answer our prayer, He sometimes must put us in situations that perfectly offend us. The offense itself awakens our need of grace. Thus, the Lord precipitates change by first offending the area of our soul He desires to transform. He does not expect us to merely survive this adversity, but to become Christlike in it. Ask Joseph in the Old Testament: the “land of offense” became the land of his anointing and power. Listen my friends: the destiny God has for man unfolds or dies at the junction of offense. How we handle offense is the key to our tomorrow.

“Those who love [God’s] law have great peace, and nothing causes them to stumble” (Ps. 119:165).

Lord, grant me that new creation heart that can walk as Jesus walked, through a world of offenses without stumbling. I want to see everything as an opportunity to pray, everything as an opportunity to become Christlike. Lord help me to interpret offenses as opportunities that lead to transformations. Grant me, Lord Jesus, the pulse and beat of Your unoffendable heart. Amen.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Break Bad Eating Habits

A whirlwind of office parties, family reunions, and shopping days, the holiday season can easily sabotage the healthy limits we normally set for ourselves. But it's not just the overabundance of sweets that lures us, says Judith Wright, author of The Soft Addiction Solution (Tarcher, 2006).

“The holidays stir up emotions that we often don't know how to deal with, so we end up self-medicating through unhealthy behaviors,” she says. Plus stress — another bad-habit trigger — can get exceptionally intense during this time of year.

“When we don't have ways to relieve stress every day, our habits tend to break down,” says Wright. Of course, stress isn't exactly a holiday-specific phenomenon. But when compounded with the season's tendency to disrupt our regular routines, it can leave us especially vulnerable to relapse.

Powerless against pumpkin pie? It's likely you're looking for another kind of nourishment, says Carol H. Munter, psychoanalyst and co-author of Overcoming Overeating. “If you're compulsively eating, it's often because you're using food to find calm rather than ease hunger,” she says. “So when you feel the urge to indulge, ask yourself if it's a physical or emotional need. If it's the latter, you need to find another way to soothe yourself.” Read the entire article.

Avoiding Pet Scams

The scam: A phone call from someone who reports finding a beloved pooch is usually cause for celebration. But Western Union warns that it could be a cruel scam. The company has received reports from owners of lost dogs who say they’ve been called by people identifying themselves as truckers. The dog, a supposed trucker says, was found along a highway.

How it works: The driver says there was no time to get the dog home because of a tight delivery schedule. Now the truck is across the country, but the trucker offers to put the dog on a flight. All you have to do is wire money for the fare. Or sometimes the trucker will also say the dog was injured, and request additional money to cover vet bills.

The outcome: You show up at the airport to meet the flight, but your dog doesn’t arrive. The con artist had gotten your number off a “lost dog” poster or advertisement and never had the pet at all. The nearly surefire way to tell this was a scam was that the money had to be wired — that makes it easy for the fraudster to pick it up and hard for you to trace it.

More on the scam from Western Union.

Another post on Pet Scams.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Medications and Thinking Skills Loss

Common medications known as anticholinergic drugs -- used to treat ulcers, stomach cramps, motion sickness, Parkinson's disease and urinary incontinence -- may cause older people to lose their thinking skills more quickly than seniors who don't take the medicines, new research suggests. Medications for bladder problems and Parkinson's appear to have the worst effect on memory, he said.

Anticholinergic drugs are a class of medicines that work by blocking the binding of a brain chemical called acetylcholine to its receptor in nerve cells.

"You need acetylcholine for [good] memory," Tsao explained. Drugs used to treat Alzheimer's inhibit the enzyme which breaks down acetylcholine, he said, allowing more of it to be used by the brain.

Tsao's study adds to the body of evidence on the effect of these drugs on memory. "We've known for a long time that in people with Alzheimer's disease, if you put them on drugs with anticholinergic activity, it clearly worsens their memory, without a doubt."

In the new study, he said, they looked at people who had normal cognitive function. Read the entire article.

Help For The Liver

Reasons to love our liver abound since this organ does all of the following, and more: saves up energy; makes bile to help break down food; keeps pollution from hurting us; stops cuts from bleeding too long; kills germs; gets rid of toxic chemicals; and helps build muscle.

According to the foundation, liver disease affects one in 10 Americans, or about 30 million people — including children.

Liver disease begins with inflammation. If left untreated, especially over time, inflamed liver tissue starts to scar or become fibrous, which is called fibrosis. If fibrosis is not treated or healed, irreversible damage can occur, called cirrhosis; this can lead to liver cancer. If the liver loses most or all of its function, a life-threatening condition called liver failure can result.

In recent years, enlightened medicine has brought popularity to a variety of botanical liver lovers, including milk thistle, which has been used for what we now know as liver disease since the 12th century.

Today, research often attributes milk thistle´s liver supportive effects to a compound complex in milk thistle, called silymarin, which is extracted from the Milk Thistle seed.

One nutrient, however, that has been the subject of research and which shows the greatest promise for liver health has curiously not yet attained the level of popularity enjoyed by milk thistle; it is: alpha lipoic acid.

It is a natural substance that, according to ALA pioneer Burt Berkson, M.D., in the December 2007 edition of the Townsend Letter for Doctors and Patients, is the "rate-limiting factor for the production of energy from carbohydrates." In other words, without Alpha Lipoic Acid we could not obtain energy from the food we eat and we could not stay alive.

Read entire article.
Milk Thistle Combination
Alpha Lipoic Acid
Alpha Lipoic Acid & Longevity

Monday, December 22, 2008

Getting Out Of The Negative Loops

by Donna L. Watkins

This is the fifth and final article written around a very enlightening book I've read by Jill Bolte Taylor. My Stroke of Insight: A Brain Scientist's Personal Journey has put a visual aspect (right brain) to my left brain knowledge of the Scripture commanding us to "take every thought captive" (2 Cor. 10:4-5).

© 2008 Donna L. Watkins - Lamb's Ears at Montpelier Gardens
The author, a brain scientist who had a stroke and eight years of recovery, paints a picture of how we can control our thoughts which in turn controls our emotions and sets a positive and joyful path through life. Not without troubles, but seeing them in a different light with the choices we make on what we allow our left brain to pump out at us, since it's the story-teller of our brain and will ramble and rattle on forever with things you do not want to waste life listening to.

Jill mentions a few more methods of getting out of the negative loops that our left brain weaves for us: “The cells in our verbal mind [left brain] are totally resourceful in their ability to run our loops of doom and gloom. These cells tap into our negative attributes of jealousy, fear, and rage. They thrive when they are whining, complaining, and sharing with everyone about how awful everything is.

In extreme situations of cellular disregard, I use my authentic voice to put my language center’s Peanut Gallery on a strict time schedule. I give my story-teller full permission to whine rampantly between 9-9:30 a.m. And then again between 9-9:30 p.m. If it accidentally misses whine time, it is not allowed to reengage in that behavior until its next allotted appointment. My cells quickly get the message that I am serious about not hooking into those negative loops of thought – but only if I am persistent and determined enough to pay attention to what circuits are running in my brain.

I’m a devout believer that paying attention to our self-talk is vitally important for our mental health. In my opinion, making the decision that internal verbal abuse is not acceptable behavior, is the first step toward finding deep inner peace. I have learned that in order to protect my overall mental health, it is necessary for me to tend the garden of my mind and keep these cells in check. My story-teller simply needs a little disciplining directive from my conscious mind about what I want versus what I find unacceptable."

Many of us grew up with parents nagging and shouting and saying things they didn't mean to say. Fear makes us project accusations in hopes of some warped way of preventing what we are accusing our children of. Those childhood accusations often continue on when we become adults and they are so deeply rooted that we have a challenge to wake up enough to listen to every conversation, but the more practice you get, the easier it becomes. You will be surprised at what you are saying to yourself once you begin to tune in. This new information has allowed me to go to new levels of subconscious loops that I didn't even recognize as thoughts.

The 9-9:30 routine doesn't fit for me, but what I've found very successful is to first recognize that I'm in a moment where I can take the whine road or "take a right turn" to let my right brain see a bigger picture. Generally I'm off on the rejoicing road focusing on blessings instead of the problem, or putting it up against what God's Word says about it. Since it's winter, I look out at a gray and bleak setting and miss the views of summer with all the color, blooms and butterflies.

So .. I go back to "THIS is the day the Lord has made, I WILL rejoice and be glad in it." Then I think of blessings I can count because it is winter. I can see the birds better. They are willing to eat closer to the windows. I have more time for reading than in summer. And on and on. It keeps me focused on the blessing of today ... and tomorrow may be a sunny day which alters my mind greatly.

However, there are times when something warrants a bit of whine time because I know it's going to come back up if I don't process through it more fully. For example, a beautiful Downy Woodpecker hit our deck door (even though it has 3 decals on it) and died. There are emotions we have to express to go through the steps of grief, but we have the option of moving through those stages a lot quicker than we often choose to. I allowed myself a few moments moaning about its death and it being "not fair" ... but then I moved on. It's okay to give yourself time to whine when life doesn't go your way, but don't let it keep you in its flow. Put your toes in the water, but don't step into the current. Choose to flow in the thoughts of blessings that are all around you.

Jill continues with more specifics to help us: "Just like children, these [left brain] cells may challenge the authority of my authentic voice and test my conviction. Once asked to be silent, they tend to pause for a moment and then immediately reengage those forbidden loops.

If I am not persistent with my desire to think about other things, and consciously initiate new circuits of thought, then those uninvited loops can generate new strength and begin monopolizing my mind again. To counter their activities, I keep a handy list of three things available for me to turn my consciousness toward when I am in a sate of need:

I remember something I find fascinating that I would like to ponder more deeply, or
I think about something that brings me terrific joy, or
I think about something I would like to do.

When I am desperate to change my mind, I use such tools.”

Jill mentions that she had to be willing to make these decisions a thousand times a day initially. That sounds overwhelming. However, in reality, isn’t allowing our mind to control us with negative thoughts overwhelming, besides being so destructive.

Allowing yourself to whine and wallow in despair and grief, fear and worry, or any other negative emotion is totally destructive. There is no good coming out of it. None! Spending that time and energy thinking about the things that bring you joy – even if you can only find one thing – brings about positive change and that change gains momentum.

It’s like exercise. When you begin it is not fun. Every muscle hurts from being reawakened and you can’t see much positive coming out of it ... But if you keep on going you soon begin noticing more energy, more strength, better physical and mental health. It’s worth the investment, but each day it’s a choice on whether to put our mind in gear for it.

Jill also relates all of this to the realm of physical health. She writes, “The first thing every morning and the last thing every night, I faithfully hug my pillow, wrap one hand in the other, and consciously thank my cells for another great day. I care enough to say it out loud. ‘Thank you girls. Thanks for another great day!,’ and I say it with an intense feeling of gratitude in my heart. I then implore my cells, 'Please, heal me,' and I visualize my immune cells responding.

I unconditionally love my cells with an open heart and grateful mind. Spontaneously throughout the day, I acknowledge their existence and enthusiastically cheer them on. I am a wonderful living being capable of beaming my energy into the world, only because of them ...

When I’m having hunger pangs and can’t get to food, I remind my cells that I have fuel (fat) stored on my hips ... I listen to my body when it speaks to me. If I feel tired, I give my cells sleep. When I’m feeling sloth-like, I give my cells movement. When I’m in pain, I become quiet, coddle the wound, and consciously surrender into the pain, which helps it dissipate.

Pain is the tool our cells use to communicate to our brain that there is trauma somewhere in our body. Our cells stimulate our pain receptors in order to get our brain to focus and pay attention. Once my brain acknowledges the existence of the pain, then it has served its purpose and either lightens up in intensity, or goes away.

Deep inner peace is just a thought/feeling away. To experience peace does not mean that your life is always blissful. It means that you are capable of tapping into a blissful state of mind amidst the normal chaos of a hectic life.”

One of the keys to being able to stay centered on peace is knowing you are part of something greater than yourself. For Christians, that’s being in Christ, and all that defines. We are fearfully and wonderfully made and this book certainly broke that down into visual, scientific and factual terms.

Realizing these are real physiological processes that we were wired to control is truly empowering. We can read about having the power of the Creator within us, but this shows exactly where and how He wired it in.

Here's one last tip from Jill: "One of the easiest ways to shift just about anyone’s mood (for better or worse) is through stimulation of their nose. If you are overly sensitive, life in the real world can be unbearable. Capitalizing on our noses to shift ourselves back into the present moment is easy. Light a scented candle and let vanilla, rose or almond life you up beyond your recollections of stress. When random smells waft past you, hook into that cognitive loop and spend quality time trying to identify the scent. Score it on a scale of one to ten for pleasure or yuck. Remember to feel the physiology that underlies different scents. Let them move you into the here and now."

I've found several essential oils that I love and keep them nearby for use. Since I mix them with a massage oil, I use them as my face moisturizer which eliminates all those face products with a long list of chemicals. Even natural products have a longer list than I have come to want on my body.

I have a mixture of Rosemary and Pine essential oils for mornings and Sandalwood for afternoons. Essential oils enter the bloodstream in seconds, so I always feel the joy of them very quickly. I've used Tei Fu for asthma (relaxes arthritis pain for many years and the smell of that lifts my spirit also ... maybe because it's such an effective pain reliever for me.

I pray that these excerpts that I’ve been writing from My Stroke of Insight: A Brain Scientist's Personal Journey will bring you much insight into getting out of the darkness that wants to envelope us so that our Light no longer shines.

Related Articles:
Your Amazing Brain
Power To Change Your Mind
Stroke Of Genius On Emotions
Taking Thoughts Captive
Fighting The Darkness

Copyright and Reprint Information
The photo(s) and article are copyrighted. You may use either or both of them on a website if you include the following credit and an active link back to this site:
© 2008 Donna L. Watkins - This article was reprinted with permission from
Link URL is:

Eco-friendly Birthday Parties

When you stop and think about your past parties, you’ll realize how much the following article makes sense and will actually save you time, money, energy (yours and our natural resources), not to mention promoting a healthier life for people and the planet.

The trend for the party is to simplify – even more now than ever. There are so many ways to make a big difference (while setting a good example for the kids and inspiring others).

Here are 10 smart party tips that will also stir up some ideas of your own for a very fun & most impressive event from start to finish.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Holiday Cleansing & Weight Loss

All the holiday treats and overeating takes a toll on our digestive system, immune system and certainly on the liver and intestinal system.

What a great New Year's gift to give yourself ... a body cleanse. Cleansing aids so many areas of the body:

Why Should I Cleanse?

Even weight loss is better accomplished once you open the pathways of elimination so any fat you burn off can be removed:

Sensible Weight Control.

Nature's Sunshine's Clean Start Cleanse is on sale from December 21-31, 2008. Wild Berry and Apple flavors at $42.75 ($3.00 off) or you can Buy 4 and Get 1 Free if you're going to cleanse the entire family or do a series of monthly cleanses.

Nature's Sunshine has a big sale on many items. If you're ready to get some energy and nutrition into that partying body, check out the
Nature's Sunshine's products on sale now.

Safe Weight Loss Tips For Dogs

Studies have shown that slim dogs live longer and healthier lives than overweight dogs. That's not news for pets or people. Here's a great article with safe weight-loss tips for dogs that you can follow.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Healthy Legumes

Eating healthy can be part of an alternative treatment against illnesses.

Legumes are a staple food all over the world and are one of the best sources of soluble fiber. Plus, they're low in fat and high in good quality protein -- a great health-saving combination. Beans can be gassy, of course, but there are ways around that. So don't let their "explosive" nature scare you away from some of the best nutrition around.

The soluble fiber in beans helps lower levels of damaging LDL cholesterol in the blood, thus lowering heart-disease risk. And by slowing down carbohydrate absorption, soluble bean fiber fends off unwanted peaks and valleys in blood glucose levels -- especially valuable to people with diabetes. Beans also provide substantial insoluble fiber, which can keep constipation and other digestive woes away.

Legumes are also rich in folic acid, copper, iron, and magnesium -- four nutrients many of us could use more of in our diets. In addition, dried beans and peas are generally good sources of iron, which is especially helpful for people who don't eat meat. Read the entire article.

Beans are an important dietary choice for vegetarians since they contain a great amount of protein. When combined with a grain, they offer complete protein (containing all amino acids) in a more digestible form than meat and dairy products. Read more about vegetarian protein sources.

Beans can really stretch a food budget a very long way, even if you're paying the higher price for canned beans. Phil Lempert at discusses buying dry beans vs. canned.

"Nearly every bean that is sold in dried form is sold pre-cooked in cans including garbanzo, red kidney, Great Northern white or black beans, pinto, and navy beans. Also available in cans are whole, and both French and Italian cut green beans that are not available in dried form, but also come fresh or frozen. Organic, low sodium and low fat varieties are also available.

Although dried beans are a very inexpensive source of protein, it’s hard to argue with the additional expense of buying precooked beans in cans. With the convenience of saving time soaking, cooking, and seasoning beans, all you need to do is open a can and use them in salads, or heat them up in other dishes.

So, while you could get four cups of cooked beans from a package of dried beans for under 60 cents, and you get only one cup for 90 cents to $1.50 for canned beans, it’s still such a modest investment that convenience here makes sense."

Here's a warm healthy recipe from Delicious Living for one of your cold winter evenings.

Lentil, Mushroom, and Spinach Stew
Serves 6

Lentil Tip:

Grayish-green French lentils stay firm when cooked; red lentils cook quickly but can lose their texture; and brown (often with a greenish cast and simply labeled “lentils”) soften but retain texture when cooked.


1 tablespoon olive oil
1 small yellow onion, cut in large dice
2 medium carrots, cut in large dice
1 medium celery stalk, cut in large dice
1½ cups sliced cremini or portobello mushrooms
1 cup flat brown lentils, rinsed
7-8 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
1 bay leaf
½ teaspoon dried rosemary, crushed
½ teaspoon dried oregano
½ teaspoon dried basil
¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
3 medium cloves garlic, minced
4 cups (packed) baby spinach leaves
Sherry or sherry vinegar (optional)

1. In a medium soup pot, heat olive oil and sauté onion, carrots, celery, and mushrooms until onions are just tender, 3-5 minutes. Stir in lentils. Add 7 cups broth, bay leaf, rosemary, oregano, basil, red pepper flakes, and garlic. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and cook on medium, covered, for about 20 minutes, until lentils are tender.
2. Remove bay leaf. Purée half of the mixture and return to pot. If desired, add remaining 1 cup stock to reach desired consistency. Stir in baby spinach leaves and cook for 1 minute. Season with salt and pepper. Top each serving with a spoonful of sherry or sherry vinegar, if desired.

PER SERVING: 180 cal, 14% fat cal, 3g fat, 0g sat fat, 0mg chol, 10g protein, 30g carb, 11g fiber, 348mg sodium

Friday, December 19, 2008

What Breathes With Its Feet?

From Creation Moments

What breathes with its feet, has thousands of jaws but no mouth, has up to fifty arms, and an eye on the end of each arm? No, it's not a new creature for the next Star Wars movie. It's the starfish.

When God designed the starfish, it almost seems as if He tried to see how differently He could make this creature from all the others. Depending upon the species, the starfish can have from three to fifty arms while there is an eye on the end of each one.

The rough skin of the starfish is covered with tiny jaws to keep parasites from attaching themselves to the starfish. Even more amazing is the fact that each of these thousands of jaws works independently of the rest. To get its oxygen, the starfish takes water in through tubes in its feet, each containing a tiny pump and a pipe system linking it to the other feet.

The starfish presents us with the lesson that our Creator did not have to make the creation in any specific way. This is referred to by theologians as “voluntary creation.” If God had chosen to, you and I might be breathing through our feet — although I'm glad we don't. But the biblical truth of the voluntary creation was one of the crucial ideas that provided the basis for the modern scientific method.

References: Bob Devine, Uncle Bob’s Animal Stories (Moody Press, Chicago, IL, 1986), pp. 65-70.

Visit Creation Moments.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Conquering Credit Card Madness

From The Word For You Today.

Half of America's families outspend their income and carry over $8,000 on credit cards. Sometimes it's due to skyrocketing utility and medical costs, but most times it's all the extras we can't live without, like gourmet coffee, expensive hobbies, exotic vacations, and shopping to make ourselves feel good.

Columnist Donna F. Savage admits: "I'm shopping for an experience ... to make the occasion memorable ... directionless shopping hides the motivation behind spending decisions ... A few Hallmark sentiments and a gift card will do the trick ... Pizza and a new DVD should bring the family together ... dinner and a movie will restore marital intimacy ... contentment slips out of reach with each substitution. Since our deepest expectations aren't met, we keep ... spending."

Jesus said, "Don't be greedy! Owning a lot of things won't make your life safe." Curb your out-of-control spending with a few simple steps:

Think small: tackle one bill at a time; it's amazing what you accomplish when you're serious and stick with it: "Let us not become weary in doing good ... at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up" (Gal. 6:9).

Remember the power within you is bigger than the financial challenge ahead of you, so if you "get knocked down ... get up ... and keep going" (2Cor. 4:9).

Spell out your financial goals: decide what's truly important - how much you'll save, how much you'll give and how much debt you can handle without jeopardizing your future. The reason we never reach our goals, is because we don't set any. Wisdom means knowing where you're going and what it will take to get there!

Least Toxic Denistry

Mercury fillings, dental sealants, and root canals may be linked to health problems. Here’s what you need to know to stay safe.

When you visit the dentist, you’re probably hoping that you’ll get a clean bill of dental health. Keep in mind, though, that you should also be looking closely at the health of your dentist’s office. Many dental procedures that have been used for years—from fluoride applications to amalgam fillings to root canals—are now under scrutiny for their possible role in causing health problems. Learning about the issues surrounding these procedures can make you a more informed and safer dental patient.

The Fuss About Fillings

Amalgam, or silver, fillings, which have been widely used by dentists for more than a century, are about 50 percent mercury; the balance is made up of other metals, mainly silver, copper, tin, and zinc. According to the American Dental Association (ADA), amalgam is an ideal substance for dental restorations because it’s durable, easy to use, highly resistant to wear, and cost-effective.

The ADA claims that the presence of mercury in fillings is not a problem, because the fillings release only minute amounts of mercury vapor, and such low-level exposure has not been proven to be harmful.

A growing number of dental professionals disagrees. “The ADA warns that amalgam is toxic before placement and after removal, so dentists have to take precautions with these procedures,” says Dr. Robert Johnson, a biologic dentist who heads the Natural Horizons Wellness Center in Fairfax, Virginia.

“There’s no reason for amalgam to suddenly not be toxic once it’s in someone’s mouth.”There’s little dispute about one thing: everyday activities like brushing your teeth, eating, and drinking hot liquids cause amalgam fillings to release mercury vapor.

The ADA acknowledges that chewing and grinding teeth may cause amalgam fillings to release one to three micrograms of mercury per day, while the World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that the average amount is actually three to 17 micrograms per day. Read the entire article.

Don't Smile At Dogs

From Cheryl Falkenburry, Animal Behavior Coach

Q: Someone told me I shouldn’t smile at my dog because the dog may attack me. Is that true?

A: The person is referring to dog body language. A show of teeth is a threat when dogs do it to each other. It sends the message that the dog is not happy with the situation and may attack if the other dog approaches.

Some people feel that dogs will observe a human smile in the same way. However, dogs are pretty clever creatures. If they live with humans, they soon learn that when a human bears their teeth good things happen. When we smile at our dogs, we usually call them to us, stroke them, give them treats, and generally talk in a happy voice.

Dogs quickly discover that human body language means something totally different. If a strange dog is approaching you outside, it’s best not to look at the dog and smile. Staring at a dog is definitely a challenge and this dog may not have experienced a human smile as a good thing. It’s best to divert your eyes, look to the ground, don’t move, and keep a dead-pan face.

If you are being approached by your own dogs, though, you can talk to them in a happy voice, toss treats, and smile away. Your dogs will soon learn that smiling is a good thing, and they may even appear to smile back. They don’t possess the facial muscles to smile as a human does, but their chin drops in a relaxed position with the tongue hanging slightly out when they are happy. Their tail smiles by wagging in a low sweeping motion with often the whole rear-end wiggling with it.

Dogs and humans can develop their own way of communicating by associating good things with certain actions. So smile away and let your dog know that a show of human teeth is a wonderful thing indeed.

Cheryl Falkenburry, Animal Behavior Coach, helps make sense of mind-boggling animal behavior. Visit her website for other behavior tips. Set up a private session to work directly on your pet's problem.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Light Bulbs - What To Look For

The recently passed Energy Bill was highly successful in getting light bulb manufacturers to clean up their acts, so to speak. Although the bill didn't render incandescent bulbs obsolete, the new requirements will make it hard for incandescents to survive, and they'll most likely be replaced with newer technologies, such as compact fluorescent bulbs (CFLs), light-emitting diodes (LEDs) and halogens. Get details from Popular Mechanics on The Best Compact Fluorescent Light Bulbs.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Don't Want To Eat Greens?

You can juice them and get more of a quantity down besides being able to mix it with fruit juice. Sounds a whole lot better to me than a plate full of bitter greens. Although Randal is juicing organic carrots right now to drink daily, I can't handle the visual look of adding greens. Orange (carrots) and green make brown.

But greens are very important and getting them in a liquid format makes it easier to get a good quantity of them in our children, or even in an older weakened parent or spouse.

I always look for an easier way to deal with getting things into my body that are good for it, but that I can't get beyond my eyes to deliver it to the mouth. So, I get my greens in Liquid Chlorophyll. Chlorophyll is what makes plants green, and it's the building blocks of the body. It's perhaps the most powerful element that exists in the universe because It increases the flow of oxygen to the entire body. That means we release more toxins and our bodies become more aerobic, which means disease can't live in our cells.

Chlorophyll provides trace minerals which many people are seriously short in, so our bodies are not getting what it needs to fight disease and feel good. You can't open a health book or magazine these days without finding advice to eat your greens. They're important. Raw vegetables and fruits are the foundation of a healthy diet and I don't find anybody that's getting enough of them in by chewing.

Maybe the Liquid Chlorophyll option will work for you as well as it does for me. I use Nature's Sunshine Liquid Chlorophyll because it's pure, potent and has spearmint flavoring which makes it even more tasty. The source of the green is alfalfa. Alfalfa is known to have many great health benefits.

Somehow the green color reminds me of the earth and it makes me feel good to pour in essential nutrients that are readily absorbed in a liquid form. Most of our digestive systems are not up to breaking down the cellular wall of the fibers in greens, so we can get more benefit by taking a "juiced" form.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Taking Thoughts Captive

by Donna L. Watkins

Continuing with information from an incredible book I've read: My Stroke of Insight: A Brain Scientist's Personal Journey, by Jill Bolte Taylor, I find great results in keeping the left brain controlled by choice.

© 2008 Donna L. Watkins - Cedar of Lebanon, A James Madison era planting, at Montpelier

Although I memorized the Scripture to "take every thought captive" (2 Cor. 10:4-5) many years ago, having the visual picture physiologically of what's going on when I have a thought I do not like, and the process to truly dump it, has made a world of difference in being able to implement the command.

Jill explains, "Through our understanding that we have two very distinct ways of being in the world, we can deliberately choose to have much more power over what's going on inside our brains than we ever imagined. When I take responsibility for the circumstances for my life, I put myself in the driver's seat and own my power.

In an attempt to maintain my sanity (peaceful heart) in a world that often feels like it spins dangerously fast, I continue to work very hard to maintain a healthy relationship between what is going on in my right and left minds. I love knowing that I am simultaneously (depending on which hemisphere you ask) as big as the universe and yet merely a heap of star dust.

This does not mean that I am in complete control of everything that happens to me. However, I am in control of how I choose to think and feel about those things. Even negative events can be perceived as valuable life lessons, if I am willing to 'step to the right' and experience the situation with compassion.

Now that my left mind's language centers and story-teller are back to functioning normally, I find my mind not only spins a wild tale but has a tendency to hook into the negative patterns of thought. I have found that the first step to getting out of these reverberating loops of negative thought or emotion is to recognize when I am hooked into those loops.

For some of us, paying attention to what our brain is saying to us comes naturally. Many of my college students, however, complain vehemently that it takes way too much mental effort for them to simply observe what heir brain is telling them. Learning to listen to your brain from the position of a nonjudgmental witness may take some practice and patience, but once you master this awareness, you become free to step beyond the worrisome drama and trauma of your story-teller [left brain]."

Jill uses specific phrases to speak to her left brain. Jesus told us to speak things that they might come to pass (such as speaking to the mountain and it be removed into the sea). Some of Jill's suggested phrases she speaks to her left brain are:

"Please stop bringing this stuff up."
"Cancel! Cancel!"
"Busy! I'm too busy!"
"Enough, enough, enough already!"
"Knock it off!"

She writes, "Simply thinking these thoughts with my inner authentic voice, however, is often not enough for me to get the message across to my story-teller, who is invested in performing its normal function. I have found that when I attach an appropriate feeling to these phrases, and think them with genuine affect, my story-teller is more amenable to this type of communication. If I'm really having trouble getting my brain to listen, I add a kinestetic component to my message like waggling my pointed finger in the air, or standing firm with my hands on my hips."

Sounds rather silly, but then we really need to lighten up in life anyway, so what better way to do so than to begin speaking to ourselves. There will always be that part of us that flows in thinking negatively. It thrives when we whine, complain, and tell everybody how awful life is. It's there - that little devil in each of us - but all the rest of us was created for peace, joy, happiness, contentment and all the blessings of God.

Don't let the few cells weave a story of doom and gloom that steals all the blessings that God has for you. We were wired to overcome and be victorious. Christ showed us that it can be done when He came as a man to this earth. Maybe that 'little devil' is allowed as a strength builder. Like holding weights to build muscle as we walk. Exercising our faith and good thinking choices builds strength to face all the battles life brings us with a winner's attitude.

It does change the entire life process from mostly negative to wonderfully positive. You've seen people able to do this. They don't have wonderful childhood memories, they don't have genes or cells that we weren't given.

Let the wisdom of My Stroke of Insight, by Jill Bolte Taylor, make life easier for you. It's all about choices.

Related Articles:
Your Amazing Brain
Power To Change Your Mind
Stroke Of Genius On Emotions
Getting Out Of Negative Loops
Fighting The Darkness

Copyright and Reprint Information
The photo(s) and article are copyrighted. You may use either or both of them on a website if you include the following credit and an active link back to this site:
© 2008 Donna L. Watkins - This article was reprinted with permission from
Link URL is:

Pets - Finding A Good Match

The great thing about pets is that there’s one for almost every lifestyle. Find which breeds might be the best fit for you. Remember shelters have many breeds, so your lifestyle category could be a good match with a pet looking for a home and friend.

Here's a couple of sites where you can discover the best breed for you:

Dog Selector at Animal Discovery
Cat Selector at Animal Discovery

Selecting A Dog
Selecting A Cat

Learn more about breeds to find a good fit:

Breeds of Dogs
Breeds of Cats

Don't forget to check for a pet looking for a home. Don't buy from pet stores and breeders that are not humane. Puppy mills are torturous places and do not produce healthy animals.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Ginger - Inflammation, BP, Digestion

This spicy Asian flavor enhancer is actually a rhizome — an underground, horizontal-growing plant stem. Much more than just a zesty accent to baked goods and sushi, ginger contains potent compounds that help quell inflammation, ease nausea, and potentially lower blood pressure.

Eat it

To soothe osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis, mince about 1/4-inch slice of fresh ginger and add to food every day. Or mitigate hypertension and relieve motion sickness by taking ginger in capsule or tincture form. Talk with your health care practitioner about an appropriate dose.

Drink it

Combat a queasy stomach or morning sickness with simple ginger tea. Place one or two 1/4-inch slices of fresh ginger in a mug of hot water. Let steep for a few minutes, and drink. [I have used one capsule to a cup of water for this.]

To eliminate gas, sip nonalcoholic ginger beer — as opposed to conventional ginger ales, which often don't include any fresh ginger.

Rub it on

When massaged into skin, ginger creates a warming sensation that helps increase circulation, soothe sore joints, and relax muscles. Plus, antioxidants in ginger boost skin's ability to fight free radicals. Mix a couple of drops of ginger essential oil into a carrier oil and knead into problem areas.

Source: Delicious Living Magazine

Ginger is something I take a lot of since I deal with rheumatoid arthritis. I am hot-natured and ginger is known to increase sweating, so I begin using it in September when it cools off here in Virginia. Throughout the winter, I take capsules before each meal, brew tea at bedtime, and cook with ginger as much as I can.

It's a great digestive aid and in cooler months I eat heavier foods, so it's nice to have some extra digestive support. I use Nature's Sunshine Ginger capsules.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Google Spying On Our Health

Google has a plan to spy on its users and report search details to the U.S. government. The project is for Flu Trends. It's monitoring searches for flu-related keywords to determine whether a pandemic outbreak is occurring in a specific geographic region.

The data is then reported in real time to the U.S. government, where offices like the CDC can take action to halt the outbreak. What's really happening? Google is snooping on the search queries of private users and reporting to the federal government!

What's next? If you search for "vaccine side effects," will you be visited by health authorities who will have you arrested for resisting mandatory vaccines? Read NY Times article.

Torture of Goose Down

Typically, ducks and geese are lifted by their necks, their legs tied, and their feathers are ripped out. The struggling birds often sustain injuries during plucking. They are then returned to their cage until they are ready to be plucked again. This process begins when the animals are 8 weeks old and is repeated at eight-week intervals until the birds are slaughtered.

Feathers are often plucked out of ducks and geese raised for food. Those raised for foie gras, especially, suffer terribly. They are force-fed—a funnel is inserted into each bird’s throat, and up to 6 pounds of a salty, fatty corn mash is pumped into the stomach each day—until the bird's liver has ballooned to four times the normal size.


Friday, December 12, 2008

Stroke Of Genius On Emotions

I've been writing about the book I've been reading, My Stroke of Insight: A Brain Scientist's Personal Journey, by Jill Bolte Taylor, and wanted to give you more of her insight into controlling our brain. This brain scientist had a massive stroke and learned so much about controlling all the brain chatter, judging and critical aspects of the left brain. There's much wisdom to be learned for "taking every thought captive" as God tells us to do.

Jill says, "I define responsibility (response ability) as the ability to choose how we respond to stimulation coming in through our sensory systems at any moment in time ... Although there are certain limbic system (emotional) programs that can be triggered automatically, it takes less than 90 seconds for one of these programs to be triggered, surge through our body, and then be completely flushed out of our bloodstream. My anger response, for example, is a programmed response that can be set off automatically.

Once triggered, the chemical released by my brain surges through my body and I have a physiological experience. Within 90 seconds from the initial trigger, the chemical component of my anger has completely dissipated from my blood and my automatic response is over.

If, however, I remain angry after those 90 seconds have passed, then it is because I have CHOSEN to let that circuit continue to run. Moment by moment, I make the choice to either hook into my neurocircuitry or move back into the present moment, allowing that reaction to melt away as fleeting physiology.

I always have an alternative way of looking at any situation - is my glass half full or half empty?

If you approach me with anger and frustration, then I make the choice to either reflect your anger and engage in argument (left brain), or be empathic and approach you with a compassionate heart (right brain).

What most of us don't realize is that we are unconsciously making choices about how we respond all the time. It is so easy to get caught up in the wiring of our pre-programmed reactivity (limbic system) that we live our lives cruising along on automatic pilot.

By paying attention to the choices my automatic circuitry is making, I own my power and make more choices consciously. In the long run, I take responsibility for what I attract into my life.

There has been nothing more empowering than the realization that I don't have to think thoughts that bring me pain. I have the conscious power to stop thinking those thoughts when I am satiated and it is liberating to know that I have the ability to choose a peaceful and loving mind (my right mind), whatever my physical or mental circumstances, by deciding to 'step to the right' and bring my thoughts back to the present moment."

Jill told the story of driving down the highway singing along with one of her favorite CDs, "I've got joy in my heart." She was pulled over by the police for speeding. After receiving the ticket, she had to make the decision at least 100 times not to feel down about it. The little voice of negativity kept raising its head to remind her of the situation, most likely with a lot of name calling. She found her left brain wanting to mull over the event again and again from every angle. No matter how much thought she would've allowed it, nothing would change the situation, and she finds that kind of mental obsessing by the left hemisphere to be a waste of time and emotionally draining.

She tunes in to how thoughts make her feel and then makes the choice for feeling better. Yes, it takes a lot of energy, but it takes a lot less time and mental and physical health than all the negative thinking ... and totally avoids the long-term consequences of allowing that kind of thinking to continue in our minds and set up highway systems to welcome more of it.

We can use our power to stop thinking about events that we cannot change or have any control over, and bring our minds back to the present and the blessings in it. Feeling deep inner peace and sharing kindness rather than anger and frustration (even sharing it with ourselves), is always a choice we get to make. We choose to forgive or stuff it away.

Jill's book, My Stroke of Insight: A Brain Scientist's Personal Journey, has really been a stroke of genius for insight into the workings of the mind and how we can truly be obedient to the Scripture telling us to "take every thought captive" (2 Corinthians 10:4-5).

Related Articles:
Your Amazing Brain
Power To Change Your Mind
Taking Thoughts Captive
Getting Out Of Negative Loops
Fighting The Darkness

Copyright and Reprint Information
The photo(s) and article are copyrighted. You may use either or both of them on a website if you include the following credit and an active link back to this site:
© 2008 Donna L. Watkins - This article was reprinted with permission from
Link URL is:

Debunking Recycling Myths

Do you per chance think the U.S. is running out of landfill space? Well it's a more complicated story than you might think.

Do you think that when paper, plastic and metal are all dumped into one recycling bin that it has to be sorted by hand at the other end? Well read on.

And perhaps you think that most plastic is not recycled and ends up in a landfill? Again, it ain't necessarily so. Read Common Recycling Myths Debunked at Popular Mechanics.

Is recycling worth it? Americans haul 82 million tons of trash to recycling centers each year. But does it pay off—for the environment or the economy? Popular Mechanics investigates its Economic and Environmental Impact.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Wild Medicine

Is it possible that your pharmacist could be a chimpanzee? That's not such a silly question. Naturalists are discovering that many animals use a variety of plants and other items to treat their illnesses. Animals often know about the medicinal properties of plants when modern medicine has yet to learn about them.

Recently naturalists noticed that one of the monkeys in the African preserve under their care had become lethargic, lost her appetite, and obviously had a severe gastric upset. A few hours after she became sick, she started munching on a native shrub that is not a normal part of the monkey's diet. She chewed the plant, swallowed the bitter juice and spit out the pulp. By the next afternoon her symptoms were gone and she was feeling better. After a little research, scientists discovered that local tribes use juices from the same plant to treat intestinal upset and loss of appetite.

Studies of the juices of a root that bears rub into their coats show that the bears are using an effective insecticide. Scientists have observed elephants, monkeys, birds and bears eating a variety of things that were not a normal part of their diet only to discover that the things being eaten had medicinal properties. Most amazing is that the animals know how best to take their medicine. If a leaf is best swallowed whole to kill intestinal parasites, it will be swallowed unchewed!

Who but the Great Physician Himself could have taught the animals this medicine?

References: Cowen, Ron. 1990. Medicine on the wild side. ScienceNews, v. 138. p. 280.

Source: Creation Moments.

Urine Spraying Success Story

Possibly nothing can be as upsetting or as frustrating as having a cat spray urine all over the house. Spraying or inappropriate elimination is probably the number one reason cats are surrendered to shelters, or worse, turned out of the house to fend for themselves. That was Puck's story and she became an angry, unhappy, and confused cat.

Puck was essentially abandoned by her owners because she sprayed. She had been a beloved, indoor and outdoor cat. At age five, her feline companion was hit by a car. Shortly thereafter, the couple adopted two new kittens. In response, Puck exhibited some stress and aggression toward the new cats. She also began spraying. The owners couldn't deal with it, assumed the spraying was because of the two new cats, and just threw Puck outdoors.

But somebody was placed in Puck's life that would allow her to heal emotionally and be a member of a family again. Maybe this information will help you or somebody you know to understand your cat's behavior more. Read the entire story.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Obese Employees Pay More

Beginning in January 2009, state employees will be required to receive medical screenings for several conditions, including body mass index (BMI). Those who are considered obese -- along with exhibiting other negative health factors -- will have a year to get in shape.

The penalty for failure? A $25 increase in their monthly insurance costs.

Although critics view the penalty as a "fat tax," Alabama officials believe the new policies will result in fitter, healthier, and happier employees -- as well as help reduce the state's mounting health care costs. Read the entire article.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

What Does A Cat's Purr Mean?

From Cheryl Falkenburry, Animal Behavior Coach

My cat never purred much when she was younger, but now that she’s 15 she’s started to purr all the time. Any clue as to what turned on her motor all of a sudden?

Cats do not always purr out of contentment. You may want to get your cat to the vet and have her checked out. Sometimes cats will purr when they are in pain. At 15, your cat may be experiencing some arthritis or perhaps has a urinary tract infection. I would get her to the vet to be on the safe side.

Cats also will purr when anxious. If changes have been made in the household, your cat may be reacting to those changes. Sometimes with older animals it can be something as simple as a new piece of furniture moved into their territory.

Think if anything new has happened in the house—people, schedule changes, items. If you do have a change, you can help your cat accept it by making positive things happen in reference to that change.

If it’s a new person in the house, have that person feed the cat. Put treats around the person as they sit still on the floor. If it’s a piece of furniture, feed the cat near the furniture. Play with the cat near the new item.

When positive things happen around new things, those items/people become really cool to have around. If no physical problem is found and no change in the environment has occurred, then perhaps your cat has decided that the golden years are wonderful, and she’s sitting back, watching the world go by, and purring to let everyone know that life is good.

Cheryl Falkenburry, Animal Behavior Coach, helps make sense of mind-boggling animal behavior. Visit her website for other behavior tips. Set up a private session to work directly on your pet's problem.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Battling The Darkness

by Donna L. Watkins

I have a dear friend who's struggling with disease in a family member. It's a dog, but pets are family members and with the unconditional love they give us, they are sometimes harder to let go of than people, who may not have given us any love.

© 2008 Donna L. Watkins - Sunflower With Bee
She has prayed and prayed for healing and can't see any changes. She's concerned that if things don't go her way, she'll give up on God. How common a situation! We all want what we want and we can't see beyond that. It's too painful. Too great a loss! Too unfair!

When what we want doesn't happen, we want to turn away from God who seemingly didn't answer our prayer. Like a child, being told "No," we want to run away from home. How lonely it is when we get out there without the security of home. In reality we don't want to have control over it all. We need somebody who knows more than we do.

God doesn't promise us we will have everything our way. He is God. He created us and knows what is best for us and is honest, true and just. Our role is to trust, just as we want our own children to do. Psalm 91 is a favorite Psalm for comfort and to remind us of His promises. One of my favorite parts is verses 9-11:

"I will make the Most High my habitation, even the Lord who is my refuge, then no harm will befall me, no disaster will come near my tent. For He shall give His angels charge concerning me, to guard me in all my ways."

When we're in darkness we interpret that to mean we shouldn't have any troubles and beg for God to take away the trial. In reality, it shows His protection for us, but not to the extent that we get to live out of the realm of reality. It's a fallen world.

The devil will tempt you as he did Eve, saying that God doesn't really love you, or He would answer. You'll hear messages that He's not listening and that He doesn't care. Psalm 91:14-15 says:

"Because he/she loves me, says the Lord, I will rescue him/her, I will protect him/her for he/she acknowledges my name. He/she will call upon me and I will answer him/her, I will be with him/her in trouble."

He will be with us. It doesn't mean we won't have trouble, but how we respond to trouble makes a difference in how we go through it. We have to snuggle into Him and trust that whatever happens is God's best. We keep our mind on believing as Christ told us to do. Whatever we can believe for, we are told we can have, but even one father responded, "I believe, but help my unbelief."

What doesn't work is listening to the lies of the devil as Eve did. It brings great loss. Psalm 18:28-29 says,

"You, O Lord, keep my lamp burning; my God turns my darkness into light. With your help I can advance against a troop (to run through a barricade), with my God I can scale a wall."
With God you can make it through this and if we keep our wits about us and our eyes focused on God's ultimate love for us, we will process life much better. Romans 8:28 is a promise but it does have an "if clause."

"And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him."

We must keep our love strong for Him in good and bad times. The devil will shout to us that we're not worthy, that we're not good enough, that we don't deserve anything. It's a lie. Through Christ we have access to the keys of the Kingdom. Don't you believe it.

Do you remember Jacob the deceiver? He and his mother schemed and stole the birthright away from Esau. He ran away after swindling his brother and deceiving his father. He didn't deserve what God did for him. After stopping for the night, he dreamed he saw a ladder to heaven with angels on it, ascending and descending. Then God gave him this promise: "I am with you and will watch over you wherever you go" (Gen. 28:15).

Some people don't come to God until there is trouble, but He's always there wanting a relationship with us. He's always trying to catch our attention, to draw us into relationship. Sadly, we as sheep gone astray tend to be spoiled and stubborn. Trials cause us to reevaluate life's meaning. Take the opportunity to get all you can from it. God only allowed it so you could benefit. Seek His guidance by the hour to find the good in it and to stay focused on His will for you. We are much too ignorant in this world to know what's best for ourselves.

How grateful we should be that our Father has promised us protection if we run to Him. Don't let the devil make you run from Him. Trust that He will show you good things amidst these storms. He will if you truly seek to see them and allow God to be God in your life. In reality, it's the only possible way to get through them without being burned.

There's still a "tree" in the Garden that we should not eat from. If we obey and trust, it will be a continual reminder to us that we do not know all, and should not know all, and would not want to know all. It's our anchor in the storm, to know that "if it's to be, it's NOT up to me." Trust Him. If you're trusting that you will go to Heaven for eternity, you can trust for the details of this short life on earth.

Perspective! Most of the world is in a mess. It's a fallen world, what do you expect? For just as the sufferings of Christ are ours in abundance, so also our comfort is abundant through Christ. (2 Cor 1:5) We have been given eternal life which will be glorious if we keep our heads above water.

We live in a world where the media screams that life is supposed to be ideal and if it's not, they've got something to sell you. Don't buy the idea or the stuff. Read Paul's writings. His life wasn't easy and he was a great man of God. The only way to keep your head above water is to stay in The Word. That will be a battle itself because it's your only path of peace and joy while in this world. Don't let The Deceiver convince you to trade this short earthly life for your eternal one.

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Mobile Phones Causing Skin Problems

Mobile phones users are developing rashes on their faces and ears caused by an allergic reaction to the nickel on handsets, skin experts warn.

The British Association of Dermatologists said the phenomenon is being seen in people who spend long periods of time on the phone.

Nickel is often found in the handset casing or buttons. It could even occur on the fingers if you spend a lot of time texting on metal menu buttons.

The BAD said women who reacted to nickel in jewelery were at a higher risk of a rash from their phones. Nickel allergy is the most common contact allergy in the UK and is thought to affect 30% of the population. Read the entire article.

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Sunday, December 7, 2008

Do Birds Have Belly Buttons?

In the egg there is a cord that attaches the developing embryo to the yolk sac. When the bird hatches, there is a residual scar where the cord used to be. While the bird is a nestling, you can still see what would be the avian equivalent of a belly button.

However, as the bird develops, that area becomes more compact and in an adult bird there is virtually nothing to be seen of what once was the scar. So technically baby birds have belly buttons, but unlike the belly buttons of humans, these go away as they grow up.

Source: Cornell Lab's All About Birds Website

Read more about attracting birds to your yard at their site.

Habitat For Humanity's Environmental Initiative

Most people have heard of Habitat for Humanity International (HFHI), which is a nonprofit, Christian organization dedicated to eliminating substandard housing and homelessness.

Their Environmental Initiative embraces the concept of sustainable building: meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. Materials conservation programs help Habitat affiliates to save money while conserving natural resources. Through the efficient use of new materials and the re-use of recyclable materials, these programs result in less waste for disposal in landfills and lower costs for Habitat's partner families.

Habitat's attention to resource efficiency starts at the beginning: house designs. Habitat affiliates build simple, modestly sized houses which use less raw materials than large houses, are cheaper to heat and cool, and create less cut-off waste.

Materials conservation programs continue Habitat's commitment to resource efficiency during the construction process. By purchasing smaller quantities of materials, Habitat decreases the environmental burden of virgin materials extraction, processing and transportation. By reducing the amount of waste produced, affiliates reduce the potential hazards of pollution generated from landfills and incineration.

Habitat affiliates also find many opportunities to reuse and recycle waste materials. Affiliates are encouraged to designate an area on the job-site for reusable and recyclable materials, making it easier for volunteers to channel them back into house construction or to materials recyclers. Careful storage of leftover materials greatly reduces the cost of building an affiliate's next house.

A growing number of affiliates are sponsoring Habitat ReStores, which support resource efficiency while helping Habitat build more houses. ReStores sell reusable and surplus building materials, with proceeds funding local Habitat house construction. All materials sold by Habitat ReStores were donated for that purpose -- often from contractors with excess supplies, from demolition crews salvaging reusable materials, or from the general public. In addition to raising funds, ReStores help the environment by diverting thousands of tons of usable materials away from landfills.

Read more.

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