With Nana and Papa

With Nana and Papa
Family Times at Flathead Lake

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

More salt, please!

I went to my biomeridian and nutrition specialist yesterday and received the good news that my overall health is better.I am still deficient in certain vitamins and minerals, though, so I walked out of the office (and then the health food grocery) with an armful of supplements. Among the elements that I require: iodine, sodium, and all fat solubles (A, E, D) since I am not digesting fats. Surprising to learn that I am missing iodine, and that I can't make up for it in regular salt.

To explain the iodine / salt paradox, Jean gave me a book titled Iodine: Why you Need It, Why You Can't Live Without It by David Brownstein, MD. Really interesting material which ties low iodine to autoimmune diseases of the thyroid and certain cancers.  Apparently, iodized salt does more harm than good, so Dr. Brownstein - along with Jean - recommends taking it in supplements as a combination of iodine and iodide. I started with my low dose this morning and I am curious to see if I can tell the difference.

Also shocking to hear that I need more salt, since many doctors I have spoken with in the past call salt one of the worst items you can eat. Dr. Brownstein agrees that table salt is terrible for us, but says that unprocessed sea salt can be helpful. A balance of potassium and sodium is necessary for the body, and an extra 1/3 tsp per day (my recommended addition) does not equate to mounds of extra salt, but still I was surprised.

Grateful for new knowledge in this area as I am always moving forward in my search for health. Grateful also for Jean and her caring, learned advice. Let me know if anyone has questions on the iodine / salt dilemma: I will let you know how my trial goes.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Acknowledgments

Brain Highways teaches us to acknowledge our kids for behavior that is productive, creative, kind and adventurous. With that in mind I would like to acknowledge my kids (and a few adults) for their accomplishments over the past week:

- William for his willingness to try a new sport, meet new people, and take on a leadership role
- Aden for supervising and helping Daniel with his BH homework all weekend while I was gone, also for cleaning house and keeping track of her activities
- Daniel for earning a leadership award from school for his perseverance and focus during a reading program at school, also for many kind presentations of Valentines to family, coaches and teachers
 - Rob for ensuring that both Aden and Daniel got to practices and games all weekend, for going to church twice on Sunday, and for supporting me in my goal of spending as much time as possible with my sister
- Karen for willingly walking each day of our trip (and getting sweaty in the bargain), driving around Orange County in search of the water polo team, and cheering for and with people she had never met with a happy heart and positive spirit

I am so grateful for all of you! What a blessing to be involved in your lives and to love you.

xoxo Laura and Mom


Monday, February 16, 2015

Going Back to Cali

How glorious to be at an outdoor water polo game in bright morning sunshine - in the middle of February! William and I headed back to LA and Orange County over the weekend for the dual purposes of his water polo tournament and my visit with Karen. The ocean and skies were blue, the mercury climbing into the mid to upper-80's and spirits were high. William's team went 4 - 1 and earned the second place trophy for their 12 and Under division. The Colorado Water Polo team also sent a 14 and Under team, which won their title, and both teams traveled back and forth across the freeways to cheer for each other. Karen and I had our personal cheering section boosted by the arrival of Rob's Aunt Jennifer - both Jennifer and Karen were water polo newbies but professed after a game or two that water polo had captured their interests.

William and his teammates played well in the games and in their downtime they went to the beach to frolic like puppies in the surf. The heat wave and ongoing drought might make the natives restless, but it was a treat for Colorado kids who returned last night to 30 degree temps and a blizzard. The coaches applied sunscreen by the bottle and bravely traversed the freeways to keep the kids busy, happy, and more or less out of trouble.

Karen and I had a fabulous time walking the beaches and trails wherever we landed. We cheered, chatted, and disappeared gracefully when William casually dismissed us to head somewhere with the team.  We missed our three brothers and wished we could transport them - especially Michael and his clan, stuck under four feet of snow in Massachusetts - to the warm wonderland of Southern California. We made three Trader Joe's runs in three days, decided to watch The Imitation Game instead of Fifty Shades (for which I am extremely grateful!) and devoured gluten free pizza at Blaze. I couldn't ask for more - except possibly to return home without the six new inches of snow and freezing highways. Can't wait to head back to Winterfest next year!

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Mary Oliver to the Rescue

A poem by my favorite writer, for those who are caught in life's eddies, looking to find the flow:

‘The Journey’ by Mary Oliver

One day you finally knew
what you had to do, and began,
though the voices around you
kept shouting
their bad advice – – –
though the whole house
began to tremble
and you felt the old tug
at your ankles.
‘Mend my life!’
each voice cried.
But you didn’t stop.
You knew what you had to do,
though the wind pried
with its stiff fingers
at the very foundations – – –
though their melancholy
was terrible. It was already late
enough, and a wild night,
and the road full of fallen
branches and stones.
But little by little,
as you left their voices behind,
the stars began to burn
through the sheets of clouds,
and there was a new voice,
which you slowly
recognized as your own,
that kept you company
as you strode deeper and deeper
into the world,
determined to do
the only thing you could do – – – determined to save
the only life you could save.

Friday, February 6, 2015

Champions

"God will raise me up a champion."
- Sir Walter Scott

At Brain Highways the staff calls each child a champion. They recognize that the children in this class have probably heard or felt other labels; perhaps they have been called the difficult one, the loud child, the annoying student, and so forth, but the staff strips away those judging words and phrases and look at what's underneath any discomforting behaviors: a child who is doing their best to connect with the world and succeed. The idea of a champion so caught my attention that I looked up the full definition in Merriam Webster:

Champion:  from the Medieval Latin campion, - campio of West Germanic origin: akin to Old English cempa (warrior), first known use in the 13th century. 1. warrior, fighter 2. a militant advocate or defender, i.e. a champion of civil rights 3. one that does battle for another's rights or honor 4. a winner of first prize or first place in competition

Note that the definition we think of first in 21st America - a winner of first prize - is listed last. The primary meaning descends from the word's origins:  a warrior or defender, especially one who does battle for another's rights.  From reading articles about parenting and articles around doing my own therapy I know that each child is usually assigned a role in their household - the strong one, the quiet one, the troublemaker, the needy one, etc. These roles often correlate to birth order, and can play a serious role in shaping the child/s approach to life.

What if I replaced any role for my children except 'champion'? We wouldn't have the strong oldest, the quiet middle, or the boisterous youngest, we wouldn't have a difficult child or an easy one, we would just have three champions, all part of a team. By that I mean we would all support each other in standing up for our own rights as individuals, that we would defend the rights of those who are weaker, needier or helpless, and we would battle for fairness and equity in the world. The outcome of competitions and tests would not matter, just the amount of effort that went into preparation and playing. I think that's a role that any child could rise into, could fill for the maximum benefit of themselves and others.


Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Overriding the Negative

Daniel and I are taking a development class from Brain Highways (www.brainhighways.com) and we are learning so many things about the brain. For example, I've heard in the past that people tend to focus more on negative comments and experiences, sometimes requiring ten positives to counterbalance one negative, but I assumed this was a flaw in human nature as opposed to a hardwired tendency in the brain. Not so - it is the brain that focuses more on negative experiences because these could pose a threat to our survival.  Only after we evaluate and disregard the threat can we even notice the positives that are right in front of our nose.

Here's how it works, according to Clifford Nass:

“This is a general tendency for everyone,” said Clifford Nass, a professor of communication at Stanford University in a recent article in the NY Times…“Some people do have a more positive outlook, but almost everyone remembers negative things more strongly and in more detail.”
Research tells us, bad feedback has much more of an impact than good feedback. In fact, “The brain handles positive and negative information in different hemispheres,” said Professor Nass… Negative emotions generally involve more thinking, and the information is processed more thoroughly than positive ones, he said. Thus, we tend to ruminate more about unpleasant events — and use stronger words to describe them — than happy ones.”
The upshot of this research is that we have to work hard at noticing and processing positive experiences. We have to work against the traits which brought us evolutionary success in order to appreciate the friends, family, experiences and natural world that surround us. Keeping a gratitude journal helps me, and asking the kids about their positive experiences in detail helps them. If we don't work hard to process and retain the warm emotions that surround good experiences they will be fleeting, quickly lost in the fresh storm of negatives. But fortunately we can do the work, and reap the benefits, of focusing on the good things in our lives.