STEM Tuesday: Gratitude is Good for Your Heart

bridgethanks(Yesterday, as I drove CoCo to work, I listened to my favorite radio station, WBEZ. The mellow voice of Bob Edwards introduce

It was Gratitude Monday, and the week of Thanksgiving, so of course I listened up.

Paul Mills, a professor of family medicine and public health at the University of California San Diego School of Medicine, already knew that gratitude helps fend off depression.  He wondered if it could make a difference in physical health.  So he decided to do a study.  A much more rigorous study than the one I did with the “miracle” face cream.

Mills recruited a bunch of men and women who already had signs of heart disease. (186 people, average age 66) First he asked them to fill out a questionnaire to measure their level of gratitude.  He found that the more grateful people were, the healthier they were. “They had less depressed mood, slept better and had more energy,” he said. Next he took some measurements.  The people who seemed more grateful, according to the questionnaire, had lower levels of inflammation, “which is the body’s response to injury or plaque build up in arteries.” They also slept better, had more energy, and reported less periods of depressed moods.

The results were pretty interesting to Mills, so he did a small follow-up study with just 40 patients. He recorded some baseline heart disease data like inflammation and heart rhythm. He asked half the people to keep a journal of two or three things they were grateful for. After two months, Mills retested the 40 patients.

Guess what?

 Inflammation levels were reduced, and heart rhythm improved. And when he compared their heart disease risk before and after journal writing, there was a decrease in risk after two months of writing in their journals.

Mills submitted the results to a journal and is waiting for publication.  He thinks it’s because gratitude reduces stress, a huge factor in heart disease.

“Taking the time to focus on what you are thankful for,” he says, “letting that sense of gratitude wash over you — this helps us manage and cope.”

So taking a little time each week to count your blessings is not just good for your figurative heart, it’s good for your literal heart, too.

Gratitude Monday: Thanksgiving

 One day to concentrate on gratitude.  Today, I heard that gratitude can actually make you healthier.  Keeping a daily journal of the things that make us give thanks can actually reduce inflammation, lower blood pressure, etc.  (More on that tomorrow.)

For today, here are some of the things that bring me gratitude.

 Snow. Yes, we got over a foot of really wet, heavy stuff.  It’s so pretty.  Now leaves fall on top of the snow, imprinting the white with a collage of color.

 A still strong body. My shoulders got tight, and my neck’s a little stiff, but I shoveled.  A little at a time is all I had to do, which brings me to the third thing on my list.

 Working from home.  Yes, I can enjoy the beauty without the pain.  Lucky, lucky me.

 Instilled independence.  I got it from my mom, I gave it to my kids.  CoCo talked me into going into Chicago on the Metra, just to show me she could navigate her way around.  She consulted the schedule, she took me into the French quarter, she walked me to the parade.  She wants to go alone. (uhh… NO.  I said independence, not foolhardiness.)

 A fireplace, gas starters, and long Sundays.  The snow looks just that much prettier with a backdrop of logs burning slowly, while I leisurely sit and do whatever I want to do, which is mostly read.

 Friendly customer service people.  I think Kevin, from Pondliner might have chatted all afternoon, if I wanted to.  He answered my questions about a heater, he offered advice about algae removers, he told me about filter sales.  He never asked me to buy anything. (I will.)

 An “app for that.” I can now buy Metra tickets from my phone and forgot about that pesky scrap of paper, or losing the 10-ride pass.

 Giant cotton balls of snow on empty branches.  As the snow melts, these lovely pillows of white remains.  Nature can be so beautiful.

All kids here for Thanksgiving dinner.  Nuff said.

Father Winter (in the window of Macy's) You can just make out CoCo outside the window.

Father Winter (in the window of Macy’s) You can just make out CoCo looking into the window.


Photo Friday: Cold Front

Yup, it arrived. 

These are two versions of the same shot.  The first one looks rather ominous, while the second one is almost beautiful. Both seem surreal. If I hadn’t seem it myself, I might not believe it real.

Cold front - 1 (1)
Cold front - 1 (2)

What do you think?

Check out some terrific photos at Pierced Wonderings.

Pierced Wonderings

Wrinkle Experiment Week 6

I created created this video after week 6, which was September 30.  I had a good time making the video and less fun uploading it to YouTube.  For some reason, my login box  no longer appeared on the screen.  In alignment with my nature, I set about to solve the problem myself.  When will I learn to search for help?  Yup, I found the answer right there in the “official YouTube help” screen.  Clear the cookies.

Through the experiment, I asked  30 people which hand looks younger. Three people said the left hand, one person answered a question that wasn’t asked, and 26 people said the hand that I applied the miracle working cream.

One jar of cream lasted six weeks for my face, neck, and one hand.

Here is my week 1 photo:

Photo on 9-2-15 at 1.09 PM


Week 2:

Photo on 9-9-15 at 2.37 PM

Week 3:

Photo on 9-24-15 at 2.55 PM

And my week six video:


You may have seen Beverly Hills Sculpting Cream advertised.  Loved-One sees a difference. I do too.

I have enough faith in the Sculpting Cream that I plan to put it in a Christmas Grab bag.  My sister, who shares the same skin type as mine, is an interpreter for the deaf. Her clients often interrupt her and offer remedies for her dry hands.  I hope she “wins” my present.  I may just take a spare along, just in case.


There should be an app for that

 The drop in:  Go over to their house and knock on the back door. (The front door was for salesmen and strangers.) If no one was home, you left a note, or came back.

 The ring up:  Pick up the phone and dial the number in your area code. (Calling long distance meant an emergency) If you no one answered, you called back.

 The send off:  A letter sent to someone too far for the first too.  A letter in the mail meant someone really cared. An upside down stamp or SWAT written across the seal meant love.

Now communication is so simple it’s become complex. No one listens to voice mail. Some people instant message, some text, some communicate in Facebook groups, some prefer emails.  Some like to SnapChat. The drop-in is impolite.

As Thanksgiving approaches, here’s how I communicate with my four kids:

  1. Text a group message to everyone: Don’t group text Wrestler #1.  Only text Wrestler #2 certain hours because according to him, texting requires an immediate response. So far, I have two yeses, an I don’t know, and one unresponsive. I’m keeping it to myself which one is Wrestler #2.
  2. Post on our Family Facebook Group.  Wrestler #2 suggested this as communal bulletin board. He even helped me set it up. Then he stopped using Facebook.
  3. Email.  CeCe and CoCo don’t read or rarely respond to email. Wrestler #1 has about six email addresses, Wrestler #2 uses his for work only. Loved-One has so many emails, mine gets lost.
  4. Telephone.  Even though no one answers the phone anymore due to too many canvassers, robo-dial political calls, and solicitations. No one listens to voicemail either. Loved-One won’t return calls with no messages. Everyone else leaves this message, “call me.” Wrestler #2 answers phone calls because he thinks it might be an emergency, then gets a bit annoyed when it isn’t. CeCe’s voicemail prompts the called to text her.
  5. Send a group invite through Facebook or E-vite. Ask for an RSPV. (Good luck)
  6. Snap-chat. Not everyone has it, but Miss E is pretty responsive.
  7. Shared calendar.  This seemed like a good idea.  I’m sure it was, since it was mine. CeCe never puts anything on it. Wrestler #1 puts everything on it. Wrestler #2 says it’s too confusing. CoCo reminds me of each event.  Loved-One likes it.
  8. US Postal service.  The invite will be posted on the refrigerator. I feel appreciated, but still a bit in the dark.
  9. Face to face. No one writes it down.  Loved-One forgets. I forget what people told me.

Everyone has their preferred method and how they think the other methods should be used. I’m still not sure who’s coming to Thanksgiving Dinner. It’ll be worse as Christmas approaches and my siblings begin to communicate. With eight siblings, their spouses, children, and grandchildren, it’s like a  TORTIPHICANE (a tornado inside a typhoon inside a hurricane.)

I wish someone would create an app that could automatically send a message I create via the receivers preferred method of communication.  The app could have an option to send a slight “shock in the pocket” (SIP) everyday until the receiver sends Respond If You Please. (RIYP.)

Am I the only one with communication problems?  How do you handle communicating with grown children or extended family? Is there an app builder out there who can fill my request?

I'm ready. What are we waiting for?

I’m ready. What are we waiting for?

Gratitude Monday

I spent the weekend on the road: sitting in the car, sitting in the pee-wee football stands, sitting in a hotel.  I had a lovely getaway. And, I’m so happy to be back home again.  Here’s my list in no particular order:

 Cuddly cat sisters.  It really is nice to have a companion who sits on my lap while I stroke her.  When they come in pairs, it’s just that much nicer.

My Office Manager

My Office Manager

  Yoga.  I mad today’s intention gratitude.  Along with several things that popped up, was the very practice.  Plus, my muscles shouted out, “too much sitting” in a way they rarely do.

  Children with good manners.   I ran into some people who lacked manners this weekend. Perhaps that highlighted that I take it for granted the consistency “please and thank you,” Continue reading

Photo Friday: Signs that make me scratch my head

You’ve seen them. I know you have.  Sometimes I post them here. 


What kind of food is this really?

Would you ever call this number for catering service?

Are you scratching your head, too?

What’s in you lens this week?

Cuisine America - 1

Here’s a place where you’ll find beautiful photography. You won’t believe the haunting photos of a graveyard, she’s posted this week.

Pierced Wonderings

Gratitude Monday: Family Fun and Then Some

Annual Halloween Fun

Annual Halloween Fun

I missed my Gratitude post last week.  Why?  Because I was very busy with some people who are top on my gratitude list:  Family.

An annual Halloween Party followed by Wheels (a sixteen year old friend of Miss E) posting “Only 364 days until the next party.” What could be a better endorsement than that?

mom's visit - 1

Outside “Oprah’s Door” at the Museum of Broadcasting.

Mom came to visit. Just three days, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday.  I so love her company.

mom's visit - 2

Frontera Grill Selfie. Mom looks a little tipsy, she’s just trying to get in the photo. (Perhaps she is a just a bit tipsy.)

My older sister Deanna, came along with Mom.  The two had planned a longer trip to visit my Uncle Ken.  His loss turned out to be my gain.  With a very large family (eight siblings,) I rarely have so much one-on-one time Deanna.  So lovely. (Plus, her insistence on a selfie of us all still makes me chuckle.)

Public transportation, getting the three of us around Chicago trouble-free; plus CoCo for the send off.

Living near the beautiful City on the Shore, the City with Big Shoulders, The Third Coast, Second City. I love my next-to-rural life-style, and I’m so blessed to be living near such a beautiful city.

Blissfully mild weather.  We know the gales are coming.  That’s probably why this mild weather feels like such a blessing.

Lunch with Ronne Hartford, author of Another Way Home. Her memoir is so beautiful. What a wonderfully, inspiring woman. Encouragement from a writer like her is a true blessing.  I will hold onto her words for the rest of my days.

Loved-One, who once again came through with his long arms and gentle heart.  How I managed to leave my cell-phone/wallet home is still a mystery. But I did.  Loved-One arrived, slowed on the street as the train approached, and stretched his long arms, clutching my phone out the window, just in the nick of time.

One week and one day of blessings. I am truly blessed.