Lose the Sugar, Too?!!

Ah . . . the 20s were great! Eat on the run, fast food, and quite a few dinner dates. Then came the 30s with two young kids and occasional fish sticks, hot dogs or macaroni pre- game/pre-ballet dinners that were balanced out with “healthy” snacks like Goldfish or Cheerios. Next came the 40s. This is what I’ve been waiting for. The kids are out and about, meal time is less hurried and maybe, if you’re lucky, you have a few more dinner dates with the wife. The food is better and richer, with large, home-style portions, warm bread and rich desserts. I know that all reasonable adults share in my happiness – everyone, that is, except my physician.

In my forties, I finally have a chance to take my time and eat “adult” food: what I like, when I like and where I like. Gourmet four-star restaurants or places recommended by HowChow, a life free of nuggets and grilled cheese…. and my physician has the nerve to utter the words, “pre diabetic?”  Shut the refrigerator door! I already took my dining habits down a notch when you threw that whole cholesterol thing at me. I am watching sodium mgs, fat mgs, all of my mgs. But now sugar too? Who even knew sugar had mgs!

Okay. So I can nip this thing in the bud, correct? My having control does “sweeten the pot” a bit. Let’s take this step by step.

The first thing to do is get online and research. I find it hard to believe that you can actually make a meal with little or no sugar, but a quick Google search results in “Best Sugar Free Recipes.” Wow! There are hundreds of tested and approved recipes, not just recommended by doctors or nutritionists, but by real people like me.

Next comes a trip to the grocery store. After all, a sugar-free pantry just doesn’t happen on its own. Better take along the new recipes and the reading glasses. Welcome to Label Reading 101. Everything we purchase, well almost, will be sugar free or very low in sugar content; let’s go with six grams or less as a starting point. The bad news. . .  that black raspberry jelly we love so much? A thing of the past. The good news. . . there is such a thing as sugar-free ice cream and it’s made by a yummy brand-name company. This might work after all. After quite some time in the store, making comparison after comparison and spending quite a bit of money, we are done. Restocking a pantry is not a small or cheap task.

Once back in the kitchen, we toss some of the old, evil sugary foods. We will give some of the less harmful items away and keep those that aren’t too lethal. It’s time to start prepping for a healthy, low sodium, low sugar, delicious and completely homemade Chinese meal. Amazingly, it tastes fresh and pretty darn close to carry out. That helps both our health and our budget. And it really took no longer than usual. This may not be as hard as I thought.

Sweet!

Read more about The Toxic Truth About  Sugar in this month’s Nature magazine, or listen to this NPR interview.

 

Karen Sterner, Catonsville. She who can bring home the low salt turkey bacon and fry it up in a pan! Wife, mother, chef, chauffeur, planner, vet, nursemaid, and most recently, self proclaimed nutritionist, who wouldn’t trade it for the world! Oh… and Special Events Coordinator for the Howard County General Hospital: Johns Hopkins Medicine Marketing and Communications Department.

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By Sharon McRae

My personal transition to a completely plant-strong diet was a gradual one.  I had always been squeamish, and in my late teens I made the connection between the roast beef that was on my plate and the cows that were on the TV screen on the newscast one night; that was when I decided I could no longer eat red meat.  I stopped eating poultry in my 20s, when, as a biology major in college, I couldn’t help myself from dissecting my KFC dinner.  Seafood went in my 30s when I was pregnant and concerned about mercury levels, and a prankster colleague thought it would be funny to bring a fish he had caught the previous day into work and stick it under my nose while I was on a phone call.  And I finally gave up dairy in my 40s, three years ago, when my Mom was dying of breast cancer and I was spending a great deal of time on the cancer ward at the local hospital.  Something told me then that I needed to get all animal protein out of my diet.  Shortly after my Mom died, I read T. Colin Campbell’s The China Study, and I went into a panic.

Since my children (twin daughters, now age 13; and son, age 9) had been raised vegetarian, we had come to rely very heavily on dairy in their diets, as we were convinced that they needed the protein and the calcium.   Sadly, we also relied on many processed (though organic) foods, including frozen pizzas, cheese crackers, yogurts, macaroni and cheese, etc.  I made the decision that to protect my kids from ever suffering the way that their grandmother, grandfather (he is a kidney cancer survivor), and both great-grandmothers did; I had to take dairy out of their diets.  Here are 5 of the top 10 ways in which I helped to transition them to a plant-strong diet (6-10 will be posted March 5):

1.    I explained in clear terms why we were making this transition, as it related to their grandmother’s death.  I won’t lie, they all cried (real tears!), but I promised them that I would give them great food and I made them understand that I was doing this out of love for them.  I also showed them a video clip by Jamie Oliver in which he discloses what is really in ice cream and candy, and this made them aware of the chemicals and animal by-products that are in processed foods.  After watching this, they no longer wanted to eat their frozen pizzas, cookies, and candies; in fact, they had no interest in going Trick or Treating!  During this time, my husband and I attended the local premier and panel discussion of the fabulous movie Forks Over Knives, and I had my husband speak with Dr. Neal Barnard afterward about the salmon he couldn’t seem to give up….that did the trick for him!  After that, we watched the DVD with the kids to reinforce our decision to live plant-strong.

2.    We found some amazing recipe books, including Engine 2 Diet by Rip Esselstyn, Unprocessed by Chef AJ, and Super Immunity by Dr. Joel Fuhrman, among many others, And I began experimenting with new foods using input from the rest of the family.

3.    I immediately found the kids delicious substitutes for their favorite foods.  To substitute for the cheese in pizza and burritos, we used Daiya cheese initially.  As this is still a processed product, we have gradually transitioned away from it.  I’ve created my own recipe for a pizza-flavored hummus and use that to top a sprouted grain English muffin along with some tomato sauce. Then we sprinkle on some nutritional yeast, top with raw chopped spinach leaves and sliced mushrooms, and bake.  The kids say it’s the best pizza they’ve ever eaten!  To substitute for some of their favorite desserts/treats, like organic sandwich cookies, I began making raw brownies from Chef AJ and black bean brownies from Dr. Fuhrman, and they are huge hits!

4.    I began to encourage the kids (and my husband, on weekends when he’s here for mealtimes) to help with meal planning and food preparation, from choosing recipes and selecting ingredients for dishes and desserts to washing and peeling produce and stirring whatever is cooking.   I also introduced some new seasonings like Coconut Aminos (similar to soy sauce), Ume Plum Vinegar, chopped nuts and seeds, and nutritional yeast; and allowed everyone to flavor their own meals.

5.    We invested in some new kitchen equipment that allows preparation of quick, easy, and delicious dishes.  This includes a high-performance blender, pressure cooker, food processor, juicer, and rice cooker, along with a huge restaurant-grade salad bowl.  On the weekends, I often prepare beans in the pressure cooker and grains in the rice cooker in big batches for the week, and by keeping the fridge well-stocked with lots of veggies, I can throw together a meal pretty quickly.  I rely on what I like to call “The 5 S’s” when preparing plant-strong meals:  Soups, Salads, Smoothies, Sandwiches, and Stir-fries.  We have a big salad daily, and it’s easy to create one quickly using the food processor and the big bowl.  I use the blender to make some delicious salad dressings (great recipes from Dr. Fuhrman, or we just make up our own) and bean dips, as well as nut butters for sandwiches and snacks.  I also make up a big batch of some type of bean vegetable soup, and it’s easy to do this quickly using the pressure cooker.

Sharon McRae is a Certified Health Coach and mother of three, who has been adopting and applying principles of health and nutrition in her own life for more than three decades. She became a health coach to fulfill her passion of helping others feel their best and achieve optimal health through adaptation of a plant-based, whole-foods diet, as well as other healthy lifestyle modifications. Sharon received her training at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition in New York City. See www.eatwell-staywell.com for more information. Time storyteller, wannabe triathlete, KPOP-addict, baker of cupcakes, and a cancer survivor.

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2012 CalendarFebruary 28, 7:00 p.m.- 9:00 p.m.  Anterior Approach to Hip Replacement. A Free seminar with Charles Mess, Jr.,  M.D. discussing the latest techniques for treating hip arthritis and the benefits of the anterior approach in surgery. Register online at Howard County General Hospital: Johns Hopkins Medicine Wellness Center. 10710 Charter Drive, Columbia MD 21044.

March 1, 7:00-8:30 p.m. Custom Knee Replacement for those with Arthritis.  Dr. Nick Grosso, chair of Howard County General Hospital’s Orthopedic department, will discuss the newest technology for patient-specific, custom-made knee implants. Learn more about arthritis, when it’s time to consider replacement surgery and the benefits of a custom made prosthesis.  FREE. Register online at Howard County General Hospital: Johns Hopkins Medicine Wellness Center. 10710 Charter Drive, Columbia MD 21044.

March 5, 7:00-9:00 p.m. Age-Related Eye Disease and Conditions. Experts from the Wilmer Eye Institute will discuss the normal and abnormal changes that may impact your vision and what can be done to promote your eye health. Presented by David Baranano, M.D., Ph.D. FREE. Register online at Howard County General Hospital: Johns Hopkins Medicine Wellness Center. 10710 Charter Drive, Columbia MD 21044.

March 8, 6:00- 8:00 p.m. Advance Directives. Review what Advance Directives are for, who needs them, and how you can get them.  You will have the opportunity of leaving this class with a completed Advance Directive document. Also, learn what it means to appoint, or be appointed, a health care agent.  Registration is required for this free event. Register online at Howard County General Hospital: Johns Hopkins Medicine Wellness Center. 10710 Charter Drive, Columbia MD 21044.

March 15, 6:15 – 8:15 p.m.  Family First Positive and Practical Parenting Workshop. Discipline and Communication that Really Work. Mealtime, getting ready for school, doing homework, playtime, bedtime – it can be a challenge! Learn how to prevent misbehavior by being prepared and setting up your home and routine to encourage success. Discuss ways to successfully communicate with your child, and the importance of structure and consistency. Explore common challenges parents face in regards to discipline and communication with young children. $5. 5470 The Bain Center, 5470 Ruth Keeton Way. For more information: 410 313-1940.

March 15, 7:oo p.m.  Healthy Food in our Schools with Anthony Geraci,  at the Howard County Conservancy. National leader working with Michele Obama for healthy children in the classroom. $5/family.   Anthony Geraci is inspiring and energizing the nation’s school systems to provide fresh and local foods to our school children. What are our kids choosing to eat today? What’s happening to them as a result? How can we introduce and support healthy eating habits and menus? What does it take to change school cafeterias and home lunch boxes? Good food means Great Kids! Don’t miss this high energy presentation from the former Director of Food and Nutrition for Baltimore City School System and nationwide childhood nutrition consultant whom the White House has tapped for first lady Michelle Obama’s efforts in combating childhood obesity. He is currently Executive Director of Nutrition Services for Memphis City Schools. $5 per family; students free.

March 20, 7:00 p.m.- 9:00 p.m. A Mind Body Approach to Pain. In her free seminar,  Hughes will explore some of the latest innovations in mind-body research for dealing with chronic pain.  Using guided imagery, feeling states, meditation, and visualization, Hughes teaches participants how to change their relationship with, and experience of, pain. Registration is required for this free event. Register online at Howard County General Hospital: Johns Hopkins Medicine Wellness Center. 10710 Charter Drive, Columbia MD 21044.

 


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By Jessica “JP” Protasio

It hurts. I lick my lips and taste the salt of the tears rolling down my face. I’m uncomfortably clammy, the hospital gown is itchy, and everything about my body feels heavy. If not for the bed being propped up, I think I’d lay on my back all day, sink straight to the center of the earth, and drown in my anger and self-pity. Stupid window, such a tease. Stupid nurses who don’t understand me. Stupid pain meds that aren’t working. I want to scream and falcon punch someone in the face, but I’m hurting too much to do anything about it. I don’t have the energy to complain. I don’t have the capacity to express how much pain I’m in, and it wouldn’t matter anyway because it’s not getting better.

A couple of visitors enter my room. I try to smile but I’m not sure what the expression is across my face. I follow them with my eyes and nod greetings and I think I answer, “I’m OK.” I am glad they’re here. I just don’t have the energy to entertain a visit at the moment. About 10 minutes pass which feels like half a year to me. I finally apologize with half a laugh about my pain and my difficulty in processing what’s going on. Suddenly, they tussle with the staff to get a doctor. I feel the chap of my lips crack and sting as I smile with gratitude and a bit of embarrassment as the nurse administers an extra dose of dilaudid into the central line in my neck. The visitors stay a while longer. I hold one of their hands and squeeze it periodically. I feel the need to reassure them as they comfort me. I put on that brave face.

September of 2010 was one of the ugliest periods in my cancer journey. I had just been through a failed liver resection, my cancer had spread, treatment was agonizing, and I was worried about everything. Whether it was the pain or concerns about having a job to return to, it was on my mind. I hadn’t yet met up with the Ulman Cancer Fund for Young Adults, and we were only a couple months into this whole cancer crisis. There were complications with the resection that resulted in other procedures and several days of sepsis prevention. These were adrenaline-pumping moments where fear grasped hold of me through disgusting and terrifying events–fighting dangerously high fevers, being packed down with ice, uncontrollable shaking, and the inability to control what my body was doing…and the pain. The pain was excruciating. It felt like I was watching an episode of House, M.D.,  and I happened to be the main character.

I was fortunate to get visits daily or so for an hour or two and that made things brighter, but that also took a lot of energy. I felt like I had to be strong for others just as much as I needed to be for myself, if not more. I felt like I should make things easier on everyone by taking things more lightly, maintain my normal attitude and positivity because truthfully, I couldn’t afford to get depressed. Plus, I needed the people around me to be feel upbeat too. I didn’t want to bring anyone down. I wanted to show everyone I was fine and that everything was going to be okay no matter what. It was all peaches & cream with chemo & radiation on the side.

Who was I fooling? No one. I was alone most of the time, and let me tell you plainly, it wasn’t peaches & cream. It was ugly. It was nasty. It was gross, and I was miserable. Those dark moments alone changed my life at its core. It revealed my humanity, vulnerability, and naivety about cancer. It gave me the opportunity to lean on people and help people who wanted to help me. I discovered what I was capable of and what more I could do and how I could still make the world better just by being in it. It made me see that no matter what I would lose, there’d still be much to gain from being an active player in this world.

Most importantly that ugly and disappointing time showed me that a brave face is one that doesn’t make excuses or dismisses the reality of what’s happening. A brave face confronts cancer–even if it’s through angry tears–and is resolved to push through the pain for the promise of relief. A brave face has chapped lips, sunken eyes, and still cracks a smile or terrible joke. A brave face is one that asks for help.

Today, I’m thrilled to say that I am approaching my first transplant anniversary. I have a new focus in life, and, a few weeks ago, I had my first clean blood test with normal levels on all counts. Recently, I shared my story at the Blue Jeans Ball and helped raise money for local cancer initiatives so that other young adults wouldn’t have to brave their journeys alone. I know there’s a reason I experienced what I did, and I know that something wonderful can come from it. So, wherever you may be in your journey with cancer, be it a survivor, caregiver, or close friend, be proud of your brave face, it can inspire others. I know when I meet other survivors and hear their stories, it inspires me.

JP is a Children’s Instructor & Research Specialist at the Savage Branch of the Howard County Library System. She is a Pajama Time storyteller, wannabe triathlete, KPOP-addict, baker of cupcakes, and a cancer survivor.

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I am a bit of an old coot, but I’ll never be a Luddite.  I like technology and the internet too much.  I keep a list of questions that I want to google at the end of the day (“Southern Cross” was released in 1982 not 1977, Hemingway was married four times, not three). I depend on my RSS feeds and Readers at work to bring me relevant news (“Building the Health Information Infrastructure for the Modern Patient“). I enjoy my Facebook nightcap each evening and I rely on G+ for interesting stories and content to stimulate my thinking. 

But while I embrace most technology, I also attempt to control my consumption.  For example, I’ve resisted a Smartphone for years.  I have dropped friends because, like the guy on a romantic date featured in the AT&T commercial, they cannot bear to break their internet connection.  (And in the AT&T case, don’t you want to tell the girlfriend- that her date’s viewing of the game under the table isn’t the problem- it’s the lying about it that should send her screaming for the exit?!)

A quick word from our Well & Wise sponsors…   Our overuse of laptops and cell phones has other significant downsides. Did you know that there is a name for the problems related to forward head posture caused by laptop and cell phone use?  Text Neck.  Text Neck causes back, shoulder and neck pain, muscle spasms, headache, and more. (Our HCGH Outpatient Rehab department can fix that, by the way!)

A couple of weeks ago I decided to limit my evening internet time.  I had glanced up from my laptop where I was surfing through Howard County Library book reviews to note that on this particular cold winter’s evening, the firelight reflected beautifully on not one, but four silvery MacBooks which in turn reflected not so beautifully on their users.  It begged the question; was this quality family time?  

This weekend, I exerted more independence by delaying access to the virtual world until I had communed with the real world.  Howard County is full of beautiful pocket parks and winding trails and nature centers.  I strolled through Font Hill Park hearing the red – winged blackbirds, photographing an odd gray chucken-like bird and playing witness to a Canadian goose rumble between residents and newcomers to the pond (Residents 1, Newcomers 0).  It was cold, but invigorating; peaceful but engaging.   I think I’m going to like this new routine.   I see that HoCoRising had a similarly enlightening weekend, albeit a little further from home.

By the way…    according to all of my online resources…    My chucken is a Coot!

American Coot, Font Hill Pond


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January 14, 2012, there was a Teen Well & Wise event at the Savage Branch of the Howard County Library System called Ya Yoga. To get a sense if the Teen Well & Wise events are worth coming to the library for (on a Saturday no less!), we thought we’d get a couple of reviews from some of the attendees. And if these reviews pique your interest, be on the lookout for these upcoming classes:

HEALTHY LIVING FOR FAMILIES – Gain an overview of nutrition basics, obesity prevention, and the benefits of activity in this interactive presentation. Define obesity and identify changes to help your family make better food, nutrition, and exercise choices. Classes at the Elkridge Branch on March 27 at 7pm and at the Savage Branch on April 19 at 7pm.

THE ABC’S OF HEALTHY EATING – Attend this practical class to focus on attitude, budget, and choices to improve your diet. A short assessment provides an opportunity to measure how healthy your habits are. Class at the Miller Branch on May 3 at 7pm.

2012

REFRESH FEST – A Health, Style and Education Expo – Excited about the summer? Would you like to end the school year on a high note and prepare for next year? Join us for tips and tricks for studying, staying fit, feeling your best, and making the most of your time and opportunities at the Savage Branch May 19 from 1-5pm.

BABYSITTING 101 – Join an instructor from University of Maryland Extension-Howard County 4-H Program to learn about child safety, first aid, and transitioning a child to bedtime. Participants receive a certificate. Ages 13 and up. Please plan to attend all three sessions. Classes at the East Columbia Branch 6:30-8:30pm on April 16, 23, and 30.

Review #1 – Makayla Hill, Patuxent Valley Middle School
I wasn’t sure about the yoga thing at first, especially on a Saturday afternoon. The YA Yoga class with Ms. Bonnie was great though! She showed me new ways to release stress and stay focused. This is definitely a class that I would attend again! If you don’t know about yoga and Ms. Bonnie Cassels, then you should really Google her!

Review #2 – Shevani Shah,  Atholton High School
Being an active member of the library, I attended a YA Yoga event that was taught by Ms. Bonnie Cassels at the Savage Branch Library! Ms. Cassels, who teaches at The Yoga Center of Columbia, helped our class view yoga in a new, and fun way!
Yoga is a definite stress reliever, I thought while I was laying on the ground relaxing on the floors of Savage Branch Library. Five minutes before the event was over, I reflected on this experience and found myself at peace. After a long week of high school, teens can truly benefit from the calm aura that yoga brings. Though I do yoga with my mom and sister, Ms. Cassels taught us other poses and techniques to relieve one’s mind from all the stress, drama, and tension that school and our everyday lives throw at us. Dodging the bullet, yoga and meditation help you to look inside of yourself, learn different things about what you enjoy, and how to remove some of the load that is on your shoulders. She taught us useful was to relieve ourselves after a long day by doing certain poses and relaxation ideas that actually worked!!
After that class I felt more energetic even thought we just did physical exercise. Yoga is helpful and personalized because you can go at your own pace! It allows you to advance and do harder and more challenging poses as you get better and feel more comfortable with idea.
Many think that yoga is really easy and not for kids. Nevertheless, really, yoga can be very resourceful to the youth since it allows one to be in peace with one’s self. Yoga is something anyone can do no matter the age or how flexible you are. Yoga fits into one’s lifestyle, for example, the youth could do more physically demanding exercises rather than doing more of the meditation part of this art form.
I hope that, this YA Yoga event will continue at the Savage Branch and show others how yoga can purify our minds of the stressful lives and worries life throws at us!!

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2012 Calendar

February 21.  5:30 p.m. – 9:00 p.mAdult Child and Infant CPR/AED This course will teach you the skills to perform CPR and how to clear an airway obstruction. Upon completion you will receive a two-year AHA Heartsaver CPR/AED certification card. Offered at the Howard County General Hospital: Johns Hopkins Medicine Wellness Center, 10710 Charter Drive, Suite 100 in Columbia.  $55.  For more information, call 410 740-7601.

February 28, 7:00 p.m.- 9:00 p.m.  Anterior Approach to Hip Replacement. A Free seminar with Charles Mess, Jr.,  M.D. discussing the latest techniques for treating hip arthritis and the benefits of the anterior approach in surgery. Register online at Howard County General Hospital: Johns Hopkins Medicine Wellness Center. 10710 Charter Drive, Columbia MD 21044.

March 1, 7:00-8:30 p.m. Custom Knee Replacement for those with Arthritis.  Dr. Nick Grosso, chair of Howard County General Hospital’s Orthopedic department, will discuss the newest technology for patient-specific, custom-made knee implants. Learn more about arthritis, when it’s time to consider replacement surgery and the benefits of a custom made prosthesis.  FREE. Register online at Howard County General Hospital: Johns Hopkins Medicine Wellness Center. 10710 Charter Drive, Columbia MD 21044.

March 5, 7:00-9:00 p.m. Age-Related Eye Disease and Conditions. Experts from the Wilmer Eye Institute will discuss the normal and abnormal changes that may impact your vision and what can be done to promote your eye health. Presented by David Baranano, M.D., Ph.D. FREE. Register online at Howard County General Hospital: Johns Hopkins Medicine Wellness Center. 10710 Charter Drive, Columbia MD 21044.

March 8, 6:00- 8:00 p.m. Advance Directives. Review what Advance Directives are for, who needs them, and how you can get them.  You will have the opportunity of leaving this class with a completed Advance Directive document. Also, learn what it means to appoint, or be appointed, a health care agent.  Registration is required for this free event. Register online at Howard County General Hospital: Johns Hopkins Medicine Wellness Center. 10710 Charter Drive, Columbia MD 21044.

March 15, 6:15 – 8:15 p.m.  Family First Positive and Practical Parenting Workshop. Discipline and Communication that Really Work. Mealtime, getting ready for school, doing homework, playtime, bedtime – it can be a challenge! Learn how to prevent misbehavior by being prepared and setting up your home and routine to encourage success. Discuss ways to successfully communicate with your child, and the importance of structure and consistency. Explore common challenges parents face in regards to discipline and communication with young children. $5. 5470 The Bain Center, 5470 Ruth Keeton Way. For more information: 410 313-1940.

March 15, 7:oo p.m.  Healthy Food in our Schools with Anthony Geraci,  at the Howard County Conservancy. National leader working with Michele Obama for healthy children in the classroom. $5/family.   Anthony Geraci is inspiring and energizing the nation’s school systems to provide fresh and local foods to our school children. What are our kids choosing to eat today? What’s happening to them as a result? How can we introduce and support healthy eating habits and menus? What does it take to change school cafeterias and home lunch boxes? Good food means Great Kids! Don’t miss this high energy presentation from the former Director of Food and Nutrition for Baltimore City School System and nationwide childhood nutrition consultant whom the White House has tapped for first lady Michelle Obama’s efforts in combating childhood obesity. He is currently Executive Director of Nutrition Services for Memphis City Schools. $5 per family; students free.

March 20, 7:00 p.m.- 9:00 p.m. A Mind Body Approach to Pain. In her free seminar,  Hughes will explore some of the latest innovations in mind-body research for dealing with chronic pain.  Using guided imagery, feeling states, meditation, and visualization, Hughes teaches participants how to change their relationship with, and experience of, pain. Registration is required for this free event. Register online at Howard County General Hospital: Johns Hopkins Medicine Wellness Center. 10710 Charter Drive, Columbia MD 21044.

 


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Sorry about the potential eyestrain reading this post might be causing you. What? You didn’t know? Do you know if Usher Syndrome runs in your family? Do you know what Usher Syndrome is? Hey, when is the last time you even had an eye exam?

When we talk about health and wellness, we tend to think of our overall physical or mental condition, but not necessarily the specifics, such as our eyes. A 2010 New York Times article indicated that even those folks  most at risk of vision problems skip exams and about 86 percent of those who already have an eye disease do not get routine exams. What’s keeping us out out of the ophthalmologist and optometrists’ offices?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) analyzed data from Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) surveys, showing the cost of eye care or lack of insurance and belief of no need for exams were the most common reasons given for not seeking eye care. The CDC also reported that “vision problems place a substantial burden on individuals, caregivers, health-care payers, and the U.S. economy, with the total cost estimated at $51.4 billion annually.”

So are you among the eye-neglect guilty?  Let’s start with the basics. How often should you have your peepers looked at?  According to Prevent Blindness America, in general, the recommended frequency of comprehensive eye examinations for people without symptoms or special risk factors differs depending on your age, but is roughly every 2-4 years. “People with special risks, such as diabetes, a previous eye trauma, surgery or a family history of glaucoma, may need an eye exam more frequently…. People with symptoms of eye trouble should see an eye doctor right away.” If you are 65 or older,  EyeCare America, the public service program of the Foundation of the American Academy of Ophthalmology, provides eye exams at no out-of-pocket cost through volunteer ophthalmologists.

If you are curious about some of the symptoms of eye trouble or want more resources on eye health,  the National Institutes of Health National Eye Institute and the American Academy of Ophthalmology’s eyeSmart are great places to start. And ladies, you may want to check out Women’s Eye Health since two-thirds of blindness and visual impairment occur in women.

And, if you are still reluctant get that exam, remember: “It is common for people to wait for symptoms before making doctor appointments,” said Richard P. Mills, MD, MPH. “However, some eye diseases can damage sight before any warning signs are noticed. Getting a simple painless eye exam early could save your sight.” And EyeCare America, reminds us that there are simple things we can do to take better care of our eyes, starting with the “ABCs”:

•    Activate your lifestyle. What’s good for the rest of your body is also good for your eyes. So exercise and eat a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, and avoid fats and sweets.
•    Book an appointment for a full eye exam.
•    Continue to see your doctor to catch and treat eye diseases early.

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Lose the Salt

by Mary Catherine Cochran

 

Prevent a little heartache this Valentine’s Day by reducing your sodium intake.

According to a report released earlier this month by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 9 out of 10 Americans eat too much salt.  On average, we consume about 3,300 mg of sodium a day. U.S. Dietary Guidelines recommend no more than 2,300 mg a day -and only 1,500 mg for the 60 percent of us who are over 51 years of age or African American or have health conditions such as high blood pressure or diabetes.  Too much sodium increases our risk for high blood pressure, heart disease and stroke.

But don’t blame the salt shaker.  Sixty-five percent of our salt consumption comes from food sold in stores and another 25 percent comes from food sold in restaurants. In the recent Winter Edition of Johns Hopkins Health Magazine, Dr. Gordon Tomaselli, M.D., chief of cardiology at Johns Hopkins, says, “The real problem is that most of the food we buy already has a lot of salt in it. So while you do want to avoid adding a lot more at the table, the real goal is to find foods at the store that are low in salt to begin with.”

The CDC lists 10 sneaky sources of sodium that make up 40 percent of our consumption:

    • Bread and Rolls
    • Deli lunch meats
    • Pizza
    • Poultry
    • Soups
    • Cheeseburgers and other sandwiches
    • Cheese
    • Pasta mixed dishes
    • Meat mixed dishes
    • Snack foods such as pretzels, potato chips and popcorn

Bread is at the top of list of sneaky sources of sodium. Two slices of white bread for your turkey sandwich can fulfill one-third of your daily allotment of sodium and we haven’t begun to count the sodium in the turkey! Michael Silverman, M.D., Chairman, Department of Medicine at Howard County General Hospital, is a staunch opponent of white bread. “In my opinion, white bread has been a significant contributor to the destruction of the American diet.” Silverman says, “The high salt content in combination with unhealthy bleached white flour is deadly if eaten regularly.”

What else can we do since our lost shaker of salt didn’t make much difference? How do we reduce our sodium intake?

Read the labels-  According to Silverman, “The consumer needs to become an expert at reading nutrition labels”. Some seemingly healthy foods, like cottage cheese or lean turkey breast lunch meat can contain surprising amounts of salt.

Compare brands-  Different brands of the same food have different levels of sodium. According to the CDC, one slice of white bread can have anywhere between 80- 230 mg of sodium and one serving of chicken noodle soup can vary by as much as 840 mg!

Eat Fresh- Eat more fresh vegetables and fruit and less prepackaged food. “Foods aren’t naturally salty, the salt is put in during processing at food plants, which means less-processed foods, such as fresh fruits and vegetables are better choices than their frozen or canned cousins that often include high-sodium sauces,” says Tomaselli.

The CDC says that by curbing our sodium intake by just 10 percent, we could prevent an estimated 28,000 deaths each year. Silverman takes a more forceful approach, “All foods high in sodium content should be boycotted.”

Spend a few minutes this evening reading the labels on the food that you already have in your kitchen or, better yet,  join a Johns Hopkins dietitian for a grocery store tour. I think you’ll be surprised by what you are eating and motivated to make a change.

 

 


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by The Central Branch Staff

The library side of your beloved Well & Wise is maintained by two fairly awesome ladies: one happily married, the other happily subscribing to the philosophy of “books not boys” for the time being. They also aren’t all that interested in Valentine’s Day beyond the possibility of acquiring free candy.

But to those less happily single, or unable to be with the people they love, Valentine’s Day is a day you simply endure. If the person you love is nearby, the day is basically a relationship minefield and we wish you all the best in finding the appropriate way to mark the day and emerge with your relationship intact.

We consulted the staff of the Central Branch for their favorite stories about love (be it true, unrequited, or tragic) to help you manage to survive the day.

Cristina
84 Charing Cross, 
Miss Potter, 
The Sunflower, An Affair to Remember, Doctor Zhivago, and Wuthering Heights

John

Movies: Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless MindZombieland, Blue Valentine, Back To The Future 3, Annie Hall, Groundhog Day, High Fidelity, 500 Days of Summer, that one where the guy falls in love with the girl but she’s an alien? Or maybe he’s an alien and she’s a mermaid? Starman

TV:  Simpsons! (Any of the Homer and Marge episodes (The Way We Was, I Married Marge, I Love Lisa, Bart’s Friend Falls In Love),  The British Office or the first few seasons of the US one before they got married. I just watched a Twilight Zone from season 5 called “The Long Morrow” where this astronaut meets a lady scientist right before he goes to space for 40 years, that was pretty great.

Comics: Blankets! ,  The Scott Pilgrim comics are kinda Valentiney.

Books: I Love You Beth Cooper is romantic-ish and Simpson-y. King Dork. I haven’t read Never Let Me Go, but I saw the movie and didn’t like it that much but I liked the concept so the book is probably great! Let The Right One In might count too.

Single and awesome: Batman!

Jinelee
Loved Vicky Cristina Barcelona and it captivates both the truly romantic and tragic sides of love in a nutshell, so it’s perfect!

Nancy H.
Charles and Emma: The Darwins’ Leap of Faith These devoted lovers faced a terrific crisis of faith vs reason – one that would have broken a weaker bond They determinedly struggled to stay together as each faced family crises from seemingly antagonistic approaches.

Roberta R.
My current favorite movie and favorite book – and all time favorite love story: Sense and Sensibility. 


Here are two nonfiction (historical) love stories that I’m especially fond of: 

A Venetian Affair and The Pearl. Other interesting nonfiction: 

Parallel Lives, 

Uncommon Arrangements

, and  The Skeleton in the Closet.

Jen L.
I know they aren’t literary gems, but while going through a funk a friend recommended Jennifer Crusie‘s books to me. Again, no Jane Austen, but her stuff is pretty good with self-acceptance and zany love stories (especially Bet Me).

Debbie R.
Waiting. Excellent book about a time in China with women having bound feet. This married couple live in the country. He becomes a doctor and practices in the city. This is where he meets the woman,that intersects his marriage. It’s also a time in life that the communist don’t allow outwardly physical contact. Their love for each goes on for long time. Meanwhile his wife and daughter come to the city. The wife changes with the city ways. This now plays into the love triangle.

Wendy
 The Thorn Birds (book or movie), When Harry Met Sally, Wuthering Heights, 
Bridget Jones’ Diary.

Beth H.
Snow Flower and the Secret Fan
by Lisa See (who will soon be appearing at Stacks)–Love among friends. The Last Days of Ptolemy Grey–Love in the 90′s (age 90). A Prayer for Owen Meany –Love and sacrifice. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings –Learned love of self. Love in the Time of Cholera –Love and a lifelong obsession. Taking Chance –Love of country; love of comrades in arms. Climbing the Stairs –Love of independence. Sins of the Mother –Maternal love. Tender is the Night –Destructive love. Oldest Living Confederate Widow Tells All –Just about every kind of love one could imagine. The Lost Pet Chronicles: Adventures of a K-9 Cop Turned Pet Detective –Love of companion animals. The Tower, the Zoo, and the Tortoise –Love endures (in this case, by one family member through five generations). Alive! Airplane Crash in the Andes Mountains –Love of life. Madea –Love gone horribly wrong. Rose Madder –That ain’t love!. The Emperors of Chocolate: Inside the Secret World of Hershey and Mars –Love of chocolate! And marital love of Milton and Kitty Hershey
Music: Breezin’. John Hadamuscin’s Enchanted Evenings: Dinners, Suppers, Picnics & Parties –Menus for romantic dinners.

Debbie B.

Sleepless in Seattle a classic with references to a classic; funny, touching, hopeful. 
Practical Magic is all around delightful; about the things we do (or wish we could do) for love, both familial and romantic
. The Princess Bride a campy cult classic that is all about “twoo wuv.” Maybe a little violent for the kiddies, but great characters spouting marvelously quotable and funny dialogue. Take it or leave it “as you wish.” 
Hellboy  don’t laugh! I recommend this all the time as “the perfect date movie”; plenty of guns and action for the guys, plus a sweet puppy-love crush thing happenin’ as well as a found-family bond between the main characters for the gals.
 Thelma and Louise the ultimate girls-gone-wild -cause-men-are-pigs movie
. Love Actually a little melancholy, a little funny, and a lot true-to-life; love of various kinds, so it’s adult fare; much imitated, never equaled.

Rita S.
More of a tragedy lover, so here are 3 books that come to mind. They are all in the “what not to do” category unless you want to experience great love and crushing loss: Madame Bovary; Anna Karenina; Bridges of Madison County.

Rick
Wedding Singer Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore have amazing chemistry in this movie. I love it!

 Love and Basketball Omar Epps and Sanaa Lathan have a great connection that lasts throughout the years of their up and down friendship that blossoms into a real love at the end.

 An Affair to Remember Cary Grant and Deborah Kerr have a great and snappy back and forth as strangers who meet on a cruise ship and develop and quick and lasting bond. It’s a tear jerker. That is all I have right now!

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2012 CalendarFebruary 11, 10:00 a.m.  Wonder Talk: Squirmy Wormy Worms that Work: Kitchen Garbage to Top Soil at the Howard County Conservancy.  Worms work miracles with their little bodies.  Learn all about these amazing little animals.  See how they transform the wastes of our planet into rich earth.  Learn how to create your own worm soil factory.  Free program for all ages.

February 11, 3pm. Smart Snacks. School, homework, sports, and hanging out leave little time for healthy eating. With a little planning you can make healthy snacks that give you the energy to succeed. Learn how to create easy recipes, and sample the tasty foods at the Savage Branch. Parents welcome! In partnership with Howard County General Hospital: A Member of Johns Hopkins Medicine. A Teen Well & Wise event.  Register online or by calling 410.880.5980.

February 13, 10:15am. Make Believe. Children learn basic acting at the Savage Branch, then demonstrate their skills in a presentation during the last class—a great way to build confidence. Four-week series. Ages 3-5; 45 min. Register online or by calling 410.880.5978.

February 13, 12:30-3pm. Blood Pressure Screening. Free, walk-in blood pressure screening and monitoring offered by Howard County General Hospital at the Savage Branch.

February 13, 7pm. Candy Heart Science.
Eating candy hearts might kill you, but studying them could make you smarter. Come to the East Columbia Branch to melt, dissolve, and perform tests to see what’s really in Valentine’s Day candy. Register online or by calling 410.313.7700.

February 16, 6:15 – 8:15 p.m.  Family First Positive and Practical Parenting Workshop. Building Blocks for Parents. A child passes through typical stages as he grows and learns. If you know what to expect, you are better able to respond to new behaviors. Explore the ages and stages of child development in several areas, such as cognitive, social-emotional, motor, and language. Try out activities that encourage healthy development at different ages. Find out which behaviors are developmentally appropriate at what ages, and how to find help if you need it.  $5. 5470 The Bain Center, 5470 Ruth Keeton Way. For more information: 410 313-1940.

February 16, 7pm. Power of Parents. Join Mothers Against Drunk Driving at the Miller Branch for a free, 35-minute Parent Workshop and receive a community-based handbook that provides parents with tools and tips for talking with teens about the dangers of underage drinking. This workshop is for parents of high school-aged teens.

February 16, 10:30am. Healthy Kids.Explore simple health concepts inspired by children’s literature. Ages 3-5 with adult; 45 min. Multi-week series. Register online or by calling 410.313.5579.

February 16, 7pm. Putting It All Together With Simple Machines.
Experiment at the Miller Branch with all six simple machines to build a complex contraption in the Rube Goldberg tradition. Ages 9-10; 60 min. Register online or by calling 410.313.1955.

February 21.  5:30 p.m. – 9:00 p.mAdult Child and Infant CPR/AED This course will teach you the skills to perform CPR and how to clear an airway obstruction. Upon completion you will receive a two-year AHA Heartsaver CPR/AED certification card. Offered at the Howard County General Hospital: Johns Hopkins Medicine Wellness Center, 10710 Charter Drive, Suite 100 in Columbia.  $55.  For more information, call 410 740-7601.

February 28, 7:00 p.m.- 9:00 p.m.  Anterior Approach to Hip Replacement. A Free seminar with Charles Mess, Jr.,  M.D. discussing the latest techniques for treating hip arthritis and the benefits of the anterior approach in surgery. Register online at Howard County General Hospital: Johns Hopkins Medicine Wellness Center. 10710 Charter Drive, Columbia MD 21044.

March 1, 6:15 – 8:15 p.m.  Family First Positive and Practical Parenting Workshop.  Raise a V.I.P. A child’s temperament affects his interactions with his parents and with the world. Become familiar with temperament types and learn how to use this information every day in your interactions with your child. Learn how to encourage the development of positive self-esteem at each stage of your child’s life. Explore effective praise and find out what you can do to build self-esteem as you raise your V.I.P., and what you may say accidentally that can hurt. $5. 5470 The Bain Center, 5470 Ruth Keeton Way. For more information: 410 313-1940.

February 26, 4:00 p.m.  Growing Up Wild with 173 Meadow and Woodland “Pets” – Author Twig George, daughter of Newbury Award Author Jean Craighead George (My Side of the Mountain, Julie and the Wolves, and 100 more).  Twig will recount stories of growing up with Jean Craighead George and a wonderful menagerie that filled her with an appreciation of wildlife that continues to this day. With a house full of wild pets you might be awakened by a crow tapping on your window, take a shower with a screech owl and find a raccoon in your bed at night. While often things went smoothly, sometimes there were situations that were quite – wild! Twig’s mother would weave these adventures into her award winning books for children, 110 of them to date.  She is 92 and still writing! Twig will also tell some of the stories behind her own books, and open the discussion up to questions from the audience.  Howard County Conservancy.  $10/family $12 after Feb. 23

March 1, 7:00-8:30 p.m. Custom Knee Replacement for those with Arthritis.  Dr. Nick Grosso will discuss the newest technology for patient-specific, custom-made knee implants. Learn more about arthritis, when it’s time to consider replacement surgery and the benefits of a custom made prosthesis.  FREE. Register online at Howard County General Hospital: Johns Hopkins Medicine Wellness Center. 10710 Charter Drive, Columbia MD 21044.

March 5, 7:00-9:00 p.m. Age-Related Eye Disease and Conditions. Experts from the Wilmer Eye Institute will discuss the normal and abnormal changes that may impact your vision and what can be done to promote your eye health. FREE. Register online at Howard County General Hospital: Johns Hopkins Medicine Wellness Center. 10710 Charter Drive, Columbia MD 21044.

March 8, 6:00- 8:00 p.m. Advance Directives. Review what Advance Directives are for, who needs them, and how you can get them.  You will have the opportunity of leaving this class with a completed Advance Directive document. Also, learn what it means to appoint, or be appointed, a health care agent.  Registration is required for this free event. Register online at Howard County General Hospital: Johns Hopkins Medicine Wellness Center. 10710 Charter Drive, Columbia MD 21044.

March 10, 10:00 a.m.  WONDER WALK: Family Hike on Site –with a Conservancy Naturalist. FREE.  Are you tired of winter and being indoors?  Join us as we search for signs of Spring!  The naturalists at the Conservancy know wonderful facts about this land, and the animals, vegetables, minerals on it.  Bring your family and join an age-appropriate group with a naturalist leading you through the property for a nature hike.  Wear appropriate clothing, hats and gloves. Will March roar  like a lion, or come in gentle as a lamb! In case of bad weather, check website. The Howard County Conservancy. FREE.


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by Wendy Camassar

For many months now, I’ve been kicking around the idea of conducting a mini-makeup class for young women–specifically with teenagers.  The inspiration came from my own twin daughters who are now twelve and are starting to experience significant changes with their skin.  They often like to watch me put my makeup on, and sometimes ask if they can try a little. Lately their requests have been for me to cover up a blemish or two.  Surprisingly though, they are not interested in wearing makeup outside of the home, which is a huge relief for me!  I prefer they learn about making healthy food choices and to take care of their bodies inside and out.  They know there will be plenty of time for makeup as they get older.  Until then, they are learning about how to cleanse their faces well, and the benefits of wearing sunscreen as much as possible.

I can’t help but notice though, how many young teenage girls are wearing makeup.  I wonder how do they feel about it.  Are they trying to look like someone else? Does wearing it affect how they feel about themselves? Do they feel more confident when they wear it? Are they trying to look older?  What about the girls who aren’t wearing makeup?  Are they interested but shy or embarrassed about trying it? Perhaps their mothers don’t wear it much, and these young women don’t have anyone to turn to for advice. Also, there’s the issue of false images they see in magazines–the type of images that are impossible to live up to.  Do these young women know that photos printed in magazines are not at all realistic?  Models’ images on magazine covers have been photo-shopped  to perfection–and as we all know, no one is perfect.  How can anyone live up to that?

So with all these questions in mind, I hope to share a bit of my background and knowledge about skincare and makeup.  More importantly however, I hope to learn how teens experience makeup, and what their perception of beauty is.  The class will be held Thursday, March 22, 2012 at the Central Library from 7-8pm.

Wendy Camassar is an Instruction and Research Specialist at the Central Branch of the Howard County Library System.  Prior to joining HCLS, she worked as a freelance makeup artist for several years.  She enjoys hiking with her family, exercising, reading, and organic foods and skin care products.

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Bridget Hughes M.Ac., L.Ac., a licensed acupuncturist practicing in the Medical Pavilion at Howard County, considers mind-body approaches to pain to be the most underutilized resource in pain management.  “We have cutting-edge pain clinics, medications, surgical procedures, cortisone shots, and nerve blocks, and yet a large body of patients are still dealing with chronic pain.  The untapped resource that most people know little about is the power of the mind.”  

In her free seminar, “A Mind-Body Approach to Pain”,  Hughes will explore some of the latest innovations in mind-body research for dealing with chronic pain.  Using guided imagery, feeling states, meditation, and visualization, Hughes teaches participants how to change their relationship with, and experience of, pain.

 As Hughes describes, “Every culture in the world has at some point, out of necessity, used some type of approach to induce a trance-like state of focus through prayer, chanting, dancing, fasting, whirling, hypnosis, or shamanic ritual to ameliorate pain.  Through these mind-body techniques, the biochemistry and physiology is changed significantly enough to alter the pain response, sometimes permanently or for long stretches of time.  By experiencing modern approaches of meditation, visualization, and self-hypnosis, patients can reclaim the art of using mind-body tools.”

Offered twice: February 13th 2012 12-1:00 p.m.  and March 20th 7-8:30 p.m.
Howard County General Hospital: Johns Hopkins Medicine Wellness Center
10710 Charter Drive Columbia MD 21044
To Register for the Febrary 13th class: (410) 740-5858  

You can register for the March 20th class at the Wellness Center.

 

.

Bridget Hughes is a licensed acupuncturist and co-founder of Healing Point LLC in Severna Park, Maryland, and of Healing Point Acupuncture and Healing Arts in the Claudia Mayer Cancer Resource Center at the Medical Pavilion at Howard County General Hospital in Columbia. She was named a 2010 and 2011 Favorite Doc in Chesapeake Family Magazine. Bridget is a certified Qigong instructor and a Clinical Hypnotist and has been interested for over 20 years in the intersection of health, wellness, brain science, energy arts, quantum physics, psychology, and peak performance. She speaks on a wide range of health topics including: Using Imagery, Visualization, Meditation, and Feeling States to Groove New Neural Pathways, Transitioning to Wellness of Body, Mind, and Spirit for Survivors, A Mind-Body Approach to Pain, and Rewiring Your Neural Pathways of Emotion. She considers time spent with patients to be a great blessing and takes a keen interest in each person and their unique situation and experience.

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The Quiet Man

by Mary Catherine Cochran

Nearly a year ago- according to my Facebook timeline, I attended a meeting where a good friend and neighbor was recognized by Howard County Council Resolution for his work in the community, his dedication to family and his selection as the Honorary Grand Marshall of the Baltimore City St. Patrick’s Day Parade.Resolutions are good for just that sort of thing- recognizing the quiet heroes among us who work hard, give freely and encourage us all to be better citizens. At well over 6’ he normally stands tall, but on that particular evening he towered over the rest of us. A month later- on a perfect day for a parade we watched as our quiet man, impeccable in top hat, tails and twinkling Irish eyes, led the parade. It was a great honor for him, but it was standard operating procedure for the rest of us – we were used to following.

2011 St. Patrick's Day Parade, Baltimore City

Four months ago he took the lead, again, when his physician told him he had Mesotheliomia, a rotten scourge of a disease that had already killed his brother and had decimated the ranks of his fellow pipe fitters who had been exposed to asbestos insulation. “Very good”, the quiet man replied. The physician, confused by the response, explained that this was a fatal diagnosis and the man, again, answered; “Very good”. The physician did not know that this was the quiet man’s standard answer to everything life threw at him- the sweet and the bitter, the birth of babies, the death of a cherished spouse. “Very good” was an affirmation of faith that there was some reason; some order in the things that lay beyond his control and it was an expression of acceptance, an acceptance of life- all of life, not just the parts we wish to pick and choose.

Three months ago, shortly after receiving his second chemotherapy treatment, a week after attending his first grandson’s wedding and a day after visiting his friends at the Maryland Irish Festival, the quiet man suffered a heart attack that would take his life before the end of the day. On his last morning he flew over his beloved Baltimore City en route from the Howard County General Hospital Emergency Department to the Johns Hopkins CCU. The physicians at Hopkins told the family to say their goodbyes one last time. The family gathered around his bed offering one-sided farewells and whispered prayers of gratitude. The quiet man, perhaps sensing the sorrow which lay thick throughout the room, unexpectedly awakened and, in the shadow of impending death, spent his final hours speaking with each family member, offering reassurance, lending strength from his own breaking heart, telling a joke or two, and teaching those who were gathered, one last lesson on acceptance and grace.

Perhaps dying gracefully should be more than an aspiration, perhaps it should be a right. The Johns Hopkins Hospital gave the quiet man and his family the gift of a graceful death. We’ve learned to expect an easier death as a part of the hospice experience, but in the culture of hospital medicine, which equates life as victory and end of life as defeat, it was less expected. I will forever be grateful to the entire Hopkins staff of nurses and physicians, especially Dr. Chiadi Ndumele , who fostered a good death for a man who had lived such a “Very good” life.

Are your Advance Directives in Place? Does your family know your wishes? Take a few minutes to review and complete the State of Maryland Advanced Directive Form. It may be the best gift you could ever give to your family. If you find the form confusing or have questions, take advantage of Howard County General Hopsital’s free Advance Directives Seminars.


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2012 CalendarFebruary 4, 1:00 p.m. Meet the Author Dorothy Baily. The author of In a Different Light: Reflections and Beauty of Wise Women of Color,comes to the East Columbia Branch to talk about how her book highlights the wisdom, beauty, strength, and courage of 90 women, aged 70 and over, who live in Maryland or have strong ties to the state. Several of the “wisdom carriers” profiled in the book may make cameo appearances. An African American History Month event. Refreshments. Books available for purchase and signing. Held in the East Columbia 50+ Center. Sponsored by Friends of Howard County Library. Register online or by calling 410.313.7700.

February 4, 2:00-4:00 p.m. Hearts for Heroes. Create Valentine’s Day cards at the Elkridge Branch for military service members stationed overseas. Materials provided.

February 6, 10:15 a.m. Make Believe. Children learn basic acting at the Savage Branch, then demonstrate their skills in a presentation during the last class—a great way to build confidence. Four-week series. Ages 3-5.  Register online or by calling 410.880.5978.

February 6, 3:30-5:30 p.m. Blood Pressure Screening. Free, walk-in blood pressure screening and monitoring at the Glenwood Branch offered by Howard County General Hospital.

February 6, 7:00 p.m. Healthy Relationships & Dating Dangers. Statistics show that one in three teenagers experience abuse in a dating relationship. Experts from the Domestic Violence Center come to the Elkridge Branch to teach you to recognize the signs of unhealthy relationships and dating abuse. A Teen Well & Wise event. Register online or by calling 410.313.5088.

February 7, 2012. 5:30 p.m. – 9:00 p.mAdult Child and Infant CPR/AED.  This course will teach you the skills to perform CPR and how to clear an airway obstruction. Upon completion you will receive a two-year AHA Heartsaver CPR/AED certification card.  Offered at the Howard County General Hospital: Johns Hopkins Medicine Wellness Center, 10710 Charter Drive, Suite 100 in Columbia.  $55.  For more information, call 410 740-7601.

February 7, 10:30 a.m. at the Glenwood Branch and 2 p.m. at the Savage Branch. Just For Me. A class for children ages 3-5 who are ready for an independent class that includes creative expression, listening comprehension, and early reading skills. Register online or by calling 410.313.5579 at Glenwood Branch. No registration required for the class at Savage Branch.

February 7, 7:00 p.m. Birds In Your Backyard. Get ready for the Great Backyard Bird Count at the Glenwood Branch. Learn how to identify your feathered friends. Families welcome. Part of the Master Gardener series. Register online or by calling 410.313.5577.

February 8, 10:15 & 11:15 a.m. at the Elkridge Branch and 7pm at the Miller Branch. Just For Me. A class for children ages 3-5 who are ready for an independent class that includes creative expression, listening comprehension, and early reading skills. No registration required for the classes at  Elkridge Branch. Tickets available at Miller BranchChildren’s Desk 30 minutes before program.

February 8, 7:00 p.m. Bee Mine: Beekeeping Basics. The Howard County Beekeepers Association teaches about honeybee biology, products of the hive, and the benefits of beekeeping. Families welcome.  Register online or by calling 410.313.5577.

February 9, 10:15 & 11:15 a.m. Twist And Shout.
 Music and movement at the East Columbia Branch. Ages 3-5; 30 min. Tickets available at Children’s Desk 30 minutes before program.

February 9, 10:30am. Healthy Kids. Explore simple health concepts inspired by children’s literature. Ages 3-5 with adult; 45 min. Multi-week series. Register online or by calling 410.313.5579.

February 9, 7:00 p.m. Day Trippin’. 
Join Linda Decker at the Central Branch as she highlights 12 public display gardens, historic landscapes, and natural spaces within easy driving distance of Howard County. Part of the Master Gardener series. Register online or by calling 410.313.7800.

February 9, 7:00 p.m. Chocolate! Come to the Glenwood Branch for fun facts about the origin and health benefits of this favorite food–and how to taste it. Families welcome. Register online or by calling 410.313.5577.

February 11, 10:00 a.m.  Wonder Talk: Squirmy Wormy Worms that Work: Kitchen Garbage to Top Soil at the Howard County Conservancy.  Worms work miracles with their little bodies.  Learn all about these amazing little animals.  See how they transform the wastes of our planet into rich earth.  Learn how to create your own worm soil factory.  Free program for all ages.

February 21, 2012.  5:30 p.m. – 9:00 p.mAdult Child and Infanct CPR/AED This course will teach you the skills to perform CPR and how to clear an airway obstruction. Upon completion you will receive a two-year AHA Heartsaver CPR/AED certification card. Offered at the Howard County General Hospital: Johns Hopkins Medicine Wellness Center, 10710 Charter Drive, Suite 100 in Columbia.  $55.


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by Kim T. Ha

With the New Year, many people start afresh with goals of working out and getting fit. What better way to meet these New Year’s resolutions than by dancing and moving with your kids? Below are some Sesame Street DVDs that educate while getting you and your children on your feet and moving.



Elmocize: 
I have to admit I was a bit skeptical because I’m not the biggest Elmo fan. However, this DVD provides 30 minutes of fun and simple, low-impact exercises for toddlers and parents who enjoy aerobics and want to ease back into exercising. It also wins over host Monty, who absolutely refuses to exercise at the beginning but cannot stop himself from moving by the end!

Children warm up with a series of dances featuring an animated caterpillar and cat. Then there is the simple “Workout in a Chair” that requires only arm movements. The “Elmocizers” don’t stop there however; in “Elbows and Knees,” kids learn how important it is the bend their large joints. The importance of bending is then reiterated in dancing to “Comin’ Round The Bend.” Here, kids bend to touch their toes and flip their wrists and ankles, as well as bending their knees and elbows.

Once warmed up with stretching and bending, you can join Benny in “Do the Benny Hop” and then “Jump,” featuring kids jump-roping and leaping around their neighborhoods and on the beach. Finally, after kids have worked up a sweat and raised their heart rates, they join Cyndi Lauper in twisting in “Twisted Sisters.” While songs are simple and may not prove challenging for elementary school kids, they are perfect for toddlers learning about the importance of exercising and moving their bodies.

Zoe’s Dance Moves: 
Don’t let sweet Zoe’s pink tutu fool you. This DVD goes beyond ballet and teaches children a variety of dance styles including Asian, hip-hop, African, and tap. Also, there is Zoe’s special “Silly Willy Nilly Dance.” Zoe meets up with Paula Abdul who shows her segments of the choreography, interspersed with both animated and live-action skits demonstrating the different types of dance. The skits are educational as well as entertaining, and a number of them feature children from other cultures. I especially enjoy the young Korean dancers celebrating spring with their movements and the young boy performing a “Lion Dance” (the lion looks like a fusion of an Asian lion and a Sesame Street Muppet).

One animated skit introduces the idea of moving quickly versus slowly to the beat of a song. Another skit has a tap dancer who encourages children to find words that rhyme with the word “tap” while dancing. The musical skits all inspire movement through the infectious energy of the characters. In the end, Elmo joins them (after spending the first half of the DVD in search of his dancing shoes), as well as a number of children. Paula goes through the entire choreography once more, and all segments are put together for the final “Everything Dance.”

Now I am familiar with some of Paula’s grown-up exercise videos; and I have to say that these moves are just as, if not more, challenging. Zoe does get frustrated once during the DVD, and Elmo notes: “That’s a lot of different steps, Miss Paula.” However, Paula reminds them that it’s okay and to just keep on practicing. I would recommend doing this with your kids and showing them how unlikely it is for you to get it the first time around. The “Everything Dance” is run through twice, though the second time is mainly shown through three-quarter body shots. While this adds some interest, it is not very helpful in learning the dance. Regardless of the complexity, this DVD is a great introduction to different styles of dance and an effective way to get kids to move. If they get lost, you can always suggest that they resort to Zoe’s “Silly Willy Nilly Dance.”

Dance Along!: 
There is nothing like old-school Sesame Street. While Zoe’s Dance Moves educates children about different world dances, its choreography can be challenging for the average child. Elmocize,on the other hand, has movements that may be repetitive for an elementary school child. Dance Along! strikes the perfect balance. This half-hour DVD has children performing simple yet varied movements, while effectively getting their heart rates up. Big Bird, Gina, and Mike narrate children through nine different dances.

The DVD opens with the Oinker Sisters singing “A New Way to Walk.” These pigs know how to strut their stuff while teaching children the word “walk.” They make their way over huge letters spelling out “walk,” while a green walk sign flashes. The only issue I have is when they walk over red letters spelling out “walk.” (Isn’t the color red usually associated with stopping?) Other than that, these pigs lead a fun, low-impact way to warm up.

I love the variety of the dances that come after and especially how accessible they are for kids (and adults) with little to no dance training. For instance, Mike leads a simple dance routine that includes clapping, turning around, and toe-touching. The Count’s “Batty Bat” is essentially a simple waltz and involves flapping the arms three beats while turning. Freeze dances are both simple and fun, and in Sesame Street style, children learn the word “stop” as they move to a hip-hop freeze dance.

Of course, Sesame Street always features a cast of delightful Muppets, and a band of bird Muppets have children quack, cluc, and hoot their way through the “Bird Call Boogie.” Gravely voiced Hoots the Owl sings and plays the saxophone, and is accompanied by a duck on the drums and a chicken on the keys. Grover demonstrates his knowledge of the alphabet through a brief, albeit intense, disco number. Then Bert shows off his favorite dance, “Doin’ the Pigeon,” where he mimics their walk.

Sesame Street is also known for diversity, and the “Any Way You Feel” dance is a medley of songs including folk, Chinese, African, classical, and Latin. The DVD closes with the mellow and jazzy “Birdland Jump.” Movements include touching your nose while jumping and jumping with your “wings” across your chest. This DVD is a great way to not only get in shape with your kids, but to have your kids work out excess energy with moves they enjoy doing anyway!

Kim Ha is the Children’s Instructor and Research Supervisor at the Elkridge Branch of the Howard County Library System.  She enjoys dancing, jewelry-making, photography and traveling. So far, her favorite destinations are Hawaii and Italy. She recently discovered the joys of yoga and stunt kite flying.

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