Most of us lead busy lives. Despite using umpteen labor-saving devices and the wonderful tools provided by modern technology, we find very little time to do the many tasks we have to do. People feel constantly pressed for time. Running from one task to another, to fulfill our duties and responsibilities, we find that there is not enough hours in the day to relax, recoup and recharge our tired selves.

In consequence, we suffer from the modern scourge afflicting busy people: “SWAT” (stress, worry, anxiety and tension of one type or another). This adversely affects our mental health, and negatively impacts the quality of life. Not only do we inflict this state of affairs on ourselves; more to the point, we manage to hurt others as well—intentionally or otherwise. These unwanted and undesirable side-effects of our busy lifestyles, are our constant companions, reducing our natural immunities, and making us feel tired, upset, and in conflict with others. We are unable to shake off their pernicious effects. This state of affairs, in turn, leads to many types of uncivil behavior, triggering physical/psychic discomfort on everyone we come in contact with.

Some of us, quite unintentionally, tend to be curt, discourteous as well as unmindful of how our behavior adversely affects others. This is the exact opposite of what should be called “civility.” That is, being pleasant, considerate, welcoming, empathetic, and willing to listen and respond appropriately to other people and situations.
Consider some familiar situations in the slideshow below.

These and similar situations are everyday occurrences. They are representative of what it is “not to be civil.” Civility is based on mutual respect, trust, empathy, consideration for the well-being of others (The Golden Rule), sharing, and caring. When these principles are ignored, we pay a heavy price for our ill-mannered behavior. This manifests itself in many ways: various psychological afflictions imposed on third parties, through negligence, inconsiderate behavior, and inappropriate remarks.

When there are no shared values governing common civility, the resulting cynicism and mistrust take a heavy toll on our mental/psychological well-being. Our quality of life is dealt a heavy blow. It does not have to be this way. There is an alternative, which each and every one of us is capable of: CIVILITY! It helps everyone, hurts no one. The cost of practicing civility in everyday life is negligible indeed; while the payoff in terms of social cohesion and mental/psychological wellness is incalculable. This is a rare example of “the greatest bang for the buck.” It is a win-win bargain for us all. What it calls for is a modicum of self-control and consideration for our fellow human beings.

Dr. Gopal C. Dorai is an author, economist, statistician, and Professor Emeritus at William Paterson University.

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calendar_2015_blogMarch 31 – April 2, 4:00 p.m. Babysitting 101 at Central Branch. Learn the essentials of babysitting with a University of Maryland Extension instructor. Participants receive a certificate. Must attend all three sessions: Mar 31, Apr 1 & 2. Ages 13 & up. Register online or by calling 410.313.7800.

Monday, April 6, 3:30 p.m. – 5:30 p.m. Blood Pressure Screening at Glenwood Branch. Free, walk-in blood pressure screening and monitoring offered by Howard County General Hospital: a Member of Johns Hopkins Medicine. Well & Wise event. 1st & 3rd Mondays; 3:30 – 5:30 pm. No registration required.

Tuesday, April 7, 2:00 p.m. & 3:45 p.m. EatPlayGrow™ at Central BranchExplore health and safety concepts inspired by children’s literature. Ages 3-5 with adult; 45 min. Multi-week series. Well & Wise event. Limited space; tickets available at Children’s Desk 15 minutes before class.

Wednesday, April 8, 6-8:30 p.m. Free.  Caring for the Young Athlete Successful prevention, evaluation and rehabilitation of sports-related injuries and concussions is crucial for any young athlete. During this seminar in the Howard County General Hospital Wellness Center, Johns Hopkins pediatric specialists in orthopaedics, sports medicine, neurosurgery, surgery and physical therapy will discuss injury prevention and the signs/symptoms of more serious conditions and when to seek help. Dinner is included as part of this free event.

Saturday, April 11, 9-11 a.m. $35. Self-Defense for Young Women Teens ages 12 to 15 will learn physical and psychological strategies of self-defense. Held in the Howard County General Hospital Wellness Center.


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With the vernal equinox behind us the days will grow longer and the nights shorter. Nature is in balance for that brief moment, and then we move on. Wouldn’t it be nice if we could achieve that kind of balance in our lives, even for one day in the year? One of my favorite ways to reconnect and rejuvenate is through gardening. I am a terrible gardener but that’s not the point. The point is to get dirty, smell the soil and be humbled and amazed when a seed actually becomes a flower. Sharing with others this incredible magic through picture books is one of the joys of spring Children’s classes. Or just take a walk through the Enchanted Garden and restore your soul.

“There once was a city without gardens or trees or greenery of any kind.” Peter Brown’s tale of urban renewal and the persistent of nature (both plant and human) begins with this sobering statement. Our hero, Liam, discovers a small patch of weeds, and through trial and error, he nurtures a garden that grows and grows. As the garden greens, the colors brighten until the sky is blue and Liam is surrounded by flowers. Other gardeners take on the challenge and the city itself becomes more colorful. An inspirational tale inspired by the Manhattan High Line project.

We are fortunate in Howard County to have green space within the reach of all our citizens. Perhaps we should all take more advantage of these for our health, both physical and mental.

Kadir Nelson is one of my favorite illustrators and he knocks it out of the park with If You Plant a Seed. “If you plant a tomato seed, a carrot seed, and a cabbage seed,” then that is what you will grow. Rabbit and Mouse work together and have a beautiful harvest. When the birds come begging to share in the feast Rabbit and Mouse plant a different seed, selfishness, and – “it will grow, and grow, and grow … into a heap of trouble.” After a food fight where most of the harvest is destroyed, Mouse offers one of the last pieces to the birds. In return the birds bring Mouse and Rabbit all kinds of wonderful seeds showing that “the fruits of kindness … are very, very sweet.” Gorgeous oil paintings are a hallmark of Nelson’s books, making this a book to return to again and again to enjoy his artistry.

Share this book with those who are still working on that notion of sharing- or bunnies!

Up in the Garden and Down in the Dirt by Kate Messner is a paean to the natural world and all of the creatures who contribute to the success (and sometimes failure) of spring planting. The often unseen life all around the garden, such as a praying mantis that eats mosquitoes, pill bugs that chew through leaves, honeybees that pollinate flowers, and a garter snake that hunts grasshoppers, are lovingly depicted by illustrator Christopher Silas Nelson. This is a full year in the garden as a young girl and her grandmother plan, plant, tend, and harvest. A lovely, quiet book for sharing right now when for many of us it is a little early to begin planting, but never too early for planning.

Hopefully, the snow is behind us. Let us enjoy as the poet says when the “world is mud-Luscious” and “puddle-wonderful” and it’s spring!

 

Shirley ONeill works for Howard County Library System as the Children’s and Teen Materials Specialist. She cannot believe she actually gets paid to do this job.

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choosing civilityThe 17th century English political philosopher, Thomas Hobbes, wrote: “life is nasty, brutish and short.” He was witnessing the collapse of the then existing political and social order—a bloody civil war was being waged between those who supported the erstwhile British Monarchy, and those who wanted to abolish it. Hobbes was deeply pained by the resulting carnage and atrocities committed by both sides, and he saw the ‘natural order’ of things collapsing under his very eyes. Living and working conditions were brutal. This was a time of great social upheaval in England, resulting in ‘nasty’ physical and mental illnesses, leading to short-life spans and great misery. People behaved “brutishly” towards each other. There was, at that time, a marked decline in what we now call “civility.” The consequences were disastrous for the nation.

Today, we live in far better times, which Hobbes could not even have dreamed about. Life expectancies have improved dramatically. The average lifespan in the United States recently reached the low 80’s. A majority of the population now enjoys good physical and mental health. Standards of living have steadily improved throughout the past century. Most of us live in relative peace, and continue to enjoy the blessings of civilized life.

Although we do not yet have a perfect world, we can strive to improve our quality of life by cultivating civility towards each other. Civility can permeate all aspects of our relationships—at home, at school, at work, as well as in all our market and non-market transactions. If there is such a thing as “Utopia,” then practicing civility may take us there. This will not be an easy ride by any means, but it can be done, if we put our minds and energies into it.

What exactly is “civility?” How does it differ from concepts such as morality, religion, or ethics? How does civility promote mental health and well-being? Why should a society care about civility? To explore this topic, let us briefly discuss three related concepts: religion, morality, and ethics.

Different religious beliefs can often collide with each other, leading to uncivil behavior. Driven by religious fervor or dogma, adherents to a particular religion can tear apart the delicate social fabric that exists in a multiracial or multi-ethnic nation. This can obviously lead to physical and mental illness.

Another widely used term: morality, in most cases, is “culture-specific.” It is also a product of historical circumstances, geography, and religious traditions. What is considered immoral in one society may be an accepted common practice in another. A traveler moving from one country (which adheres to a particular moral code) to another, will find that their inhabitants subscribe to a different moral code of conduct. Interpretations of moral conduct have no universal validity. They are riddled with vagueness.

Ethical conduct and principles have much more commonality with “civility.” However, one can be civil, without being ethical, and vice versa. Ethics deals with certain modes of behavior or actions/decisions we choose to make in everyday life– what is considered as “right” or “wrong” in our national consciousness.

Fortunately, the concept of civility has great universal appeal, without invoking religion, morality, or ethics. Civility can (and should) be central to everyday human interaction. It promotes healthy human relationships, which in turn contributes to our sense of overall life satisfaction and happiness. The result is “a healthy body and a healthy mind.” Whether one is deeply religious or not; moral or immoral (as determined by context), and ethical or unethical, one can choose to be “civil.” Consequently, adherence to common principles of civility promotes overall mental health and well being, without our having to put labels such as “right” or “wrong.” We need not associate or confuse civility with other things.

How can civility promote a good Quality of Life? What should we do? This theme will be explored in the next installment of this topic.

Dr. Gopal C. Dorai is an author, economist, statistician, and Professor Emeritus at William Paterson University.

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Monday, March 23, 10 a.m.-2:30 p.m. $15/AARP members, $20/others AARP Driver Safety class refresher for ages 50+ in the Howard County General Hospital Wellness CenterRegister here.

Tuesday, March 24, 10:30 a.m. Brain Aerobics at Miller Branch. Give your brain a workout. Enhance your memory and have fun at the same time. Join us and keep your brain challenged with puzzles, word games and other smart tasks. Well & Wise event. Register online or by calling 410.313.1950.

Tuesday, March 24, 7-8:30 p.m. Free Medicare 102: Why Medicare Isn’t Enough Learn about Medicare Health Plans (Part C) and Medicare Supplement Policies. Presented by the State Health Insurance Assistance Program, Howard County Office on Aging in the Howard County General Hospital Wellness CenterRegister here.

Tuesdays/Thursdays, March 24-May 14, 6:30 to 8 p.m. $195 Healthy Weight Connection Kick-start individual lifestyle changes, including diet and exercise, to help reach a healthier weight. Receive personalized guidance from a certified dietitian. Various nutrition topics and gentle yoga. Tuesdays and Thursdays in the Howard County General Hospital’s Wellness CenterRegister here.

March 31 – April 2, 4:00 p.m. Babysitting 101 at Central Branch. Learn the essentials of babysitting with a University of Maryland Extension instructor. Participants receive a certificate. Must attend all three sessions: Mar 31, Apr 1 & 2. Ages 13 & up. Register online or by calling 410.313.7800.


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5892760393_1666c64567_zOne of the major factors contributing to different forms of stress, bodily afflictions, mental illnesses, high anxiety levels, and general dissatisfaction with modern life can be found in the lifestyles we have voluntarily chosen. For example, our inability (or unwillingness) to bring about an appropriate balance among the various components of what should be a “well balanced life” exacts a heavy toll on our body and psyche. For many people, undue, excessive emphasis on any one aspect of life—such as –office work, career, climbing the corporate ladder, pursuit of wealth, etc. leads inevitably to wanton neglect of other important ingredients of a well-balanced life. This type of personal choice leads to various ailments, imbalances and misalignments. In consequence, anxiety, worry, stress, and mental tension ensue.

Our sedentary lifestyles, with its emphasis on income producing activities, and neglect of other important aspects of living, (such as rest, recreation, exercise, relaxation, and adequate sleep), can and does result in irritability, fatigue and poor physical health. Some of us seem to have no time for anything other than the economic aspects of living. Consequently, we become victims of such an unbalanced life style. The neglected areas of life cry out for attention. They manifest themselves in many warning signs – many physical and mental ailments—and we tend to ignore them at our peril.

So the obvious question is: what should be done? What is the remedy? How do we correct this obvious imbalance? Fortunately, the answer is not far to seek!

thriveVarious aspects of daily life, such as: earning and spending; work and career aspirations; family responsibilities; social obligations; activities that promote physical and mental well being—these must be properly balanced—to produce good health and peace of mind. The resulting improvement in life satisfaction will be immeasurable. Whenever we lose sight of this balancing principle, and ignore the vital contribution that each of these components contribute to our sense of life fulfillment, the result is: physical and emotional distress. Happiness and contentment elude us. Life seems empty—filled with worry, anxiety, tension and stress.

The paradox of our unbalanced lifestyle is this: What we think of as enhancing the quality of life—money, power, position, prestige and recognition (all good things in themselves)- can be pursued to excess, to the detriment of our overall quality of life. This is a trap that should be avoided.

So, it is up to each one of us to recognize the importance of balance in life. Engage yourself in a variety of activities—physical, mental, spiritual, and whatever else you want—but do it NOW. Make it a habit. This would be a wise and welcome choice we can and should make; the benefits would be immeasurable.

Dr. Gopal C. Dorai is an author, economist, statistician, and Professor Emeritus at William Paterson University.

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3972610159_b741c629b8_zThe snow is melting and the temperature is finally rising and I could not be happier. How about you? It’s amazing how much happier I am now that the weather has made a change for the better and we are in daylight savings time. I feel like things are possible again. I can go for a walk after work, finally clean out the car, and I generally feel so much better. I can’t explain it.

I’m also excited because I know that the outdoor pools will be opening in just a few short weeks. I love to swim and I love to go to water aerobics. A couple of years ago my son was working at one of the outdoor pools in Columbia that offered water aerobics and I decided to give it a try. It is now one of my favorite ways to exercise. There is something that I just love about being in a pool outdoors.

I’m not alone. Swimming is a popular way to exercise and with good reason. Swimming puts very little stress on your bones and joints and it’s a good exercise for all ages. You can even increase muscle strength and endurance due to the water’s built-in resistance. There are a growing variety of water workouts, including water walking or jogging, water yoga, water Zumba, deep-water exercise, and water therapy and rehabilitation classes. You can read more about the benefits of water-based exercise here. You can also check out the many books and instructional DVDs available throughout Howard County Library System. So, if you’re looking for a low-intensity workout that offers benefits for any fitness level, head to your nearest pool. (FYI: The Roger Carter Community Center in Ellicott City has a pool with a retractable roof for the indoor/outdoor pool feel and is ADA accessible with a chair lift and a pool wheelchair.)

7422182864_ca9d79b18e_zOne of the other benefits of swimming is that it doesn’t require specialized gear. You really only need a swimsuit. My kids are always amazed that I don’t even wear goggles. I like to open my eyes under water. I think it reminds me of when I was growing up and my family would visit the lake near my grandparent’s home. We would play a game and throw a small rock and then try to find it again on the lake bottom. Also, I never want to look like I am serious about swimming. After all I am just having fun in the pool!

The best reason to get in the water is that you never need to retire from swimming like you do from some other sports. Now if you prefer to exercise on land you can try Boot Camp in the Park at the Corporate Pavilion at Centennial Park every Saturday morning from 8-9 am beginning Saturday, March 21st. This camp is free and for all fitness levels and ages. More details about the kick-off of Boot Camp in the Park and Get Active Howard County can be found here.

Whatever you decide to do, be sure you’re having fun and feeling good about it, that way you’ll be more likely to keep on doing it. Let’s get moving!

Nancy Targett is an Instructor & Research Specialist at the Miller Branch. She lives in Columbia and is the proud mom of three boys and a girl and a Siamese cat.

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Saturday, March 14, 2:00 p.m. I’m Going to Be A Big Brother or Sister, at Central Branch. Prepare for the arrival of a baby in this class for new siblings. Enjoy stories, activities, and bring a favorite doll or stuffed animal to practice holding your baby. Resources for parents, too. In partnership with Howard County General Hospital: A Member of Johns Hopkins Medicine. Well & Wise event. Families; 30 – 45 min. Ticket required. Tickets available at 1:45 p.m.

Monday, March 16, 3:30 p.m. – 5:30 p.m. Blood Pressure Screening at Glenwood Branch. Free, walk-in blood pressure screening and monitoring offered by Howard County General Hospital: a Member of Johns Hopkins Medicine. Well & Wise event. 1st & 3rd Mondays; 3:30 – 5:30 pm. No registration required.

Tuesday, March 24, 10:30 a.m. Brain Aerobics at Miller Branch. Give your brain a workout. Enhance your memory and have fun at the same time. Join us and keep your brain challenged with puzzles, word games and other smart tasks. Well & Wise event. Register online or by calling 410.313.1950.

 


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As many of you are aware, I’m a runner. I started two years ago and this Spring, I have decided to run a marathon (26.2 miles). Am I crazy? I guess that I am. I was contacted to be a race ambassador by a running company and they wanted to follow me as I train and run my first marathon. I am terrified of this distance. All of my running friends have told me that if I can run a half marathon (13.1 miles), I can run a full marathon. Why would this frighten me? I’m not sure, but I think it’s more the distance and the time involved in training that worries me. So, in an effort to stay motivated, I’ve decided to list what running has taught me in the last couple of years. Here are my top ten things that running has taught me:

My marathon is this May (2015)! Wish me luck as I venture on this new journey with my running. Happy trails!

Anna Louise Kallas is a Customer Service Specialist at the Miller Branch. She is an avid reader and enjoys Disney, music and her passion for running. She has been a race ambassador for several local races, and is a Sweat Pink Ambassador for promoting women’s health. Follow her journey towards being physically fit with running and healthy lifestyle choices here on Well & Wise.

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walking shelfie
The slow melting of all our snow has inspired me to get out of my winter hibernation and get active and moving once again. My favorite type of exercise is very simple: taking walks around my neighborhood. When the weather is nice, my husband and I try to take a walk once every day. We get to meet some of our neighbors (and more importantly, their pets), see how others have landscaped to get ideas for our own yard, and get some light exercise in to boot. I can really tell the difference in my mood on days when I have walked, and it’s the easiest, most simple exercise possible.

All walking helps to meet the goal of getting a little more active, but obviously it can be performed with more of a goal in mind. Fitness walking can be done both outside or in the privacy of your own home – as proven by Leslie Sansone’s series of Walk at Home DVDs.

On the other hand, there’s always hiking. It doesn’t have to be structured, hours long, big name hikes like the Appalachian Trail, either, although that’s certainly a worthy trip! There’s a plethora of local options close to Howard County, with the Patuxent Research Refuge and Patapsco Valley State Park nearby. But for locals looking for other fun hikes, there are numerous guidebooks for the region, including 50 Hikes in Maryland: Walks, hikes, & backpacks from the Allegheny Plateau to the Atlantic Ocean. Sometimes I want to get a little more urban, and luckily for me there are guides for that too, like Walking Baltimore: An insider’s guide to 33 historic neighborhoods, waterfront districts, and hidden treasures in charm city, which can take you on a bunch of different tours of the city. With all these places to choose from, I’m sure to get my walking in this spring!

Jessica Seipel is an Instructor & Research Specialist at the Savage Branch. She has worked for the Howard County Library System, in various positions, since 2003. When not at work, she spends her time reading science fiction and comics, visiting local breweries, watching horror movies, and playing video games.

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Monday, March 9,  10:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. Blood Pressure Screening at Savage Branch. Free, walk-in blood pressure screening and monitoring offered by Howard County General Hospital: a Member of Johns Hopkins Medicine. Well & Wise event. 2nd Mondays; 10 am – 12 pm. No registration required.

Monday, March 9, 7:00 p.m. Calming Crafts at Miller Branch. Improve your mood through arts and crafts. Research shows that creative activities can boost serotonin levels. Join us as we use artistic expression to improve our moods. All levels of artistic ability welcome. Well & Wise event. Register online or by calling 410.313.1950.

Tuesday, March 10, 10:15 a.m. & 11:15 a.m. Toddler Tunes at East Columbia Branch. Music, movement, and some stories too. Ages 1-2 with adult; 30 min. Ticket required. Tickets available at 10:00 a.m. & 11:00 a.m.

Tuesday, March 10, 1:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m. Blood Pressure Screening at Elkridge Branch. Free, walk-in blood pressure screening and monitoring offered by Howard County General Hospital: a Member of Johns Hopkins Medicine. Well & Wise event. 2nd Tuesdays; 1 – 3 pm. No registration required.

Saturday, March 14, 2:00 p.m. I’m Going to Be A Big Brother or Sister, at Central Branch. Prepare for the arrival of a baby in this class for new siblings. Enjoy stories, activities, and bring a favorite doll or stuffed animal to practice holding your baby. Resources for parents, too. In partnership with Howard County General Hospital: A Member of Johns Hopkins Medicine. Well & Wise event. Families; 30 – 45 min. Ticket required. Tickets available at 1:45 p.m.

Monday, March 16, 3:30 p.m. – 5:30 p.m. Blood Pressure Screening at Glenwood Branch. Free, walk-in blood pressure screening and monitoring offered by Howard County General Hospital: a Member of Johns Hopkins Medicine. Well & Wise event. 1st & 3rd Mondays; 3:30 – 5:30 pm. No registration required.


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eatingincolorFrances’ Rules for Eating in Color

1. Eat color often.
2. Don’t be monochrome.
3. Go beyond your comfort zone.
4. Make a date with your kitchen.
5. Move it.

The advice in this cookbook isn’t anything new: eat lots of colorful fruits, vegetables, grains, legumes, and herbs. Don’t be afraid of trying new foods. Learn to cook and flavor using spices and herbs instead of bottled preservative packed concoctions. And finally, get at least 30 minutes of exercise three times a week – at a minimum. It’s simple, reasonable, and achievable.

Frances does a great job setting you up for success with these easy to recreate recipes categorized by color. Below, you will find the categories and their respective foods along with my favorite recipes from the book.

[REDS]
| strawberries | pomegranates | watermelon | radicchio | beets | tomatoes | radishes | rhubarb | cranberries | apples | cherries | raspberries |

Roasted grape tomatoes p. 31
This couldn’t be any simpler. Take a pint of grape or cherry tomatoes, cut them in half, and toss in a light dressing made with fresh garlic, extra virgin olive oil, and salt and pepper to taste. Pop them in a 400°F preheated oven on a cookie sheet (covered in foil or parchment paper) and roast for at least 20 minutes, or until the tomatoes are wrinkled and bit collapsed. Take them out to rest and serve. I recently used this recipe in a pasta salad I brought to work. I took these roasted tomatoes and tossed them with cooked whole grain pasta, fresh torn basil, and fresh le petite mozzarella balls. You could also use a little bit of white wine vinegar and extra virgin olive oil to dress the whole dish with, but I’ll leave that up to you.

[ORANGES]
| mangoes | oranges | apricots | cantaloupe | butternut squash | sweet potatoes | peaches | pumpkins|

Giardiniera p.73
Pickled vegetables are divine! Many cultures across the globe enjoy pickled and fermented vegetables while simultaneously touting their usefulness in aiding with digestion and the like. This recipe asks that you boil vegetables in a large stockpot filled with a brine solution made up of vinegar, agave nectar, one bay leaf, celery seeds, and fennel seeds. After a few minutes at a rolling boil, take your pot off the heat and allow the vegetables and brine to cool together. Simply strain the mixture, removing the seeds and bay leaf, collecting the liquid in a separate container. Then, put the vegetables into sterilized mason jars, covering them to the brim with your cooled brine. These pickled veggies will last up to 2 weeks in the fridge.

[YELLOWS]
| star fruit | figs | lemons | bell peppers |

Golden Beets with Parsely Pesto & Fregola p. 91
I am really looking forward to making this particular recipe for a couple reasons: #1 Golden Beets sound amazing, and #2 I’m excited to try fregola. I love Israeli couscous and fregola promises to be a robust cousin in flavor and shape. Apparently, the downside to the preparation of this dish, is time. Golden beets “take an annoyingly long time to roast, but the results are worthwhile.” I will have to report back to you on how this one goes.

[GREENS]
| asparagus | mustard greens | fennel | kale | watercress | brussels sprouts | broccoli | avocados | spinach | herbs | sugar snap peas | zucchini | edamame | cucumbers | arugula | lime |

Avocado smoothie p. 104
There’s a hole-in-the-wall restaurant off Rolling Road in Catonsville, MD where I get my absolute favorite sweet treat- the avocado smoothie with large, black boba (tapioca) pearls. The thing is, that avocado smoothie is about a gazillion calories and packed with a ton of extra sugar. Frances’ recipe, however, is only 155 calories and still satisfies my sweet tooth. The smoothie has ripe avocado, banana, low-fat vanilla yogurt, coconut water, agave nectar, ice cubes, and cinnamon. I’m personally on the fence with cinnamon, so I left it out and it still tasted great. If you love cinnamon, go on with your bad self and drop a 1/4 teaspoon in there and sprinkle more on top. Once all the ingredients are blended together and you take your first sip, you will wonder why you haven’t had an avocado smoothie before. Also, you can make this recipe vegan by substituting the yogurt with cultured nut milks.

[BLUES, INDIGOS, VIOLETS]
| blueberries | eggplant | blue potatoes (potatoes) | red onions (onions) | red cabbage (cabbage) | plums | grapes |

So, I love baked potatoes and the Twice Baked Blues (p. 160) are no exception. The only difference? A little healthier and a lot more color. Easiest way to explain this one is imagine any twice baked potato recipe and in lieu of the fattening stuff like sour cream, cheddar cheese, and bacon you substitute with plain greek yogurt, goganzola or feta, and scallions respectively. At 105 calories for 2 halves, you can’t beat that. The other recipe I’m dying to try for myself is the Caramelized Red Onion & Fig Pizza (p. 173). I’ve never made whole wheat pizza dough and I’ve never had figs on pizza. It sounds interesting and I’ll have to get back to you on this one. I will say, you need to see the picture of this beautiful pie. It’s gorgeous. Can a pizza be gorgeous? Yes.

[BLACKS & TANS]
| oats | chia | hemp | barley | black rice | black beans | mushrooms | freekeh | flaxseed | olives | quinoa | sesame | coconut | chocolate |

Nutty Chocolate bark p. 209
Back to my sweet tooth with this one. I’ve made plenty of various chocolate barks in my culinary lifetime, but never believing it was a healthy endeavor. And precisely, this is a treat. A real treat. Not something you’d eat everyday, lest you ruin the rest of your colorful diet. This bark is comprised of Scharffen Berger semisweet baking chocolate, pistachios, hazelnuts, chopped dried cherries, flaked unsweetened coconut, and sea salt. OK. It’s not “healthy.” But it’s so delicious! The recipe makes 12 servings with 9.5 ounces of chocolate. So, your piece will definitely be small… as it should be, since it’s a treat and all.

I thoroughly enjoyed Eating in Color and hope you will too!

JP is the HCLS Editor & Blog Coordinator for Well & Wise. She is also a Children’s Instructor & Research Specialist at the Savage Branch & STEM Education Center. She is a storyteller, wannabe triathlete, KPOP-addict, baker of cupcakes, cancer survivor, and liver transplant recipient.

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get upEver since Business Innovator/Corporate Director/Author (that’s a lot of slashes) Nilofer Merchant declared “sitting has become the smoking of our generation” in a TED talk, there’s been even more focus drawn to the inactivity that has become an accepted part of practically every adult working person’s daily life. This is not a new concern; there are plenty of known risk factors attached to a sedentary lifestyle including increased risk for heart disease and high blood pressure, obesity, and depression. More and more we’re discovering that being inactive is bad enough, but sitting is particularly pernicious. Check out this helpful info from The Washington Post on the dangers of sitting, especially with poor posture (something I need to work on). For more info on the dangers of sitting, you may also want to check out Get Up! Why Your Chair Is Killing You and What you Can Do About It by James A. Levine, M.D., Ph.D. and JustStand.org.

At the library, I do sit a lot, but, thankfully, moving around (shelving, shelf-reading, helping customers find what they’re looking for, etc.) is also a regular part of my job. My hubby, computer geek extraordinaire, gets less of a break from sitting during his day. And recently, he has developed some back problems. So he decided to do something about it, he decided to take a stand, if you will.

For the last month, he has been using a stand-up desk at work and home. Standing may not seem like an exercise per se, but it is one of the easiest ways to combat “sitting disease” (what some people are now calling the ill effects of a sedentary lifestyle). Additionally, JustStand.org indicates that standing does help improve posture; increase energy, blood flow, and metabolism; and it even helps tone muscles and burn calories.

And my hubby didn’t break the bank on an expensive stand-up desk. He borrowed a DIY method from this handy posting. So far my husband’s verdict on his stand-up experiment: “I can’t go back to sitting all day. The desk has really helped.”

  • The DIY stand-up desks under construction.
  • Side view of stand-up desk.
  • The desk in use (view not included).

image006As I mentioned, I do get opportunities to move throughout the day, but I know I could benefit from a little more standing and moving. Of course I can’t set up a stand-up desk in my office area (I share my desk with another), nor can I set up one at the Research Desk (that would just be plain weird). But I think I’m going to check out some of our DVDs on exercises you can do while sitting and maybe learn a little more about Physiology and Fitness.

Joanne Sobieck-Lingg is glad to blog about her many, disparate interests (though expert in none, except maybe parenthetical asides). In past lives, she was a writer, proofreader, editor, project manager, teacher, and even co-coordinator of a certain health blog. She has been happily ensconced among the fiction and teen books at the Central Branch of HCLS since 2003.

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calendar_2015_blogToday, Friday, Feb. 27, 10:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. Maryland Legal Aid. Howard County Library System partners with Maryland Legal Aid to provide free civil legal services to financially qualified Marylanders. 1st Wednesdays, 2nd & 4th Fridays; 10 am -1 pm. For initial interview and appointment, please call 410.480.1057.

Monday, March 2, 10:15 a.m. Just for Me at Savage Branch. A class for children who are ready for an independent classroom experience that includes creative expression, listening comprehension, and early reading skills. Ages 3-5; 30 min. No registration required. Also offered at Miller Branch at 2:00 p.m. Ticket required. Tickets are available at 1:45 p.m.


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February is Valentines and American Heart month. It’s all about the heart, and these picture books are just the ticket to keep you heart-healthy and heart warmed.

henrys heartThis humorous fiction/nonfiction blend introduces us to Henry’s heart. Using speech-bubbles, text boxes,and charts (ala Scaredy Squirrel) we learn how this important muscle pumps oxygen and blood around his body. When Henry’s mother says Henry Malcolm Webber go play outside in the fresh air, we learn the importance of keeping the heart healthy through exercise. A tip from Henry – “If your mom uses your whole, entire name in a sentence, then you should listen to her and do what shes says, or you might get in big trouble”. Henry and his Dad go for a walk and suddenly his heart starts beating faster and faster. He sees the love of his young life, a puppy. “Broken-hearted” when his father says no to adopting it, Henry slides into a slump. No exercise, no appetite, no racing heart. Eyes and heart know something is wrong. Mom takes him to the doctor, who has a chat with the boy. A prescription is given, but Henry notices that Mom drives right past the pharmacy. Instead, his dad arrives with a puppy. And at bedtime, two hearts beat as one.

A 2013-2014 Black Eyed Susan Picture book nominee, this clever picture book is just the ticket for explaining how the mind and body work together for heart-healthy living and loving.

hug machineWhoa! Here I come! I am the Hug Machine!” cries this book’s ebullient young narrator as he dramatically crests a hill on the first spread. No shrinking violet, the boy explains in a series of spot illustrations why he is the “best at hugging” everyone and everything. Even hug requests from a spiky porcupine and a ginormous whale don’t faze the resourceful tyke. After refueling with pizza (his preferred food) to “keep the hugging energy high,” the Hug Machine traverses the neighborhood spreading his special brand of magic. Campbell’s watercolors exude warmth, emotion, and humor, from the expressions of several surprised recipients of the Hug Machine’s hugs to his own serenely closed eyes during each hug, which make it clear that he’s giving each hug his all. After a day full of hugging, the Hug Machine discovers it’s just as nice to be hugged as it is to give hugs. It’s a non-sappy, warm-hearted ending to a book that feels just like a big ol’ hug.

One of the pleasures of being a Children’s Instructor here at HCLS are spontaneous hugs from exuberant participants in a children’s class. Make a point of hugging your friends and family. It’s good for your heart and there is some evidence it keeps you healthy also!

giraffes cant dance“All the jungle’s got the beat, but Gerald the giraffe has four left feet.” Giles Andreae’s bouncy read-aloud is an ode to self-expression and having heart. When he is laughed off the floor the annual dance, Gerald sadly walks his lonely path home. A wise cricket admonishes him to listen to the music in nature, and dance to his own special beat. Gerald begins to dance, and soon everyone applauds his new found talent. When asked how it did it, he replied “We all can dance,” he said,”when we find music that we love.” Guy Parker-Rees’ brilliant full page watercolor spreads and comic illustrations invite the reader to this feast of self-expression.

One of my go-to children’s class books, this heartwarming tale encourages us all to “dance like there’s nobody watching. You’ve got to come from the heart if you want it to work.” Hug someone.

Shirley ONeill works for Howard County Library System as the Children’s and Teen Materials Specialist. She cannot believe she actually gets paid to do this job.

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COLD!!!

6256627661_6566688ff5_zI’m sure you’re glad that this winter hasn’t been as cold and snowy as last winter. This season has had its moments and there are certainly many more weeks until the first day of Spring – and I am discounting whatever Punxsutawney Phil says right now! So, my question for you is: How are your fingertips, knuckles, elbows, knees, toes, and all of that dry skin that this cold, damp and dry weather affects? When you look through your magazines, you certainly see all the ads for gentle face-cleaning and dry-skin products and soaps. It’s overwhelming to see so many kinds at so many different prices.

Do yourself (and the skin you’re in) a big favor by investigating all the possibilities that are out there, because just for a few more months of this cold raw weather you really might benefit from using a product targeted for your specific skin condition. You can do research online, or visit a dermatologist for suggestions too. The best lotion may not be the most expensive either. I have a friend who slathers Vaseline on her chapped skin, but oh it’s so oily! I try to remember (but often forget) to pull on rubber gloves when I’m washing up in the kitchen or involved in other cleaning where using harsh drying cleansers are not helpful to the skin on my hands. I also try to remember to drink more water to help alleviate dry skin. I also pay attention to my weather app because I’m a devoted daily dog walker. My pooch (3 year old golden retriever) and I like to get outside for two or three daily walks around the neighborhood or even around town. There are so many great walking paths around this area.

in the kingdom of iceSometimes, well, because there isn’t much birdsong right now, I cruise with my earbuds. Recently, the audiobook I was listening to actually made me colder – I’m not sure it didn’t literally lower the temps and increase the winds just around me! My fingertips cracked badly and my skin got super-chapped! All because I was listening to In the Kingdom of Ice by Hampton Sides. It was a terrific cold story, following an expedition to the North Pole to see if there (actually) was a warm vent at the top of the world (which was in 1880 the prevailing thought). Things did not go as planned and the poor ship was held fast in the ice. What the crew had to endure in order to survive and try to get back to civilization from where they were trapped in the frozen Arctic circle was truly amazing. Can you imagine the freezing days for them? It certainly made me shiver and I felt cold and hungry the entire time I listened to the book. Please don’t be put off by that – it’s a wonderful tale of the times – but you may want to wait until August to check it out, if you’re feeling too cold right now! And you don’t have to be like the crew on this expedition, you can take measures to help you and your skin weather the cold weeks ahead. Just remember to drink more water, cream up your skin and protect your hands.

Susan Cooke has worked in Howard County Library System for 20 years. She loves golden retrievers, fresh veggies, and (of course) reading good books. She is proud to have her daughter, Sarah Cooke, working for HCLS alongside her!

 


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calendar_2015_blogSaturday, Feb. 21, 3:00 p.m. Hands Only CPR & AED at Miller Branch. You could save a life! Learn about cardiac arrest, how to recognize it’s happening, and the three simple steps of hands-only CPR for victims over 8 years old. Receive a basic overview of an automated external defibrillator (AED). Ages 9-18; 60 min. Registration is required. Register online or by calling 410.313.1950.

Monday, Feb. 23, 2:00 p.m. Howard County Book Connection: Tribes at Howard Community College, Smith Theatre (443.518.1420). Howard County Book Connection presents a panel discussion of Nina Raine’s Tribes, the 2014-15 book selection and award-winning play about belonging, family, deafness, and the limits of language. In partnership with Howard County Poetry and Literature Society; Rep Stage; and Howard Community College’s Office of Student Life, Theater Department, Arts Collective, and Horowitz Center.


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growing up emptyI recently watched a great documentary film, Living on One Dollar, which featured four university students who decided to spend a summer in rural Guatemala, and attempt to survive on $1 a day. The young men planned to stay a total of 56 days, so each brought $56 US dollars for a grand total of $224 US Dollars. In order to simulate the inconsistent and unpredictable income of the local day laborers, the students broke down their sum total into increments of $0-$9, and would randomly draw a piece of paper each morning with their “income” for that particular day. There were days that the “family of four” would receive anywhere from $0 to a whopping $9. The young men learned a lot from their new neighbors regarding how to plant and maintain a plot of land, as well as how to seek out and obtain a loan to cover necessary expenses.

Prior to embarking on this excursion, the students did their research, especially the two who were the brains behind the project (international development majors’, Chris and Zach). The men set out in the summer of 2010, and gained invaluable knowledge about the struggle and hardships of the individuals and families living in the rural Guatemalan village that they would temporarily call home. During the course of their stay, they encountered struggles of their own, not only in their attempt to secure proper nutrition each day, but also in their attempt to overcome unforeseen financial expenses. The domino effect experienced by so many living in rural villages like the one the men visited looks something very similar to this: limited opportunities leads to limited education leads to limited income leads to limited resources, which leads to limited/insufficient food options, which then leads to poor health/energy. Without a stable income, individuals and their families are unable to purchase food or maintain the gardens that will provide them with their daily recommended caloric intake values. Lack of a proper caloric diet, replete of all necessary vitamins and minerals, results in increased susceptibility to illness, diminished weight, diminished height, and diminished energy levels. Each of the young men experienced significant weight loss, as well as diminished energy levels during their stay. They also witnessed first-hand how the link between limited income and poor nutrition affects the individuals of the village, especially the children.

a place at the tableThe importance of good nutrition and adequate caloric intake is particularly important for growing children, but essentially, it’s of great importance to people of all ages. In order for the body and mind to function at an optimal level, one must consume a nutritious diet that provides adequate calories. In addition to low energy levels and an inhibited immune system, persistent lack of necessary vitamins and minerals may result in various nutrient and vitamin deficiencies, which may put one at risk of developing more serious health problems. In the United States, good health and nutrition are pillars of education taught with much emphasis from an early age. However, we can’t ignore the fact that health and nutrition are strongly influenced by income and economic status.

Just as the poor rural families in Guatemala are limited to a few staple sources of nutrition, so are the poorest families in the United States, and the rest of the world. Food assistance programs available here in the US, include Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), and Women, Infants, and Children (WIC). Americans who are struggling simply to put food on the table, may benefit from such programs to enhance the quality of their diets. In Guatemala, a country with the fourth highest rate of chronic malnutrition in the world and the highest in Latin America and the Caribbean-international organizations, rely on programs such as UNICEF and USAID.

I recommend that you check out the documentary, Living on One Dollar. It’s a great film!

When Jinelee De Souza isn’t channeling her inner super-heroine at Howard County Library System as an Instructor & Research Specialist, she’s doing so at the gym, during impromptu photoshoots with her bff, and everywhere in between.

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love yourselfCongratulations! We survived the first full month of winter. I don’t know about you, but I’m tired of the cold, but I still wouldn’t mind one big snowfall this year! Luckily, February is the shortest month and spring is coming soon. In February, we celebrate our presidents and the people we love. This February let’s also celebrate loving ourselves.

Why is it so difficult for us to love and accept ourselves? I wish I had the answer, but we can start by being grateful for the things we do have. I have a colleague who writes down something or someone she is grateful for each day. A gratitude list might be something that we can all start doing. Even if we don’t write it down, starting each day by reminding ourselves of something we are grateful for may go a long way to helping us get through the day.

We can do ourselves a favor and turn technology off at some point during the day. According to the Kleiner Perkins Caufied & Byers annual internet trends report, 84% of mobile owners use devices while watching television. Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook founder and CEO, stated last year that American Facebook users spend an average of 40 minutes per day on his site. Now, it doesn’t sound too hard to cut back, does it? A simple change may be all that is needed. Review your emails only at certain times during the day or set a time limit when you are using social media.

What can you do with the extra time you have saved in your day? Do something for yourself. Get in touch with an old friend. Find an exercise or a healthy food that you actually like. Check out the resources and classes and events at Howard County General Hospital. Explore opportunities to continue learning. The library has a collection of The Great Courses on a variety of topics and there are no prerequisites, homework, or exams! You can also learn a language using the library’s online language learning system Mango Languages. (The hardest part will be choosing a language.) Make plans to travel somewhere you’ve never been! If you can’t travel, borrow one of the many travel DVDs available at the library.

The opportunities for you to do something for yourself are limitless. Focus on what’s important to you and don’t forget to have fun!

Nancy Targett is an Instructor & Research Specialist at the Miller Branch. She lives in Columbia and is the proud mom of three boys and a girl and a Siamese cat.

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Wednesday and Thursday, Feb. 18/19, 6-9 p.m. or Friday, Feb. 20 and Tuesday, Feb. 24, 8:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Living with Diabetes If you’ve just been diagnosed with diabetes—or even if you have been living with diabetes for some time and want to improve your health—this course will teach you how to change your habits and gives practical, attainable solutions for staying healthy. This interactive, group course is taught by an endocrinologist, diabetes nurse educator, dietitian, psychologist, podiatrist and exercise specialist. Held in The Bolduc Family Outpatient Center at Howard County General Hospital. Choose either the day program or condensed evening program. Most insurance plans cover all or part. For more information or to register, please call 443-718-3000.

Monday, Feb. 16, Howard County Library System is closed in observance of Presidents’ Day.

Saturday, Feb. 21, 3:00 p.m. Hands Only CPR & AED at Miller Branch. You could save a life! Learn about cardiac arrest, how to recognize it’s happening, and the three simple steps of hands-only CPR for victims over 8 years old. Receive a basic overview of an automated external defibrillator (AED). Ages 9-18; 60 min. Registration is required. Register online or by calling 410.313.1950.

 


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5149339976_9109e8fd23_bHerd immunity. In the abundant coverage of the measles outbreak, we read about herd immunity. What is it and why is it critical to understanding the public health requirements for vaccinations? When considering immunization recommendations of professional organizations such as the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP), and the American College of Physicians (ACP), there are many factors taken into account. In deciding which immunizations are needed for ourselves and our family members, we weigh expert advice, personal health history, family medical history, regional infectious disease risk factors, age, immune status, and public health considerations.

Herd immunity, or community immunity, refers to outbreak containment despite lack of 100% immunization rates. Herd immunity exists when a sufficient percentage of the population is immune to an infectious disease to prevent spread of the illness. Why wouldn’t everyone be immunized if all the professional medical organizations recommend otherwise? How can the vaccinated person essentially protect the unvaccinated person?

Infants have passive immunity from antibodies in their system passed along from their mothers. For this reason, infants start their immunizations at the age of 2 months. Because all immunizations cannot be given at once, infants are not fully protected from dangerous infections such as mumps, measles, diphtheria, tetanus, whooping cough, chicken pox, and hepatitis. Infants rely on herd immunity to reduce their risk of contracting or dying from illnesses that can be prevented by modern vaccinations.

Immunocompromised patients rely on herd immunity as well. Vaccines prevent disease by activating the formation of antibodies in the vaccinated person’s body. If that individual comes into contact with the particular bacteria, the antibodies generated in the body by exposure to the vaccine fight off the infection. Immunocompromised patients cannot generate these antibodies and may become ill from certain vaccines. Patients with HIV and congenital immunodeficiencies, those who have received organ transplants, and patients undergoing chemotherapy for cancer treatment are often not medical candidates for vaccines. If the population as a whole has been immunized, then the infections are not active in the community and even those people who have not been vaccinated are protected.

The number of people who cannot be vaccinated due to age, health status, and medical condition is relatively small compared to the population at large. When otherwise healthy people with no contraindication to vaccination do not get the recommended vaccines, however, contagious diseases can spread, uncontrolled, causing illness and death that would have otherwise been prevented.

Additional reliable medical information about vaccines can be found on websites such as vaccines.gov and Johns Hopkins Medicine.

Cherise Tasker is an Instructor & Research Specialist at the Central Branch and has a background in health information. Most evenings, Cherise can be found reading a book, attending a book club meeting, or coordinating a book group.


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salt sugar fatMichael Moss’ book Salt, Sugar, Fat: How the Food Giants Hooked Us (2013) provides an inside look at something most people prefer to ignore: what’s in the convenient processed foods that make our lives easier. It’s easy to agree that we should eat less sugar, salt, or fat, but when it comes to actually doing it, few things are more difficult. I still cook in oil or butter, purchase full-fat food products, and I certainly give in to my enormous sweet tooth. But the big culprit isn’t baking cookies with too much butter or sprinkling salt on vegetables – it’s processed convenience foods that literally addict the people who eat them to copious amounts of salt, sugar, or fat.

I did an experiment earlier this year where I actually paid attention to food labels when I purchased food from the grocery store. (I live in blissful ignorance, guys!) I was shocked by the level of sugar in foods where I would never have expected to find it – fruit products for instance. I also found that nearly everything labeled “low-fat” was much higher in carbohydrates and sugar than their full-fat counterparts.

Just in the introduction to his book, Moss explains how it isn’t just consumers who have become addicted to these three ingredients, it’s the corporations, too, through their desire to achieve the best taste possible at the lowest price. He explains, “Sugar not only sweetens, it replaces more costly ingredients — like tomatoes in ketchup — to add bulk and texture. For little added expense, a variety of fats can be slipped into food formulas to stimulate overeating and improve mouthfeel. And salt, barely more expensive than water, has miraculous powers to boost the appeal of processed food.” (xxix) With that kind of lead, Moss ensures there’s only one conclusion for readers to reach: food corporations have used chemistry and biology to teach us to eat this way in pursuit of profit, and they must be held accountable for that.

One of the most telling observations Moss makes is that many executives from the corporations he investigated for the book “go out of their way to avoid their own products.” (p. 341) Despite attempts at government regulation and reductions in salt, sugar, or fat load in foods, the best option for everyday people is still boring old personal responsibility. “Only we can save us,” as Moss puts it, “we decide what to buy… [and] we decide what to eat.” (pp. 343-347)

Jessica Seipel is an Instructor & Research Specialist at the Savage Branch. She has worked for the Howard County Library System, in various positions, for a decade.

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calendar_2015_blogMonday, Feb. 9, 10:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. Blood Pressure Screening at Savage Branch.  Free, walk-in blood pressure screening and monitoring offered by Howard County General Hospital: a Member of Johns Hopkins Medicine. 2nd Mondays. No registration required.

Monday, Feb. 9, 7:00 p.m. Calming Crafts at Miller Branch. Research shows that creative activities can boost serotonin levels. Join us as we use artistic expression to improve our moods. All levels of artistic ability welcome. Registration is required. Register online or by calling 410.313.1950.

Tuesday, Feb. 10, 1:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m. Blood Pressure Screening at Elkridge Branch.  Free, walk-in blood pressure screening and monitoring offered by Howard County General Hospital: a Member of Johns Hopkins Medicine. 2nd Tuesdays. No registration required.

Tuesday, Feb. 10, 7:00 p.m. Emotional Intelligence in Sports at Miller Branch. How can we manage and master the powerful emotions that accompany competitive sports while keeping the game civil? Presented by Terry McAulay, top tier football official in the National Football League and Coordinator of Football Officials for the American Athletic Conference. Registration is required. Register online or by calling 410.313.1950.

Saturday, Feb. 21, 3:00 p.m. Hands Only CPR & AED at Miller Branch. You could save a life! Learn about cardiac arrest, how to recognize it’s happening, and the three simple steps of hands-only CPR for victims over 8 years old. Receive a basic overview of an automated external defibrillator (AED). Ages 9-18; 60 min. Registration is required. Register online or by calling 410.313.1950.

 


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joyous healthThe most success I’ve had to date in the realm of eating healthy (and as a side-effect, losing weight and keeping it off) is the simple notion that food is medicine and fuel for my body. (Not to be mistaken for those diabetes-heart-attack buffet binges). Paying attention to what you eat, why you’re eating it, and what the consequences are to eating are essential questions to ask yourself no matter your waist size.

So, I’m always on the lookout for books that don’t push “dieting,” but instead use common sense approaches to food and nutrition. Believe me, depravation and eating cardboard like substances is no way to live. In the same vein, there must also be a reasonable, attainable alternative that is – in fact – healthy.

Joyous Health: Eat and Live Well Without Dieting by holistic nutritionist, Joy McCarthy promises a celebratory approach to eating clean, delicious foods that don’t have extra sugars or dairy. This book provides over 150 recipes that could help your digestion, help you sleep better, lower your blood pressure, increase your libido, and (potentially) have you “feeling fabulous everyday.” I like the sound of that!

The book is plastered with beautiful, crisp images of McCarthy’s healthy creations. The recipes are easy to read and the instructions are just as easy to follow. The introduction is filled with lots of great wellness tips and sound advice to getting your body ready to eat nutritious foods. McCarthy even includes color coded dietary needs categories (e.g. vegan, gluten-free, dairy-free) to help take the guess-work out of who and how you might really benefit from these recipes.

My favorite recipes in here are not the kale chips( only because my friend makes the best kale chips ever). Though, this book provides at least three versions for you to enjoy. I do, however, absolutely love the “Farmer’s Market Bruschetta” (p. 205) which falls into the categories of detox, vegan, dairy-free, gluten-free, and raw. Not to mention, “super easy” and “ridiculously delicious” in my book!

9698220861_c8757419fe_zI also really like her version of the ever popular avocado toast that’s trending right now: “Avocado Kale Tartine” (p. 152). It’s vegetarian and packed with my favorite things: avocado, eggs, kale, bread, cucumbers, and radishes. C’mon, tell me that that doesn’t sound like a fantastic breakfast! The recipes are so easy to adapt. In fact, for the tartine mentioned above, you could substitute any crunchy vegetable you have on hand for the radishes and cucumbers. There’s also a “Joyous Tip” on this page explaining the misconception of egg yolks.

Again, I loved this book and the recipes were incredibly easy to navigate. I’d definitely recommend this to anyone who’s afraid to cook and/or to the person who wants to eat their way to a healthier relationship with food.

JP is the HCLS Editor & Blog Coordinator for Well & Wise. She is also a Children’s Instructor & Research Specialist at the Savage Branch & STEM Education Center. She is a storyteller, wannabe triathlete, KPOP-addict, baker of cupcakes, cancer survivor, and liver transplant recipient.

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weeliciousA few years ago one of my personal favorite regular Well & Wise contributors, the wonderful Farmers’ Market Chef, did a post on the seemingly impossible task of what to pack in school lunches. I thought this was very brave of her and found the books she suggested to be very useful (even though thinking of things to pack still feels like one of my most exhausting chores–and we’re only halfway through the current school year!). So, when I recently, noticed a book in the new nonfiction collection, I thought I’d check it out and see if it was worth adding to the FMC’s other great suggestions. I’m happy to report it is!

Weelicious Lunches: Think Outside the Lunch Box with More Than 160 Happier Meals by Catherine McCord is an absolute gem. First of all, it is a very visually appealing book (which makes sense considering that one of the early sections focuses on “Engaging All the Senses”). McCord discusses how parents have to think beyond just packing healthful options to what their kids will do when they’re in the cafeteria without Mom or Dad around. Parents not only have to battle with what school cafeterias are sometimes serving (she mentions the infamous pizza sauce as a vegetable Congress decision), but also what other kids are bringing to school (she aptly names it “lunch box envy”), as well we the many distractions kids face at lunchtime. She explains: “If you want raise great eaters you have to appeal to all your child’s senses. Sometimes half the battle of making sure your kids eat at school is ensuring that what’s inside their lunch box is as stimulating as everything you can be sure is going on come lunchtime outside of it.”

Secondly, the book takes into consideration all kinds of eaters and situations. For example, “Principles of the Perfect Lunch” addresses the need for balance in a child’s diet and, consequently, the lunch box. McCord offers up some useful options to fill your child’s fruit, vegetable, protein, and carbohydrate needs. She also provides specialized lists of the recipes in the book to offer up good lunch box combos, theme lunches, and ideas for those with food sensitivities and allergies. Speaking of which, she also provides a very handy “Weelicious Lunches Allergy Guide” to help you skirt gluten, nuts, eggs, and dairy as needed. There are also suggestions for incorporating dinner leftovers into lunches, a discussion of whether to pack hot or cold foods and what to pack them in, and (my personal favorite favorite) “Strategies for ‘Picky’ Eaters.”

weelicious aFinally, the book has recipes, lots of lovely recipes. She divides them up nicely into the following categories: Salad, Soups, Sandwiches, Pizza (yep, 10 variations on the theme of pizza),  PB&J (if you were impressed by 10 variations on pizza, try 11 takes on pb&j, including one promisingly called “The World’s Greatest PB&J”), Main Events, Veggies, Dips and Spreads, Snacks, and Desserts. Again, there are many beautiful pictures, and a lot of the recipes make me hungry just looking at them (of course this may be a testament to my immaturity).

Many of the recipes in this book translate to meals beyond the lunch box. There are also many great recipes and tips on the Weelicious website. But next I think I’m going to check out McCord’s older book Weelicious: 140 Fast, Fresh, and Easy Recipes. It also provides recipes; recommendations to turn your kids into good, healthy eaters; and, most appealingly, ways to turn dinner into a “one family, one meal” occasion.  That sounds like absolute bliss to me!

Joanne Sobieck-Lingg is glad to blog about her many, disparate interests (though expert in none, except maybe parenthetical asides). In past lives, she was a writer, proofreader, editor, project manager, teacher, and even co-coordinator of a certain health blog. She has been happily ensconced among the fiction and teen books at the Central Branch of HCLS since 2003.

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calendar_2015_blogMonday, Feb. 2, 3:30 p.m. – 5:30 p.m. Blood Pressure Screening at Glenwood Branch. Free, walk-in blood pressure screening and monitoring offered by Howard County General Hospital: a Member of Johns Hopkins Medicine. No registration required.

Tuesday, Feb. 3, 7:00 p.m. Guided Meditation at Miller Branch.  Enjoy a guided mindfulness meditation designed to impart a feeling of peacefulness and connection. Please bring a cushion or meditation pillow. Presented by Star Ferguson, M.Ac., L.Ac. Registration is required. Register online or by calling 410.313.1950.

Tuesday, Feb. 3, 7:00 p.m. Conflict Resolution Techniques on the Sidelines at Miller Branch. Learn diplomatic and effective methods to handle conflicts at sporting events and everyday situations. Discover basic techniques to identify the conflict and how to use non-defensive language to diffuse the situation. Presented by Cecilia B. Paizs, Esq., of The Mediation Center in Ellicott City. Registration is required. Register online or by calling 410.313.1950.

Tuesdays, The Mall Milers Walk-for-health program at The Mall in Columbia. Blood pressure screenings on the second Tuesday of the month. 410-730-3300. Free.

Monday, Feb. 9, 10:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. Blood Pressure Screening at Savage Branch.  Free, walk-in blood pressure screening and monitoring offered by Howard County General Hospital: a Member of Johns Hopkins Medicine. 2nd Mondays. No registration required.

Monday, Feb. 9, 7:00 p.m. Calming Crafts at Miller Branch. Research shows that creative activities can boost serotonin levels. Join us as we use artistic expression to improve our moods. All levels of artistic ability welcome. Registration is required. Register online or by calling 410.313.1950.

Tuesday, Feb. 10, 1:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m. Blood Pressure Screening at Elkridge Branch.  Free, walk-in blood pressure screening and monitoring offered by Howard County General Hospital: a Member of Johns Hopkins Medicine. 2nd Tuesdays. No registration required.

Tuesday, Feb. 10, 7:00 p.m. Emotional Intelligence in Sports at Miller Branch. How can we manage and master the powerful emotions that accompany competitive sports while keeping the game civil? Presented by Terry McAulay, top tier football official in the National Football League and Coordinator of Football Officials for the American Athletic Conference. Registration is required. Register online or by calling 410.313.1950.

 


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after tobaccoIt is the time of year when many of us make resolutions to better ourselves. I always have a hard time making a New Year’s resolution because within a short time I have failed, and then, I need to think of yet another resolution! Eventually, I reach the point where it becomes ridiculous because I have made and broken so many resolutions that I run out of ideas!

It’s difficult to tackle resolutions at any time of year, even when there are sound reasons to do so. Change can be difficult. Start by educating yourself about the risks and benefits of making these changes. You also have to be careful that you do not replace one bad habit with another one. For example, the dangers of smoking are well documented, but the risks associated with e-cigarettes are still unknown. Yet some people who are trying to quit smoking are turning to e-cigarettes. There are also a number of people that have never smoked that are now “vaping” (using an e-cigarette). E-cigarettes or electronic cigarettes are battery-operated devices that often look like regular tobacco cigarettes. The way they commonly work is that an atomizer or heating element heats a liquid often containing nicotine and various flavorings. Flavoring options include tobacco and menthol flavor, and flavorings that might appeal to younger users like bubblegum, cherry and apple. The heated liquid converts into a vapor or mist that the user inhales. The vapor cloud resembles smoke, but does not have an odor, so it is harder to know later if someone has been vaping.

Recent studies suggest that e-cigarettes do not help people reduce or quit smoking. E-cigarettes do not contain carbon monoxide or tar, which are two of the harmful chemicals in traditional cigarettes, but the Federal Drug Administration does not regulate e-cigarettes for recreational use, so what’s in them can vary. The FDA is currently looking into extending its authority to include alternatives to tobacco products, which would allow them to use regulatory rules to impose age restrictions and review claims made that e-cigarettes reduce tobacco-related disease and death.

tobacco smokingI applaud you if one of your resolutions this year is to quit smoking. I encourage you to educate yourself on the many resources available to help you. I recommend that you read the American Heart Association’s policy statement on the use of e-cigarettes. You may still find that e-cigarettes are a viable option for you or you can find a quit-method that may work for you here. If you live or work in the Howard County there are free Smoking Cessation & Tobacco Treatment Programs. Visit the library for resources on smoking and health-related issues.

This is a great time of year to reflect on major issues you would like to change in your life. You do not have to tackle everything at once. In fact, if you successfully tackle the little things it may give you confidence to tackle more major issues.

For me, I may try going to bed earlier one night a week, drinking a glass of water in the morning, taking a walk before lunch or dinner, exchanging a piece of fruit for candy as an afternoon pick me up, or using the stairs at work instead of the elevator to my resolution list. These small changes are more doable, and even I might just succeed this year in keeping a New Year’s resolution. Wish me luck! If some of you still need inspiration here are some resolutions that are popular each year with information on how to successfully achieve these resolutions.

Happy New Year!

Nancy Targett is an Instructor & Research Specialist at the Miller Branch. She lives in Columbia and is the proud mom of three boys and a girl and a Siamese cat.

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Tuesday, Jan. 27, 10:30 a.m.-2 p.m. $35. Dietary Counseling with a registered dietitian one-on-one to discuss your dietary concerns and goals including weight loss, healthier bones, high blood pressure and elevated cholesterol in Howard County General Hospital’s Wellness Center.

Thursday, Jan. 29, 10:15 a.m. & 11:30 a.m. Healthy Kids at Miller. Explore simple health concepts inspired by children’s literature. Ages 3-5 with adult; 45 min. Multi-week series. Well & Wise event. Limited space; tickets available at Children’s Desk 15 minutes before class. Ticket Required.

Monday, Feb. 2, 3:30 p.m. – 5:30 p.m. Blood Pressure Screening at Glenwood Branch. Free, walk-in blood pressure screening and monitoring offered by Howard County General Hospital: a Member of Johns Hopkins Medicine. No registration required.

Monday, Feb. 2, 5:30-7 p.m. Free  Weight Loss through Bariatric Surgery presentation about surgical weight loss options available through the Johns Hopkins Center for Bariatric Surgery in Howard County General Hospital’s Wellness Center. Hear program requirements and how to navigate the insurance approval process. Call 410-550-KNOW.

Tuesday, Feb. 3, 7:00 p.m. Guided Meditation at Miller Branch.  Enjoy a guided mindfulness meditation designed to impart a feeling of peacefulness and connection. Please bring a cushion or meditation pillow. Presented by Star Ferguson, M.Ac., L.Ac. Registration is required. Register online or by calling 410.313.1950.

Tuesday, Feb. 3, 7:00 p.m. Conflict Resolution Techniques on the Sidelines at Miller Branch. Learn diplomatic and effective methods to handle conflicts at sporting events and everyday situations. Discover basic techniques to identify the conflict and how to use non-defensive language to diffuse the situation. Presented by Cecilia B. Paizs, Esq., of The Mediation Center in Ellicott City. Registration is required. Register online or by calling 410.313.1950.

Monday, Feb. 9, 10:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. Blood Pressure Screening at Savage Branch.  Free, walk-in blood pressure screening and monitoring offered by Howard County General Hospital: a Member of Johns Hopkins Medicine. 2nd Mondays. No registration required.

Monday, Feb. 9, 7:00 p.m. Calming Crafts at Miller Branch. Research shows that creative activities can boost serotonin levels. Join us as we use artistic expression to improve our moods. All levels of artistic ability welcome. Registration is required. Register online or by calling 410.313.1950.


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Ah, January. That magic time of year when you resolve to lose weight, eat healthy, and get more exercise. I think April would be a much better time to make those kinds of resolutions. But even in these short, cold days there are always opportunities to get up and get moving. Childrens’ classes at Howard County Library System are great places to shake your sillies out. Join us and find some great picture books to help the whole family get their groove on.

kitchen dance“Scrape! Splash! Clunk! Clang! … I hear kitchen sounds,” says the curly-headed narrator as she and her little brother wake up to the sounds of their parents’ kitchen dance. Creeping downstairs, they see mother and father as “side by side with stacked plates they glide,” turning the routine of washing-up into a tango. When Mama spots the two children, she and Papa sweep them up into an affectionate foursome, all singing, “Como te quiero!” Maurie J. Manning depicts this Afro-Latino family with bright colors providing movement and warmth as Papa and Mama strut their stuff. Their joyful inclusion of the kids makes this book read like one long hug—as the narrator says, after being tucked back into bed with a couple extra besitos, “Umm, hmm.”.

Take the opportunity to bust out your favorite moves with your littles and create a family moment.

you are a lionThe popularity of yoga has even babies practicing asanas, and this picture book is a fun way to get toddlers started. Paired spreads introduce a pose in simple non-rhyming verse, accompanied by an image of a child on a small circle of grass in the middle of white pages; the spread that follows reveals the pose in a nature setting along with the creature the pose imitates. The instructions for the poses are extremely basic and the illustrations encourage participation. The sweet, colorful illustrations include an ethnically diverse group of children demonstrating such poses as a lion, a cobra, and downward-facing dog. The soft hues and natural settings convey the spirit of a yoga class. The text reads almost like haiku. There is no discussion of yoga and the activities could be used to corral the energy of a rowdy group or an individual child.

Yoga is one of the few forms of exercise I practice consistently. It can be as vigorous or as gentle as the season and mood demand. HCLS has a great collection of books and DVDs to start a home practice.

i got rhythmRhythm is everywhere in this celebratory jaunt through an urban neighborhood, from the drummer in the park to playground games to the subtle beat of butterfly wings. The straightforward narrative captures the engaging ways the narrator finds her own rhythm exploring the world around her. Schofield-Morrison’s text pulses with a beat of its own and practically demands audiences to clap along. Each double-page spread offers interactive elements presenting each way the narrator catches the rhythm (hands, knees, feet, and more) to the fun readers can have joining in and keeping the rhythm with their own bodies. Morrison’s oil-on-canvas illustrations complement the story with expansive spreads crackling with movement, the saturated color palette helps the action jump off the page. The urban setting and varied cast depict diversity as an integral part of everyday life.

From board books like Sandra Boynton’s Philadelphia Chickens (cow chorus lines!) to Steve Jenkins’ Move! (a fascinating pictorial study of animal movement)- picture books will help everyone “Get Active.”

Shirley ONeill works for Howard County Library System as the Children’s and Teen Materials Specialist. She cannot believe she actually gets paid to do this job.

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diet soda canRecent studies have shown that intake of artificial sweeteners may contribute to glucose intolerance. Those of us who enjoy diet drinks and cut calories by selecting foods with sugar substitutes may decide that the trade-off is not the healthy choice. We may want to think twice before satisfying cravings for Diet Coke and go for an unsweetened iced tea instead.

Glucose intolerance is a serious health risk because it can lead to diabetes as well as metabolic syndrome. Diabetes is characterized by the body’s inability to produce insulin to process sugar intake. Insulin is a hormone produced in the pancreas that is needed by the body to regulate glucose levels. Metabolic syndrome is a set of biochemical changes that increases one’s risk for heart disease and diabetes. The physiologic changes in metabolic syndrome include glucose intolerance, abnormal lipid levels, insulin resistance and obesity.

The human intestines are filled with microscopic living organisms, the so-called “gut flora.” A normal intestinal environment is home to these organisms, most of which are bacteria. A study published in the 9/18/2014 issue of Nature described findings that intake of artificial sweeteners changes the composition and function of this flora. The researchers fed mice three of the most commonly-used sugar alternatives: aspartame (Equal), saccharin (Sweet’N Low) and sucralose (Splenda). The mice drinking the artificially-sweetened water had altered intestinal bacteria and marked glucose intolerance. Antibiotics administered to kill this bacteria resulted in resolution of the glucose intolerance.

Additional research was carried out on a limited number of human subjects. Nondiabetic subjects who reported artificial sweetener use were more likely to develop glucose intolerance over time than were those who stated they did not use artificial sweeteners. These participants also were more likely to show changes in gut flora. The researchers gave seven human subjects high levels of saccharin over six days, and four of thee subjects then had abnormal sugar levels. The scientists theorize that the altered combination of bacteria causes a change in glucose metabolism, blocking the sugar levels from declining as quickly as they should.

Although the study’s authors point out that the percentages supporting their findings are statistically significant, they note that more studies are needed. Over the past several years, evidence has accumulated that intake of artificial sweeteners increases sugar cravings. Some studies have even shown that those who use artificial sweeteners are more likely to be overweight. Now with the possibility that these additives can have serious health effects such as diabetes, the support for decreased ingestion of artificial sweeteners grows. The research findings indicate that it might be time to cut back on total intake, perhaps drinking one fewer can of diet soda per day and selecting a snack of nuts or blueberries rather than sugar-free cookies. Limited consumption of products with artificial sweeteners could be important to limiting the associated health risks. Similar to other medical recommendations regarding nutrition and fitness, the guidance at this point is moderation.

Cherise Tasker is an Instructor & Research Specialist at the Central Branch and has a background in health information. Most evenings, Cherise can be found reading a book, attending a book club meeting, or coordinating a book group.

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Saturday, Jan. 17, 2:00 p.m. I’m Going to Be a Big Brother or Sister at Central Branch. Prepare for the arrival of a baby in this class for new siblings. Enjoy stories, activities, and bring a favorite doll or stuffed animal to practice holding your baby. Resources for parents, too. Families; 30 – 45 min. Ticket required.In partnership with Howard County General Hospital: A Member of Johns Hopkins Medicine. Limited space; tickets available at Children’s Desk 15 minutes before class.

Saturday, Jan. 17, 3:00 p.m. Hands Only CPR & AED at Savage Branch. You could save a life! Learn about cardiac arrest, how to recognize it’s happening, and the three simple steps of hands-only CPR for victims over 8 years old. Receive a basic overview of an automated external defibrillator (AED). Ages 9-18; 60 min. Registration is required. Register online or by calling 410.313.0760.

Tuesday, Jan. 20, 5:30-7 p.m. Free  Weight Loss through Bariatric Surgery presentation about surgical weight loss options available through the Johns Hopkins Center for Bariatric Surgery in Howard County General Hospital’s Wellness Center. Hear program requirements and how to navigate the insurance approval process. Call 410-550-KNOW.

Thursday, Jan. 22, 10:15 a.m. & 11:30 a.m. Healthy Kids at Miller Branch.  Explore simple health concepts inspired by children’s literature. Ages 3-5 with adult; 45 min. Multi-week series. Well & Wise event. Limited space; tickets available at Children’s Desk 15 minutes before class. Ticket Required.

Thursday, Jan. 29, 10:15 a.m. & 11:30 a.m. Healthy Kids at Miller. Explore simple health concepts inspired by children’s literature. Ages 3-5 with adult; 45 min. Multi-week series. Well & Wise event. Limited space; tickets available at Children’s Desk 15 minutes before class. Ticket Required.

 


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destructive relationshipsI have bonded with many people throughout my life; building a lot of different relationships of varying degrees, some lasting longer than others. I have friends that I have known since elementary school that I still make a point of seeing, even if it’s not as often as we’d all like. The great thing about it is that we always fall right back into rhythm and savor that comforting familiarity. I also have close friends that I get to see more often and enjoy spending the majority of my free time with them because they bring me a tremendous amount of joy. However, this doesn’t mean that everyone I have met so far has been a “keeper.”

As we all start a new year, it’s important to set goals for ourselves, try something new, change a bad habit, or create any other sort of resolution that we need in our lives. This year, I decided to skip the fad diet that I won’t stick to. Instead, I want to continue to explore what defines my own happiness so I can make the necessary changes. A big part of this has to deal with eliminating the people in my life that are bringing me down.

It’s important to evaluate all of your relationships and ask yourself how each one affects you and your happiness. It’s never easy to cut people out of your life, but in many cases it may be for the better. Maybe someone is holding you back or isn’t willing to make the necessary changes in their own life to grow and mature. You must respect yourself enough to say “no” to those toxic people who are demanding of your time and energy.

ten minutes ten months ten yearsIt’s not easy to admit, but I’ve allowed toxic people to be an important part of my life for longer than they deserved. I gave them too many chances and then, gave them “one more” so they could prove to me that I wasn’t making a mistake in doing so. Sadly, it was a mistake. Those chances only left me confused. How could a person I cared about disregard all of my kindness and continue on with their selfish and inconsiderate pattern? Once I realized that the problem didn’t come from my end, I was able to accept that sometimes a person needs to reach a certain point in their life on their own. Sure, I could have kept being supportive, but to what end? What difference did it make if I wasn’t really getting through to the person? I didn’t want to be disappointed anymore. I realized that my own happiness was more important. I decided that instead of being ever-so-willing to do favors for others that I needed to do the biggest favor of all for myself: take care of me. Allowing myself to let go of someone that I loved and wishing them nothing but the best was tough, but necessary.

Digging deep and coming to the conclusion that I needed to follow through with a difficult decision didn’t make me any less of the genuine person I have worked toward being. It didn’t make me stop being kind to others or even discourage me from helping those who need it. Instead, I felt like I had gained a new level of respect for myself. This year, I hope you not only succeed in all of the goals that you have set for yourself, but also take the time to really look at who enhances your happiness and simply let go of those who aren’t on that list.

Laci Radford is an Instructor & Research Specialist at the Savage Branch and STEM Education Center. She is a music lover, writer, and an avid reader. She enjoys attending concerts, plays, and other forms of live entertainment. Her favorite activities include scoping out unique items at thrift stores, bonfires with friends, and having tie-dye parties. She is studying Psychology and plans to become a music and art therapist sooner rather than later.

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you know when the men are goneNow, more than ever, American readers owe it to themselves to gain a deeper understanding of the emotional, psychological, spiritual, and social toll that war – and its after-effect has on U.S. military families.

In, You Know When The Men Are Gone, Siobhan Fallon’s exquisitely linked short story collection, eight distinct experiences, become ours as well:

Meg Brady, of 12A, has become obsessed with her neighbor, Natalya Torres, whose self-serving behavior and Heidi Klum beauty belie terrible secrets—some of which Meg cannot help, nor resist overhearing on the other side of their thin, shared wall. Frantic Ellen Roddy forgoes an imperative visit to her oncologist when she learns that her troubled fifteen-year-old daughter may have kidnapped her own baby brother. And a woman wants to go back in time when she stumbles on an email that could alter her life forever.

Drama and deployment are illuminated in You Know When The Men Are Gone, by first-time author, and army major wife, Siobhan Fallon.
Set on army housing at Fort Hood, Texas, these stories have a dynamic relationship, as characters you meet in one move through the pages of another—surprising, even shocking readers.
And although Fallon is not gender exclusive, her focus is indeed the wives: their intricate kinships and ability to steel themselves for everything from homework to gossip to military readiness is, at times, heart-wrenching.

But best of all, Fallon writes with amazing grace, capturing the fragility and resilience of an American culture sworn to protect us in the event of war.

Aimee Zuccarini

Aimee Zuccarini is an Instructor & Research Specialist at the East Columbia Branch. She facilitates several book discussions and writes the book reviews for The Maryland Women’s Journal.

 


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calendar_2015_blogMonday, Jan. 12, 10:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. Blood Pressure Screening at Savage Branch. Free, walk-in blood pressure screening and monitoring offered by Howard County General Hospital: a Member of Johns Hopkins Medicine. 2nd Mondays. No registration required.

Monday, Jan. 12, 10:30 a.m. & 11:15 a.m. Tae Kwon Do: Tiny Tigers at Miller Branch. Sykesville Tae Kwon Do instructors focus on motor skills, listening, and taking turns. Wear athletic shoes and loose fitting pants or shorts. Well & Wise event. Ages 3-5 with adult; 30 min. Registration and a signed release form is required.
10:30 a.m. Registration & Signed Release Form
11:15 a.m. Registration & Signed Release Form

Monday, Jan. 12, 7:00 p.m. Calming Crafts at Miller Branch. Research shows that creative activities can boost serotonin levels. Join us as we use artistic expression to improve our moods. All levels of artistic ability welcome. Registration is required. Register online or by calling 410.313.1950.

Tuesday, Jan. 13, 1:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m. Blood Pressure Screening at Elkridge Branch. Free, walk-in blood pressure screening and monitoring offered by Howard County General Hospital: a Member of Johns Hopkins Medicine. 2nd Tuesdays. No registration required.

Thursday, Jan. 15, 10:15 a.m. & 11:30 a.m. Healthy Kids at Miller Branch. Explore simple health concepts inspired by children’s literature. Ages 3-5 with adult; 45 min. Multi-week series. Well & Wise event. Limited space; tickets available at Children’s Desk 15 minutes before class. Ticket Required.

Saturday, Jan. 17, 2:00 p.m. I’m Going to Be a Big Brother or Sister at Central Branch. Prepare for the arrival of a baby in this class for new siblings. Enjoy stories, activities, and bring a favorite doll or stuffed animal to practice holding your baby. Resources for parents, too. Families; 30 – 45 min. Ticket required.In partnership with Howard County General Hospital: A Member of Johns Hopkins Medicine. Limited space; tickets available at Children’s Desk 15 minutes before class.

Saturday, Jan. 17, 3:00 p.m. Hands Only CPR & AED at Savage Branch. You could save a life! Learn about cardiac arrest, how to recognize it’s happening, and the three simple steps of hands-only CPR for victims over 8 years old. Receive a basic overview of an automated external defibrillator (AED). Ages 9-18; 60 min. Registration is required. Register online or by calling 410.313.0760.

 


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icecream-ipodHappy New Year, and welcome to 2015! Will the babies born this year be the start of a new generation, or will they fall into the growing cohort of “Generation Z”? What will define them? What qualities will they possess? How will the other generations view them? Should we even give a flying fig?

Believe it or not, it is that last question that interests me most of all. Yes, you read correctly; I am most concerned with whether or not we should “give a flying fig.” (Has she lost her mind? Is she recovering from too much New Year celebrating? Is she just desperately trying to fill blog-space?) Well, the last one may be a little true, but I assure you, for the most part, I am legitimately posing this question: Why are we so keen to label and define generations, and is there any validity or potential danger in doing so?

Don’t get me wrong; classifying certain periods of time, especially by some specific events that helped shape the way people lived during those times, is not without use. Even creating handy labels can make discussing a particular generation flow a little better. (Face it, it’s easier to say “The Lost Generation” than “people typically born between 1883 and 1900 who were disillusioned by the war.” Thank you, Gertrude Stein.)

It was The Lost Generation that seemed to really set the trend for naming generations in Western Civilization, particularly the U.S. After that, we have The Greatest Generation (born around 1901 through 1924); The Silent Generation, sometimes called Traditionalists, (1925 through 1942); the Baby Boomers (1943 up through the early 1960s); Generation X (early 1960s through early 1980s); Millennials (early 1980s through early 2000s); and Generation Z (which, at the moment seems to be anyone born in or after the late 1990s or early 2000s through the present. As with most generational labels, however, Z will be more clearly defined after some time has passed).

fast futureThese generational cohorts are interesting and the people born into them do seem to exhibit some shared characteristics (mainly defined by shared events that they’ve experienced, such as economic or political climate, or world events like war or technological advances). Books or studies that examine say, for instance, how many Millennials are comfortable with technology, having been born into it, and how this is affecting the world, like in Fast Future by David Burstein, seem useful, or at least interesting. Other media discussion of generations, some that even focuses on negatives, like the economic worries caused by the larger number of Baby Boomers retiring, as discussed in The Next America by Paul Taylor, also seem realistic, or at least measurable.

But is it fair or right or even healthy to make broad generalizations about someone born during a particular time period? Can we really assume that Millennials are entitled, that Gen Xers are cynical, that Boomers are workaholics, that Traditionalists are rigid rule followers? (On the flip side, we can’t assume that all Millennials value diversity, that all Gen Xers are self-reliant, that all Boomers are optimistic, or that all Traditionalist are loyal.)

the next americaI’m raising this issue now because 2014 seemed like the year of the “generation generalization” to me. I couldn’t go online without seeing something claiming that “Millennials are this” and “Baby Boomers are that.” I found all these claims upsetting for a number of reasons: 1. Many of the claims were less than flattering (Millennials are especially taking a hit, and that is a shame for any group, but especially for one just starting to make its way in the world); 2. I have friends and colleagues of all ages, and I don’t want them to be stereotyped or discriminated against because of age, nor do I want to be; 3. As someone born smack in the middle of the Gen X group, I remember the uncomfortable and stigmatizing feeling I had, particularly as a young adult, when I was “defined” as being shiftless and morbid and apathetic; and 4. Respectable thinkers, news organizations, employers, and many other surprising sources seem to be taking these generational descriptions a little too much to heart, to the point that it is causing some strife for young and old. (Plus, I believe it is irresponsible, lazy science. ←If you do nothing else, please click on this link; I love this article.)

Seriously, reading all these descriptions of how a certain generation is supposed to behave, what that generation values or not, and why that generation is often to blame for some world problems was really starting to upset me. Plus the consequences can be severe; generational biases can even lead to stereotype threat, which is kind of like self-fulfilling prophecies, but with the stereotype determining the action of the person or people being stereotyped. I kept wondering if my reaction to this was the result of too much social media exposure (that’s another topic for another time). So I began to look around and found, happily, that plenty of organizations, from the APA to the AMA, are acknowledging that these generation generalizations can be wrong, hurtful, and limiting. I’m sure that we can see the dangers of all the different kinds of stereotypes in the world and have long fought to dispel many of them.

My wish for everyone for 2015, myself included, is to begin to question all these generational generalizations as well. I think this should be the year that we try to banish any gross assumptions and start making our judgments one individual at a time, as we get to know each person.

Joanne Sobieck-Lingg is glad to blog about her many, disparate interests (though expert in none, except maybe parenthetical asides). In past lives, she was a writer, proofreader, editor, project manager, teacher, and even co-coordinator of a certain health blog. She has been happily ensconced among the fiction and teen books at the Central Branch of HCLS since 2003.

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calendar_2015_blogMonday, Jan. 5, 10:30 a.m. & 11:15 a.m. Tae Kwon Do: Mommy & Me at Miller Branch. Mommy and child participate in a fun-filled activity, led by instructors from Sykesville Tae Kwon Do, while developing movement awareness, motor skills, balance, coordination, flexibility, and agility. Wear athletic shoes and loose fitting pants or shorts. Well & Wise event. Ages 2-3 with adult; 30 min.
10:30 a.m. Registration and a signed release form is required.
11:15 a.m. Registration and a signed release form is required.

Monday, Jan. 5, 3:30 p.m. – 5:30 p.m. Blood Pressure Screening at Glenwood Branch. Free, walk-in blood pressure screening and monitoring offered by Howard County General Hospital: a Member of Johns Hopkins Medicine. No registration required.

Tuesday, Jan. 6, 7:00 p.m. Guided Meditation at Miller Branch. Enjoy a guided mindfulness meditation designed to impart a feeling of peacefulness and connection. Please bring a cushion or meditation pillow. Presented by Star Ferguson, M.Ac., L.Ac. Registration is required. Register online or by calling 410.313.1950.

Thursday, Jan. 8, 10:15 a.m. & 11:30 a.m. Healthy Kids at Miller Branch. Explore simple health concepts inspired by children’s literature. Ages 3-5 with adult; 45 min. Multi-week series. Well & Wise event. Limited space; tickets available at Children’s Desk 15 minutes before class. Ticket Required.

Thursday, Jan. 8, 7:00 p.m. Cutting Edge Discoveries in Neuroscience to Boost Your Brain (Part 3) at Miller Branch. As this three-part series continues, Majid Fotuhi, M.D., Ph.D., teaches how to boost brain capacity at any age. The founder and chief medical officer of NeurExpand, Fotuhi has written three books about brain health: Boost Your Brain: The New Art and Science Behind Enhanced Brain Performance; The Memory Cure; and The New York Times Crosswords to Keep Your Brain Young: The 6-Step Age-Defying Program. Fotuhi received his M.D. from Harvard Medical School and his Ph.D. in Neuroscience from Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. His research findings have been published in The Journal of Neuroscience, The Lancet, Nature, Neurology, Neuron, and The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Fotuhi has been featured on PBS, The Dr. Oz Show, CNN, Discovery Channel, NBC’s TODAY show, and numerous other national media.Registration is required. Register online or by calling 410.313.1950.


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Welcome to 2015! We’ve got a clean slate and 364 more days to achieve our new goals. So, what exactly are you hoping to do in 2015? I asked readers to answer the question: “What’s your New Year’s resolution?” Here’s what they said:

My New Year’s Resolution? Sure, I’d like to lose some weight, eat better, exercise more, learn some thing (or things) new, work harder, smile more, kvetch less… But really, I’d like to work on being kinder, a bit more patient, and a better citizen of the world. These should be my everyday resolutions. – Joanne

Training for and running my first marathon. – Anna

Gratitude. I want to be more grateful for my comfortable existence and appreciative of all the wonderful people in my life. – Cherise

Get married. – Jake
Eat Healthier. – Diane
Stay alive. – Rosalie

Touch it once! [An example:] Take off your shoes – and instead of leaving them in the hallway, put them away. – Tracy

Keep a Gratitude List. – Maryam

Say “no,” more often. – Monica S.

Play the piano, again. – Carolyn

Cook more! – Monica L.

Keep one resolution for the entire year – OK, maybe just until spring! – Nancy

I would like to be more creative for food. Why not meatball waffles? – TJ
Life is about milestones not the Government’s stamped bill. 2015 I plan to continue my exploration of my photographic passion. My focus will further my son in school and continue showing him school can be fun. And finally I want to further my relationship with my wife. Marriage will never plateau. – Matt
 
To turn 42 unscathed! – Stephanie
 
Travel. Always travel. – Beth
 
To have a kitchen. Oh wait… I’ll go with self-care. – Rachel

To unpack the boxes that have been upstairs for 6 months! – Megan

Walk. – Shirley
 
Clean out my basement. – Eileen

To work harder and be nicer. – Tim
 
To travel more! – Nik

I have signed up for “52 Weeks to an Organized Home” (I do well with lists), joined “One a Month Meals,” and developed a financial plan to help with [managing] my money better. My goal this year is to organize my life. Disorganization sucks time and energy. I am so lucky to have so many wonderful people in my life, I need to get [myself] together so I have more time and energy to spend with them. – Colleen
 
My resolution is no to never make any more resolutions! – Karl

To dis-assemble my “need to please” wiring and learn how to say “NO,” and be a more patient mommy too. – Sarah
.
Making resolutions is easy; following through is the hard part.

this year I willM.J. Ryan, author, notable publishing CEO, and business consultant, wrote a book about this difficult task of making lasting change in our lives. Her book, This Year I Will– : How to Finally Change a Habit, Keep a Resolutionor Make a Dream Come True (2006), is absolutely relevant today and more profound than I expected for a “self-help” book. Briefly and effectively, Ryan offers credible advice and insight to the struggles we have with achieving our goals via vivid anecdotes, explanations of the advances in neurological science, and sound, logical reasoning. Possibly one of the best “how-to” books I’ve come across in a while, this book will make you feel like change is not only possible, but achievable.

This book will help you understand what’s holding you back and give you the tools you need to “try, try again.” Motivation is gift, and there’s plenty of it in this title to give you a good push in the right direction- especially if you’re feeling a bit stuck, or overwhelmed by the resolutions you’ve set for yourself. If you’re doing pretty well and feel good about the direction of your life, this book will only help you find that spark of inspiration that you didn’t realize you were missing.

As for me, I think 2015 is going to be a year in which I do all that I can to explore, reinvent, and pay attention to what I need to maintain a wholly healthy life.

I hope 2015 is the year you drive change in your life for a better, healthier, happier you.

JP is the HCLS Editor & Blog Coordinator for Well & Wise. She is also a Children’s Instructor & Research Specialist at the Savage Branch & STEM Education Center. She is a storyteller, wannabe triathlete, KPOP-addict, baker of cupcakes, cancer survivor, and liver transplant recipient.

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Much is being written about the “anti-inflammation diet” and the foods which definitely cause inflammation. Believe it or not, you have always known a great deal about inflammation. Consider the first time you fell down, bumped your knee, and it swelled and reddened; that’s the beneficial protective process our body uses to heal itself after being injured. However, that’s not the kind of inflammation I’m talking about.

When the immune system goes awry and attacks healthy cells, chronic inflammation occurs. Autoimmune diseases—Bright’s disease, rheumatoid arthritis, Crohn’s disease and psoriasis—take over. Research indicates that chronic inflammation may also play a role in heart disease, diabetes, and Alzheimer’s disease. Research is still ongoing. We have much to learn about the immune system and inflammation.

While no one food has been proven to eliminate inflammation, the impact of certain foods may suppress it. We do not yet know how much of these foods is needed, how often, and in what specific situations. Beware of claims that consumption of a certain herb or food will heal your ills! Evidence supporting the foods and inflammation is limited. However, some research suggests that fatty fish, berries, and tart cherries may play a part in reducing inflammation.

Dieticians promote a well-rounded healthy diet to reduce inflammation. This includes:

  • Whole grains as opposed to refined ones
  • Plant-based sources of protein (nuts, legumes, quinoa) rather than red meats
  • Lean meats and limited low-fat dairy
  • Fatty fish such as salmon and sardines
  • Healthy oils such as olive oil, avocados, nuts and seeds, rather than animal fats
  • A variety of vegetables and fruits, especially dark leafy greens, berries, and the orange carotein-rich vegetables

Finally, remember that your entire lifestyle dictates your health: quality sleep, exercise, and keeping a healthy weight are also vital to maintain a healthy immune system.

A Selection of Topical Books from Howard County Library System

anti inflammation zone clean cuisine digestive health with real food perricone weight loss diet.

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anti inflammatory foods for health.anti inflammation diet for dummies idiots guide anti inflammation diet anti inflammation diet and recipe book

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Author’s Sources: HCLSHopkins MedicineWebMd, EatRight, & Epicurious.

Jean has been working at Howard County Library System’s Central Branch for nearly nine years. She walks in the Benjamin Banneker Park whenever she gets a chance.

 


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Through Jan. 4, 2015 Symphony of Lights, a 20-minute drive through more than 70 larger-than-life holiday light displays, benefiting Howard County General Hospital, is open nightly from 6 to 10 p.m. through Jan. 4, 2015 (closed on Tuesdays and Dec. 31). The display, presented by Macy’s, is in Columbia’s Symphony Woods. Admission is $20 per car or van up to eight. $5 off coupon.

Wednesday, Dec. 31, 5-8 p.m. Midnight at 7 at Columbia’s Symphony of Lights is a New Year’s Eve celebration for families with fireworks at 7 p.m. (weather permitting). The event includes a walk through holiday light displays, music, entertainment and giveaways. Proceeds benefit Howard County General Hospital.

Monday, Jan. 5, 3:30 p.m. – 5:30 p.m. Blood Pressure Screening at Glenwood Branch. Free, walk-in blood pressure screening and monitoring offered by Howard County General Hospital: a Member of Johns Hopkins Medicine. No registration required.

Tuesday, Jan. 6, 7:00 p.m. Guided Meditation at Miller Branch. Enjoy a guided mindfulness meditation designed to impart a feeling of peacefulness and connection. Please bring a cushion or meditation pillow. Presented by Star Ferguson, M.Ac., L.Ac. Registration is required. Register online or by calling 410.313.1950.

Thursday, Jan. 8, 10:15 a.m. & 11:30 a.m. Healthy Kids at Miller Branch. Explore simple health concepts inspired by children’s literature. Ages 3-5 with adult; 45 min. Multi-week series. Well & Wise event. Limited space; tickets available at Children’s Desk 15 minutes before class. Ticket Required.

Thursday, Jan. 8, 7:00 p.m. Cutting Edge Discoveries in Neuroscience to Boost Your Brain (Part 3) at Miller Branch. As this three-part series continues, Majid Fotuhi, M.D., Ph.D., teaches how to boost brain capacity at any age. The founder and chief medical officer of NeurExpand, Fotuhi has written three books about brain health: Boost Your Brain: The New Art and Science Behind Enhanced Brain Performance; The Memory Cure; and The New York Times Crosswords to Keep Your Brain Young: The 6-Step Age-Defying Program. Fotuhi received his M.D. from Harvard Medical School and his Ph.D. in Neuroscience from Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. His research findings have been published in The Journal of Neuroscience, The Lancet, Nature, Neurology, Neuron, and The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Fotuhi has been featured on PBS, The Dr. Oz Show, CNN, Discovery Channel, NBC’s TODAY show, and numerous other national media.Registration is required. Register online or by calling 410.313.1950.


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‘Tis the season to feed our friends, families, co-workers, and strangers. Across all cultures, food holds the center of our celebrations. The holiday potluck is one of my favorite ways to share cooking and culture. I have sampled wonderful foods from many lands, and heard wonderful stories that begin “My Grandmother always….” Thank you to the wonderful picture book creators who share their talents and their food stories with us.

bee-bim bopWhat could be more festive than cooking dinner with the family? Bee-bim Bop! (the name translates as “mix-mix rice”) is a traditional Korean dish of rice topped and then, mixed with meat and vegetables. A hungry child helps her mother make bee-bim bop: shopping, preparing ingredients, setting the table, and finally sitting down with her family to enjoy a favorite meal. The energy and enthusiasm of the young child are conveyed in the whimsical illustrations, which bring details from the Korean artist’s childhood to his depiction of a modern Korean American family. Even young readers who aren’t familiar with the dish will recognize the pride that comes from helping Mama, the fun of mixing ingredients together in a bowl, and the pleasure of sharing delicious food.

For those who have not sampled this delicious treat, there are so many great Korean restaurants here in Howard County. Get out, meet your neighbors, share a food and a culture.

feat for 10One of my favorite read-alouds, Cathryn Falwell’s counting book Feast for 10, takes us with an African-American mother and her children as they shop for and prepare a festive family dinner. At the supermarket, the count begins with one grocery cart and ends with ten hands helping to load the car. Back at home, the father joins in the preparations and the numbers build a second time to “ten hungry folks” seated around a table ready to share a tasty meal. The expressive collage work exudes family and warmth; even the page numbers are made from cozy fabric prints. Deceptively simple, Feast for 10 shows, rather than tells, the story that shared food is shared love.

Another great read-aloud, and a classroom staple, Derek Munson’s Enemy Pie is the hysterical story of very smart Dad and a really good pie.enemy pie

What should have been a perfect summer is ruined when Jeremy Ross moves in and becomes number one on the narrator’s enemy list. Fortunately, his father has a secret recipe for a pie that is guaranteed to help get rid of enemies. While Dad works on the pie, he explains his son’s role in the plan: “-you need to spend a day with your enemy. Even worse, you have to be nice to him.” It sounds tough, but the boy decides to give it a try. Predictably, between throwing water balloons, playing basketball, and hiding out in the tree house, he decides that Jeremy is not so bad after all. There’s still the problem of the pie, however. When his father serves up the pie, he decides to warn Jeremy that it is “poisonous or something.” However, it seems that both his father and his new friend are just fine, and what’s more, the pie is delicious.

If you are looking for ways to share food and culture, you can’t go wrong with Norah Dooley’s books: Everybody Cooks Rice, Everybody Bakes Bread, Everybody Serves Soup, and Everybody Brings Noodles all share in celebrating our diversity.

everybody cooks riceeverybody bakes breadeverybody serves soupeverybody brings noodles

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Happy New Year. Spend a day with your enemy and be nice to him.

Shirley ONeill works for Howard County Library System as the Children’s and Teen Materials Specialist. She cannot believe she actually gets paid to do this job.

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success through stillness meditationI have always been a person who appreciates the idea of meditation and its benefits more than the act itself. Having many friends who practice meditation, I have heard it all: “You should really try meditation.” (or the more direct) “You NEED to meditate!” That turned me off (somewhat) from the whole practice. I feel like meditation is a spiritual and calming journey that one must come to on their own terms. While I appreciate others wanting to offer their insight, I couldn’t force myself to be someone who meditates on a regular basis.

Don’t get me wrong, I have had pleasant experiences with meditation. For example, I participated in a guided meditation in one of my college classes and found it to be very enjoyable. The instructor had the entire class close their eyes and simply focus on the words she was speaking. After being lead across an open field until we saw a forest in front of us, we discovered our spirit animals. Mine is an owl. This form of meditation was very successful for me because I had someone telling me what to focus on. I have always felt as if I wasn’t meditating the right way because my thoughts would be scattered and unorganized. I’d jump from one thing to the next and couldn’t “turn my mind off.” However, this isn’t necessarily the goal of meditation. It is perfectly all right to acknowledge all thoughts as they surface as long as you don’t get caught up on them and lose focus.

art of stillnessI recently completed a meditation course through Gale Courses. These free courses can be accessed through the research section of Howard County Library System’s website. Just enter your library card number and you can access a variety of subjects. This course in particular explored the origin of meditation, the health benefits, as well as various techniques. Mindfulness meditation was especially interesting to me. It involves focusing on your breath or bodily sensations, acknowledging distracting thoughts in a non-judgmental manner, and then returning to the present moment. After completing the entire lesson on mindfulness meditation, I was familiar with the seven key factors of the practice. They include: Non-judging, Patience, Beginner’s mind, Trust, Non-striving, Acceptance, and Letting go. As a whole, mindfulness meditation is about being in the now. You are to release the need to judge or change thoughts and not get caught up on the past or future. You are to be open and accepting about what occurs during meditation and trust your awareness. In addition, you have to be able to “just be” and realize in that particular moment there is nowhere else for you to be and nothing to be attained. You are then able to allow things to naturally unfold and “let go” of expectations. I was drawn to this technique because it’s basically saying that you are allowed to acknowledge thoughts as they arise as long as you don’t let them consume you. It encourages the one meditating to place their focus where it needs to be; in the present moment.

Practicing mindfulness is something I try to do in everyday life. I take note of the colorful leaves on the trees and each foot step as I walk up to my apartment building. I keep a non-judging attitude in daily interactions and stay aware of my moment-to-moment experiences. Learning about the various ways to meditate has allowed me to find a technique that will work for me. I am looking forward to mindfulness meditation becoming a part of my regular routine and seeing all the ways that it enhances my life and well-being.

Laci Radford is an Instructor & Research Specialist at the Savage Branch and STEM Education Center. She is a music lover, writer, and an avid reader. She enjoys attending concerts, plays, and other forms of live entertainment. Her favorite activities include scoping out unique items at thrift stores, bonfires with friends, and having tie-dye parties. She is studying Psychology and plans to become a music and art therapist sooner rather than later.

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Through Jan. 4, 2015 Symphony of Lights, a 20-minute drive through more than 70 larger-than-life holiday light displays, benefiting Howard County General Hospital, is open nightly from 6 to 10 p.m. through Jan. 4, 2015 (closed on Tuesdays and Dec. 31). The display, presented by Macy’s, is in Columbia’s Symphony Woods. Admission is $20 per car or van up to eight. $5 off coupon.

Wednesday, Dec.31, 5-8 p.m. Midnight at 7 at Columbia’s Symphony of Lights is a New Year’s Eve celebration for families with fireworks at 7 p.m. (weather permitting). The event includes a walk through holiday light displays, music, entertainment and giveaways. Proceeds benefit Howard County General Hospital.

Monday, Jan. 5, 3:30 p.m. – 5:30 p.m. Blood Pressure Screening at Glenwood Branch. Free, walk-in blood pressure screening and monitoring offered by Howard County General Hospital: a Member of Johns Hopkins Medicine. No registration required.

Tuesday, Jan. 6, 7:00 p.m. Guided Meditation at Miller Branch. Enjoy a guided mindfulness meditation designed to impart a feeling of peacefulness and connection. Please bring a cushion or meditation pillow. Presented by Star Ferguson, M.Ac., L.Ac. Registration is required. Register online or by calling 410.313.1950.

Thursday, Jan. 8, 10:15 a.m. & 11:30 a.m. Healthy Kids at Miller Branch. Explore simple health concepts inspired by children’s literature. Ages 3-5 with adult; 45 min. Multi-week series. Well & Wise event. Limited space; tickets available at Children’s Desk 15 minutes before class. Ticket Required.

Thursday, Jan. 8, 7:00 p.m. Cutting Edge Discoveries in Neuroscience to Boost Your Brain (Part 3) at Miller Branch. As this three-part series continues, Majid Fotuhi, M.D., Ph.D., teaches how to boost brain capacity at any age. The founder and chief medical officer of NeurExpand, Fotuhi has written three books about brain health: Boost Your Brain: The New Art and Science Behind Enhanced Brain Performance; The Memory Cure; and The New York Times Crosswords to Keep Your Brain Young: The 6-Step Age-Defying Program. Fotuhi received his M.D. from Harvard Medical School and his Ph.D. in Neuroscience from Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. His research findings have been published in The Journal of Neuroscience, The Lancet, Nature, Neurology, Neuron, and The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Fotuhi has been featured on PBS, The Dr. Oz Show, CNN, Discovery Channel, NBC’s TODAY show, and numerous other national media.Registration is required. Register online or by calling 410.313.1950.


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Photo by David Fournier with Thanks to The Magic Hour FoundationWinter is a time when the days get shorter, the nights get longer, and temperatures dip to their lowest. However, winter is also a time when some dealing with the “winter blues,” and are overcome with tell-tale signs of depression– a medical condition that affects a person’s thoughts and feelings as well as the body, and can be associated with various physical problems in areas such as sleep, appetite, energy, libido, and thinking (Albrecht/Herrick16). The feelings and sensations, or lack thereof, associated with depression may be experienced by a person for any number of reasons specific to the individual and their circumstances. However, depression, which occurs regularly during certain times of the year, and which most typically affects people during the cold, dark, months of winter, is known as Seasonal Affective Disorder or SAD.

According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness or NAMI, “the classic characteristics of recurrent winter depression include oversleeping, daytime fatigue, carbohydrate craving and weight gain. Additionally, many people may experience other features of depression including decreased sexual interest, lethargy, hopelessness, suicidal thoughts, lack of interest in normal activities and decreased socialization.” One might ask why is it that a person becomes more prone to these feelings of depression during winter versus other times of the year. While the onset of SAD symptoms “usually begin in October or November and subside in March or April, in a minority of cases, symptoms occur in the summer rather than winter. There are certain factors (circadian rhythm, serotonin levels, and melatonin levels) that have been identified as influencing the occurrence of SAD and its symptoms, but a specific cause has not yet been identified.

sadIn order to better understand how SAD affects individuals, let’s take a closer look at the three influential factors mentioned above: circadian rhythm, serotonin levels, and melatonin levels. Exposure to decreased light may disrupt the body’s internal clock, or circadian rhythm, which helps us time our wake and sleep cycles, and determines when various important biological processes (ex: sleep, appetite, digestion, etc.) will take place. For instance, most of us are acclimated to how the presence or absence of sunlight influences when we wake up (in the morning), when we are at our most productive (during the day), and when we go to bed (in the evening after the sun has set).

Serotonin, aka “happiness hormone,” is a monoamine neurotransmitter biochemically derived from tryptophan, which regulates intestinal movements, as well as mood, appetite, sleep, and muscle contraction. The less light there is, the lower the production of serotonin, which disrupts the way the neurotransmitter effectively communicates with nerve cells, and leads to symptoms of SAD.

Melatonin is a hormone produced by the pineal gland when it is dark, in order to make us feel sleepy. On the other hand, when there is light, the hypothalamus inhibits production of this hormone, which causes us to feel awake.

In conclusion, the darker days of winter cause the circadian rhythm to be affected by the lowered levels of serotonin, as well as the increased levels of melatonin. The body responds as if it were in pseudo-hibernation mode, and the SAD sufferer feels sleepier, increasingly tired, has less energy, appetite decreases, and mood is dampened. In order to curb and combat the symptoms of SAD, there are effective forms of treatment available, which consist of antidepressants, light therapy, and psychotherapy.

If you or anyone you know may be experiencing SAD, talk with your health care provider, or a qualified professional. For more information regarding SAD, and/or available treatment options, the following local resources are just a phone call away: NAMI (410-884-8691); Howard County Mental Health Authority (410-313-7350); Thrive Center (410-740-3240); Congruent Counseling Services (410-740-8066).

When Jinelee De Souza isn’t channeling her inner super-heroine at Howard County Library System as an Instructor & Research Specialist, she’s doing so at the gym, during impromptu photoshoots with her bff, and everywhere in between.

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Comfort foodHave you ever told yourself, “Just one more potato chip,” and then proceeded to finish off the entire bag? Or have you bought a box of cookies with the intention of eating them in reasonable portions – and later, finding yourself stressed, eating the entire box in one sitting? I have and you are not alone.

It has been proven that women, more so then men, particularly stress about what and how much they eat. Why do we feel so guilty when we overeat? Personally, some of the reasons I find myself eating more to soothe feelings of anger, boredom, loneliness, and stress (and as a result, end up feeling guilty too). This is something I struggle with on a regular basis and it becomes a vicious cycle. Once I have overeaten for the day, I feel guilty and continue to overeat thinking, “What’s the point? I’ve already eaten poorly today.”

According to Lisa Elaine Held from an article that was published in Prevention magazine in May 2012, “Media messaging doesn’t help. Women’s magazine headlines are full of “guilt-free” burgers, snacks, and desserts. The underlying message is clear: If the foods in this article are guilt-free, then those others you’re eating are guilt-y.” So, how do we distinguish between eating as a source of nourishment and emotional eating?

10 day detoxAnother important question to consider is, “Are certain foods physically addictive?” According to The Blood Sugar Solution 10-day Detox Diet by Mark Hyman, MD, “Foods that spike blood sugar are biologically addictive. So yes, food addiction is very real. It’s the root cause why so many people are overweight and sick. They are stuck in a viscous cycle of cravings.” I know that once I’ve gotten a taste of something sweet, there’s no doubt in my mind that the phenomenon of craving is overpowering and hard to shake.

“For some people giving up certain foods proves as difficult as it may be for an addict to give up alcohol or drugs. The same components of addiction are present and the brain may be affected in the same way. For many people their relationship with food is comparable to that of a drug user’s with drugs,” states Kimberly Steele, who is a bariatric surgeon at The Johns Hopkins Center for Bariatric Surgery.

What can we do to separate food with emotions? Ask ourselves some honest questions. I think the best question to ask yourself is, “Am I physically hungry or am I trying to fill some emotional need with food?” What has worked for me, is maintaining a daily food diary. I’m honest in my reporting, even when I feel I have “messed up” that day with overeating or eating junk food. This helps me see just how food and my emotions are intertwined. I know that this may not work for everyone, but maybe we should cut ourselves a break and try to separate food and guilt.

Alex Hill is a Customer Service Specialist at the East Columbia Branch. She has worked for Howard County Library System in the Customer Service department for more than 5 years. Alex enjoys giving movie recommendations, talking to East Columbia’s teens and in her spare time, taking pictures.

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calendar_2014smMonday, Dec. 15, 3:30 p.m. – 5:30 p.m. Blood Pressure Screening at Glenwood Branch. Free, walk-in blood pressure screening and monitoring offered by Howard County General Hospital: a Member of Johns Hopkins Medicine. No registration required.

Wednesday, Dec. 17, 10:15 a.m. I’m Going to Be a Big Brother or Sister at Savage Branch. Prepare for the arrival of a baby in this class for new siblings. Enjoy stories, activities, and bring a favorite doll or stuffed animal to practice holding your baby. Resources for parents, too. Families; 30 – 45 min. Ticket required.In partnership with Howard County General Hospital: A Member of Johns Hopkins Medicine. Limited space; tickets available at Children’s Desk 15 minutes before class.

Monday, Jan. 5, 3:30 p.m. – 5:30 p.m. Blood Pressure Screening at Glenwood Branch. Free, walk-in blood pressure screening and monitoring offered by Howard County General Hospital: a Member of Johns Hopkins Medicine. No registration required.

Tuesday, Jan. 6, 7:00 p.m. Guided Meditation at Miller Branch. Enjoy a guided mindfulness meditation designed to impart a feeling of peacefulness and connection. Please bring a cushion or meditation pillow. Presented by Star Ferguson, M.Ac., L.Ac. Registration is required. Register online or by calling 410.313.1950.

 


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Many thanks to Kelly Mack for her contributions to Well & Wise.

In my farewell reflections, I want to share my thanks for allowing me to tell some of my health stories and lessons learned. I view health as a journey, trying to find a good balance in our daily life. With this approach, taking a look back at the path can be very helpful for planning next steps.

In my case, I made some great steps in physical therapy and gaining strength following knee replacement surgery. While I still have additional goals, I have found regular exercise to be very beneficial in my recovery and overall health. On the more challenging side, my chronic rheumatoid arthritis (RA) provides more adventure than I would like. This year I went on a new medication, but the side effects of weakening my immune system have led to bronchitis, pneumonia, and similar issues.

For me, health is a tricky balance. I don’t often feel I have a handle on it, but try to approach health as a daily practice. When I can string together some healthy days, I feel encouraged. A few weeks and I get ecstatic. I’m never 100 percent, but I’m always working on my health.

For the coming year I have a good foundation to build on. I’m happy with my exercise practice and feel I’ve made great improvements to my eating habits with the help of a nutritionist. I plan on incorporating meditation to help manage stress and pain from my RA. Continuing to gain strength will always be an important goal while also trying to maintain (or even improve) my quality of life with RA.

More elusively, I need to find a better balance with my RA treatment’s side effects and the attack of the disease. Unfortunately, I don’t have a plan for this piece, but need to consult with my doctor and work step-by-step to find a way.

With this in mind, how would you assess your year in health? Made some improvements? Noted some setbacks? Can you pick out one or two new practices you can embrace every day to support your health? It may sound crazy, but I’ve found making a change to daily habits can build gradually over time and give the confidence that long term health goals are possible to achieve.

Best of luck in your assessment and hope you can stake out some wins in the New Year!

Kelly Mack lives in Washington, DC, and works for a marketing communications firm.

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As we approach the holiday season, many of us experience extra stress in our lives. Some of our stress is due to the hectic schedules that we endure, family situations, staying healthy and eating well, or traveling. So, what can you do to lessen your stress and enjoy the holidays this year?

For stressful family situations, I recommend Happier at Home by Gretchen Rubin and A is for Attitude by Patricia Russell-McCloud.

happier home a is for attitude

If staying fit and eating well are bothering you, check out: Breaking the Food Seduction by Dr. Neal Barnard, 50 Ways to Soothe Yourself Without Food by Susan Albers, Psy.D., Crave by Cynthia M. Bulik, Ph.D., and Eating Well for Optimum Health: The Essential Guide to Food, Diet, and Nutrition.

breaking food seduction50 ways to soothe yourself without foodcraveeating well for optimum health

 

 

 

 

 

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If travel is a concern (or while you’re waiting at the airport), try some of our new services at hclibrary.org. Zinio is great for reading magazines, while Hoopla has music, audiobooks, television, and movies available. What a stress-free way to enjoy those long hours at the airport or while riding in a car! I love getting my favorite magazine through Zinio to read on my tablet.

Lastly, try journaling. Journaling is a wonderful way to relieve stress. I keep a gratitude journal beside my bed. Every night, I write five things in my journal that I am grateful for that day. I found that it helps me to sleep better at night, reduces my stress while making me more gracious for many of life’s blessings that I experience every day.

Remember, enjoy the upcoming season while building those memories to cherish with friends, family, and loved ones. Until we meet again, happy trails!

Anna Louise Downing is a Customer Service Specialist at the Miller Branch. She is an avid reader and enjoys Disney, music and her passion for running. She has been a race ambassador for several local races, is a Sweat Pink Ambassador for promoting women’s health. Follow her journey towards being physically fit with running and healthy lifestyle choices here on Well & Wise.

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calendar_2014smMonday, Dec. 8, 10:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. Blood Pressure Screening at Savage Branch. Free, walk-in blood pressure screening and monitoring offered by Howard County General Hospital: a Member of Johns Hopkins Medicine. 2nd Mondays. No registration required.

Monday, Dec. 8, 6-10 p.m. Military Appreciation Night at Howard County General Hospital’s Symphony of Lights, a 20-minute drive through more than 70 larger-than-life holiday light displays in Columbia’s Symphony Woods, benefiting the hospital. Show military ID for $10 off regular admission cost.

Monday, Dec. 8, 7:00 p.m. Cutting Edge Discoveries in Neuroscience to Boost Your Brain (Part 2) at Miller Branch. As this three-part series continues, Majid Fotuhi, M.D., Ph.D., teaches how to boost brain capacity at any age. The founder and chief medical officer of NeurExpand, Fotuhi has written three books about brain health: Boost Your Brain: The New Art and Science Behind Enhanced Brain Performance; The Memory Cure; and The New York Times Crosswords to Keep Your Brain Young: The 6-Step Age-Defying Program. Fotuhi received his M.D. from Harvard Medical School and his Ph.D. in Neuroscience from Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. His research findings have been published in The Journal of Neuroscience, The Lancet, Nature, Neurology, Neuron, and The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Fotuhi has been featured on PBS, The Dr. Oz Show, CNN, Discovery Channel, NBC’s TODAY show, and numerous other national media. Registration Required.

Tuesday, Dec. 9, 10:30 a.m. I’m Going to Be a Big Brother or Sister at Glenwood Branch. Prepare for the arrival of a baby in this class for new siblings. Enjoy stories, activities, and bring a favorite doll or stuffed animal to practice holding your baby. Resources for parents, too. Families; 30 – 45 min. In partnership with Howard County General Hospital: A Member of Johns Hopkins Medicine. Registration is required. Register online or by calling 410.313.5579.

Tuesday, Dec. 9, 1:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m. Blood Pressure Screening at Elkridge Branch. Free, walk-in blood pressure screening and monitoring offered by Howard County General Hospital: a Member of Johns Hopkins Medicine. No registration required.

Tuesday, Dec. 9, 4:15-6:15 p.m. Twinkling Tots is a walk through Columbia’s Symphony of Lights for families with young children. Experience the 1.4 mile lighted path of more than 70 larger-than-life holiday light displays at this event that benefits Howard County General Hospital. Children in strollers and wagons are welcome.

Wednesday, Dec. 10, 10 a.m.-11:30 a.m. Free Medicare 101 presentation to review Original Medicare (Part A Hospital and Part B Medical) and Prescription Drug Coverage (Part D). Learn what is covered, your costs, how Medicare works and available benefit programs in Howard County General Hospital’s Wellness Center. Register here. A Medicare 102 session is available on Dec. 17.

Thursday, Dec. 11, 5:30-9 p.m. $55 Adult, Child and Infant CPR/AED will teach you the skills needed to clear an airway obstruction, perform CPR and how to use an AED. At the successful completion of this course, you will earn a two-year American Heart Association completion card. Located in the Howard County General Hospital Wellness Center.

Monday, Dec. 15, 3:30 p.m. – 5:30 p.m. Blood Pressure Screening at Glenwood Branch. Free, walk-in blood pressure screening and monitoring offered by Howard County General Hospital: a Member of Johns Hopkins Medicine. No registration required.

Monday, Dec. 15, 4-5:45 p.m. Due to inclement weather, Bike the Lights in Columbia’s Symphony of Lights has been rescheduled for Dec. 15. Experience the lighted path of these larger-than-life holiday displays on two wheels at this Howard County General Hospital benefit event. Bikers of all ages and abilities welcome; non-bikers may walk with bikers through the 1.4 mile course. You can also take a 20-minute drive through the lights nightly from 6 to 10 p.m. through Jan. 4, 2015 (closed for walk-through events on Tuesdays and Dec. 31). Drive-through Admission is $20 per car or van up to eight. $5 off coupon.

Wednesday, Dec. 17, 10:15 a.m. I’m Going to Be a Big Brother or Sister at Savage Branch. Prepare for the arrival of a baby in this class for new siblings. Enjoy stories, activities, and bring a favorite doll or stuffed animal to practice holding your baby. Resources for parents, too. Families; 30 – 45 min. Ticket required.In partnership with Howard County General Hospital: A Member of Johns Hopkins Medicine. Limited space; tickets available at Children’s Desk 15 minutes before class.


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It’s upon us again – the resplendence and clamor of the holiday season.

Panic (admit it), set in back in October when Target brought out their windfall of mini lights. And then, there are those lavender Uggs – size 6 – you simply cannot find. The ones (if you don’t get them for her) your fourteen-year-old will remember her whole adult life. Football and menfolk will soon have squatter’s rights to the big screen in the living room. You’ll endure ear-deafening touchdowns, Velveeta on the new down pillows, and some nimrod always gives the dog the last of the chili with beans. From the kitchen you stare darkly at the remains of Aunt Celeste’s Waldorf Salad. Aunt Celeste, who’s now decided to stay through New Year’s. We won’t discuss the bathroom scale.

“Your brain,” says Scientific American, “is telling you to STOP! It’s full. It needs some downtime.”
But how to retreat from the holiday madness?
It’s as simple as black and white… the creature comfort of a feel-good book.
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  • Lottery by Patricia Wood
    Lottery by Patricia Wood -- Perry L. Crandall (L. is for “Lucky”) is a mildly retarded young optimist who, as the sudden winner of the twelve million dollar Washington State Lottery, is just as suddenly everyone’s best friend!
Aimee Zuccarini is an Instructor & Research Specialist at the East Columbia Branch. She facilitates several book discussions and writes the book reviews for The Maryland Women’s Journal.

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desktopAre you, like me, still recovering from the overeating, carbfest known as Thanksgiving? Rich mashed potatoes, candied veggies (only on Thanksgiving can we justify candying our vegetables) buttery rolls, whipped cream on a slice of pie… (sorry, lost myself there for a moment). After that kind of meal, the last thing on your mind is probably dairy, but let me throw an unlikely word (composed of two dreaded words) out there: Buttermilk.

Despite its name, buttermilk (traditionally, the liquid left after churning milk to butter) has fewer calories than whole milk (99 calories in a cup to whole milk’s 157) and less fat (2.2 grams vs. 9 grams per cup). So, buttermilk is generally better for you than regular milk, having just as much calcium and being more easily digestible. Buttermilk is also believed to aid in overall digestion. This is mainly attributed to the fact that it is an excellent source of probiotics. If you’ve heard “probiotic” tossed around quite a bit but were never really quite sure what it referred to, MedlinePlus explains that it’s a “preparation (as a dietary supplement) containing live bacteria (as lactobacilli) that is taken orally to restore beneficial bacteria to the body; also: a bacterium in such a preparation.” And, for those of you keeping track, probiotics are my new best friends since my run-in with C. Diff last year.

Buttermilk has things besides just probiotics going for it. As mentioned, it still has plenty of calcium (284 milligrams per cup). There’s also phosphorus, riboflavin, and potassium in there. And for those of you looking to boost energy, there’s 8 grams of protein and 12 grams of carbohydrates in one cup of buttermilk. It has also been suggested that buttermilk consumption might be associated with reduced cholesterol. Buttermilk is also believed to be helpful against dehydration, boost immunity, and benefit skin.

hungry girl 300 under 300 breakfast lunch dinnerButtermilk frequently comes up as a replacement for richer dairy products in heart-healthy recipes. That doesn’t mean it still doesn’t have a dark side. It pops up in such deliciously naughty books as Fried & True: More Than 50 recipes for America’s Best Fried Chicken & Sides (although I make a pretty tasty oven-fried chicken with buttermilk that I got from Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything) and a lovely and tempting book simply called Buttermilk: A Savor the South Cookbook. But, to defend buttermilk’s newly won reputation, it also features in books such as Hungry Girl 300 Under 300: 300 Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner Recipes Under 300 Calories and Deliciously G-Free: Food so Flavorful They’ll Never Believe It’s Gluten Free. So, unless you are dairy-free, you may want to give the deceptively named buttermilk a second look.

Joanne Sobieck-Lingg is glad to blog about her many, disparate interests (though expert in none, except maybe parenthetical asides). In past lives, she was a writer, proofreader, editor, project manager, teacher, and even co-coordinator of a certain health blog. She has been happily ensconced among the fiction and teen books at the Central Branch of HCLS since 2003.

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calendar_2014smMonday, Dec. 1, 3:30 p.m. – 5:30 p.m. Blood Pressure Screening at Glenwood Branch. Free, walk-in blood pressure screening and monitoring offered by Howard County General Hospital: a Member of Johns Hopkins Medicine. No registration required.

Monday, Dec. 1, 7:00 p.m. Calming Crafts at Miller Branch. Research shows that creative activities can boost serotonin levels. Join us as we use artistic expression to improve our moods. All levels of artistic ability welcome. Registration is required. Register online or by calling 410.313.1950.

Bike the Lights in Columbia’s Symphony Woods on Tuesday, Dec. 2, 4:15-6:15 p.m. Experience the lighted path of 70 larger-than-life holiday light displays on two wheels at Howard County General Hospital’s Symphony of Lights. Bikers of all ages and abilities welcome; non-bikers may walk with bikers through the 1.4 mile course. You can also take a 20-minute drive through the lights nightly from 6 to 10 p.m. through Jan. 4, 2015 (closed for walk-through events on Tuesdays and Dec. 31). Drive-through Admission is $20 per car or van up to eight. $5 off coupon.

Monday, Dec. 8, 10:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. Blood Pressure Screening at Savage Branch. Free, walk-in blood pressure screening and monitoring offered by Howard County General Hospital: a Member of Johns Hopkins Medicine. 2nd Mondays. No registration required.

Monday, Dec. 8, 7:00 p.m. Cutting Edge Discoveries in Neuroscience to Boost Your Brain (Part 2) at Miller Branch. As this three-part series continues, Majid Fotuhi, M.D., Ph.D., teaches how to boost brain capacity at any age. The founder and chief medical officer of NeurExpand, Fotuhi has written three books about brain health: Boost Your Brain: The New Art and Science Behind Enhanced Brain Performance; The Memory Cure; and The New York Times Crosswords to Keep Your Brain Young: The 6-Step Age-Defying Program. Fotuhi received his M.D. from Harvard Medical School and his Ph.D. in Neuroscience from Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. His research findings have been published in The Journal of Neuroscience, The Lancet, Nature, Neurology, Neuron, and The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Fotuhi has been featured on PBS, The Dr. Oz Show, CNN, Discovery Channel, NBC’s TODAY show, and numerous other national media. Registration Required.

Tuesday, Dec. 9, 10:30 a.m. I’m Going to Be a Big Brother or Sister at Glenwood Branch. Prepare for the arrival of a baby in this class for new siblings. Enjoy stories, activities, and bring a favorite doll or stuffed animal to practice holding your baby. Resources for parents, too. Families; 30 – 45 min. In partnership with Howard County General Hospital: A Member of Johns Hopkins Medicine. Registration is required. Register online or by calling 410.313.5579.

Tuesday, Dec. 9, 1:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m. Blood Pressure Screening at Elkridge Branch. Free, walk-in blood pressure screening and monitoring offered by Howard County General Hospital: a Member of Johns Hopkins Medicine. No registration required.

 


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each kindnessWe don’t all come out the box as kind, compassionate little Buddhas. It can be a tough road, instilling character traits such as empathy and forgiveness. Thank you to the wonderful picture book authors who are able bring these concepts to children in a discussable and enjoyable format, and to the artist/illustrators who make these books a joy to share with both the children and adults in our lives

Jacqueline Woodson and E.B. White’s collaborative reflection on kindness and missed opportunities is both harsh and beautiful. New girl to the school, Maya, tried very hard to make friends with the girls in her class. Chloe and her friends wanted nothing to do with the ragged, poor girl, deliberately leaving her out. The teacher leads an exercise in kindness, throwing a pebble in a bowl of water and watching the ripples move out, asking the class to recount acts of kindness they have shown. Chloe’s realization that she has never been kind to Maya is coupled with Maya’s never returning to the school, having moved away. Chloe’s sorrow and remorse are real, as is the feeling that Chloe has learned a valuable lesson.

Income disparity is even more apparent in this season of giving. What a great message, reminding us to seize the opportunity in front of us to be a little kinder.

forgiveness gardenBased on the Garden of Forgiveness that was built in Beirut after the Lebanese Civil War that ended in 1990, two fictional villages are separated by a stream and years of argument. Using the Sanskrit words for Us and Them as village names, Lauren Thompson tells of a child who throws a stone, and a child who chooses not to throw it back. Instead they build a Forgiveness Garden, between the two villages. It is not an easy task, and Thompson does not make light of how hard it is to forgive. When the garden is complete, Sama and Karune sit together and talk. “What do you think they said?” asks the author.

There is no better gift than that of forgiveness. It enriches both the recipient and the giver. You never even have to tell the person you have forgiven them; it will still powerfully impact both of your lives for the better.

invisible boyWith all the kids who “take up a lot of space,” it is easy to see how quiet Brian can be overlooked in the classroom, on the playground, and in the lunch room. Drawn in grey tones, when everything else is in color, Brian’s “invisibility” and exclusion are apparent to the youngest reader. When a new boy, Justin, is made fun of for eating bulgogi, Brian slips an illustrated note to make him feel better. Justin sees the wonderful comics and cartoons that Brian has been drawing. The more Brian is “seen,” the more color is added, until others notice Brian’s talents and he becomes full color. This Black Eyed Susan picture book nominee for 2014-2015 provides a lesson in how one person can make a difference in the life of another by giving them the precious gift of time and attention. The back matter, containing discussion questions and a well chosen reading list, make this the complete package for teaching empathy.

Supertramp was right all those years ago: “Give a Little Bit…send a smile and show you care.”

Shirley ONeill works for Howard County Library System as the Children’s and Teen Materials Specialist. She cannot believe she actually gets paid to do this job.

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One of the ironic things about becoming sick and living with a chronic illness is that you increasingly appreciate good health and feeling well. Although I have lived with rheumatoid arthritis since I was a small child, I still admire wellness in others.

For example, I have difficulty walking and yet enjoy watching others—how easy it looks in comparison to the gait I practice with great effort and thoughtful concentration. It amazes me just not only how people can walk without thinking about it, but that they can run. To me, running is akin to flying—an amazing feat.

Maybe my favorite healthy person to watch is a toddler. They have such beautifully healthy and flexible joints! I love how they can tumble and play—moving without an ounce of effort and filled with energy. Living with a joint disease has led me to appreciate bones that are not painful, that are flexible and healthy.

When I had my knee removed, all I wanted was a good, functioning knee. When I had my new knee replacement, I wanted strength and to be able to lift my leg on my own power. Gradually I got there, but it was keeping that goal of better health in my mind that helped me to achieve it. Sometimes seeing good health and knowing what it is to you can be an inspiration for a goal. Other times it is something you can appreciate and admire.

I know that I will not be cured of my rheumatoid arthritis and return to perfect health. I live with an ongoing condition that can also cause other issues. However, I appreciate the relative health I do have. No matter how bad we’re feeling, I think it’s possible to find a bright side—like a steady heartbeat, breath of fresh air, or the feeling of sun on our skin.

Appreciating good health, means being glad of it for others and counting our blessings even during an illness.

Kelly Mack lives in Washington, DC, and works for a marketing communications firm.

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calendar_2014sm
Symphony of Lights, a 20-minute drive through of more than 70 larger-than-life holiday light displays, benefiting Howard County General Hospital, is now open nightly from 6 to 10 p.m. through Jan. 4, 2015 (closed for walk-through events on Tuesdays and Dec. 31). The display, presented by Macy’s, is in Columbia’s Symphony Woods. Admission is $20 per car or van up to eight. $5 off coupon. You can also participate in a Group Walk-Through. They’re perfect for scouts, school groups and more (Tuesdays through Dec. 30, pre-registration required, pets prohibited).

Monday, Dec. 1, 3:30 p.m. – 5:30 p.m. Blood Pressure Screening at Glenwood Branch. Free, walk-in blood pressure screening and monitoring offered by Howard County General Hospital: a Member of Johns Hopkins Medicine. No registration required.

Monday, Dec. 1, 7:00 p.m. Calming Crafts at Miller Branch. Research shows that creative activities can boost serotonin levels. Join us as we use artistic expression to improve our moods. All levels of artistic ability welcome. Registration is required. Register online or by calling 410.313.1950.

Monday, Dec. 8, 10:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. Blood Pressure Screening at Savage Branch. Free, walk-in blood pressure screening and monitoring offered by Howard County General Hospital: a Member of Johns Hopkins Medicine. 2nd Mondays. No registration required.

Monday, Dec. 8, 7:00 p.m. Cutting Edge Discoveries in Neuroscience to Boost Your Brain (Part 2) at Miller Branch. As this three-part series continues, Majid Fotuhi, M.D., Ph.D., teaches how to boost brain capacity at any age. The founder and chief medical officer of NeurExpand, Fotuhi has written three books about brain health: Boost Your Brain: The New Art and Science Behind Enhanced Brain Performance; The Memory Cure; and The New York Times Crosswords to Keep Your Brain Young: The 6-Step Age-Defying Program. Fotuhi received his M.D. from Harvard Medical School and his Ph.D. in Neuroscience from Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. His research findings have been published in The Journal of Neuroscience, The Lancet, Nature, Neurology, Neuron, and The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Fotuhi has been featured on PBS, The Dr. Oz Show, CNN, Discovery Channel, NBC’s TODAY show, and numerous other national media. Registration Required.

 


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fotor_(48)Now that I am surrounded by folks with fall colds, and woke up this morning congested, it’s time to address a critical question. Is blowing my nose advisable or not? Will blowing my nose relieve the stuffy feeling? Will it shorten the length of my symptoms?

A 1999 study at the University of Virginia used four healthy human subjects to measure the pressures generated by nose blowing. Nose blowing generated over ten times as much intranasal pressure as coughing and sneezing did. CT scanning was then used to see if nose blowing, coughing or sneezing caused contrast medium to be pushed into the paranasal sinuses. Only nose blowing resulted in contrast movement. In two of the subjects, some contrast had moved into the maxillary and frontal sinuses after the subjects had blown their noses.

Does this mean that nose blowing increases the risk for a cold progressing to a sinus infection? Are the viruses or bacteria in the nose being propelled into the paranasal sinuses? Given the small scale of this research, there would need to be more studies to answer the question definitively. The preliminary conclusion that the pressure generated by nose blowing can increase the risk of furthering an infection makes logical sense, however.

Health care providers recommend that nose blowing only be done gently. If you feel your ears popping, you are definitely using too much force. Holding one nostril closed while blowing out the other nostril helps to control the pressure. Blowing through one nostril at a time also assists in assuring that both sides are somewhat cleared. Another good way to lower the pressure is to keep your mouth open while blowing your nose.

Wiping your nose or using saline nasal rinses may be less traumatic to your nasal passages than blowing your nose. These more gentle measures could possibly decrease the risk of pushing the infection into the sinuses. Inhaling steam or taking decongestant medication can help thin the secretions and ease the drainage of the congestion. Of note, much of the feeling of congestion is due to swollen membranes and dilated blood vessels rather than actual mucus. For this reason, blowing your nose may not even relieve the stuffy feeling.

Finally, if you’ve decided to blow your nose, wash your hands when you’re done. Try to avoid touching your face throughout the day. It is easy to spread the cold to others if you then touch something like a shared keyboard or door handle.

Cherise Tasker is an Instructor & Research Specialist at the Central Branch and has a background in health information. Most evenings, Cherise can be found reading a book, attending a book club meeting, or coordinating a book group.

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animal madnessShe called him “beast.”

He was a noble Bernese Mountain Dog, and next to her new husband, the love of Laurel Braitman’s life.

But after only a few months, the big dog she named Oliver, began to exhibit a series of profound behaviors: snapping at invisible flies, licking his paws into sodden masses, and eventually jumping out a third-story window – his unknown demons chasing close behind.

Serious medication and intense intervention were stepped up, but in the end Oliver succumbed to both emotional and physical trauma. Braitman, unlike her husband, was inconsolable, and soon his curious lack of empathy signaled a tipping point in the marriage.

Alone, Braitman now sought serious closure and catharsis: What exactly did Oliver feel or perceive that impaired his ability to function normally? And why the heck was it so eerily close to what humans feel? Braitman, a doctor of medical history, began to buttonhole the experts – animal psychologists, ethologists — even an animal trainer or two. Do we share an underlying brain structure that not only “exists across animal species,” but can similarly malfunction when an emotional state is compromised? More importantly, can understanding animal behavior benefit our own – even if we don’t speak the same language? The answers, Braitman found, were in the nine phyla of the animal kingdom.

From the adrenaline-charged cervidae for example. When pursued by predators, deer experience a blood-pressure spike not dissimilar to the white-coat hypertension I know I feel in a doctor’s office.

To the laws of attraction: Who knew bees were as picky about the flowers they pollinate as humans browsing online dating profiles? And then there are the giggling rats, the embarrassed octopus, and the bullied bonobo with PTSD. What, you might ask, was 17th century philosopher, Rene Descartes thinking when he arrogantly pronounced all beasts as “nothing more than automatons”?

Generous and engaging, Animal Madness: How Anxious Dogs, Compulsive Parrots, and Elephants in Recovery Help Us Understand Ourselves will have readers looking in the mirror more than once.

Curious George would give this one two opposable thumbs up.

Aimee Zuccarini is an Instructor & Research Specialist at the East Columbia Branch. She facilitates several book discussions and writes the book reviews for The Maryland Women’s Journal.


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