being mortal“I learned about a lot of things in medical school, ​but mortality wasn’t one of them,” writes Atul Gawande, MD, in Being Mortal:  Medicine and What Matters in the End. Given that the two certainties of life are birth and death, how is it possible that medical training does not include education about preserving a patient’s well being at the end of life? How did survival at any cost begin taking precedence over the quality of one’s final days?
When the time comes to make difficult medical treatment decisions, it can be nearly impossible to see past the immediate choices. When a friend or loved one can no longer care for her/himself, the realities of nursing home and assisted living facilities may defeat even the most dedicated patient advocate. The time to read  Being Mortal is before these life events happen, and they will happen, in some form, to nearly all of us.

In Being Mortal, Dr. Gawande describes his efforts to improve delivery of end-of-life care and what he learned from the experiences of patients, friends and family members. There are no simple reasons for why we struggle with preserving quality of life as we age and experience failing health. There are certainly no easy solutions. Dr. Gawande addresses these complex questions with concise, elegant and insightful prose. The book is at once personal and prescriptive for improving the lives of the sick and the aging. His presentation and formulations are direct but he makes it clear it won’t be easy either for our society or for each of us individually.

Dr. Gawande and both his parents are physicians. When Dr. Gawande’s father is diagnosed with cancer, the treatment options become so complicated that even a family of medical professionals loses track of chemotherapy choices and which course of treatment will best match the end-of-life wishes Dr. Gawande’s father had expressed. His father wanted to be a person rather than just a patient. Like so many of us, he wanted to live out the end of his life on his own terms.

Dr. Gawande is a perceptive investigator known for his articles in New Yorker ​magazine. He has explored such hypotheses as the one in which lessons learned at the Cheesecake Factory and applied intelligently can improve the quality of medical care. He looked at the Cheesecake Factory’s profitable mass production of food people want to eat and their excellence in creating satisfied customers and analyzed how the same management philosophy could improve patient care and hospitalization outcomes. He has published two essay collections, Complications: A Surgeon’s Notes on an Imperfect Science​​ and Better: A Surgeon’s Notes on PerformanceBetter: A Surgeon’s Notes on Performance.His writing explores his practice of general surgery, the challenges of applying medical technology humanely, and issues of medical ethics.  In The Checklist Manifesto: How to Get Things Right he proposes changes to healthcare delivery that can minimize medical errors.

Now, with Being Mortal, Dr. Gawande gives us a book that should be required reading for all healthcare providers. It’s a book to be read before or during decision making regarding nursing home placement, cancer care planning, and terminal illness management. It’s a book that explores what gives our lives and our mortality meaning.
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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Friday, June 26, 11:00 a.m. Superhero Twist and Shout at East Columbia Branch. Be a superhero with music and movement for little ones. Ages 2-3 with adult; 30 min. Tickets available at Children’s Desk 15 minutes before class. Also, Thursday, July 02, 10:15 a.m. & 11:30 a.m. at Miller Branch; tickets available at Children’s Desk 15 minutes before class.

Friday, June 26, 3:00 p.m. Mission: Science (Bioluminescence) at Glenwood Branch. Explore superhero forces in science and nature. Ages 11-17. Register online or by calling 410-313-5577.

Saturday, June 27, 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. In partnership with Howard County General Hospital: A Member of Johns Hopkins Medicine. Well & Wise event. Tickets available at Children’s Desk 15 minutes before class.

Saturday, June 27, 3:00 p.m. Hands Only CPR & AED at Miller Branch. You could save a life! Learn about cardiac arrest, how to recognize it, 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. Well & Wise event. Register online or by calling 410-313-1950.

Monday, June 29, 4:00 p.m. Meet The Author: Luis Carlos Montalvan & Tuesday of Tuesday Tucks Me In at Miller BranchLuis Carlos Montalvan, former U.S. Army Captain and New York Times bestselling author, and Tuesday, his 2013-14 American Kennel Club recipient of the Humane Fund Award for Canine Excellence, Service Dog, read from their widely acclaimed children’s book, Tuesday Tucks Me In. After the story, Luis demonstrates and discusses how he takes care of Tuesday, followed by demonstrations and discussions of things Tuesday does to take care of Luis. Children and their families are encouraged to ask questions. Allow additional time for book sales and signing. Families (children ages 3 & up with adult); 40 – 45 min. Register online or by calling 410-313-1950.

Monday, June 29, 7:00 p.m. Hands Only CPR & AED at Central Branch. You could save a life! Learn about cardiac arrest, how to recognize it, 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. Well & Wise event. Register online or by calling 410-313-7883.

Wednesday, July 01, 10:15 a.m. Sensory Friendly Stories & Fun at Glenwood BranchBooks, music, and plenty of movement in a small group. Visit this page to read A Children’s Class to help prepare for your visit. Ages 3-5 with adult. 30 min. Register online or by calling 410-313-5577.

Wednesday, July 01, 2:00 p.m. Community Superstars at Central Branch. Local heroes and community helpers explain their careers and lead students in an activity. Ages 6-10; 45 – 60 min. Register online or by calling 410-313-7883.

Saturday, July 4, 2015: Howard County Library System Will Be CLOSED in Observance of Independence Day. 


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raindrops rollThere is something about summer and water. Rain water, ocean water, pool water, all kinds of H2O. One of the miracles of the natural world, and an essential requirement for life. One in nine people lack access to safe water. Howard County residents are fortunate in our easy access to clean, refreshing water, lying within the watersheds of two major tributaries to the Chesapeake Bay. We all appreciate the beauty and the science behind the water cycle, and its importance to our well-being.

With lyrical words and striking images, April Pulley Sayre celebrates rain.”Rain plops. / It drops. // It patters. / It spatters.” From the beginning of a storm to the return of the sun, this splendid presentation reveals the wonder of water. Short, rhythmic lines, often only two words but rhyming or alliterative, are set one to a page against an amazing photograph. Sayre’s close observations, many in an ordinary garden, will lead readers and listeners to look closely at her photographs and at the world around them. Insects shelter from a shower; drops cling to flowers. There are tiny reflections in the globules. Raindrops bend down grasses, highlight shapes and band together. Some of the pictures harbor secrets. Preschoolers can appreciate the poem and pictures, but older children will appreciate the facts in the concluding “Splash of Science,” going on to describe “Raindrops Inside You,” connecting the reader to the water cycle.

June and July offer us many opportunities to enjoy rain storms from the safety of our balconies, decks, and front stoops. Celebrate the return to earth of the clean, safe water.

all the water in the worldLots of picture books introduce young children to the water cycle, but few have such an infectious beat and eye-catching illustrations as this title, which begs to be read aloud. “Where does it come from? / Water doesn’t come. / It goes. / Around. That rain / that cascaded from clouds / …then slipped into rivers / and opened into oceans, / that rain has been here before.” Children encountering the scientific concepts for the first time may need help understanding how, exactly, Thirsty air…licks…sips… guzzles water from lakes and oceans. Little ones will respond immediately to the noisy, delicious sounds and rhythms in the words as well as the kinetic energy in the beautifully put together digital illustrations. Playfully arranged type adds to the visual fun while giving cues for the reader. On the final spreads, a mothers hair swirls into a wave of water that becomes a joyful spiral of living creatures, all reinforcing the simple, profound message: our lives depend on water.

The water cycle is a great way to expose young children to science in a fun way. HCLS has a variety of experiment books for all ages.

bringing the rain to kapiti plainVerna Aardema’s illustrated retelling of a traditional Kenyan folktale is reminiscent in rhythm and repetition of The House that Jack Built. The illustrations are evocative of African artwork, stylized and dramatic. This tale of a shepherd shooting a hole in the clouds to water his herd is lighthearted in its delivery, but it also conveys on a child’s level the trouble that dry seasons can bring to a poor farming community. This is good for children growing up in a wealthy industrialized society where clean water is available at the turn of the tap. Stories like this one may open their understanding to the fact that other people do not have access to the resources they take for granted. Grownups will remember this as a Reading Rainbow book.

Take a swim, wade in a stream, stroll in the rain, appreciate the bounty of nature- just don’t take the book into the pool.

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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bettyvilleOf all the books you may want to avoid reading on the harrowing topic of old age, dementia, and caring for an elder parent, don’t let Bettyville be one of them. George Hodgson, an editor at Houghton Mifflin, had just about reinvented himself as a New Yorker, when his mother, Betty, began failing. Believing he could return to his boyhood home in Paris, Missouri and quickly get her situated, Hodgson could not have been more confounded. While there, his job was phased out and his mother was rejected from assisted living. No longer would the willful, capricious, and fiercely defiant Betty drive to bridge games, church choir, or the local beauty parlor. That would become Hodgson’s new full-time job – along with staving off Betty’s encroaching dementia.

Ragged scenes of frustration, fear, and sadness envelop them both. But, equally, there are Hodgson’s beautifully rendered memories of feeling loved – not only by both parents, but the small town of Paris as well. The fact that he was a gay son who never had “the talk” with either one did not diminish that love either.

Hodgson’s monumental commitment to his mother, Betty, continues to this day. Lucky for many of us (facing Hodgson’s same future), that he found the inspiration for this small gem.

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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Saturday, June 20, 1:00 p.m. Family Collaborative Art calendar_2015_blogat Glenwood BranchLooking for a creative outlet as a family to create a lasting keepsake together? Explore the paint resist method and collage techniques to create a family masterpiece on canvas board. Taught by Abrakadoodle Art instructors. Families (ages 3-12 & up with family); 60 min. Register online or by calling 410-313-5577.

Saturday, June 20, 2:00 p.m. Doc McStuffins’ School of Medicine at Savage Branch. Explore being a doctor through stories, songs, and activities. Bring your favorite stuffed animal or toy for a special check-up. Ages 3 & up; 45 min. Well & Wise event. Tickets available at Children’s Desk 15 minutes before class.

Monday, June 22, 2:00 p.m. Reptiles: Diversity in Scales at Glenwood Branch. Examine the diversity in and behavior of the Reptile Class with Richard Anderson from The Snyder Foundation for Animals. The class explores human activity and its negative consequences on the natural environment and on reptiles. More than 60 specimens are used to demonstrate reptile diversity. Participants may have the opportunity to touch some of the specimens. Arrive early and you might see a very large turtle walking around the library. Ages 5 & up; 60 min. Register online or by calling 410-313-5577.

Monday, June 22, 2:00 p.m. Super Science: Aerodynamics at Central Branch. Explore simple science concepts through hands-on activities with food and other items such as paint, playdough, and Borax. 45 – 60 min. Tickets available at Children’s Desk 15 minutes before class.

Wednesday, June 24, 7:00 p.m. Hands Only CPR & AED at Glenwood Branch. You could save a life! Learn about cardiac arrest, how to recognize it, 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. Well & Wise event. Register online or by calling 410-313-5577.

Saturday, June 27, 9 a.m.-1 p.m. $50. Essentials in Babysitting will give you skills to manage children, create a safe environment and apply basic emergency techniques. Held in the Howard County General Hospital Wellness Center. Registration required.

Saturday, June 27, 9 a.m.-Noon. $50. Women’s Self-Defense for ages 16 and up. Learn and practice effective, easy-to-learn techniques. Held in the Howard County General Hospital Wellness Center. Registration required.

Monday June 29, 3-6 p.m. Free. Family Hearing and Vision Screening for ages 6 years to adult. Includes adult glaucoma screening. Bring eyeglasses if you wear them. Held in the Howard County General Hospital Wellness Center. Registration required.


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blissEric Weiner spent many years as a foreign correspondent for NPR, and in that time visited many of the world’s countries. His travels frequently took him to decidedly unhappy places – or at least, people in unfortunate situations. A self-admitted “grump”, Weiner decided he would embark on a quest to find the happiest places in the world and, of course, write about it in his book The Geography of Bliss. Beginning at the World Database of Happiness in the Netherlands, Weiner checks out a list of the happiest countries in the world, statistically. His journey takes him to Switzerland, Bhutan, Qatar, Iceland, Moldova (the unhappiest nation in the world, to see what the opposite of happiness looks like), Thailand, Great Britain, India, and ends in America.

How can happiness be measured? According to Ruut Veenhoven at the World Database of Happiness, “you can’t be happy and not know it. By definition, if you are happy, you know it”, and so, you simply ask people how happy they are (p. 12). According to the research, the happiest person ever should be an extroverted optimistic married religious-service-attending educated busy Republican – as people who meet each of those criteria are happier than those on the opposite end of each spectrum. If that doesn’t describe you, well, no worries! The science of happiness seems to be rather subjective. Plus, there’s “reverse causality” (basically the real term for “what came first the chicken or the egg?”): are happy people more likely to be extroverted/get married/go to church/take on more work/etc or does the factor in question make them happy? Well, that isn’t really the question Weiner set out to answer (and it probably isn’t definitively answerable, anyway), he was more concerned with where and why people are happy. The answers to both questions – as much as they can be answered – were not what Weiner expected. None of the usual suspects predict happiness level, not diversity, equality, wealth, income distribution, or climate. Some things are obvious: basic needs must be met (you need food and shelter, for example), and you need enough income to fulfil those needs and not feel stressed, but beyond that… Weiner spent a whole book looking for that answer.

So, what is it? In the end, happiness is a complicated equation. It’s a careful balancing act: add a bunch of culture, some family and friends, a dash of money, a big helping of gratitude and trust, remove envy and excessive thinking. Weiner’s chapter titles give us some insight into his quest; happiness is: a number, boredom, a policy, a winning lottery ticket, failure, somewhere else, not thinking, a work in progress, a contradiction, home. Weiner asks interesting questions and uncovers some interesting approaches to happiness from all over the world. If happiness research piques your interest, The Geography of Bliss will provide you some intriguing food for thought. It’s also an excellent book for group discussion, complete with questions provided by the publisher.

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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10662095145_08f4655cb6_zI’m ready for summer. Are you? My youngest son is the only one in my family still in school, so I feel a bit guilty each morning when I have to wake him up. His last day of school isn’t until June 19! The other night, though, it was my daughter who woke me up because she was not feeling well. I felt her head, and sure enough her forehead felt warm. Then came the tough part—finding a thermometer, or should I say, a working thermometer. I was able to find two thermometers, but the batteries were dead. Luckily (or so I thought), I remembered that I had sent each of my oldest kids off to college with a first aid bin that included a thermometer. I asked my daughter and my oldest son to find the bin that had their first aid stuff in it. Both of them answered simultaneously, “ I don’t know where that is. I never used any of that stuff. Are you sure you gave it me?” Finally, in the back of the cupboard in the bathroom I found a temporal artery thermometer, which I had a vague recollection of buying. We were not sure if this thermometer was working, but my daughter’s temperature registered almost four degrees higher than mine, so I felt it was safe to say she had a fever. She was also complaining that her neck was bothering her. I started Googling her symptoms and discovered a plethora of possible illnesses, most very unlikely.

I called my sister, who is a nurse, and she said, “It’s probably important to make sure you get a thermometer that you can count on.” As my kids would say “Thanks, Captain Obvious!” In my defense, I thought I had a working thermometer. My sister also reminded me of the risks of trying to diagnose an illness based on information I found on the internet. She told me to call my daughter’s doctor for a professional opinion.

The doctor thinks my daughter’s infection may have been caused by a bite she had gotten on her foot earlier that day in the grassy area at the pool. Anytime you are outside, you are at risk for infection. Most of us spend more time outside in the summer months than we do during the rest of the year. There are things we can do to keep safe and healthy. After all, we survived a long, cold winter– we deserve to enjoy the warmer weather.

Biting and stinging insects come out in force in the summer months. Most bites are harmless and cause only minor discomfort, but some bites can carry disease. One of the things we can do when we are going to be outdoors is to wear insect repellent. It’s prudent to keep your legs and arms covered as much as possible if you are going to be near wooded areas and grasslands or if you are going to be outside at dawn or dusk, when insects are most active. It’s also smart to remove insect breeding grounds, such as standing water, from around your home and to keep your garbage tightly covered. Everyone should get in the habit of carefully checking for ticks after being outdoors. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Lyme Disease is the most commonly reported tick-born disease in the United States. You can find more information on bites and stings here. You can also check the library for books on Lyme Disease. If you develop a fever or skin rash, please call your doctor.

If you do get bitten it’s a good idea to have some items in your first aid kit to treat any bites, stings, or skin inflammation. Some of the things to include in your kit are: a flat edged object to remove stingers, tweezers, an instant cold compress, antiseptic wipes, calamine lotion, antihistamine cream, an assortment of bandages, aloe vera gel, and of course, a working thermometer! Make sure you have one kit at home and one kit in the car or to pack in your suitcase. Now is a good time to check your first aid kit(s) and replace any used or expired items. A more comprehensive list of essentials to have in your first aid kit(s) can be found here.

Hopefully, the only temperature above 98.6 degrees that will need to go down this summer is the temperature outside. Have a safe, healthy, fun-filled summer everyone!

Editor’s Note: Please consult your family physician when experiencing symptoms of illness or discomfort. In case of emergency please call 911.

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, June 13, 11:00. I’m Going to Be a Big Brother or Big 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. Well & Wise event. Register online or by calling 410-313-5577.

Monday, June 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. Well & Wise event.

Monday, June 15, 7:00 p.m. Beans for Teens at Miller Branch. Did you know that beans are nutritious, come in different colors, and grow all over the world? Discover a world of beans; help build a bean tepee; and select your favorite beans to plant in the Enchanted Garden. Ages 11-17. Registration and signed release form required. The release form will be included in your confirmation email. Register online or by calling 410-313-1950.

Thursday, June 18, 2:00 p.m. Crocodile Encounters with Dr. Brady Barr at Central Branch. Follow along with National Geographic explorer Dr. Brady Barr as he recounts his adventures, such as coming face to face with 13 crocodiles! ReadCrocodile Encounters to discover what happens when you put a 600-lb crocodile on an airplane in a flimsy wooden crate. Meet a real crocodile! (Supervised contact with a crocodile or alligator may occur). Books available for purchase and signing. Families; 30 – 60 min. Register online or by calling 410-313-7883.


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30 second eat cleanI saw this book and immediately thought, “I know these people.” These are the people who’ve made snide remarks at my less-than-designer workout gear at the gym. They’re also the same people who guffaw at my shopping basket, filled with store brand hummus and on-sale vegetables, like some sort of bad joke. Well, the joke’s on them. That artisanal hemp bag of theirs isn’t Fair-trade and that absurd bottle of super-special-macha-flavored-turbo-fat-blaster-schmutz isn’t the kind of protein powder they’re hoping it is. That’s right, I read labels and eat as well as I can afford.

Anyhow, “don’t judge a book by its cover” definitely comes into play on this one. Despite its cover, Adam Rosante presents logical, safe, and sound advice and guidance in The 30-Second Body. The first two-thirds of the book is comprised of intense body-weight oriented exercises. If you have ever done a mountain climber (and I do my fair share weekly), you will be comfortable with the exercises Rosante illustrates through photographs of his impeccable form. The nice thing is that he also offers modifications (unfortunately, no pictures to illustrate those changes). His exercises are grouped and named things like “Airborne.” (Yep. Pretty clear there’s lots of jumps in that collection.) He provides a guide for weekly exercises based on these groups. The hope is, by the end of each week you’ll see an improvement in your mobility and how many exercises you can do in a short period of time. It’s about training smarter in short bursts. Think high intensity interval training.

My favorite quote in The 30-Second Body happens to be a personal belief I’ve held after these many years struggling with a healthy body weight, “No matter how hard you work out, you can’t out-train a bad diet.” (p.105) Rosante is absolutely right. Now, that’s not to say you shouldn’t be working-out, but it’s important to pay attention to your nutrition so you can get the best out of your workouts. Capiche?

Rosante does a great job in bringing the reader to accept and embrace his common-sense approach. He makes nutrition attainable for everyone and avoids all things “fad.” For instance, the resurgence of this idea of cutting out all fruit and certain vegetables because of their sugar content is one he reminds us is a trend that will fade away, again. Fads come and go, but common sense with your approach to food will make the difference between you being on a diet and changing your lifestyle.

Some simple, albeit repetitive tips:
1. Eat perishable foods. Whole foods go bad quickly, whereas boxed, processed foods are best left in the bomb shelters underground.

2. “Meat, seafood, dairy, and fruits and veggies with edible or thin skins should all be organic.” (p.112)

3. Eat before you’re completely satiated. In fact, stop eating when you feel about 80% full. If over-eating has been part of your food-troubles, it can be hard to determine what 80% fullness feels like. Just be sure to stop eating before you feel absolutely stuffed. Leave food on your plate if all else fails. “Skipping meals is a fast track to fat.” (p. 117)

5. Eat 5 times a day. Try to eat within one hour of waking and wait 2.5 hours between your next 4 meals of the day. Your last meal should be at least 2.5 hours before bedtime. This guide works no matter your work schedule. Breakfast, small snack, lunch, small snack, and dinner.

6. Protein is your friend. Eat the right carbohydrates. Eat more vegetables. Drink more water. Fat is OK, but limit.

7. Use the stop-light approach to your foods:

GREEN LIGHT FOODS TO EAT OFTEN
Eggs, wild fish, lean poultry (baked/grilled/roasted/steamed), raw nuts, legumes, nut butters, pea/hemp/whey protein, fruits, legumes, vegetables, whole grains

YELLOW LIGHT FOODS TO EAT (up to once a day)
Cheese, fatty meats like beef, pork, lamb grass fed organic, poultry skin, refined grains

RED LIGHT FOODS TO AVOID (or very, very rarely eat. In fact, forget these foods altogether!)
Fast food, fried foods, processed foods and meats, consider packaged bacon, commercially mass-produced baked goods, soda, processed sugar products

Simply put, eat smart and don’t stress out about it. Get moving, but don’t hurt yourself. And, as always, consult your physician before making any kind of changes to your diet or exercise regime.

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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15301843831_faa5506137_zI just completed a 30-day squat challenge. Let me tell you, it was quite the experience. I’m not one for exercise and tend to stick to a work-out routine for a short amount of time (or until I get distracted). One of my biggest challenges is falling back into a healthy routine once it has been interrupted. However, this squat challenge forced me to keep going. I didn’t allow a busy day to get in my way or cause me to call it quits (even though there were plenty of times that I wanted to). I was inspired after seeing one of my favorite bands perform at the end of March. The whole concert had an uplifting vibe and many motivational words were spoken. It triggered something in me. I told myself that I had to do something to better my life in some way (no matter how big or small). I simply needed a change. I decided to start small with a work out challenge. I chose the squat challenge and mentally prepared myself for the days to come. I didn’t go into it with an “I got this!” attitude. I knew there would be days that would make me curse myself for being motivated to make a change like this, and that there’d be days where I would want to give up and binge watch shows on Netflix instead. I knew I had to prove something to myself. I needed to make it through the next 30 days no matter how many times I’d try to creatively convince myself to quit.

I researched the proper form, typical number of squats in a set, and general tips. This information helped me to feel more prepared and confident. As the number of squats increased each day from the starting number of 50, I felt many emotions. I would have good days where I was motivated and looking forward to my small bit of exercise. I also had days where I would avoid it until the last minute and power through because I had to. The last day of the challenge concluded with 250 squats. The thought alone made me tired. As the number per day got above 100, I would break my exercise into segments to be completed throughout the day instead of over-exerting myself in one sitting. This certainly helped and made those numbers a lot less daunting. I soon figured out that it was all about finding what worked best for me.

I chose to start with one goal instead of compiling a huge list that would otherwise be disappointing if not accomplished. I knew that if I were to go from little to no exercise to a three hour workout every day that I would fail. I knew that I needed to set realistic goals in order to be successful. Guess what? It worked! I completed the challenge and survived to tell you about it.

When it comes to healthier living, it’s important to make manageable changes at a realistic pace.

Now that the squat challenge is over, I’ve made squats a part of my daily routine. I rest every fourth day in order to give my muscles a break. Now that I have added something new to my lifestyle, I am ready to add another form of exercise. This time I think I might go with something a bit more fun… maybe hula hooping!

Editor’s Note: Please consult your physician before making any kind of exercise or diet change to your daily routine.

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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Monday, June 08, 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.

Monday, June 08, 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 required: 10:30 a.m. Registration & Release Form | 11:15 a.m. Registration & Release Form

Monday, June 08, 4:30 p.m. Green Fingers Garden Club at Miller Branch. Join the crew of the Green Fingers Garden Club and take part in the science and art of gardening. Ages 6-8; 45 min. Register online or by calling 410-313-1950. Registration and signed release form required for each session. The release form will be included in your confirmation email.

Monday, June 08, 7:00 p.m. Calming Crafts at Miller Branch. Research shows that creative activities can boost serotonin levels. Join us to use artistic expression to improve your mood. All levels of artistic ability welcome. Well & Wise event. Register online or by calling 410-313-1950.

Tuesday, June 09, 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.

Tuesday, June 09, 2:00 p.m. Doc McStuffins’ School of Medicine at Savage Branch. Explore being a doctor through stories, songs, and activities. Bring your favorite stuffed animal or toy for a special check-up. Ages 3 & up; 45 min. Well & Wise event. Tickets available at Children’s Desk 15 minutes before class.

Wednesday, June 10, 10:30 a.m. & 2:00 p.m. Preschool Block Party at Glenwood Branch. We provide the blocks; you bring the imagination! Build and create with blocks of all kinds. Ages 3-5 with adult; allow 45 minutes. Register online or by calling 410-313-5577.

Thursday, June 11, 7:00 p.m. Hands Only CPR & AED at Savage Branch. You could save a life! Learn about cardiac arrest, how to recognize it, 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). Well & Wise event. Ages 18 and up; 60 min. Register online or by calling 410-313-0760.


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on immunityIn the nineteenth century it was called “the mark of the beast” and likened to the bite of Dracula. But once given, the inoculation for the dreaded Variola virus – smallpox – meant almost certain immunity – as long as the majority of the population adhered. The problem then, as now, was when herd mentality went wild; stampeding toward stupidity. Example: in the 1880’s, long after inoculation against smallpox was known to work, America’s privileged class insisted that ‘Mexican bump’ or ‘Italian itch’ was a disease of the unwashed masses, and while demanding, (sometimes at gunpoint), vaccination of the ghetto poor, they themselves were convinced that their status would protect them.

Unfortunately, smallpox continued to rage into the 20th century, killing 200 million Americans alone before its final eradication in 1949. Today, essayist Eula Biss points out, that is still the case. “High risk” groups are “them” and never “us.”

One reason is that the term “public health” itself connotes what Susan Sontag called “that tainted community that illness has judged.” But viruses, biologists remind us, whether you’re rich or poor, black, brown, or white – include everyone.

In late pregnancy, the author visited her future pediatrician with concerns about the HepB vaccine for her infant. FDA approved in 1981, the vaccine was rigorously given to another high-risk group including health care workers – but also gays, drug users, and the promiscuous. Bottom line, her doctor assured her, it was “a vaccine for the inner city.” When Biss went into labor, however, she required an emergency blood transfusion. Suddenly her low-risk status for Hepatitis B changed dramatically — and with it, her opinion on immunity.

In this brave and gorgeous little book, she also leans in and listens to the passionate viewpoints of many others whose definition of global responsibility – from Voltaire to the Taliban of Northern Pakistan, (where incidentally, polio flourishes), will astound readers.

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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FSND_posterSummer is finally upon us, so I will regale you with a brief and embarrassing winter tale. Way back in January, the hubby and I decided we were feeling kind of crummy and would do something to help us feel healthier. After some thought, discussion (mainly of howto add something to already overloaded schedules), and a bit of research, we had a breakthrough. We decided to embark on a 3-day juice reboot. Please note I said “reboot” and not cleanse. Neither one of us had the time, energy, or pardon me, stomach to deal with the actual cleansing part (read colonics and diuretics and other unpleasantries).

So, inspired by Joe Cross, who gave us the reboot option and is probably best known for Fat, Sick & Nearly Dead, and after a quick juicer purchase, we began to juice our way back to good health. We found some good recipes. Joe has plenty of suggestions, plus, there’s an abundance of resources from the library. You can also find plenty of suggestions online too.We followed Joe’s basic pattern for a 3-day reboot, leading up to it by slowly going vegan, and, when the juicing began, having a breakfast juice, a morning snack juice, a lunch juice, an afternoon juice, a dinner juice, and a dessert juice. We stuck to it pretty well, but here are some reasons why I call it a juice fail:

  • Herbal tea was the only thing that kept me from freezing to death during our Winter juice trial.
  • Kale concoction was surprisingly delicious.
  • Coconut water provided a refreshing break from some of the heavier juices.
  • Yes, sweet potatoes can be juiced and they can be pretty tasty.

1. We decided to do it so quickly so that we could be ready in time to start it over a 3-day weekend that we weren’t 100% prepared. It takes a lot of fruits and veggies to make full servings of juice, so we were running to the store a lot.

2. Winter is a terrible time to juice. The amount of fresh fruits and veggies available is a lot smaller during these months and more expensive. Additionally, since most of our nutrients were coming from juices, there weren’t really hot meals to be had (though I would look forward to the herbal tea we’d have at bedtime with a fierce and humiliating desperation). Long story short, I was cold ALL the time during our reboot.

3. Aside from being cold all the time, I was also hungry and really missed chewing. I know how insane that sounds, but I do feel the cold weather affects appetite, and I think there was a certain loss of comfort from taking this on during winter, especially since we were so new to it.

4. Finally, although we both agreed that the reboot did help us “reset” some of our eating habits (and move away from some really bad ones we’d fallen into), the hubby and I were not as prepared to stick with some of the better habits. For example, we were going to use it as a time to transition into Mark Bittman’s VB6 plan. (Please note that the Farmers’ Market Chef, and I have mentioned Bittman before.)

But some positives did come out of this experience, some greater knowledge that we are applying now. Next month, I will tell you how we are turning the juice fail into a health win.

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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Saturday, May 30, 10:00 a.m. Summer Reading Kickoff at Miller Branch! Join us for face painting & crafts; Wii games for teens; and instant prize drawings for adults. Sponsored by Friends of Howard County Library System. HCLS Signature Event.

Monday, June 1, 10:30 a.m. The Columbia Orchestra Presents… at Miller Branch. Listen to child-friendly music while learning a little about families of instruments and how different instruments produce their sound. Families; 30 min. Tickets available at Children’s Desk 15 minutes before class.

Monday, June 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. Well & Wise event.

Monday, June 1, 7:00 p.m. Calming Crafts at Miller Branch. Research shows that creative activities can boost serotonin levels. Join us to use artistic expression to improve your mood. All levels of artistic ability welcome. Well & Wise event. Register online or by calling 410-313-1950.

Tuesday, June 2, 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. Star Ferguson is faculty at Maryland University of Integrative Health. In addition to her Master’s degree in Acupuncture, she holds a two-year Professional Certificate in Energetic Healing from Dr. Fernand Poulin’s WhiteWinds Institute in Atlanta, GA, and is a Mesa Carrier in the Pachakuti Mesa Tradition, an ancient Peruvian Shamanic healing system. Ferguson’s acupuncture and energy healing practice, Sage Center for Wellness, is located in historic Ellicott City. Well & Wise event. Register online or by calling 410-313-1950.

Wednesday, June 3, 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. In partnership with Howard County General Hospital: A Member of Johns Hopkins Medicine. Well & Wise event. Register online or by calling 410-313-0760.

Wednesday, June 3, 7-8:30 p.m. Free Latest Advances in Cataract Surgery. Learn how cataracts develop, the risks, signs and symptoms as well as management and treatment options with Johns Hopkins Wilmer Eye Institute ophthalmologist Yassine Daoud, M.D. in the Howard County General Hospital Wellness Center.

Saturday, June 6, 9-11 a.m. Free. Home Sweet Home. Children ages 8 to 12, and their parents, learn safe and fun ways for children to stay  home alone. Held in the Howard County General Hospital Wellness Center.

Wednesday, June 10, 7-8:30 p.m. Free Hearing Loss: Risk, Prevention and Support at Any AgeLearn to identify risk, steps to take to prevent loss and treatment options. Dr. Earl Wilkinson will share how to support a loved one who is experiencing hearing loss, skills required to identify gradual loss and ways to handle resistance to intervention. Held in the Howard County General Hospital Wellness Center.

 

 

 


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May is almost over, school is coming to a close, and it is heating up out there. After the winter we had, everyone is excited to be out and about, but be careful! It’s easy to get dehydrated and overdo it. My recommendation, take frequent reading breaks.

bulldozers big dayIt’s his Big Day; Bulldozer can’t wait to invite all his friends to his party. He starts with Digger, “Guess what today is!” But the big machine isn’t interested in guessing, “I don’t need to guess, kid. Today is a scooping day.” Dump Truck rumbles, Cement Mixer stirs, Scraper rattles, Grader clatters — everyone appears too preoccupied with work to guess the answer to Bulldozer’s question. Candace Fleming engages with simple text and Rohmann’s illustrations feature solid-shaped trucks in crayon-bright colors with loads of personality. With each disappointment, Bulldozer is less visible until we only see him from behind, his blade dragging sadly in the dirt. “No games,” He sniffed, “No friends. No party.”
Of course, there is a party; everyone has secretly been working on constructing a giant birthday cake, which Crane hoists up, candles blazing.

There is nothing more fun for little ones then watching the Big Machines do their thing. So look up where the construction is in Howard County, pack a snack, and have a free show.

wind flyersThis was one of my favorite books to take out to the schools and read aloud, the language is so glorious. Likening the idea of flying to Heaven (“with clouds, like soft blankets, saying, `Come on in, get warm. Stay awhile and be a wind flyer too’ “), Uncle makes flying seem so inviting to the boy, that readers will likely wish to be just like Uncle, too. Three-time Coretta Scott King Award-winning author Angela Johnson and illustrator Loren Long invite readers to ponder a band of undercelebrated World War II heroes — the Tuskegee Airmen. With fleeting prose and powerful imagery, this book by the masterful duo reveals how a boy’s love of flight takes him on a journey from the dusty dirt roads of Alabama to the war-torn skies of Europe and into the hearts of those beginning to understand the part these brave souls played in the history of America.

The are many opportunities in our area to see parades, walk Fort McHenry, and visit military bases. A picture book is a great way to prepare children and enrich their experiences.

in the tall tall grassIf you were a fuzzy caterpillar crawling through the tall, tall grass on a sunny afternoon, what would you see? Follow the tiny tour guide as he inches his way through the pages of this book. You’ll see ants and bees and birds–hip-hopping bunnies too. You’ll even hear the sounds some of them make. “Crunch, munch, caterpillars lunch… Crack, snap, wings flap… ” Illustrations created by pouring colored cotton pulp through hand-cut stencils, result in remarkable images. Colors–shaded and varied–range full spectrum, deep and true through sunny yellow, cobalt, plum, a dozen shades of green. Beginning as the sun is high in the sky and ending as fireflies blink and the moon rises above, this backyard tour is one no child will want to miss.

So much to see and explore in our state, our county, and our own backyards! So get out there, carry water, and at least one book.

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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checklist manifestoIt begins one Halloween night, in the emergency room of a San Francisco hospital. A drunk, but stable victim, still in costume, is brought in with a stab wound to the belly.
Triage begins with a head to toe exam, a monitoring of pulse and pressure, consciousness, a call to the blood bank – just in case, and so on. Finally, he’s wheeled into an operating room to confirm that his bowel’s intact. In the end, it’s to be stitched up. No biggie, and no need for the worst-case scenario: a trauma team’s “crash into the operating room, stretchers flying.”

Until the patient loses consciousness and his blood pressure plummets. The team scrambles. An “ocean of blood” meets the surgeon’s wide incision from chest to pelvis. Crazy as it seems –based on that two-inch wound — the patient’s aorta has been pierced. In the hairy end, the patient survived, but what had gone wrong?

Harvard surgeon, Atul Gawande, notes that despite the trauma team’s seemingly complete checklist, no one had asked the EMTs what kind of knife had caused the stab wound. (It turned out to be a bayonet carried by a disgruntled man in a Civil War costume). Says Gawande, in this compelling and expressive book, “Ineptitude is as much our struggle as ignorance.”

What we understand and what we can or cannot control makes us human – from the builder of bridges to the geneticist in his/her lab to the air traffic controller. But can we be forgiven for the stupid error? A succinct pre-op checklist, he notes, at this point in our century, is vital (and not necessarily in place) in the complex hospital setting. It may also be just as vital — and adaptable to many other human activities.

The Checklist Manifesto: How to Get Things Right – a must read for all of us.

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_blogSunday & Monday, May 24 & May 25: Howard County Library System Closed in Observance of Memorial Day

Tuesday, May 26, 6:30 p.m. Invitation to the Ballet at Central BranchStudents of Misako Ballet perform classical ballet and contemporary dances. Children from the audience may learn a quick piece and perform it. Register online or by calling 410-313-7883.

Wednesday, May 27, 7:00 p.m. Food for Thought Book Discussion on Ellie Krieger at Glenwood Branch. Borrow a cookbook from HCLS by the chef of the evening, prepare a few recipes at home, then discuss your experiences. Refreshments. Register online or by calling 410-313-5577.

 Wednesday, June 3, 7-8:30 p.m. Free Latest Advances in Cataract Surgery. Learn how cataracts develop, the risks, signs and symptoms as well as management and treatment options with Johns Hopkins Wilmer Eye Institute ophthalmologist Yassine Daoud, M.D. in the Howard County General Hospital Wellness Center.

Wednesday, June 10, 7-8:30 p.m. Free Hearing Loss: Risk, Prevention and Support at Any AgeLearn to identify risk, steps to take to prevent loss and treatment options. Dr. Earl Wilkinson will share how to support a loved one who is experiencing hearing loss, skills required to identify gradual loss and ways to handle resistance to intervention. Held in the Howard County General Hospital Wellness Center.


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257937032_14920719b3_zThis year marks the 50th anniversary of the Older Americans Act (OAA). The OAA, initially passed in 1965, supports a wide range of home and community-based services that promote healthy aging and independence. These programs and services such as Meals-on-Wheels, caregiver support, job training and elder abuse protection are vital because the population in the United States is growing older. This May in honor of the anniversary of OAA, the Administration for Community Living’s theme for Older Americans Month is “Get into the Act.”

Senior Citizens Month, now called Older Americans Month, was established in 1963 after a meeting between President Kennedy and the National Council of Senior Citizens. Since then every president has issued a formal proclamation asking Americans to pay tribute to older citizens in their community. According to the Census Bureau’s Facts for Features series on Older Americans Month there were 44.7 million people older than 65 years of age on July 1, 2013. By the year 2033 the population 65 years of age and older will outnumber people younger than age 18, in the United States, for the first time.

This year’s theme, “Get into the Act,” empowers us to raise awareness of opportunities to maintain and enhance the quality of life for the population aged 65 and older. We can do this by encouraging our older citizens to participate in their communities in an active way. One way older Americans can connect with people in the community and make a difference in the lives of others is by volunteering. Howard County Library System and Howard County Hospital: A Member of Johns Hopkins Medicine have volunteer opportunities to help keep older adults engaged and involved. In addition the Volunteer Center Serving Howard County (VCSHC) can connect citizens with local non-profit and governmental agencies looking for volunteers. There is a growing body of research that shows an association between volunteering and mental and health benefits. These benefits may include greater levels of well-being and increased strength and energy. Volunteering may even help you live longer!

Another way older people can connect with people in the community is by taking advantage of the wide variety of programs and services offered at any of the six Howard County Senior Centers. The new fitness center at the Ellicott City 50+ Center, located adjacent to the HCLS’s Miller Branch, just opened. Stop by and see the spacious lobby, reception area, classroom, group exercise room, and equipment room. The facility has much to offer.

I’m lucky to have both my parents still living, and to live in a wonderful neighborhood surrounded by many retirees. I feel my children have benefited from these intergenerational connections. President Obama said in his proclamation, “During Older Americans Month, we lift up all those whose life’s work has made ours a little easier, and we recommit to showing them the fullest care, support, and respect of a grateful Nation.”

Please, take an extra moment this May to celebrate and recognize the older people in your life, and in your community. Also, say “thank you” to all those who care for and work with the older population. You will be glad you did, and you just might make someone’s day.

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, May 16, 2:00 p.m. I’m Going to Be A Big Brother or Sister at Elkridge. 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. Well & Wise event. Limited space; tickets available at Children’s Desk 15 minutes before class.

Monday, May 18, 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. 1st & 3rd Mondays; 3:30 – 5:30 pm. Well & Wise event. No registration required.

 


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HCLS Now

 
Did you know that exercise videos are just a click away? We want to get in shape and have fun doing it. Variety keeps us motivated as well as taking on all aspects of fitness, including aerobic capacity, endurance, strength, toning, balance, and flexibility. If you have a computer and a Howard County Library System card (special 75th anniversary edition available right now), you can stream health and fitness videos. While you’re at it, download energizing music to keep you moving on your walk or select an inspirational audiobook about nutrition.

Go to hclibrary.org, look at the bottom right corner of the home page, and click on streaming. You will then find links to Freegal and Hoopla. Explore the choices, pick your movie, music or book and you’re on your way. Freegal has an entire category of movies devoted to health and fitness. Hoopla has the option to explore movies by genre and also has health and fitness selections. The websites walk you through how to register and download materials.

Freegal’s fitness videos include a collection of pilates instructional movies. In addition to general pilates, choices include pilates for men as well as pilates for pregnant women. You can also stream videos of exercise routines addressing joint pain, core strength and emotional stress. HCLS customers may stream up to 3 videos per week and each may be borrowed for 2 days. Freegal allows you to build your music library because you can download and keep 3 songs per week. HCLS customers can also stream up to 3 hours of music per week.

freegal pilateshoopla yoga

 

Hoopla offers an even more extensive selection of fitness videos. Hoopla is a great site to explore for yoga instruction. The selection includes several yoga for kids videos. There are videos with yoga techniques targeted to patients with hypertension, diabetes, joint pain, digestive problems, and sleep disorders. There are movies to assist with weight loss, learning Tai Chi, and improving flexibility. There are even videos for fans of Forks over Knives and The 5 Love Languages. Hoopla movies can be streamed or temporarily downloaded through the app for a viewing period of 3 days.

hoopla audiobookshoopla music

 

 

 

 

 
Hoopla has a large selection of audiobooks as well. By genre, take a look at personal development and health and nutrition. Topics include running, pilates and reversing the aging process. You can learn about meditation, how to lose belly fat, strength training, and breaking unhealthy habits. Explore the music collection too. Albums can be borrowed for 7 days and audiobooks for 21 days.

Computers don’t have to cause us to be more sedentary; they can connect us to activity and healthy lifestyles. The Freegal and Hoopla collections are always expanding. These applications do not have wait lists as the content is available to stream to multiple users at once. You can explore new ways to improve your body and mind today.

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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I’ll be the first to admit that I’m just not an exerciser. I’ve always disliked going to the gym, or finding time to exercise outside of one. I have plenty of excuses for not doing even those exercises I enjoy, like walking, running, or biking: “It’s too hot/cold/raining,” “There’s nobody to go with me,” or “I don’t have anywhere specific to go.” But, there is one type of exercise that I can always fit into my schedule, and that’s simple bodyweight exercises. Stuff like push-ups, crunches, and dips. Plus, I can do them in the comfort of my own home in just a few minutes.

you are your own gymAs the title of this book describes, You Are Your Own Gym, Mark Lauren and Joshua Clark’s self-named Bible of Bodyweight Exercises, contains 141 bodyweight exercises that can be performed pretty much anywhere. Some of them are the obvious favorites that everyone knows like push-ups, sit-ups, squats, and lunges, plus numerous variations on each. Others are more unusual like the whimsically named “the roof is on fire,” “shrugs and kisses,” “good mornings,” and “little piggies.”

The authors also provide some program ideas for various levels of experience and fitness, from beginner to “elite.” These programs call for different types of workouts each day, with recommended exercises meant to improve varying aspects of fitness (endurance, strength, and power). They call for performing 3-4 exercises a day for a total of 20-30 minutes of exercise – an easy amount of time to fit into any busy person’s schedule. One thing I particularly appreciate about this book is that it isn’t meant for one gender or age, and half the pictures depicting the exercises are of a female. It’s written in a very friendly manner that makes it easy to understand and makes exercise a simple and easily personalized task. It’s objective is to teach readers how to build their own basic exercise routines around the exercises that will work best for them – and why that’s what they should be doing.

7 weeks to 50 pull upsIf you want to get more specific, there’s also 7 Weeks to 50 Pull-Ups by Brett Stewart. This program promises to “help you build a stronger body and sculpt your physique in just 20 minutes a day, 3 days a week.” I speak from experience when I say, “You don’t even have to be able to do a single pull-up to begin a program like this.” I started out having to hop up to perform one chin-up on the pull-up bar I have at home (bad form, I know), and now, I can consecutively knock out 5 chin ups (or 3 pull ups). It may not sound like much, but it’s better than none! In fact, there’s a prep level program included for those of us who aren’t at the “7 pull-up minimum” recommended for starting the real program.

Why bother? Well, one day when I fall off a mountain and can pull myself back up without assistance, I’ll know my simple exercise routine was a success!

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, May 11, 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, May 11, 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, May 12, 1:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m. Blood Pressure Screening at Elkridge BranchFree, 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, May 16, 2:00 p.m. I’m Going to Be A Big Brother or Sister at Elkridge. 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. Well & Wise event. Limited space; tickets available at Children’s Desk 15 minutes before class.

Monday, May 18, 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. 1st & 3rd Mondays; 3:30 – 5:30 pm. Well & Wise event. No registration required.

Tuesday, May 19 or Thursday, May 21, 5-7 p.m. Free. Skin Cancer Screening Worried about a funny looking mole? Our HCGH dermatologists will examine your area of concern in Howard County General Hospital’s Wellness Center.


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How do you hope to live the rest of your life when your time becomes short?

This is a weighty question. A question that everyone should ponder and discuss, with friends and peers, but especially with spouses (partners) and other family members. It is often a difficult thing to do and particularly difficult with your older, often ailing parents who are reluctant to talk of such matters. However, the time to have the “hard conversation” may be now before its too late.

being mortalPlease read Being Mortal: Medicine That Matters at the End by Atul Gawande (2014). He has written an insightful book, from a doctors viewpoint (he is a surgeon) and also from a son’s (his father was diagnosed with an incurable cancer), about how people cope with their mortality. He also looks at how the medical community deals with the very sick and/or aged in terms of how they often spend the last few days/weeks of their life, and it’s not the way they might have wished.

Here’s the big question: If you, as a patient, are told the truth about your condition and prognosis by a caring doctor who takes the time to really have a conversation with you, and tells you that your condition is terminal, would you immediately try every medicine/medical procedure in the hopes of gaining a little more time, no matter the costs/pain/side effects, or should you consider your other option of allowing the disease to progress but with some pain management, and try to live the best life you can with the time you have left?

These are decisions and questions that are happening to families all the time as there are more aged people than ever before. But what is also happening is that there are more people dying in hospitals hooked up to tubes in ICU’s when that wasn’t what the patient had wanted. Or maybe they are strapped to a wheelchair and heavily medicated in a nursing home with absolutely no control over any aspect of their day. This is certainly a book that campaigns hard for informed and courageous doctors and patients concerning end-of-life issues and conversations, as well as the importance of advance directives and living wills.

being mortal dvdThe author wants you to ask questions — such as, “What brings you joy each day?”, “What fears do you have about medical care?”, “What is important to you now?” Frontline (PBS) did a show with Dr. Gawande about why it is hard for doctors to talk to their patients about death called “Hope is not a Plan.” It gave his story a human touch as it explored the themes of his book dealing with how families and how the medical community deals with end of life issues and mortality. So often, he found, doctors nor family members had any idea what the patient wanted at the end.

Being Mortal talks about the natural breakdown of a person’s body as old age advances, and the author shows how much people fear dying and even more so talking about it. Together with doubt about what the future will be and desperation for a miracle cure, they cling to the belief that medical science can always fix what is wrong. Medicine does exist to fight death and disease, but eventually, in the end, death will always win.

Dr. Gawande also asks how we can build a better health system that will help older and ailing people feel a sense of continued purpose in their lives and to be able to achieve what’s most important to them at the end of their lives. He visits some very interesting and very innovative nursing homes, assisted living communities, and hospice programs. Also, considering our graying population, he feels more geriatricians should be in training (when in fact the number is declining).

talk about something more pleasantJust as in the Washington Post article in the Health section on Jan 27, 2015 entitled Growing Numbers Turn to Hospice, he explains that hospice care does not hasten death or mean surrender, but can in fact make the time left for the patient more livable and satisfying, and for the family as well. Rather than spending their last days/weeks in a hospital bed hooked up to tubes and monitors, hospice care can help everyone to prepare and have some quality time to spend with the patient and time to say goodbye.

Another recent book, Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant? (2014), by Roz Chast is a memoir that follows the author as she deals with the steady decline and deaths of her parents. As a cartoonist for the New Yorker, there are some lighter moments and humor, but it is an emotional story of an only child overwhelmed with the time and energy and unknowns of watching as her parents decline and have to be moved out of their New York City apartment and into a continuing care community near where she lives. The author gets frustrated because she doesn’t know what is the right thing to do, and she grieves and she cries. It is also a worthwhile read.

short guide to long lifeA book that you might prefer instead is A Short Guide to a Long Life (2014) by Dr. David Agus. He feels that most people could delay or even prevent the majority of particularly chronic diseases we see today if they would adopt healthy habits early in life and avoid those that are known to lead to illnesses. He presents a “cheat sheet” of 65 concise rules for healthy living and living wisely. He hopes his guidelines will make each person more responsible for making healthy decisions for themselves. This book should be required reading for everyone.

You may have heard of Compassion and Choices, a non-profit organization (that publishes a magazine) that is “committed to helping everyone have the best death possible . . .” They advocate patient control in end-of-life care options and reducing unwanted medical interventions at the end of life. This organization is also involved in the aid-in-dying legislation initiatives across the country, but that is a whole other issue. If you read How My Father’s Dementia Has Destroyed Us Both in the Washington Post on February 1, 2015, you would have been moved by the story of the author’s father who is strong physically, but has lost most of his cognitive abilities and needs to be kept in the psych ward of a hospital because there is no where else for him to go.

the conversationAnother new book to recommend to you is The Conversation: A Revolutionary Plan for End-of-Life Care by Angelo Volandes (2015). Also a doctor, Volandes has written a small and excellent book where he tells the stories of several patients at the end of their lives and having the hard conversation with them. He took some patients to the ICU unit in the hospital to show them what that care might look like there. Then, he made a video that he showed other patients on an iPad of what their options would look like- specifically, what CPR, intubation, feeding tubes, and breathing machines were. He explains health care directives, proxies, and living wills and insists that you talk to your family and doctor about your health care options, even knowing that your desires may change over time. There are specific questions to help you start a conversation with your doctor or with someone in your family and especially a parent. I made a copy of the questions. The author highlights some web resources, particularly an online video program called Prepare.

Our mortality is a fearful thing to contemplate, but maybe more so if it is never talked about. I hope these books and articles, and other resources will be very helpful to you, and inspire you start thinking about how a good life can also have a good death. For yourself and for your loved ones, please take the time to consider what end-of-life care may mean, start discussions and have the courage to have a hard conversation.

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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All the Bright PlacesIt’s true, I have a love of Teen novels and I’m not going to apologize for it. In all honesty, most of the ones I go for tend to be, well, let’s just say NOT realistic fiction. (Come on, The Raven Cycle has quests for dead Welsh kings, psychics, ley lines, and one of the best hitmen ever written–but you have to wait until book 2 to meet him. And , The Lunar Chronicles? Kick-butt, clever, fairy tale heroines in space–how could anyone resist? And let’s not forget all that exciting dystopian fiction.)  But, I have to admit, I recently succumbed to a very positive review and picked up a realistic teen fiction title that I want to recommend (but only to older teens and adults). All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven is an amazing book with a powerful story, particularly concerning mental health. I was trying to think of a summary that would not give too much away, but instead I’ll just give you 10 good reasons to pick it up and read it:

  1. Yes, yes, all the reviews say it, so why shouldn’t I: If you loved The Fault in Our Stars (or Eleanor & Park, or both), you will love this book. It has its own unique magic and is not merely a copycat.
  2. The book deals with first love/first sex compassionately, and still lets it be romantic.
  3. It’s already been picked up to be made into a movie, but, as every librarian, English teacher, book lover, etc. will tell you: “Read the book first; it’s almost always better.”
  4. Violet Markey, one of the main characters, is awesome. She is suffering a major loss in her life, and is struggling mightily, but still manages to be smart, relatable, and authentic.
  5. Theodore Finch, the other main character, is also awesome. He knows something is wrong with Violet, and he wants to help. He also knows something is wrong with him, and Niven lets him react to this in a way that is true to real life. And yet, he is still charming, dear, warm, and someone you want to root for, even though you know its is dangerous to do so.
  6. You will learn a surprising amount about some of Indiana’s “natural wonders.”
  7. If, like me, you tend to go for more “far out” (yes, I know, I’m old for using that expression) teen fiction, or, if you d on’t read any teen fiction at all, this might open you up to it.
  8. The author’s notes. Please, please, please read the author’s notes at the end of the book. If you relate to the book because you or someone you know is struggling with some similar issues, Niven provides some great resources. And if you are not, what the author discusses adds a whole new layer to the lives of the characters.
  9. The mental health issues are not sugar coated. In some ways this makes the book very difficult to read, but I am grateful for the fact that, though it is fiction, the book feels very real and doesn’t try to hide, romanticize, or make light of what is going on with its characters.
  10. You will cry. Okay, maybe this isn’t an enticement, but you’ll suspect pretty early on in the book that it will end with tears, and yet you’ll want to keep going. You’ll have to see it through to the end with Violet and Finch, despite the heartbreak that will stay with you well beyond the pages of the book.
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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Monday, May 4, 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. 1st & 3rd Mondays; 3:30 – 5:30 pm. Well & Wise event. No registration required.

Tuesday, May 5, 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. Star Ferguson is faculty at Maryland University of Integrative Health. In addition to her Master’s degree in Acupuncture, she holds a two-year Professional Certificate in Energetic Healing from Dr. Fernand Poulin’s WhiteWinds Institute in Atlanta, GA, and is a Mesa Carrier in the Pachakuti Mesa Tradition, an ancient Peruvian Shamanic healing system. Ferguson’s acupuncture and energy healing practice, Sage Center for Wellness, is located in historic Ellicott City. Well & Wise event. Register online or by calling 410.313.1950.

Monday, May 11, 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, May 11, 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, May 12, 1:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m. Blood Pressure Screening at Elkridge BranchFree, 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.


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Stephen Grill, M.D., PhD., a physician with the Parkinson’s & Movement Disorders Center of Maryland has been kind of enough to share his Parkinson disease expertise as part of Parkinson’s Awareness Month. Today, we share with you selections from his Parkinson’s Disease Reading List.

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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Recently there’s been a resurgence in reading Proust. That’s right, the original tweeter, who upon biting into the soft, sweet crumb of a madeleine, was catapulted back into a flood of boyhood memories.
The result: an agonizing three-thousand word epiphany; Remembrance of Things Past.

Incroyable! But with everyone out there blogging, posting, and spewing their biz, too true. And yet, the act of writing your life story may be good for you.

“Memoir writing,” says Stanford’s Clinical Professor of Psychiatry, Thomas Plante, “Helps us to thoughtfully reflect on our life path. It gives us a sense that our story matters.” And sometimes, it may even take a fictive turn – which is okay. Nothing could be more cathartic than re-imagining – even tweaking — a traumatic ending in one’s life: “Some [people]”, writes Andre Aciman, a comparative lit professor at CUNY Graduate Center, “in an effort to give their lives a narrative, a shape, a logic, end up altering not the facts they’ve known, but their layout. . .” So until you’re ready to write your own, here are two, at least, worth a read.

And no — Snake Hips: Belly Dancing and How I Found True Love is not one of them.

How To Build A Girlhow to build a girl by Cathy Moran

In 1990 England, in the bleak public housing projects of Wolverhampton, motivation is as coming as your next food voucher- unless you’re  14 year-old Joanna Morrigan. England has begun rocking to a new, rougher, sound: Bikini Kill, Patti Smith, Courtney Love, Chrissie Hynde – you get it – girls rule, and no longer do you have to “listen to Julio Iglesias!!!!” But how to reinvent yourself when you’re from the mean streets? When your jolly dead-beat Dadda (who once had a go-nowhere band in the sixties) now spends time perfecting a bum leg in order to hang on to his medical assistance? When Mum sits in perpetual depression nibbling biscuits and watching Dynasty? When your ultra-strange older brother devotes himself to listening to The Sound of Music and dissecting sexually ambivalent snails?

You change your name for starters (Joanna becomes Dolly “Wilde”, after her favorite poet, Oscar). And you write. “It’s the one thing,” Joanna confides, you can dom “when you’re lonely and poor.” But kicking down the door of male-dominated rock music journalism will take some seriously big Dr. Martens. Still Dolly Wilde has the right stuff in this smutty, pee-your-pants-funny homage to working class pride and grungy girldom. (fiction – but based on Moran’s own life)

at home in the worldAt Home In The World by Joyce Maynard

It’s not everyday that an 18 year-old Yale dropout writes a piece that ends up on the cover of The New York Times Magazine, or grows up to produce a body of work worthy of two films, and a regular stint writing for NPR. In fact, most are still children tripping over maturity. They’re also, when it’s said and done, easily malleable. The fine writer, Joyce Maynard, was and is all this. She also decided, after twenty-five years of silence, to spill the beans about her relationship with the infamous J.D. Salinger, (Catcher in the Rye), when she was eighteen and he fifty-three.

Yet there’s more to this hypnotic memoir, (considered so shameful by critics), than an icky affair. Maynard, the gifted daughter of dysfunctional literati, yearned to feel comfortable in her own skin. By the time she would meet the predatory and narcissistic Salinger, however, she was long the victim of family manipulation. At Home In the World is fodder for a great book discussion.

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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Friday, April 24, 11:00 a.m. I’m Going to Be A Big Brother or Sister at East ColumbiaPrepare 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. Well & Wise event. Limited space; tickets available at Children’s Desk 15 minutes before class.

Tuesday, April 28, 2:00 p.m. & 3:45 p.m. EatPlayGrow™ at Central Branch. Explore 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.

Tuesday, April 28, 7:00 p.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.

Monday, May 4, 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. 1st & 3rd Mondays; 3:30 – 5:30 pm. Well & Wise event. No registration required.

Tuesday, May 5, 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. Star Ferguson is faculty at Maryland University of Integrative Health. In addition to her Master’s degree in Acupuncture, she holds a two-year Professional Certificate in Energetic Healing from Dr. Fernand Poulin’s WhiteWinds Institute in Atlanta, GA, and is a Mesa Carrier in the Pachakuti Mesa Tradition, an ancient Peruvian Shamanic healing system. Ferguson’s acupuncture and energy healing practice, Sage Center for Wellness, is located in historic Ellicott City. Well & Wise event. Register online or by calling 410.313.1950.


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Photo by Aimee Z.That good old neurohormone, oxytocin, is only a tail wag away with a dog in your life. Just gaze into that cute face, and, according to Marta Borgi, a researcher at the Behavioural Neurosciences Unit, Department of Cell Biology and Neurosciences in Rome, Italy, you’ve just been zapped by the effect of ‘baby schema’– those physical, infantile traits that appeal to humans, and are shared by both babies and puppies alike.

The human reaction elicits the soft and fuzzy role of caretaker and protector –even if your dog just ate (like my six month-old puppy did the other morning) the nose pads off my Maui Jims. And that’s because dogs are – well – good for us, according to the National Center for Biotechnology Information. Consider a recent study conducted with 60 undergraduates who were both dog and non-dog lovers. For every one of them, the tactile act of canine petting released a relaxation hormone, reducing hypertension significantly.

And for all of you with aging parents, did you know that those with a pooch for a pal are four times less likely to suffer from clinical depression? Or that heart attack survivors with dogs live longer than those who don’t?

you had me at woofFinally, is there any better listener than a dog?

Says Allen Beck, Director, Center of the Human-Animal Bond at Purdue University College of Veterinary Medicine, “We did a study that showed 97 percent of people talk to their dogs.” He added: “and the other 3 percent probably lied.”

The Dog Walker by Leslie Schnur – RomCom tale about a snoopy Manhattanite/dog walker, with a lot of chutzpah and a key as well to the gorgeous apartment of a four-legged client and his trusting owner (whom she’s never met – but would- sigh- love to).

Bark If You Love Me: A Woman Meets Dog Story by Louise Bernikow
Both indifferent and allergic to dogs and people; (is anyone really warm and fuzzy in Manhattan?), Louise Bernikow is jogging along the Hudson River in this quirky memoir, when she comes upon a lame and homeless boxer that soon impacts her life in ways she never imagined.

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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Monday, April 20, 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. 1st & 3rd Mondays; 3:30 – 5:30 pm. Well & Wise event. No registration required.

Tuesday, April 21, 2:00 p.m. & 3:45 p.m. EatPlayGrow™ at Central Branch. Explore 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.

Tuesday, April 21, 7:00 p.m. Meet the Authors: Gina A. Oliva and Linda Risser Lytle at Miller BranchTurning the Tide: Making Life Better for Deaf and Hard of Hearing Schoolchildren presents a qualitative study of deaf and hard of hearing (dhh) individuals who spent a sizeable proportion of their K-12 years as the only deaf children in their schools. Authors Oliva and Lytle discuss the challenges their subjects reported about friendship, identity, and support services. These stories demonstrate how dhh students need social as well as academic support to attain an equitable education. Books available for purchase and signing. In partnership with Howard Community College, Howard County Association for the Deaf, Maryland School for the Deaf, and Howard County Poetry & Literature Society. Become a Friend of HCLS at jointhefriends.orgRegister online or by calling 410.313.1950.

Wednesday, April 22, 7:00 p.m. Meet the Author: Kay Redfield Jamison, Ph.D. at Miller Branch. Kay Redfield Jamison is an internationally renowned author and expert on manic-depressive illness and depression, and a professor of psychiatry at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and Co-Director of its Mood Disorders Center. She authored The New York Times bestseller, An Unquiet Mind: a Memoir of Moods and Madness. The memoir chronicles her experience with depression and mania, and according to Oliver Sacks, “stands alone in the literature of manic depression for its bravery, brilliance, and beauty.” Her other works include Night Falls Fast: Understanding Suicide; Exuberance: The Passion for Life; and Nothing Was the Same: a Memoir. In 2013, Jamison’s book, Touched with Fire: Manic-Depressive Illness and the Artistic Temperament, was awarded the Lewis Thomas Prize which recognizes scientific works that reach a wider audience outside of the laboratory. Jamison coauthored Manic-Depressive Illness: Bipolar Disorders and Recurrent Depression, first published in 1990 and the definitive book on the topic. Dr. Jamison is the recipient of numerous national and international literary and scientific prizes, including the Lewis Thomas Prize and a MacArthur Award. Books available for purchase and signing. In partnership with NAMI, Howard County. Become a Friend of HCLS at jointhefriends.orgRegister online or by calling 410.313.1950.

Friday, April 24, 11:00 a.m. I’m Going to Be A Big Brother or Sister at East ColumbiaPrepare 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. Well & Wise event. Limited space; tickets available at Children’s Desk 15 minutes before class.

Tuesday, April 28, 2:00 p.m. & 3:45 p.m. EatPlayGrow™ at Central Branch. Explore 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.

Tuesday, April 28, 7:00 p.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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women food desireNot too ago, I was a stress eater. Like many people, I would eat not just because I was hungry, but because it helped me forget things. Sometimes it was more like a zombie would eat than a human would. Other times it was not numbness I sought, but extreme pleasure.

I tried to stop, but it wasn’t until I got Invisalign braces that my eating became more structured and I found myself breaking bad habits and eating for the right reasons. Plus, I found music to be a much better, much healthier pain killer than food and, although I’m still a newbie with it, meditation became an ally.

The one thing, though, I never seriously considered in all of it (maybe because I didn’t want to) is that food would or could ever be a substitute for desire. Even so, I can’t help but find Alexandra Jamieson’s Women, Food and Desire both compelling and helpful. Alexandera Jamieson is a Holistic health counselor and co-star of the award-winning documentary Super Size Me. While some of what she writes can be a bit self-evident (“it’s time to start eating right” and ”women who overeat do so to find some kind of emotional solace” are among the few) there’s also the painfully real, which is not said nearly enough:

The intense pressure we’re under to be perceived as desirable, in an objectified way, has us either starving ourselves so we don’t have to feel how lonely or sexually unfulfilled we may be…When sex becomes too dangerous for us to fully enjoy, food becomes our version of safe sex.

But Jamieson is not just here to trouble us though with reminders of how scary sex can be or how unfair our society is to women. She wants to be our cheerleader as well and she becomes one in a non-irritating, warm and sincere manner. Though needing and eating food often makes us feel unwelcome in our own bodies, food instead “should delight us, ignite us and make us feel good.”

11375928206_90665a2e3e_zIt’s exactly because the author is on our side and not lecturing us or talking down to readers that I like this book so much. It may sometimes repeat things we already know, but in this case we do need to be reminded how dangerous criticism of ourselves and others can be, and that in doing so, we are “failing to see that person at all.” No one, Jamieson says, not even a mother, should (whether with cruel intention or not) shame us because of our bodies.

Jamieson stresses three common reasons why we may sublimate food for other things: off-kilter family relationships (so many of us know all about that), body alienation (whether we eat to lose ourselves in our own bodies or we don’t eat as a way to try and disappear), and sexual pleasure. It’s this focus that strengthens Women, Food and Desire  and makes it heads above other self-help books on women and food.

As if the empathy and sincerity isn’t enough, the writer also include the neuroscience behind cravings, how to break lifelong eating habits, and practical tips for food shopping. There is also advice on getting better rest and seeing exercise as something fun to do rather than an excruciating punishment to atone for some past sin.

Jamieson is popular with both readers and critics because she genuinely wants to help ease people into rethinking and recharging the way they see food and their bodies in a world where so many fashion magazines and TV shows hold up an “ideal” image of how women should eat, be, and look. Isn’t that refreshing?

Angie Engles has been with the Howard County Library System for 17 years, 14 of which were at the Savage Branch. She currently works at the Central Branch primarily in the Fiction and Audio-visual departments. Her interests include music, books, and old movies.

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Incorporating physical activity into our daily lives is one of the biggest challenges in today’s world. We all know the importance, but still seem to find getting into a routine difficult. Instead of listening to the media and government recommendations, figure out what works in your schedule! Here are some tips to help you build a lifetime of healthy living:

Editor’s Note: If you want to live healthfully and you want to be active, there is no better way than to start! Get moving! However, always consult your physician before starting a new exercise or diet regimen. We at Well & Wise, want you to get well, stay well, and be wise about how you do it. 

Lisa Martin founded the Girls on the Run program in Howard County in 2009. Lisa is AFAA & NSCA certified, has more than 15 years of personal training experience, and practices a multidimensional wellness approach at her studio, Salvere Health & Fitness. Lisa says that one of the best things about being in the health and fitness industry is watching people accomplish things they never thought possible.

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Monday, April 13, 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/Wednesday, April 13-June 3, 9:30-10:30 a.m. $64. Fitness Fun for Seniors for those 60 and older. Exercise to music at your own pace for fitness, flexibility and fun. Class includes stretching and low-impact exercise. Held in the Howard County General Hospital Wellness Center.

Monday, April 13, 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, April 14, 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.

Thursday, April 16, 7-9 p.m. Free. Maybe Baby: Financial Issues for Expectant, New and Prospective Parents with a Certified Financial Planner™ who will discuss financial issues involved in starting a family. Leave with a plan to help you feel confident about your finances. Held in the Howard County General Hospital Wellness Center.

Friday, April 17, 6-7 p.m. Free. Advance Directives: Understand what they are, who needs them, how to get them and leave with an advance directives document. Held in the Howard County General Hospital Wellness Center.

Monday, April 20, 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. 1st & 3rd Mondays; 3:30 – 5:30 pm. Well & Wise event. No registration required.

Tuesday, April 21, 2:00 p.m. & 3:45 p.m. EatPlayGrow™ at Central Branch. Explore 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.

Tuesday, April 21, 7:00 p.m. Meet the Authors: Gina A. Oliva and Linda Risser Lytle at Miller BranchTurning the Tide: Making Life Better for Deaf and Hard of Hearing Schoolchildren presents a qualitative study of deaf and hard of hearing (dhh) individuals who spent a sizeable proportion of their K-12 years as the only deaf children in their schools. Authors Oliva and Lytle discuss the challenges their subjects reported about friendship, identity, and support services. These stories demonstrate how dhh students need social as well as academic support to attain an equitable education. Books available for purchase and signing. In partnership with Howard Community College, Howard County Association for the Deaf, Maryland School for the Deaf, and Howard County Poetry & Literature Society. Become a Friend of HCLS at jointhefriends.orgRegister online or by calling 410.313.1950.

Wednesday, April 22, 7:00 p.m. Meet the Author: Kay Redfield Jamison, Ph.D. at Miller Branch. Kay Redfield Jamison is an internationally renowned author and expert on manic-depressive illness and depression, and a professor of psychiatry at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and Co-Director of its Mood Disorders Center. She authored The New York Times bestseller, An Unquiet Mind: a Memoir of Moods and Madness. The memoir chronicles her experience with depression and mania, and according to Oliver Sacks, “stands alone in the literature of manic depression for its bravery, brilliance, and beauty.” Her other works include Night Falls Fast: Understanding Suicide; Exuberance: The Passion for Life; and Nothing Was the Same: a Memoir. In 2013, Jamison’s book, Touched with Fire: Manic-Depressive Illness and the Artistic Temperament, was awarded the Lewis Thomas Prize which recognizes scientific works that reach a wider audience outside of the laboratory. Jamison coauthored Manic-Depressive Illness: Bipolar Disorders and Recurrent Depression, first published in 1990 and the definitive book on the topic. Dr. Jamison is the recipient of numerous national and international literary and scientific prizes, including the Lewis Thomas Prize and a MacArthur Award. Books available for purchase and signing. In partnership with NAMI, Howard County. Become a Friend of HCLS at jointhefriends.orgRegister online or by calling 410.313.1950.

Saturday, April 25, 9 a.m.-Noon. Free. CPR Across Howard County American Heart Association Family & Friends CPR for the adult and child victim. For the community and not a certification course. Held in the Howard County General Hospital Wellness Center.


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meatlessMartha Stewart and all her kitchen minions have come together in this wonderfully simple, easy-to-follow-and-replicate cookbook. Meatless contains over 200 recipes for vegetarians, vegans, and those of us looking to get more “veg” in our diets. In fact, the book is dedicated “To everyone who realizes that a balanced diet relying more heavily on vegetable than on animal can result in a longer and healthier life.” Stewart’s foreword shares a story of her daughter’s pet lamb being slaughtered for dinner and the reading of certain books and viewing of films which together with the encouragement of friends and family brought this book to fruition. Vegetable-based meals are not only the trend, but a legitimate way to eat and live well. This cookbook is, truly, for everyone. The introduction by Editor in Chief of Whole Living, Alanna Slang, provides a legend for the recipes which are Vegan, Gluten-free, & Special Diet. She also goes further to provide an outline of “protein powerhouses” like tempeh, seitan, eggs, and bulgur.

My favorite recipes in this book are unlike any I’ve ever seen or have made for myself before:

1. Portobello & Zucchini Tacos p. 240
Roasted veggies are the best and they are filling. Tacos are easy and the sky is the limit when it comes to “the fixin’s.” This recipe asks that you cut your portobello and zucchini into strips and roast them in the oven with a light drizzle of olive oil and seasonings. These hearty veggies will act as your protein for these tacos. Simple. Simple. SIMPLE! Choose your favorite taco staples like cilantro, tomatoes, cheese, etc. to pull it all together. My favorite thing to add that wasn’t mentioned in this book- grilled avocado! Squirt some fresh lemon and lime and a bit of kosher salt – and you’ve got something really special.

2. Grilled Asparagus & Ricotta Pizzas p. 260
This one is so easy and you get to use your grill! Grill your asparagus until you get those nice browned spots. You can get some fresh pizza dough from the grocery store and prepare it on the grill (or in oven and then, transfer to grill) or use some other flat bread like naan and grill it. Be sure to use olive oil and appropriate temps to get those nice grill marks and cook/heat the dough through. Once your pizza base is done, all you have to do is add some fresh ricotta and your grilled asparagus and cover your grill to let all those flavors come/stick together (2 minutes). Remove from grill and eat your heart out!

3. Roasted Cauliflower with Lemon & Cilantro p. 336
It took a while for me to believe the in the heartiness that cauliflower has, but it really can fill you up! With the right combination of spices and time in the oven, cauliflower can be a tender, substantial meal in itself. This recipe allows for a lot of variation. I would suggest fresh cilantro and lemon juice for finishing this dish. It’s not a lot of work, lightly toss chunks/slices of cauliflower in olive oil and seasoning, roast until tender and finish with my previous suggestions. Delish!

Eating your vegetables can be really pleasurable when you have the right recipes in hand. And with Meatless you’ll find something great on each page.

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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fitness mythsIn a very health-conscious society where the media is overrun by fitness and nutrition studies and reports, people still struggle with losing weight and living an overall consistently healthy lifestyle. The media gives so much information on the “right” foods to eat, the “right” way to exercise, and the “right” way to live that many people are confused and frustrated. Is there a “right” when it comes to eating and exercising?

As the fitness industry continues to research and discover more information, the public is constantly exposed to new and updated recommendations. After facts have been passed from source to source, challenged and changed, health and fitness news can become distorted and misinterpreted not to mention overwhelming. Let’s take a look at some of these confusing misconceptions regarding fitness.

How about we start with spot reduction? For example, in order to lose “weight” around your belly, focus on sit-ups or some other abdominal exercise regularly. This will give you a smaller waist, right? Well, this theory of “spot reduction” is impossible. You can specify where you build muscle, unfortunately, a person has no control over where his or her body chooses to burn fat. Muscle helps improve metabolism, resulting in an increase in the amount of calories the body burns but your body has a mind of its own and will lose from wherever.

Speaking of building muscle, another misinterpreted fact concerns weight-lifting. Women commonly believe that weights will make them big and bulky like a man and they should lift only light dumbbells. In fact, only a very small percentage of women have the necessary hormones to naturally do so. Men tend to build bulk and carry more muscle, whereas women tend to create tone and definition. Often, the feeling of bulk comes from adding muscle and not burning the overlying body fat. Womens bodies naturally carry more fat than men, in a healthy way. Increasing muscle improves metabolism, decreases risk of injury, makes daily activities easier and builds strong bones.

how to think about exercsieSo we know exercising is important, but how long? “Research says” 60-90 minutes of physical activity most days. Raise your hand if you have that much time in a day to dedicate to exercise. Very few of us do. Do what you can make time for – but do something! If you only have 20 minutes, move and challenge yourself to work hard during that time. Break it down into shorter segments and use the weekends for a little longer workouts.

Looking at when to schedule your workout, exercising in the morning is best, right? As a trainer, I first ask clients who think this if they will actually wake up at 5 am to exercise (or anything else for that matter!). Most of the time, the answer is “no!” So this brings us to science vs. real life. If you know it’s not something you will do, then the science does not matter. Set yourself up for success and consistency, plan to do it at a time when you feel your best. The benefits may be slightly greater but not greater then doing nothing.

Many fitness recommendations out there promise to be the best. Be sure to find out the best way for you to maximize your results based on your goals, body, time frame and resources. Simplify fitness and eating; if it came from the earth, eat it in moderate portions; work out regularly on a consistent basis. No matter what the media claims, choosing your own health path is essential to getting the best results for you.

Lisa Martin founded the Girls on the Run program in Howard County in 2009. Lisa is AFAA & NSCA certified, has more than 15 years of personal training experience, and practices a multidimensional wellness approach at her studio, Salvere Health & Fitness. Lisa says that one of the best things about being in the health and fitness industry is watching people accomplish things they never thought possible.


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calendar_2015_blogMonday, 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. $35Self-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.

Monday, April 13, 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, April 13, 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, April 14, 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.


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hcls chair exerciseThe past several weeks have been full of exercise suggestions at Well & Wise, and I’ve very much been enjoying reading about walking, running, sneaking (sneaking in exercise during the day, that is), swimming, and a host of other interesting articles. My own recent contribution was about standing, believe it or not. I had vowed, when writing it, that I was going to try to work some traditional-desk-friendly exercise into my routine. I started this process by taking home the DVD No Sweat! Office Fitness for the Mind and Body in attempt to learn some simple exercises.

The workout in No Sweat! Office Fitness for the Mind and Body is lead by Blanche Black, who is the owner/operator of Fit as a Fiddle Productions and creator of the popular Chair Fitness video series. Ms. Black has also been a Geriatric Rehabilitation Nurse and Fitness Instructor. One of her guiding principles to fitness seems to be: “Movement is the key to the health and consciousness of our bodies.” This is something I can totally get behind. I’m probably not going to become a marathon runner or even a mildly avid exercise enthusiast in this lifetime, but I do acknowledge that I need to keep active (both physically and mentally).

Black offers some options for moving and stretching at work that seem completely doable. She even performs these exercises wearing a skirt and in a limited space to better replicate an office setting (though the wisenheimer husband did keep commenting that it looked suspiciously like the reception area of a funeral parlor). Is the production quality a little on the rough side? Are the exercises a bit on the low-impact side (you definitely won’t have to worry about getting sweaty at work)? Do some of the stretches seem a bit silly, especially if you are doing them in front of coworkers? Yes to all of the above. BUT the directions are clear, the DVD is reasonably short (17 minutes), and, after giving it a try, I did feel a little looser, especially in the shoulders and neck (where I tend to carry all my tension).

Black gives you some simple exercises that could totally be done on the job. She’s not out to pump anyone up, but her simple stretches and exercises could help relieve some stress and keep you a little more limber at work. And, if you choose to learn them at home like I did, maybe you’ll be lucky enough to be joined by your favorite smart-aleck.

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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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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