What is Well & Wise?
Well & Wise is a health education partnership led by Howard County General Hospital: A Member of Johns Hopkins Medicine and the Howard County Library System.
What is the vision of the partnership?
The vision is to enhance, advance, and elevate health education in Howard County, improving the health of our entire community.
What is the mission of the partnership?
The... read more
Howard County General Hospital
Howard County General Hospital: A Member of Johns Hopkins Medicine is a private, not-for-profit, community health care provider, governed by a community-based board of trustees. Opened in 1973, the original 59-bed, short-stay hospital has grown into a 249-bed comprehensive, acute-care medical center specializing in women’s and children’s services, surgery, cardiology, oncology,... read more
Howard County Library
A major component of Howard County’s strong education system, Howard County Library System is a nationally recognized leader among the great public library systems that delivers high-quality public education for all ages.
What is Well & Wise?
Well & Wise is a health education partnership led...
Howard County General Hospital
Howard County General Hospital: A Member of Johns Hopkins Medicine is a...
Howard County Library
A major component of Howard County’s strong education system, Howard...
It’s been a long cold lonely winter… or something like that. I know that February always bring those thoughts… but this year, even the snow lovers are weary of it all. The snow shovels don’t get put away anymore, they stand propped up against the house in an attitude of resignation.
Perhaps you brace yourself to withstand the final icy grasp of winter by looking through seed catalogs and planning gardens, by reading about new varieties of tomatoes and new methods of germinating seeds. Perhaps you even have a cold frame and will jump the season and nurture seedlings into edible lettuce plants early. Or, perhaps you’ll wait a little longer to start seedlings indoors or wait for the traditional days to plant outdoors. Did you know that planting potatoes on St. Patrick’s Day is a gardening tradition?
But what if you have never had a garden? Or don’t have a yard large enough for a garden plot? Or live in the shade? Can a novice start a growing tradition? Should they? Absolutely! There are resources for every gardening obstacle and plenty of help for the greenest of green thumb wannabes.
Is your yard too small? Too shady? Too rocky? Try a community garden. If you live in Howard County, check out Howard County community gardens and the garden at the Howard County Conservancy. Other jurisdictions offer the programs, as well. In addition to a right-sized plot, many of these gardens include deer fencing, compost heaps, water and even plantings to encourage pollinators. Equally important- they offer expert advice from fellow gardeners- just what the novice needs!
Do you need information about how to get started? Information about types of plants? Resources about pest management? Questions about fertilizers? The Howard County Library System has an extensive selection of books that can answer all of your questions about gardening. And, of course, there is always the Old Farmer’s Almanac – published continuously since 1792- it is wealth of information. If you learn better from attending classes in person, the University of Maryland Extension service offers a series of gardening classes in Howard County that will get you off on the right track.
Finally, do you need to have a reason to give gardening a go this year? Here are a few good reasons.
It’s good for the bottom line. Gardening can save you money. A $2 tomato plant can produce $60 worth of tomatoes during a single growing season. The drought in California will cause produce prices to rise, buying locally- and better yet, growing locally will save you money.
It’s good for the bottom line- the other bottom line. Growing your own vegetables is great exercise. Eating fresh veggies may keep you fit, but the physical exercise that it requires also contributes positively to your fitness level. Think of what all that weeding and hoeing will do for your glutes!
Fresh vegetables are nutritious and tasty because they have the chance to ripen on the vine. If you’ve never had the opportunity to go out just before dinner and pluck a red ripe tomato off the vine to add to your salad- you don’t know what you are missing. No supermarket tomato will ever compare.
It’s good for the environment. Locally sourcing your own vegetables reduces- the carbon resources need to transport veggies from far away.
Staying connected to the earth is good for your mental health and the extra sunshine vitamin D will give your mood- and immune system- a boost, as well.
Perhaps most importantly, though… planning a garden gives you something to look forward to in the lingering days of February. And if that isn’t encouragement enough, I leave you with a little music to get you going.
What makes a good breakfast? For me, the omnivore, that would have to be anything with bacon or sausage. For my vegan husband, he has his pancakes, home fries, fruit, toast, and tofu scramble. Tofu scramble will be a post for another day. I even tried to make one using orange juice, and that, as you can imagine, was not tasty. Not at all.
Finding a vegan friendly breakfast is challenging. A quick search for vegan breakfasts turned up Sticky Finger Bakery in D.C. We were both familiar with Sticky Fingers because we had purchased their baked goods at local natural food markets. But when we visited the actual location in Columbia Heights, we were pleasantly surprised that they not only served vegan French toast, but that it was actually quite tasty. That got us wondering: how can we make vegan French toast at home without eggs or milk?
I shared the following vegan French toast recipe with my husband, and it proved to be flavorful and filling when you add a side of fruit. The nutritional yeast is essential as it adds texture to the toast. Vegan French toast has become our breakfast of choice for weekend mornings. While my stubborn nature dictates that I prefer French toast made with eggs and milk, if vegan French toast tastes this good and does not come with all the added cholesterol, I can have the vegan version and still be satisfied and content with these!
Leave your bread slices on the counter to air out while you prepare your bread wash and get out your griddle or fry pan. Combine your wet and dry ingredients in a shallow container like one of those glass baking dishes. Once the ingredients are fully integrated, dip your bread slices into the wash so they’re coated evenly on both sides. Place your slices on a med-high heated griddle or pan for a couple of minutes until golden brown, and flip so the uncooked side gets some browning time too. If you’re not interested in using a pan or griddle, put the bread slices on a clean cookie sheet in a preheated 400°F oven for a few minutes until slightly toasted and then, flip and bake until all sides are golden brown.
Mio Higashimoto is an Instructor & Research Specialist at the East Columbia Branch. She has a background in history and spends much of her spare time knitting, reading, hiking, and watching Star Trek reruns.
February 21, 3:00 p.m. Move with Games at the Glenwood Branch. Exercise while competing with your friends on the Wii or XBox Kinect. Healthy snack provided. Ages 11-17. No registration required.
February 22, 9:00 a.m.- 1:00 p.m. Essentials in Babysitting. $50. Teens 11-14 will learn to manage children, create a safe environment, and apply basic emergency techniques. Howard County General Hospital Wellness Center, 10710 Charter Drive, Columbia, MD.
February 27, 5:30-9:00 p.m. Adult/Child/Infant CPR and AED. Learn the skills needed to clear an airway obstruction, perform cardio pulmonary resuscitation (CPR), and how to use an automated external defibrillator (AED). Earn a two-year American Heart Association completion card. This is not a health care provider course. $55. Howard County General Hospital Wellness Center, 10710 Charter Drive, Columbia, MD.
“You is kind. You is smart. You is important.” I call to mind those resonant lines from the film The Help, in honor of International Boost Self-Esteem Month. I’ve just recently discovered that this month long observation existed, and I’m quite pleased to know that at least one month of the year (February) is set aside for something so important (in my opinion).
Self-esteem is something so integral to our overall mental and emotional well-being, and as such, should be nurtured and tended to often. How we feel about ourselves is a tenuous thing with the propensity of being influenced and affected by myriad factors. Just because our youthful days of impressionable naiveté are but a snug memory, doesn’t mean we cease to be exposed to stuff and people that can cause us to feel either a little bigger or a little smaller. Our boss, our loved ones, our friends, and even strangers can say or do something that seems to literally suck a little of our life force right out. Bit by bit, the toxic things that chip away at our spirit can stir up negative emotions that have wider implications on our health and happiness.
Like a plant reaching for and thriving in the sunlight, we should reach for those things and people that fill us with innate joy and happiness. The strength of the joy we build from within serves as the armor to defend us against the poison that aims to break us down. And mind you, sometimes that poison can come in the form of negative thoughts we ourselves create and believe. The point is that each of our lives is valuable and important, and we should never cease to be true to ourselves and those we care for. Our individuality, our differences, our very unique essence should be celebrated and reaffirmed by positive means. The children’s book, Incredible You! : 10 Ways to Let Your Greatness Shine Through, communicates this concept in such clear and simple ways. I urge you to grab a copy from your local Howard County Library System branch when you have a chance. It truly doesn’t take a peer-reviewed journal article or a doctoral thesis to state the case that we do harness the power of our thoughts, and the key to our happiness.
Feeling good about oneself, and having good self-esteem, is a foundation established in early youth. As we mature, we must nurture our spirit in our own unique way, by doing the things and being with those who encourage our greatness to shine. And if we’ve tried, and can’t seem to overcome the crippling thoughts, then we must seek out professional guidance. Life is too short to be plagued by low self-esteem.
So how do you feel about yourself today? What are the things you can do to nurture your self-esteem?
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.
What would our lives be like if we were wise to a new reality that prevented us from being well? In her remarkable debut novel, The Age of Miracles, Karen Thompson Walker introduces us to a world familiar to us yet changing forever. Seen through the eyes of Julia, an 11-year-old girl, the world as we know it is ending. Days and nights are lengthening as the earth experiences “slowing.” The predictable days and nights required to grow grains, fruits and vegetables are disappearing. The sleep-wake signals required for healthy circadian rhythm are gone.
Sleep disturbance, lack of healthy food and desolate landscapes become Julia’s world. Despite the dire circumstances, Julia’s community continues to function as normally as is possible. Julia herself endures the trials of middle school we all remember, even as the environment becomes unpredictable. Preteen awkwardness, first love and family conflict fill her ever-prolonged days. The book never feels like science fiction because the writing is so gentle, direct and realistic. The setting is the world we ourselves live in, except that the daily cycle of time is stretching.
“Later, I would come to think of those first days as the time when we learned as a species that we had worried over the wrong things: The hole in the ozone layer, the melting of the ice caps, West Nile and swine flue and killer bees. But I guess it never is what you worry over that comes to pass in the end. The real catastrophes are always different–unimagined, unprepared for, unknown.”
We readers and writers of this blog care about our health, what we eat, how we exercise. What if we were to learn we could never eat pineapple again, that the increased pull of gravity would change how we kick a soccer ball, that we’d have to go to sleep in the dark one day and in the light the next? Exploring these questions through Julia’s story brings into focus the wellness decisions we make each day. On my first trip to the grocery story after reading The Age of Miracles, I definitely appreciated that I could not only purchase a bag of grapes, but that I could choose between green and red, seedless and Concord.
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.
Bridget Hughes, licensed acupuncturist, Qigong instructor, meditation teacher, and owner of Healing Point Acupuncture & Healing Arts in the Medical Pavilion at Howard County has spent the last two decades looking at the many ways our mind-body connection enhances (or undermines) our health. Hughes calls the mind-body connection our “greatest yet least tapped personal resource for health,” and considers the best key to unlock that resource to be meditation.
“To meditate in such a way that the biochemistry of the body changes profoundly enough to support improved health,” Hughes describes, “a person must learn to reliably access resourceful and beneficial feeling states. This meditation isn’t what people typically expect; it’s not emptying the mind or focusing on the breath,” says Hughes. Rather, she describes her meditation technique to be more like “getting the right feeling song stuck in your head.” To further clarify, she quotes Paracelsus, the famous 15th century physician, “The spirit is the master, the imagination the tool, and the body the plastic material.” Hughes remarks, “We’ve known since at least the 15th century that using our mind, our heart, and our spirit changes our bodies. It is up to us to do it.”
On March 12th from 7:00-8:30PM, Hughes will teach us how. In a free community offering Rewiring Your Neural Pathways of Emotion, Hughes will teach us how to find the feeling states that scientists have shown change our biochemistry, neurotransmitters, and immune system, and how to use those feelings as a basis for a meditation practice. Says Hughes, “Meditation must be something we can practice as we are driving in rush hour traffic, and as we are dealing with a confrontative boss or colleague. The fruits of our efforts must be accessible right in the midst of our busy, challenging lives.”
Hughes explains that anything practiced over time changes the brain. “Rewiring Your Neural Pathways” is the result. “People intuitively know that anger, disgust, depression, and overwhelm are bad for their health” says Hughes. “They also can sense that states like love and gratitude can improve health. What they don’t know is how to change states, especially when life is frought with hardship. Many of us grapple with anger, depression, anxiety, or stress every day. For meditation to be most useful, it must be effective irrespective of how difficult the circumstances of life may be.” Hughes cites a passage from Maxwell Maltz’s Psycho-Cybernetics to describe her approach to meditation, “Feelings cannot be directly controlled by willpower. They cannot be voluntarily made to order or turned on and off like a faucet. If they cannot be commanded, however, they can be wooed…Remember that feeling follows imagery.”
“We are using imagery to woo the feelings that change the biochemistry” says Hughes. “Through such a meditation practice, we engage our greatest hidden resource for wellness: the power of our mind and the mind-body connection to heal.”
Class info: Wednesday, March 12th 2014 from 7-8:30 p.m. Howard County General Hospital: Johns Hopkins Medicine Wellness Center, 10710 Charter Drive, Columbia, Maryland 21044. To register: (410) 740-7601. Free.
Bridget Hughes is a licensed acupuncturist and co-founder of Healing Point LLC in Severna Park, Maryland, and of Healing Point Acupuncture and Healing Arts in the Claudia Mayer Cancer Resource Center at the Medical Pavilion at Howard County General Hospital in Columbia. She was named a 2010 and 2011 Favorite Doc in Chesapeake Family Magazine. Bridget is a certified Qigong instructor and a Board Certified Clinical Hypnotist and has been interested for over 20 years in the intersection of health, wellness, brain science, energy arts, quantum physics, psychology, and peak performance. She speaks on a wide range of health topics including: Get Your Spontaneous Healing On!, Qigong: Meditation in Motion, A Mind-Body Approach to Pain, Natural Approaches for Healthy Living for People Living With Cancer and Cancer Survivors, Rewiring Your Neural Pathways of Emotion, Using Imagery, Visualization, Meditation, and Feeling States to Groove New Neural Pathways, and Transitioning to Wellness of Body, Mind, and Spirit for Survivors. She considers time spent with patients to be a great blessing and takes a keen interest in each person and their unique situation and experience.
As I write this it’s still deep winter here so we are not doing any shopping in the Farmers’ Markets. It’s a good season to hunker down and read recipes! Especially recipes from foreign lands – with lots of pictures! These were my criteria for choosing books to talk about this month. I wanted new books (less than a year old if possible), about cuisine from another culture, preferably with outstanding photography to take me away from the snow!
The Culinary Institute of America offers Mediterranean Cooking (2013) by Lynne Gigliotti. Her book includes the geographically and culturally diverse countries that border the Mediterranean. A short “history” of the region helps to explain regional differences and similarities as periods of free trade, war, and conquest have stirred the pot. The book is not arranged by region, but by type of food which lets us appreciate how each culture has adapted a dish to make it their own. Her section on grains, legumes, and pasta is especially rich in variety. The illustrations are exquisite—some showing the steps of preparation, but most showing the beautiful presentation of the final dish. I guarantee you will find some recipes here that you have never tried.
Let’s move on to Italy with Jeff Michaud’s Eating Italy: a Chef’s Culinary Adventure (2013). I don’t know whether to call this a “love story with recipes” or a “cookbook with love story.” Michaud is a young chef with an impressive array of experiences already when he goes to Italy to experience more. He falls in love with Italy and with a lovely Italian girl. His “culinary adventure” is told chronologically so the recipes seem quite random. He includes some very adventurous meals with varietal meats not familiar to most Americans. “Eating Italy” is proof that a recipe book does not have to be useful to be enjoyed.
And now to France for Stéphane Reynaud’s French Feasts: 299 Traditional Recipes for Family Meals & Gatherings (2009). Plenty of illustrated recipes. You didn’t lose the table of contents—it’s on the flyleaves, front and back. The chapter beginnings are written on chalkboard and often are followed by a seemingly unrelated short piece on a French restaurateur. Interspersed are a few cartoon drawings. I was not very impressed but perhaps one needs a Gallic sense of humor to appreciate this book. In 480 pages you will probably find something you like.
Now for something completely different and new to Howard County Library System– Authentic Recipes from Indonesia (2006) by Heinz von Holzen and Lothar Arsana. Be sure to read the six pages of introduction to the food and people of Indonesia. You will learn about the “endless islands, endless variety, endless generosity” of the Indonesian people. This is a book that teaches how real Indonesians cook and eat. The photographs, as promised, are beautiful.
In honor of the upcoming St. Patrick’s Day, let’s go to Ireland. The Country Cooking of Ireland(2009) is written by Colman Andrews and photographed by Christopher Hirsheimer, both co-founders of Saveur Magazine. I liked the structure and organization of this book. Each chapter is preceded by a photo of the Irish countryside and introduced with a photo of the subject of the chapter, a few quotes and a page of text about the food to be covered. More food shots are interspersed, as are short pieces on Irish culture and history. It feels thoroughly researched, with a paragraph at the head of every recipe. In all a very pleasant experience.
Barbara Cornell joined the Howard County Library System in 1993 as Assistant Branch Manager at the new Elkridge Branch. Since 2000 she has enjoyed a shorter commute to the Glenwood Branch.