Category Archives: Uncategorized

Sands

Sands

Tepid fine powder envelops

Pouring feet and tickling toes

Whispering shells and sand dollars

Body’s revision flows

Texture of a different reality

Colorful grains of healing rhymes

Mosaic under your skin

Reflecting shades of time

Hypnotize existing shape

Summons enduring traits

Let abuses of time escape

You are what sand creates

Ancestry (poem)

 ANCESTRY 

Adventurer’s journey of doubt

Searching for truth and being

Curiosity and nostalgia to tout

Great time of lingering last

Faces of dreams are lost and dashed

Unearth the legends of the past

Decrepit photos of profound detection

To examine, to infer, to opine

Clandestine clues of ancient times

Peer deep into their face and eyes

Depth of wrinkles your answer lies

Of tragic lows and romantic highs

Span the bridge of floating clan

Boats only embrace or evade

Glean your sagas quick you can

Chronicle to ponder past life’s intent

Sequels parade while memories frayed

 Legacy you are to life yet made

©Lee Johnson

Superfood: TOMATOES

Would you be willing to eat more tomatoes to: 1. Reduce ovarian cancer 2. digestive tract cancer(colon mouth, throat),  3. cardiovascular disease, 4. asthma and lung disease, 5. prostate cancer, and 6. increase fat burning? This puts the tomato in the catagory of superfoods.

Anti-cancer: Tomatoes have a nutrient called carotenoids like beta-carotene. Its an antioxidant that protects from ultraviolet and infrared light from the sun. Then it gets turned into vitamin A in the body. Another carotenoid is the red pigment lycopene with proven anti-cancer benefits. In the U.S. diet, over 80% of lycopene comes from consumption of tomatoes.

Anti-ovarian cancer: Since both tomatoes and carrots are stocked with cancer fighting antioxidants lycopene and carotene, it will reduce you risk up to 50%(1). The study involved eating one cup of tomato sauce and five raw carrots a week. A modest addition to your diet to get dramatic health benefits. For those with cancer in the family, this makes a big difference.

Anti-prostate cancer: It is reported that men who eat four servings of tomatoes per week have a 40 less chance of prostate cancer(2). In another study, after eating 3 daily servings, men diagnosed with cancer saw it regress is only three weeks. The curative effectiveness of tomatoes can work surprisingly rapid. If you’re a male reading this, you certainly want to take note.

Cardiovascular benefit: Many studies have already confirmed reduced cardio risk with consuming foods high in antioxidants. Tomatoes offer this and reduction of low-density lipoprotein(LDL) cholesterol. It reduces homocysteine, an amino acid associated with inflammation and coronary artery disease. It reduces platelet aggregation which is the clumping together of  platelets in the blood. This helps blood clot. But when the platelet count is increased, it becomes correlated with diseases. Studies also show that blood pressure can be  reduced(2).

Weight loss: We already know that tomatoes are high in potassium, folic acid, and vitamins A, C, and E.  It starts with the bioflavonoids mainly in the skin that reduces inflammation and allergic reactions(3). Lower inflammation allows leptin to help you to lose weight. The hormone leptin controls your appetite, metabolism and weight loss.

Raw vs. cooked: Normally, it’s the fresh organic fruit or vegetables that are often the best. However, since cooking breaks down the cells, it increases the absorption of carotenoids and flavonoids. To increase the absorption of lycopene just add olive oil when cooking.

It makes sense to use less fresh tomatoes in salads or sandwiches and increase red sauces cooked in Italian type dinners. An easy dish is pasta primavera. It’s whole grain pasta with steamed broccoli, cauliflower, and baby carrots. Covered with tomato sauce(store bought is fine) with a little added olive oil. Topped with feta cheese and fresh basil. Add a little garlic bread and red wine and your have reached the mountain top with flavors and health. Bon appetit!

Lee Johnson of www.creativeretirementforwomen.com

(1)www.shape.com/lifestyle/mind-and-body/ovarian-cancer-good-news                                     (2)Retrieved from:  www.huffingtonpost.com/leo-galland-md/tomatoes-health-benefits_b_886214.html                                                                                             (3)Retrieved from: www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/1258798   

Uncork the Traits (poem)

Uncork the Traits

Absolute vow of head and heart

Crossroads of empathy and science

Bound by the hippocratic oath

Minds of children moulded so early

Care-takers pour a foundation unwitting

With a lingering persistence of unknown fitting

Understand and alter the past

Such an arduous and wishful task

Challenges the wounded’s reality mask

Lose yourself in your client you must

Being lost together is the bond of trust

Pull thee forward and return as one

Travelled have I deep within thee

Returning thou unburdened and emotionally free

Shame and sorrow shall wait till tomorrow

Anticipation and hope we hold dearly

For a positive lasting outcome

Yet subtle and fugitive change is found merely

Making a difference is the reward I reap

Revived many have I, thus my soul can sleep

Uncork the traits and dance the streets

© lee johnson

 

GREEN TEA EXTENDS LIFE

New studies on green tea show amazing improvement in a number of key health areas including your life span. A report released by Life Extension(1) put together many studies that shows how green tea(Camellia sinensis) effects DNA, osteoporosis, stroke risk, heart health, blood pressure, insulin resistance, and even how it prolongs life. Here are the groundbreaking results.

HEART HEALTH Studies show that as little as 4.5 grams(.16 oz) a day of ground green tea lowers LDL cholesterol by 40%. A large scale study found that heart attacks are lower by 32% and strokes by 36%. Those who consume the most have a 64% lower risk of narrowing of blood vessels that lead to heart attacks.

BRAIN HEALTH Loss of brain function is a result of aging and toxins. Green tea protects against Alzheimer’s by reducing abnormal proteins and inflammation. Learning and memory are shown to improve. Parkinson’s symptoms have also been reduced and even reversed in some cases. Tea protects against stroke by increasing oxidative enzymes and lowering artery inflammation.

BONE HEALTH Bone loss is caused by age and menopause that’s due to oxidative stress. Green tea catechins(antioxidants) stimulate new bone cells resulting in greater bone density. This is especially important for menopausal women to prevent osteoporosis.

METABOLIC SYNDROME This is defined as having three of these symptoms: excess abdominal fat, high blood pressure, abnormal lipid profiles or high glucose levels. 35% of all American adults and 50% of those over 60 years old have this problem. This is serious because it increases you chance of cancer, heart attacks, strokes and diabetes. Green tea consumption results in lower blood pressure, greater insulin resistance and improved lipid profile.

LIFE EXTENSION All life depends on their genetic blueprint in their DNA that maintains healthy and renewable molecules. Green tea works on the mechanism of life by reducing oxidative stress(tissue damage) and DNA damage. Green tea was shown to reduced DNA damage in white blood cells by 30% after a single dose. Other studies show that tea prevents and even repairs damage caused by oxidative stress. In animals studies, they lived 14% longer with green tea. If you plan to live to 80, 14% is 11 extra years of life.

IN CONCLUSION Many of these studies were done with tea extract or powder. Matcha green tea is made from ground tea leaves and comes in powder form. I use 1/2 teaspoon of matcha that I dissolve in hot water every morning for over five years now. Thats equivalent to about 50 cups of brewed tea. Since it has caffeine, I don’t need to drink coffee anymore. Its easier on my stomach, I’m alert all day, and my blood pressure is lower.

L. Johnson of creativeretirementforwomen.com

For more references to the above studies, please see the Life Extension article listed here:

(1)Jenkins, H. “Green Tea: Protection from DNA Damage” Life Extension, 2016, May p38-46.

photo: green cup; healthierdaily.com

EXERCISE TYPE and LONGEVITY

We know from various studies that you can actually increase your longevity with exercise. But, which ones are the most beneficial? A study(1) divided 2613 Finnish athletes into three groups: 1. ENDURANCE ATHLETES (runners, cyclers) 2. POWER ATHLETES (boxers, weights) and 3. TEAM SPORTS (soccer, basketball, hockey). The results, when compared to Finnish non-athletes are that 1. Power athletes live 1.6 yrs. longer. 2. Team sports produced 4.0 extra years and 3. Endurance sports resulted in 5.7 extra years of life.

The key here is V02 max or the maximum amount of oxygen needed for exercise.  Activities that require you to breath the hardest are the best. Jogging has other advantages in that it’s the best calorie burner per minute of exercise. It will strengthen you knees and bones. It improves brain function including memory. This and most exercises improves mood and helps prevent depression.

You don’t have to be an athlete to benefit from aerobic exercise even as we age. Most seniors I know become involved with distance walking, cycling or aerobic classes. We lose muscle mass as we age, so I believe that some weights should be involved in your routine for a balanced workout. If you are running, the baseline for benefits are 30 minutes 3 times a week. If you’re walking for your exercise, then it is 30 minutes 5 times a week.

(1) Serna, S. et al. “Increased Life Expectancy of World Class Male Athletes” Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise. Vol 25, #2. Feb 1993.

TIPS TO REDUCE ANXIETY

As a therapist for over 30 years, I can confirm that we all feel a need to reduce anxiety at some point in our lives. It’s that sense of dread, panic or being trapped accompanied by physical symptoms of sweating, rapid heart beat, faster breathing, and fatigue. When you have an anxiety attack, you may feel a temporary need to escape the situation. Most anxiety lasts only a few minutes, but can seem much longer due to its intensity. Anxiety often re-occurs in similar situations resulting in avoidance behaviors in an attempt to control it.

Some people have situational anxiety and others may have anxiety for no apparent reason–free floating anxiety. Some may have anxiety attacks and others may feel less intense anxiety more often. But, we all have a need to manage it in some way. In discussing anxiety reduction, I will present different categories or approaches to management starting with the least invasive first.

STRESS REDUCTION TECHNIQUES:

Diaphragm Breathing: Find a comfortable and quite place to sit. Just take a slow deep breath filling your lungs completely until you see your stomach rise. Upon each exhale, visualize the tension slowly leaving your body. Drop your shoulders and let your muscles feel like they are hanging on your bones. About 10 minutes of this should get you ready for the next exercise.

Progressive Relaxation: While your are still sitting in a comfortable place, you begin to tense a muscle group for 5 to 10 seconds followed by relaxation. Start with your forehead and work down your body to your feet. You move from head to arms, chest, legs and feet. Do not tense too hard or long as the tension sometimes remains.

Transcendental Meditation: After the two above exercise, you can now begin your meditation. I’ve always preferred to sit in a yoga position, but a comfortable chair is just as good. Close your eyes for 15 to 20 minutes in a quite place. I allow my mind to wander for this time rather than self direct. I find the mind wanders to those areas of life that are of concern. I then view them in an anxiety free light which often gives me insights in understanding or resolving it.

Biofeedback: After the above, you can now begin your biofeedback. This is simply the body giving the mind feedback about how they interact. You can start with a finger thermometer that shows how warming your finger results in dilating your arteries. This reduces the physical and vascular effect of anxiety. Using biofeedback to monitor and control muscle tension is a better option, but you would need to get some equipment. I was a biofeedback therapist, so I know you can make appointments with an expert and learn the techniques in as little as 5 to 10 sessions.

EXERCISE:

Stretching: There are routine warm-up stretches that prepare the body for exercise. But, there is Yoga and Tai Chi as well. Yoga involves specific body postures and includes breath control and focusing of the mind. Tai Chi involves slow movements to increase vascular circulation. If you reside near a Chinese community, you may see this form of martial art practiced in public parks. It mostly involves stretching and slow circular movements. This can be used as a warm up for more active exercise.

Anaerobic: This is simply the use of muscles with faster motion. Many sports and weight lifting are start and stop activities. Besides stress reduction, you increase your muscular strength, coordination and flexibility.

Aerobic: This is continual exercises improving the body’s use of oxygen. This includes walking, running, cycling, swimming, rowing, etc. Besides stress reduction, you will increase your stamina, strengthen your heart and arteries, burn calories, increase your mood and even extend your longevity. Of the three, aerobic exercise appears to have the most physical and mental benefits if done for at least 20 minutes three time or more a week.

NUTRITION:

Anti-anxiety Foods: Whole grains have magnesium and serotonin which calm neurotransmitters in the brain. Chamomile tea ingredients have an effect similar to Valium on your brain. Other foods that have been identified are almonds(balances mood), acai and blueberries(both high in antioxidants that relieve stress), and seaweed(tryptophan). This also means avoidance of foods that led to anxiety like caffeine, sugar, glycemic or white carbs, and fried foods.

PSYCHOLOGICAL TECHNIQUES:

Guided Imagery: This is using your imagination to guide your life. This involves closing your eyes sitting or reclined and revisiting a relaxing situation. You try to use all your senses. When you visit your favorite beach, you see, smell, feel, and taste it. You can feel the breeze and taste the salt in your mouth. Relaxing images often improves mood in only a few minutes.

Creative Visualizations: There is an excellent book called “Creative Visualization” by Shakti Gawain suggesting you set your mind before you get out of bed. That is, once awake, just lie there and picture how your day will unfold. Picture your interview success(or other task) and how relaxed and cheerful your will be. It’s a form of mental rehearsal like athletes do before a game.

Affirmations: This is the process of repeating positive phrases about yourself to change your outlook. When repeated daily, these positive phrases become a self fulfilling prophecy and can change your behavior. If you repeat how calm and relaxed you are on a daily basis, you slowly convince yourself until you are that person.

UNDERSTAND THE CAUSE:

Specific: Certain situations can trigger anxiety in some people. After my rear end car accident, I felt anxious when tailgated for a couple of years. Since I understood the cause, I was able to plan a resolution. So, I would start my deep breathing techniques when tailgated and sometimes turned up the radio to distract me. I finally got over it after using these techniques.

Non-Specific: Some people I know are just anxious people. They over-react in anxious ways to various minor or routine stresses. This is sometime called free floating anxiety when a specific cause is not apparent. In this case, you understand this is part of your character. So, you just program stress reduction into your daily routine–taking time before and after work everyday.

PSYCHOTHERAPY:

Talk Therapy: If you practice all the above techniques on a daily basis and your anxiety is still causing you distress, you may consider counseling. This will most likely go deeper into the cause and provide an expert opinion as to the treatment. This treatment may focus on coping skills, self-esteem exercises or prior traumas. In my practice, I noticed that anxiety and depression often go hand and hand. If this is your experience and it interferes with your life, it may be important for you to try counseling.

Behavior Therapy: Cognitive Behavior Therapy involves talk therapy with a specialist. This system involves changing the old thinking patterns and habits that contribute to your anxiety. We replace self-defeating thoughts with positive affirmations. You practice following your thoughts with positive behavior change until new habits develop. This may involve stress reduction techniques as well and can be attended in a group rather than individual sessions.

Medications: If you are in therapy, your therapist may refer you to a Psychiatrist for a medication evaluation if indicated. This is not the place to start as this is often a treatment of last resort. There are many medications available for anxiety and depression that the doctor will evaluate you for, so I won’t go into detail here as this is always individual.

In conclusion, these anxiety reduction techniques are presented in progressive order so you can start at the top and work your way down. The more techniques you use, the stronger the effect. It also takes a few weeks of practice to get maximum benefit. Many of these techniques can be incorporated into your daily routine, like meditation and exercise, and will result in healthy improvements in different areas.  L. Johnson   www.creativeretirementforwomen.com

DIARY WRITING IMPROVES HEALTH

Many people may be surprised that diary writing improves health. The strength of this mental health technique of venting has actually proven to extend into physical health. We all need a private place of safety to complain, explain, recant, or just express our deepest darkest thoughts and emotions without being judged or embarrassed.

The very first benefit is a sense of safety and privacy not afforded to us in other arenas. We know in this digital age, there is not much that is really safe or private. In your diary or journal, you can say anything you want without fears of rejection, misunderstanding, regret, or political incorrectness. This is the one place where you can always be yourself.

A journal is your sanctuary from the stress and demands of a hectic and profit oriented environment. Journaling is about the relationship you have with yourself. That is, your thoughts and feelings are vitally important to your self-esteem and sense of well being. We all have some secret thoughts or experiences we won’t tell even the people we trust. If it’s not expressed, our negative feelings stay inside and tend to fester(repression).

This primary psychological benefit is called “catharsis” which just means a release of emotions. This release lowers the tension and anxiety surrounding the past feeling or experience. If you ever visited a psychotherapist, the type of conversation you have was designed for this. Writing about emotions in an abstract sense has proven to be more beneficial than verbalizing them which tends to aggravate past trauma instead.

In terms of physical improvements, studies show that this exercise strengthens the immune system by increasing T-lymphocytes. Some studies show it helps with pain management, fatigue, lowers blood pressure and even helps depression. It’s stress reduction benefit decreases arthritis, insomnia, asthma symptoms, and other chronic conditions. So, there actually is a physical health improvement since mental health extend into the body. This physical result is similar to that derived from meditation, progressive relaxation, or other stress reduction techniques. That’s because serotonin and endorphins are released which are mood elevators and pain killers. Except, in this case, you also solidify your thoughts and feelings.

Many of us had a diary as a child, but have given it up with the demands of mid-life. Well, it’s never too late to start or re-start. Writing about 3 times a week for 15 minutes is a good place to begin. Hand writing is a better form of expression than typing. You can write about the past, present or future, but don’t get stuck in the past. In my diary, I even say goodbye and write about people who have passed away and how I feel about that. So, this is a practice in taking care of yourself while appreciating and understanding life as it unfolds.           L. Johnson                More at:   http://www.creativeretirementforwomen.com

Only 9% of Us Eat Enough Vegetables

A study by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control or CDC(1) claims we need 1.5-2 cups of fruit and 2 to 3 cups of vegetables every day. The report concluded that only 9% of us eat enough veggies and only 13% of us eat enough fruit for maximum health. This varies by state with the South being the least fruit/veggies friendly and the West the most.

Why is this important? Fruits and especially vegetables contain numerous antioxidants, proteins, vitamins and minerals that reduce the occurrence of heart disease, cancer, and weight related disease(diabetes and hypertension). Some studies even correlated fruit/veggie consumption with increased longevity. There are too many studies to mention here that confirm the health benefits.

The American Heart Assoc. defines a serving of fruit as the size of a baseball or 1/2 cup chopped or 1/2 cup of juice. One serving of veggies is one cup if raw and leafy, 1/2 cup if chopped or 1/2 cup of vegetable juice. For grains, a serving is 1 slice of bread or 1/2 cup of cooked cereal or pasta.

That’s great, but how do I include all this into my diet? That’s exactly what Jack LaLanne thought when he decided to juice all his fruits and veggies. His juice was better than store bought since it didn’t have the additives. He lived to 96, so it certainly worked for him.

I prefer to eat solid foods, so I put a large bowl of fruit right in the center of my kitchen. It serves as a constant reminder to eat fruit for all my snacks. I also add fruit to anything I’m eating at the time. I add raisins and apples to my oatmeal for breakfast. I add strawberries and spinach to pre-made superfood salad mixes from the grocery. I often eat a large bowl of super salad for a meal. I mix in some quinoa for more protein and I don’t get hungry afterwards. I wake up in the morning feeling lighter and hungry–I just love it and so will you–happy eating!    L. Johnson from www.creativeretirementforwomen.com

(1)Sifferlin, A (7-9-2015) “Only 13% of Americans Eat Enough Fruit” Time. Retrieved on 7-13-2015 from: http://time.com/3950253/fruits-vegetables-intake/

Common Retirement Assumptions

We all make many retirement assumptions, some of which we are not aware of.  We feel entitled to an enjoyable retirement after working most of our lives either inside or outside the home. Social Security and Medicare are entitlement programs that we all assume will ensure a big part of our retirement income. Some of us assume that we will live well without a partner because of our network of good friends. If we have a partner, we assume they will be there for us. We further assume that our health will continue to be stable. We certainly don’t expect to become disabled or significantly impaired in any way.

The hard truth is that many assumptions in life don’t work out. When you were young, did you think you would be where you are today? Of all the mis-assumptions that are made, I find that the most mis-calculated area is in money matters. Many women I speak with assume that the financial part of retirement will be taken care of. Some mention that their parents will pass on their money, that Social Security will provide for them, or their partner or advisor will help.  It’s the number of static assumptions without backup plans that worries me the most.

Why don’t we prepare better? Well, assumptions set expectations for the future and reduce our worry. Since we don’t want to worry or feel anxiety about the future, assumptions offer predictability and provide us with perceived security. When we feel too secure, we become complaisant about building our savings and investments.  So, many of us find it easier to live with assumptions. However, assumptions afford us less understanding, less control, hinder our problem solving skills and can even ruin your retirement. We trick ourselves into a false sense of security.

A common example is a wife who gives financial control to the husband while assuming he won’t make investment mistakes.  I can tell you from personal experience as a stockbroker and real estate investor that everyone makes mistakes when investing. How people deal with these mistakes is determined by the amount of experience they have with market losses. But, even in this day and age, many women still allow their advisor or partner to handle personal investments and often turn a blind eye. That can be a big mistake since men typically take more risks when investing. (See: http://blog.creativeretirementforwomen.com/women-need-female-financial-advisor/)

For many women, learning investing is like going to the dentist. But, I believe that is simply an attitude that can be changed at any time. If you’re not worried because your partner is financially knowledgable, what if you outlive him? Being a single woman only increases the need for financial acumen as you must depend on yourself. So, just as we become resigned to go to the dentist, we also must become resigned and determined to manage money. After all, it is your future.

It helps to think like a single women who must be self-sustaining and more creative than her counterpart. Most single women do not assume someone will take care of them, they know they have to do it.  I know that many people find money management too complicated, laborious or even boring. To help make investing more exciting, consider joining an investment club, engaging in online discussions, read books, and take classes. If you are single or a couple, taking investment classes is a solid foundation to build upon. I also like investment clubs because you get actual experience investing and you get to hear all the strategies. You can even start your own investment club if one is not in your area. Think of it as similar to a book club. Even if you are seeing an advisor that you trust, you still want to understand the strategy and the risks–you never want to be in the dark.          L.J.      www.creativeretirementforwomen.com