Category Archives: mental health

A case for probiotics

Facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestlinkedinmail
We’ve all heard of probiotics, but what do they really do? There’s reasonable disagreement as to the benefits, but here’s a fascinating piece of research. Eating fermented foods to balance your gut microbes can lead to a reduction in social anxiety, according to a  recent study at William and Mary College. But if you’re not a fan of kimchi, sauerkraut, tempeh, yogurt and the like, consider taking probiotics. We were recently asked to review a brand that has recently become an Amazon’s Choice because of its natural qualities and its affordable price (~$25 for a two month supply).
.
Hyperbiotics for good gut health

After healing from a parasite acquired while traveling, Hyperbiotics co-founder Jamie Morea realized just how important the body’s microbiome is to overall health and well-being. Even the United States government is backing up the idea that gut flora have a profound influence on how you feel. American diets high in processed foods, antibiotics taken over the course of a lifetime, chlorine in the water, and many other things  – even things that happened from birth – can result in deficiencies in the stuff in our gut known as probiotics.

.
Morea did a vast amount of research and ended up creating a product known as Hyperbiotics. It comes in a range of formulas designed for many different ages and needs. On their website you can take a quiz to see what formulation might be best for you, get a free pamphlet about gut health and sign up for news about probiotics  here.
.
Some doctors feel you only need to take probiotics if you are having trouble with your gut, whereas manufacturers tend to promote this as useful for anyone at any time. My doctor said you probably wouldn’t notice any dramatic change if you were not having trouble. But one health-nut, former-nurse friend of mine said, if you’ve taken a lot of antibiotics over the years – as I have – your gut will probably be happy to have an infusion of appropriate probiotics.
.
Reading the Hyperbiotics label is comforting

In any case the Hyperbiotics, the formulas are vegetarian, non-GMO, and free of lactose, gluten and sugar. There’s also no soy, iron, nuts, artificial flavors, artificial colors, or preservatives. And they contain only strains of probiotics that are already resident in the human gut. So the chance is slim of anything negative happening by taking them. Things you might not notice if you’re not having issues but could potentially be benefiting from anyway include:

.
  • Digestion. Absorb nutrients and vitamins more efficiently and minimize gas, bloating, diarrhea etc.
  • Energy levels. When your gut microbes are balanced, it frees up your body’s energy.
  • Reduced leels of low-grade inflammation. This can help fight infection, heart disease and some cancers.
  • Strengthened immune system. Your gut houses 70% of your immune system.
  • Support for brain function and mental clarity. Serotonin, the feel-good hormone, is produced in the gut. (Refer to the study on reduced social anxiety in the link at the top of this article.)
  • Support for optimal body weight, metabolism and blood sugar.
  • Support for healtheir, clearer skin.

Visit the company’s well-laid out website at www.hyperbiotics.com for thorough explanations and more information. Meanwhile, try to eat more yogurt and quit using so much bacteria-busting cleaning fluids and anti-microbial gel. Healthy immune systems have to keep in practice.

Facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestlinkedinmail
twittergoogle_pluslinkedinyoutubeinstagram

2 book reviews – What to do about tough relationships

Facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestlinkedinmail

If you’ve ever worked with others, you’ve probably experienced conflict – more or less, depending on how much natural talent you have for figuring other people out and knowing how to communicate with them in ways that don’t lead to problems. In my experience, that’s a skill some people have and some simply don’t. Certainly, anyone who survives in a big corporation has this skill to some degree. Many of us would never make it in that type of environment.

Authors of  the two books below write with confidence about ways they believe can help people improve and/or acquire that skill. Also, when asked, they both said they thought their techniques would work for relationships outside work as well – like your adult offspring, in-laws and grandchildren. They each offer some tips on navigating this most tricky part of life.

Common sense in business book

Book #1. What If Common Sense Was Common Practice in Business? Subtitle: Don’t expect Fish to Climb Trees, by Rex Conner.

Albert Einstein once said, “Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing it is stupid.”
Remind you of any of your experiences in the business world? Conflict with bosses has as much to do with losing good employees as does not knowing how to hire people with the right skills for a job. This book is about helping people recognize their own talents and skills and about helping bosses set realistic expectations and recognize how to make the most of their good employees. Nobody wants to quit a job if they can contribute, and nobody wants to fire someone who is capable of contributing.
.
This book shines a light on the realities of common sense violations and gives simple “how-to” solutions for applying changes in any size company. If you are not still in the business world, much of this wisdom can be applied to the challenges of parenting and grand parenting. It’s all about clear communication, developing a common language, understanding and minimizing subjectivity in work processes, reducing conflict between boss and bossed so you can keep the people you want – or keep your relationship with your loved ones healthy.
.
If you’re still struggling in the business world, or if you want some guidelines for better communication with your offspring or grandchildren, this book could be useful. Visit www.magerconsortium.com for more information.
.
Swayed: How to Communicate for Impact

Book #2. Swayed, by Christina Harbridge. The author, after transforming the practices used in debt collection processes, founded her own company to help others get more of what they want – in business and in life. Her book, set in a mixture of fonts that seemed a little confused and thus felt somewhat uncomfortable to read, makes its points with great vigor. You might almost feel like she’s yelling at you at times, but clearly she makes some excellent points. For example, you’ll learn her thoughts on:

  • Why nice works.
  • How to use emotional literacy in the corporate world.
  • Why kindness pays off surprisingly well in the debt collection business.
  • 3 ways to communicate better at work today.
  • How to get what you want without being ruthless.
Now, as grandparents, we certainly never intend to be ruthless with our offspring or our grandchildren, but sometimes we can come across that way if we havn’t thought enough about how to present our insights or ideas. If you’ve experienced the feeling of “Hey, I’ve got some wisdom to share” only to realize at last that no one wants to hear it, this book might give you a few tips on how to communicate better.
.
Most of the examples the author uses relate to business situations, and though most of us Boomers have joyfully left that milieu behind, she insists there are ways to apply her principles in any setting. Interestingly, she only reluctantly admits there are some people you just have to give up on. And while that’s not what we want to do with our grown kids, the book might help you learn when to just let things go.
Facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestlinkedinmail
twittergoogle_pluslinkedinyoutubeinstagram

Chicago premieres arts program to help early-stage Alzheimer’s

Facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestlinkedinmail
Chicago arts program helps early-stage Alzheimer’s and others

This June 15 Chicago is pioneering a new arts-inspired idea. Arts Camp for Brain Health is a half-day workshop just for those with early-stage memory loss, diminished cognitive and neuro-motor function, and those who care for them. The goal is to help attendees experience new ways to feel their best through artistic endeavors. Several of Chicago’s most-respected arts institutions are participating (see listing below).

Attendees will choose from programs that consist of discussion and hands-on activities in seven areas: adaptive dance, rhythmicity with drumming, improv theater, video biographies, modern portraits, stained glass and singing. At only $10 a person, this is a unique opportunity both for those with early-stage Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s or other conditions that limit cognitive or neuro-motor abilities, and for their caregivers.
.
This collaborative effort is a significant achievement for arts organizations that were already offering this kind of programming, but hadn’t previously thought to tailor it to this particular target group, according to Stacey Foisy, creator and co-chair of the undertaking. Potentially a model for other cities, the workshop will take place right here in Chicago on June 15 at the Old Town School of Folk Music, 4545 N. Lincoln Ave. Get more details and register here.
.
*Brain Camp participating organizations:
Art Institute of Chicago, Boomers Plus, Hubbard Street Dance Chicago, Lookingglass Theatre Company, Loyola University Museum of Art, Northwestern Medicine-Cognitive Neurology and Alzheimer’s Disease Center, Old Town School of Folk Music, and Video Family Biographies.
Facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestlinkedinmail
twittergoogle_pluslinkedinyoutubeinstagram

Vacation ideas in warm-winter Arizona

Facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestlinkedinmail
Even when your Baby Boomer life is very comfortable, things can sometimes start to feel really low-key, even  routine. So it’s good to know about travel/vacation options that could revitalize you with their unexpected vibrancy. Arizona is one of the few states we’ve been to multiple times – and enjoyed very much each time. The folks from VisitPhoenix.com partnered recently with Lux Bar, 18 E. Bellvue Place, to showcase the winter joys of Arizona and invite Chicagoans to include this winter-warm state in their upcoming travel plans. Scottsdale serves as the main hub for Phoenix, Mesa and more and is continually growing and changing.
Sonoran Desert Scottsdale AZ 50349
Sonoran Desert Scottsdale AZ 50349 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Wineries in the desert?

Yes! Downtown Scottsdale features four Arizona wine tasting rooms that tell the story of the state’s 100 award-winning wineries including LDV Wine Gallery – eat, sip and taste on their two shaded patios. Further south in the Wilcox wine region, check out Salvatore Vineyards, Carlson Creek Vineyard, and the Sue Vino Winery, all of which serve, along with the four tasting rooms, as part of the Scottsdale Wine Trail.
Scottsdale is also now home to a unique cocktail bar called Counter Intuitive. Open only on Friday and Saturday nights, 8pm to 2am, it rotates its decor and menus every few months – from a New Orleans antique shop or Cuban hideaway, to an Agua Caliente Racetrack during Prohibition or a Chinatown hangout. You never know what kind of ambiance to expect – just that it’ll be interesting and stimulating – which gives even full-time area residents something new to get excited about.
Southwest culture and art

Besides imbibing, of course, other activities may call to you on your visit. You might like to go exploring the cultural footprint of the Southwest’s Native American nations during Native Trails. This is a series of noontime festivals that tell stories of Native culture through song and dance. Free, at Scottsdale’s Civic Center Park January through March. Then you can always visit the Arts District where dozens of creative minds have their shops;

Soleri bridge in the desert

extended hours on Thursday evenings let you take the Scottsdale ArtWalk. Or take a self-guided tour of the Scottsdale Public Art Program (love the holiday musical greeting on their website!) of some 50 artworks, including well-known pieces like Robert Indiana’s iconic “LOVE”sculpture and Soleri Bridge & Plaza.

Challenge yourself!
Wanna be a cowboy? Almost all local resorts in Scottsdale offer trail rides and communal cookouts, but how about this for a challenge?! Arizona Cowboy College gives you a closeup view of what it’s like to be a true cowboy. Learn horsemanship skills – yes, serious things like cutting, branding, inoculating, dehorning and driving cattle – and then go out and do that stuff on the range. Yikes! We’d have to sign up for an awful lot of horsemanship skills before even thinking about attempting the rest of it. Hmm. Wonder if trying this at a ripe old age like 60 would ever result in actually achieving such skills? Hey, who cares? If it’s on your bucket list, go for it! If your taste leans more towards a less vigorous horse-related activity, check out Fort McDowell Adventures for a trail ride.
Or how about learning (or at least trying) to drive like the pros on a racetrack? Bondurant Racing School experts teach high-performance racing skills on a 1.6 mile, multi-configuration track. From four hours to four days, the school offers racing courses for every level of driver. If you’ve already graduated to a huge Cadillac or Buick, consider how this might shake up your life.
Green Zebra Adventures

Then there are adventure tours that include climbing mountains, stargazing, hiking and bicycle riding. Try Green Zebra Adventures or a trek with Arizona Outback Adventures (AOA) that includes the history and gelology of the landscape and some insights into the desert’s flora and fauna.

If you like to plan your own adventures. get yourself a copy of the Scottsdale Area Hiking and Trail Guide from ExperienceScottsdale.com.

Where to stay
In case you’ve been there before and would like to indulge at a new top-of-the-line location, three new luxury resorts are coming on the scene in the Scottsdale area. Hyatt Corporation just opened Andaz Scottsdale Resort and Spa. Then in February 2017 Mountain Shadows debuts. Then mark your calendar for late 2018 for the unveiling of Ritz-Carlton Paradise Valley.
Fly the skies in hot air balloons from The Boulders Resort

Other facilities to consider: The Boulders Resort & Spa. One-hundred-sixty private casitas (small individual houses) set out in the Sonoran Desert just far enough to be free of light pollution – the canopy of stars out there is magnificent and seemingly endless. The resort just underwent a multimillion dollar makeover that incorporates the area’s indigenous roots and Old West charm along with new furnishings and upgraded fixtures in bathrooms. Enjoy your private fireplace and cozy patio. Commune with 12-million-year-old natural rock formations. Enjoy drinks in the redesigned lounge bar and dig the Southwestern cuisine in the Palo Verde restaurant.

Camelback Mountain Resort and Spa

Or check out the new custom-designed furniture in the completely restored and modernized 60-year-old Hotel Valley Ho that welcomed Hollywood’s finest during its heyday in the 50s and 60s. There are dozens more places in a wide range of prices, including the wellness experience at Sanctuary on Camelback Mountain Resort & Spa‘s Spa House.

Lux Bar hosting
Lux Bar welcome Arizona Tourism attendees with tasty appetizers that led to a first course of rich crab bisque, then the diner’s choice of broiled skirt steak with caramelized onions and maitre d’ butter, or sauteed whitefish with lobster butter, or penne pasta with dried tomato, parmesan, arugula, and zucchini, seasoned with thyme and roasted garlic and topped with smoked Nueske’s Farm smoked chicken. Entrees were accompanied with creamed spinach and mashed potatoes served family style. Dessert was an old fashioned chocolate cake with dark chocolate ganache and chocolate frosting – perhaps a new “near-death by chocolate.” High five to the Lux Bar culinary and service teams.
.
If warm-weather-destinations are on your agenda, consider Arizona/Scottsdale/Phoenix/Mesa this season. And if happy hour’s on your agenda, try Lux Bar’s new one 3-6pm Tuesday to Friday.
Facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestlinkedinmail
twittergoogle_pluslinkedinyoutubeinstagram

Gift guide 2016 – consumables and more

Facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestlinkedinmail
Gifts can be so hard to choose.  Especially as we grow older, many of us don’t need any more tsatskes (pronounced in some circles choch-kees, it’s a Yiddish expression for “stuff”), so we tend to go for consumables – and most of us do enjoy receiving such things as candy, coffee, popcorn, etc. So let’s start with a few suggestions for unique wines and spirits and places to treat your friends/family to dinner on Christmas/Eve.
.
Sparkle the holidays with Segura Viudas

For sparkling-wine-loving friends. Segura Viudas Brut (SRP $10) or Freixenet Cordon Negro (in the sexy black bottle – SRP $9), both Spanish cavas that bring full, elegant flavor for value prices. Wonderful with food. Perfect for toasting. And just plain fun to enjoy in front of the fireplace (or a video of a burning fireplace).  Or give them a fireplace DVD for their VCR ($10).

.
For luxury wine-loving friends. Check out the reviews here, here, here and here for ideas for luxurious wines that are sure to make your friends feel truly appreciated if they love full, rich wines with their special meals. SRP $20 up to $100-plus.
HIbiki Harmony Suntory Whisky

For whiskey-loving friends. Japanese Hibiki Harmony Suntory whisky – floral notes play just a small part in this elegant, smooth, balanced and subtly sweet blend of whiskies. Plus it comes in a beautiful bottle. SRP ~$70.

.

Oh, and here’s a cool new book about whiskey – Whiskey: A spirited Story with 75 Classic and Original Cocktails by Michael Dietsch. It just happens to be written by a pal I met during our Freixenet trip to Spain. He’s very entertaining and knows a lot about whiskey. Great gift for one who loves whiskey, making cocktails with whiskey and enjoys a good read.

.
Cool recipes for Jack Daniels seasonal whiskies

And if you want to offer something really unique, Jack Daniels has a whole line of whiskies, including Gentleman Jack (sweet vanilla, citrus, spice), Jack Daniels Tennessee Fire (red hot cinnamon and a touch of sweetness, and a seasonal release called Winter Jack. It’s a mixture of apple cider liqueur and JD whiskey with holiday spices. It’s  very light – not serious sippin’ whiskey – but it makes some fun cocktails. Magnify the image to get the ingredients and instructions. Ah, I can feel myself in front of a fire sipping one of these homey concoctions, can’t you?

.
For after dinner. Amaro is the name the Italians give to the herbal-infused liqueurs they serve after their fabulous many-course Italian meals. Chicago’s own maker right here in the city makes Cinpatrazzo with a secret herbal potion that truly settles the stomach after a big meal – and tastes delicious while doing so. This locally made amaro will impress your giftee with your good taste – and let her/him know how much you care. And, oh, enjoy the beautiful Cinpatrazzo websiteSRP ~$35
.
MAGNUM bottle with Santa hat

And then there’s MAGNUM™ Highland Cream Liqueur, a silky smooth blend of Scotch whisky and pure cream that brims with tastes of chocolate, caramel and rich toffee. What a fabulous dessert drink to serve with your holiday cookie tray. Or try these scrumptious Magnum drink recipes.

.
For your pizza-loving friends/family – Brunch!  Who’d a thunk you could turn pizza into a fabulous brunch menu? Robert’s Pizza Company, has done it in style. Take your gang between 11:30am and 3 pm and check out the mouth-watering-sounding LOXZA PIZZA (with lox, double cream  cheese, chives, red onion, chopped egg, dill and capers) or a cool sweet treat like Robert’s very own ‘ZA DOUGH CINNAMON BUN. ‘Za Dough is their own recipe that was 15 years in the making. Oh, and try their new brunch cocktails like the BRUNCH MONEY COCKTAIL, made with Patron XO Café liqueur, hot coffee and heavy cream.
.
And speaking of meals, how about taking your giftee out for a holiday meal? Check out some Chicago restaurants open for Christmas/Eve.
.
While it’s always best if you can figure out something a particular individual is likely to enjoy, you might be one of us who is not blessed with gift-choosing acumen. Or if you’re blessed with lots of friends/family who have everything – or almost – here’s a brief random assortment of product reviews you that might fit as gifts.
.
For your grandchildren – give twice. From Cricket Media comes a collection of ad-free kids’ magazines for all ages. I took the samples they sent on a visit to my grandkids – ages 9, 7 and 4 – and they all immediately got lost inside the pages of their very own age-appropriate publication. I call that a very positive reaction to the material. Games, puzzles, stories and more. Check ’em out: BABYBUG (6 mos to 3 yrs), LADYBUG (3 to 6 yrs), SPIDER (6 to 9 yrs), and CRICKET (9 to 14 yrs). Hey, something besides digital screens to keep them interested and challenged! On sale for the month of December, subscriptions are $29.95 (regular $33.95) and when you subcribe they will also give a subscription to your choice of one of two charitable organizations. Visit them at www.cricketmedia.com.
.
Bil-Jac apple Dessert Jacs – yes, dogs love ’em

For your dog. Ever feel sorry for your dog because all s/he ever gets to eat is dry brown nuggets? How about a dog dessert for the holidays!? Bil-Jac is offering this year Apple Caramel dog treats – with real chicken as the #1 ingredient. My daughters’ dogs LOVE the taste. And it’s just fun to treat your dog to something special during the holidays – oh, alright, any time at all. Look for the brand at your Chicago neighborhood PetSmart, Pet Supplies Plus, and Petco locations, plus some private pet stores like Let’s Pet, Ruff ‘N’ Stuff Pet Center and others. Anyway, don’t dogs just love anything you get for them?

.
Snap Power faceplates with something extra

For your home. A nightlight that doesn’t stick out from the wall and/or look silly sounds good, doesn’t it? Snap Power makes one that’s totally integrated into an ordinary-looking dual-electrical-outlet faceplate. Some reviewers say they won’t shut off and that the electrical connection is iffy. And a hitch with this and with the USB-charger-equipped model (next paragraph) is that you can’t use them with those high-tech plates with the reset buttons that are now required by most cities to be installed anywhere near where there’s water – usually kitchens and bathrooms.

.
The Snap Power USB-charger-equipped faceplate is a great idea, in that you don’t have to dig out another USB-charging device and plug that in first. For those of us not too comfortable with messing with power sources, it’s a bit daunting to face turning off the power to your outlet before you install the new faceplates. These are both cool ideas and the products look nice. Just to be sure it’s right for you or your giftee, read the Amazon reviews before you make a purchase decision.
.

For your snoring spouse/SO.  In case you want to give something you believe might be helpful to a spouse who suffers – or makes you suffer – with snoring problems, only consider this if you’re pretty sure s/he won’t be insulted! Rest-Rite makes a back-sleeper’s aid that’s designed to gently remind you to sleep on your sides instead of your back – when snoring often kicks in. These are disposable (wish they were reusable) kinda big (about 4 inches in diameter) stick-on molded plastic bumps that stay in place and prevent you from rolling onto your back in the middle of the night. We were surprised to find that it really did stay in place, in spite of some tossing and turning – which we did carefully so as not to have to be reminded mid-turn that we were passing by our back-sleeping option. Gotta think this could help those who drift onto their backs and can’t help sawing logs. You can try a sample pack of 7 for ~$17. Even though that seems high, how can you put a price on your mental health? Let us know how it works for you.

Facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestlinkedinmail
twittergoogle_pluslinkedinyoutubeinstagram

What can you do about porn on kid movie sites

Facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestlinkedinmail
English: Caricature on "The great epidemi...
English: Caricature on “The great epidemic of pornography”. From 19th-century French illustration (in Courrier Français?). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It’s utterly confounding to realize that you may be able to find a site that offers the kids’ movie you want for free – but the screen is likely to be surrounded by suggestive drawings or photos that link to pornographic content.

How do you say “outrage”? For most of us baby boomers who were told next to nothing about sex – and probably had a tough time explaining it to our kids – this is an almost unimaginable challenge to the belief that it’s important to protect children’s innocence.

In a 2012  New York Times article, “When children see Internet pornography,” a young boy is quoted as asking his parent, “Mom, why do women like to be choked?” The article also contains a few links to programs for trying to manage this dire trend – though most experts say it is impossible to completely shield your kids from it.

In a 2015 article, “Parenting in the age of online porn,” experts say statistics are not so far indicating a younger generation that’s out of control sexually – teen pregnancy is down, sex among ninth graders is down. Gulp – ninth graders. When one mother discovered a previous search phrase on her computer for “child porn,” her older son told her he’d been looking for porn made for children because he wanted to know what his body was supposed to look like at his age. There’s that beautiful innocence.

Some therapists feel this epidemic of easily accessible pornography is extremely damaging to children and young teens. Yet the jury is apparently still out among other therapists on just how bad the long-term effects will be.  But there’s no question pornography can cause confusion, worry and/or fear even when children are able to process what they see with responsible, caring adults.

If we could legally stop advertising to children on Saturday morning cartoons, surely we can stop porn vendors from “advertising” on children’s content websites. Come on, legislators. Get with it.

Well, grandmothers, be deeply aware of the dangers when you search the Internet for free movies for your grandchildren. And do your due diligence on intelligent ways to handle it if it comes up with one of them.

Facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestlinkedinmail
twittergoogle_pluslinkedinyoutubeinstagram

A dog can help you be a better speaker

Facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestlinkedinmail
Photo of a dog behind a chain-link fence at th...
Photo of a dog behind a chain-link fence at the Paws and More No Kill Animal Shelter in Washington, Iowa. I took this picture. This looks just like my dog Yuma. He was from a shelter in Evanston Il. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A new book for potential dog parents is now available for free download – it’s National Dog Week this week. If you’re a pet owner, you know how much a dog can do for your mental and physical health. For anyone feeling unsure about adopting a dog, this little e-book gives you lots of reasons why you’ll be glad you did.

Dogs make great companions, keep you healthier and all that. But did you know dogs can serve as encouraging, non-judgmental audience members to help nervous speakers improve their presentation skills?

Here’s a quote from the opening of the book, Build a Strong Bond with Your Dog: For a Healthy Mind, Spirit, Body & Community written by Kristen Levine:

…at American University’s Kogod School of Business, anxiety-prone students practice giving presentations to dogs in order to overcome their nervousness. The school claims that, “Addressing a friendly and nonjudgmental canine can lower blood pressure, decrease stress and elevate mood — perfect for practicing your speech or team presentation.”

Think about how that might work for sharing your frustrations with your dog. Hmmm. I almost adopted a dog a few weeks ago. Wonder if this book is a sign… Read more at www.kristenlevine.com.

Facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestlinkedinmail
twittergoogle_pluslinkedinyoutubeinstagram