Tag Archives: health and fitness




How do you eat apples? Are you a peeler? Or, like me, do you eat every shred, skin and all, and feel cheated if some zealous hostess has removed it? (In a pinch, I’ve been known to eat carrots straight out of the bag, with a little hasty rinse. Confessions of a carrot addict: topic for another post.)

It takes effort to peel away skin, yes? Remember that gruesome description in Jan Karon’s first Father Tim novel about the woman in the burn unit whose scarring skin had to be sliced off, infinitesimal layer at a time, in a procedure known to make the staunchest nurse blanch?mitford book

That’s how hard I think it can be to correct depression on your own. Nearly impossible, that is, because that dark, “nothing-works-out, I’m-no-good, there’s-no-point” sensation can take over the veritable soul. Become one’s very being, and how hard it is to step outside that?

There are apparently apps that help you replace negative thoughts with positive ones. Hello? If it were that easy, don’t you think I’d be the Joan Rivers of the cove by now?

I guess that’s why they call depression a mental illness, with emphasis on the illness: you can’t talk yourself out of having a fever or a broken foot, either. Though I’ve tried the latter, walking around for a few days before a doc called back to say they’d misread the x-rays and to get off of it pronto.

But I don’t like that term. It still conjures up images of barred windows and wild-eyed patients. Of Bedlam. And if I, over-educated 21st century creature with plenty of experience of “soul sickness” still hear those echoes, is it any wonder there’s a stigma attached in society in general?

Time to end the shame. Time to help peel away the layers of shaming, discrimination and fear associated with having any sort of mental illness. So that we aren’t doubling the pain of those who are already suffering.





Surviving January

The view from my desk:
my desk

Hang on: is that a Starbucks sign up there?

Well, yes.  Confession time.

It’s January, and that doesn’t just mean dicey weather and post-Christmas doldrums. It’s the month this cup,starbucks cup

bought last month as a gift to, well, myself, gets me free coffee every single day. OK, not ‘free’ exactly, since I did pay for it up front. But the frequency of my visits mean I’ve more than made up for the original investment. Especially when you consider that at this, “my” Starbucks, refills are plentiful and courteously given.

Now, I can’t say enough about the friendliness of this particular store, so I’m going to save that for another post. Instead, back to that word, “investment.” Because this cup is one.

How so?

I’m really quoting my husband and a couple of friends on this, but–having this cup is one of my best tools for warding off winter weariness. A malady all-too-familiar for those  of us who work at home and/or deal with chronic illness and/or depression.

Because I bought it in the first place, my thrifty self wants to make having it worthwhile. Therefore, excuse, even encouragement to go to Starbucks! Which just happens to be close to the pool where I swim. So, encouragement to do those laps! (So I can reward myself with going to Starbucks.) Even when the temps are in the teens, as they were this week. Even when the pool heater is broken, as it’s been for the last couple of weeks. And–even when the outside doors to the pool are propped open because of other equipment issues, as they were yesterday when it was sleeting, snowing, and generally being less than optimal conditions for an ”outside” swim.

And regular exercise, you already know, is a key part of any battle against depression.

Finally, there’s the reality that being a regular at pool and coffee shop means I’ve built up community of sorts. Which means I get the added benefit of socializing: a real gift when you work alone at home and live in a remote mountain cove where the nearest neighbors are–trees and more trees.

Let me quickly add that I’m not here surfing the Net. I’m working–(writing, that is, and whether this is “real work” or not is a subject I could waffle on for days. And do)–. And something about having just enough background noise makes me concentrate in a way I sometimes can’t at home, where I fight the compulsion to tend to any number of more-tangible, “more necessary” tasks than writing seems to be.

Anyway, that’s my confession, and I’m sticking to it. At least until next week, when January ends. When I’m going to have to come up with a new excuse for frequenting my satellite office.

How do you get through January?


The Long and Winding DYI

Are we out of our minds? Why would a full-time, overworked attorney for DCS and his non-green-thumbed, non-handyman, several-chronic-illnessed wife take on the landscaping of their entire homesite?

A home currently encircled by deep clay ditches (“just call me moat”) dug by guess-who, awaiting the purchase and carting in (us again) of large shrubs and groundcovers.

With winter finally deciding to show up so everything we dig is wet and heavy and…oh, this is going to last from here to eternity, and there are times I lean on my shovel ready to rest for at least long.

Today’s project was moving gravel from its massive pile down to the in-process walkway. Shovel from pile to truck. Shovel from truck to cart. Shovel from cart to walk, which had first to be laboriously hacked out of hard clay, then tamped down and covered with landscape cloth.

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This is not fun.

Why are we doing it?

Well, no one else has volunteered.

But really, it’s no more insane than anything else we’ve done with our lives. Homeschooling in an era when no one did, for instance, in a town where no one did, and continuing on with it despite financial bare-survival and some in-house obstacles that would have felled Paul Bunyan.

Moving to undeveloped mountain cove land to raise said children, garden, goats and chickens, decades before online farmers’ markets and locavores were even dreamed of.

The children? They turned out great. So what back then sometimes felt like an insane commitment to homeschooling was maybe not such a bad idea after all.

Maybe in a year? two? I’ll be saying the same of the landscaping project.






Stand Up for Yourself

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What’s the easiest thing you can do to improve your immediate health and prolong your life?

So easy you can do it while reading, watching TV, surfing the Net, and even eating?

Just stand up.

I thought this was one of James’s flakier ideas, but it seems there’s a lot of medical research to back up the claim, including from the Mayo Clinic. The head of exercise medicine at the Institute of Sport Exercise and Health at University College London, former chief medical officer for the Commonwealth Games, says that 3 hours a day, 5 days a week, of standing up has “the same health benefits as running 10 marathons a year and can extend life by two years” (Daily Telegraph, 10/7/14).

Which would you rather do?

I’m not about to hang up my swim bag, and I’m definitely not suggesting you stop lacing up those walking/jogging/stair stepping shoes.  Doing my laps most weekdays first thing in the morning keeps me sane. I feel better physically and mentally, and not being able to see or hear underwater means I’m forced to get in some meditation time.

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Plus the arthritis pool exercisers and a couple of the lifeguards are a hoot to talk to.

But I’m also going to figure out a way to type standing up. Remember those tall desks Dickensian clerks like poor Bob Cratchitt had to stand behind while copying out in longhand those endless documents, back before the invention of the mimeograph machine? I want to find me one of those.

In the meantime, maybe I’ll imitate James and put my laptop on a pile of books.

Isn’t your health worth getting up off your chair for?