High Blood Pressure

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Few things in life naturally lower our blood pressure – but plenty can raise it. Between worrying about our health, our families, our pets, our friends, our careers, our finances… there’s little time left over to just ‘chill.’

There are numerous drugs on the market that will help keep BP at an even keel. Doctors tell us to give up almost all of the things that give us the most pleasure. “Everything in moderation,” they tell us. Yeah, and we’re also told to ‘just say no’ and ‘you can’t eat just one…’

But these are, literally, words to live by.

We should eat right, exercise, do yoga and/or meditate and all our troubles will magically disappear. Really? Just like that? Yet we continue to abuse our bodies – putting chemicals and additives and artificial coloring and preservatives into our system on a daily basis. We have little if no self control and, when we feel poorly, we blame everyone else but ourselves.

I, for one, do not have high blood pressure. I’m as stressed as the next person but I don’t keep things bottled up inside. I yell, I complain and… you know what? I feel better.

So, do what your doctor tells you and take meds if they’re recommended but the rest is up to you. Find something that calms you – I knit and I color. It relaxes me at the end of a long and stressful day. So does drinking a cup of hot tea and eating a whole lotta chocolate!

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Over And Out

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The very first thing I often hear (after returning home from work at night) is my Dad talking back to the TV. This is something a lot of people do – not only the elderly. Whether it’s a televised sports game (“what are you, blind?”) or a game show (“buy a vowel, you moron”) or a myriad of other brain-numbing, soul-sucking, waste-of-time forms of entertainment, it amazes me the number of sane human beings who are glued to this never-ending cycle of visual stimulation. And my parents aren’t even aware of the modern concept of ‘streaming.’

It’s no wonder the television set has oftentimes been referred to as an ‘idiot box.’

I stopped reading the newspaper years ago because all I ever saw was murder, celebrity gossip and sports. Add to that the local weather and traffic report and that’s basically all that’s on the TV news as well. As if that wasn’t bad enough, there are tons of additional stations that keep replaying accidents and general mayhem 24/7. Such fun.*

So here’s some free advice:

STOP WATCHING. Like they used to say on walkie-talkies and CB radios: “over and out.” There. Problem solved, right? You’d think it would be that simple but, as bored as my Dad is these days because there’s only so much he can do with limited sight, he constantly sits down in front of the TV – knowing that, between watching every televised political debate, all my Mom’s game shows and soaps and his round-the-clock CNN, his blood pressure will no doubt be raised at some point. Maybe TVs should come with a warning from the surgeon general!

*Anyone who watches ‘Miranda’ on public television will get that reference.

It’s My Turn

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At the end of a hard day, all I want to do is put up my feet, have a hot cup of tea and listen to blissful silence. I don’t want to talk, I don’t want to think, I just want to do… nothing. For a few moments, I just want to be me.

Maybe that’s a little profound for those of you who choose to make every second count. Some people have no idea how to just ‘chill.’ They don’t feel accomplished unless they’re doing something at all times. That’s sad, really, because there is so much more to life – and many people miss out on that.

I’m not knocking a great work ethic but I’ve known people who have slaved at jobs their whole lives – only to die way too young. I truly believe that all work and no play makes a person old before his/her time. And, as my Dad always says about the rich, “you can’t take it with you.”

So, after all my work is done and I’m sure that Mom and Dad have everything they need for the moment, it’s my turn to sit back and just relax!

Ready Or Not

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“Ready or not, here I come…,” we shouted as children playing Hide and Go Seek. And, not surprisingly, we always found our playmates. “Are you ready, yet?” we asked our own children when we were running late to an appointment. “Let’s Go” and “Chop Chop,” I often, and as kindly as possible, say to my parents when I know they would rather just stay home but they’ve got places to go and things to do.

With 24 hours in a day, you’d think that we would have plenty of time… we rush to work, we rush getting dressed up to go to events and we even rush so that we don’t end up having to rush. Time is a funny thing. We think we have so much of it when we’re young so we’re always late. Then we want time to slow down because things were so much easier when we had nothing BUT time.

“Youth is wasted on the young.” Wouldn’t it be great to have known then what you know now that you’re older and more experienced? Sadly, all of that knowledge and wisdom comes too late to be able to really enjoy it – as our younger selves could.

They say you’re never quite ready for marriage or children. There isn’t necessarily a perfect time in our lives for such life-altering events. But we do our best whether or not we’re truly ready!

 

Hurry… Slow Down!

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We’re in such a hurry all the time. We eat fast food, we get instant messages – we place too much emphasis on instant gratification… we do everything at top speeds from driving to speaking to shopping. Why can’t we slow down anymore?

Where’s the fire in our lives?

From the time we’re little we’re in this giant hurry to grow up. Then, when we’re grown, we wonder where all the time went. We have indigestion yet we eat some of our meals while driving to and from work or while standing in line waiting to catch a train.

My mother always used to say: “A watched pot never boils.” Sounds profound but, seriously, it ‘always’ boils. In truth, it only seems to take longer because we’re focused on it and, now that we’re all multi-taskers, who’s sitting around watching water boil?

So, give yourself a break. You don’t have to make every single moment count. Don’t go directly from one activity to another. When eating, don’t forget to chew and (maybe) even savor your meal… There will be plenty of time to rush when you’re done!

At First Glance

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At first glance, you might think this plant is real. Clearly it’s plastic and will, therefore, never die. It doesn’t require watering or any other maintenance. It’s pretty to look at and reasonably inexpensive.

So why buy the real thing?

If you’re a gardener or have plenty of time and money to care for flowers and plants, your first choice would undoubtably be to purchase and/or grow them yourself. This goes for both indoor and outdoor varieties. But, if you’re not in the market for something fragrant and don’t really need the extra work, why bother?

I think there’s a fine line between personal gratification and the simple pleasures in life. Some people need to have a hand in everything. Others are quite content to sit back and enjoy the fruits of others’ labor. I’m a knitter and I prefer, whenever possible, to create or recreate (using someone else’s original idea) my own projects. It’s peaceful, it’s therapeutic and (in some cases) it’s even less expensive. Plus, more often than not – especially if it’s a gift for someone else – it comes from the heart.

And you can’t put a price tag on that.

So, next time you buy something that you did not make yourself, remember that someone else DID make it and maybe you’ll appreciate it even more!

Happy Holidays!

Without Really Trying

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Some people are hell bent on working themselves to death. They either have no life outside of work or have chosen to make their job their first priority.

For the rest of us, we struggle to find a happy medium. We put equal time into building our careers and our lives outside the office. We live, we love and we succeed.

Sometimes, if we’re very lucky, we can have it all. And, if even luckier, we can have it without really trying. That’s how I choose to think of my time with my parents. It’s not that it’s easy – because it’s not. But, knowing how much it means to them, that makes it just a bit less hard.

I see my parents struggle on a daily basis. Sometimes even the simplest task can be so frustrating. So I step in. Willingly. And that is my greatest gift to them – that I can find the time and the patience and the humility to help them out, oftentimes, without being asked!

Year End Bonus

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With winter just around the corner, it’s that time of year again when some of us make resolutions and others, like myself, just help ourselves to a little extra sweetness (in the form of chocolate).

I don’t smoke or drink so chocolate is my go-to vice. It’s not exactly a habit but I wouldn’t give it up if asked. And the longer I live, the more doctors insist that it’s actually healthy – so I’m good with that.

But, as the calendar is slowly flipped to the last page, there’s something else we need to be aware of – besides soon having to write a different year on our deposit slips. And that is: we’re a year older but are we any wiser? Have we learned from our mistakes and are we better for them?

Some of us might receive a monetary bonus from work while others will not. That’s not a reflection of our worth but, rather, a consequence of our life’s choices. Sure, money is nice – but knowing you’ve made a difference in someone’s life has its own rewards!

Leave Em Smiling

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As you age, you notice certain parts of your body fail to work quite as well as they used to work. Your eyes don’t see as well and your ears don’t hear as well. You might experience a change in your taste buds and certain smells that you used to enjoy may now seem unpleasant.

Supposedly (much like ‘when a door closes, a window opens’), when one of your senses starts to decline, another one becomes stronger. People who are born without sight or hearing or even limbs have been known to accomplish incredible feats due to this phenomenon. Some of our best known artists, musicians and athletes are among them.

So, if it takes you a little longer to get around or you have to rely on the kindness of others when performing daily tasks… fear not. We’re all in this together. Today you may notice the daily struggles encountered by your elders but tomorrow (or soon enough) your day will come. And even if (one day) your teeth come out of a jar, you can still command an audience with your Life Songs. Just remember to always keep em smiling (and, more importantly, make sure you take those teeth out of the jar first)!

Enough Is Enough

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I remember when my Dad used to drum.  Long after he retired from teaching and playing club dates on the weekends – weddings and Bar Mitzvahs – he continued drumming, almost as if his fingers had a life of their own. I never did that. My oldest son, also a drummer, occasionally does that. Maybe it’s a guy thing.

For years my Dad’s fingers would drum and drum and drum. Every surface had permanent dents or dings; every tabletop was worn of its natural patina of wood; every arm chair’s upholstery was permanently thinned – some worn right down to the material below.

But I haven’t heard that familiar sound in ages. At some point, Dad just gave up. When he finally decided, “enough is enough,” I’ll never know for sure. Was it when the phone stopped ringing for gigs or when the students stopped needing lessons or when time just passed by and all those years of experience and knowledge stopped mattering?

I know he sometimes has dreams about those days of working and teaching. He says they’re quite vivid and he remembers them all. The mind is a funny thing – focusing on some events, no matter how trivial, while fogging over others that seemed so important at one time. So maybe, in hindsight, enough is never really enough!