Archive for December 2016

30 reasons that counter “2016 sucked”

2016 suckedHow many times have I heard from people that 2016 sucked? Blogs like “Why 2016 Sucked” don’t help that perception. I agree that for some, it did. That is the same for every year. For some, a year is awful. For others, a year is fantastic. For most of us, it’s a mix of both and in between. But I hear lamenting about 2016 from people who married their true love this year, from those who got their dream job, and from those who did not suffer any personal major losses. Even worse is that I most often hear the “2016 sucked” statement, not so much in reference to our world’s ongoing climate change, the various terrorist acts or wars, or the tumultuous (to put it mildly) political decisions that happened this year, but instead after each announcement about the death of a celebrity.

I agree, there were a lot of icon losses this year—Carrie Fisher, Prince, George Michael, David Bowie, Alan Rickman, Muhammed Ali, Leonard Cohen, and Alan Thicke, to name a few. But does that really make you want to toss this whole year in the garbage bin? 

I think that we can mourn the loss of these famous people who we’ve come to feel we know personally (though most of us didn’t know them). But, I also am tired of hearing what an awful year 2016 was because of their deaths. I get that they are icons. But of course it wasn’t 2016 that was to blame. For many of them it was drug and/or alcohol abuse that shortened their lives. They lived big lives. They did great things and made some bad choices that ultimately shortened their lives. Some of them suffered from mental illness and self-medicated. They at least had access to any form of wellness care they could imagine to manage their conditions. So many don’t have that option.

Can you feel sad that they won’t be able to entertain us with new material? Yes. But did your 2016 really suck? If it did, I’m sorry, and I hope that this new year brings you better times, better health, more joy.

Is it true that 2016 sucked?

I also hope that this list of good things—all of which happened in 2016—helps everyone see that 2016 wasn’t all bad.

  1. it's not true that 2016 sucked Giant pandas are no longer endangered!
  2. That ALS ice bucket challenge you took in 2015 actually helped fund research that has discovered a new gene related to the disease, potentially offering a new treatment direction.
  3. In BC, 85% of the Great Bear Rainforest will be protected, with the other 15% being regulated under the “most stringent standards in North America” for logging.
  4. More than 20 countries have pledged over $5.3 billion for ocean conservation, creating 40 new marine sanctuaries, including the world’s biggest marine reserve, off the coast of Antarctica.
  5. On my list of places to visit, Lake Titicaca, South America’s largest freshwater lake, is now being preserved as a result of a deal between Peru and Bolivia.
  6. Acid pollution is down!
  7. Major illnesses like heart disease, colon cancer, and dementia are actually down in numbers this year in wealthy countries (though the reason why is unclear).
  8. Public smoking bans have improved health in countries around the world.
  9. The number of smokers in the U.S. has dropped by 8.6 million people since 2005 and health communities and individuals around the world rallied behind Uruguay in a court case against big tobacco Philip Morris.
  10. Child mortality rates in Russia reduced by 12%.
  11. Malawi showed a 67% decrease in the number of children acquiring HIV.
  12. Life expectancy in Africa has increased by 9.4 years since the year 2000.
  13. There are no known remaining cases of Ebola in West Africa.
  14. The WHO announced that the Americas (from Canada to Chile) have eradicated measles.
  15. World hunger dropped by 25%!
  16. The number of people living in extreme poverty in East Asia dropped from 60% in 1990 to 3.5% in 2016.
  17. Same sex marriage (1) and transgender rights (1,2,3) have advanced in places around the world, and continue to improve.
  18. There has been progress in bans on child marriage and female genital mutilation.
  19. 2016 didn't suckEach one of these links really deserves its own line because of the significance of positive shifts in attitude and action, but here it is in short anyway (but, really, do check out the links!). Coal use is declining (1,2,3), renewable energy increased (1,2,3,4,5,6,7—and so many more!), and global carbon emissions didn’t increase this year, for the third year in a row.
  20. Fish are starting to return to waters where they were overfished.
  21. Norway is the first country to commit to zero deforestation, while in India, more than 800,000 volunteers planted 50 million trees in a day.
  22. Israel, one of the driest countries, now makes 55% of its freshwater and has even more water than it needs.
  23. A half-century long conflict was ended in Columbia.
  24. The first-ever Olympic refugee team competed in Rio’s summer Olympics.
  25. Gestures of reconciliation between the U.S. and Japan over Hiroshima and Pearl Harbour were made with visits by President Obama and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.
  26. 2016 didn't suckA former slave and African-American abolitionist, Harriet Tubman, will replace the image of slave-holding Andrew Jackson on the front of U.S. $20 bills.
  27. Every major grocery store and fast-food joint in the U.S. has vowed to use only cage-free eggs by 2025.
  28. Elephants, porpoises, rays, and parrots are amongst some of the animals that will receive the strongest protection thanks to an agreement between 183 countries.
  29. Manatees, Yellowstone’s Grizzly Bears, the Columbian white-tailed deer, green sea turtles (in Florida and Mexico), and humpback whales have all made an improvement in numbers, moving up a rank from endangered to threatened (we still need to take care of them!).
  30. Tigers in the wild have increased in number for the first time in 100 years.

There are 52 stories linked here (1 a week for 2017, if you want) showing the good side of this past year. What other good stories from 2016 (in the news or personal) would you like to share?

 

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Easy and Healthy Christmas Breakfast

easy healthy Christmas breakfast

My aunt made these. Aren’t they beautiful?!

Sometimes people think that I eat healthy 24-7-365. I do eat healthy. But I do also indulge. Especially this time of year. It’s hard not to when sweets and treats are all around. And, why would I want to miss out? I don’t!

But sometimes even the delicious goodies get tiresome. I start to dislike feeling the sugar highs and lows. I remember why I like to eat healthy–I feel better! So, I back away from the boxes of chocolate, the decorated cookies, and the egg nog (I like the almond milk or coconut milk versions). And I look for my usual healthy food.

Healthy Christmas Breakfast

Oatmeal is my usual breakfast. I’ve mentioned that a few times in my blogs, and I use my rice cooker to make my oatmeal overnight

But sometimes I want to fancy it up a bit. This recipe offers a balance of healthy, while feeling like it’s a treat. I think I’m going to make this easy and healthy Christmas breakfast.

Apple Pie Oatmeal in a Slow Cooker
Healthy and easy enough to have every day. But yummy enough to feel like a treat.
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Ingredients
  1. 1 cup steel-cut oats (choose gluten-free if you want or need to)
  2. 4 cups unsweetened almond milk
  3. 2 medium apples, chopped
  4. 1 tsp coconut oil
  5. 1 tsp cinnamon
  6. 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  7. 2 T maple syrup (or honey) * you can modify the amount based on your own sweet tooth
Instructions
  1. Add everything to your slow cooker
  2. Stir
  3. Cook on low for 8 hours (or high for 4 hours)
  4. Stir it again before serving in bowls and adding your fave topping (raisins, slices of apple, pear, cacao nibs, your choice)
Acupuncture, TCM, natural health, Vancouver, BC http://www.activetcm.com/
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Cheat Your Way Into Meditation with Acupuncture

meditation with acupuncture“I don’t think I was asleep, but I don’t feel like I was ‘here’,” he said when I came back into the treatment room. This is a common theme for people getting acupuncture—though they do often sleep too. So, “where” was he? In a meditative zone.

That’s right. You can cheat your way into meditation with acupuncture! In fact, studies using a functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) machine to measure the activity level of different areas of the brain during acupuncture have found that “acupuncture needle manipulation modulates the activity of the limbic system and subcortical structures.” What does that mean, you ask?

These areas contain structures that help you experience and respond to emotions and potential threats, attention, memory, and more. One of these areas—the amygdala—triggers feelings of fear, anxiety, and stress. Studies on meditation show a decrease in brain cell volume in this structure after just a couple of months of regular meditation. A common description by people after both acupuncture and meditation is that they feel calmer and more relaxed.

I know many of you say that you can’t meditate. I get it. It can be difficult. But meditation, like everything, takes practice. Here are some tips on meditation.

Start Small

I made a commitment to just one minute daily. That’s a stupid small number, but I chose it because it would be ridiculous for me to say I don’t have time. Sixty seconds is simple. I always choose more than one minute, but I know that I can still be successful with just that tiny bit of time.

Find Mindfulness in the Mundane

One of my patients gave me a copy of an article about practicing mindfulness while peeling a mandarin orange. This small task takes two hands and involves the sensations of sight, touch, smell, and eventually—once you’ve unpeeled it—taste. Even the citrus smell itself is mood lifting aromatherapy.

You can practice mindfulness while brushing your teeth, walking your dog, or even just waiting for the bus. It’s true–you can put down your phone and just be.

Tune Out to Tune In

Have you ever tried a float? No, not a root beer float. What I mean is the now popular sensory deprivation float tanks. Because it’s completely dark, you wear earplugs, and you are floating in body temperature water, you get to experience nothing. When I’ve done it, I’ve sometimes felt my mind firing up, trying to make up for the lack of other sensory stimulus. But eventually, my mind got bored and I “disappeared.” One time I even felt very clearly like I was floating in space, tiny in a vast void. It was liberating.

Practice Daily

The key to the benefits of meditation is regular practice. Once a week for 20 minutes is not as good as 5 minutes every day. Consistency, habits, routines–that’s what prevails.

Find Meditation with Acupuncture

Another of my patients pays specific attention to how she feels when she gets acupuncture. She focuses on the sensations, pays mind to where and how she feels relaxed, and then makes sure to store that in her body memory so she can recall it later. She told me that she can even “experience acupuncture” when she’s sitting on a busy bus.

Our minds are designed to more easily recall the things we pay attention to. Perhaps you are like me, thinking you don’t have a good memory for names. But what happens when you are introduced?  When your new friend told you their name, were you really listening or were you thinking about what you were going to respond? Problems with memory are often actually problems of attention.

So, the next time you get acupuncture, pay attention to how it feels to relax when I leave the room. Pay attention to that feeling of calm as you get off the table. Then practice recalling those sensations later on. ‘Cause, guess what?

Acupuncture can help you cheat your way into meditation.

 

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