Saturday, April 30, 2011

The Great Baby Boomer's Threat: Alzheimer's Disease

I was a young mother when I first heard an association to what I later learned was Alzheimer's disease.  Someone mentioned that So-and-so must have Old Timer's Disease because she was always forgetting things.  "Old Timer's Disease" it turned out, was the bravado way of talking about a disease that lays waste to individuals, families and communities.  The joke wasn't funny once I understood what this disease is.

Alzheimer's disease (AD) is a progressive form of dementia with no cure.  The most common symptom is memory loss, but not all memory problems are caused by AD.  (If you or someone you love has problems with memory, consult your doctor.)

AD destroys brain cells, which thereby causes problems with the various functions of the brain.  AD also destroys families by slowly taking a person they love away, piece by piece, until they are no longer aware of whom they are or whom the people around them are.  This is a tragic and heartbreaking time.

Both my mother and my mother-in-law from my first marriage had dementia.  My mother-in-law was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease.  Momma's was a different type of dementia.  Caring for them was difficult.  Momma's dementia caused her to forget things that had just happened (short-term memory loss) but she knew who I was up until the day she died.  My mother-in-law on the other hand got to the point where she did not know her family and friends.  She forgot how to feed and care for herself.  She could not walk, or sit up.  Her heart kept her alive, but the woman we all knew and loved had disappeared months before her death.

The Alzheimer's Organization has just released a new report, Generation Alzheimer's:  The Defining Disease of the Baby Boomers. In the report, it states that 1 in 8 baby boomers will be diagnosed with AD.  It will become the defining disease of our generation, killing more people than cancer and heart disease. Millions of people will die from this disease.  We need to stop making jokes about it and find a cure.

I encourage everyone who reads this blog to download the Boomers report. Learn about this disease. Visit Talk to your family, your doctors and your friends. Ask your congress people to support research for a cure.

We can make a difference, together, one-step at a time.

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Friday, April 22, 2011

Earth Day - Every Day!

Earth DayImage by AlicePopkorn via Flickr

It is not often that I go into a rant about something, but celebrating an occasion or feeling that should be celebrated daily just about sends me into a tizzy!  Three observances fit this description - Valentine's Day, Earth Day and Thanksgiving.

By singling out one day to share the love, concern or gratitude, we give permission not to recognize those emotions the rest of the year.  Therefore, it is no surprise that today, Earth Day, when much of society is taking a moment to realize that Mother Earth is dying beneath us, that I want to scream, "Wake up, folks!  We need to love the Earth everyday!"

The trash that has surfaced after this long winter is just one little example of our careless regard for our planet.  If each of us took the time to find a recycling bin or disposal can, if we spoke up to people you carelessly drop their trash wherever they are, if we left a place, as we did in Girl Scouts, cleaner than when we came just think how beautiful the world would be.

On top of all that, just think how much better life would be if we didn't carelessly use resources, if we insisted on greener energy, greener cars and greener communities.  

One day a year isn't going to cut it.  We need to practice Earth stewardship EVERY DAY!  

Let's all give Mother Earth the best present ever...our promise to celebrate her every hour of every day of every year, instead of once every 12 months.


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Saturday, April 16, 2011

Bloom Where You Are Planted

Nature has a lovely way of surprising us.  So often, where we see decay and waste, suddenly we see beauty spring forth.

Nature teaches us lessons.  Bloom where you are planted.  The daffodils in the picture above are a brilliant example.  Hanging tenaciously to the side of the pond, they are blooming in profusion; a welcome sign of spring. They could be washed away if there are heavy rains or crushed underfoot, but in spite of that, they bloom.

We, too, can bloom where we are planted in spite of difficulties and hardships.  This is a lesson I have learned over the years that once again has become evident in my life.

Daffodil field in South East Cornwall
Image via Wikipedia

The past year I have been struggling to find a full-time position.  I have several part-time jobs writing and teaching, but nothing permanent and nothing that gives benefits.  I could look at this as a negative, but instead, I have found that it is an opportunity, almost a calling, to do something new with my life.  So, I have taken this opportunity to write more, develop my craft and learn more about comparative religion. How do I do this?

Connecting to Spirit has always helped me bloom. Remembering to take time to be silent, to listen, to wonder, to accept, to acknowledge, to give gratitude and to ask forgiveness is an act that should be done daily.  Remembering to breath deeply into my solar plexus is another part of the process.  Like any seed that is planted, the seeds of the spirit need to be nurtured and cared for, eliminating the toxins in life aids in developing strong, sturdy blooms. Feeding the soul with the beauty of Nature, the Arts and Loving relationships is another essential.

Life, as they say, is filled with choices.  We can decide to wither away in an environment of self-doubt, despair and dissolution, or, we can thrive in an environment of Love and Light.  

Bloom where you are planted!  The world needs you.

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Wednesday, April 13, 2011

News Flash! Spring Arrives

Dateline - Western Massachusetts, April 12, 2011  

Residents of a small New England town today woke to a surprise appearance by the ever-elusive, Spring.  In short order, a celebration was organized.  Daffodils lined roadways, streets and paths, crowded into fields and front lawns, waving their yellow bonnets. Tulips gathered in groups to await a glimpse of Spring as she passed by. An impromptu chorus of the Jazzy Jays, Rocking Robins and Sweet Sparrows filled the air with song.  The celebration lasted well into the evening hours, when the Peepers took over the music venue, harmoniously serenading Spring as she rested after a busy day about town.

For those in other New England communities, Spring will be making an appearance, never fear.  Her schedule is quite filled, but she has promised her public that she will visit each and every community leaving behind her own special works of art along the way.

For more information on Spring's appearance in your community, check the local weather channel or consult the Farmer's Almanac.

Images of Spring's visit to the area in 2010:

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Thursday, April 7, 2011

Stoking the Fire

A galaxy, spiral no less ^^Image via Wikipedia

There are a handful of people in the world that if given the opportunity, I would jump at the chance to meet.  They are all people, who for me exemplify the type of person I strive to be.  Out of this handful, over the past year, I was blessed with meeting two of them.

The first person was Archbishop Desmond Tutu.  He spoke at the college at which I was teaching.  His joy for humanity is evident in everything he says and does.  This joy is infectious.

The second person is a woman whom I have admired since the 70's.  She is an activist and peacemaker.  Her approach to both has always struck me as down to Earth and practical. 

It was no surprise then when my mentor asked me if I knew Starhawk that I responded with great enthusiasm.  Of course, I know her!  I had used her as a reference in several of my papers written for my Master's.  I had read her words and watched videos of her work.  I was equally enthusiastic to hear that Starhawk was coming to speak at my mentor's church.  

The evening of the talk was a glorious spring evening.  The stars were bright in the clear New England sky.  The church was filled to capacity, something any cleric loves to see, especially these days.  Sitting close to my beloved, I looked over the crowd.  The majority of people were our age, but here and there, young people sat brightly waiting for our guest speaker to begin.  

Starhawk took the podium with the grace of a wise woman.  She spoke eloquently about how we could continue to work towards the goals of peace and justice in the world.  She explained how there was a need to learn to dialogue.

Tears welled in my eyes.  The woman that I admired just said we needed to learn to dialogue, which is exactly what I had been saying and striving towards.  

At the end of her talk, she asked everyone to join her outside for a spiral dance to pray for peace, to pray for healing of Mother Earth, to pray for understanding and compassion towards all.  

As we danced, weaving around the drummers, I looked up into the night sky. I remembered the words of astronauts who, after returning to Earth, tried to explain how small and fragile our planet looked.  With deep sincerity, I prayed that we would be able to heal, the planet and ourselves.

As the spiral dance ended, I found myself to the back of Starhawk.  Not believing in coincident, I realized that this was a gift.  I gently reached my hand out to touch her shoulder.  She turned, took my hand and smiled.

I am not sure what I told my sister, Starhawk.  I think it was something about her being a catalyst for my own activism and peace work. But I do remember thanking her for the work she does and for stoking the fire of my own activism.

Since then, a million ideas have been spinning around my head.  There is so much work to do; I know I cannot do it alone.  Won't you help, too?

Find opportunities to lend a hand, speak a gentle word, easy a pain, stand up to injustice.  Alone, we are like our fragile planet, but together, we are like the stars - each spinning in the spiral of our galaxy - each a part of the great Cosmos.

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Tuesday, April 5, 2011

International Golden Rule Day

The Golden RuleImage by apauls via Flickr

Today is the third observance of International Golden Rule day. This day was founded by Ambassador Mussie Hailu in Ethiopia.  It is endorsed by the United Nations and celebrated by various groups around the globe. 

One of those groups, of which I am a member, is The Charter for Compassion.  The Charter bases its ideology on the Golden Rule, which each culture around the world has a version of in their sacred writing or teaching.

What is the Golden Rule?  The First Peoples of the Americas have passed the following down to us. 

"Respect for all life is the foundation." The Great Law of Peace

"All things are our relatives; what we do to everything, we do to ourselves. All is really One." Black Elk

The following are other versions of this truth listed in alphabetical order.

"And if thine eyes be turned towards justice, choose thou for thy neighbour that which thou choosest for thyself." Epistle to the Son of the Wolf. 


"Hurt not others with that which pains yourself." Udana-Varga 5:18


"This is the sum of Dharma [duty]: Do naught unto others which would cause you pain if done to you." Mahabharata, 5:1517  
"Tzi-Kung asked, 'Is there one principle upon which one's whole life may proceed?'
The Master replied, 'Is not Reciprocity such a principle?-what you do not yourself desire, do not put before others.'" Doctrine of the Mean 13.3   


"This is the sum of all true righteousness - Treat others, as thou wouldst thyself be treated.  Do nothing to thy neighbor, which hereafter thou wouldst not have thy neighbor do to thee." Mahabharata 5:1517 

"Do unto all men as you would wish to have done unto you; and reject for others what you would reject for yourself." Mishcat Ul Masabih 


"In happiness and suffering, in joy and grief, we should regard all creatures as we regard our own self." Lord Mahavira, 24th Tirthankara

"What is hurtful to yourself do not to your fellow man. That is the whole of the Torah and the remainder is but commentary." Talmud, Shabbat 31a


"Do what you will as long as it harms none." The Wiccan Rede

If we are all saying the same thing, why is it so difficult to do?


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