Thursday, October 25, 2012

Challenge Your Brain

Neirobics...means “challenging your brain with 
new and unexpected  experiences!
It can help keep it stronger into old age.
“Breaking with routine and using all your senses
is like having your brain cells lifting barbells,” says Manning Rubin.

Make life your “gym:  You don't need to use a computer or puzzle book 
or schedule a specific time to sharpen your brain.  Instead, think of ways you can 
break your usual habits throughout the day.

Close your eyes:   Listen to sounds in the park, take a shower, navigate around 
your house or try to identify objects by touch.

Use your non-dominate hand:  Eat, brush your teeth or write with the hand 
you don't normally use to give different  parts of your brain a workout.   
Or try to button a shirt, tie a shoe or get dressed using just one hand.

Vary your commute:  Get off at an earlier bus stop or drive down different 
roads on regular errands or trips to and from work.  New sights, sounds and 
smells will take your brain off “autopilot”.

Mix things up:  Have people sit a different spot at the dinner table, trade chores 
with another family member or rearrange dishes in a cabinet so you'll have to think 
about where you're reaching.

Try something new every day:  This can be something small ... tasting a 
different food or using chopsticks at dinner ~ or bigger, such as picking up 
a new hobby or tackling a new skill such as a foreign language.

Combine your senses:  Read a book while burning a scented candle and pay
attention to both.  Or close  your eyes and try to identify a food by the smell alone.

(from the Daily  Press)

Tips for Remaining Positive

Reframe:  Rather than labelling your situation as a disaster or tragedy, see it
as a challenge, an experience, an important part of your journey.

Let your feelings come, all of them and then move through them...again and again.

If plan  A has not worked, don't stop; begin plan B and then plan C'.

Be forgiving of yourself and others...not always scanning for flaws or imperfections.

Love yourself in spite of your shortcomings and love others in spite of theirs.

Appreciate little things each  day and do something to nourish  yourself:
read a poem, have a cup of good tea, listen to music, take a walk, watch a movie,
sing a song, hold a child.

Ask for a helping hand when needed and be grateful for whatever is offered.

When you feel struck emotionally... move your body; take a walk, exercise, 
dance or hug a loved one.

Pause and appreciate something beautiful around you.

Recall how you have made it through hard times in the past 
and remember your strength, capability, faith and resources.

Take one hour at a time; one day, one week
and pat yourself on the back for making it through.

(New York Times)

Implementing the foregoing “tips” will build a stronger character
and challenge your brain to react positively.

Is Perfection Possible?

“You  can't have perfection in an imperfect world,” says Elliot Cohen.   
“When someone demands perfection, either with themselves 
or with others, they create frustration for all involved.  It's important to realize 
there are some things you can control and some you can't.   
Our logical mind knows this, but our emotions step in and we think, 
'But I can be the exception to the rule.'  That demand for control is typically 
what creates anxiety about the future.” 

“When we try to perfect too many things, we lose the ability to go all out 
on the things that are really important to us,” adds Becky Beaupre Gillespie.  
 “Other people lose sight of their passions and deepest desires when they try to be 
the best at everything!
High achievers have a strong need to be the best, at everything;
others, that being best was not as important 
as being happy at work and at home.

Here are some tips:
Switch from being the best to doing your best.  This isn't settling or 
slacking off; it's honing in on the priorities and being realistic.

Never compare yourself to others.  Women have a tendency to look around 
at other women and compare themselves.  There isn't a one-size-fits-all approach.”

Embrace serenity. Cohen states, “Serenity is the middle ground between 
perfectionism and indifference. Once you find this, you will feel the difference. “
(Chicago Tribune)

“Pearl of Wisdom”
It's funny about Life!
If you refuse to accept  anything but the very best,
you will very often get it.
(W. Somerset Maugham)

Merle Baird-Kerr . . . composed April 1, 2012
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Monday, October 22, 2012

Intelligence of Non-Humans

 The Bee-Engine

There was a crowd of bees flying around one day.   
These bees were most peculiar.
They were powered by gasoline,
rather than the allergenic goodies that bees usually eat.

As the crowd flew along, periodically a bee or two would start to sputter; 
it would fly down to a gas station...drink up the gas spilled in fuelling a car, 
and then fly up and rejoin the crowd.

One bee began to sputter a little, but flew right by an open gas station.   
As he passed the second station, he was coughing badly, but still he flew on.

Finally, as he was on his last fumes, he dove  down to a station and gassed up.

When he rejoined the  crowd, his neighbour challenged him:  “Look, you passed
right by an open station when you started to get low.  You passed another station
when you were perilously low.  And finally, you  ran out of gas just in time to glide
into that last station.  Are you crazy???”

He replied, “Well, it's like this.  The first station was a Gulf station.  
I really don't like Gulf at all! The second station was a Texaco station!  
That's even worse.  But the third station was an Esso station!!!   
Let me tell you...Esso is my brand of gasoline!”

Now you know what they say, don't you ... ???
“There's an Esso Bee in every crowd!”

Feline Learning?

Did you hear the one about the cat that earned an MBA online?

No, it's not the latest water cooler joke.  It's actually the basis behind a lawsuit 
filed in early December against Trinity Southern University...a front for a 
school run by  two Texan brothers accused of selling fake degrees and prescription 
drugs using spam e-mail.

         The “school” which offered no classes, allegedly awarded a Master of Business 
         Administration degree to a Deputy Attorney General's 6-year old cat for $299!

(This is one “intelligent looking cat”!
A “head and shoulders” photo of a striped tabby
(as becomes a graduate)
with the usual black tasselled mitred hat!)

Kitten Wisdom

A pretty little girl named Suzy was standing on the sidewalk in front of her home. 
Next to her was a basket containing a number of tiny creatures; in her hand 
was a sign announcing FREE KITTENS.

Suddenly a line of big black cars pulled up beside her.    
Out of the lead car stepped a tall grinning man.  Hi there, little girl, 
Im President Obama.  What do  you have in the basket? he asked.
Kittens, little Suzy said.
How old are they? asked Obama.
Suzy replied, Theyre so young their eyes arent even open yet.
And what kind of kittens are they?
Democrats, answered Suzy with a smile.

Obama was delighted.  As soon as he returned to his car, he called his PR 
chief and told him about the little girl and her kittens.
Recognizing  the perfect  photo op, the two men agreed that the president 
should return the next day, and in front of the assembled media, have the girl 
talk about her discerning kittens.

So the next day, Suzy was again standing on the sidewalk with her basket of
FREE KITTENS, when another motorcade pulled up, this time followed by vans
from ABC, NBC, CBS and CNN.  Cameras and audio equipment were quickly
set up, then Obama got out of his limo and walked over to little Suzy.
Hello, again, he said.  Id love it if you would tell all my friends out there
 what kind of kittens youre giving away.
Yes, sir, Suzy said, Theyre Republicans.

Taken by surprise, the president stammered, But yesterday, you told me
they were Democrats.
Little Suzy smiled and said, I know.
But today, they have their eyes open.

Patience Pays!

 A mirror-like lagoon and thick reeds fringed the marshy water. 
A blue heron on “stick legs”stood in the shallows.  Statue-still!

The bird was fishing...instinctively knowing...the most effective means to 
accomplish it was do nothing!  It didn't even seem to be breathing...its heart 
racing...its beady eyes scanning the clear bay water...and then emerged...
a gleaming silver fish clasped in its beak.  The heron scarfed down the 
still-squirming  fish...and then took off like a seaplane...gathering speed...
and then soaring ...its great wings beating with smooth strength.

Halcyon Days
(meaning calm, peaceful days)

The Halcyon is a bird of Greek legend and the name is now commonly given 
to the European Kingfisher.  The ancients believed the bird made a floating 
nest in the Aegean Sea and had the power to calm the waves while brooding 
her eggs.  Fourteen days of calm weather were to be expected when the 
Halcyon was nesting ~ around the winter solstice, usually 21st or 22nd of December.   
 The Halcyon days are generally regarded as beginning on the 14th or 15th of December.

The source of the belief in the birds power to calm the sea originated 
in a myth recorded by Ovid.  The story goes that Aeolus, the ruler of the winds, 
had a daughter named Alcyone, who was married to Ceyx, the king of Thessaly.   
Ceyx was drowned at sea and Alcyone threw herself into the waves in a fit of grief.   
Instead of drowning, she was transformed into a bird and carried to her husband by the wind.

        The myth came to the English-speaking world in the 14th century, 
       when in 1398 John Trevisa translated Barththolomew de Glanville
                         De proprietatibus  rerum into Middle English:
  “In the cliffe of a ponde of ocean, Alcion, a see foule, in wynter maketh her neste
           and layeth egges in vii days and sittyth on brood…seuen dayes.”

(May you and I always live in the "halcyon days")

 “Pearl of Wisdom”
You've got to Stay Alive
to Stay in the Game!
(James Patterson from his novel “Cross Country”

Merle Baird-Kerr . . . composed April 2, 2012
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Saturday, October 6, 2012

"Quiet Times" ... Part II


Blue Waters

While attending College in Toronto, I spent two summers working in rural areas
of British Columbia.  We relocated every two weeks to a new a
village with lake nearby.  Our stay was in a cabin along the blue water.  The
quickest route to our place of  activity was along the gravel road.  On Friday
we left early to rowboat across the lake to the village where we checked for mail
and to replenish our groceries. Saturday, our day off, we enjoyed the lake water
together with the availability of  “our boat”.  If the lake was smooth, we would
take turns rowing ~ the other would jump into the cool mountain water to either
swim or grasp the end of the boat.  I did the latter (since I had not had
opportunity to learn to swim, living on a farm).  I trusted Jane implicitly. 
To float through this beautiful blue water was heavenly which elevated me
to a state of euphoria! I felt like a mermaid...and believed it to be so! 
These were unforgettable experiences.

Luray Caverns

The Blue Ridge Parkway begins in Marion, Virginia (Shenandoah Nat. Park)
extending southward into The Great Smokey Mountains National Park. 
I travelled with a couple friends (one of whom  had recent major surgery)
from Brantford en route to Florida for a 10-day healing recuperation...
and mini-holiday. Luray Caverns in Virginia are widely visited since their
discovery in 1878.  I am claustrophobic it was with trepidation I
became another curious tourist...literature told me these caverns had been
4,000,000 years in the making...had cathedral sized rooms (chambers)
and ceilings 10 storeys high.  Never having been previously in a cave,
I was astounded at the adornment rock formations:  stalagmites (rock
growing from the floor up) and stalactites (rock formations that hung down. 
There are also many mirrored pools and flowstone.  The caverns are yellow,
brown and red because of water chemicals and minerals.  The temperature
inside is a steady 54 degrees F.  My feelings were strange and eerie...yet
so easily believable that I had escaped to a foreign planet.  There was an
 uncanny silence...with the occasional droplet of water falling. 
Echoes reverberated. No aliens around to question our presence or to
sweep us away to their domiciles!

Pink Sands

As we explored the beauteous island of Bermuda, we realized the truth...the sand
on the beaches is of pinkish-hue...caused from the erosion of coral reef and broken
shells of sealife living around and below the reefs.  Even houses and mini-buses
are pastel colours of the blue-turquoise water and the flowers of ivories, yellows,
pale greens, oranges and pinks.  Riding leased mopeds, was the most relaxing and
inviting travel to view this unique British-influenced isle.  With lunch in backpacks,
we toured by lush golf courses, saw impressive boats and yachts...and stopped by
a cove-type one there...just us...our private domain!

Locking our bikes and removing our “crown helmets” like a lord and lady,
we well-imagined...this was our Camelot!  Our hotel lunches, fit for royalty,
were deliciously enjoyed... birds swooped by in the air, the ocean breeze was
refreshing,  the sound of surf as it gently washed ashore...this was our “Garden of Eden”! 
So easy, lying on towels on this fine pinkish sand, to close one's eyes...mentally and
emotionally drift into places where nowhere we'd ever been...capturing the moments
that weresurreal and almost mystical!.

Rafting on The Rio Grande

Holidays can bring much fun, pleasure and time to relax.  One place in the
Caribbean is Jamaica where I've been 3 or 4 times.  While staying at a resort
in Ocho Rios, we arranged a 3 to 4 hour rafting ride on The Rio Grande river.,
enjoyed by tourists and the local Jamaicans.  One can bask in the tranquility
and romance on a 2-seated long bamboo raft poled by a skilled captain along
the river as it wends serenely through banana groves.  Mid-trip, we went
ashore to enjoy a tasty Jamaican-prepared lunch...followed by a brief swim
in the tropical warm water.  These hours inundate one with the island's
natural “swallowed up” by the seclusion of the green waters,
that time seems to stand still!  Our hearts are at peace...our minds and souls

A Day on a Cay

Louise, secretary at a school where I taught, invited me to travel with her and her
parents to Jamaica.  They had been officers with  the Salvation Army and worked a
few years in Kingston, Jamaica.  Now retired, they were visiting their son and his
family also stationed in Kingston's needy area.  We drove to Miami and flew to
Jamaica's capital city...spending a week with them in sultry hot summer. 

Louise had attended an English school while previously living on this island.
She contacted a couple whose mother owned a Bed and  Breakfast
at Port Antonio (east end of Jamaica).  Here we stayed for the second week. 
Her friends arranged a boat to take us to one of the cays south of Kingston. 
With a prepared lunch from the B&B, the four of us sailed to a private cay with
3 palm trees...our own little paradise, it seemed.  Time is no issue!  Wavelets of the
Caribbean ripple peacefully by; the hot summer sun is wafted by an ocean breeze;
occasional eels slink by in the shallow water; a slow-moving freighter inches its
distance to Port Royal and Kingston's harbour.  How better can this life be???

          The foregoing vignettes popped into my mind from memories
          as I read Douglas Woods, “Quiet Times”. If you give yourself
          permission to search for these places...I assure that you will
          locate them.  Learn the technique by trying to transcend
          into this “place of quiet”.  Suggestions:
                       View a lake or flowing mountain river.
                        Listen to the roar of the ocean or tumbling waterfall.
                       Observe an aquarium of  salt water fish.
                        Absorb the beauty of a glorious sunset or sunrise.
                        Be awestruck with the peace of a rainbow.
                        Place a Goddess statue in your garden.
                        Let Nature…be your guide.

           I return to my “home”  for the final Quiet Times.

Long Distance Driving...

...was instilled by my father who loved to drive,  to enjoy the country scenery, to
discover interesting places, to entertain my mother for Sunday dinners  at newly
discovered restaurants.  He achieved his life-long drive to Canada's
west coast...after his last farm sold...then moving to the City of Brantford to own
his Supertest Gas Station. The year was 1950...he bought a brand new maroon
Studebaker for the trip...his lifetime dream! 

Long distance driving to me is relaxation.  With confidence in my driving skill
abilities and understanding of maps, I enjoy the ride!  No pagers, no telephones,
no appointments, no alarm clocks!  Just the road...the safety of my vehicle...
the radio turned to good listening music...these conditions give me Time to
Contemplate...without interruptions and disturbances, confusions and stress!
Even now, 3 or 4 times a year I drive to a New England state (8 ½ hour drive
one-way with a couple 15-20 minute stops along I-90).

Such excursions in the past have been driving across Canada to both the
Pacific and Atlantic Northern Ontario and Northern Manitoba skiing in Quebec's Laurentian Bronson, Missouri...
to Harrisburg, Pennsylvania (each of these treks with company).
The most “memorable drive to  remember” was in 2001, flying to California
where my son worked under contract...and returning his Honda Odyssey
as a lone driver to Ontario...necessity was to renew his licence in this province
with the required emission test. I spent 11 days on the road (and 10 nights)
sightseeing....through mountains, canyons, former silver mining towns,
high plateaus...National Parks...the Plains States...crossing the Mississippi
...then heading for Detroit and the Ambassador Bridge bringing me home
to Ontario. The van passed its emission test prior to my son's Nov. birthday.

My Home Turf

Surrounding my 3rd floor balcony apartment, I view a residential street...
a bike path used by joggers, cyclists, skate boarders, seniors on their scooters,
dog-walkers...numerous trees and bushes...telephone and hydro right-of-ways.
A choir of birds wakens me every morning...and often throughout the day,
I hear them chirping their songs and responding...a red cardinal tells me
Freedom, Freedom, Freedom which is what I experience here. 
Squirrels dash about.  Mourning Doves have three times nested on a balcony”s
black wrought-iron-chair...I've had the opportunity to watch their nest building,
their visitations to lay 2 large white eggs, incubate them for about 14 days prior
to hatching...then nourishing them for their “flights”
two weeks later. A large honey locust stands tall near my apt. home...of pale lime
green feathery leaves;  the sky is frequently azure blue with large billowy clouds.
Sunsets often are spectacular in golds, reds and oranges.

Since sun arrives mid afternoon on my balcony, I spend many hours here with
possibly breakfast and the daily Spectator, solving its puzzles; often  a novel
to read; often crafts to work; the neighbours speak with me as they walk by;
This location is my time to ...reflect, consider, meditate, ponder, imagine and
create.  These are my Quiet Times!  I've seen lightning and heard the thunder
rumble many times.  Perhaps it is the gentle rain at night that soothes and
nourishes Nature's Greenery.

Nature always gives me
a certain strength and tranquility.

“Pearl of Wisdom”
Smell every flower, fly with every bird.
Find  Beauty and Wisdom ~
since Wisdom is found wherever there is Beauty.
(author unknown).

Merle Baird-Kerr … written August 2, 2012
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Friday, October 5, 2012

"Quiet Times"...Part I

Douglas Wood (author of many books  for children and adults),
as a preface to an illustrated book, wrote:
“Sometimes a person needs a quiet place...

                     ...a place that's far away from the bustle and hustle of everyday life
                     ...a place that isn't ringing or talking or roaring or blaring or playing
                     ...but sometimes that place isn't easy to find.

                                  You could look under a bush in your own backyard
                                  where the world seems far away
                                  and you could be a pirate on a desert island.
                                  Or, you could sit on an old stump in the woods
                                  amidst the glittering sunlight and mossy shadows
                                  and be a timber wolf.

                                  You could look by the sea or in the desert  or in a cool dark cave,
                                  but if none of these places are right,
                                  you could come home and discover another quiet place.

                                  Perhaps, the very best quiet place of all ~
                                  the one that's inside of you
                                  where you can think your own thoughts
                                  and feel your own feelings.

Following the reading of Douglas Woods preface, I reflected upon the “quiet times”
that, unknown to me at the time, were instrumental in formulating  inner thoughts,
dreams and anticipated achievements.

                                    My dreams shall be my guiding stars
                                    as I navigate thro'  my unknown destiny.

The “Quiet Times” I write about are based on experiences  from childhood to
adult status...reflecting upon the outcome...the results  which may have been
positive or negative.  “Where was I?” now, I ask...not physically...but
emotionally and inside my mind.

To me, the “Quiet Time”  is a place to where I can transcend
                                          ... is a place where I can forget my worries, frets,
                                              concerns and unpleasant conversations
                                              (as a teacher erases a chalkboard at day's end).
                                  a place where I'm not disturbed by unwelcome
                                               noises  nor by people's idle gossip,
                                  a place where I can delete the foregoing
                                  is a place where I can dwell and focus on peace.
To me, the “Quiet Time” is a place of replenishment...a place of calm...a place
to regain inner strength...a place to cultivate my being, allowing my soul
to be inspired...a place to revitalize ...a place to be rejuvenated…where thoughts,
ideas and emotions can “bubble to the surface”, surpassing all other trivia
(like the glorious “pop of a champagne cork”!

DO NOT BELIEVE that, although, you may be alone...that there are no noises
of telephones, televisions and microwaves...that you're not involved in physical
activity this moment...that you can spend the “quietness of the room” dwelling
on your worries, your impatience and expectations, your family woes, etc.

Quickly, I was able to “place myself” in at least a dozen situations where
I learned over the to reap benefits of life to maintain
a positive to view various aspects to share and express
my thoughts with others. I've capitalized on numerous experiences to do so.
I know how “to get to these places of quiet”... and YOU CAN TOO!

When Winter Was Long

When I was a child, Winter arrived in November  and lived a full season  until
at least the end of March.  Snow fell on the ground, and more snow, and more
snow and more to come! Temperatures remained always below freezing level.
My father helped my sister and me to build snow forts each winter on our vast
farm property.  What fun to play outdoors  on these beautiful frosty winter
days!  The fort was “our castle” to live within. It was our protection from
blizzards and bitter wind gales.  Dressed warmly in snowsuits, boots, woolen
hats and mittens, we would lie in our “snow beds” and dream of a life in the
Arctic..of domed ice igloos...of partying with the seals and polar bears on
ice floes...of growing up to be “ice princesses”.
Then a call from Mother from her ever busy kitchen, broke our reverie
to enjoy hot freshly made tomato soup and home baked biscuits.  How
delicious to warm our bodies, thaw our fingers and toes..following
which we donned our boots, hats and mittens to return to our
high-walled-snow fort.

A Little  Pin-Money

During strawberry season (mid June to mid-July), it was the daily task
for my sister and me to pick the ripe berries.  We had carriers that held either
pint or quart boxes .Mother would keep the required number of boxes for our
household needs. (She taught us how to make strawberry first
lesson in cooking.)
The remaining berries my sister and I would sell at the roadside from a booth
built by my father.  We sat together and counted vehicles along Hwy. 53 of
Ontario plates and other provinces, together with those from United States.
Monies collected from our roadside sales were “ours to keep”.  This taste
of freedom gave us a sense of achievement and  reward...and to day-dream
about our futures...what would we be doing by age 16?  by age 21?

Overnight in the Barn

Puppies!  Aren't they adorable?  My father always had a dog on our farms.
When Teddy aged and suffered from lameness, he bought a puppy.  We
were never allowed to have dogs or cats in the house.  Halo, as a puppy
cried at night … most unhappy and lonely!  Feeling sentiments for this
puppy, I asked my father if I could keep Halo company at night time. 
Reminding me that the pup could not be brought into the home, he gave me
permission  to stay with the puppy in the barn.  So, it was with joy, I spent
several nights in the hayloft.  It gave me heavenly peace...knowing that Halo
and I were comfort for each other.  This gave me “time to reflect”...
time to look to the imagine this puppy growing into doghood...
what I could teach him  It was a time to contemplate...just Halo and me!

Life in the City

Unless you have lived on a farm, you cannot conceive the benefit of crops,
orchards and gardens;  nor the wide open spaces nor the contributions each
family member gives to life's daily existence!  Rarely we bought groceries,
rarely we shopped for clothing, rarely could we enjoy theatre entertainment,
rarely could we spend more than a day or two at Lake Erie during summer.

We had an aunt who lived in Hamilton...she worked as a stenographer at
Office Specialty; she had her own private apartment; she rode buses  or
travelled on the local “Belt Line”.  When my sister and I became 8 and 9,
our parents drove us to the Bus Station in Brantford...we travelled to
downtown Hamilton to be met there by Aunt Inez.  She had never married her, we were her “little girls” and spoiled us with city stuff!

Dinner at her home was special...with place settings of matching china,
crystal glasses for water and juice, cutlery perfectly arranged.  Jimmy
was her pet...a green budgie bird who could talk;  once he met us, she'd
release him from his cage with the freedom to land on her shoulder or
hand...having private conversations with  her and the teaching of new
words or phrases.

What thrilled us most were “bubble baths”!!!   She'd fill the tub with warm
water and special suds from a bottle…floating the surface  with thousands
of bubbles.  My sister and I sat at each end of the tub...visualizing we were
in a sky of clouds...only our heads surfaced the water.  Total levitation, it
seemed, to a higher form of life!  Every night for a week, we revelled in this
Aunt-Inez-treat!  We could dream away...and “walk with the archangels”!

Sky High

My  first flight was from Toronto to Montreal.  Can this big bird actually fly?
It must be safe...thousands have flown  before me!  So much activity at the
airport!  Hustle and Bustle!  Finally, seated and waiting for take-off...the
roar down the runway and the “lift-off” powerful and
exhilarating!  My nerves on edge with excitement!

SOON ~ up among the clouds heavenly...with white billowy formations
like ships on a smooth ocean.  Such joyful quiet within me ~ my moments
and hours to escape earthly intrusions!  This tranquility saturated my mind
with peace...I lingered long in this state of mind.

The return flight, late one evening, was mesmerizing!  Flying westward
into the sunset the sky became gold-rimmed clouds, then like an artist's palette
of oranges and reds. Skies darkened into midnight blue…
we approached the Toronto skyline... viewed the highways below like narrow
ribbons through the “toy-city”, the  snail-like moving vehicles with numerous
lights like the eyes of tiny insects, the dominant CN Tower on the waterfront and
finally...the vast coverage of twinkling star-studded-city lights...presented to me
a “night time dreamland”. I felt transplanted to another planet.

“Quiet Times” to be continued....Part II

“Pearl of Wisdom”
A man without dreams
is like a bird without wings.

Merle Baird-Kerr … written July 30, 2012
Comments Welcome … scroll down...(may sign in as “anonymous”)
                                                            or e-mail …

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

"Daydream Believers"

 The following article is a forerunner
to articles I've written about
Quiet Times
based on personal experiences .

Doctors Michael Roizen, and Mehmet Oz (known as Dr. Oz)
published the following steps to essentially benefit your life.
(excerpts taken)

So, you want to boost your creativity, calm your blood  pressure, melt stress 
and raise the happiness quotient of your closest relationships? Don't do anything 
~ just haul out the hammock, pour a tall glass of iced tea (unsweetened, of course) 
and send your gray cells off on a minivacation.  You might want to post a 
“do not disturb” sign nearby so that nobody interrupts your day-dreaming, 
because this state of mind is earning new respect for a slew of surprising benefits.

Better Problem-Solving

When Canadian researchers watched brain scans of people as they daydreamt,
they discovered that their brain's “executive networks” (the areas that govern
decision-making and analysis) lit up like Christmas trees when they weren't
thinking about anything in particular.   
These networks are a combo of high-powered areas that work  together to find 
answers to tricky questions.  Daydreaming gives the networks a chance to 
look in on whatever's bugging you or intriguing you.
This explains why some of the world's biggest discoveries  ~ from gravity and the
Post-It Note to the Barbie Doll ~ happened when  creative types kicked back
and took their minds  off their everyday problems and chores.

Closer Relationships

Fuming about undesirable family habits do not enhance a relationship. 
But daydreaming about  the good stuff ~ things you've done together ~
produces more of the “glue” that bonds happy marriages and makes
friendships and parent-child relationships tight.

More Compassion

Daydreaming increases compassion and a sense of your connection with
others, perhaps because this process exercises parts of your gray matter
that get neglected when you 're focusing on the hustle-bustle of daily life.

Less Stress

There haven't been official studies about what happens to your blood pressure,
heart rate and stress-hormone levels while  you daydream, but studies of related
types of time off, particularly mindful meditation, have been shown to...bust your
stress...reduce your blood pressure...ease your pain...bolster your immune system.

Here are four effective ways to give your brain some neglected R & R today:
               Let it all go for 12 minutes.  If you're stuck ~can't finish that report
or figure out a tricky home repair ~ walk around, look out the window, grab
a healthy snack. When you come back to the task,  you'll be 41% more creative.
                Take your mind outside.  Letting your brain wander outdoors (while
you walk, sit by a lake, contemplate trees from your deck or window) seems
to amplify the benefits , soaking up natural sights, sounds and smells of the
great outdoors is proven to...lower blood pressure...soothe stress...reduce
levels of the high-anxiety hormone cortisol...calm your heart rate.
                Leave  your smart phone at home.  For a real brain break,
let the world go away!  Ringing, beeping, buzzing mobile devices...
boost stress...break the daydreaming spell...dilute the benefits.
                Feel stuck in real-world worries?  Try this easy meditation.
Lie down or sit with good posture in a “quiet place” .  Breathe through
your  nose slowly for four seconds.  As you breathe in, your belly button
should be moving away from your spine ~ the result of your diaphragm
pulling air into  your lungs. When your lungs feel nice and full, exhale
slowly through an open mouth.  This should take about eight seconds.
You should notice your belly button  pulling toward your spine as  you
exhale.  Let thoughts float away.  Continue for 12 minutes.  Ahhhh!

A sizable picture shown here is of a young woman
lying in deepish green grass with woodland at the rear.
She lies calmly with eyes closed as a soft breeze
wafts through her hair...she is meditating.
Advice below the picture:
“Step away from the cellphone. 
Let your mind be quiet and let your thoughts go.”

Merle Baird-Kerr … written September 23, 2012
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