heatherfromthegrove’s New Year’s Revelation No 5 of 7: Get some sleep

“The best cure for insomnia is to get a lot of sleep.”
W. C. Fields

I think I must have been a cat in a past life.  I’m not sure whether I’m nocturnal by nature, or simply an insomniac.  One thing is for certain: I do not sleep very much.  And when I do, it’s a light sleep that is easily disturbed by sound or motion.

Most “night” people (a.k.a. insomniacs) know, in theory, that sleep is essential to good health and well-being.  In practice, however, we fool ourselves into thinking that we’re doing some of our best work late at night, when everything is silent and still.  Actually, a good night’s sleep will boost overall productivity by a much greater degree than a sleepless night will.  

5 simple reasons why sleeping through the night is a good thing:

  1. It improves your memory
  2. Boosts creativity
  3. Gives you more energy
  4. Makes you feel younger
  5. Makes you look younger
“Think in the morning. Act in the noon. Eat in the evening. Sleep in the night.”
William Blake

5 medically-proven reasons why prolonged bouts of not sleeping can kill you:

  1. May cause inflammation which, in turn, may result in high blood pressure, heart attack, stroke, diabetes, arthritis, premature aging and death
  2. May cause your metabolism to slow down and your weight to increase
  3. May make you accident-prone
  4. May contribute to depression and/or mood swings
  5. May adversely affect your immune system – making you more susceptible to colds, viruses, pneumonia
“Your life is a reflection of how you sleep, and how you sleep is a reflection of your life.”
Dr. Rafael Pelayo

Did you know that approximately 40 million Americans suffer from over 70 sleep disorders? I kid you not.  

So, how much sleep do we really need? Although it depends on the person, the general credo is that 7-8 hours sleep (for adults) is ideal. The National Sleep Foundation has provided a chart showing the ideal sleep duration per age group, including the ideal time to go to sleep – see below:

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Personally, I intend to make an effort to sleep more (and earlier).  The odds will not be in my favor, if I don’t make this critical life change.

To all the insomniacs out there: please, please get some sleep!

“And if tonight my soul may find her peace in sleep, and sink in good oblivion, and in the morning wake like a new opened flower then I have been dipped again in God, and new created.”
D.H. Lawrence

heatherfromthegrove’s New Year’s Revelation No 4 of 7: Feed your brain

I stared at the man.
‘How many tins of sardines did you eat, Jeeves?’
‘None, sir. I am not fond of sardines.’
‘You mean, you thought of this great, this ripe, this amazing scheme entirely without the impetus given to the brain by fish?’
‘Yes, sir.’
[From Very Good, Jeeves, (c) 1930 by P.G. Wodehouse]

How many times a month do you eat seafood? And, more importantly, why should you care? Well, according to a recent study¹ published in the American Journal of Preventative Medicine, it was determined that weekly consumption of baked or broiled fish is associated with large gray matter volumes in the areas of the brain that are responsible for cognition and memory. Fried anything, let alone fish, is not healthy (although it sure is tasty!).

Another study² published in JAMA (The Journal of the American Medical Association) on February 2, 2016, reinforced what many of us suspected all along: that, mercury levels aside, fish is really good for the brain. In fact, eating fish regularly can actually reduce the risk of dementia – more specifically, Alzheimer’s Disease. Furthermore, the researchers concluded that as we age, we lose a critical lipid in the brain, DHA, and that “fish consumption (therefore) may be more beneficial with older age.”

But why wait until then? We should be proactive and start consuming fish regularly… now – well before we reach our golden years. I intend to significantly increase my intake of seafood in 2017. In fact, I ate salmon on January 1st and today (January 4th) I ate a phenomenal serving of spaghetti with sardines. It  was the tastiest spaghetti that I have had in a long time. Now I have never posted a recipe on this blog site. Ever. But I will today. That’s how fabulous this recipe really is. You can add your own elements to it – but whatever you do, don’t leave out the sardines!

BRAIN FOOD

Spaghetti with Sardines

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Ingredients

  • 14 oz spaghetti  (I use Rao’s homemade spaghetti)
  • 1 tbsp  olive oil
  • 2 garlic clove, crushed
  • pinch of chilli flakes
  • 8 oz can chopped tomato (or the equivalent amount of chopped fresh plum or Roma tomatoes)
  • 2 cans skinless and boneless sardines in tomato sauce (or in olive oil)
  • 1/3 cup of pitted black olives, roughly chopped
  • 1 tbsp capers, drained
  • 1/4 cup of fresh parsley, chopped

Directions

  • Cook the spaghetti in a large pot of boiling salted water, according to the instructions on your package of spaghetti.  Meanwhile, make the sauce. Heat the oil in a medium pan and cook the garlic for 1 min. Add the chili flakes, tomatoes and sardines, breaking up roughly with a wooden spoon. Heat for 2-3 mins, then stir in the olives, capers and most of the parsley. Mix well to combine.
  • Drain the pasta.  Place the pasta on the plate. Add the sauce on top or and mix well (your preference). Garnish with the remaining parsley.

Yield: Serves 4

Endnotes:

¹ Raji, Cyrus A. et al. “Regular Fish Consumption and Age-Related Brain Gray Matter Loss.” American Journal of Preventative Medicine, Volume 47, Issue 4, 444-451.

² Morris MC, Brockman J, Schneider JA, Wang Y, Bennett DA, Tangney CC, van de Rest O. “Association of Seafood Consumption, Brain Mercury Level, and APOE ε4 Status With Brain Neuropathology in Older Adults.” JAMA. 2016;315(5):. doi:10.1001/jama.2015.19451

heatherfromthegrove’s New Year’s Revelation No 3 of 7: Let it go

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“Cutting out drama… Healthy mind and body choices… Intent followed by action… Keeping real friends and letting go of the pretends… Livin’ clean for Twenty Seventeen!” 
― Steve Maraboli

“Losing weight” almost always makes the top 5 list for New Year’s resolutions. But here’s a revelation for you: losing weight is more than just pounds and ounces. Physical health aside, most of us carry around a lot of emotional baggage or dead weight. Like a grudge or a misunderstanding or a worry that keeps gnawing at you. Do you know how much time, on average, we spend worrying? Approximately 5 years of our lives, according to a study conducted by UK healthcare provider Benenden Health. 5 years!

Worrywarts of the world (myself included):  Let it go!

And speaking of emotional baggage, how often do we find ourselves on the wrong end of an insult or mean-spirited comment? We spend so much time nursing our hurt feelings, reliving the experience over and over in our minds, while anger and resentment start to fester. Rather than holding on to toxic emotions, simply Let it go!  And steer clear from people who are mean and negative.  There are a lot of haters out there. Let them form their own club. Misery loves company.

And finally, a word to those  who are too hard on themselves. Don’t dwell on past failures or mistakes. That’s simply counterproductive. Learn from them, but don’t let them drag you down. Let it go!

It’s a new year. It’s a new day. Look forward to a fresh start.

I’ll close this post with the lyrics to  (yes, you saw this coming, didn’t you?)….  Let It Go!  If you click on the title below, you can sing along with Idina Menzel as she belts out this Disney blockbuster song.

Let It Go  (from Disney’s “Frozen“)
The snow glows white on the mountain tonight
Not a footprint to be seen.
A kingdom of isolation,
and it looks like I’m the Queen
The wind is howling like this swirling storm inside
Couldn’t keep it in;
Heaven knows I’ve tried
Don’t let them in,
don’t let them see
Be the good girl you always have to be
Conceal, don’t feel,
don’t let them know
Well now they know
Let it go, let it go
Can’t hold it back anymore
Let it go, let it go
Turn away and slam the door
I don’t care
what they’re going to say
Let the storm rage on.
The cold never bothered me anyway
It’s funny how some distance
Makes everything seem small
And the fears that once controlled me
Can’t get to me at all
It’s time to see what I can do
To test the limits and break through
No right, no wrong, no rules for me,
I’m free!
Let it go, let it go
I am one with the wind and sky
Let it go, let it go
You’ll never see me cry
Here I stand
And here I’ll stay
Let the storm rage on
My power flurries through the air into the ground
My soul is spiraling in frozen fractals all around
And one thought crystallizes like an icy blast
I’m never going back, the past is in the past
Let it go, let it go
And I’ll rise like the break of dawn
Let it go, let it go
That perfect girl is gone
Here I stand
In the light of day
Let the storm rage on
The cold never bothered me anyway!

Song Written by: Robert Lopez Kristen Anderson-Lopez, Emanuel Kiriakou
Song Published by: Lyrics © Warner/Chappell Music, Inc., Walt Disney Music Company

 

heatherfromthegrove’s New Year’s Revelation No 2 of 7: Walk the walk

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“We will open the book. Its pages are blank. We are going to put words on them ourselves. The book is called Opportunity and its first chapter is New Year’s Day.”
— Edith Lovejoy Pierce, American Poet & Pacifist

When Opportunity knocks, by all means open the door. But what happens if it doesn’t knock, or ring, or fall down from the sky right into your lap? And you keep waiting, and waiting, and waiting…

The reality is that we create our own destiny. I know this is a cliché, but it’s worth repeating. If we keep waiting for good things to happen to us, we may be sorely disappointed when they don’t. When you work long and hard on something – be it a passion or a project – you will likely see a return on your investment. By investment, I mean your time. And time is precious.

“The bad news is time flies. The good news is you’re the pilot.”
Michael Altshuler, Speaker & Trainer

So begin the new year by shelving anything and everything that simply didn’t yield anything for you. Then start fresh. Make a strategy, hatch a realistic plan and then see it through. By “seeing it through” I also mean spreading the word. Networking with people is a surefire way to create a domino effect of opportunity. If you ‘walk the walk’ (translation: work diligently and follow through), you will most likely be smiling like a Cheshire cat by the end of the year.

There’s nothing wrong with dreaming big…. as long as you’re not being delusional. For instance, if your big dream is to be a singer when, in reality, you’re kind of tone deaf… then you may want to rethink your strategy.  I have always been in awe of Barbra Streisand and dreamed of singing (with a voice like hers) in Carnegie Hall. But I’m a realist. I will never have That Voice. So I sing in the shower instead.

Don’t wait for Opportunity to knock. Steer your own ship. Make 2017 your flagship year and wake up each morning, excited about what you’re doing.  Keep at it and don’t let anyone dampen your spirits or weaken your resolve. Here’s to a great year – for all of us!

“Sow a thought and you reap an act;
Sow an act and you reap a habit;
Sow a habit and you reap a character;
Sow a character and you reap a destiny.”
Ralph Waldo Emerson

 

heatherfromthegrove’s New Year’s Revelation No 1 of 7: Take the time to read

2017

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It’s a new year, ladies and gentlemen!
May it be a good one for all of us!
This year, the inspiration for my New Year’s “Revelations” stems from some of the sage words and wisdom of the great philosophers  and literary figures of all time.
I hope that some or all of these revelations resonate with you.

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Take the time to curl up in a comfortable chair and read a book. Read, not skim. A book, not a tablet or computer screen.  Turn your phone off, close your computer and let yourself be transported into a beautiful piece of literature, a gripping bestseller, an interesting biography, or a thought-provoking work of non-fiction.  Reading is quite simply the best therapy in the world. It’s right up there with music, dance and art. Therapy aside, reading helps you to relax and de-stress.  And, of course, there is something to be said about learning new things, opening up your mind and… actually stimulating your mind.

 “The art of reading is in great part that of acquiring a better understanding of life from one’s encounter with it in a book.”

André Maurois

I have always been a bookworm. As a child, when my friends would knock on our door and ask my mother whether I was coming out to play, I would tell them that I was in the middle of a good chapter and would come out when finished. Several hours later, I would join them and smile sheepishly as they rolled their eyes at me.

“I consider as lovers of books not those who keep their books hidden in their storage chests and never handle them, but those who, by nightly as well as daily, use them, thumb them, batter them, wear them out… who fill out all the margins with annotations of many kinds, and who prefer the marks of a fault they have erased to a neat copy full of faults.”

Erasmus

A decade ago, I used to read at least three books a week and as 2016 drew to an end, I realized that I had read only 20 or so books throughout the year. For me, that is unacceptable! It’s also simply not in character. Clearly my priorities were all wrong. This will change in 2017.

So I encourage each of you to pick up a good book and take the time to savour each word. Then pick up another.

Happy reading!

P.S. In case you’re wondering, this is not a photo of me. I hail from the Baby Boomer generation. This is a photo of a young Millennial who is clearly enjoying a good read.

Over and out, 2016!

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“Tomorrow, is the first blank page of a 365-page book. Write a good one.” ― Brad Paisley

What a year it has been! G’bye 2016. It’s been a slice.

Many blessings for 2017 and may tonight’s New Year’s Eve celebration be filled with laughter, good food, plenty of bubbly libation, and the company of those you hold dear!

And, as always, a very special shout-out to my family and friends across the globe.

Stay tuned tomorrow for the first of my annual seven New Year’s Revelations (not to be confused with resolutions!).  And a new chapter begins ….

Cheers!

heatherfromthegrove

 

 

A perspective on life and loss

Recent political developments in the United States have caused quite a stir across the globe.  Social media is flooded with comments and rantings from both sides of the political spectrum. I myself have contributed to this “animated” discussion. But when someone (be it a friend or a family member) passes away in the middle of all the histrionics, everything screeches to a halt. It’s amazing how quickly we re-align our priorities…. because, at the end of the day, it’s family and friends that really count the most.

There will be other elections. Other presidents. What is done in one term can be undone in another. So, let’s chill out and focus on what really matters.

This post is dedicated to all of our loved ones who have gone too soon. And to the families and friends who are left behind to grieve their loss.

I love the poetry and writings of Kahlil Gibran and I always take the wisdom of his words to heart.

I hope you do, too.

On Death
by Kahlil Gibran

You would know the secret of death.
But how shall you find it unless you seek it in the heart of life?
The owl whose night-bound eyes are blind unto the day cannot unveil the mystery of light.
If you would indeed behold the spirit of death, open your heart wide unto the body of life.
For life and death are one, even as the river and the sea are one.

In the depth of your hopes and desires lies your silent knowledge of the beyond;
And like seeds dreaming beneath the snow your heart dreams of spring.
Trust the dreams, for in them is hidden the gate to eternity.
Your fear of death is but the trembling of the shepherd when he stands before the king whose hand is to be laid upon him in honour.
Is the shepherd not joyful beneath his trembling, that he shall wear the mark of the king?
Yet is he not more mindful of his trembling?

For what is it to die but to stand naked in the wind and to melt into the sun?
And what is it to cease breathing, but to free the breath from its restless tides, that it may rise and expand and seek God unencumbered?

Only when you drink from the river of silence shall you indeed sing.
And when you have reached the mountain top, then you shall begin to climb.
And when the earth shall claim your limbs, then shall you truly dance.

The Teacher and the Student

Some great quotes to live by…..

… so, I’m in a philosophical frame of mind these days and for the rest of 2016, my posts will highlight famous philosophical quotes and the philosophers who said them. This month (September), the focus will be on some of the greatest ancient Greek philosophers whose influence and thinking have transcended the passage of time.

PLATO & ARISTOTLE

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Plato (left) and Aristotle (right) – School of Athens

Some famous quotes by “The Teacher” — Plato:

“Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a harder battle.” 

“In politics we presume that everyone who knows how to get votes knows how to administer a city or a state. When we are ill… we do not ask for the handsomest physician, or the most eloquent one.” 

“Wise men speak because they have something to say; fools because they have to say something.” 

Plato  (427—347 BCE) was born in Athens,  of Athenian nobility. He was the devout and most brilliant student of Socrates, and they became close friends. After the death of Socrates, Plato turned his back on Athenian politics. His most productive works were written in the course of three voyages to Sicily. He began to write the dialogues (writing in the form of conversation) ad this became the foundation of his philosophical teachings. Upon returning to Athens, he founded the Academy – the first institution of higher learning in the Western world. Aristotle became one of his star pupils and closest associate.

Perhaps the most influential philosopher of all time, Plato is known for his usage of dialectic – a discussion of ideas and insights into the nature of reality. And his philosophy espoused cognitive optimism – a belief in the capacity of the human mind to seek and attain the truth, and to use this truth for the rational and virtuous management of  life and government. He believed that all the conflicting elements in society could (and should) be harmonized. Each of these elements will flourish when they coexist in harmony.  The existence of such a balanced society is impossible without virtue.

Plato’s Academy remained in existence for another thousand years. Centuries after his death, his philosophical system resurfaced as  Neoplatonism.

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Some famous quotes by “The Student” — Aristotle:

“Happiness is the meaning and the purpose of life, the whole aim and end of human existence.” 

“Excellence is never an accident. It is always the result of high intention, sincere effort, and intelligent execution; it represents the wise choice of many alternatives – choice, not chance, determines your destiny.” 

“He who has overcome his fears will truly be free.” 

Aristotle (384—322 BCE) was born in Stagira (northern Greece). He was the son of Nichomachus –court physician to the Macedonian royal family. Trained first in medicine, he then later went on to study philosophy with Plato (in Athens). Aristotle was a brilliant student, so much so that he questioned some of Plato’s teachings. After  Plato died, Aristotle was not appointed head of the Academy. and so he left Athens for the islands. In 338 B.C.E., he returned to Macedonia to tutor Alexander the Great. When Alexander conquered Athens, Aristotle went there to set up a school of his own, known as The Lyceum. After the death of Alexander the Great, Aristotle opposed Macedonian rule and his rebellion nearly cost him his death. He fled to the island of Euboea, where he later died.

It is believed that Aristotle’s body of written work included as many as 150 philosophical treatises – of which 30 survived. From biology and physics to morals, aesthetics and politics, he wrote prolifically. Although his teacher (Plato) believed ultimate reality was found in ideas or eternal forms, Aristotle saw ultimate reality in physical objects, through experience. But what really distinguished Aristotle from other ancient, medieval and modern philosophers was that, according to him, the universe never had a beginning or an end. It was eternal.  He also believed that change was cyclical. In the Middle Ages, Aristotle’s philosophy was adopted and fused into Christian doctrine, forming a philosophical system known as Scholasticism. Indeed, the Roman Catholic Church embraced Aristotelian thought as its official philosophy.

And the rest, as they say, is history.

READ SOME OF THEIR MOST FAMOUS WORKS:

The Trial and Death of Socrates, by Plato

The Republic, by Plato

Apology, by Plato

Politics, by Aristotle

The Neomachian Ethics, by Aristotle

Metaphysics, by Aristotle

A little Socratic wisdom

I’m in a philosophical frame of mind these days.  So for the rest of 2016, my posts will highlight famous philosophical quotes and the philosophers who said them. This month (September), the focus will be on some of the greatest ancient Greek philosophers whose influence and thinking have transcended the passage of time.

SOCRATES

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“The only true wisdom is in knowing you know nothing.”

– Socrates, (469—399 BCE),  classical Greek philosopher

Socrates was considered the father of Western logic and philosophy. He espoused an ethical system based on human reason, rather than theological doctrine. According to Socrates, the more we come to know ourselves, the greater will be our ability to reason and make choices that lead to true happiness. His quest for knowledge focused on one simple idea: how to live a good and virtuous life. We know him through the writings of the students he mentored, the most famous of whom was Plato. It was Plato who later taught Aristotle, who then went on to tutor Alexander the Great.

He taught his students by asking them questions, with the objective of getting them to think for themselves. This became known as “the Socratic Method” which, in today’s world, is a method of teaching most often used by law and medical professors in universities and colleges across the globe.

“I cannot teach anybody anything. I can only make them think”

– Socrates

Socrates refused to acknowledge class distinction or in other words, the “proper behavior” at the time. He spoke and mingled with women, servants and slaves just as easily as with nobility and scholars. This refusal to conform to social proprieties angered the so-called important men of the time. Socrates was subsequently arrested for impiety. His accusers (Meletus the poet, Lycon the orator, and Anytus the tanner) charged him with “denying the gods recognized by the state and introducing new divinities” and “corrupting the young.”  These accusations were considered (by those who favored Socrates) as being personally and politically motivated.

Socrates was sentenced to death by hemlock poisoning in 399 BCE. He died in his Athenian prison cell, surrounded by his friends. Socrates himself never wrote down any of his teachings. He focused on action, not words. His teachings and philosophy were later interpreted and written by his students, men like Plato who later went on to form their own philosophical schools.

“To find yourself, think for yourself.”

– Socrates

READ:

The Trial and Death of Socrates, by Plato

The Republic, by Plato

 

 

On Friendship

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“The quality of a friend is one who can touch your heart and soul from across the world or across the room. Trust that person who can see through the sadness behind your smile. The one who can hear your words in your silence, can feel your love in your anger, trust them. They are your REAL, TRUE and PURE friends.”
Angie karan