Rare Disease – One Small Way to Fight for Big Cures

provided by RDD Campaign

provided by RDD Campaign

I thought this was the greatest idea!  There are approximately 30 million Americans that are affected by rare disease according to the Rare Disease Day USA website.  But Lundbeck – a pharmaceutical company committed to the development of innovative therapies for patients with neurological and psychiatric disorders – has pledged that for every click on the Make a Difference button on the Rare Disease Day USA website, they will donate a dollar.

Why?  Because February 28, 2015 is Rare Disease Day.  You still have a few days to join in the fight by clicking here and then clicking the Make a Difference button.  So what are you waiting for?

Alone we are Rare. Together we are Strong.

Heroes of Black History Month

For all the history geeks out there, Black History Month provides another opportunity to look into the lives of people that lived, made a change, and gave us all hope.  While researching who I wanted to write about this February I was amazed at how many ordinary people took drastic measures to reach their goals.

Mr. and Mrs. Craft

craftsThe first persons who struck my attention were Mr. and Mrs. Craft – William and Ellen, respectfully.  These two were slaves living in Macon, Georgia in the 1800’s.  Ellen was mixed-race (her father was her first master and her mother was bi-racial) and William was a cabinet maker at the time.  Both lived on different plantations and could only see each other if the masters gave them passes or permission slips.  Long story short, William concocted a plan for his wife to disguise herself as a white man traveling with his slave, of whom he would play the part.  They had many close calls, but made it all the way to Philadelphia safely.  Even after reaching freedom, the two were not completely out of harm’s way.  They had to run away to England after only two years due to slave hunters trying to trek them down.  However, they were able to return to the US after 20 years and subsequently opened a school in the 1870’s in Georgia for newly freed African Americans.

Now that’s motivation and determination.

Bessie Coleman

BessieColemanThis story makes my heart sing.  Bessie Coleman was one of 13 children living in Atlanta, Texas in the late 1800’s with her mother and father.  In this family, as soon as you got of age, you made it your business to help or at least take care of yourself.  So, after several job attempts and an abrupt withdrawal from college due to lack of funds, Bessie moved to Chi-town.  She soon started hearing about the adventures of World War I pilots.  Of course, because she was an African American woman, entrance was closed to her, but this didn’t stop her.  She simply taught herself French and entered France’s well-known Caudron Brother’s School of Aviation.  This provided her the opportunity to make a living doing stunts and aerial shows.  Even though – due to a rehearsal stunt gone wrong – she had a brief life (1892-1926), she set the bar and remains a pioneer in the field of aviation today.

Amazing.

Dr. Rebecca Lee Crumpler

crumplerAnother one of my newly-founded sheroes…Dr. Rebecca Lee Crumpler.  She was the first African American women to earn her M. D. degree.  Okay, how about it was in 1864, ya’ll?!??  This was in part due to the example of her loving aunt who raised Dr. Crumpler as well as helped neighbors when they fell sick.  After the Civil War, Dr. Crumpler assisted other black doctors for the time; the purpose of this endeavor was to help as many freed slaves since they would not have gotten the necessary medical attention otherwise.  In 1883, she published a book based on her journal notes.

Can somebody say girl power?

Okay.

Work Your Happiness Like a Full-time Job

smiley face writingI’m employed at an agency that thankfully believes in the continuing education of its professionals.  Albeit I’ll admit that this sometimes can be drudgery.  Who wants to sit three hours through a social services training when you work in the accounting department?

But every now and then there is a training that comes along that is so informative and insightful that everybody walks away – dare I use the word – inspired.  For instance, the last training I attended was called, HAPPY.  It was executive produced by Tom Shadyac (director of Bruce Almighty, Liar Liar, and The Nutty Professor).  Mr. Shadyac had a traumatic bike accident in 2007 that made him reassess the way he prioritized his life.  It made him really think about what he needed to be happy.  Having given much of his fortune away, he decided that he needed to simplify his life.  Afterwards, he felt his happiness increased, so much so, he executive produced the documentary mentioned above.

In it, several people from different countries, lifestyles, and backgrounds described what brought them happiness.  An Indian family was happy because even though they were very poor, they had what they needed to survive and each other.  A single mom living in Europe expressed happiness because she lived in a loving community with her children.  And an American lady – now facially disfigured – explained why she was so happy, even after many painful surgeries and her husband left her.

These people, despite their circumstances, were happy.  Part of the reason may be because biologically, some people are prone to be happier than others; just like some people are prone to be sadder than others.  Based on scientific studies, 50% of your happiness is because you are biologically wired one way or the other.  It was also interesting that only 10% depended on things like your environment (money or other material things).  But the most important point that I took from this seminar is that a whopping 40% of your happiness comes from deliberate choices you make.

Wow.

I had to let that sink in.  So even if you are a person that has a tendency to be sad or if you struggle with depressions, 40% of your happiness is controlled by you!  Even if your husband left you because your face is disfigured, as in the case of the American lady mentioned above, 40% of your happiness depends on you.  Even if you live two steps above abject poverty, as in the case of the Indian family mentioned above, 40% of your happiness depends on you.  It boils down to attitude – toward problems, life, people, family, and the like.  It boils down to what you will allow to take your happiness away and what steps you will take to maintain it.

I read this phrase from Gabrielle Bernstein that sums it up this way:  “I’m working my happiness like a full-time job.”

Indeed.

 

 

Good Food

A Middle Eastern woman with her daughter-in-lawMomma cooked today

we sat down and ate

we talked and laughed – just us two

now, don’t get me wrong, Momma is a good cook

but what keeps me going home is not tasty dishes

I could find that elsewhere

shoot, I can burn myself

but the love in Momma’s home is like no other

here is where I was raised – my brothers and I

we grew up, laughed, played, and learned

here my father lived and here he died

here is where I can smell a dish and in comes a memory

I can see a picture and tears burn my eyes

courage is here

love is here

good food is here

Me and My Frog Legs

1101141432aAbout once a year, I visit one of my favorite restaurants, Lambert’s Cafe – Home of the Throwed Rolls – and chow down on one of my guilty pleasures, frog legs!

Before I talk about my frog-legs leanings, let me say a little about my background. My parents are simple, country folk.  My dad actually grew up on a farm.  He and his siblings had to do their chores – milk the cow, slop the hogs, feed the hunting dogs, and get the hen eggs kind of chores – all before school.  I would laugh at my country relatives, since I am so citified and refined, you see.

But as I get older, I am more and more like my people than I could ever imagine. This brings me to the point – frog legs.  Oh, frog legs, how I luv thee…dem, and I do me all of dem!  For those of you who have not had the great opportunity of eating these tasty morsels, yep, they taste like chicken – mostly.  In regards to the texture, it falls apart much like cod fish.  Mine were fried golden brown and topped with hot sauce.  Frog legs are one of those country dishes that have to be included when talking about chitterlings, possum, rabbit, pig’s feet, and such.  And lastly, but not least, even though I could have done badly that day, I ate only a portion and took the rest home to eat another day.

So yeah, I just wanted to share my experience as well as a pic with everyone.

You’re welcome…

3 Reasons Why You May Be Tired

Young Woman ThinkingWe all live busy lives and suffer low energy from time to time. It may be due to common culprits like low nutrient levels (think potassium or iron), leading a sedentary lifestyle, or poor diet (too much sugar or caffeine).  But then there are some reasons for tiredness that we may not have thought of like:

Your attitude

Let’s say you’re a perfectionist, this mindset is going to make you work harder and longer than necessary. You may have set such unrealistic goals for yourself that not only are you not going to achieve them but will be left feeling tired and overwhelmed.

And for all those worry warts out there here’s one more reason to learn to chill: you literally wear yourself out with worry.  Worry warts are people that expect the worst which will only make them mentally and eventually physically exhausted.

Not enough water

Health.com interviewed Amy Goodson, a dietician at Texas Health Ben Hogan Sports Medium who explained, “Dehydration causes a reduction in blood volume, which makes the blood thicker. This requires your heart to pump less efficiently, reducing the speed at which oxygen and nutrients reach your muscles and organs.”

The end result? You feel wore out.  Even though the government sets eight glasses of water as a standard, you do well to factor in your weight, your workout, and even the weather, especially in hot sweaty months.

Too much exercise

We have to strike a balance between getting the right amount of exercise and not going too far. To overtax the body physically is just as bad as being overtaxed emotionally or mentally.   You could begin to experience fatigue, have trouble sleeping, and have a spike in cortisol, a stress hormone.  High levels of cortisol over long periods of time puts the body in constant alert which makes you feel amped up, even at bedtime when you should be getting much needed sleep.

Solutions

Usually, adjusting different aspects of our lifestyle will correct the problem mentioned above.

  • Perfectionists?  Start setting reasonable goals and let the rest be until another day.
  • Chronic worriers do what you can to correct or plan for situations, then exhale. Start realizing that the worst case scenario usually never happens anyway.
  • If you are bad at remembering to drink water, it may be easier to drink a full glass of water at mealtimes and increase from there. What if you don’t like water?  Try to trick yourself by drinking tea or lemonade.
  • And for the exercise ninjas, begin skipping a couple of days in between. This practice will give your body rest.

October – Domestic Violence Awareness Month

DV logoI thought about something the other day that I had not thought about in a while. I remember seeing a young man slap his girlfriend.  The reason?  She evidently stayed in the restroom too long.  People, we were in Jr. high school so that put us between the ages of 12-15.

Consequently, October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month with good reason then.  The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV) states, “On average, nearly 20 people per minute are victims of physical violence by an intimate partner in the United States.”  And no, this does not include women only because NCADV continues, “During one year, this equates to more than 10 million women and men.   One in 3 women and 1 in 4 men have experienced [some form of] physical violence by an intimate partner within their lifetime.”  And lastly, “1 in 5 women and 1 in 7 men have experienced severe physical violence by an intimate partner in their lifetime.”

Clearly, this is an epidemic. So much so that I wanted to get information from someone who has a bird’s eye view of this issue.  I interviewed Michelle Allen, a Child Protective Service Assessment Worker from the Memphis and Shelby County Department of Children’s Services.  She has 13 years of experience in case management. And even though the following information is slanted to when the perpetrator is male, as we discussed earlier, the perpetrator can be female.

Michelle, what are the main reasons why men hit women?

Many times a man could have been exposed to a violent environment growing up and now believes this is the way women should be treated. Other times, the man involved has severe anger, mental health, or substance abuse issues.

Why does domestic violence have little to do with economics, education, or intellect?

Because low self-esteem or lack of confidence has no boundaries. Traditional norms of how the person was brought up or raised are key factors as well.

Why does it seem harder to leave an abusive mate the longer a woman stays?

It may be financial reasons (he controls the money). Additionally, the woman may not have work skills, a driver’s license, or even transportation.  Other reasons may include: emotional abuse or suppression, physical abuse, low self-esteem, she has been cut off from her support (family/friends), and just wanting to stick it out for the kids so they can grow up with a father.

Lastly, how can a woman identify early in the relationship that the man is manifesting traits of an abuser?

The woman should become familiar with his background. For instance, what kind of relationship does he have with his mother?  Does he have overly controlling behaviors?  Is he jealous?  And it may sound odd but try to be objective when the man ‘seems too good to be true.’

For those who are suffering in an abusive relationship, please reach out for assistance. If you have no one you can personally turn to, then call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233).  And for those of us who are not in an abusive relationship, remember these tips for not only yourself but for others in need as well.