Tag Archives: health

looking into gratitude

this morning, i visited chitowngreg’s sunday post about gratitude. it was fabulous to see all the comments there – 48 at the time i was visiting.

and then of course my research brain got curious. what a great treasure trove to delve a little into to find out what specific things people are grateful for! i spent a few hours to analyze it a bit and cam up with a few surprises and a few things that were expected.

family was the biggest theme. i found 25 mentions of it. most of them were about children, e.g.

three wonderful children with their own uniqueness

and almost as many about spouses, e.g.

climbing into my warm bed, with my husband who loves me, and listening to the rain softly falling all night long……

then a surprise – the next category in “family” was dogs, before mothers, etc.:

for dogs who never tire of seeing me.

chitowngreg’s blog is a 12-step blog, so understandably, there were a lot (21) of expressions of gratitude about recovery and 12-step programs, like

i watched, “crazy heart”, last night. a story about an alcoholic country singer/ songwriter. made me very grateful for my sobriety and the second chance i was given.

indirectly, some of the comments where gratitude is expressed for those kinds of things would also fall into other categories such as spirituality and friends (because of the strong fellowship aspect of 12 steps). i found surprisingly few (5) for friends (“the companionship of friends”) and 4 for spirituality (e.g. “playing ave maria in a little while at mass this morning”).

i was also not necessarily surprised but perhaps “pleasantly confirmed” that those gratitudes contained none of the cultishness that 12-steppers are sometimes accused of.

another topic that came up frequently was basic needs, possibly inspired by greg’s intro to the post about how lucky most of us are. if your combined household income is over $ $26,400 a year, you’re in the top 10% of all income earners in the world. think about that. for many of us westerners, that’s mind boggling. when i think of how many people i know who are wringing their hands because they only make $25 an hour, it’s refreshing to hear this

thank god for running water!

and then there were more comments (14) about the weather/nature than there were about health (11)! that was perhaps the biggest surprise. i would have expected for health to be right up there with family. of course this is anything but a scientific research project – still, i find this remarkable, something i’m thinking of following up (maybe i’ll write one of my brainblogger articles about this sometime soon). loved this comment:

i’m grateful to have had a glorious weekend on the boat and that this afternoon there was a wonderful thunderstorm. we came back through the rain but were safe. nature in all its power!

another surprise: of all the gratitudes i looked at (about 140 altogether), this was the only one that explicitly mentioned nature.

here’s one about health:

i’m grateful today that i can think and speak in words. a dear friend is wordless after a brain hemorrhage, and it’s very hard.

other things that were mentioned more than once, with some examples, and in order of occurrence:


i’m grateful to have blogs that allow me to reconfirm i am doing the right thing in my life.

gratitude itself
people like you who remind me why i should be grateful when i’m grouchy just because its monday

personal growth

having the courage to ask “what am i going to do,” rather than sitting in pity saying “why”

mornings (that was another surprise – mentioned 7 times)

the possibilities of the whole day in front of me

also home, work, baseball (!!!) and peace.

success in 2009 – part 2

here’s part 2 of my social media friends’ nonmonetary successes in 2009: (the ones with the @ are people’s twitter accounts).   part 1 is here.

darren barefoot: i wrote half a book, which, it turns out, is a shocking amount of work.

hamish: two of my former clients (and now friends) successfully landed new jobs thanks in part to some extensive CV rewriting that i did for them – it was great to see the constructive criticism received well, taken on board and integrated into the finished product. it was then gratifying of them to keep me posted on how their job search progressed – net result, two great people in new jobs doing great things for their new employers!

vivien (@inspirationbit on twitter): my biggest success and the proudest achievement in 2009 was to teach my daughter how to read. so now, at the age of four she’s already fluently reading in english on her own, and we now started learning french with her 😉

jonathon narvey from writeimage: learning and understanding more about how organizations (business, non-profit, whatever) succeed. i’m very grateful to those who have shown me how to get it done. it seems as though some of the greatest lessons you can learn in this field come much easier when times are tough. and it’s not just important to understand these things to make a buck — it’s important to understand them so that you can truly enjoy and remain passionate about the work.

probably the most important lesson, which i had heard many times but perhaps never truly internalized until recently, was the importance of working with good people. you just can’t do it all yourself. when you’ve got good, talented people all working in an organized way towards a common goal, success is inevitable.

dan: teaching my kids things they ask about and hearing them say “c-o-o-o-l”

dave: my success really was regaining my independence. i was in a relationship for nearly 3 years, 2 of which we lived together. to escape some costs and administrative burden, i didn’t have a copy of our joint credit card and our chemistry wasn’t where it needed to be in order for me to be 50% of our relationship. i didn’t get lost in the relationship, but i got lost because of it. i didn’t realize this until a month or so after leaving – regaining my independence came out of nowhere to be my biggest success and i didn’t even see it coming.

@evanhadkins written lots of stuff, survived a new job with zero support, maintained healthy relationship despite working 6-6.5 days a week

@barkingunicorn learned to let go of money, possessions, home, people, worry.

@mollena i was awarded the title @mssfleather2009. i performed in the most difficult and wonderful show i’ve ever done. i’m still sober.

brenda blackburn: my biggest non-monetary success of 2009 was the live meeting startup and growth of the DVT support group of the lower mainland (held in burnaby, bc). “deep vein thrombosis (DVT) is a blood clot that usually occurs in the leg, most often on one side, although it can happen in other parts of the body. if the blood clot dislodges, it can travel to the lungs and cause a blockage known as a pulmonary embolism (PE) or lung clot. lung clots affect over 530,000 people a year and 300,000, or almost 1 out of 3, are fatal.” “national alliance for thrombosis & thrombophilia (NATT), USA. in this group of “survivors” and supporters we support, educate and advocate. as the first known live support DVT group in canada, (with no other provincial or national DVT patient organization existing to date), we are striving to make a difference at a grassroots level. we hold affiliations with vancouver general hospital, burnaby hospital, the north american thrombosis forum, peernetbc, and more.

want to tell us what your success was?

happiness in the new year

happy childrenhappy new year to all! what more should i say? of course i want you all to be happy. but what does that mean? what does happiness mean? so many different things to different people. “contentment with one’s situation,” i read somewhere today, “is the greatest happiness one can have.” definitely, that is one great happiness. one among many – and a happiness that may seem meaningless to some.

since there seem to be so many ideas around happiness, i thought i’d see what some of our readers say about it. here you have it:

  • rivka  mentions ayn rand’s question of whether an individual has a right to happiness.
  • leprechaun makes a connection between happiness and luck
  • christa from giggle on says we’re responsible for our own happiness; similarly, dan says happiness is a choice.
  • donna finds joy and happiness difficult to come by after spending years in a cult.
  • marja talks about the happiness that washed over her after her garden party that launched her latest book, a firm place to stand, about her experience supporting others and being supported in mental illness (neat tidbit – i was in the middle of writing this sentence when tina, who had originally introduced me to marja, phoned me up out of the blue)
  • “joy and purpose is found in living a life looking outward and upward; not inward” says meri ellen
  • in the anorexia forum, supportive messages:
  • “your body needs food! you are very underweight and your body is probably screaming for nourishment! i know it is soooo hard to eat but you have to. you need more than what you are consuming right now. you want to gain your life back. you want to be healthy and happy! anorexia takes both health and happiness away and you do not want that. you want to enjoy life and live it to the fullest :)”
  • “health and happiness is the most important thing in life- not what you look like.”
  • the same person talks about overcoming the voice of anorexia, eating a snack, and the happiness that brought being proud of herself for that
  • andrew wonders whether there is a connection between income levels and health
  • “happiness happens when you’re not worrying about it.” says hibs
  • chelle feels she’s found the secret to happiness: live in the moment.; let go of all your grudges; don’t be the judge; accept what happens as a bigger plan in life; want less; help others
  • chollie feels that happiness starts with humility
  • snow thinks that happiness is elusive, and that people often fake being happy
  • and lastly, i just got a message from a friend who said, “i’m so happy i’m not starting a new diet today!”

quite the grab-bag. what’s your take on happiness?

image by carf

blogathon: i want

i want to feel healthy, be calm, be strong and mighty, feel attractive, be full of joy.

so many “i wants”. most of the time, just saying “i want” doesn’t make it so. it’s like painting a picture using a faint pencil with just a few outlines. much better than nothing, that’s for sure but if you show it to your friends, chances are they won’t “get the picture.” we need to use strong strokes and colours!

here’s an example of doing that – look at the strong brushstrokes and the colours:

what does it feel like when i’m healthy?

  • able to move in whatever way, whenever
  • “clean” inside
  • full of a quiet, steady, abundant energy
  • unencumbered physically
  • able to physically relax whenever i want
  • free from aches and pains

what does it feel like and what do i do when i’m calm?

  • i feel centered and grounded
  • i don’t feel attacked by outside forces
  • i move from task to task efficiently yet without a hurry
  • i don’t worry about not having enough time

what does it feel like and what do i do when i’m strong and mighty?

  • i feel noticed
  • i feel respected
  • i feel that i can motivate others to cooperate with me
  • i stand my ground
  • i have more energy than needed to deal with whatever tasks i need to deal with
  • i am able to judge at what point it’s necessary to defend myself
  • i don’t think it’s anything special when i give in
  • i know when to be generous
  • i feel physically strong and powerful
  • i feel confident that others see in me a power to be reckoned with

when i feel attractive, i

  • look in the mirror and like what i see
  • don’t feel i have to hide anything
  • walk happy with the knowledge that i’m attractive
  • have an inner “shine”

when i am full of joy, i

  • feel connected to the divine
  • notice and enjoy beauty everywhere
  • pursue beauty
  • dance
  • want to share my joy with others
  • feel to be an integral part of the universe
  • go with the flow instead of “overcoming obstacles”

aah, yes, now “healthy, calm, strong and mighty, attractive, and joyful” have so much more – ooomph!

go on, try it yourself! what are your wants? what are your strong brushtrokes?

canadian mental health association

this is an entry for my participation in the 2008 blogathon, a 24-hour marathon of blogging. please support the cause and donate – however much, however little – to the canadian mental health association (vancouver/burnaby branch). to donate, email me or use this URL: www.canadahelps.org/CharityProfilePage.aspx?CharityID=d2252. you should be able to get there by clicking the link; if not, just copy and paste the link into your browser. it will take you to the appropriate location at canada helps.

thank you for visiting, reading, commenting and, if you can, donating!

blogathon: 13 ways to crunch the energy crash!

canadian mental health associationmy fellow blogathonner from the strawberry ghetto was getting a little comatose earlier on. i know my energy is probably going to crash at some point later on so i thought i’d tell you what i know works in such situations (and if i’m with it enough, i might report later on how it worked for me)

  1. no sugar, alcohol or caffeine. these are artificial mood and energy altering substances. they’ll give you a temporary high and then you crash
  2. eat a little snack every two hours. make sure it contains protein. almonds are really good for this. i personally don’t like crunching on almonds so i have some hoummus, refried beans, boiled eggs and cheese on hand
  3. state changes! state changes! don’t stay in that chair for longer than 30 minutes. get up, move around!
  4. go for a quick brisk walk
  5. if you can, catnap. don’t do it longer for 15 minutes – otherwise you’ll feel groggy
  6. if you can’t catnap, lie down in a dark-ish room for five minutes
  7. have a shower
  8. do some quick yoga or tai chi
  9. dance
  10. clap your hands
  11. listen to upbeat music
  12. hug your significant other
  13. play with the cat

any other tips?

this is an entry for my participation in the 2008 blogathon, a 24-hour marathon of blogging. please support the cause and donate – however much, however little – to the canadian mental health association (vancouver/burnaby branch). to donate, email me or use this URL: www.canadahelps.org/CharityProfilePage.aspx?CharityID=d2252. you should be able to get there by clicking the link; if not, just copy and paste the link into your browser. it will take you to the appropriate location at canada helps.

thank you for visiting, reading, commenting and, if you can, donating!

a review-me post: health insurance

swimming in money
as you’ve seen, i’ve started experimenting with monetizing this blog. (it’s all fellow vancouverite john chow’s fault). part of this experimentation is with “review me” paid reviews. so let me disclose up front that i’m getting paid a whopping $10 to write this (it’s my first review; it might take me a month or 40 to get up to john chow’s $500 per post!). that’s two lattes at starbucks, or, if you live in africa, a mosquito net or two, which can save your life.

talking about which – this review is about eHealthHelp.com and affordable health insurance. this is how they introduce themselves:

eHealthHelp was created to assist you in understanding how your health care plan works. we are committed to helping you get the most effective and efficient use of your health care coverage. we have worked for over 25 years with insurance, managed care, and provider organizations in addition to working with consumers of health care services.

EHH does not recommend any one particular healthcare provider, broker, or supplier. the purpose of this site is to provide the consumer with basic knowledge and some useful organizational aids.

EHH answers questions such as

* who regulates health care plans in california?
* i’m a member of a managed care plan and my doctor said i need a referral. it’s been two or three weeks and “nobody has approved it” yet? what do i do??
* what does it mean if my health plan has been accredited by NCQA? why is accreditation or certification important?
* i have heard many of the following terms and wonder what they mean: clinical criteria, practice guidelines, treatment protocols, clinical practice guidelines, and utilization management (um) review criteria?
* what are member rights and responsibilities?
* what do i do in an emergency?
* how do i know if it is an emergency that will be covered by my health care coverage?
* as a self employed small business owner, how can i get healthcare coverage?

generally, this seems like an interesting site; if i were living in the US (i’m in canada), i’d probably want to know about these things and would appreciate all the other information they provide (e.g. they have a list of articles, quite a few of them about obama vs. mccain regarding health insurance). however, i wonder, who’s behind this site? i couldn’t find anything about that. so maybe they could improve their “about” page. whose interests are being served? the three insurance companies on their landing page? it would also be nice if there was a search function on the site.

and of course, as a mental health professional, i’d like to know how helpful this site can be for people with mental health issues, particularly for people with mood disorders such as depression or bipolar disorder, people with eating disorders such as anorexia, and people with chronic pain. i sent an email to the address in the “contact me” area but unfortunately it came back as undeliverable.

(image by lanuiop)