Good News Day 24: Cognitive Function is Improved by Regular Chocolate Intake


Chocolate. The magic word is chocolate. There are very few people in the world that don’t like arguably the king of all desserts, as besides the fact that it is delicious, it also offers a large variety of health benefits, as long as you consume it in moderation. A team of researchers from the University of Maine, the Luxembourg Institute of Health, and the University of South Australia performed a meta-analysis showing that cognitive function is improved by regular chocolate intake …

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Taking Care of Number One

lit-candle-reflection ©public domainPsst… Hey you. Yeah, you. You know who you are. You are the perpetual nurturer, hand holder, volunteer, and shoulder to cry on. You’re likely highly sensitive, empathic, or just an all around generous, kind and caring human being.

The problem is, like many people who are nurturers and caregivers, you probably put taking care of yourself on the back burner over and over again. Pretty much the only time you stop taking care of everyone else is when you finally wear yourself down to the point that you get sick and are forced to lay low for a few days. Even then, you’re probably still cooking dinner, doing laundry and washing dishes.

Like a flashlight in the dark, if you keep on burning through the night without recharging your batteries, you’re light is going to burn out. Or think of yourself as the proverbial candle burning at both ends. Eventually you will run out of fuel, and those who have come to depends on you will no longer be able to reap the benefits of your kindness and generosity.

It is important to remember that you can only give out what you’re allowing yourself to receive. And this means that neglecting to take care of yourself can negatively impact the quality of care you give others. You’ll get cranky and short tempered with those who need you, skip important steps, or make a serious mistake.

Now, while a long vacation is certainly a fabulous idea, it’s probably not practical unless you really do happen to have a lot of vacation days that you haven’t used up. (And oh my god, if you do, I’ll take them!) At minimum, taking the time to recharge your batteries can be as simple as taking a half an hour a day to yourself. The important thing is making even just a little time to give yourself a break, show yourself some love, and maybe even a little pampering.

Here are just a few things you might try to give yourself a little recharge:

  • Take a walk in the woods, a park, or the beach
  • Sit quietly outside with a cup of coffee and your newspaper or book
  • Make a little time for a sport you enjoy, such as golf, swimming, canoeing
  • Draw, paint or do something else creative
  • Treat yourself to other hobbies that make you happy
  • Have a candlelight bubble bath
  • Get a facial, manicure or pedicure (or all three!) or do a home facial
  • Get a massage: some therapists offer shorter chair massages that can be more affordable than a full massage for those on a tight budget.
  • Have a Reiki treatment or other type of energy therapy
  • Enjoy a glass of wine and a book before bed
  • Animal Therapy: Play with your pets, walk your dog, or see if your local shelter needs people to walk dogs and play with their cats.
  • Take yourself on a date to the movies or lunch
  • Meditate (And if you think you don’t have time check out this book!)

This certainly isn’t the be all end all list of things to do, and you might find something completely different to be relaxing and rejuvenating.

Sand on my ToesYou don’t have to do all the things, and you don’t have to dedicate hours a day to taking care of yourself, it’s just important that you think about your own well being every day, even if it’s just a quick meditation break or a walk around the block.

Once you’ve taken care of yourself, I promise, you can go right back to taking care of everyone else!

Love & Light.

Forgive Others, Heal Yourself

Forgiveness is divine, we’re told. But what does that really mean?

DSCF3483Throughout our lives there are bound to be people who trample on our feelings and hurt us emotionally, even physically or financially. Pretty horrible things can happen in life, and beyond the immediate damage caused by the incident, lingering anger, grief, pain and other negative feelings can create a lasting effect on our bodies and minds.

There are a few aspects of forgiveness to consider. First of all, harboring all those negative thoughts and feelings toward the person who has done you harm really doesn’t DO anything to hurt them back, punish them for their wrong, or teach them lesson. That’s what karma, universal law, or the legal system is for. When you forgive them, you’re not necessarily changing the fact that they will, on some level, get what is coming to them.

On the other hand, think about how you feel when you think of that person. You might feel tense and angry, your shoulders tighten, you grind your teeth, or you feel sad and lonely, give yourself a stomach ache or a headache. By allowing one person and their actions to have a lingering affect on you like that, you’re only punishing yourself, not them. If they’re real jerks, they probably don’t even care what you think or feel.

Additionally, it’s not unusual that a lot of the turmoil, anger and negativity we feel about a person or situation is not so much towards them, but towards ourselves. We feel stupid for getting ourselves into the situation, for trusting someone we shouldn’t have. We beat ourselves up over what we could have done differently, for not seeing the situation coming in time to stop it or fix it. We feel regret for things that are lost.

So, equally, when we take the steps to forgive someone else, we need to also forgive ourselves. Not always easy, I know, but when you do, it is immensely freeing. Here is a visualization that I recently led as a guided meditation, but something that you can also easily do at home or sitting quietly at your desk:

  • Take your mind to the person who has caused this hurt or wronged you in some way. Take inventory of the emotions that you feel when you think about the person or situation. How do you feel physically?
  • One by one, recognize each emotion or physical reaction and let it go. Put them in a brightly colored balloon, let go of them, and send them gently floating away.
  • Send this person love and forgiveness and let go of them. Imagine physically cutting the tie that keeps dragging you back to that painful moment, like a big pair of scissors cutting the string.
  • Take a moment to reflect on the space where you kept those negative thoughts and emotions. Fill that space with love. Imagine it healing the damage left behind.
  • Reflect on the positive lessons you have learned because of this person or situation. Has it made you smarter? Stronger? Did you learn something new about yourself because of it?
  • Take one last moment, feel your own power and strength. Send yourself warmth, love, and forgiveness. You might even find it most effective to say the words out loud “I forgive myself.”

Picture 240You can do this as many times as you need to, to help you let go of the negative emotions and hurt caused by others. You might feel like you need to do it more than once for the same person or situation. But, each time you do, remember that forgiving yourself is an equally important part of the healing process.

Forgive and let it go.

Resolve to be Happy

res·o·lu·tion: [rez-uh-loo-shuhn] – noun
 1.) a resolve or determination: to make a firm resolution to do something. 2.) the act of resolving or determining upon an action or course of action, method, procedure, etc. 3.) the mental state or quality of being resolved or resolute; firmness of purpose. 
I have learned over the past few years that the more I am pressured by outside forces to do something, the less likely I am to do it. This can affect my art, my writing, my health, my work, etc. Rather than resolve to go to the gym, one day I just decided to go.
I know from personal experience that the stress and depression I have been struggling with over the last couple of years has had a physical effect on me. Nearly every day I felt fatigued and something ached. I used more sick days than I ever recall using due to nausea, headaches, all over aches, joint problems.
 I know quite a few people dealing with similar situations. After a bit it all piles up and even the smallest troubles seem overwhelming.
SO. This is what I say to all of you. Don’t resolve to exercise more, eat well, go to the gym, cut out caffeine, etc… Get to the core of what causes you NOT to do those things. What makes you happy? What is making you unhappy? Is it a work situation? A relationship? Let go of what puts you in this place. Step outside of your comfort zone. Isn’t it funny that we hang on to stressful, painful spaces in our lives because we are afraid of change? We’re afraid to move on and see what’s out there when it may be that very thing that makes you happy. Feel the fear and do it anyway.
This doesn’t mean quit your job tomorrow, even if maybe in the long run that is what is necessary. Start with baby steps. Does reading a good book make you happy, but you’ve filled your schedule so full that you don’t feel like you have time to read? Takes yourself on a little date to do something you like. Go to a museum, go to a movie, go shopping.  Make a list of the things you would do if you had no limits.
Finally, maybe its time to look at the bigger picture. Most of us are adults. We once had this ideal of how our lives would be, but now we think we are too old, that it is too late for us. Why? I have have seen for myself that people can make a successful career and life change, late in life, and live to tell the tale. It is never too late to go to school! Take heed of the stories of 80 year olds graduating from college! Ask yourself, what do I want to be when I grow up? If you could do ANYTHING, what would it be? Then, think backwards a little bit.
Here is my own example. If I could do anything I wanted, I would want to travel. Obviously you need some sort of income to accomplish that. I also want to have my own gallery and write professionally. Well now, look at this! Both of those things present the opportunity for travel. Travel to find art, travel to write. So then, what would I do before reaching that ultimate goal? Hey look at me! I’m already starting to write professionally. There’s an excellent step! The next few things I need to consider are my location and where I’d want to have my gallery. These are things I am already considering.
And now comes the resolution part. I love writing. I resolve to write more, become published in more magazines and papers. I want writing to become my full time profession. Then, I can mix in my art, build up my credit and financial position and presto! I can travel and own a gallery!
Perhaps it is oversimplified. But, when you think about it, shouldn’t happiness be simple? I think we all know by now that happiness doesn’t come in a bottle, in a bank account, or in a job that pays a ton of money but makes you miserable. I have done that job and I am happier today making a third of what I did at that job.
Happiness comes from family and friends you love and who love you. People who respect you for who you are and who you CAN BE. Happiness comes from respecting yourself, respecting that you are where you are and that you have the potential, the power, to put yourself where you want to be.
My suggestion for you this new year, start a journal. Write down the things you used to dream of doing. Do they still appeal to you? Are there new things that inspire you? Write down what love, what makes you happy and think on that list every day. Stop dwelling on what makes you unhappy, worried and anxious. Take the leap, and the net will apear.
My wish for you this new year is that you will find happiness, and then the things that you ‘expect’ – physical, financial and relationship well-being – will follow.
With love,