Canine Cuisine

Once upon a time on an aisle in a grocery store,

Debby Martin searched for the healthiest dog food and treats, wanting only the best for her Dorkie (Dachshund and Yorkie mix) Kirby. Then, one Thanksgiving, after Kirby became sick from eating dressing from the table, Debby was determined to find out what dogs should and should not eat. Her discoveries surprised her – not about table food, but about commercial dog food.

“It’s been proven that some commercial products have tiny bits of the drug used to euthanize pets.” There can also be poisons and pesticides, said Debby. “I think over the years this builds up to the cancers we are seeing today.”

Thus began Debby’s seven-year journey from grocery store aisle to the kitchen. Questioning every ingredient in her canine’s diet, she researched holistic veterinarians and other websites on healthy food ingredients. In turn, she developed her own website to inform and educate others and to provide tried and trusted canine recipes.

“I started making Kirby’s treats and now he eats about 90 percent homemade. I just love creating the recipes. Kirby is very picky and won’t eat just anything.” 

Realizing, however, that one day her website might be gone, she wrote the canine chef cookbook to provide people with the same information and recipes on her website. The book includes sections on Wholesome Canine Nutrition, Recipes, and The Pantry. Within these sections, she includes pertinent information on healthy and harmful ingredients, food colors, tips and tricks, tools in the kitchen, and much more. Her ultimate goal: Pay attention to what your dog is eating. 

Take spices, for instance.

Holistic veterinarians consider garlic very healthy and safe for pets, but certain ingredients can be very dangerous, especially if your dog has health issues. 

“For example, Rosemary is beneficial for dogs, but if your dog is epileptic, it can cause seizures, whereas Nutmeg is extremely toxic for a dog,” said Debby. Always check with your vet first about the ingredients before cooking for your dog. “If you have any reservations about any ingredient, leave it out.” Table foods are fine as long as you know what’s in it.

Debby’s passion and concern for other people’s pets most likely grew when Kirby got sick. Sugar, Debby’s dog before Kirby, lived to be 15 years old. Though Debby did buy dry dog food, Sugar ate mostly table scraps from carefully prepared family meals that were low in sugar and fats. 

“So Sugar was really eating some very good food, said Debby. “He ended up living a long life and never had any illness.”

There is no moisture in kibble and a dog’s diet should be 70 percent water, explained Debby. Food that dry overworks the kidneys to reconstitute and break down that food. Over time, this can lead to kidney failure.

“Would you eat the same dry food every day?” she asked. “I don’t think a lot of people realize that. As humans, we try to avoid fast foods. It’s healthy for your pet to eat fresh foods, just like you.” Even if you don’t prepare every meal for your canine, make treats and supplement the dog food. Juicing is healthy for you and your pet, so pour a topper over your pet’s dry food. 

When Debby provides foster care to neglected and abandoned animals, she feeds them the same food Kirby eats. She admits to being an advocate for healthy pet diets, saying, “I keep a list on my refrigerator of things Kirby can and cannot eat so everyone knows.”

Kirby knows not to take treats from people because Debby doesn’t know what’s in that treat and a well-meaning bite can be dangerous.

“Your dog is a member of your family, so you want them to live longer. Think about what you are feeding them,” said Debby. “You feed your kids well so they will grow up healthy. Feed your dog with the same attitude.” 

BREAKOUT BOX:

http://thecaninechefcookbook.com/  –  All recipes in the cookbook are on the website for people who can’t afford the cookbook.  Debby responds to all emails and contact.

https://www.facebook.com/kirbythedorkie

the canine chef cookbook is available on Amazon, the Book Store on Main street and at Animal Medical Center, Starkville, Mississippi.

 

This article originally published in Town & Gown Magazine.

 

Resolving Family Conflicts

We romanticize and glamorize families and we place great expectations and demands on them.

While we often expect families to be above the chaos that exists in the rest of society, that belief places unrealistic expectations upon them. In the real world, families are not always a haven, since they, too, can be filled with conflict.

Still at the very least, families are much more than groups of people who share the same genes or the same address. We look to our family as source of love and support. This does not mean that everyone gets all he or she wants or that it comes to us without struggle. Conflicts, then, are a part of family life and is the rule rather than the exception.

Families are under constant stress, being pushed and pulled from many directions.

Conflicts can come from many sources both internal and external. Parental conflict is commonplace. Sibling rivalry and competition and present. Parent-child conflict takes the cake. Death, illness, physical separation, financial strains, divorce are some of the events to which families have to adjust. Some families experience conflict as a result of different views about the world. Although stress and disagreements are common, they can be destructive to families, especially when conflict gets out of hand.

Parental conflict is common in many families and often leads to friction involving the entire family.

Most parental problems revolve around financial matters, infidelity, different views regarding child rearing and family decision making. Homes with high levels of parental conflict often have a tense and hostile environment is detrimental effects children. Children learn what they live.

Looking back at recorded history, it appears be common for brothers and sisters to fight. Sibling rivalry makes good literature but it’s not pleasant for anyone in the house. And a family can only tolerate a certain amount of it.

Parent-children conflicts are commonplace too.

As parents assert their authority, and children try to assert their autonomy appropriately, strife is inevitable. A parent-child power struggle can create conflict and stress for the entire family. Power struggles frequently appear when children reach certain developmental stages. Ask any parent who has parented a two year old or a teenager.

Change is a part of life. Issues such as illness, disability, addiction, job loss, school problems, and marital issues bring on additional levels of stress. Consequently, stability shouldn’t be the only measure of a family’s success. Many families function quite well, despite frequent disruptions. In fact, one important measure of a family’s success is its ability to adjust to change. Daily life is full of stresses that constantly demand accommodation.    

Another type of family conflict is lack of proper communication.

Many families communicate superficially and don’t have time to share meaningful conversations. The conflict in this arrangement is that there are no opportunities to discuss family values, and other important issues.

Yet despite these differences, parents are responsible for imparting to each child a sense of being loved and accepted, for helping each child to succeed at various developmental tasks, and for socializing each child into respecting the rules and accepting the responsibilities society imposes. These are indeed awesome tasks. Disagreements will happen as part of being in a family and living together.

In all the years I worked to help family members get-along better, I found things that stand out as true detriments to resolving these normal conflicts. I suggest the following remedies.

What’s A person To Do?

  1. Accept that conflict is normal. This the first step in dealing with it. Look for and use appropriate ways to deal with problems; the kind that promote growth and acceptance of each family member.

  2. Remember that the person in the conflict is someone you love and you want to preserve the integrity of the relationship. Winning the battle is not as important as the relationship.

  3. Refrain from unhealthy communication such as in yelling, cursing, blaming and insulting one another.

  4. Listen to each other and work to resolve conflicts. Do your best to see things from the other’s point of view. Psychologists call is empathizing.

  5. Focus on the issue at hand, not on past transgressions or the person’s character.

  6. When you speak, use a conversational tone. Loud voices increases emotionality which get in the way of resolving the conflict.

  7. Take leave (temporarily) when your emotions get the best of you. Cool down and return when you are more level headed.

  8. Life happens in ways you can’t predict. Welcome change and learn flexibility.

By Dr. Rachell Anderson 

Build A Village…and They will Come

Thomas Landrum of Laurel, Mississippi didn’t set out to build a village.  It just…happened.

The village started as a business of handcrafted pine furniture, which has now been in business for over 33 years, explained Deborah (Landrum) Upton.

“My dad said the grandchildren didn’t appreciate how the people used to live and how their ancestors lived, worked and built their homes.”

Tom Landrum took the kids into the woods where they logged the trees and had a portable sawmill come in cut the wood into boards. This family project started in 2003.

“There was no master plan,” said Deborah.  “We started the first cabin. As soon as we got the cabin built we filled it with old things.” 

Today, that one cabin is one of 70 buildings located in the beautifully landscaped Landrum’s Homestead & Village located off Highway 15 in Laurel. With exhibits, wagon rides, gem mining, nature trails, a Confederate soldier encampment, an Old West Shooting Gallery, and a Native American Village, every visitor steps back into the late 1800s. In addition, through a partnership with the USDA Forest Service and the Mississippi Forestry Commission, the Landrums created an educational display on the Civilian Conservation Corps and South Mississippi’s reforestation history to show the importance of preservation and conservation. Biscuits are cooked on an old wood stove and there is a nature trail and a small lake with a pier where people can feed the catfish.  You can also play horseshoes and basketball.

 

“We do all kinds of groups and see a lot of families,” said Deborah. “Kids who come say it is their fifth time here.  We have families that come on a regular basis because they can bring a picnic lunch or tour.  They go at their own pace.  Nobody is rushing you through.”

Deborah grew up as the oldest of five children and during their travels, they always used the back roads, never the interstates.  Plus, they camped in a tent.

“Dad and Mom were always into history and preserving history,” said Deborah. “Dad always said that’s where you see things on the back roads.”

In today’s world of technology, a place like Landrum’s Homestead & Village is important to children. We don’t have conversations anymore, said Deborah. “What we’ve found is that when kids come here on a trip they can feel and see things and experience things they can’t get from a computer.”

The Landrum family always has a project going, but the one thing Deborah hopes people take home with them is a sense of family.

“This is my mom’s family land,” said Deborah. “We have a connection to the land. But when kids and other families are here, you see they are connected as well.”

At Landrum’s Homestead & Village, you hear and share stories of what was, but leave with a sense of heritage and an understanding of why heritage will always be important to future generations.

 

Website: http://landrums.com/

Open year round Monday – Saturday from 9 – 5

Walk-ins welcome!

 

Photos courtesy of Landrum’s Homestead & Village 

Originally published in Parents & Kids Magazine and Brad Smith

A GARDEN, A LIFE

“A garden is only yours as long as you seed, weed, cultivate, water and prune. A garden needs lots of tender loving care. It’s lots of work, softening the soil with hoeing and fertilizing, planting and watering… Protect the seeds from vermin. Prune when things grow too fast and wild… the whole point, don’t you see? Bearing fruit and carrying the sweet aroma.” –Francine Rivers, “Leota’s Garden”

On sunny spring days, garden stores are overflowing with ladies poking around among the bedding plants and planning their gardens. I’m not much of a gardener, but I’m right there with those ladies buying ferns and geraniums and potting soil, and I do need some zinnia seeds too.

I’m always inspired by other people’s pretty flower gardens.

I’m thinking of a front yard in one of the older neighborhoods, where a profusion of color peeps out through a white picket fence. The unique personality of the garden derives from the owner’s careful arrangement of healthy plants intermingled with quaint one-of-a-kind objects. I don’t think she ever planned the décor, but it developed as she collected things that called to her–a sale on bedding plants at a garden store, a display of hand-crafted birdhouses at a flea market, a collection of hand-painted feeders. The thing that holds it all together is the work the gardener continually puts into her space—planting, watering, feeding, weeding, and protecting her plants from vermin.

A life can be like a garden.

Each life is different. Some are well-tended and skillfully grown. Some are mediocre and plain, and others are scraggly and neglected. Some thrive and grow and bear good fruit.

Proverbs says,

“He who cultivates his garden will have plenty of bread.” I think God is saying: “I planted you at a particular spot. Look around; what do you see? There’s raw material waiting for your cultivation. If you do your work, you’ll have everything you need. You’ll begin to bear fruit right there in your particular space, and you’ll have more than you need—you’ll have enough to share with a hungry world.”

The Amplified Bible warns,

“But he who follows worthless people and pursuits will have poverty enough” (Proverbs 28:19). Our eyes wander to the neighbor’s garden. We watch others and think we’re supposed to be like them and have what they have. While we stand there wishing for someone else’s flowers and fruit, our work stops and our own plot becomes over-grown with weeds.

In the Message Bible, Galatians 6 instructs:

“Live creatively… Make a careful exploration of who you are and the work you have been given and sink yourself into that. Don’t compare yourself with others. Each of you must take responsibility for doing the creative best you can with your own life.”

It’s hard work making the most of your life. It’s not always fun when you’re digging. You pray for sun and sometimes it wilts your plants. You wake up one morning and something invisible seems to have invaded and drained the life out of your petunias. That’s when you look over the fence at what the neighbors have and wonder what’s wrong with you. It hurts when God prunes away what you’ve worked so hard for.

Nevertheless, one morning there’s a tiny green sprout peeping out of the soil and you know that God is still in control of growing things in your garden. So just keep watering and weeding and trusting Him. Something will grow and bloom and bear good fruit.

Robert Louis Stevenson said:

“To be what we are and to become what we are capable of becoming is the only end of life.”

 by Virginia Dawkins
Image courtesy of worradmu at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Finding The Good In Others And Ourselves

Most of us know people whose characteristic thoughts and reactions are so negative

and, we prefer to keep them at a distance. They are likely to notice the bad qualities in others rather than the good ones. For example, when they may see someone walking down the street laughing or wearing a big smile, they’re likely to think the person is simple-minded, drunk, or high rather than happy. Many people associate someone who is mostly happy as naive, immature or incompetent.

On the one hand,

if people are surrounded by lots of bad behaving, hostile and unsupportive people, it makes sense that they will have a negative views of humanity. On the other hand, too many can’t see far enough beyond their negative views to see that there is good in the worse of us and bad in the best of us.
To make matters worse, our own brain is conspiring against us. We have what psychologists call an intrinsic negativity bias. It’s the tendency to focus on and give more weight to negative experiences or information than we do of positive ones. It turns out that negativity bias is so ingrained in our psychology that it has already developed and become measurable by age 3, the time we become aware of ourselves as people.

Still some people are noticeably worse than others at being negative.

It starts with our early training. Our parents, teachers, and other adults tell us to act like a grown-up. We’re told to calm down, be quiet, and stop being so silly. Some of us grow up accepting these messages and the feelings of guilt that go along with them and incorporate them in our self messages. Psychologists call this inner voice self-talk, and it includes our conscious thoughts as well as our unconscious assumptions or beliefs. As we go about our daily lives we are constantly thinking about and interpreting situations in which we find ourselves. What kind of self talk is it? Is it mostly negative as in “you are too fat”, or is it positive as in; “keep at it, you can do it”?

That internal voice in our head determines how we feel.

As it turns out, if you can’t see the good traits in yourself, you’re likely to miss the best qualities in others. Seeing the good in others is thus a very powerful way to feel happier and more confident and more loving toward yourself.

Even crooks, deadbeats, sociopaths, and everyone you know must have useful virtues, such as determination, generosity, kindness, patience, energy, perseverance, honesty, fairness, or compassion. It is likely that the good you see in others is also in you. You can’t see that good if you did not have an inkling of what it was. You, too, have positive intentions, real abilities, and virtues of mind and heart. Those qualities are a fact, as much a fact as the chair you’re sitting on. Take a moment to let that fact sink in. You don’t need a halo to be a truly good person: A good enough person will do.

As you become more proficient in finding positive aspects in other people,

you get better at seeing positive aspects of yourself. Seeing the good in other people is not just necessary for having good relationships; it will also substantially improves your relationship with yourself.

What’s a Person To Do?

1. Take an inventory of your own good qualities. It’s not necessary to be flawless to be good enough person. Are you an honest person who speaks the truth with compassion, a good listener, appropriate, responsible, and on-point whenever it’s required? Do pay your bills, keep your word, forgive when things go wrong? That’s just a list. Make your own.
2. Keep an eye on the things you tell yourself, and challenge the negative self talk which produce negative feelings.
3. Your current way of thinking might be self-defeating. If it doesn’t make you feel good or help you to get what you want, it’s time for a change.
4. Disputing your negative self-talk means challenging it and rewriting the negative to a more positiveview.
5. Be willing to try and try again until you get it right.

Remember, you and only you are in charge of your thoughts, feelings and behaviors. How you treat others is likely to be how you treat yourself. Good 

By
Dr. Rachell N. Anderson

Dr. Rachell Anderson is a native of Tunica, a licensed Clinical Psychologist, a Professor Emeritus and author. She taught at the University of Illinois and ran a Private Clinical Practice in Springfield, Illinois for many years. She now lives and writes in Tunica, Mississippi. Check out her website at WWW.drrachellanderson.com for more articles and books.

 

Image courtesy of Janpen04081986 and Free Digital Photos

 

Stick Up For Our Woman And Girls

Women have loved others, cared for others and in general, fought for other when no one else was watching their backs. Still, in 2017, full equality for women is yet to be realized. Woman and girls are struggling to gain equal footing in work forces while in many cases, are the sole support for their families. For example, women doctors are paid 8% less than their male counter parts who are similarly trained and experienced. At academic hospitals, male physicians receive more research funding and are more than twice as likely as female physicians to rise to the rank of full professor. Yet,(according to research reported in Journal of the American Medical association (JAMA) female physicians actually tend to provide higher-quality medical care than males. JAMA further announced “If male physicians were as adept as females, some 32,000 fewer Americans would die every year—among Medicare patients alone.”

In other research, girls as young as 6 years old begin to think of themselves as less smart

than their male classmates. Psychologist noted that expectations for girls and boys are different. In much of our parenting, we protect our daughters and  permit our sons to soar. The reality is this type of parenting that stunts girls’ growth, self-confidence and drives them to believe that they are not equal to men. Even young boys recognize the unfairness of it. Imagine the implied messages that is processed by the growing brain of dolls and cars or airplanes as gifts. And while both girls and boys need to learn to nurture, everyone also need to learn to soar.

A concept worth considering is-When women and girls succeed, America Succeeds.

Women have helped us all to live better lives.  And it’s time to salute them for their efforts and to move their efforts forward.

March is Women’s History Month which has been celebrated since 1987. It’s an annual series of events that highlights the contributions of women to events in history and contemporary society. Still, we must acknowledge, there much to be done.

In the words of President Barack Obama

“Throughout our Nation’s history, American women have led movements for social and economic justice, made groundbreaking scientific discoveries, enriched our culture with stunning works of art and literature, and charted bold directions in our foreign policy. They have served our country with valor, from the battlefields of the Revolutionary War to the deserts of Iraq and mountains of Afghanistan. During Women’s History Month, we recognize the victories, struggles, and stories of the women who have made our country what it is today. 

Will this be the time when women and girls in America can gain full equality?

Is this the decade when girls are no longer discouraged from having passion and dreams for careers in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics? That’s where the money is and the men too, to that matter.

Again according to President Barack Obama,

“We are reminded that even in America, freedom and justice have never come easily. As part of a centuries-old and ever-evolving movement, countless women have put their shoulder to the wheel of progress–“

Does it make sense to you that as much as they have contributed and sacrificed, women and girls continue to face workplace discrimination, a higher risk of sexual assault, and face earnings gap that will cost them hundreds of thousands of dollars over the course of her working lifetime? I believe most of you would say no to this question.

Because each person has personal power, each of us can be an agent of change.

With a common purpose of working for a better world, each of us can contribute to the process.

 What’s A Person To Do?

  • Be the change you want to see. Allow children live in a world where love is unconditional and gender neutral.
  • If you are an employer, give equal pay for equal work to all employees.
  • In family life, establish a set of values that all family members must follow.
  • At home, model equal family responsibilities between moms and dads.
  • At home, assign chores equally. All hands can do dishes, make beds and nurture others.
  • Strive to treat your male and female children equally.
  • Refrain from telling or listening to gender specific dirty jokes even if you’re at a bar.
  • Toys need not be gender specific. Girls may strive to fly planes and drive cars and boys may enjoy playing with Barbie.

   

© Dr. Rachell N. Anderson, February 17, 2017

 

Dr. Rachell Anderson is a native of Tunica, a licensed Clinical Psychologist, a Professor Emeritus and author. She taught at the University of Illinois and ran a Private Clinical Practice in Springfield, Illinois for many years. She now lives in Tunica and writes with the Tunica Chapter of the Mississippi Writers’ Guild in Tunica, Mississippi. Check out her website at WWW.drrachellanderson.com for more articles and books.

 

Feature image – “Women Friends Sit Hug Together Blue Sea Sky” image courtesy of Galzpaka at Free Digital Photos

The “People” Problem with Pets

The Hub City Humane Society began as an idea on a laptop in the back office

of a Veterinarian’s clinic in Hattiesburg, Mississippi. Now, it provides compassionate care to the thousands of homeless, neglected and abused animals in the area. Hub City Director Virginia Cheatham began volunteering at a local shelter over 17 years ago and has saved many animals from shelters and fostered animals needing a temporary place to call home.

“We don’t have a pet problem,” said Virginia. “We have a people problem. Until everybody gets it and spays and neuters their pets in this country, millions of animals are going to die in shelters across this country every year.”

The Human Society of the United States chose Hub City to be a part of the “End the Puppy Mill” campaign. In 2015, Hub City took in over 3,000 animals. In the spring and summer, Hub can get up to 100 pets a week, said Virginia.

“We are an open admission animal shelter servicing Lamar County and the City of Petal. We engage the public awareness of animal welfare issues, as well as work to prevent cruelty and promote kindness towards animals.”

Hub City collaborates with rescues and animal welfare organizations both locally and nationally

and maintains the highest level of performance through continued training and education for management and staff. Areas Hub City would like to add to the shelter are an equestrian area and after-school programs. Its mission is to provide the best care for the magnitude of homeless and unwanted pets in the community and to transport them to northeast areas with a 100% percent adoption rate.

“The majority of the dogs we move here go to transport in the Northeast,” said Virginia.

Transports go to the state of Philadelphia where a chain of Pets Plus stores adopt the dogs out of those locations.

“We have a 100% adoption rate,” said Virginia. “We also send [the dogs] to Avon, Connecticut, which takes the older and larger dogs that are extremely hard to move, and they are placed in the most perfect homes.”

All animals going to transport have to be current on everything, explained Virginia. “They have to have health exams and their microchip numbers have to correlate with paperwork.” Hub City usually does two transports in one day, which can amount to 40 or more dogs.

“We have two other places that want to contract with us, one in Atlanta and the other in New York.”

Being a non-profit, funding is crucial to the Shelter, which currently receives money from Lamar County and holds a contract for the city limits of Petal.

“We take in their animal control animals and the citizens in Petal are able to bring their animals to this facility.”

Animal overpopulation is so rampant in the Hattiesburg area, there is no way for every animal entering a shelter to leave it. Hub City is open admission, which means it takes in everything, no matter the age, health, temperament, and condition of the dog.

“We are the little shelter that could. Everything we have here has been donated, except for the transport van and computer,” said Virginia. “Community support has been fantastic. We are very close to starting fundraising for a building out here.”

Volunteers are always needed at Hub City in every area,

including the thrift store and bringing in fresh, new fundraising ideas. Still, Virginia says the best thing the community can do for Hub City Humane Society is to be responsible for their pets, microchip them, ID them, and if their pet becomes lost, to look for it. More importantly, spay and neuter your pets.

BREAKOUT BOX:

Hub City Humane Society
95 Jackson Rd
Hattiesburg, MS 39402
Phone: 601-596-2206
Fax: 601-255-5391
Email: hubcityhumsoc@aol.com

By Richelle Putnam

Feature first published in Parents & Kids Magazine – Pine Belt

SNOW, FIRELIGHT AND BOOKS

There was only a sprinkling of snow, but icy streets kept us inside for a couple of days.

Those cozy, snow days brought back memories of all-day card games with our grandchildren while chili simmered on the stove, and each of us always had a good book waiting to be read.

Pete, our grandson, sent a text on Friday morning:

“Gmom, I hope you and Grandad have a fire going today and a good book to read!” He knew that we did, because at Christmas every member of our family had at least one book on the wish list, and in the gift exchange, we accumulated some good books.

Just prior to the snow days, I ran across a bookmark quote: “Woke up this morning with a terrific urge to lie in bed all day and read.” As I read it, I said to myself, “Now that’s what I want to do one day, just forget everything else and read all day long.”

I love the stories that Eudora Welty told about her mother’s love of books.

When the Welty home was on fire, one of the first things Mrs. Welty rescued from the flames was her prized set of Charles Dickens novels. And Miss Eudora said about herself: “I cannot remember a time when I was not in love with them—with books themselves, cover and binding and the paper they were printed on, with their smell and their weight, and with their possession within my arms, captured and carried off to myself.”

Good books encourage, teach, educate, inspire, and help shape our values. C.S. Lewis said,

“We read to know we are not alone.”

Studies show that reading actually does nourish the brain. According to researchers who did a study with students at Emory University, the act of reading a novel stimulates the brain for days. Reading seems to activate the mind in the same way that we activate muscles when lifting weights. The more active our minds are, the more agile they become. Mark Batterson, author of “The Circle Maker,” wrote, “The simple act of reading involves millions of impulses firing across billions of synopses.”

I do hope that all these wonderful things are taking place in my brain when I sit in front of the fire with my favorite books–although I do have a tendency to fall asleep when I get too cozy.

 The Wall Street Journal published an article titled “The Need to Read.”

The writer, Will Schwalbe, says, “Reading is the best way I know to examine your life. By comparing what you’ve done to what others have done, and your thoughts and theories and feelings to those of others, you learn about yourself and the world around you. I’m on a search to find books to help me make sense of the world, to help me become a better person, to help me get my head around the big questions that I have and answer some of the small ones while I’m at it.”

I too have been on a search to find books that enhance my life. Along with my love for many kinds of books, I have found that the Bible helps me examine my life and inspires me to be a better person. A consistent reading of the Bible does help me to get my head around the big questions about life. 

James McCash said:

“The book to read is not the one which thinks for you, but the one which makes you think. No book in the world equals the Bible for that.”

 

“Sad Woman” photo courtesy of holohololand at Free Digital Photos

 

The Winter Blues

 

Outside, overcast skies hide the afternoon sun.

Summer’s vibrant green and the kaleidoscopic colors of fall have long vanished, leaving only fallen leaves to sweep across a cold, barren ground. Winter in the south may be relatively short, but its colder and shorter days can still bring in the winter blues.

Seasonal depression, otherwise known as SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder),

strikes up to 6% of the U.S. population and usually occurs the same time each year. Hormones, genes, age, body temperature, and overall mental state all play a role in SAD with symptoms including depression, anxiety, loss of energy, hopelessness, social withdrawal, oversleeping, the inability to concentrate, appetite changes, weight gain, and the feeling of heaviness in arms and/or legs. As reported by the Mayo Clinic, SAD can affect children, teens, men and women, with more teens being affected than children and women being four times more likely to experience SAD than men.

Dr. J. Michael Nanney, Meridian, Miss., explained that there are two common types of Seasonal Affective Disorder, the fall onset and the summer onset, with fall being more common.

“[Symptoms of SAD] are a little bit different than we usually experience with depression,”

said Nanney. For example, during SAD episodes, people tend to sleep more and gain weight. “Also, [SAD sufferers] are more sensitive to rejection during that particular time.” Nanney added that although the cause of the winter blues is unknown, decreased amounts of natural light during the winter months might certainly be a contributing factor.

Light affects the body’s circadian rhythm (24-hour cycle internal body clock),

which also controls how much melatonin the body produces. Levels of melatonin usually begin rising in mid to late evening, remain high through most of the night, and begin dropping in the early morning hours. Winter’s shorter days can cause the body to produce melatonin earlier or later in the day, which can trigger symptoms of SAD.  With age, natural melatonin levels slowly drop and some older adults actually produce little or no melatonin. Therefore, light therapy (phototherapy) consisting of a special fluorescent lamp that emulates sunlight can be beneficial. When this therapy works, depression usually improves within 3 to 4 weeks.

In addition, changes in the brain’s serotonin levels can alter a person’s mood.

While it’s perfectly normal to feel down on some days, a prolonged period of depression that has you abstaining from normal activities should be taken seriously.  Psychotherapy and medication may be necessary to help you through this period.

Children who seem to have a poor attitude may actually be struggling with SAD.

Since other medical problems, like mononucleosis, hypothyroidism and hypoglycemia, have similar symptoms, parents should seek professional medical guidance for a careful evaluation of their child. Open discussions about SAD will help children understand the reasons for their mental and physical changes.

“Taking a walk outside will help, as well as increasing light in your home,” said Nanney.

‘Set timers on your lights so that when you wake-up, the lights are already on.” Purchasing your own light for therapy can also be helpful, Nanney explained. Costs run from 200 to 500 dollars with light intensity varying between 2,500 to 10,000 watts. Light therapy, as prescribed by a physician, can require 30 minutes to two hours a day.

Currently, there is no medical test for SAD,

so a doctor depends on the patient to be upfront about symptoms and how long they have persisted.  Other exams and tests may be required to rule out other medical disorders. While symptoms often improve with the change of seasons, SAD can develop into long-term depression. If you repeatedly experience seasonal depression, seek medical counsel to learn the best steps for prevention.

To determine if you are experiencing SAD, ask yourself these questions:

  • Have I had a change in appetite?
  • Have my sleep patterns changed?
  • Do I feel hopeless and heavy?
  • Have I lost interest in things I usually enjoy
  • Have I thought about suicide?
  • Have I become a loner?
  • Am I turning to alcohol for relaxation and comfort?

 “As with all mood disorders, [symptoms of SAD] are not character problems,” said Nanney.

“They are chemical problems. People shouldn’t feel guilty about seeking help and doing something about it.”

by Richelle Putnam

Serotonin (5-hydroxytryptamine), a hormone found in the pineal gland, blood platelets, the digestive tract, and the brain, acts as a chemical messenger of nerve signals between nerve cells and also causes blood vessels to narrow.

 

Melatonin, a hormone made by the pineal gland in the brain, helps control sleep and wake cycles.

 

WEBSITE REFERENCES:

http://www.psychologytoday.com

http://www.medterms.com

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov

http://www.mayoclinic.com/health  

http://kidshealth.org/parent/emotions/feelings/sad.html

For a Joyful New Year

 

Most of us have times when things are not pretty, when times are tough,

when it seems like the world we know is crumbling around us; we may become frustrated and it’s hard to find a reason to be joyful.

As the new year begins, many of us may be thinking that no new year’s resolution (even if followed) has the power to help us to survive the year ahead. It’s true that life is going to be difficult in new and complex ways. If you’re feeling overwhelmed by the uncertainty for the coming year, it may be helpful to consider a new perspective for coping. Coping requires clarifying your thinking, adjusting your expectations, finding the good that is present in the world and growing from our misfortunes.

First, it’s important to distinguish Joy from Happiness.

Happiness suggests that you are free of trouble, worry and care.  However, that feeling is temporary. You’re happy when things go as you think they should but when things change toward the negative, your happiness is gone. Joy is about shifting your focus to what is good and right in the world. So, happiness is fleeting, but joy sticks around. Joy is there if you look and think hard enough. When you do, you’ll find something for which to be thankful that will help you to keep on keeping on.

Start with the basics.

Be thankful for something, no matter how small: for another day, for the beauty of nature; for the smile of a stranger; for the love of those who care. Then, this is harder to accept for most people but you can be thankful situation that’s causing you pain. Tough times help us to grow our character and preseverence. People grow very little when they are happy. However, when we have hard times, when we’re in the midst of struggles, when we’re at the end of our rope, our survival instinct kicks in, we get tough, creative and ready to tackle the situation head on. Trials are no fun, but they make us stronger. Happiness won’t get us through hard times in the long run but Joy will.

We have entered a period of profound changes for ourselves and our nation, both the goodness and the difficulty need to be acknowledged.

So, how does a person go about being joyful during these difficult times?

Psychologists draw on an ever-expanding body of scientific knowledge about how we think, act and feel and they apply the information to help make things better for us all. Here are some tips for having a more joyful new year.

What’s A Person To Do?

  1. Decide how you want to be a part of the solution rather than using your time complaining about the things that are causing pain.

  2. Select the things you can change and set realistic, attainable goals for changing them. Let go of the rest.

  3. Embrace change. Things will not always be as you want them to be. Keep a journal and evaluate your progress this time next year.

  4. No matter what happens find good in it. And find the good in each person you meet.

 

© Rachell N. Anderson, Psy. D. December 21, 2016

 

Dr. Rachell Anderson is a native of Tunica, a licensed Clinical Psychologist, a Professor Emeritus and author. She taught at the University of Illinois and ran a Private Clinical Practice in Springfield, Illinois for many years. She now lives in Tunica and writes with the Tunica Chapter of the Mississippi Writers Guild in Tunica, Mississippi. Check out her website at www.drrachellanderson.com for more articles and books.

 

Photo: “Primary Students Visit The Zoo, In The Jul 27, 2016. Bangkok Thailand” courtesy of tiniroma and freedigitalphotos