Good things come in small packages — and come from small steps

Good things come in small packages — and come from small steps

exercise

This week for my Health123.com blog, I look at the power of small changes and how, over time, they can have a big positive impact. It's not just intuitive truth, but scientifically proved.

A lot of the literature and idea-banking of small changes is about diabetes, in part because it is such a huge problem, but also because it appears so responsive to taking incremental positive steps. A Mayo Health blog post covers how little things can both impact your health post diagnosis, and even prevent it from becoming a part of your medical record.

Health 123 isn’t alone in the quest for doing more by doing a little over and over again. Vancouver Canucks president Trevor Linden is the face of a new organization focused on men’s health that’s committed to making small changes, too.

Read more about some of the studies, and get some tips for making small changes here.

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The art of ignoring bad news

The art of ignoring bad news

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My shrink and I have spent a long time talking me into being less of a news junkie. Because when I focus on the news too much, I get depressed. Really depressed. Stay in bed depressed.

So I have avoided the news as much as possible today. I know that five men decided that the "religious freedom" of a company is more important than the religious freedom of women when it comes to their reproductive health. I know that three teenagers were murdered in the Middle East for the temerity of being Israeli Jews (and probably, some number of Palestinian youth were killed because they were unfortunate enough to be born Palestinian, or on the wrong side of the Israeli border, or of the wrong sex or sect). I know that there are people who want to kill people because of the borders they live within, the religion they espouse, the politics they follow, the books they read. I know that Republicans hate Democrats hate Republicans and poor people the world over will risk their lives and the lives of their children to come to this country. And I know that although the Seattle Mariners are doing a remarkable job this year, they will not likely make the World Series.

But on days like this when the news is so overwhelmingly sad or maddening I turn on the news but listen with half an ear; I skim the paper; I read the entertainment news and get mad that the Kardashians are eating up printer ink and trees because that's a safer kind of anger. I focus on cute kitty and puppy memes and girl empowerment videos from big corporate entities (who have helped distort the body image of generations of women -- but I ignore that part).

And I will sit on the deck as the sun sets and watch the youngsters of the Seattle Mariners trounce the Houston Astros (8-3 in the middle of the eighth as I type this) and not care if they tank late in the season or if they win a wild card spot in the playoffs only to lose in the first round.

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YA reading: It’s a generational thing

YA reading: It’s a generational thing

Frankfurt/Main, Jugenwohnheim

Since I asked last week for some ideas for good books for high school readers to donate to Treehouse, I've had a lot of comments from folks of my generation. And I find them astounding. Most of the books are adult literature or things that would be considered appropriate for middle grades now (read the comments for the post to see what I mean). Crime and Punishment and Are You There God, It's Me Margaret.

Now, there is a whole industry for young adult books -- things like the Hunger Games and Matched trilogies.

When I was at Powell's in Portland yesterday, I dropped some money (guess how much in the comments to this post! If you guess right, I'll send you a book of your choice, or donate one in your name to Treehouse!) I shopped with my Darling Niece, who helped me pick some books by authors popular with her late-high school crowd -- Sarah Dessen, David Levithen --  while I pulled stuff like the first two books in the Hitchhikers Guide series and some Jasper Fforde (and the ever-uplifting Go Ask Alice). My brother picked out Jules Verne, further proving the divergence between then and now when thinking of what kids on the verge of adulthood might like to read. Because I'm guessing when he wrote 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, Mr. Verne wasn't thinking of marketing it just to teenagers.

We have made a specialness out of a period of growing up that didn't exist before industrialization and the creation of child labor laws. Before that, children were young and incapable of work, and then capable of work. Not two decades after the bulk of child labor laws were enacted in the 1930s came the beginnings of books written with teenage protagonists, largely written for that market. This post from the blog The Side of Wonder, talks about how Catcher in the Rye marked the true beginning of YA literature.

As the comments have come in from my friends, relatives, readers, it has startled me how those of my generation have favorites that area clearly what is now considered adult fiction, while if you ask young people, they talk about the latest John Green book -- a man whose books are popular with adults, but clearly written with a younger audience in mind.

I have no big aha ending to this. It's not good or bad. Well, it's probably good, because I like many of the YA books I've read while trying to find something that appeals to Darling Son (while he's found the most interest in graphic novels like Maus and books of alternative history like 11-22-63). It's just interesting.

Thoughts? More favorites from your misspent youth? I only have about 10 good titles, and I want at least 20. So keep the comments coming.

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Doggy Update

Doggy Update

This is a picture of Ruby's neck with the swelling about half what it was. She's back to jumping on the bannister in the morning, but still not barking much or leaping on beds and people. But we're just 24 hours into treatment.

God bless antibiotics!neck

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What was your favorite book in high school?

What was your favorite book in high school?

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I have a lot of friends who just don't listen to me or follow rules well at all. When I invited people to my 50th birthday party, I specified no gifts, or gifts of books for the kids at Treehouse, a great organization that provides the little extras, as well as counseling and mentors to foster children in Western Washington.

Some of them, however, gave me gift cards to a monolithic e-marketplace that is currently attempting to crush Hachette Book Group, probably as a warning shot to other publishers. I'm not going to use those cards to cut into my 150-odd long books I want list. I'm going to buy books for Treehouse. I got hundreds of books at my birthday party, but most of them were for younger readers. So I'm going to focus on young adult books with this money.

Everyone knows that The Hunger Games and The Fault in Our Stars are big hits with this crowd, but I don't want to leave out classics. So I'm asking you to chime in. Tell me what your favorite book was in high school. I figure I have enough money to get about 20 books. I have about a dozen loyal readers. Let's see if you all can share this and cajole enough friends and relatives to participate so that we get 20 different titles in the comments. I'll buy them all and present them to Treehouse the week after Independence Day, when I'm scheduled to take in a Prius-full of books to the Wearhouse.

So go forth and share. But only after you tell me: what was your favorite young adult read?

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Looking wistfully back to last week

Looking wistfully back to last week

ruby

We always want what we don't have, right?

I have long complained about the irrational exuberance of my dog, Ruby. She bunny hops on my toes to say hello, squeaking at an ear splitting pitch. This happens not just when I've been away for days, or even hours, but if she saw me two minutes ago, when I left the house to take out the garbage.

She barks -- we call it shouting -- at every truck, dog, rolling bin, and most neighbors who walk by. I find this an asset when I'm home alone at night or the neighborhood listserv has reported area break-ins. She does this regardless of the hour of day or night. I cancelled my CSA in part because they delivered at 3 a.m. It was noise only my teenager could sleep through.

She's never calm or quiet. There isn't a family member or friend she isn't beside herself to see again. For the first time since this morning. Or yesterday. Or a year ago. Her reaction is the same, regardless.

So it's very disconcerting these last couple days that my dog is -- well, like a normal dog. She isn't jumping or barking. She was, until today, eating. But she's been off. If she had continued to eat, I wouldn't be as worried as I am now, but she's refusing bananas and apple cores, which are two of her favorite things. As good as cheese.

I'm calling the vet in the morning. I'm hoping it's as serious as the last time I had to take her in -- she sprained her tail from wagging it too hard (not joking). Cross your fingers, think good thoughts, say a prayer: whatever it is you do when someone isn't well and you want to show solidarity, do that. I want my old irritating dog back.

Update: Ruby probably has an infection in her throat, caused by an abrasion or cut received by eating a stick or something else foreign and forbidden. Her lack of jumping and occasional limping seems to be just her being all tensed up because of the pain in her neck. We're doing a week of strong antibiotics and anti-inflammatories. If that doesn't work (and we'll know in a couple three days if we're on the right track), we'll probably look at doing some imaging requiring sedation. But for the time being, they don't think it's a mass, just a swelling in her throat. And tonight, she ate homemade chicken and squash stew with quinoa and red rice with a dollop of yogurt. She probably thinks she's getting a treat.

Thanks for the good thoughts.

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Happy Birthday, Darling Son

Happy Birthday, Darling Son

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My son turns 17 today. He's a typical teenager: sleeps a lot, eats a lot, answers complex questions with a grunt, and complains that the world is "not fair!" I love him to death. I don't always like his behavior (that's my shrink talking; can you tell?).

He's mildly autistic, has ADD and a mild anxiety disorder. He doesn't socialize much or well with kids his own age and his room usually looks like a bomb went off. And there's that fug that teenagers carry with them no matter how much they shower.

But: he does a good job as a courtesy clerk at PCC, where I'm told he's a great cleaner of bathrooms (apparently, that skill doesn't translate to home). He loves his dog. All dogs. He takes a neighbor pet for walks when the owner, who is mildly disabled, is unable. He is engaged in the political world, volunteering for two campaigns, one for state senator, one for congressional representative. He reads news sites and Wikipedia for fun.

And then there was today. A month or so ago, there was a car accident at the corner a couple blocks up the road. A lady from the neighborhood swept up the debris. But it had scattered back into the road. So today he left early for work, broom in hand. He swept up the debris into a dustpan and walked it home to deposit into our garbage can.

Amazing kid.

Happy birthday Darling Son!

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Finding ways to exploit nature’s bounty — Health123.com

Finding ways to exploit nature’s bounty — Health123.com

veggies

Today in my Health123.com blog, I write about ways to put more veggies and fruits in your diet, particularly now that so many beautiful fresh specimens are available. Here's a tease. Click below if you'd like to see more.

...There are many previous blog posts right here on this very site that can show you study after study explaining their importance. This one from January has some of the basics, and this one from 2012 looks at the science behind some so-called superfoods (many of which are – wait for it – fruits and vegetables!).  But what you might need is some help finding new ways to enjoy foods you’ve grown bored of, or ways to get recalcitrant eaters to try some new flavors and tastes...(continue reading)

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A little more link love…non-blogathon version

A little more link love…non-blogathon version

I said a couple days ago I was toying with linking to some other great blogs that were not participating in the blogathon, but which were great reads. There's not a lot that I go to regularly, so I thought for a Sunday night's reading, why not?

First up is my guy's blog, One Piece a Day. He has a years' long habit of picking up at least one piece of garbage tossed by some *&$#er every day, and thereby making the world just a little bit better than he has found it. His immediate family -- and I -- have taken up the cause. It's hard to walk buy stray garbage when you have the phrase "One Piece a Day" lodged in your brain. He's a good enough writer, too. Well, he thinks he's quite clever, and sometimes I do, too.

He has another blog that I don't visit as often, but which he's paying me to pimp to my 7 loyal readers, about his dining around in the Seattle International District. He's never found an Asian restaurant he didn't want to eat in. I, on the other hand, have found many that frighten me (remind me to tell you the story about my first experience eating Vietnamese food, and the rat). Also, he likes bubble tea. I don't.

I post links to my pal Pam's blog, Nerds Eye View, a lot. She's pithy, and smart, and spot on. She has won awards for her web writing by people who READ blogs. She's often hysterical. And she plays in a rock band on the side. ON THE SIDE! She writes about travel, because she does a lot of it, lucky woman. But she touches on issues about blogging, the tech world, the wider world. I miss her Fish Wednesday posts. Hear that Pam?

Just a Backpack and a Rollie is written by Nancy Thompson. She says it's about "rethinking retirement" but that implies it's for older folks, or rich people who have all the time (and money) in the world to travel. I just like to read what she writes about what she sees. Like this post about Portland, which should, indeed, stay weird.

Chuck Wendig's Terrible Minds blog was recommended last year by the aforementioned Pam. It's got great flash fiction contests, and some great stuff for those who write genre fiction. But it's got good writing advice overall. My biggest gripe about it -- as a subscriber (and I could fix it by simply visiting it as I wish) -- is that he publishes often multiple times a day. Who has that much time to blog?

I think that'll do you for a Saturday night. Go click on the boyfriend's blogs now. His readership will triple and I'll totally take credit and reap the rewards.

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