April showers bring… MUD. And lots of it. I am over at Cincinnati Moms Blog today sharing why I’ve started encouraging my babes to get dirty.
I yelped getting out of bed yesterday. A yelp just like that of a small, yappy dog stuck in the purse of some super model – my muscles screamed and the noise escaped through my mouth. I was sore from a run over the weekend and reminded yet again that I’m not 18. Thank goodness.
With signs of our own mortality evident all around us, my husband and I have [attempted] to make healthier lifestyle choices over the past year or two. We kicked it off by not downing kegs of beer each week, eliminating buttery garlic bread as a side to every meal and trying to run at least a mile. We’re doing better.
While several elements to the change included exercise and meditation, our diet has experienced one of the most substantial overhauls. And we’re early in our journey… really early. But I thought I’d share some of what we learn on this blog.
My most recent, “holy sh*t, nature is amazing” epiphany happened with turmeric.
Grown wild in the forests of Southeast Asia, turmeric is a bright yellow spice used extensively in Indian, Pakistani and Bangladeshi cuisine. Because I’m the person who regularly fails to pronounce “bruschetta” properly (“brusketta” just feels like I’m trying too hard), I had to look up how to pronounce turmeric before embarking on a mission to find it. Right, you just drop the “r” so it sounds like “too-mer-ic.”
My first experience with turmeric left my fingers orange for a week. This cousin of ginger that comes in a similar finger-like form and it stains just about everything it touches. You’ve been warned–just use an old cutting board or bowl when cooking with it. I’d sought high and low for this wonder spice to make a dish I’d heard about on my new favorite podcast. While most larger grocery chains do sell turmeric in the root form, apparently extensive flooding in the area where it grows has impacted the supply (my source on this is the local specialty grocer, so don’t quote me on it).
Because I didn’t need the full container of turmeric root, I offered some to my mother who is a naturalist when it comes to medicine. While I knew it fell under that generic marketing term of “healthy,” I didn’t realize just how incredible this root spice can be when it comes to aiding digestion, fighting cancer, improving your mood, easing the pain of arthritis—the list goes on. She testified to its benefits firsthand.
The thing that makes turmeric so powerful is its active component, curcumin. When our bodies have cellular damage, apparently curcumin helps mop up the issues.
While I’m far from a doctor and definitely not espousing any medical advice, some quick research highlights several of its benefits:
On treating arthritis pain: the Journal of Orthopaedic Science compared curcumin extract to a placebo in a group of patients over 40 with knee osteoarthritis over the course of eight weeks. At the end of eight weeks, patients taking curcumin reported significantly less pain than the placebo patients.
On slowing cognitive decline and defending against cancer: This U.S. News and World Report article links to several studies highlighting the benefits of turmeric.
So definitely check out turmeric. Even if you’re not a hipster who’s ready to start taking shots of turmeric juice, there are some great recipes around that use turmeric either in the powder or root form:
One of the earliest words our youngest said was “happy.” It would come out at the most random moments, but every time I heard it, a rush of serotonin surged through my brain and left the biggest smile. For that minute, I felt like I was getting this motherhood gig right after all.
The first time she said it, we were headed to the grocery store. I’d just turned up Taylor Swift’s “Bad Blood” at the request of my four-year-old and we were belting out the refrain. As the quiet resettled, I heard her little husky voice whisper “happy.”
Another time we were all huddled up on the couch, reading a book together before bed. “Happy,” she said.
In the subsequent six months, I came to realize that our not yet two-year-old would say the word “happy” whenever she was doing something she enjoyed with her family.
The 2015 World Happiness report found that the U.S. ranks 15th on the happy scale. The not-so-surprising findings? Income matters, but so does health (physical and mental), our connections with family, communities and our sense of freedom.
So for this second, let’s eliminate money, material goods and all the first-world constructs we’ve put in place to “improve” our lives and think about what truly at our essence makes us the happiest.
Relationships. Our people.
Think about how wonderful you feel after catching up with an old friend. How invigorating it can be to go on a hike or take a weekend trip somewhere new with someone you love. What excitement you get when you connect with someone who shares some of your same passions.
Those brief seconds that don’t require any THING other than the individuals with whom you choose to spend them.
At just 1.5 years old, our youngest already gets it.
It’d been awhile since I’d stepped into a library. In fact, there were still probably card catalogs in use the last time I visited a library. I had zero context for what I was about to experience when I recently walked into the downtown branch of the Cincinnati Public Library.
Fellow creative Margot Madison had invited me down to join her and record an episode of The Juice Cast. She suggested the library for the recording session, and I wasn’t sure how it’d all play out but went with it. When I rolled up that afternoon, I stood frozen at the entry for several minutes. Big city agency or a common area at the local library?
The space had the feel of an Apple store – open, inviting and full of creative tools that are just waiting for you to touch and experiment.
If you’re not familiar with the MakerSpace, check out the who, what, where and when on the library’s page. And while I’m doing it a disservice by attempting to summarize all it offers, here’s the gist:
* The 9,000 square foot space opened earlier this year
* It has tons of amazing tools with which you can create ANYTHING (e.g. 3-D printers, laser cutters/engravers, a recording studio, photography stations, vinyl printers)
* It’s open to ANYONE.
As libraries continue to grow and adapt in this increasingly digital age, the MakerSpace is a great way to engage the community and offer new worlds to explore beyond books. Lucky us.
From their manifesto:
Making is fundamental to what it means to be human. We must make, create, and express ourselves to feel whole. There is something unique about making physical things. These things are like little pieces of us and seem to embody portions of our souls.
I opened my locker door and fragments of my face spilled out before me. It was my “it” month — the time when my “friends” decided it was my turn to suffer the pain of exclusion, selective targeting and general mean girl antics typically associated with middle school girls. During that period, I would see my picture torn up, sit alone at lunch and be taunted in the hallways. They even came up with new lyrics to the song “Janie’s Got a Gun” in my honor; “Andi’s Got Big Buns” became my earworm of despair.
Fortunately, there’s a lot less tolerance for bullying in schools these days. Educators regularly hold classes on the topic and every October, students participate in National Bully Prevention Awareness Month. There’s even a White House-led awareness campaign to stop bullies and help educate parents on the signs of a child who is being bullied.
My daughters are only four and two now, but the thought of them experiencing half that cruelty at some point makes me shudder. Like any parent, my husband and I strive to raise compassionate girls who practice kindness. Before our older daughter heads off to Pre-K in the morning, we talk about looking for other kids who are playing alone during recess or someone who might be struggling to see if she can assist. The approach is half Pollyanna, half Ronda Rousey — we want them to look for the best in people and help those who need it, while also speaking up and defending themselves if someone isn’t playing nice.
Enter Donald Trump and the inherent paradox of his growing popularity with the anti-bullying movement and the message we’re trying to send our children.
“Sweetie, bullies are bad. People don’t like bullies.”
If this is true, then why in the hell does Trump continue to win the popular vote in his party? I shudder each morning whenever the news shows a clip from one of his speeches. More often than not, he’ll use some sort of egregiously hateful or divisive rhetoric; the man has openly mocked the disabled, women and called for further exclusion of ethnic and minority groups — and that doesn’t even touch the antics on display when he broaches the topic of his opponents. All of this without any repercussion — in fact, it seems that this approach only helps him gain proponents.
Trump is a bully in an arena of established decorum, a quality that has been cited by numerous media outlets. For example, in the New York Magazine article “An Expert on Bullying Explains DonaldTrump’s Mean, Consequence-Free Rise,” UCLA psychologist Jaana Juvonen said Trump checks all the characteristic boxes of a bully.
“He’s absolutely operating as an intelligent, manipulative bully who truly does not care about the consequences of his actions,” said author Rosalind Wiseman, author of several books on bullying. “He delights in his own ability to manipulate and to show that nobody can stop him.”
There was a time when people in our country looked to the nation’s highest office with respect. This guy makes Lindsay Lohan look like the Mr. Rogers of role models.
At this point, our daughters are more concerned about when they will catch the next episode of Jake and the Neverland Pirates rather than any mean girls. But I know it’s coming. Just the thought of those days makes me ache, knowing that eventually the innocence will slowly erode and they’ll realize every new person they meet isn’t a friend.
I just wonder how on earth can we ever stop kids from being bullying others when we endorse the actions of a bully running for our nation’s highest office? What message are we sending to all the baby bullies out there?
Something’s gotta give, because as we all know, it won’t be much longer before Trump starts singing about Hillary’s Big Buns too.