Laura G Owens ~ Writer

Humanity. Health. Happiness.

Page 8 of 14

How he looks at you. How you look at him. Attractiveness unraveled.

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Image credit: fashioncurse.blogspot.com

Men, women and how we view attractiveness. (Where I agree with Dennis Prager and where I don’t).

Driving home the other day I heard the Dennis Prager Show. As a conservative Republican he’s not my usual radio show pick (although I try to at least sample all political points of view).

But I agreed with what he said, mostly (see below for where he lost me).

Dennis discussed how men tend to view women’s attractiveness. He offered some surprising insights including that men are far less critical of how their wife or girlfriend looks than women realize, assuming we at least try to look decent.

The effort alone counts.

But unfortunately (and erroneously) women think we have to try to measure up to Charlize Theron, Angelina or Cindy Crawford or even lesser beauties to compete for our mate’s attention. (I can’t imagine where we’d get such a crazy paranoid notion except for the daily delivery of gorgeous models plastered on every media platform across every continent).

Those sexy supermodels Dennis reminds us, are often waif thin with a boyish body. Flat-chested and not much curve. Men like curves. Supermodels are mostly boys with boobs, he points out.   Read more….

George Zimmerman. Vigilant or vigilante?

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I watched HLN this morning, a day after the not-guilty verdict came down for George Zimmerman. A few points came up during the HLN discussion panel that really struck me.

My view of the Zimmerman – Trayvon case:

  • Recent criminal activity in area.  Zimmerman was vigilant of strangers in the subdivision because a number of crimes had been committed in the area recently.
  • Racial profiling. What was going on in George’s head when he saw Trayvon? Did he profile a young black male? In my opinion, probably so, but only George knows his true mindset. Friends of George say he doesn’t have a history of being racist.  The act of following Trayvon and calling the police suggest he either profiled this young man or he was doing his version of color-blind due diligence for the watch dog program.
  • Vigilant or vigilante?   In my view George was justified to call in any and all suspicious behavior he noticed whether from a black, white, female or male.  But what behavior was suspicious about Trayvon, exactly? He was walking home with snacks in hand. His hoodie was up because it was drizzling.  If George was suspicious of Trayvon because he didn’t recognize him in the neighborhood so he felt compelled to call the police, George still should have stayed in his car.  He clearly overstepped his role as a HOA volunteer. Bad, bad move.
  • Scared teen turned angry. In my view Trayvon had every right to feel profiled, stalked and scared. He was simply walking home minding his own business. If however, Trayvon assaulted Zimmerman after their verbal exchange because his fear turned to anger  (Trayvon referred to George as a “creepy ass cracker” which is a racial slur) then Trayvon initiated violence, violence that Zimmerman set into motion by confronting him in the first place.
  • George’s injuries don’t add up.  The medical examiner reported that his injuries weren’t life threatening, that they likely resulted from only one blow. George’s injuries don’t suggest Trayvon bashed his head into the concrete multiple times as he claimed, or that he was brutally beaten as he claimed. And yet, the desperate cries for help? Evidence suggest they came from George.  We’ll never know.
  • Stand your ground vs. duty to retreat. This is tricky. Florida law allows citizens to “justifiably use force in self-defense when there is reasonable belief of an unlawful threat, without an obligation to retreat first.” (Wikipedia).  If George even thought his life was in danger, he was allowed to pull the trigger.  I’m unsure how I feel about this large wiggle room for deadly force.

Why did George pull the trigger?

1.      He felt his life was in danger

2.     His life was in danger. (George claims Trayvon told him he was going to die that night and that  Trayvon held his hand over his nose and mouth as              he repeatedly bashed his head against the concrete).

3.    He was trigger happy and a vigilante hellbent on killing this kid, a teen, a black teen.

Where do we go from here? Commentary from political science professor

  • A black political science professor on the panel said he doesn’t have issue with HOA watch dog groups, his issue is that George Zimmerman crossed the line by getting out of his car rather than waiting for the police to arrive.
  • Racial profiling isn’t the core issue he said; it’s what you DO once you’ve mentally racially profiled someone. Don’t assume all blacks will commit a crime and then act from your assumption.

Read more….

British study shows kids of working moms just fine. Here’s why.

Photo credit: wilpf.org

The Brits know. Quality childcare is key. Maternity leave, essential.

Studies had shown that children born to career mothers in the 1970s, 1980s and early 1990s did not perform as well, with their literacy and numeracy skills about two percent lower. But the latest research by Heather Joshi of the University of London’s Centre for Longitudinal Studies found children born since the mid-1990s whose mothers worked during their early years fared just as well as those whose mothers did not. – Working mothers urged to drop guilt as study finds kids do fine.  – British Study

So, the question I have is does this study translate to the U.S. given we don’t have paid maternity leave and HIGH quality childcare isn’t the norm for all income brackets?

Joshi said the most important factor that triggered this change in Britain was the Labour government’s investment in childcare in the mid-1990s.

I already intuitively knew kids of working moms are fine, at least with the parents I know, and I’ve been home full-time with my daughter since she was 9 months. So why do I care?

I’m at home so I could finger point at working mothers. I care because I don’t believe in shaming people for what is natural and that is: some women want to work, have to work, deserve to work.

Ambition is not exclusive to men despite a woman’s biological imperative to have babies. I’ve been ambitious and remained so even when my daughter was born.  I just so happened to channel my ambition at home, via writing and other pursuits, some of which took me away from her for short periods.

My daughter is 15 now. I’ve been at home as a writer and volunteer for years.  I would without a doubt, have worked part-time but I left my marketing research job due to a myriad of guilt, employer and health reasons. I was lucky to have the choice.

Formula for a happy kid? Who knows, but we sorta do.

Kids whose parents work do just fine academically and behaviorally if, and here’s the kicker, kids are surrounded by loving people who genuinely show care and concern.
I have no facts. I’m too lazy at this moment to dig them up. Seriously, I’m going instinct and obvious here. Usually I go facts, figures, stats to be heard, but obvious transcends, sometimes.  Kids need attentive, caring parents and attentive, caring caregivers. Given that, of course the kids will thrive.  Love is love which is not to say a parent’s love is the same as a caregivers, of course not.

It’s to say parental love and care + caregiver love and care = thriving kid. The embracing village and all that. Grandma, aunt, uncle, friend or really loving, attentive daycare provider. It’s all good. Switching kids all over the place, not so good. Kids really do need continuity. Crappy half-ass childcare where the person is barely paying attention or never engaging your child in developmentally stimulating stuff? Come on. No child deserves that.

BUT who can afford the best? My question is, what child doesn’t deserve the best? They all do, regardless of income.

When high quality childcare is more affordable and accessible to folks beyond the wealthy we’ve arrived.  This goes along with my safe-car question which is: Why should the safest cars be the most expensive cars? Only rich kids get to live if they get in a car accident? But that’s another post.

Changes in British maternity leave also contributed to the finding, although the US still lags.

Drop the guilt in yourself, and other mothers.

I’ve been writing for a decade about, among other things, debunking myths and shame in the motherhoodsphere (postpartum depression, mommy wars and motherhood identity are my favorites).  One of the shame-filled issues is society bashing working moms as “less” or not a full-time mother.

Poppycock.

As a stay at home mother this still, always chaps my hide and was a key reason I started the Orlando Mothers & More chapter while I was in another club who focused mainly on stay at homes (or part-time employed). I wanted a more “inclusive” message.

The fact is, finds the Brits, give parents accessible, affordable HIGH QUALITY childcare and time off with their kids, and children will thrive as well as those with parents at home.

 An analysis of six studies looking at 40,000 children over the last 40 years found there was no link between mothers continuing their careers and children achieving less at school or misbehaving.This research suggests changes in maternity leave and greater availability of childcare and the consequent increase in maternal employment have played a big role in enabling parents to balance work and family, Fiona Weir, chief executive of the single-parent charity Gingerbread, told Reuters

 

 

P.S. Picture is of World War II Rosie the Riveter.  

“Women worked during WWII when men went to war in droves, forcing childcare to the forefront. Unfortunately conditions weren’t always ideal for the little ones.Like men, women would quit their jobs if they were unhappy with their pay, location, or environment. Unlike men, women suffered from the “double shift” of work and caring for the family and home. During the war, working mothers had childcare problems and the public sometimes blamed them for the rise in juvenile delinquency. In reality, though, 90% of mothers were home at any given time. The majority of women thought that they could best serve the war effort by staying at home (Campbell 216). During the war, the average family on the homefront had a housewife and a working husband (Yellin 45).”

Breast cancer screenings: Too many of the wrong kind. What’s the best option?

breast cancer, breast cancer screening, mammography, thermography, breast cancer screening options IMPORTANT!!

Cancer screenings….The following is an excerpt from an Orlando Sentinel article. The statement may sound radical. It’s not. My thermographer has been saying this to me for two years.  This is the FIRST time I’ve seen this printed in mainstream media. Dr. Mercola, the holistic health guru I follow, has been against mammograms for sometime now.

Studies have also found that, because of the low levels of radiation mammograms emit, having many over a lifetime appears to contribute to breast cancer.”

Opting out of mammograms

As of this year, I’ve opted out of mammograms. Unfortunately, opting out of mammos and opting in for the ideal three-prong screening approach (MRI, doctor exam and breast thermography) is often cost prohibitive and very difficult to get approved by your doctor unless you have risk factors.

Because I’ve had abnormal mammograms and MRI’s in the past (benign, thank God) I can get prescriptions and insurance coverage for breast MRI and ultrasounds. MRI is indeed the most sensitive imaging and will fortunately detect suspicious and unfortunately detect non-suspicious changes.   Two sides of the same coin. 

So, how can you get your insurance carrier to cover an MRI or ultrasound when mammogram is the approved first line breast cancer screening? Ask your doctor if in her physical breast exam or your mammogram she found anything that may necessitate additional screening.  Look at your family history, or in my case, non-history. I’m adopted so I don’t know if breast cancer runs in my family. This however, isn’t reason enough for most insurance carriers to cover second line screening.

Find a doctor who subscribes to Dr. Mercola’s beliefs about breast cancer screenings.   If you have dense breasts this is reason enough to forgo a mammo and go the MRI or ultrasound route.  Mammogram is virtually useless for dense breasts.

I also recommend women get a breast thermogram. Thermography detects heat and vascular (circulatory) changes (cancer gives off heat). If you want one  you’re likely 100% out of pocket unless your doctor sees a reason to order a thermogram. It costs between $200-$400. (*ONLY go to a breast thermographer certified in breast thermography. I cannot stress this enough! )

It’s time for a radical paradigm shift in how we view breast cancer screening.

  1. The first step is PREVENTION: armor your immune system (up your vitamin D3 intake!).
  2. The second step is to AVOID inappropriate screenings and if possible, get an ultrasound or MRI, breast thermogram and doctor exam. All three approaches address different aspects of breast health (functional, structural). Avoid repeated annual mammograms and invasive biopsies when appropriate.

 

Further reading:

My blog: “My very best breast advice after my ‘abnormal finding‘”

 

 

 

Why I’m opting out of mammograms and opting into THIS breast cancer screening approach.

breast cancer, breast cancer screening, mammography, thermography, breast cancer screening options

 

Anyone who regularly sees my posts knows I advocate for a three-prong breast cancer screening approach:

1. Physical exam by health care practitioner

2. MRI (ultrasound follow up if abnormal findings)

3. Thermogram by a board certified thermographer who specializes in breast health. Go to a  thermographer certified in breast thermography. I see Nelly Yefet in Florida because of her credentials and exam protocol to increase accuracy.

Let me add however, that in some cases it’s advisable to get a mammogram in addition to the above. Each screening tool offers a different diagnostic advantage. 

IF YOU CANNOT GET AN MRI AND THERMOGRAM HOWEVER, YOU SHOULD  AT THE VERY LEAST, GET A MAMMOGRAM. 

So why did I decide to ditch the mammogram after all these years?

My decision came after over two years of research and speaking with holistic-centered health practitioners.

Mammogram is still considered the gold standard for breast screening when in fact it misses 20-40% of cancers, particularly in women with dense breasts.

Your doctor won’t opt for the three prong approach and sadly, neither will your insurance company unless your mammogram or ultrasound findings were abnormal.  Most doctors follow the American Cancer Society’s breast cancer screening recomendation: 

  • Yearly mammograms are recommended starting at age 40 and continuing for as long as a woman is in good health
  • Clinical breast exam (CBE) about every 3 years for women in their 20s and 30s and every year for women 40 and over
  • Women should know how their breasts normally look and feel and report any breast change promptly to their health care provider. Breast self-exam (BSE) is an option for women starting in their 20s.

If you ask your doctor to write a script for an MRI or thermogram instead of a mammo, without a family history or prior abnormal findings you’re simply out of luck.

Despite evidence that breast thermography sensitivity and accuracy has improved over 20 years, most doctors still give it a thumbs down.

“In facta study published in 2009 in the Journal of Medical Systems and the National Institutes of Health’s PubMed reported that thermography aided by the latest analytical software sensors is 94.8 percent accurate – or nearly twice as effective as mammography! With more and more recent studies supporting these numbers, it has to make you wonder what the FDA is thinking by refusing to admit the good that it is.”  – Dr. Mercola

Health care practitioners who follow Dr. Mercola and Dr. Christine Northrup, leading experts in natural health and integrative women’s health (respectively) who follow the latest in breast health screening and risk suggest the three prong approach doctor exam, MRI and thermogram.

“Of all imaging methods under investigation (digital mammography, ultrasound and MRI), MRI offered by far the highest sensitivity: MRI identified 93% of breast cancers. 37% of cancers were picked up by ultrasound. The lowest sensitivity was achieved by digital mammography, which identified only one-third of breast cancers (33%). These results confirm once more that MRI is essential for surveillance not only of women at high risk, but also for women at moderately increased risk of breast cancer.

Moreover, the results contradict current guidelines according to which mammography is considered indispensable for breast cancer screening. One aim of the EVA trial was to question this concept and to ask whether it is still appropriate to require that MRI should only be used in addition to mammography. The results speak for themselves: If an MRI is available, then the added value of mammography is literally negligible. Researchers conclude that MRI is necessary as well as sufficient for screening young women at elevated risk of breast cancer. Since mammography appears to be unnecessary in women undergoing MRI, its use is no longer justifiable, and current guidelines should be revised to reflect this.” –  “Breast Cancer Screening: MRI Sensitive, No Added Value with Mammography, Study Suggests,” Science News.

Worrisome MRI findings?

I opted out of a mammogram this year based on advice from my certified breast thermographer. Dr. Yefet told me women put their breasts at risk with repeated year after year after year exposure to radiation (yes low levels but still radiation)….

AND if you did have undetected breast cancer you shouldn’t be compressing the breast tissue……

Moreover, mammogram is virtually useless for DENSE breasts. So, I opted for a thermogram and an MRI instead.

Thermography detects heat and vascular changes. Cancer gives off heat.  I had a mammo last year, a thermo 2 years ago by a Board Certified Medical Thermographer who specializes in women’s breast health. The results were normal but because I had some areas of change on the left breast two years prior, my doctor agreed to write a script for an MRI, in lieu of a mammogram.

I honestly wasn’t worried.

I had the test, sat back and forgot about it because my thermographer reassured me with a minor mention we watch the left breast over time. She told me to come back in a year.

And then the gut wrench.

Last week my doctor’s office called and my nurse practitioner (NP) told me the MRI detected a BI-RADS4 “suspicious abnormality” in my RIGHT breast, the side the thermographer said was perfectly clear.

My stomach dropped.

Every month it seems I hear about another woman I know diagnosed with breast cancer. I can name four I know right off the top of my head (who were treated and are doing very, very well). I kicked into auto pilot and asked my nurse practitioner questions. She could tell I was a bit shell-shocked and quickly reassured me that the finding didn’t mean cancer and the spot “wasn’t bright, high signal” which was a good sign.

The radiologist’s written recommendation:

Follow up with an ultra sound then a sonographic biopsy if they could find the area of concern, and an MRI biopsy if they could not find the area of concerned.

In other words, a biopsy no matter what!? 

Panicked and confused I emailed my thermographer the MRI report (and emailed the radiologist the thermography report).

Two different tests. Two different findings.

To summarize: My radiologist saw a “suspicious abnormality” in my RIGHT breast, nothing in the LEFT.  The thermographer saw nothing in the RIGHT breast and is watching an area of low concern in the LEFT.

Two different findings. 

My thermographer emailed me back within an hour and told me not to worry.

What I decided to do

The ultrasound found nothing.

The  area of concern is too small to be detected on ultrasound.  The radiologist told me despite the thermographer’s report, she doesn’t consider thermography a valid or sensitive, enough, screening tool.

I’m not surprised she said this.  Mainstream medicine discounts vast improvement in thermogram breast screening reliability in the past 20 years  in conjunction with an MRI and doctor’s exam. MRI’s sensitivity picks up EVERYTHING, benign or not.

That biopsy is the only way to know what “it” is for sure.

Six month MRI follow up – clean results

I just had my six month thermogram and MRI follow up. No changes (normal) on the thermogram. And the MRI was clean, meaning everything looks good.

Each woman has to make her own informed decision.  Please get several opinions and several screening tests to provide you with detailed mapping of your breasts before jumping into a biopsy.

Fortunately the radiologist agreed with what I wanted to do, which is:

  1. NO mammogram which is virtually USELESS for DENSE breasts
  2. NO biopsy (although she said if I wanted a sure answer. But, See “Does Biopsy Cause Breast Cancer”, below)
  3. MRI in six months see if area is gone, stable or changed
  4. And I decided, a follow-up thermogram in six months.

In addition, I’m doubling my Vitamin D from 5,000mg a day to nearly 10,000mg a day. See: Vitamin D helps prevent breast cancer.  And last but not least, I’m going to try not to worry. Chronic worry is no good.

What women need to know

  1. Prevention. “10 Tips for Breast Health
  2. Know your screening tools. Understand the pros and cons. Each breast screening modality offers distinct advantages and disadvantages. MRI offers the highest sensitivity.  MRI’s offer detailed images using a combination of radio waves and magnetic fields.
  3.  Be prudent with biopsies.  (see below)
  4. Partner with your doctor to get MRI covered. Insurance won’t budge unless you have a family history, abnormal findings or other risk factors. Get what you deserve.  You pay hefty premiums you deserve screening coverage that benefits YOU, not the insurance company. (It’s highly unlikely you’ll get a thermogram covered. But try. They run about $200-$300.)

Does a biopsy increase breast cancer risk?

In some cases, yes. From the website: Breast Cancer ChoicesBiopsy, FAQ:

“In June 2004, the results of the bombshell Hansen study, “Manipulation of The Primary Breast Tumor and The Incidence of Sentinel Node Metastases From Invasive Breast Cancer,” were published in the American Medical Association’s prestigious journal, Archives of Surgery…..

 

….revealing that patients undergoing  fine needle biopsies were 50% more likely to have micrometastases spread to the  sentinel lymph node than those patients having the entire tumor removed for biopsy. The implication of this discovery is that a woman without lymph node involvement,   who would have been staged at a low-level,  now will be staged higher, her disease considered more advanced, and more aggressive treatment might be recommended. Over the years, several researchers have voiced serious reservations about routine needle biopsies, but they were mostly ignored by their colleagues. “

Going against the norm

It’s unsettling to go against the standard of mainstream screening practices, especially if you get an abnormal finding.  Our entire lives we’ve been taught to worship the whitecoats, that doctors know best. They have the expensive training, right?

Well, yes but….

I’ve met many fine physicians over the years, well-intentioned with outstanding credentials but…the advice they give patients depends on their training, experience and MOST importantly, how they view health and wellness.

Are they mainstream, complementary & integrative or alternative?

I vote for complementary & integrative with a strong emphasis on alternative medicine.  The body knows what it needs. With some gentle guidance and lifestyle, nutrition and supplement changes it will get back into balance.

And, you are NOT destined by your GENES!!

Family history isn’t a sentence for breast cancer. Good thing, since I’m adopted and don’t know my family history.

From the American Cancer Society website:

“About 5% to 10% of breast cancer cases are thought to be hereditary, resulting directly from gene defects (calledmutations) inherited from a parent. See the section, “Do we know what causes breast cancer?

And please, please, please don’t underestimate the affect our emotional health has on overall well-being. Women, don’t put yourself last. Don’t resent, seethe, stay angry. Ask for help. Insist on help. Let go of doing it “all.”

Let go.

Forgive.

Delegate.

Say no.

Anger turned inward is toxic.

And finally, once you know something that may save lives, you can’t unknow. You have to share. Dr. Yefet, Dr. Mercola and Dr. Northrup and others shared what they’ve learned about breast cancer screening and more importantly, breast cancer prevention.

Now, I’m sharing it with you. Please tell other women. Thank you 🙂

Further reading

Why Mammography is NOT an Effective Breast Cancer Screen – Dr. Mercola

Your Greatest Weapon Against Breast Cancer (not Mammograms) – Dr. Mercola

Fewer Mammograms Making Industry Angry – Dr. Mercola

The Best Breast Test: The Promise of Thermography – Dr. Christine Northrup

Vitamin D and Breast Cancer Prevention. Oprah talks to Dr. Northrup

 “I understand that mammography has been the gold standard for years. Doctors are the most familiar with this test, and many believe that a mammogram is the best test for detecting breast cancer early. But it’s not. Studies show that a thermogram identifies precancerous or cancerous cells earlier, and produces unambiguous results, which cuts down on additional testing–and it doesn’t hurt the body. Isn’t this what women really want?” – Dr. Christine Northrup

 

 

 

 

Is feeling crappy our new normal? Telling our age and hedonism

aging

Image courtesy of: Imagerymajestic

We get used to feeling slightly crappy until less than, becomes our new normal. Less sleep. Less energy. Less joy. The maintenance of blah to speak. Soon enough we forget laughing and vitality is the natural state of being.

I confess.

Fully embracing sags, wrinkles and grays is for the more enlightened among us.

Mind you I’m not having a nervous breakdown over aging either, yet. I’m 47. Tell your age. I beg you. No one can change The Number so let’s strip The Number of shame.

My overriding principle is that figuring out what makes us happy makes those around us happier. The  much maligned selfish molecule has a higher if not immediately seen purpose.

While I’m new-age with yoga, baked tofu, greens and chia seeds, I’ll continue to live the impractical of bad habits: spiked-heels, soft Brie, great red wine, filets, occasional french fries and Twizzlers.

I’m an unapologetic hedonist because I wouldn’t be nice as an apologetic martyr. I’m also not dishonest enough to pretend my vanity is fading with aging acceptance. In fact, it’s just getting started.

I hate to diet, love to exercise. I figure what I’ve lost in muscle tone, I’ve gained in tenacity to feel good, in wisdom about who and what is worth the sweat. This seems a reasonable trade-off until I see Megan Fox in a string bikini and then I’m not so convinced inner peace doesn’t include table top abs, upright breasts and a toned butt.

More than anything I believe joy comes from adjusting the reigns of our own heart, hands and mind. No doctor, friend,  employer, spouse, parent or child can steer our happiness; they can only come along for the ride.

How to stop bad news from feeding on itself

Image courtesy of: Stuart Miles

When economic bad news piles on as it has since 2007, end of times feels certain. The truth is however, economies cycle. What falls off the cliff creeps back and in the process, we gain insights and wisdom.  So stay hopeful.  Happy days will be here again.

Doom and gloom popular programming

Apocalyptic gloom has become highly marketable. Shows like Doomsday Preppers andDoomsday Bunkers have added their names to the reality TV roster. Website Shtfplan.com offers visitors this friendly tagline: When it hits the fan, don’t say we didn’t warn you.  

The popular Left Behind series, first introduced through novels then with a series of movies, offers the Rapture end of times warning. As the presidential campaign approached Dinesh D’Souza rolled out his movie 2016: Obama’s America, as an omen to voters. Obama’s mission were you to accept him as President, D’Souza claimed, is to even the global playing field and in doing so, deflate our nation’s superpower influence.

“He (Obama) wants Americans to have less so the rest of the world can have more.” D’Souza tells Piers Morgan, “He wants America to have less power so that other countries can come up in the world. He’d like to see a multi-polar world in which America is not the sole super power.” (Piers Morgan Tonight. August 12, 2012).

So, take heart. If the Rapture doesn’t swallow you up, ready yourself for economic and societal collapse, war, pandemics, geomagnetic reversal, the electromagnetic pulse, terrorist acts, nuclear incidents and fuel shortages.

Feel better yet or are have you curled into a fetal ball of “Why bother?”

Essentially the gray skies are going to clear up message of what’s going right in the world has the distinct disadvantage of grabbing less air time and social media stir. What’s going right in your daily existence has the mundane quality of just sitting flat and unnoticeable. Good news just is.

Bad news however, irritates and buzzes; it jars our eyes and ears awake with adrenaline and fear.

I will say however, anyone with an ounce of sensitivity wouldn’t expect citizens terrified about where their next mortgage payment, health care coverage or meal will come from to be Pollyanna about the nation’s state of economic affairs. There is however, something to be said for acknowledging that economies (and politicians) cycle.  Moreover, with each economic crisis our nation gains new knowledge about where things went terribly, terribly, wrong and more importantly, where things went incredibly right.

Crash psychology

“For the past 15 years, home-price changes and sales volumes have either been boosted by a bubble mentality or crushed by crash psychology,” said David Stiff, Fiserv’s chief economist in a March 2013 Orlando Sentinel online article. 

The term “crash psychology” struck me.

I assume it has something to do with what Jim Taylor refers to in his July 2012 Psychology Today.com article as herd behavior, the bandwagon effect and recency (paying more attention to latest data than putting market conditions into long term perspective) and loss aversion (an inclination to avoid losses rather than produce profits).

“This is it, the big one,” Sanford of the old sitcom Sanford and Son grumbled before he grabbed his heart for the nth time.

Just last night I heard someone say to a friend who doesn’t happen to share her political view, “Yeah well, good luck. See if you have any money left in the next few years.” As she said this another woman smirked and nodded emphatically across the table.

In my experience naysayers don’t need a crushing presidential election to feel the world is going to pot. Naysayers are universally bi-partisan yet unilaterally pessimistic. They see the world changes as an eventual avalanche and that the latest election out of their favor is simply speeding up our demise.

But, how many false alarms before we decide the Great Depression isn’t coming, again?

Not that I want to downplay or arrogantly dismiss the harsh economic blows affecting millions. The reality is, we have had plenty of fuel to create real fear and economic end of times worry. People are hurting and cheerful mantras won’t hold off creditors. But, previous generations have been hit by recessions and generations to come will as well.

Since December 2007 our economy and global reputation has been beaten up. Businesses scaled back dramatically. Markets crashed to record lows. Real estate dumped. Housing starts halted. School budgets were slashed. Unemployment skyrocketed and remains high in many areas. Gas prices are headed towards Europe’s. Entire countries are being downgraded. Healthcare costs are now a primary cause for personal and small business financial ruin. And, one of the United State’s historical industrial strongholds, the auto industry, is limping along.

For an added kick to our lagging morale, we watched our government save Wall Street (which I was all for given the potential fall-out). The sub-prime mortgage mess was a house of cards with multiple players including overzealous lenders and consumers, borrowers confused by loan fine print and families just trying to tread water. But in the end, throwing a life raft to the Too Big to Fail market makers who knew better than to invest in deep murky waters — hurt.

Pile on this much economic instability in a short time span and indeed, the world can feel apocalyptic.

Negative economic warnings hide good news

Like the hot issue climate change, while the frequency of out-of-range weather patterns areabsolutely influenced by human behavior, it’s also a product of cyclical weather changes. So too, massive changes to our economy and worldwide standing may seem sudden and cataclysmic, but they occur over time and courtesy of multiple administrations’ policies.

Yet, time and time again our nation returns from recessionary slumps and economic turmoil armed with new knowledge. We’re painfully forced, as we’ve seen with the recent budget crisis in Congress, to adapt, create new or compromise, unless however, you believe we’re destined to repeat our past.

While I do believe in cyclical human and earth behavior, I also believe we’re destined to make new mistakes, not old ones. We evolve.

It’s hard to believe we’re actually advanced beings given Snookie, Jerry Springer, Dance Momsand Tosh O. But indeed, humans have progressed from our early knuckle dragging days.

And, with every crisis we’re forced to re-visit and re-balance. Consider the gas shortage, savings and loan crisis, Enron, the Exxon Valdez, over lending, over spending, over reliance on oil, over fishing, over eating. Too much regulation and we pull back. Too little, we add oversight.

Optimistic outlook in economy

Take a look at our economic indicators (Kiplinger economic outlook). They reveal policy ripple effects and red flags long, long in the making, arrived tipping points, but not eventual collapse or the Great Depression.

Take a look at these positive economic signs:

  • GDP crept ahead at a snail-like 0.1-percent pace in last year’s closing quarter, but at least it didn’t contract, as initial estimates had shown.
  • There is still no reason to look for an early end to the lengthy period of extremely low interest rates.
  • Inflation will edge up a bit this year, but not to troublesome heights.
  • On the positive side, and despite a bump upward at the start of the year, core inflation, which excludes food and energy costs, will see only muted increases.
  • Spending by businesses this quarter gets the benefit of renewed tax breaks for new or leased equipment. The recent spike in gasoline prices has run its course.
  • Crude oil prices will take a breather.
  • But expect overall retail sales to climb about 5% this year
  • Look for the trade deficit to widen by 2% in 2013, presenting a slight headwind to U.S. economic growth
  • Export growth will be held in check by recession in Europe and moderate growth in China.
  • We expect imports to increase about 5% for the year, with most of the growth coming in the second half.
  • Gains in the housing market will solidify this year.
  • Overall, we anticipate sales of existing homes to climb about 7.5%

Granted I cherry picked, which is exactly my point. Look for positive signs. Become aware of the negative only to the degree it informs key decisions about your life.  For example, it’s useful to know which industries are cycling, dying and expanding. And, it’s good to know that every financial and investment guru can be dead wrong — or dead right.

Pick your point of view.

In June 2011 James Altucher wrote in the Wall Street Journal that an impressive rise in the stock market was coming…”The market fell like a brick on Wednesday. People can’t handle any piece of bad news without saying ‘this is the big one.’ But it’s not going to happen. Even God took one day to rest. The market every now and then needs a day or two to rest. Maybe even more than a day or two. But over the next 12 to 18 months I expect to see Dow 20,000.”

Nearly two years later, it appears he was on the right track. Andrew Tangel, LA Times, March 6, 2013 writes:

“The Dow Jones industrial average has barreled to an all-time high, erasing $11 trillion of losses racked up when the financial crisis began five years ago. The stock market’s revival — with the Dow at a record 14,253.77 — has some respected minds on Wall Street suggesting the Dow will puncture 20,000 in just a few years. But, as investors may recall, the last few times the stock market seemed headed for records, disaster soon followed.”

Granted it took five years to reach the record high. As well, my husband a trader, reminded me that had we not crashed in 2008 we would have hit 20,000 soon enough. Moreover, the stock market isn’t the best signpost for recovery because it’s not adjusted for inflation. However, consider Daniel Gross’s recent analysis:

“Regular readers will note that I’ve long been pushing back against the notion that the U.S. is in economic decline. A stock market index like the Dow and the S&P 500 may not be the best barometer of national well-being. But it does say something about the ability of U.S.-based companies to thrive in an era when domestic growth is slow and when most of the growth takes place in unfamiliar foreign terrain.”

Certainly Gross or any other pundit isn’t the final word on predicting economic movement. You’ll find plenty of people ready to pick apart his argument line by line. But my philosophical point, and I generally write from philosophical underpinnings, is that the market is on the up, again. The Second Great Depression never came, as more than a few people predicted it would.

Of course there’s numerous times when people predicted a strong bull market and it turned horribly bearish. Outside of getting into the factors around market timing (which I don’t study) if you’re in the “If it’s too good to be true, it probably is” mindset then zoom in on Andrew Tangel’s hedging last line:

“But, as investors may recall, the last few times the stock market seemed headed for records, disaster soon followed.”

Can’t we enjoy a moment of celebration? Or is that too naïve, uninformed and resting on our laurels? After five years of getting the recessionary crap beat out of us we still have more economic naysayers who insist on a cover-all-bases prediction caveat of: “It looks good, but it won’t last” than eternal optimists.

Well true, it won’t last. Cycles, cycle.

But, I’d rather wake up every day cautiously optimistic than confidently pessimistic. It feels better. Be on the look out for good news. It’s out there, or it’s predictably on its way.

Further reading: 

Good News Network

The Best Industries for Starting a Business Right Now

Sooner or Later, Bear Market Will Growl Back.

No more mammogram. Breast cancer prevention tips. Safer breast screening methods.

breast cancer, breast cancer screening, mammography, thermography, breast cancer screening options

I recently did my breast screening. Three-prong approach. No mammogram.

Doctor exam, breast thermography and an ultrasound in two weeks. NO mammogram unless my thermography comes back suspicious and even then, I might opt for an MRI.

I’m not a conspiracy theorist. I don’t think big business is trying to screw us at every turn.  I do think many lack a corporate conscience, that profit trumps full disclosure. There exists a well-oiled machine in the health care world to feed the pockets of the pharmaceutical and medical device industry, often at the expense of patients’ health.  The solution is to stay informed.

There’s an enormous price to be paid for walking lockstep with even the most well-intentioned, likeable, loveable, “I’ve always loved my doctor” medical practitioner. Question. Ask. Get what you pay for. Respect. Professionalism. Competence. Cutting edge. Nothing less.

Conventional OR holistic medicine, know what you’re getting into regarding medications, supplements, herbs, medical procedures and screenings. Research the pros and cons. Natural is not always “safer.”

For traditional medicine check out:

Pub-med for the gold standard of peer-reviewed research

Mayo Clinic

National Institute of Health

Medscape

For alternative and integrative medicine check out:

Dr. Mercola

Dr Oz

Dr. Braverman

Christine Northrup (women’s health)

Women in balance (women’s health)

 

Dr. Mercola writes in his online article  Can You Cut Your Breast Cancer Risk by Skipping Mammograms?   

Analysis of 30 Years of Breast Screening Shows Mammograms Do More Harm than Good

Instead of mammo, he offers a prevention approach below: Before reading however, please note that a three-pronged screening approach is ideal.1. Exam by doctor 2. Structural: MRI (ideally, if not an MRI an ultrasound, if not then mammo, although this is debatable and certainly not annually. 3. Functional: Breast thermography by certified breast thermographer.  (IACT (International Academy of Clinical Thermology) Board Certified Medical Thermographer, CTT, specializing in women’s breast health.)

Dr. Mercola’s Breast Cancer Prevention Protocol

“In the largest review of research into lifestyle and breast cancer, the American Institute of Cancer Research estimated that about 40 percent of US breast cancer cases could be prevented if people made wiser lifestyle choices.6, 7 I believe these estimates are far too low, and it is more likely that 75 percent to 90 percent of breast cancers could be avoided by strictly applying the recommendations below.

  • Avoid sugar, especially fructose. All forms of sugar are detrimental to health in general and promote cancer. Fructose, however, is clearly one of the most harmful and should be avoided as much as possible.
  • Optimize your vitamin D. Vitamin D influences virtually every cell in your body and is one of nature’s most potent cancer fighters. Vitamin D is actually able to enter cancer cells and trigger apoptosis (cell death). If you have cancer, your vitamin D level should be between 70 and 100 ng/ml. Vitamin D works synergistically with every cancer treatment I’m aware of, with no adverse effects. I suggest you try watching my one-hour free lecture on vitamin D to learn more.

Remember that if you take oral vitamin D3 supplements, you also need to increase your vitamin K2 intake, as vitamin D increases the need for K2 to function properly. See my previous article What You Need to Know About Vitamin K2, D and Calcium for more information. Please consider joining one of GrassrootsHealth’s D*Action’s vitamin D studies to stay on top of your vitamin D performance. For more information, see my previous article How Vitamin D Performance Testing Can Help You Optimize Your Health.

  • Get plenty of natural vitamin A. There is evidence that vitamin A also plays a role in helping prevent breast cancer.8 It’s best to obtain it from vitamin A-rich foods, rather than a supplement. Your best sources are organic egg yolks,9 raw butter, raw whole milk, and beef or chicken liver.
  • Lymphatic breast massage can help enhance your body’s natural ability to eliminate cancerous toxins. This can be applied by a licensed therapists, or you can implement self-lymphatic massage. It is also promotes self-nurturance.
  • Avoid charring your meats. Charcoal or flame broiled meat is linked with increased breast cancer risk. Acrylamide—a carcinogen created when starchy foods are baked, roasted or fried—has been found to increase breast cancer risk as well.
  • Avoid unfermented soy productsUnfermented soy is high in plant estrogens, or phytoestrogens, also known as isoflavones. In some studies, soy appears to work in concert with human estrogen to increase breast cell proliferation, which increases the chances for mutations and cancerous cells.
  • Improve your insulin receptor sensitivity. The best way to do this is by avoiding sugar and grains and making sure you are exercising, especially with Peak Fitness.
  • Maintain a healthy body weight. This will come naturally when you begin eating right for your nutritional type and exercising. It’s important to lose excess body fat because fat produces estrogen.
  • Drink a half to whole quart of organic green vegetable juice daily. Please review my juicing instructions for more detailed information.
  • Get plenty of high quality animal-based omega-3 fats, such as krill oil. Omega-3 deficiency is a common underlying factor for cancer.
  • Curcumin. This is the active ingredient in turmeric and in high concentrations can be very useful adjunct in the treatment of breast cancer. It shows immense therapeutic potential in preventing breast cancer metastasis.10 It’s important to know that curcumin is generally not absorbed that well, so I’ve provided several absorption tips here.
  • Avoid drinking alcohol, or at least limit your alcoholic drinks to one per day.
  • Breastfeed exclusively for up to six months. Research shows breastfeeding can reduce your breast cancer risk.
  • Avoid wearing underwire bras. There is a good deal of data that metal underwire bras can heighten your breast cancer risk.
  • Avoid electromagnetic fields as much as possible. Even electric blankets can increase your cancer risk.
  • Avoid synthetic hormone replacement therapy. Breast cancer is an estrogen-related cancer, and according to a study published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, breast cancer rates for women dropped in tandem with decreased use of hormone replacement therapy. (There are similar risks for younger women who use oral contraceptives. Birth control pills, which are also comprised of synthetic hormones, have been linked to cervical and breast cancers.)

If you are experiencing excessive menopausal symptoms, you may want to consider bioidentical hormone replacement therapy instead, which uses hormones that are molecularly identical to the ones your body produces and do not wreak havoc on your system. This is a much safer alternative.

  • Avoid BPA, phthalates and other xenoestrogens. These are estrogen-like compounds that have been linked to increased breast cancer risk
  • Make sure you’re not iodine deficient, as there’s compelling evidence linking iodine deficiency with breast cancer. Dr. David Brownstein,11 author of the book Iodine: Why You Need It, Why You Can’t Live Without It, is a proponent of iodine for breast cancer. It actually has potent anticancer properties and has been shown to cause cell death in breast and thyroid cancer cells.

For more information, I recommend reading Dr. Brownstein’s book. I have been researching iodine for some time ever since I interviewed Dr. Brownstein as I do believe that the bulk of what he states is spot on. However, I am not at all convinced that his dosage recommendations are correct. I believe they are too high.”

School shooting: It’s not just our own kids we need to hug

school shooting, Connecticut shooting, mental illness, violence in children

Perception is reality but the probability of a mass killing, while seemingly high, is actually quite low.

The probability we’re missing critical signs among our mentally ill?

Much higher.

In this NPR interview, Jack Levin, co-director of the Brudnick Center on Violence at Northeastern University in Boston helps listeners understand the profile of mass murderers.

First, do we need to be more afraid?  Read more ….

 

 

 

Image courtesy of stockimages – view portfolio

Connecticut tragedy – where to look for hope

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles – view portfolio

“When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’ To this day, especially in times of ‘disaster,’ I remember my mother’s words, and I am always comforted by realizing that there are still so many helpers – so many caring people in this world.” — Mister Rogers

It’s with the unspeakable events of today that I yearn for the bedtime story comfort of Mister Rogers.  There’s nothing we can say that will empty our spirit of the anger, the fear, the bleeding sadness that’s pressing so hard on our hearts we cannot breathe. We almost need to be reborn into the innocence of Mister Roger’s words, look for the helpers, the caring ones, the arms flung across the sobbing….

I refuse to die one more inch inside because another madman, once a child himself giggling in some distant elementary school, ravaged his own. I refuse to believe our world is crumbling faster than collective hope can re-balance. I refuse to believe we’re destined to fall off the cliff of humanity, no matter how many bullets fly.

To live outside hope is a soulless diminished world void of any reason for being, but that we’re here to watch the world devour itself.

No matter what sort of difficulties, how painful experience is, if we lose our hope, that’s our real disaster.” ― Dalai Lama XIV

 

 

 

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