The Seven Blessings That Come With Aging

Healthy Living – The Huffington Post
The Seven Blessings That Come With Aging
Sister Joan Chittister is offering an online course on the blessings behind every aspect of growing older. Learn more about this opportunity here.

The one certain dimension of US demographics these days is that the fastest growing segment of the American population is comprised of people above the age of 65. We, and all our institutions, as a result, are a greying breed. At the same time, we are, in fact, the healthiest, longest lived, most educated, most active body of elders the world has ever known. The only real problem with that is that we are doing it in the face of a youth culture left to drive a capitalist economy that thrives on sales.

So, what we sell is either to youth, about youth, or for the sake of affecting youth. But after all the pictures of 60-looking 80 year olds going by on their bikes fade off the screen, the world is left with, at best, a very partial look at what it means to be an elder.

Especially for those who never did like biking much to begin with.

The truth of the matter is that all of life, at any age, is about ripening. Life is about doing every age well, learning what we are meant to learn from it and giving to it what we are meant to give back to it.

The young give energy and wonder and enthusiasm and heart-breaking effort to becoming an accomplished, respected, recognized adult. And for their efforts they reap achievement and identity and self-determination.

The middle-aged give commitment and leadership, imagination and generativity. They build and rebuild the world from one age to another. And for their efforts they get status, and some kind of power, however slight, and the satisfaction that comes from a sense of accomplishment.

The elderly have different tasks entirely. The elderly come to this stage of life largely finished with a building block mentality. They have built all they want to build. It is their task in life now to evaluate what has become of it, what it did to them, what of good they can leave behind them. They bring to life the wisdom that comes from having failed as often as they succeeded, relinquished as much as they accumulated. And this stage of life comes with its own very clear blessings.

PERSPECTIVE:

Given the luxury of years, the elders in a society bring a perspective on life that is not possible to the young and of even less interest to the middle aged whose life is consumed with concern for security and achievement. Instead the elders look back on the twists and turns of life with a more measured gaze. Some things, they know now, which they thought had great value at one age, they see little value in later. The elders know that what lasts in life, what counts in life, what remains in life after all the work has been completed are the relationships that sustained us, not the trophies we collected on the way.

The Elders are blessed with insight

TIME

For the first time in life, the elderly have time to enjoy the present. The morning air becomes the kind of elixir again that they have not known since childhood. The park has become an observation deck on the world. The library is now the crossroads of the world. The coffee shop becomes the social center of their lives. And small children a new delight and a companion, if not leaders, as they explore their way through life again.

The blessing of this time is appreciation of the moment.

FREEDOM:There is a kind of liberation that comes with being an elder. All the old expectations go to mist. The competition and stress that comes with trying to find a place in today’s highly impersonal economy fade away and I can do what I like, wear what I like, say what I like without bartering my very survival for it. For the first time in years it is possible simply to be a person in search of a life rather than an economic pawn in search of a high-toned livelihood. The need to reek of competence and approval gives way to the need to enjoy life.

The awareness of life as liberating rather than burdensome is the most refreshing blessing a soul can have.

NEWNESS: The truism prevails that it is the young, that part of the social spectrum who stand on the brink of adulthood who have the opportunity to make the great choices of life: where to go, how to live, what to do with our one precious and fragile life. But if truth were told it is really the elderly who have the option to become new again. With the children on t heir own and the house paid for, with our dues paid to the social system and our identities stripped away from what we do to what we are, we have the world at our feet again. We can do all the things we’ve put aside for years: learn to play the guitar, go back to school, volunteer in areas we have always wanted to do more of like become a tour guide or a museum aid, go backpacking or become a children’s reader at the local library. We can now get up every morning to begin life all over again.

The blessing of life now lies in the realization that life is not over but beginning again in a whole new way.

TALE TELLING: The elders in a society are its living history, its balladeers who tell the history of a people and the lessons of growth that come with them. The war veteran can talk now about the hell of war that belies its so-called glory. The mothers know what it means to raise children with less money than the process demands. The old couples know that marriage is a process not an event and that what draws people into marriage will not be what keeps them there. These are the ones who raise for the rest of us the beacons of hope that tell us the truth we need, on our own dark days, to hear: If these others could survive the depression, the losses, the breakups and breakdowns of life, we have living proof now, so can we.

The process of past reflection is one of the major blessings an elder can have because it crystallizes the value of one’s own life and blesses the rest of the world with wisdom at the same time.

RELATIONSHIPS: In the lexicon of elders, all too often and all too late, a new event begins to take front and center where once work and the social whirl had held sway. Elders wake up in the morning aware that the only thing really left in life after all the schedules have disappeared are the people that have been left out of them for far too long: the adult children they haven’t talked to for weeks–no, months–now. They remember the last old friend they met in the market who said “We really have to have coffee together some day” and begin to look around for the phone number. They recall with a pang the grandchildren they promised to take to the zoo and wonder with a pang whether or not the zoo is still open for the season–and whether the children still remember grandpa and the promise. Elders have the luxury of attending to people now rather than to things. And out of that attention comes a new sense of being really important to the world.

One of the great blessings of being elderly is not that it isolates us but that, ironically, it ties us more tightly to the people around us

TRANSCENDENCE: Finally, it is the elders in a society who distill for the rest of it the real meaning of life–and right before our eyes. The quality of their reflections on life are so different than ours, they must certainly be listened to. The serenity of their souls in the face of total change–both physical and social–give promise that behind all the hurly-burly lies a deep pool of peace. The devotion they bring to the transcendentals of life–to solitude, to prayer, to reading, to the arts, to the simple work of gardening, to the great questions of the age, to their continuing commitment to building a city, a country, a world that will be better for us when they move on, may be the greatest spiritual lesson of life a younger generation may ever get as well as the greatest insight they every have.

Indeed, to find ourselves on the edge of elderhood, is to find ourselves in an entirely new and exciting point in life. It is blessing upon blessing and it invites those around them to live more thoughtfully themselves by listening to them carefully now–while we all still have time.

If you are interested in learning how aging is really a great adventure and are looking for an online retreat, this just might be the thing for you.

Based on her book, The Gift of Years: Growing Older Gracefully, Sister Joan will use the themes of the book as launch pads for her reflections and discussion by eCourse

participants. During this month-long program which begins October 7 Sister Joan will focus on the blessings behind every aspect of growing older. It will be an opportunity to discover new perceptions and attitudes about growing older and their meaning for one’s life. Look here for more information and to register.

Health Care for All
I start my approach to health care from two very basic premises. First, health care must be recognized as a right, not a privilege. Every man, woman and child in our country should be able to access the health care they need regardless of their income. Second, we must create a national health care system that provides quality health care for all in the most cost-effective way possible. Tragically, the United States is failing in both areas.

It is unconscionable that in one of the most advanced nations in the world, there are nearly 50 million people who lack health insurance and millions more who have burdensome copayments and deductibles. In fact, some 45,000 Americans die each year because they do not get to a doctor when they should. In terms of life expectancy, infant mortality and other health outcomes, the United States lags behind almost every other advanced country.

Despite this unimpressive record, the U.S. spends almost twice as much per person on health care as any other nation. As a result of an incredibly wasteful, bureaucratic, profit-making and complicated system, the U.S. spends 17 percent of its gross domestic product –approximately $2.7 trillion annually — on health care. While insurance companies, drug companies, private hospitals and medical equipment suppliers make huge profits, Americans spend more and get less for their health care dollars than people from any other nation.

What should the United States be doing to improve this abysmal situation? President Obama’s Affordable Care Act is a start. It prevents insurance companies from denying patients coverage for pre-existing conditions, allows people up to age 26 to stay on their parents’ insurance, sets minimum standards for what insurance must cover and helps lower-income Americans afford health insurance. When the marketplace exchanges open for enrollment on Tuesday, many Americans will find the premiums will be lower than the ones they’re paying now. Others will find the coverage is much more comprehensive than their current plans. Most importantly, another 20 million Americans will receive health insurance. This is a modest step forward. But, if we are serious about providing quality care for all, much more needs to be done.

The only long-term solution to America’s health care crisis is a single-payer national health care program. The good news is that, in fact, a large scale single-payer system already exists in the United States and its enrollees love it. It is called Medicare. Open to all Americans over 65 years of age, the program has been a resounding success since its introduction 48 years ago. Medicare should be expanded to cover all Americans.

Such a single-payer system would address one of the major deficiencies in the current system: the huge amount of money wasted on billing and administration. Hospitals and independent medical practices routinely employ more billing specialists than doctors, and that’s not the end of it. Patients and their families spend an enormous amount of time and effort arguing with insurance companies and bill collectors over what is covered and what they owe. Drug companies and hospitals spend billions advertising their products and services. Creating a simple system with one payer covering all Americans would result in an enormous reduction in administrative expenses. We will be spending our money on health care and disease prevention, not on paper pushing and debt collection.

Further, a single-payer system will expand employment opportunities and lift a financial weight off of businesses encumbered by employee health expenses. Many Americans remain at their current jobs because of the decent health insurance provided by their employer. Without the worry of losing benefits, those Americans will be free to explore other opportunities as they desire. For business owners, lifting the burden of employee health care expenditures will free them to invest in growing their businesses.

Congressman Jim McDermott and I have introduced the American Health Security Act. Our bill will provide every American with health care coverage and services through a state-administered, single-payer program, including dental and mental health coverage and low-cost prescription drugs. It would require the government to develop national policies and guidelines, as well as minimum national criteria, while giving each state the flexibility to adapt the program as needed. It would also completely overhaul the health coverage system, creating a single federal payer of state-administered health plans.

The time is long overdue for the American people to understand that our current health care system is not working and that there is something fundamentally wrong when the United States remains the only country in the industrialized world that does not guarantee health care to all people. A single-payer system will be good for the average American, good for businesses, good for workers and good for our overall economy. Health care is a right and we must establish that right in America.

What Happens During Obstructive Sleep Apnea? (VIDEO)
More than 18 million people have sleep apnea, according to the National Sleep Foundation, and yet most of us still know little about the sleep disorder other than it has something to do with pauses in breathing.

Yes, sleep apnea causes sufferers to temporarily stop breathing — sometimes hundreds of times a night and possibly for longer than a full minute, according to the American Sleep Apnea Association. But what does it truly mean to stop breathing? In honor of Sleep Apnea Awareness Week, the first seven days of every October, take a minute to check out what really happens during sleep apnea in this Mayo Clinic video:

The most common treatment for sleep apnea is continuous positive airway pressure or CPAP. Recent recommendations from the American College of Physicians point to weight loss as an effective approach as well. “Obesity is a risk factor for obstructive sleep apnea and the evidence indicates that intensive weight loss interventions help improve sleep study results and symptoms of OSA,” American College of Physicians President Dr. Molly Cooke said in a statement.

Why I Don’t Meditate

Considering how happy, content and grateful I am today, the way I used to greet the morning seems as if it happened in another lifetime. I would wake up and immediately think, “It can’t be morning yet. Not another day like yesterday.” Followed by, “I can’t possibly get everything done today.” Life for me was more of a struggle than a celebration. To make it worse, I had a very close friend who kept reminding me that if only I would meditate, my life would change.

Meditate? Didn’t that mean to be still and close your eyes and clear your mind? Impossible for me. I had too much going on, too much to do and too many thoughts flitting across my “monkey mind.” Meditation seemed like a self-indulgent luxury for someone who had nothing better to do than sit and chant “om.” Besides, I tried to meditate once and it didn’t work. So I resisted, and my life continued on the same path, day after day after frustrating day.

As my health began to suffer, I came to a startling realization. If I didn’t do something positive, things were not going to change. So I decided to give meditation a try. The first day I turned on my CD player (this was the pre iPad days), and listened to a calming voice that said, “Get comfortable and clear your mind.” That’s exactly what I couldn’t do, however, I remained still — for five whole minutes!

I’d like to say that I meditated every day after that. The fact was, I didn’t. I’d try it one day, forget about for the next three days, then go back again. But I have to say, eventually it was something I looked forward to doing. I started meditating a few days in a row, then a week at a time, and soon it became a habit. I could even be still for an entire 15 minutes! Now meditating is as much a part of my daily schedule as brushing my teeth. I wasn’t sure what benefits I was supposed to expect. I’d read the studies from the Mayo Clinic and other experts. I didn’t know if my blood pressure was better or my heart healthier or if my anxiety level hit a new low. What I did know was that my monkey mind seemed quieter as I awoke, that I felt a bit calmer, a bit more optimistic and grateful that I had something to look forward to each day.

We live in such an overstimulating environment today. When we’re not posting on Facebook or Pinterest or checking the Twitter, we’re texting on iPhones, listening to iTunes, or buying something with e-commerce. When I counsel with overworked, anxiety-ridden clients, I always suggest meditation and I’m not surprised I get the same answers I used way back when. “I don’t have time. I can’t quiet my mind. I tried it once and it didn’t work.”

Meditation is not a luxury like a reflexology foot massage. It’s a way to disconnect from everyday stresses, if only for a few minutes a day. You deserve to feel good, to have the energy you want to enjoy life, to be healthy and happy. Start living the life you were meant to live. Learn to meditate.

Even the grand lady of television, Barbara Walters announced on The View, that over the summer she learned to meditate. It’s never, ever too late.

There are adult education classes and meditation centers in every town, if you prefer to be with a group. You can always enroll in a meditation series over the Internet — usually at no charge. I saw one starting soon called “Secrets of Meditation,” through a group called Wild Divine. Choose whichever form of meditation suits you best: silent, musical, guided, visual, walking, etc. You will never regret that wondrous gift you have given yourself.

2013-09-30-468x60.jpg

For more by Dr. Marcia Hootman, click here.

For more on mindfulness, click here.

GPS for the Soul – The Huffington Post
The Seven Blessings That Come With Aging
Sister Joan Chittister is offering an online course on the blessings behind every aspect of growing older. Learn more about this opportunity here.

The one certain dimension of US demographics these days is that the fastest growing segment of the American population is comprised of people above the age of 65. We, and all our institutions, as a result, are a greying breed. At the same time, we are, in fact, the healthiest, longest lived, most educated, most active body of elders the world has ever known. The only real problem with that is that we are doing it in the face of a youth culture left to drive a capitalist economy that thrives on sales.

So, what we sell is either to youth, about youth, or for the sake of affecting youth. But after all the pictures of 60-looking 80 year olds going by on their bikes fade off the screen, the world is left with, at best, a very partial look at what it means to be an elder.

Especially for those who never did like biking much to begin with.

The truth of the matter is that all of life, at any age, is about ripening. Life is about doing every age well, learning what we are meant to learn from it and giving to it what we are meant to give back to it.

The young give energy and wonder and enthusiasm and heart-breaking effort to becoming an accomplished, respected, recognized adult. And for their efforts they reap achievement and identity and self-determination.

The middle-aged give commitment and leadership, imagination and generativity. They build and rebuild the world from one age to another. And for their efforts they get status, and some kind of power, however slight, and the satisfaction that comes from a sense of accomplishment.

The elderly have different tasks entirely. The elderly come to this stage of life largely finished with a building block mentality. They have built all they want to build. It is their task in life now to evaluate what has become of it, what it did to them, what of good they can leave behind them. They bring to life the wisdom that comes from having failed as often as they succeeded, relinquished as much as they accumulated. And this stage of life comes with its own very clear blessings.

PERSPECTIVE:

Given the luxury of years, the elders in a society bring a perspective on life that is not possible to the young and of even less interest to the middle aged whose life is consumed with concern for security and achievement. Instead the elders look back on the twists and turns of life with a more measured gaze. Some things, they know now, which they thought had great value at one age, they see little value in later. The elders know that what lasts in life, what counts in life, what remains in life after all the work has been completed are the relationships that sustained us, not the trophies we collected on the way.

The Elders are blessed with insight

TIME

For the first time in life, the elderly have time to enjoy the present. The morning air becomes the kind of elixir again that they have not known since childhood. The park has become an observation deck on the world. The library is now the crossroads of the world. The coffee shop becomes the social center of their lives. And small children a new delight and a companion, if not leaders, as they explore their way through life again.

The blessing of this time is appreciation of the moment.

FREEDOM:There is a kind of liberation that comes with being an elder. All the old expectations go to mist. The competition and stress that comes with trying to find a place in today’s highly impersonal economy fade away and I can do what I like, wear what I like, say what I like without bartering my very survival for it. For the first time in years it is possible simply to be a person in search of a life rather than an economic pawn in search of a high-toned livelihood. The need to reek of competence and approval gives way to the need to enjoy life.

The awareness of life as liberating rather than burdensome is the most refreshing blessing a soul can have.

NEWNESS: The truism prevails that it is the young, that part of the social spectrum who stand on the brink of adulthood who have the opportunity to make the great choices of life: where to go, how to live, what to do with our one precious and fragile life. But if truth were told it is really the elderly who have the option to become new again. With the children on t heir own and the house paid for, with our dues paid to the social system and our identities stripped away from what we do to what we are, we have the world at our feet again. We can do all the things we’ve put aside for years: learn to play the guitar, go back to school, volunteer in areas we have always wanted to do more of like become a tour guide or a museum aid, go backpacking or become a children’s reader at the local library. We can now get up every morning to begin life all over again.

The blessing of life now lies in the realization that life is not over but beginning again in a whole new way.

TALE TELLING: The elders in a society are its living history, its balladeers who tell the history of a people and the lessons of growth that come with them. The war veteran can talk now about the hell of war that belies its so-called glory. The mothers know what it means to raise children with less money than the process demands. The old couples know that marriage is a process not an event and that what draws people into marriage will not be what keeps them there. These are the ones who raise for the rest of us the beacons of hope that tell us the truth we need, on our own dark days, to hear: If these others could survive the depression, the losses, the breakups and breakdowns of life, we have living proof now, so can we.

The process of past reflection is one of the major blessings an elder can have because it crystallizes the value of one’s own life and blesses the rest of the world with wisdom at the same time.

RELATIONSHIPS: In the lexicon of elders, all too often and all too late, a new event begins to take front and center where once work and the social whirl had held sway. Elders wake up in the morning aware that the only thing really left in life after all the schedules have disappeared are the people that have been left out of them for far too long: the adult children they haven’t talked to for weeks–no, months–now. They remember the last old friend they met in the market who said “We really have to have coffee together some day” and begin to look around for the phone number. They recall with a pang the grandchildren they promised to take to the zoo and wonder with a pang whether or not the zoo is still open for the season–and whether the children still remember grandpa and the promise. Elders have the luxury of attending to people now rather than to things. And out of that attention comes a new sense of being really important to the world.

One of the great blessings of being elderly is not that it isolates us but that, ironically, it ties us more tightly to the people around us

TRANSCENDENCE: Finally, it is the elders in a society who distill for the rest of it the real meaning of life–and right before our eyes. The quality of their reflections on life are so different than ours, they must certainly be listened to. The serenity of their souls in the face of total change–both physical and social–give promise that behind all the hurly-burly lies a deep pool of peace. The devotion they bring to the transcendentals of life–to solitude, to prayer, to reading, to the arts, to the simple work of gardening, to the great questions of the age, to their continuing commitment to building a city, a country, a world that will be better for us when they move on, may be the greatest spiritual lesson of life a younger generation may ever get as well as the greatest insight they every have.

Indeed, to find ourselves on the edge of elderhood, is to find ourselves in an entirely new and exciting point in life. It is blessing upon blessing and it invites those around them to live more thoughtfully themselves by listening to them carefully now–while we all still have time.

If you are interested in learning how aging is really a great adventure and are looking for an online retreat, this just might be the thing for you.

Based on her book, The Gift of Years: Growing Older Gracefully, Sister Joan will use the themes of the book as launch pads for her reflections and discussion by eCourse

participants. During this month-long program which begins October 7 Sister Joan will focus on the blessings behind every aspect of growing older. It will be an opportunity to discover new perceptions and attitudes about growing older and their meaning for one’s life. Look here for more information and to register.

Why I Don’t Meditate

Considering how happy, content and grateful I am today, the way I used to greet the morning seems as if it happened in another lifetime. I would wake up and immediately think, “It can’t be morning yet. Not another day like yesterday.” Followed by, “I can’t possibly get everything done today.” Life for me was more of a struggle than a celebration. To make it worse, I had a very close friend who kept reminding me that if only I would meditate, my life would change.

Meditate? Didn’t that mean to be still and close your eyes and clear your mind? Impossible for me. I had too much going on, too much to do and too many thoughts flitting across my “monkey mind.” Meditation seemed like a self-indulgent luxury for someone who had nothing better to do than sit and chant “om.” Besides, I tried to meditate once and it didn’t work. So I resisted, and my life continued on the same path, day after day after frustrating day.

As my health began to suffer, I came to a startling realization. If I didn’t do something positive, things were not going to change. So I decided to give meditation a try. The first day I turned on my CD player (this was the pre iPad days), and listened to a calming voice that said, “Get comfortable and clear your mind.” That’s exactly what I couldn’t do, however, I remained still — for five whole minutes!

I’d like to say that I meditated every day after that. The fact was, I didn’t. I’d try it one day, forget about for the next three days, then go back again. But I have to say, eventually it was something I looked forward to doing. I started meditating a few days in a row, then a week at a time, and soon it became a habit. I could even be still for an entire 15 minutes! Now meditating is as much a part of my daily schedule as brushing my teeth. I wasn’t sure what benefits I was supposed to expect. I’d read the studies from the Mayo Clinic and other experts. I didn’t know if my blood pressure was better or my heart healthier or if my anxiety level hit a new low. What I did know was that my monkey mind seemed quieter as I awoke, that I felt a bit calmer, a bit more optimistic and grateful that I had something to look forward to each day.

We live in such an overstimulating environment today. When we’re not posting on Facebook or Pinterest or checking the Twitter, we’re texting on iPhones, listening to iTunes, or buying something with e-commerce. When I counsel with overworked, anxiety-ridden clients, I always suggest meditation and I’m not surprised I get the same answers I used way back when. “I don’t have time. I can’t quiet my mind. I tried it once and it didn’t work.”

Meditation is not a luxury like a reflexology foot massage. It’s a way to disconnect from everyday stresses, if only for a few minutes a day. You deserve to feel good, to have the energy you want to enjoy life, to be healthy and happy. Start living the life you were meant to live. Learn to meditate.

Even the grand lady of television, Barbara Walters announced on The View, that over the summer she learned to meditate. It’s never, ever too late.

There are adult education classes and meditation centers in every town, if you prefer to be with a group. You can always enroll in a meditation series over the Internet — usually at no charge. I saw one starting soon called “Secrets of Meditation,” through a group called Wild Divine. Choose whichever form of meditation suits you best: silent, musical, guided, visual, walking, etc. You will never regret that wondrous gift you have given yourself.

2013-09-30-468x60.jpg

For more by Dr. Marcia Hootman, click here.

For more on mindfulness, click here.

Are All the Good Men/Women Really Already Taken?
Do these six things and find out.

Charlie and I have heard vast numbers of people making this claim over the years. My point of view is it only takes one. You may have to kiss a few frogs in the process but that’s a small price to pay for what could be a great outcome. It is true however, finding a qualified partner can be a daunting challenge. I’ll be the first to admit that there are some trials and tribulations to go through in sorting through the possibilities. It’s not a walk in the park to find somebody who will pair up with you, make a contract to support your development, won’t bail when things get hot, who can stand the heat, and work with you to create the partnership of your dreams.

So why bother even going through this demanding process?

Isn’t it easier and less stressful to save yourself the trouble and stay out of the dating game altogether? After all, if you’re convinced that there’s nobody out there who’s available, who’s really worth being in relationship with, then why should you even try? Then again, it is somewhat arrogant to write off half the world’s population.

Many people embrace the idea that “all the good ones are already taken” because it protects them from the possibility of the rejection, disappointment, pain or loss that can accompany the quest for love. Some of those who hold this position have a tendency to collect “evidence,” usually from others who share this belief, that affirms their view. The perspective that the situation is hopeless has the advantage of justifying the avoidance of emotional risks inherent in the initiation of new relationships. Some prefer to find “friends” with whom they can commiserate and find solace and sympathy.

The truth is that there is no shortage of qualified, decent, worthwhile eligible partners out there. They are not, however likely to come knocking on your door without an invitation. And if your standards are such that you require your ideal mate to be perfect, be prepared to be disappointed (unless you’re perfect yourself).

But whether you live in Manhattan or in North Dakota, whether you’re 19 or 90, whether you’re a conservative or a liberal, whether you like country music or classical, there are people with whom it is possible to create true, lasting and loving partnerships. What it takes is:

The willingness to risk involvement and emotional engagement.

The intention to become the partner of your dreams, rather than just trying to find him or her.

The commitment to hang in there without getting discouraged even if you do end up having to kiss a few frogs.

The ability to be selective about who you talk and listen to, and pay less attention to your nay-saying friends.

A commitment to do your own work to become a more loving, authentic, and trustworthy person.

And the patience, trust and faith that make it possible to hang in there and enjoy the ride between now and the time that you get to invalidate this belief!

For more by Linda Bloom LCSW and Charlie Bloom MSW, click here.

For more on love and relationships, click here.

Green – The Huffington Post
‘Climate Refugee’ From Kiribati Faces Legal Challenge In New Zealand
WELLINGTON, New Zealand — A man from one of the lowest-lying nations on Earth is trying to convince New Zealand judges that he’s a refugee – suffering not from persecution, but from climate change.

The 37-year-old and his wife left his remote atoll in the Pacific nation of Kiribati six years ago for higher ground and better prospects in New Zealand, where their three children were born. Immigration authorities have twice rejected his argument that rising sea levels make it too dangerous for him and his family to return to Kiribati. So on Oct. 16, the man’s lawyer, Michael Kidd, plans to argue the case before New Zealand’s High Court. Kidd, who specializes in human rights cases, told The Associated Press he will appeal the case all the way to the country’s Supreme Court if necessary.

Legal experts consider the man’s case a long shot, but it will nevertheless be closely watched, and might have implications for tens of millions of residents in low-lying islands around the world. Kiribati, an impoverished string of 33 coral atolls about halfway between Hawaii and Australia, has about 103,000 people and has been identified by scientists as among the nations most vulnerable to climate change.

In a transcript of the immigration case obtained by the AP, the Kiribati man describes extreme high tides known as king tides that he says have started to regularly breach Kiribati’s defenses – killing crops, flooding homes and sickening residents. New Zealand immigration laws prevent the AP from naming him.

The man said that around 1998, king tides began regularly breaching the sea walls around his village, which was overcrowded and had no sewerage system. He said the fouled drinking water would make people vomit, and that there was no higher ground that would allow villagers to escape the knee-deep water.

He said returning to the island would endanger the lives of his two youngest children.

“There’s no future for us when we go back to Kiribati,” he told the tribunal, according to the transcript. “Especially for my children. There’s nothing for us there.”

The man’s lawyer said the family is currently living and working on a New Zealand farm.

Last week, an international panel of climate scientists issued a report saying that it was “extremely likely” that human activity was causing global warming, and predicted that oceans could rise by as much as 1 meter (3.3 feet) by the end of the century. If that were to happen, much of Kiribati would simply disappear.

Though that is a dire prospect, New Zealand’s Immigration and Protection Tribunal has said it is not one that is addressed by laws dealing with refugees.

In a decision recently made public, tribunal member Bruce Burson said the legal concept of a refugee is someone who is being persecuted, which requires human interaction. He said the tribunal rejected the man’s claim because nobody is persecuting him.

The tribunal found there was no evidence that the environmental conditions on Kiribati were so bad that the man and his family would face imminent danger should they return. Burson said the man’s claim was also rejected because the family’s predicament was no different than that faced by the wider population of Kiribati.

In his court appeal, Kidd said the fact that many people face the same threat is no grounds to dismiss a claim. He also argued that his client did suffer an indirect form of human persecution because climate change is believed to be caused by the pollution humans generate. He said his client also would face the threat of a climate-induced breakdown in law and order should he return.

Bill Hodge, a constitutional law expert and associate professor at the University of Auckland, said he applauded Kidd’s “ingenious arguments” but didn’t think they would succeed because his client hasn’t been singled out and victimized due to something like his gender, race or political persuasion.

But Hodge added that even if the Kiribati man loses, his case might make a good argument for expanding the definition of what constitutes a refugee. He said he expected there would be increasing pressure on nations like New Zealand and Australia to help provide new homes for Pacific Islanders threatened by rising seas.

Tidal gauges indicate the world’s oceans have been rising at an annual rate of 3.2 millimeters (0.1 inches) since 1970. Many scientists expect that rate to accelerate and for climate change to trigger more intense storms, which may pose an even more pressing threat to many of the world’s low-lying islands.

Kiribati’s government is pursuing its own strategies. It has paid a deposit for 6,000 acres in nearby Fiji, which Kiribati President Anote Tong has said will provide food security and a possible refuge for future generations. The nation has also been talking with a Japanese firm about the possibility of constructing a floating island, which would cost billions of dollars.

Rimon Rimon, a Kiribati government spokesman who said his opinions on the matter were his own, said he thought the man in New Zealand was taking the wrong approach. He said the government is working hard to train people in skills like nursing, carpentry and automotive repairs so that if they do leave Kiribati, they can be productive in their adoptive countries.

“Kiribati may be doomed by climate change in the near future,” he said. “But just claiming refugee status due to climate change is the easy way out.”

Good News – The Huffington Post
5 Ways to Increase Your Confidence and Achieve Success
It’s a vicious circle. You lack success in some area, and that affects your self-confidence. Your lowered self-confidence means you are less likely to achieve success, and thus it continues.

This can be especially devastating when you are trying to lose weight. First, being overweight makes you more likely to have confidence issues. And chances are you’ve tried to lose weight before, perhaps dozens of times. Since you’re trying again, you may already feel like a failure.

But failure is just a temporary roadblock on the way to success. Every successful person has encountered failure, and often plenty of failures. World-renowned businessman, philanthropist and impresario Ed “Honest Ed” Mirvish once said he’d probably had more failures than successes; he just didn’t talk about his failures so people didn’t think he’d had any.

You can get past any roadblock on your journey to success, but to do that you will need confidence. When you are sure of yourself and the ultimate outcome, nothing can stop you! But how do you get confidence when you just don’t feel that way?

Here are some surefire ways to increase your confidence until you know for a fact you will succeed — and you will!

1. Look the part.

If you walk around unclean, with unkempt hair and baggy, shapeless clothes, you look like you don’t care about yourself, and you will feel that way too. Don’t wait till you’ve achieved your desired weight to start caring about how you look. Stay clean, get a good haircut and buy a few pieces of clothing that will keep you looking good until you fit a smaller size.

Homework: Pick up a fashion item that makes you feel good — a pair of fashionable shoes, a scarf and some fun jewelry are all good choices.

2. Fake it!

Do you try to hide in the background? Do you walk with your head down, looking at the floor? Do you hunch your shoulders over, hoping no one will notice you? This shows a lack of confidence. When you adopt these postures you are underlining your feelings of inadequacy. You will never start feeling more confident if you carry yourself this way.

Homework: Walk tall, shoulders back, posture erect, head held high. Believe yourself to be a confident person and carry yourself as if you are! This will result in you feeling more confident in reality.

3. Edit your internal dialog.

We all have words running through our brains every day. We are normally not even aware of our internal dialog, but it’s there and it both reflects how we feel about ourselves and dictates how we think about ourselves. Stop allowing yourself to subconsciously undermine your confidence. Pay attention to what you are saying to yourself. When you find yourself saying things like “you’re not going to be able to do that” or “she won’t like me because I’m fat” or any other negative comments, edit them out.

Say positive things to yourself instead. You can even say them out loud. You may feel silly at first, but you’re already saying all sorts of negative things to yourself. Why would saying positive things be any sillier? Repeating positive affirmations will help you believe yourself as a capable person. And you are one!

Homework: Practice saying positive things to yourself, either internally or out loud. Here are some examples: “I can do this.” “If anyone can do this, I can.” “I will succeed.” “I look good.” “I am worthy.” Of course, you can customize these sayings to any specific circumstance. If you’re going to the gym, say: “I belong here,” or “I will complete my workout and feel great!” If you’re walking through a mall, say: “I deserve to be here,” or “I am totally confident.” If you’re going to a restaurant, say: “I will stay on my diet,” “I will resist temptation because I want to succeed.”

4. Set small goals — and achieve them!

Sometimes a big goal can be overwhelming. Believe me, when I needed to lose 160 pounds of fat that could have been way too intimidating for me. Each small goal you achieve brings you closer to your large, exciting goal. But also, for every small goal you achieve, you will become more confident in your ability to achieve greater success.

If your ultimate, exciting goal is to run a marathon and find you can’t run two miles, then you could feel bad about yourself. If instead you set the goal of running two miles, you work to achieve it and feel good about yourself, as you should. Hey, you ran two miles! That’s awesome! Now you can set your goal at running 2.5 miles!

Homework: Set some small goals for yourself. Let’s say your big, exciting goal is to lose 60 pounds. You could set a small goal of losing five pounds. Great. Even better, you can set a goal of sticking to your diet today. Or getting to the gym and completing your workout. You can set a goal of walking for five minutes longer on the treadmill, or at a higher incline. All of these are great goals that will ultimately bring you to your big goal, and I encourage you to do them! But you can also set a goal of keeping a journal, or cooking every meal this week. When you begin to see yourself accomplish your goals — any goal — you will understand and begin to believe that you can do anything. And you CAN!

5. Be happy… and grateful.

You have issues, I have issues, we all have issues. None of us has a perfect life because there is no such thing, and if we did have a perfect life, we’d still find something we wanted to improve upon. That is the way we humans were created, and that’s why we achieve so darned much! If we didn’t have the natural drive to improve things, we’d still be living in caves.

But if you’re reading this, you have plenty to be grateful for. You can read, for one thing. You have access to a computer and the internet, for another. Most of all, you’re alive!

Happiness is only 10 percent our circumstances. It is 90 percent the way we choose to view things. Choose every day to be thankful for everything you have in life — enough food, shelter, family, friends, hydro, a job… whatever you have, be thankful for it because someone out there doesn’t have it. And choose every moment to be happy. This doesn’t mean you have to be content with the way everything is, but there’s no reason to mope around about it. Work toward changing it if possible, and if not, accept it and go on with life.

Homework: Remind yourself every morning when you wake up and every night when you go to bed — and as many times in between as you like — about everything you have to be grateful for. No matter your circumstances, there will be a lot of things on this list.

You don’t have to have already been a confident person to find self-confidence. You are a worthy, deserving person. Believe that! Don’t cause your own lack of success because of negative thoughts about yourself. Being confident does not mean that you are conceited or narcissistic, and in fact being confident can make it that much easier for you to help others as you achieve your own goals. Take the steps here to increase your confidence and get you on your road to success.

For more by Charles D’Angelo, click here.

For more on emotional wellness, click here.

#alkalinity #alkalinitymovement #7.2 #sevenpointtwo

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