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Poetry of Life and Love

April 25, 2021 by  
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The other day I was thinking about love and how many people I love and feel loved by.

Just after having those thoughts, my wonderful wife, Kimberly, came across a poem I wrote for her about love. I wrote it back in 2006 and had totally forgotten about it. When I read it, I was really surprised. I didn’t remember writing a poem that she thought was so great.

So here it is. I hope you like it and that you love lots of people and they return the love back to you! 

 Life, Life, Life!
 It’s what we live… a day at a time.
 At times so sad, sometimes sublime.
  
 Most moments pass without much thought…
 Others stop us cold, as we challenge what we’ve sought.
 Tonight so silent and serene, by myself but not alone.
 Waiting for Her, the sound of her walk…
 Such comfort knowing we will soon talk.
 To share the details and feelings of her day and night,
 Our lives, our family and friends — the future so bright.
  
 So we finish the day and start all over tomorrow
 Grabbing each second, each minute, we steal or borrow.
 Those seconds turned hours, then two years
 Giving more time for great joys and sad tears.
  
 65, 70, 80 years we’ll soar.
 Why not 90, 100 or even more?
 Shoot for the stars and do all that you can.
 Maybe only the moon you’ll hit, for you’re just a man.
  
 Share your love along the way
 With kids, lovers and strangers each day.
 For to make a difference on this place called earth,
 Giving love and compassion will breed and give birth.
  
 Now, so many others whom you’ll never know…
 Will spread your influence for good and continue to grow.
 And whether the credit is given to you or not,
 Lives will be helped, easier battles will be fought.
  
 Lifting their sights to a higher plane…
 Giving all more courage to do the same.
 Making the world such a better place…
 Giving good reason you took up some space.
  
 — Mark O. Haroldsen, November 2006

You Don’t Have to Age

April 18, 2021 by  
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 Source: New York Times, Oct. 31, 2006 Photo Jeff Miller, U of Wisconsin

I am only 35 months away from hitting the big 80, so I have been thinking about age a lot lately. That’s why I’m pulling from an old blog post of mine, one that hits close to home and that I would like to share with you.

Have you ever wondered what you will look like when you reach age 85? More and more Americans are living that long and longer. Statistics from the Society of Actuaries and the Annuity for the year 2000, shows that a male, aged 65, has a 50% chance of living beyond age 85 and a 25% chance of living beyond age 92. A female, aged 65, has a 50% chance of living beyond age 88 and a 25% chance of living beyond age 94. But what will make the difference for any one of us?

There is some evidence to show that calorie restriction and resveratrol could make the difference between which side of those life expectancy statistics you’re on.

Above you see two rhesus monkeys. The one on the left eats a calorie-restricted diet, while the monkey on the right eats a normal diet. Both monkeys are in their late 20s. Their normal lifespan is 30-40 years. As you can see, they look to be in quite different conditions. Here is how the New York Times made note of their differences:

At 28, getting on for a rhesus monkey, Matthias is losing his hair, lugging a paunch and getting a face full of wrinkles.

Yet in the cage next to his, gleefully hooting at strangers, one of Matthias’s lab mates, Rudy, is the picture of monkey vitality, although he is slightly older. Thin and feisty, Rudy stops grooming his smooth coat just long enough to pirouette toward a proffered piece of fruit.

Tempted with the same treat, Matthias rises wearily and extends a frail hand. “You can really see the difference,” said Dr. Ricki Colman, an associate scientist at the center who cares for the animals.

The scientists believe it’s the restricted calories that made the difference between the condition of the monkeys but have found that resveratrol, a molecular mimic of calorie restriction, may deliver the same benefits without food deprivation. There is more human testing to be done, but researchers themselves became so convinced of this they begun taking resveratrol pills themselves.

How does resveratrol work? Studies have shown that Resveratrol turns old cells into young cells. Old cells typically accumulate extra copies of ribosomal DNA that clog the cell and impair cellular function. Resveratrol reverses this.

I think it may also be important to note that recent studies indicate that resveratrol works best when taken in small amounts. There are varying opinions on how much that actually is, however. From 200mg a day or less to simply drinking a glass of red wine has been suggested. The idea is that more is not better with this compound. Too much can actually block the mechanisms that allow resveratrol to help keep up young.

So, if you want to look good as you age, you can go on a nutritionally smart restricted calorie diet or try resveratrol or a little of both. Also, don’t forget to keep having novel experiences, make and reach for big goals, stay social, and exercise. We all get older every year, but there is no reason to age faster than necessary.

Gratitude Pays Off

April 11, 2021 by  
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I’ve written several posts on the powerful benefits of gratitude and what good things it can do for your life. In these days of the pandemic, I would guess most of us look back and see all the things we took for granted that we have not had or been able to do this past year. I sure have!

As I mentioned a few weeks ago, I didn’t realize how very, very important being social is to us humans until it was almost totally taken away from us all. But now, as we slowly pull out of this COVID thing with so many people getting vaccines (and yes, I got mine), we can really appreciate and be more grateful for all we have.

Recently, I read about scientific studies that found that we gain dozens of significant benefits from having gratitude in our lives. For instance, having gratitude…

  • Fosters very positive feelings.
  • Gives you a sense of wellbeing.
  • Eases our anxiety and depression.
  • Promotes physical health.
  • Improves our relationships.
  • Helps us sleep better.
  • Improves our psychological health and gives us more mental strength.
  • Helps us relax.
  • Makes you friendlier.
  • Helps your marriage.
  • Deepens friendships.
  • Increases your productivity.
  • Helps you make friends.
  • Can benefit your career.

There are many more benefits to having a high degree of gratitude in your life, but for me, this list is a darn good start and a great reminder for me to be more and more grateful.

We should be really super grateful for living in this great country of America. Most of us have a fairly high standard of living. Having traveled and visited 94 countries and having seen the poverty and poor people of China, South Africa, and many other places, I am very grateful for what I have and where I live.

Also, I think of all of my good friends and family, how grateful they are for us. They are close most of the time and are there for us when we need them. I think, of all my great friends and kids and grandkids and am so grateful for all of them, especially my great wife Kimberly. She is the best and I am so lucky and grateful to have her. Even my ex-wife Lois seems to be grateful for me and I certainly am grateful to her for being so accepting of me and my new family.

I encourage you all to take time to make a list of those things, people, and situations that you are grateful for. Taking even just 5 minutes to start your own “Gratitude Journal” could have some fantastic benefits. I’ve done that, and it quite surprised me to see how long the list became. Yes, go do it. You’ll be glad you did.

And yes, I’m also very grateful to you, my readers. Thank you so much for reading and for your support.

Meditation and the Quiet Mind

April 4, 2021 by  
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Myself and the Dalai Lama

Meditation. Hmm. That’s something that I haven’t done a ton of, but recently I read a great book about the mind and how you can calm it down and make it quiet. It’s making me think about it more seriously.

When I do meditate, it raises my mood and helps my brain, which helps my life a ton. I’m writing this week’s post, in part, because I know I should meditate more. I’ve found, over the years, that almost anytime I write about something we humans should be doing, my own writings on the subject motivate me to just go and do it. So, I guess I’m being somewhat selfish. But if my experience and words are helpful to others, then that’s great!

I’ve sure noticed that the older I get, the more I want to help others. Okay, part of that is because when I help others, I get such a good feeling from it that I want to do it more. Oops. I guess that’s being a bit selfish too. But maybe that is a good kind of selfishness. And that means everybody can be a winner!

I just read a great book called Quiet Mind, compiled and edited by Susan Piver. In this section written by Tulku Thondup, it says, “Through meditation we can realize the awareness of the peaceful and joyful nature of our mind. From there we can interact with mental objects with greater peace and ease on our own terms, from a position of mental strength.” He goes on to say that “in order to find and employ the healing power of our mind and the healing qualities of mental objects, we must consistently and repeatedly meditate on the four healing powers: positive images, positive words, positive feeling, and positive belief.”

Thondup goes on to say, “Like food, exercise, rest, and medicine, meditation is a very important component of healing and keeping healthy.” His advice is to start easy and slow, but be consistent. Even just 5 minutes a day at first is a good start. Then later, he advises, “Early morning is generally the best time to meditate, as your mind could still be in peace and your energy still calm. The best place is a solitary place. Whatever you pick, you should choose the best time and place that you can afford and feel good about.” Then, after enough 5 minutes sessions, he says you should try to meditate for about an hour.

Earlier in the book, another contributor, Sakyong Mipham said, “Decide on a regular time to practice each day and try to stick with it. A ten-minute period in the morning is a good place to begin.” Mipham also suggests that consistency is key.

I really like some of the other simple advice Mipham gives: “If you’re agitated, a slow walk might be in order. If you’re drowsy, a cool shower before beginning the session might help.” He also notes that “It can be inspiring to read a little about meditation first as a reminder of why you’re practicing.”

So, I have a lot of great thoughts about meditating now. As I said, I may not have done it very regularly, but it’s not new to me. As a matter of fact, I had the great privilege to meet, greet, and introduce the Dalai Lama at an event years ago. Through our conversations that day, I got to know him a bit, and he certainly knows and practices meditation. I’m sure he knows quite well how much it can help anyone’s life. We just need little reminders to do it sometimes.