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How to Change How You Feel

This week marks the summer solstice – it actually happens the day after tomorrow. This week also marks the winter solstice, which oddly enough also happens the day after tomorrow.

How can this be? It depends on your vantage point. If you’re in the northern hemisphere, Thursday at 4:50 PM eastern time is the exact time of summer solstice. If you’re in the southern hemisphere, Thursday at 4:50 PM eastern time is the exact time of winter solstice. It is the astronomical beginning of both summer and winter. Your vantage point determines your upcoming weather forecast.

Have you ever thought about how things can feel very different, depending on your vantage point? Merriam-Webster defines vantage point as “a position or standpoint from which something is viewed or considered.” Point of view can be used interchangeably with vantage point – both mean the same thing. Here are some examples of how your vantage point can drastically change how you experience...

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Can You Appreciate the Price of a Broken Heart?

When something hurts so much we say that it breaks our heart – does it really, or does it save it?

Have you ever lost someone you love? And yes, pets count. Can you remember the physicalness of the pain – the pain in your chest, the hollowness of your being? What is that? Why is that? And can we ever “suffer” a loss without suffering?

Probably not, and you probably wouldn’t want to, either.

Professor Yoram Yovell, a researcher on the relationship between emotional and physical pain and expert on the neurobiology of love and emotions, has studied why love and loss hurts so much. Turns out, emotional pain has a strong survival benefit – it alerts us to the fact that something has changed in our lives that we need to pay attention to.

When babies – human or not – are without their mother, they cry a very specific cry. Yes, the cry alerts their mother to return to them, and for the researchers, there was a surprising finding:...

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Are You Celebrating This Week, Too?

Are you a member of a professional organization? Maybe it’s the American Bar Association, or the Farm Bureau Federation, or the National Association of Broadcasters – there are associations dedicated to nearly every profession that exists. Often, these associations create special recognition days or weeks that are tied to the work done by the members.

This is Pet Appreciation Week, thanks to the American Veterinary Medical Association. This group of people dedicated to the health of pets wanted to create a week-long celebration of the love, care, and devotion exchanged between people and their pets. They also use the week to highlight best practice care for pets of all kinds, and the responsibilities that pet owners take on when they decide to add a pet to their life. The first Sunday in June kicks the week off, which means if you have a pet, you still have the rest of the week to celebrate!

If you have a pet, I’d love to hear the story of how you chose the pet you...

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Better Bodies Equals Bigger Brains

Today is Women’s Golf Day, and whether you’re a golfer or a woman or a woman golfer or none of the foregoing, it’s a great day to talk about sports and how playing your favorite sport contributes to giving you a bigger, better brain and a longer, healthier life.

Human beings were nomadic hunter-gatherers in the early days of human development. It wasn’t until the inventions of things like wheels, levers, and gravity-fed water systems that humans could start setting up permanent living spaces. Even then, life was very active – no one had invented tractors, conveyor belts, or cars to make life easier. For most of our time on this planet, we have been an active species, able to adapt to different climate conditions, different food sources, and different behavioral challenges.

Fast-forward to today, where we can change our climate inside our homes, store food in a specific location in our homes for consumption at will, and actually never go outside if we...

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Can You Believe Your Beliefs?

Have you ever thought about belief? We think of our own beliefs as correct and even judge others based on whether they believe the same way we do or not. Our beliefs feel so real, and so true, that we can’t imagine how others could possibly believe differently.

And yet they do. And they always will. And that’s not just OK, it’s what keeps life interesting.

Today is the 13th anniversary of the end of the world. Well, except for that one small detail – it didn’t actually end 13 years ago. Harold Camping predicted the end of the world would happen in 2011, with the rapture occurring on May 21st and the physical world coming to an end five months later. He was a darling of the media, appearing on any and every news outlet that would have him, and focusing the programming on his Family Radio Network around the mathematical and theological certainty of his predictions. He believed. He believed with such fervor that he torpedoed his own reputation and spent...

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Freedom for Working Moms

This past Sunday was Mother’s Day. It’s a lovely holiday designed to let moms relax for one day of the year while being appreciated and pampered. It’s a day that features flowers, favorite foods, gifts, and maybe even a macaroni necklace designed by a 3-year-old. Can AI ever replace those? (Please don’t answer that!)

What about the other 364 days? Most moms are working moms, not stay-at-home moms, who were the norm when Mother’s Day came into being. Working moms have two careers – their job and their child or children – and neither one can be back-burnered.

So, if one person has two careers, neither of which can be neglected, what lands at the bottom of the to-do list?

  • Self-care.
  • Hobbies.
  • Passion projects.

The very things that feed the soul of the working mom get neglected due to lack of time and energy. During the pandemic shutdown, many or maybe most working moms found a way to better balance their various responsibilities, and some were...

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Teachers, Teaching, and Top Traits

Quick – name a teacher who helped shape who you are today. If you’re like most people, and like me, you can name a few.

Mrs. Sharrett, my 4th grade teacher, who made paying attention pay off. She used operant conditioning on her willing subjects, making intentional mistakes and paying the first student to point it out with a piece of candy from a special drawer in her desk.

Mr. Buhn, my high school physics teacher, a man completely grounded in science and yet still fun in the way he taught his passion. He was delighted when his class gave him membership to the Flat Earth Society. He used their monthly newsletter as a springboard for lessons on how things really work.

Miss Gardner, my performing arts teacher and coach, who took raw talent, lit a fire under its container, and created the knowledge and belief that I would be a performer. And I was, for three decades, a very successful major market radio personality. Thank you for believing in me, Miss Gardner!

Teachers...

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Will You Honor the Bonfire in Your Heart?

Tomorrow is May Day. It’s also Beltane, a holiday that you may not be familiar with unless you’re from County Limerick or County Wicklow in Ireland, where the Beltane tradition has been constant from the earliest writings in Irish literature. Beltane/May Day marks the midpoint between the spring and the summer solstice, a time where the earth starts producing food, flocks start producing babies, and the heavy summer work of providing for the community and putting up for the cold months of winter begins in earnest.

Humans have observed and celebrated the changing of the seasons throughout recorded history, and that continues today. The winter holidays are wrapped around the winter solstice. Easter, Passover, and Carnival occur near or on the spring solstice. Summer solstice in June is when school winds down and vacations ramp up, and the fall solstice is when vacation season winds down and school ramps back up. Toss in an election, a spooky holiday and a food-laden one,...

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The Sun, the Moon, the Seasons, and You

During the winter months, those of us who live in the northern hemisphere experienced shrinkage. No, not THAT kind of shrinkage. I’m talking about brain shrinkage. Your cerebellum got smaller through the winter months, and as the longer days take over, the part of your brain that controls fine motor movement is getting bigger again. Meanwhile, subcortical structures in your brain that control motivation, processing of emotions, and decision-making got larger during the winter and are now shrinking in size as the weather gets warmer.

What the heck is going on inside our skulls? Don’t be scared – it’s just your brain reacting to the seasons of the year. It’s been going on inside you since you were born – you just never noticed it because the change happens slowly over a long interval.

Some of the brain changes that are seasonal in nature are more obvious than others:

  1. Seasonal Affected Disorder is a mood change that happens in the winter. It seems...
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How Giving Gets You Far More

What do you have such a passion for that you give up your free time to support it? For some people, that’s a sport they play. For some, it’s a hobby like sewing or gardening. And for some, it’s being part of an organization in some sort of volunteer capacity. And whether you know it or not, the world runs on volunteers.

Scout leader. Children’s sports coach. Race official. Civic organization board member. Blood donor. Adopt-a-road clean-up crew. There are so many ways to give your time and talents to something you’re passionate about.

What is it for you? This week is your week – it’s National Volunteer Week. The word “volunteer” came into use in the 1600’s describing men in France who offered themselves up for military duty. It soon came to describe anyone who did work without expecting payment for it, and President Richard Nixon signed the executive order that recognized the value of volunteerism and volunteers in 1974 by...

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