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Know & Grow Monthly Magazine
“I have always looked at life as a voyage,
mostly wonderful, sometimes frightening.
In my family and friends I have discovered
treasure more valuable than gold."

~ Jimmy Buffet... Daily Inspirational Quotes

April 27, 2009


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THIS WEEK'S ISSUE


From the Inside Out...
The Baggy Yellow Shirt


Fascinating Facts...
Gesundheit!


Words from the Wise...
Adventures of an Incurable
Optimist - Michael J. Fox


Yes You Can!...
Just Say "No" to Aging?


Far Horizons...
Australia's Ayers Rock


Just for YOU...
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From the Inside OutThe Yellow Shirt
THE BAGGY YELLOW SHIRT

The baggy yellow shirt had long sleeves, four extra-large pockets trimmed in black thread, and snaps up the front. It was faded from years of wear, but still in decent shape.

I found it in 1963 when I was home from college on Christmas break, rummaging through bags of clothes Mom intended to give away.

"You're not taking that old thing, are you?" Mom said when she saw me packing the yellow shirt. "I wore that when I was pregnant with your brother in 1954!"

"It's just the thing to wear over my clothes during art class, Mom. Thanks!" I slipped it into my suitcase before she could object.

The yellow shirt became a part of my college wardrobe. I loved it. After graduation, I wore the shirt the day I moved into my new apartment and on Saturday mornings when I cleaned.

The next year, I married. When I became pregnant, I wore the yellow shirt during big-belly days. I missed Mom and the rest of my family, since we were in Colorado and they were in Illinois. But that shirt helped. I smiled, remembering that Mother had worn it when she was pregnant, 15 years earlier.

That Christmas, mindful of the warm feelings the shirt had given me, I patched one elbow, wrapped it in holiday paper and sent it to Mom. When Mom wrote to thank me for her "real" gifts, she said the yellow shirt was lovely. She never mentioned it again.

The next year, my husband, daughter, and I stopped at Mom and Dad's to pick up some furniture. Days later, when we uncrated the kitchen table, I noticed something yellow taped to its bottom. The shirt!

And so the pattern was set. On our next visit home, I secretly placed the shirt under Mom and Dad's mattress. I don't know how long it took for her to find it, but almost two years passed before I discovered it under the base of our living-room floor lamp. The yellow shirt was just what I needed now while refinishing furniture. The walnut stains added character.

In 1975, my husband and I divorced. With my three children, I prepared to move back to Illinois. As I packed, a deep depression overtook me. I wondered if I could make it on my own. I wondered if I would find a job.

Unpacking in our new home, I knew I had to get the shirt back to Mother. The next time I visited her, I tucked it in her bottom dresser drawer.

Meanwhile, I found a good job at a radio station. A year later, I discovered the yellow shirt hidden in a rag bag in my cleaning closet. Something new had been added. Embroidered in bright green across the breast pocket were the works "I BELONG TO PAT."

Not to be outdone, I got out my own embroidery materials and added an apostrophe and seven more letters. Now the shirt proudly proclaimed, "I BELONG TO PAT'S MOTHER."

But I didn't stop there. I zigzagged all the frayed seams, then had a friend mail the shirt in a fancy box to Mom from Arlington, VA. We enclosed an official-looking letter from "The Institute for the Destitute," announcing that she was the recipient of an award for good deeds. I would have given anything to see Mom's face when she opened the box.

But, of course, she never mentioned it. Two years later, in 1978, I remarried. The day of our wedding, Harold and I put our car in a friend's garage to avoid practical jokers. After the wedding, while my husband drove us to our honeymoon suite, I reached for a pillow in the car to rest my head. It felt lumpy. I unzipped the case and found, wrapped in wedding paper, the yellow shirt.

The shirt was Mother's final gift. She had known for three months that she had terminal Lou Gehrig's disease. Mother died the following year at age 57.

I was tempted to send the yellow shirt with her to her grave, but I'm glad I didn't because it is a vivid reminder of the love-filled game she and I played for 16 years. Besides, my older daughter is in college now, majoring in art. And every art student needs a baggy yellow shirt with big pockets.


~~ Patricia Lorenz, 'Chicken Soup for the Soul'
~ Contributed by Diane in St. George, Utah


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Words from the Wise

ADVENTURES OF AN INCURABLE OPTIMIST — MICHAEL J. FOX...

Michael makes an emotional return to ABC on Thursday, May 7 with"Michael J. Fox: Adventures of an Incurable Optimist" . His triumphant spirit and positive attitude, considering his daily fight against an incurable neurological syndrome, may make you wonder how he remains an incurable optimist ...

Since his diagnosis with Parkinson's Disease cut short his acting career, Michael has every reason to be a pessimist. Instead, he's doing a one-hour special about the nature of OPTIMISM.
Michael travels across the globe to explore the enduring strength of hope, visiting Bhutan, a tiny Himalayan nation that's so invested in its people's well-being that it actually monitors the country's Gross National Happiness.

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Inspiration Online Magazine
Ye
s You Can!

JUST SAY "NO" TO AGING?

A provocative new book from a Harvard psychologist suggests that changing how we think about our age and health can have dramatic physical benefits. Imagine that you could rewind the clock 20 years. It's 1989. Madonna is topping the pop charts, and TV sets are tuned to "Cheers" and "Murphy Brown." Widespread Internet use is just a pipe dream, and Sugar Ray Leonard and Joe Montana are on recent covers of Sports Illustrated.

But most important, you're 20 years younger. How do you feel? Well, if you're at all like the subjects in a thought-provoking experiment by Harvard psychologist Ellen Langer, you actually feel as if your body clock has been turned back two decades.

Langer studied a group of elderly men some years ago, retrofitting an isolated old New England hotel so that every visible sign said it was 20 years earlier. The men — in their late 70s and early 80s — were told not to reminisce about the past, but to actually act as if they had traveled back in time.

The idea was to see if changing the men's mindset about their own age might lead to actual changes in health and fitness.

Langer's findings were stunning: After just one week, the men in the experimental group (compared with controls of the same age) had more joint flexibility, increased dexterity and less arthritis in their hands. Their mental acuity had risen measurably, and they had improved gait and posture. Outsiders who were shown the men's photographs judged them to be significantly younger than the controls. In other words, the aging process had in some measure been reversed.

I know this sounds a bit woo-wooey, but stay with me. Langer and her Harvard colleagues have been running similarly inventive experiments for decades, and the accumulated weight of the evidence is convincing. Her theory, argued in her new book, "Counterclockwise," (see below) is that we are all victims of our own stereotypes about aging and health. We mindlessly accept negative cultural cues about disease and old age, and these cues shape our self-concepts and our behavior.

If we can shake loose from the negative clichés that dominate our thinking about health, we can "mindfully" open ourselves to possibilities for more productive lives even into old age.

Consider another of Langer's mindfulness studies, this one using an ordinary optometrist's eye chart. That's the chart with the huge E on top, and descending lines of smaller and smaller letters that eventually become unreadable. Langer and her colleagues wondered: what if we reversed it?

The regular chart creates the expectation that at some point you will be unable to read. Would turning the chart upside down reverse that expectation, so that people would expect the letters to become readable?

That's exactly what they found. The subjects still couldn't read the tiniest letters, but when they were expecting the letters to get more legible, they were able to read smaller letters than they could have normally.

Their expectation — their mindset — improved their actual vision. That means that some people may be able to change prescriptions if they change the way they think about seeing. But other health consequences might be more important than that.

Here's another study, this one using clothing as a trigger for aging stereotypes. Most people try to dress appropriately for their age, so clothing in effect becomes a cue for ingrained attitudes about age. But what if this cue disappeared? Langer decided to study people who routinely wear uniforms as part of their work life, and compare them with people who dress in street clothes. She found that people who wear uniforms missed fewer days owing to illness or injury, had fewer doctors' visits and hospitalizations, and had fewer chronic diseases — even though they all had the same socioeconomic status.

That's because they were not constantly reminded of their own aging by their fashion choices.

The health differences were even more exaggerated when Langer looked at affluent people: presumably the means to buy even more clothes provides a steady stream of new aging cues, which wealthy people internalize as unhealthy attitudes and expectations. Langer is not advocating that we all don uniforms. Her point is that we are surrounded every day by subtle signals that aging is an undesirable period of decline. These signals make it difficult to age gracefully.

Similar signals also lock all of us — regardless of age — into pigeonholes for disease. We are too quick to accept diagnostic categories like cancer and depression, and let them define us.

Doing so preempts the possibility of a healthful future. That's not to say that we won't encounter illness, bad moods or a stiff back — or that dressing like a teenager will eliminate those things.

But with a little mindfulness, we can try to embrace uncertainty and understand that the way we feel today may or may not connect to the way we will feel tomorrow.

Who knows, if we're open to the idea that things can improve, we just might wake up feeling 20 years younger.

~By Wray Herbert., Newsweek.com
Herbert writes the blog "We're Only Human" at
www.psychologicalscience.org/onlyhuman

(Contributed by Jean at www.JeanSutherland.com )



Immensely readable and riveting, Counterclockwise offers a transformative and bold new paradigm: the psychology of possibility. A hopeful and groundbreaking book by an author who has changed how people all over the world think and feel, Counterclockwise is sure to join Mindfulness as a standard source on new-century science and healing.


COUNTERCLOCKWISE:

Mindful Health and the Power of Possibility

If we could turn back the clock psychologically, could we also turn it back physically? For more than thirty years, award-winning social psychologist Ellen Langer has studied this provocative question, and now, in Counterclockwise, she presents the answer: Opening our minds to what’s possible, instead of presuming impossibility, can lead to better health–at any age. Drawing on landmark work in the field and her own body of colorful and highly original experiments–including the first detailed discussion of her “counterclockwise” study, in which elderly men lived for a week as though it was 1959 and showed dramatic improvements in their hearing, memory, dexterity, appetite, and general well-being – Langer shows that the magic of rejuvenation and ongoing good health lies in being aware of the ways we mindlessly react to social and cultural cues. Examining the hidden decisions and vocabulary that shape the medical world (“chronic” versus “acute,” “cure” versus “remission”), the powerful physical effects of placebos, and the intricate but often defeatist ways we define our physical health, Langer challenges the idea that the limits we assume and impose on ourselves are real. With only subtle shifts in our thinking, in our language, and in our expectations, she tells us, we can begin to change the ingrained behaviors that sap health, optimism, and vitality from our lives. Improved vision, younger appearance, weight loss, and increased longevity are just four of the results that Langer has demonstrated.

By Ellen J. Langer

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Far Horizons

AUSTRALIA'S AYERS ROCK


Ayers Rock Australia
AYERS ROCK IS ONE OF THE OLDEST SANDSTONE FORMATIONS ON EARTH
Learn More Here

Uluru, also known as Ayers Rock, is a large sandstone rock formation in central Australia, in the Northern Territory. It is located in Uluru-Kata Tjura National Park, 440 km southwest of Alice Springs. Uluru is sacred to the Pitjantjatjara and Yankunytjatjara, the Aboriginal people of the area. It has many springs, waterholes, rock caves and ancient paintings. Uluru is listed as a World Heritage Site for its natural and man-made attributes. In October 1872 the explorer Ernest Giles was the first non-indigenous person to sight the rock formation. He saw it from a considerable distance, and was prevented by Lake Amadeus from approaching closer. He described it as “the remarkable pebble”. On 19 July 1873, the surveyor William Gosse visited the rock and named it Ayers Rock in honor of the then Chief Secretary of South Australia, Sir Henry Ayers. The Aboriginal name was first recorded by the Wills expedition in 1903. Since then, both names have been used, although Ayers Rock was the most common name used by outsiders until recently. In 1993, a dual naming policy was adopted that allowed official names that consist of both the traditional Aboriginal name and the English name. “Uluru/Ayers Rock” became the first officially dual named feature in the Northern Territory.

Pitjantjatjara Aborigine - Inspiration Line Online Magazine
PITJANTJATJARA ABORIGINE AT ULURU/AYERS ROCK

The beginning of human settlement in the Uluru region has not been determined, but archaeological findings to the east and west indicate a date more than 10,000 years ago. On 26 October 1985, the Australian government returned ownership of Uluru to the local Pitjantjatjara Aborigines. Around Mount Uluru there are many examples of ancestral sites. The Anangu explanations of these sites and of the formation of Mount Uluru itself derive from the Tjukurpa. Most of these explanations are in the realm of secret information and are not disclosed to Piranypa, the non-Aborigines. In order to understand the religion of the Aborigines, one must have a basic understanding of the organization of the tribes. All men and women belong to small groups, called clans. Each clan posses a distinct body of spiritual properties, or sacred sites and has a totem. Totemism is a view of nature and life, of the universe and man, which colors and influences the Aborigines' social groupings and mythologies, inspires their rituals and links them to the past. It unites them with nature's activities and species in a bond of mutual life-giving, and imparts confidence amidst the vicissitudes of life.


Ikari cave on the eastern face of Uluru

Ikari Cave on the eastern face of Uluru: The wagtailwoman
Tjintirtjintirpa was in this cave when she heard the sounds of ceremony,
sounds that made her laugh. This laugh was later carved out of Uluru
in the shape of a mouth; Ikari is the Anangu word for mouth.

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