Health Care Empowerment

Have you ever felt powerless in a health-care setting?

My guess is, we all have.

Whether your visit concerned your own health or the health of a loved one, it’s likely that a combination of worry and doubt (How will I know if I’m getting the best care?) left you feeling vulnerable and defenseless.


Doctor Dan the Bandage Man by Helen Gaspard, courtesy of Little Golden Books via Kilmer House

My gut reaction to this topic drew me to a recent article by Dr. Lissa Rankin published on the MindBodyGreen website.

Dr. Rankin offers tips to help take charge of your health care by being “empowered,” but not “difficult.”

We’ve all heard the adage, “You’ll catch more flies with honey than vinegar.” During a stressful visit to a medical facility, it can be extremely difficult to communicate with personnel without losing your cool.

But Dr. Rankin assures us that speaking up calmly and kindly is often the key to getting attention. That takes true empowerment. Believe that you have every right to know what’s going on—because you do—and voice your concerns with both conviction and compassion.

Of course, there are instances when it makes sense to pack up and take your health concerns elsewhere.

“If your doctor is an ego maniac, I don’t care how skilled your doctor is—find another doctor,” Rankin advises. “If your doctor considers you difficult any time you question an order or ask for a second opinion, your doctor cares more about being in control than doing the right thing. As a physician training other doctors to partner with patients, I guarantee there are wonderful physicians who welcome the partnership of empowered patients and their families.”

Want to learn more? I encourage you to read the full article, “Are You Fed up with Health Care?”

Remember, our bodies, and our wellness, belong to us.


Early Bird vs. Night Owl

Do you consider yourself an early bird?


Image courtesy of The Graphics Fairy

Or are you a night owl?


Image courtesy of The Graphics Fairy

Sorry to break it to the owls, but if you’re waking up early, you’re reaping more than just the proverbial worm.

A new study from the University of Toronto suggests that morning people are actually happier and more satisfied with their lives.

Researchers targeted two age groups: one ranging from age 17 to 38, and the second from 59 to 79. Both groups filled out questionnaires about their emotional state, their general health, and their preferred time of day.

The results showed a gradual transition over time, from night owl to early bird. By age 60, most of us inevitably become “morning people.” Only about seven percent of the population retains night-owl status.

“We found that older adults reported greater positive emotion than younger adults, and older adults were more likely to be morning-type people than younger adults,” said graduate researcher Renee Biss in an interview with LiveScience. “The ‘morningness’ was associated with greater happiness emotions in both age groups.”

Wish you could just magically become an early bird?

It could happen …

“One way to do it is to increase your natural light exposure early in the morning, and to wake up earlier and go to bed earlier,” Biss explained. “It’s easiest if you have a consistent schedule, to make sure you are waking up at the same time every day.”

Or …

you could just get a rooster.


Image courtesy of Leaping Frog Designs

Creative Sayings

Have you seen this list buzzing around on the Web?

Image courtesy of Steampunk's Facebook Page

Image courtesy of Steampunk’s Facebook Page

The ideas are simple and straightforward, but it’s refreshing to check in once in a while to see which ones you’re engaging in—and to try a new one now and then.

You know, to keep things fresh.

I recently heard a saying that could well be added to this list:

Perfect is the enemy of done.

Whenever I find myself nitpicking at details too obsessively, I plan to remind myself of that one.

How about you?

What simple tasks or sayings fuel your creative efforts?

Eagle Flight

Do you need a little lift today?

Well, what if I were to tell you that I could lend you a pair of wings


that would carry you right up over the breathtaking landscape of the French Alps?

Too good to be true?

Just watch:

Go ahead.

Watch it again

(and again).


Is it “real”?

I can’t say for sure, but it convinces me that flying on the back of an eagle feels fabulous.

The footage, uploaded by YouTube user Srachi, was recorded using an action camera attached to the eagle’s back (presumably placed there by a fellow versed in falconry). According to the video’s description, the flight took place near Chamonix-Mont-Blanc in southeastern France.


turtle tears

What do butterflies and turtle tears have in common?

Funny question, I know, but it’s more than mere nonsense.

It turns out that butterflies sip turtle tears to satisfy their need for salt.


Photo courtesy of Lufonz via Flickr, CC BY-ND 3.0

Who even knew that turtles cry, right?

Apparently, it’s not out of sorrow, though—simply an eye-moistening matter.

Even so, there’s something rather fairytale-esque about seeing a butterfly drying a turtle’s tears.

But bees?

Continue reading

Museum Day Live

Are you a museum lover?

Art, history, science … there’s so much fun stuff to explore within the hallowed halls of our nation’s museums.

Photo by Ingfbruno, CC-BY-SA-3.0, vvia Wikimedia Commons

Photo by Ingfbruno, CC-BY-SA-3.0, vvia Wikimedia Commons

And, it just so happens that September 28 is National Museum Day. This tidbit of trivia also comes with a sweet deal: free admission.

Photo by Paul Duke , CC-BY-SA-2.0, via Wikimedia Commonsvia Wikimedia Commons

Photo by Paul Duke , CC-BY-SA-2.0, via Wikimedia Commonsvia Wikimedia Commons

It’s true!

The Smithsonian Institution is sponsoring Museum Day Live, in which participating museums across the country invite visitors to download tickets (one is good for two people) and explore their exhibits for free.

Tickets and a full list of participating museums are available on the Museum Day Live website.

Will you be including a museum in your plans this coming weekend?

Picture this…

Sandra Bullock riding a bicycle with a chicken on her handlebars.

I mean, hey, who hasn’t done that? (Confession: I haven’t, but I want to now.)

Most of us chicken lovers can’t claim super-celebrity status (outside of our own households, anyway).

Photo by Angela George, CC-BY-SA-3.0 , via Wikimedia Commons

Photo by Angela George, CC-BY-SA-3.0 , via Wikimedia Commons

But fame hasn’t stopped Sandra from sticking to her farmgirl roots.

She tells it like it is.

And, according to a recent article in Vogue, chickens are IT.

“Back in California, she keeps chickens named for comediennes: Carol Burnett, Wanda Sykes, and a Phyllis Diller, until she was revealed to be a rooster and rechristened Phil Diller,” reveals interviewer Jason Gay.

Rest assured, her California chickens are not a flight of fancy. Sandra has a history with hens, a longstanding rapport with roosters …

“When I was like 12, I had a chicken named Colonel Sanders and he was not a chicken chicken,” she told Dennis Hensley a few years ago. “He liked people. He would stand on the top of your handlebars while you were riding your bike through the neighborhood.”

Can’t you just see it now?

Something a bit like this:


Photo courtesy of Nana & Baba



DIY High Fructose Corn Syrup

When I first saw this, I scratched my head and wondered … why?

Well, what I’m about to show you may not be at the top of your Christmas list,

but it has a certain novelty all the same.

Take a look:


Photo courtesy of Maya Weinstein via Co.EXIST

Your eyes do not deceive you.

This lovely wooden case indeed contains an undeniably artisan make-your-own high fructose corn syrup kit.


Photo courtesy of Maya Weinstein via Co.EXIST

It includes hard-to-find ingredients such as Yellow Dent #2, glucose isomerase, and sulfuric acid.

Nope, you won’t find those in the baking aisle, girls.

This kit is more “chem lab” than “kitchen.”

You’re wondering, too, aren’t you?

Why on earth would I want to make this sordid sweetener?

As you may have guessed, this is more of a tongue-in-cheek affair, but it doesn’t come without a dose of seriousness.

“The Kit provides the user with a way to directly interact with an ingredient that is typically only produced in large-scale factories behind closed doors,” explains designer Maya Weinstein. “The kit allows everyone to be a citizen food scientist and take control of the mysteries behind industrial food production.”

See what I mean?

Weinstein says that her kits could be used to educate both kids and adults about how processed foods are fabricated, while simultaneously satisfying the mad scientist in us all. “It’s really meant to show you something that you don’t already know—what industrial products are made of.”

It might make a crafty Christmas gift after all!

Weinstein is also contemplating a cookbook with recipes for other industrialized ingredients like food dyes and MSG. Watch her unconventional cooking show below. Do you think it has a chance on the Food Network?

Gnome Homes

Well, after years of being snubbed in jolly old England, it’s no wonder that a handful of red-capped garden residents might find pleasing refuge in the unsuspecting green spaces of Overland Park, Kansas.


Photo by Sassy Gardener via Wikimedia Commons

The Midwest is famous for its hospitality, after all.

But who are these mysterious immigrants?

Perhaps we’ll never know.

They aren’t answering their doors …


Photo courtesy of

According to news network KSHB in Overland Park, “Gnome homes are popping up all over the city.”

That’s right, gnome homes.

Continue reading

Sandpaper Printing

Tell me if I’m reading your mind …


The Crystal Ball by John William Waterhouse via Wikimedia Commons

You have had a longstanding fascination with screen-printing.

Am I right?

No giggling. I know I hit the nail on someone’s head.

Ouch—that’s not exactly what I meant.

But, seriously, who among us hasn’t dreamed of making her own t-shirts, replete with favorite sayings and dreamy designs?

And yet, if you’re anything like me, you just haven’t found the time (or spare pocket change) to invest in one more new venture.

Well, I’m here to tell you that there is a super-easy way to print darling, DIY, vintage-style tees using stuff you probably already have around the house.

Want to try?

The technique is “sandpaper printing,” and while it may sound a little juvenile when I tell you that crayons are involved, hear me out. (We can call the crayons “colored wax sticks” if it makes you feel better—never mind that kids go crazy over this project, too.)

Sandpaper Printing

You’ll Need:

  • Crayons
  • Cotton t-shirt (lighter colors work best)
  • Clothes iron
  • Sandpaper (coarser textured paper will yield a more “pebbled” effect)
  • Stencils, if desired
  • Piece of cardboard slightly bigger than sandpaper
  • Old towel

1. Lightly sketch a design in pencil on the sandpaper. If you’re including words, be sure to write the words AND their letters backwards because the printed image will be a mirror-image of your design (stencils come in very handy here).
2. Use crayons to color your design, using a heavy hand to lay down a thick layer of wax.
3. Place your t-shirt on an ironing board or other flat surface, and slip a piece of cardboard inside it to prevent the design from bleeding onto the other side of the shirt.
4. Position the sandpaper design-side-down on the t-shirt.
5. Lay an old towel over the sandpaper to protect your iron.
6. On high cotton setting, iron the sandpaper for about 45 seconds.
7. Carefully lift a corner of the sandpaper to see if the image has transferred well. If it looks a little light, continue ironing for another 30 seconds. The image will be “gritty,” but that’s part of the vintage appeal.
8. Gently remove the parchment and sandpaper to reveal your design.
9. To launder, wash on cold and tumble dry on low.

Here’s a cute video showing the process: