Thursday, December 27

Merry Hanamas

by Harvey Gould

When I was a youngster, since my birthday is December 22, those who didn’t know our family was Jewish always told my mother, “What a shame! You almost had a Christmas baby!”

My mother dutifully replied, “He was a Hanukah gift!” Oops!

When my wife, Karen, was a youngster, she’d always go to midnight Mass on Christmas Eve, because she was raised in a New York Irish-Catholic family. Meanwhile, I’d be tucked away and slumbering peacefully in my bed in a Chicago suburb dreaming of bagels and cream cheese, not Santa Claus.

Since we tied the Catholic/Jewish knot, we now share a home in which on Friday nights we (more accurately, Karen) light the Shabbos candles and chant the prayer in Hebrew. We also recently finished decorating our house with a “living” Christmas tree, which we intend to plant to start our own Christmas grove to be populated, hopefully, with many annual Christmas trees to come.

The only “conversion” that’s gone on between us is that Karen brought me to love and appreciate all things Irish, which, in turn, led me to write a book covering our extended fourteen trips to the Old Sod over twenty years.

During this season of Hanukah and Christmas, I offer all of you a taste of my wife’s and my blended life together. 

So, rather than wishing some of you a (belated) Happy Hanukah and others a Merry Christmas, I wish you all a Merry Hanamas.

Guest blogger Harvey Gould is the author of A Fierce Local: Memoirs of My Love Affair with Ireland, a finalist in the San Francisco Writers Conference Indie Publishing Contest. For more information, visit or check out Harvey’s blog.

Wednesday, December 19

5 Causes of Falls and Ways to Avoid Them

by Katherine Matutes, Ph.D.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports the 2010 cost of falls among older Americans approached $30 billion. As the country's Baby Boomers continue to age, that cost is only expected to go up each year. 

There are some steps you can take to reduce your risk for falls at any age. Here are five common causes for falls and ways to remedy them.

Trip Hazards – Inspect your environment for trip hazards such as throw rugs, improperly stored shoes, cracks in the sidewalk. Address the changes that need to made in your home and scan for balance challenges when you are out and about.

Poor Vision – Individuals with poor vision, untreated cataracts or glaucoma have among the highest fall rates. Maintain a current prescription for your glasses or contacts if you need corrective eyewear and have an annual eye exam.

Loss of muscle strength – Muscle weaknesses can make it difficult to execute everyday movements. Perform exercises that mimic your everyday balance challenges; for example if stepping out of the tub is difficult for you, practice leg lifts with one hand supported by a counter or chair to strengthen the muscle used to complete the leg lifting motion.

Medication prompted dizziness – Some medications can alter your balance and increase the chances of falling. Be sure to check with your doctor or pharmacist about the risk of balance challenges with both prescription drugs and over the counter medications to increase your awareness consuming them.

Loss of flexibility or range of motion – As we age some individuals begin to shorten their walking gait in response to a loss of flexibility in the leg or hip muscles, this produces a gait referred to as the “senior shuffle” where feet are scooted across the floor instead of picked up for each step.  The scooting motion itself increase the chances of catching a toe and tripping, but the shuffling also decreases a person's base of balance and makes it easier for them to wobble. Attend a tai chi or gentle yoga class to maintain your flexibility and range of motion of your joints.

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Tuesday, December 18

A Fitting Attitude

by Terri Lynn

We get our clothes altered to fit our body, but what about our attitude?

How often do we even think about our attitude, or make adjustments?

As a sales manager my job is to motivate others. “Attitude, more than aptitude, will give you altitude in life,” I often tell my team.

In order to motivate others, I need to keep myself in a positive state. This is something I work on every day. For me, the attitude of gratitude works the best. If ever I feel a bit down, I make a list of all that I am grateful for. Gratitude brings me right back up.

Happiness is a choice and depends on you. What you think matters.

My own personal experience has taught me clearly that it is possible to be happy, no matter what the circumstances are, when you make the choice and the commitment to be happy.

When you have a "can-do" attitude, you will do whatever it takes. A positive outlook will raise your happiness level. What you look for in life affects what you see. The Pessimist and the Optimist both see the same world, but the Optimist chooses to look for what makes her happy. You can do the same.

When the attitude is right the facts don’t matter. No matter what is going on around you, you have control of what is inside you. When you are responsible, you empower yourself to create the life you desire. Live happy.

Guest blogger Terri Lynn is a motivational speaker and author of the book Journey To My Soul. You can visit her page on Twitter.

Thursday, December 13


by Katherine Matutes, Ph.D.

The late fall ushers in many unique produce flavors.

One of my favorites is pomegranates, which are believed to have originated in Persia (modern day Iran).

The name pomegranate is derived from Latin pōmum "apple" and grānātum "seeded", which is an apt description. Pomegranates have an apple like ordinary exterior that belies its interior filled with beautiful jewel-like seeds called avrils.

Pomegranate avrils are a good source of vitamin C, Pantothenic acid, potassium and many unique phenolic compounds. They are also an excellent source of fiber, providing up to 11 grams per pomegranate. Several preliminary studies indicate that these attributes may help reduce cardiovascular disease risk.

Aside from their health benefits, pomegranates are delicious and have wonderfully diverse culinary uses. They are great in salsas, soups, pasta, as a salsa and just plain, right out of the fruit.

The dark juice stains readily so be sure to wear an apron when preparing one. Cut the pomegranate into quarters and turn the peel inside out as you gently coax out the avrils. Avrils are easiest to remove from the membrane in a bowl of water. The avrils will sink while the undesirable membrane will float to the surface, making it easier to separate them.

Pomegranate season is typically October through January, so hurry to give them a try before they disappear from the produce aisle.

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