shelter us, shade us, clean our air, enhance landscapes, provide
habitat for wildlife and invite us to gather. Areas with trees have less
violence and less pollution, while conserving energy and increasing
property values. Memories are created in the shade of trees: on lawns,
parks and other green spaces. Although sentimental about the trees of
our youth, it’s important to choose trees native
to our area. Florida’s native trees provide habitat for local wildlife,
have a better chance of survival and enhance our eco-system.
The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now. (Chinese proverb)
In Florida, we love shade! The City of Orlando holds the title: “Longest Running Active Tree City USA” in Florida. Currently, our explosive growth and development threatens our landscapes and canopies. Some of us are bummed about the loss of the beautiful, mature trees which lined the I-4 corridor. While there are plans to replant, it will take years to re-establish the landscapes and canopies. As Arbor Day approaches (Friday, April 26th), consider working together to create more public and private green spaces in our lawns, parks and city scapes. Some cities/communities offer free tree planting programs (City of Orlando link). Search for your area: enter your specific location and “free trees.” You might be surprised by what’s available.
If we told you that adopting 9 simple lifestyle habits could dramatically extend your life; would you change your lifestyle? In 2004, a group of researchers teamed up with National Geographic to scout out pockets of longevity worldwide. Their 5 designated “Blue Zones” are virtually disease-free, as well as geographically and ethnically diverse. In each location, large numbers of residents live to 100 or older. Here are the identified common lifestyle characteristics.
9 Lifestyle Elements Centenarians Share Worldwide
Plant-based diets – some meat, vegetarians have a head start here
1 glass of wine a day w/ friends at meals (4 of the 5 groups)
Belong to strong social networks (often faith-based)
“Hara hachi bu” Japanese for eat until you are 80% full
Routines that reduce stress – we’re fond of massage for this one
“Ikigal/ plan de vida” – maintain a sense of purpose for your life
Put loved ones first
Hang with the Right Tribe (others with similar health behaviors)
Dive in, do some research. While some cities and communities are working to incorporate longevity lifestyles into their communities, you could take a do-it-yourself approach. The 9 key lifestyle habits are a great match for Florida year round outdoor living: walking, gardening, swimming, fishing, canoeing, kayaking, bird-watching, biking etc. Live long and prosper!
There are many natural ways to reduce your stress levels. Massage, as you may know, helps lower both your stress levels and your blood pressure. Exercise, being in nature, meditation, practicing yoga, hanging out with friends, laughing, talk therapy and support groups also help to decrease stress and anxiety. As stress and anxiety are cumulative, so are the benefits of self-awareness and self-care. Practice self-care and seek a health professional if your stress levels begin to affect your health.
“Beyond all ideas of right and wrong there is a field, I will meet you there” Rumi
Journaling is a wonderful way to start your year. It’s even good for your health. Clean pages beckon (instead of blink) ready to capture your musings, sort feelings and goals, and create something new. Like a composer who wakes to write down notes that came in sleep, your journal awaits. When you a have a place to write your intuitions, ideas for art, books, projects and dreams, more will come.
Helpers. Many tools can inspire: friends, books, blogs and articles. A nice niche, comfy chair or sunny spot to write helps with inspiration.
Materials. Journals can be lovely sheets of fine paper or simple notebooks. A pen that pleases you, flows well onto paper is an asset, not a necessity. Browse in a bookstore, many journals and notebooks are on sale this time of year.
Prompts. If the writing doesn’t flow, use “prompts” to get started. A favorite quote, an image, a random observation will work. Use a beautiful object, an act of kindness, music, a frustration, a question with no answer, an overheard conversation, a memory. I usually find a strong image or quote to start an article.
Give your creative self a place and time to share. Affirm,
resolve, doodle, press flowers, sketch, include photos and momentos. Record happy and sad moments, wins and
losses. See it’s really all yours. Handle with care, no preconceptions, no
judgment, no rights or wrongs.
Feeling overwhelmed? Dread the flurries of shoppers, wrapping, shipping, and exchanging? Do we really need more stuff anyway? Consider reinventing your gift giving this year. Here’s some starter ideas…
Choose a theme. Nostalgia’s a good one: give gifts that educate or (gasp) require face-to-face interaction. Board games, puzzles, legos (not just for kids), cards. Focus on animals. Give zoo tickets, a cat tree, or stuffed animals (endangered species are good) a bird house (or kit) or adopt a wild animal like a manatee or dolphin.
Foodie Goodies. Choose food-related gifts, gourmet treats, heirloom seeds for spring gardens, organic veggies or flowers. Gift certificates for local gourmet specialty store like a chocolate shop or a wine store. Ship some juicy Florida fruit to your freezing peeps in the North.
Keep It Green. Consider sustainable, recyclable gifts that are ethical, earth-friendly, locally grown. Consider gardening books, tools or seeds. Buy gift certificates for classes like cooking, gardening, kayaking or paddle boarding. (Let Google do the searching).
Practice Gratitude. Some of us already have so much. No matter how you choose to celebrate the Holidays, take a moment to breathe and reflect on all we have been given. And then give to others from that place, the space of gratitude.
Each new school year, parents and kids shift into “go-go gear”. Anticipation, preparation and time-juggling increases stress for all. Classwork and homework, extracurriculars, relationships and social media generate even more stress. A recent study found that teens now report stress levels as high as those of adults.
In the classroom, stressed brains have trouble learning. To reduce stress and improve learning, some classrooms are sprouting yoga mats, meditation pillows and soothing music stations. Activities such as mindfulness, yoga, meditation, progressive muscle relaxation are helping to calm students and contribute to more positive experiences and outcomes.
For fun, take day or weekend road trips this summer with family (or friends). Whether you’re a Florida native or visitor, you probably remember cruising around with your family, playing road-trip bingo and swatting mosquitoes, en route to some fabled Florida roadside attractions.
We sought out performing mermaids, dolphins leaping from small tanks, dinosaurs hanging out in the woods and graceful, water-skiing ballerinas. We swam, snorkeled and tubed in crystal springs and murky rivers. We flocked to alligator and flamingo farms. We hiked or camped in “wild Florida” state parks and wildlife sanctuaries. And we reveled and splashed on the beautiful beaches that frame our amazing coastlines.
Planning your Trip. If kids are involved, ask them to help choose the destinations. It may shock them to learn that before Google and the internet, we relied on billboards, signs and maps to guide us to these mystical places. Central Florida, a popular destination, hosted many roadside attractions before Disney. You may rediscover a few, although most have surrendered to competition, development or kudzu. When you hit the road, see if you can get your passengers to put down their screens and play bingo, “I Spy” or even sing.
No matter what, you’ll share great fun and adventures captured in snapchats, insta’s, selfies and most lasting? Memories!
If you reach the point of thirst, dehydration has begun. The remedy for dehydration is deceptively simple: drink clean, clear water daily. Fortunately, our water supply is abundant and clean. (How the US compares to the rest of the world)
5 Tips Before You Sip
Drink slowly: (avoid “chugging”) to balance your hydration
BYOWB: Carry a refillable water bottle (Father’s Day gift idea)
Limit caffeine: it works against your hydration
Go for 6-8 glasses of water a day (adult dose)
Be wary of “energy drinks”: they pack in sodium, sugar & caffeine
Summer is definitely here! Stock up on watery foods, such as fresh fruits and veggies, which help boost hydration. Go for cool, sweet, juicy watermelon or frozen grapes on hot summer days. We’re big fans of hydration and it’s likely that we’ll remind you to drink some water after your next chair massage 🙂