Friday, 19 December 2008

Thursday, 18 December 2008

Self-improvement: the journey begins with you

About this time of year, we begin to examine what we've accomplished in the past. Whether it's this past year, the past five years, or in our lives up to now. Some of us will come up with New Year's Resolutions. Some of us will just create a list of more things to do. And some of us will continue moving through life without a plan.

I'm a planner myself. I like to have an idea of where I'm going before I set off on the trail to find whatever it is I'm looking for. I do kind of like to know what's up ahead. But sometimes, that's not possible. Up ahead may be obstacles I'm not aware of or don't know might step out in front of me, trying to block the way.

If this happens to you, do you know how you will respond? Will you accept the obstacle for what it is and work toward figuring out a way around it, over it, or under it? Will you stumble and not know which way to turn? Will you stand still, paralyzed from fear or shame or guilt? Perhaps you just might sit down right there on the path and wait for someone to come and show you the way out.

If you intend to continue moving forward in 2009, it might be a good idea to get to know your personal philosophy when it comes to dealing with obstacles. There is no wrong or right answer; it just has to do what will work best for you in your situation. And it's a good idea to have options to consider, so you have processes to can test to find your answer.

With the world economy the way it is, we can all relate to a bit of uncertainty that may not have been there this time last year. The benefit of this is that it means we are not alone. I think that's a good message to take with you into the new year. Know that you are not alone.

As you continue to improve your life, creating the success you know you deserve, help me help you and others out there to create a plan that will work for each of us. In order to move beyond the obstacles that we have experienced in the past, are dealing with now, or might face in the future, post a comment today. Tell me about the strategies you've found most helpful to overcome any of the following:

_a divorce
_the loss of a job
_death of a close relative
_guilt from past mistakes
_unresolved relationship issues
_difficult work environment
_financial concerns
_overscheduled calendar
_transportation problems
_household budget challenges

At some point or another in my life, I've experienced all of the above, and I can tell you from this experience that you will never be without a challenge of some kind. Life comes with lots of layers. That's what makes it most interesting. You'll confront good things, sometimes really awful times, and frequently surprising outcomes. Although we may not always know how to prepare for something that might be upsetting, might seem difficult to handle, or might result in joy we didn't even know to expect, the unknowns won't matter so much if you're prepared to respond, no matter what.

Together, we can offer suggestions, thoughts and ideas that might help. You see, it's called self-improvement for good reason. That's where the journey begins.

Thanks, in advance, for your comments.

Patient Placement Systems Selects Iatric Systems, Inc. to Deliver Interfaces for MEDITECH Healthcare Information Systems

Atlanta, Ga. (PRWEB) October 30, 2008 -- Patient Placement Systems, the leading provider of Web-based admissions and referral automation software for hospitals and long-term care (, has selected Iatric Systems, Inc. to develop interfaces for MEDITECH healthcare software solutions. Under the partnership agreement, Iatric Systems will help healthcare providers link their MEDITECH hospital information systems and Patient Care Technologies home health management systems with the Patient Placement Web-based software solutions for online admissions and referral management.

"Iatric Systems has decades of experience developing hundreds of interfaces for MEDITECH systems," said Eric Christ, president of Patient Placement Systems. "Healthcare providers benefit when their software vendors help them make critical software systems work together, and Iatric Systems is an experienced leader that will help our customers connect with the more than 2,200 healthcare providers using MEDITECH and PtCT solutions."

The Patient Placement Discharge Referral System and Referral Management System automate and accelerate admissions and referral processes for continuing care providers and hospitals. The Web-based services replace manual paper-and-fax admissions and discharge referrals with a few simple mouse clicks, helping providers and hospitals admit and place qualified patients faster.

"We've implemented more than 6,000 interfaces to facilities using the MEDITECH healthcare information system," said Joel Berman, president of Iatric Systems. "We're pleased to partner with Patient Placement Systems to help healthcare providers work more effectively. Our interfaces will connect the customer's MEDITECH system with Patient Placement's innovative online referral management and admissions automation software."

About Patient Placement Systems Patient Placement Systems ( helps hospitals and long-term care providers replace mountains of paper and fax frustration with fast, efficient online healthcare software for discharge planning and patient admissions and referral management. Patient Placement Systems is a proud Jackson Healthcare Solutions company, sharing a common dedication to providing the world's best healthcare software, technology and services. For more information, visit or call 877-748-6656.

About Iatric Systems: Since 1990, Iatric Systems has been helping hospitals and health systems leverage their HCIS investment by providing innovative software, interfaces and reporting services; most notably for the MEDITECH HCIS. More than 800 hospitals and health systems worldwide have implemented Iatric Systems' solutions in order to optimize patient care and improve workflow efficiencies in clinical, financial and administrative areas. Iatric Systems is committed to providing solutions with exceptional value backed by outstanding customer service. For more information about Iatric Systems, its products, and its services, call 978-805-4100 or visit

Susan Lark, MD Offers 5 Tips for Managing Stress During Tough Economic Times

Susan Lark, MD, noted medical researcher, clinical nutritionist and women's health practitioner, shares her top 5 tips to help deal with the added stress caused by the volatile economy.

Potomac, MA (PRWEB) October 30, 2008 -- Susan Lark, MD, noted medical researcher, clinical nutritionist and women's health practitioner, shares her top 5 tips to help deal with the added stress caused by the volatile economy.

"Without a doubt, these tough economic times can have a lot of negative effects on your body and mind, including stress, insomnia, tension, anxiety, depression, weakened immunity, and illness," says Dr. Lark. "You may be nervous about your future because your retirement accounts have lost value. Or maybe you're concerned about your income or job security. Certainly, there are a lot of scenarios that can cause a great deal of worry right now. That's why it's more important than ever to take a step back, take a deep breath, and focus on what you can control -- your own health."

Here are five Dr. Lark's tried-and-true tips for managing stress:
1. Make sure you sleep soundly at night. Anxiety and depression can lead to sleep disturbances, and without enough sleep, your body and immune system can't function properly. To help you relax and fall asleep every night, Dr. Lark recommends taking 1-1.5 mg of melatonin each evening about two hours before bedtime, although you may see results using as little as 300 mcg.
2. Boost your energy reserves. If you're feeling sluggish and worn out, there are several nutrients that can boost your energy. Dr. Lark recommends taking 250 mcg of vitamin B12 a day, 250 mg of L-tyrosine a day, and/or 1,000 mg of L-carnitine a day in divided doses.
3. Build resistance to illness. Stress can lead to weakened immunity, therefore making you vulnerable to colds, sinus infections, the flu, and other illnesses. You are better off boosting your resistance to illness while you're healthy than trying to build it back up when you're sick. Dr. Lark recommends taking a high-quality multinutrient along with mineral-buffered vitamin C (1-2 grams in divided doses).
4. Reduce stress by exercising. Exercise is one of the best ways to reduce stress-not to mention lose weight and improve your overall health. Dr. Lark recommends going for an hour-long walk every day outdoors in the fresh air. While walking, take your mind off your worries and instead, focus on your breathing and enjoy your surroundings.
5. Stay positive. Having a positive attitude can be tough, especially when everything you hear in the news is negative. But, keep in mind, maintaining a positive belief system is crucial in creating your own reality, even in the midst of a greater reality like the bad economy. So try to identify at least one positive thing every day-even if it has nothing to do with the economy. You also may want to recite upbeat affirmations to yourself, such as "I am a strong, positive, upbeat woman." In addition, nurture your relationships. Financial security may be important, but love is the true currency that you can depend on each and every day without fail.

"The more negative things seem to get, the more crucial it becomes to focus on the good in life-such as love, relationships, and even your health, says Dr. Lark. "I simply won't let worries about the economy affect my health. If you nurture yourself and stay healthy, you can weather any storm. And I tell my patients the same thing."

Dr. Lark has devoted her career to raising awareness of women's health issues, such as PMS, obesity, hormone replacement therapy and osteoporosis. She pioneered the use of women's self-care treatments based on diet, nutrition, exercise and stress management, and has penned twelve books on women's health and healing. Her most recent title is Hormone evolution.

Her monthly newsletter, Women's Wellness Today, and her web site,, are dedicated to educating and empowering women to make the best choices for optimum health and beauty. Online visitors may sign up for Dr. Lark's free biweekly e-newsletter, which presents breaking health and beauty news along with lifestyle tips, easy recipes and simple exercises for health and beauty.

Healthy Directions, LLC is the recognized leader in providing authoritative health and beauty solutions to consumers. In addition to producing online resources and publishing newsletters, Healthy Directions, LLC encompasses its subsidiary, Doctors' Preferred, Inc. (DPI), a vitamin and nutritional supplement business that markets primarily through direct mail. Located in the Greater Washington, D.C., area, Healthy Directions, LLC ( is a leading publisher in America. The company provides quality products and services for the health and beauty marketplaces.

Something On Life

Something On Life

Wednesday, 17 December 2008

Tuesday, 16 December 2008

A photo to soothe your soul

It's such a small image from the entire scene that summer day in Prescott, but it speaks to me without words. And sometimes, we need that.

Precious Words.......

Precious Words.......

Monday, 15 December 2008

Saturday, 13 December 2008

Will a bad economy unleash the bullies?

As you know, I focus my BIKE work around challenges we face in our lives. One them may involve bullying.

It's been in the news a lot recently. Most of those stories, however, have centered around bullying children. An article I read online last week suggests bullying might even become more of a problem in the workplace now, because people are under stress from the economic downturn. This is happening worldwide. To get to the bottom of this issue and what we can do about it, I asked someone I know to see what she had to say.

The person I turned to, Jean McFarland, specializes in dealing with culture-based conflict among employees. She's recently published a book about the topic, called BULLIES AMONG US: What To Do When Work's No Fun, in which she addresses the topic, its challenges, and the possible solutions to combating what could be, if this news report is accurate, an escalating problem for employers in the coming months.

If you happen to be one of those employers, if you're an employee dealing with bullying, if you've ever been affected by bullying behavior, you might be interested in what Jean has to say:

Based on the article that suggests bullying in the workplace could become more of a problem now, what's your view?
I wouldn’t say bullying is caused by the current economic situation, but I would say the added stress of the economic situation aggravates already existing situations and intensifies bullying. We will see more and worse cases of bullying, but perhaps less action, both from a legislative standpoint and within organizations, as people focus on what they see as bigger problems [economic].

If, as your book states, two out of five employees experience bullying in the workplace, and if 64 percent of those targeted by bullies are driven to quit their jobs, why isn't this more of a concern to employers?
I think your underlying question is Why do employers keep bullies despite the fact that almost 40% of employees have experienced bullying and 64% of targets are driven out of their jobs? There are multiple reasons. Here are a few:

-The vast majority of workplace bullies are “bosses” of their targets. Therefore they have power and are more likely to be believed.
-The boss’ superior doesn’t want to admit he/she made a mistake in hiring the bully
-A blind eye is turned by all toward bullying behaviors as simply “differences in personality” or “that’s just the way he/she is.”
-Many organizations have no policy in place for dealing with bullies.
-Employers don’t know the real cost of workplace bullying.

As a target of bullying yourself, how did you respond?
When I was bullied in various workplaces, I didn’t know about workplace bullies. That seems strange to me now. How could I not know? But I find that people still don’t recognize the behavior they have tolerated as being bullying. People at my presentations make comments such as “I didn’t know I was bullied. I thought I just had a really mean boss.” Upper-management people who have read my book express their ah-ha’s when they realize that some really difficult people they have had to work with or for were actually bullies toward them.
My response was always to try harder to get along with the individual and to try to improve my productivity. Of course, that is exactly the wrong response toward bullies. In turn, they step up their bullying activities. As with the majority of targets, eventually I separated from the bully—either I left or, in one case, the bully left.

Do you see a correlation between those who are bullied at home and those who are bullied at work?
This is a difficult question. Workplace bullies generally target people or teams whom they find threatening and/or superior to them in some way. I believe domestic bullies are likely to be workplace bullies.

In one of your personal stories cited in the book, you mentioned that you'd lost respect for the boss. Does that make the situation worse for the target?
Does loss of respect for the boss make the situation worse? In the case you reference, I don’t know if my boss understood I had lost respect for him or if it made any difference to him. I believe he had been a bully before he met me and would be a bully to someone wherever he was. Many bullies are serial bullies. In fact, research shows that after targets leave, some bullies adopt a new target within 30 minutes.

For the 39 percent of those who are bullied, those who you say file complaints, what is the usual result of this? How encouraging is this for the target?
To date, results are discouraging. The situation is often made worse for the target. This is why I wrote BULLIES AMONG US. I want targets and managers to know they can take actions themselves against bullying, because they probably won’t receive much help.

What is the number one thing the target can do when first approached by a bully?
Of course, this varies with the situation. One of the 8 actions to take that I name in my book is to Make a Decision whether or not, given the situation, the target wants to confront the bully. If so, I suggest having witnesses. Definitely, I would suggest writing down all the details of the incident. In my book, I present a form that targets can use to keep a record of all encounters. For example, date and place, of course, but also witnesses, words spoken, behaviors, etc.

What is the number one thing an employer should do when made aware of bullying behavior in the workplace?
Take action. Believe that an incident occurred until proven otherwise. Get all the details. Talk with the involved parties together to try to understand what’s going on. Keep a record of the complaint, the meeting, and results. Definitely do not blow it off as a personality conflict.

If there’s no policy against workplace bullying, one should be instituted as quickly as possible. All employees should be informed the policy exists, how bullying is defined, bullying won’t be tolerated, what to do if bullying behaviors are witnessed or experienced. This information should be posted where employees of all levels will see it.

To read more, you can find Jean's book, BULLIES AMONG US: What To Do When Work's No Fun, online at and also at Barnes & Noble. If you have any questions of your own for Jean, post them here, and I'll ask her to respond. Otherwise, you can read more about Jean's thoughts on bullying at her blog.

If you like what you read here, let me know. I'll be including more author interviews or book reviews in the future. As Jean and I agree, awareness can help you combat the challenges in life. If it's not bullying, it might besomething else.
Thanks for visiting.

Friday, 12 December 2008

And then there's the Caylee Anthony story

If you're not bummed about the economy, how about this story?

The detectives now have a skull, maybe other bones, and possibly more evidence to connnect Casey Anthony to her daughter's disappearance (or death?) last summer in Orlando, Fla.

If you haven't been following this story, it's one of the saddest I can recall since the Scott Peterson (A man who killed his own wife pregnant with his unborn child!) conviction.

Today, though, I doubt the poor enonomy can trump this current story that may involve the death of a toddler by the hands of her own mother. It's just too hard to believe. Greed, I get. Taking the life of your own baby, I do not.

I've know a lot of people are criticizing the grandparents for trying to protect their daughter, but I can't help but think about what they've been going through these past six months or so. It's just too much. This is an obstacle I'm pretty sure even my BIKE, won't help. This requires help far beyond anything any one person or thing here on earth can offer.

So I ask you to say a prayer for this family, for this community, and for anyone and everyone who has ever been affected by the horrific death of a loved one, especially a child.

Let today be a day of prayer and concern for those who face challenges beyond that which we can imagine and which seem impossible to overcome.

Best Love & Relationships Quotes

Best Love & Relationships Quotes

Thursday, 11 December 2008

Bummed about the economy?

I heard on the news this morning that nearly 600,000 people nationwide applied for Unemployment last week. That's just last week! It's higher than the number of people who applied during the whole month in November.

It really does sound like the economic situation is getting worse, just as economists have predicted. With these numbers, it's hard to imagine how bad it could actually get. It's even somewhat scary...even though there's no chance of me being laid off; I'm self-employed.

Still, we're all dealing with this on some level. My workload has suffered. My editors aren't calling me with assignments (no money, no budget), or if they are, they pushing back the dates because of low ad sales. I'm pretty sure you're probably feeling the effects of the economic situation as much or more than I am. So my question to you today is this: What kinds of things are you doing to work through the fear?

Here's a list of things I know help me overcome agitation, nervousness, and even fear. Given the specific situation you're dealing with, what would you add to this list?

-Pray (as often as you need or feel comfort in the process).
-Go to the gym and work out with weights, ride the elliptical, or take a fitness class.
-Eat healthy (and in smaller proportions).
-Spend time with family and friends (Schedule it in if necessary during this busy holiday season.).
-Focus on what's going right in your life.
-Write in a journal.
-Practice meditation.
-Have a glass of wine (just one).
-Soak in a bubble bath.
-Bathe the dog or wash the car; it takes your mind off of other things.
-Ride your bike.

During stressful times, it's important to take care of your personal needs. I know I skimp on these sometimes, but having a list in front of me reminds me to take care of me first. Then I can focus on the work I need to do.

Today, I choose to make the day less stressful. How about you?

All my best,

Beautiful Inspirational Quotes

Beautiful Inspirational Quotes

Wednesday, 10 December 2008

The moral inventory

Yesterday, I wrote about belief system. But how many of us actually take a moral inventory of what we value, so we actually know what we believe?!

In times of stress or if you're dealing with a personal trauma, it's not always easy to distinguish between what is moral or immoral behavior. Although we may set a standard for ourselves, we often overlook behavior in others, both at home and at work. The problem with doing that, however, is that it may give someone permission to treat you in a way you wouldn't accept in "normal" circumstances, and vice versa.

This is what happened to me during my marriage, except, I wasn't aware that I was doing this--at least, not on a conscious level. I wasn't even aware that I was doing this long before my marriage. That was an important observation for me. It kept me from trying to assign blame.

As I write about often here, awareness is key.

It is for this reason that reviewing what we value, what we care about, how we want to be treated and how we want to treat others is important. It's a good reason why spiritual fellowship with others who share your beliefs is important; it helps hold you accountable.

When I first took a moral inventory of myself, I was told to ask myself these two basic questions:

What are my strengths?
What are my weaknesses?

That was easy enough. But then it got harder. I was told to dig deeper, and look at my strengths and weaknesses in relationship to or with the following:

_Spiritual Life
_Financial Life
_Significant Parter
_Work Life
_Those Less Fortunate
_Authority Figures
_Friends, Co-workers, Employees

When it got to the point where I had to look at all my losses from various stages in life (childhood, adolescence, teenage years, adulthood), I wasn't quite sure I could finish. I had experienced the death of a father, an abusive childhood home, uncertainty about where I'd be living, childhood abandonment, two teenage pregnancies and a marriage, single motherhood, the death of a second spouse, and on and on. It was too much when I looked at it all at once like that. I was glad to be working with a mental health expert and a spiritual guide who helped me work through these losses and what they meant to me.

I benefitted greatly when I found a 12-Step program. It helped teach me to see the losses for what they gave me and not for what they took away.

And I realized that the work never ends. Even though I took the moral inventory that first time, I knew I'd have to keep doing it for as long as it took, for as many times as I needed to be reminded of what I valued, what I cherished and what I might need to change.

If you've ever looked inside yourself that deeply, what was the greatest lesson you took away?

How to have your best Christmas ever

To find out how YOU can have the best Christmas ever, GO HERE.

Making A Change

Making A Change

Tuesday, 9 December 2008

The power of your belief system

I like to disagree. It tests my belief system. It makes me think harder about a topic. It forces me to look at the other side. It reinforces my own opinion but also leaves room for me to change it, if appropriate.

I've been tested many times for many things, some things completely out of my control, such as the death of my spouse in 1989. I was young back then, and married again, of course, only to be tested again--big time--when that marriage ended in divorce in 2004, after 10 years of what I thought was holy matrimony. It was my only church wedding, and I'd put more stock in that one.

Alas, the dissolution began at the end of 2002, during the holidays. As you can imagine, the holidays are an awful time for families to split up or to begin the ending of a long-term marriage. It seems to happen frequenting during this time of year, however, and I've never quite understood that unfortunate truth. No matter. It's still a test whatever time of year it might occur.

During the beginning of mine, I did find myself debating my former spouse on almost everything. He told me he'd cheated on me. I told him he had to stop. He said we'd work it out. I asked him why he had to move out then. He said we could stay together if I could be friends with her. I told him he was crazy. It went on and on like that for several months. There was a part of me that asked the same question in the woman's magazine column, "Can this marriage be saved?"

Eventually, I hired a lawyer, and it was she, amazingly enough, who helped reign me in when my emotions wanted to veer off in a direction that could have only led to dread. She kept me on the right footing. I had a goal, and she helped me reach it. My goal was simple: I didn't want to come out of the loss a bitter woman. I just couldn't do that to myself, I told her. I told the same thing to my therapist, who said, "That's a good goal," and starting giving me regular hugs at the end of our sessions.

My goal meant I had a lot of soul searching to do. It meant I had to learn to let go of what he did and concentrate on what I was going to do. It meant I had to get in touch with a part of me that had been lost in the marriage--my spiritual side.

There were times when I thought to let go meant I was letting him off the hook, that I was saying he was right to behave the way he did. And then I became angry at myself for picking a guy who would behave so disrespectfully. It took a long time for me to realize his behavior had little to do with me, that my behavior was the one I needed to focus on, that letting go meant to free myself of blame and shame and judgment--that this wasn't productive for me in any way. I could let my higher power look out for me now.

There are times still today that I forget that. I need to be reminded. I wish this weren't so. I wish I were naturally a person who could just let things go. But some things, I hold onto. When I recognize that the disagreement I need to have is not with others but with myself, that's when I realize that I've been neglecting the growth of my spiritual side. That maybe I've gotten out of touch with what I really value. Maybe I haven't even considered it.

It's hard work to look inside yourself and admit you have flaws, to see that you can contradict yourself, that you don't have all the answers--and that some of the answers you did have led you to where you are now. If that "now" is not a good place to be, it's hard to face that you put yourself there. It's easy to resist taking personal responsibility.

That's why I applaud people who stand up for what they believe in. They may be right; they may be wrong. It doesn't matter. All that matters is that they do what they believe is right, and that, when tested, they still know where they stand.

I attended group counseling sessions during my divorce where I was told, "If you wind up getting divorced, the important thing is that you know that's what you want." Even my lawyer told me during our initial consultation, "Take these papers home with you. Think about it for as long as you need. When you decide it's time, then that's when you file. Don't do it because you feel you have to."

And I wasn't ready right then. She knew it. Initially, I wanted to keep my marriage intact. I hoped that I could. But that soul searching of mine led me to conclude not that I didn't have a choice in the matter, but that my choice was that I deserved a better life. My eyes had been opened, and I was now seeing clearly. The debate was over, and I'd taken my stand. I don't regret it. I'm not bitter. I met my goal.

That's the power of trusting your belief system.

Can you recall an event in your life where you felt forced to act in a way that went against your belief system? How did you handle it? What was the outcome? Go ahead and post your comments here.

Showing Up For Life

Showing Up For Life

Monday, 8 December 2008

Merrill Lynch CEO: bogus about his bonus

I heard this on CNN this morning also:

The Merrill Lynch Chief Executive Officer (CEO) John Thain thinks he should get a 2008 bonus of $10 million!

Are you kidding me? The company lost $11 billion in 2008! I can't even believe the company's board of directors would even consider the guy's request. It's absurd. But news reports say the committee is only thinking about denying bonuses this year for Thain and other senior executives. So, that means they're also considering not denying them.

I just don't get it.

We are officially in a recession. Have been for more than a year now. People are losing their homes to foreclosure left and right. We had more than 500,000 people laid off work in America just last month, Merrill Lynch employees possibly included. Yet, some big wig corporate exec of a financial company that lost so much has the nerve to think he deserves a bonus. Quick. Tell me where to sign up for this scam?!

Seriously, how can a CEO--the man who oversees the entire company and its operations--not see this kind of attitude is part of the problem here?! What one person needs $10 million, anyway. If there's that kind of money floating around his company now, couldn't it best be used to hire people back?

I can tell you how to turn this obstacle into an opportunity--fire the guy! The fact that he can even make such a request tells me he's out of touch with what's going on in his own company. How is that call for a bonus? Why would it even be considered?

This kind of news just makes me mad. It makes me question everything I ever thought I knew about how our country operates, especially now, as I hear about real people with real families hurting, as I read about real companies that actually contribute real dollars to their communities shutting down.

This kind of news just makes me mad.

How about you?

Laid off workers in Chicago speak up

I woke up this morning, turned on the news, and heard this story about laid-off workers in Chicago. It seems a group of 200 former employees at a window and door plant have staged a sit-in to protest being laid off without severence pay and other reasons they say violate their union agreement.

They are on day four and expect to stay "for as long as it takes." CBS News called the group "a national symbol for thousands of employees who have lost their jobs as the economy continues to sour."

I applaud the group. They are standing up for what they believe in and speaking out so they can be heard. It's part of what I call owning your Expressive voice. They're using their voice to meet a basic need. If they just left the company without protest, they would have regretted it. I'm sure of that. Everyone deserves to be heard. Some of these employees have been with this company for more than 30 years. They don't want to just walk away with nothing. They deserve much more than that. For too long, we've seen too many companies get away with this kind of practice.

It's time we pay attention to how poorly corporate America treats its employees. They may not get what they're asking for--the Bank of America, as the company's creditor and now holder of the company's assets, to pay what's due them--but at the very least they would have spoken up and fought for their rights. They can walk away knowing that, no matter the result.

For me, it's easy to see why these laid off workers are making this statement. When someone else tries to screw you over, it hurts, and you don't want to take it lying down. You don't want to take it at all. If you can find the strength within, you fight back. If you trust in what you believe in, you find a way to protect your interests. You can turn an obstacle into an opportunity. That's what these folks are doing. Besides, the government did just give this bank $25 billion dollars in the bailout plan. Surely, executives can use some of that money to help make things right on their end. It should work both ways, shouldn't it?

What do you think?

Special Motivational Quotes

Special Motivational Quotes

Sunday, 7 December 2008

More on nurturing the artist within--the "top ten" list

A few posts back, I wrote about nurturing your artist self. It's not a difficult thing to do, but it does take time out of your day or week to do it. If you're not sure what to do, how about writing out a list of things you'd like to do but haven't?

Here are a few tips on creating a list you're more likely to follow:

_Keep it simple by assigning a number. If you only have to think of, say, 10 things to do, the mere thought of even creating the list won't overwhelm you.

_Time yourself. Give yourself 20 minutes or less to write out the things that first come to mind. This leaves you no time to judge the list.

_Don't judge the list. If you start judging, then you might let things like practicalities or finances get in the way. And we don't care about practicalities or finances when we're nurturing the artistic spirit. We get to pick freely, think freely, and write freely.

_Stay in the moment. Find a nice shady spot outdoors under a tree (See example in photo above; it's Arizona's state tree, the palo verde.), with a bench or bring your own chair. Bring your pad of paper and write. Write from the heart.

_Think of things you've always wanted to do but never have (probably because of time) art class, a visit to that obscure museum you heard about last year, a trip to a nearby arts community, tickets to a comedy show, yard sale shopping, etc. Think of things you know you'd like to do but thought you couldn't afford. Write them down, anyway (This doesn't mean you'll do them now, but you'll be more likely to fit them in later.). There's power in writing things down; that's why lists work.

_Not sure about what you'd like to do? Never thought much about this before? Go back to your childhood. What kinds of things brought you joy back then? Was it building things? Maybe you can add to your list that you'd like to visit your city's downtown and observe and take photographs of old buildings. Did you enjoy crafts? Perhaps you can add to your list something having to do with that, such as making a special greeting card for someone you love. Did you like, as I did, riding your bike? Maybe you can just jot down something about taking a bike ride to a nearby lake or body of water and people watch. You can make up stories about what they're doing there.

_Have fun with the list. Buy a special notebook or journal for your list-making. Use colorful pens or crayons or markers. Add stickers for fun, things like colorful stars or balloons in which you can write silly sayings (You'll find these at office and teacher supply stores as well as craft stores.).

_Be sure to post the list on a wall that you see daily.

_Cross off the things that you've done, and add to the list regularly.

This should give you more ideas about how you can nurture your artist within. Just remember, it's your list. No need to let others see it, as artist's dates are for you only. No one gets to object or agree with your list. It's all about you. And better yet, if you decide you don't like the list you came up with, you can re-do the whole thing. The important thing about this exercise is that you're learning a little more about yourself, what you like, what you don't, what you thought you might have but didn't after all.

Nurturing the artist within is a great way to develop your mental BIKE. With this exercise, you not only begin to hone in on your personal interests, but you begin to listen to yourself more clearly. You begin to recognize that while it's nice to gain input from others, their input isn't necessarily what's best for you. I bet you didn't realize the creative spirit could be that important.

If you wish to add your own thoughts about today's post, I'd love to hear from you.

All my best,

Saturday, 6 December 2008

Do you tweat?

Hey, I'm just learning. So bear with me. But I did add the Twitter widget here at BIKE WITH JACKIE. You'll see my updated "tweats" on the right-hand side of the page. I keep forgetting I changed the format and nearly posted "left-hand" (All the widgets used to be on the left-hand side just a week ago.).

Anyway, if you want to follow me on Twitter, you can connect with me directly from this site.

How crazy is this social networking thing?!

Wednesday, 3 December 2008

Nurturing the artist within

I love art.

I look for it everywhere I go, and it's pretty easy to find. When I used to teach elementary school children art appreciation workshops, I told my students, "Art is everywhere you look--in the fabric and design of your clothes, on the furniture at home, in the architecture of buildings, in the design of the cars your parents drive, in the food that you eat." And, of course, art was also in the prints I took with me into their classrooms. We'd talk about the artists, the works of art, and then we'd do an art project together.

Once, when I taught them about Jackson Pollock, I filled several dozen water guns with water-based paint, and we went outside to squirt multiple colors onto large stretches of butcher paper to create our own interpretations of a Jackson Pollock painting. (For fun, try it online.) This uninhibited break from their normal routine helped them grasp their own ability to be creative. The students looked forward to my visits--to see what me might do next--and I looked forward to crafting new ideas to make my visits enlightening and fun for them.

Part of my interest in working with the children stemmed from my natural love of art. I've always been attracted to color, texture, fibers, buildings and design. I took art classes in college. I write about art and design for various magazines. And I do look for art everywhere I go. I've even tried my hand at practicing different art forms...drawing, painting, working with water colors and markers. I play around with photography. I'll do anything to nurture the artist within and help others do the same. But lately, I haven't designated enough time for this.

That occured to me at the end of October, when I attended a writers' conference in Tampa, Fla. On our last night together, a small group of writers, including Barb Freda and I, went out to dinner at a restaurant called Fly, known for its tapas and live jazz. On the walls were these amazing paintings (part of one pictured above) of jazz musicians. And I just had to walk around and look at them. I took my digital camera with me and snapped a few photos of the vibrantly painted murals. I wanted to bring the color home with me. At the time, I didn't know who the artist was, but I've since discovered he's Sean Spoto, a Tampa-based artist popular for his surfboard art. I really love the energy of this painting above; it looks as though you can hear it.

To notice the way art speaks to you is to nurture your artist within, that is, to tap into your own creativity. The more you practice it, the more tuned in you become. I learned to appreciate this when studying Julia Cameron's The Artist's Way, a book which teaches a "spiritual path to higher creativity." In 1999, when I needed to grow my freelance business, a writer I met online at the Poets & Writers Speakeasy introducted me to it. Since then, I must have read her book and done the work in it three or four times. Each time I did, I became more empowered as an "artist." And I've noticed it's time for another dose of Cameron, as I'm in need of nurturing my artist within.

I actually give Cameron credit for fueling the work I've done here. I give her credit for inspiring me, for showing me that to produce art or anything else creative is an act of faith. And faith takes practice, too.

To nurture the artist within, Cameron suggests keeping a daily journal, but you must write in it first thing in the morning. She calls them the Morning Pages. Her book includes weekly exercises and questions to answer. She also suggests weekly artist dates that you must take alone. You can do anything creative, anything at all, including visit a museum, color in a coloring book, make a homemade necklace out of dried macaroni, attend a concert or theatrical production, whatever you might be interested in. Her point is that you must schedule the dates and the work on your calendar because nurturing the artist within takes time, practice and dedication.

If you're like me right now and feel as though your work isn't quite what you think it could be, if you're in need of inspiration or motivation, if you just need a kick in the pants on a particular project that seems stalled, nurturing your artist within might help.

You'll find yourself on a spiritual path of empowerment that will grow something very important to your success--faith.

I like the sound of that. Don't you?

Brighter and bolder

Just so you know, especially if you haven't been around in a while, you're in the right place.

Yes, I did change the background on my blog. It's very different from the simple yellowed paper background from before. But just as we change the furniture around in our living rooms when things get tired looking, I decided to move things around and liven things up at BIKE WITH JACKIE.

If you'll recall, I mentioned change in a recent post. And, boy, did I make big change (though it only took seconds). I hope it's not too startling. I also hope you like it.

Post a comment and let me know.

A view to remember

I took this photo in October on my trip to Maine. On the coast about 20 minutes south of Camden, I was taking one last look at the sunset. But it had disappeared, and when I looked at it through my camera lens, this was what was left after sunset. I liked the peaceful calm that I witnessed in my viewfinder, so I snapped the picture.
It's worth remembering what peace and calm looks like, especially during hectic times that the holidays bring.
I use photographs like this one to remind me to stop and think, to relax. I have another that I took several years ago when on a trip to the Florida gulf shores. I was on an island called St. George. The shot includes the sea in the background, the sandy beach, and two empty beach chairs up close and in the forground. I like the symbol of that. I think of that photo when I want to remind myself of places where I've been, and places where I can still go. I could be sitting in one of those beach chairs, watching the surf, listening for seagulls, drinking an ice cold Mai Tai--because right behind those two chairs is a seafood restaurant that serves them. I could be there.
In fact, my six-year goal is to own my own beach house. I think I'll buy on the coast of Maine, but I can use this photo from Florida to help keep my dream alive. I think imagery is a good thing to use as reminders of what we would like to have in our lives. It's so easy to get distracted with what's happening now, that we can all too quickly forget what might be, or what will be.
What kinds of things do you use to remind you of your dreams, to help you relax, to keep you focused on what moves you forward. A physical bike can take you there, but it doesn't know where to go without your assistance. You need reminders, such as a mental BIKE, to help you do the navigating. Otherwise, how do you know if you're heading in the right direction, or even getting close?
This next week, pay attention to what you do to stay on track of your goals. Write them down. Notice what works and what isn't working. Start a conversation with friends about this so you can get more ideas. Begin collecting photographs or magazine pictures or other momentos that will act as reminders of what you want out of life. Think about what that looks like. If it helps you to post these items on a bulletin board (or something similar), do that. Hang this where you can see it daily. Then see what happens.
If you have ideas or thoughts to share about what kinds of reminders move you forward, post a comment.

Tuesday, 2 December 2008

Bikes keep this town alive

Why would residents voice anger towards the people that help keep its town alive? For Jim Thorpe, Penn., that's the question a recent article asks. Apparently, this town of less than 5,000 people, thrives on its bike tourists, but there are some residents who detest this fact.

The article asks: Would they rather it stay the depressed coal mining town it once was? Why not make use of those old mining and timber roads no longer used? Since they're already cut into the woodlands, there's no added cost to create the tourism. It's a natural progression.

But some people just like to keep things the way they've always been. They don't want strangers filling up their restaurants and clogging their streets. But would they really rather see their town die? I doubt it. Maybe they just need to be reminded of the benefits.

Which is why this article caught my eye. Obviously, I was attracted to the article because of its focus on biking. But it also points out a few interesting details:

_Studies, such as one done in 1997 by the Travel Industry Association of America and another by the Outdoor Industry Foundation, supports the idea that biking can boost an economy.
_Mountain biking is one of the most popular adventure activities in the United States, and 60 million adult Americans bicycle each year.
_Bicycling tourism helps create jobs and revenue for communities like Jim Thorpe, contributing as much as $133 billion to the U.S. Economy.

Who knew my little Trek 4300, which cost about $600 when I bought it four years ago, added to such a big impact? I never really thought about this before. I just thought about the physical and mental health benefits, not the financial ones.

But if you take a look at research the OIF did alone, and you realize, I'm just one of the more than a million residents participating in cycling activities in just one state (It says 27 percent of Arizonans ride.), and that's just one relatively inexpensive bike I'm talking about, the economics of the numbers stagger the mind.

I must say, the reasons to ride just keep getting better and better.

Blog Page Update: If you click on my profile page, you'll see I've added a Reading List of blogs I follow. If you click on the links, you might find something of interest to you as well. Enjoy!

Monday, 1 December 2008

Bloggers Unite

Bloggers Unite

Thanks to Debbie Petras over at Heart Choices, I learned about World AIDS Day and posted about several awareness events going on in Phoenix today at my travel blog. To learn more, visit the World Health Organization, Bloggers Unite, or Debbie's blog.

Help spread the word and save lives.

All my best,

Adapting to change or the unknown

Do not go

where the path

may lead,

go instead where

there is no path

and leave a trail.

- Ralph Waldo Emerson

Emerson's quote above makes me think about change, risk-taking, and moving into the unknown or unfamiliar.

If you think about it, we do that every day. Nothing stays static. Once you get used to something, a situation, a schedule, or a relationship, it becomes boring. We need change to make life interesting.

This is true in all of life, I think. In work. In play. In our personal lives.

I've made a few changes around here, if you haven't noticed. I added a few "plug-ins" on the left-hand side of the page and at the bottom. You can now scroll down to the bottom of the page and read the daily news. I've added a link to my travel blog on the left-hand side of the home page, below my photo; it includes the title (or partial title) of updated posts. Click on that if something interests you.

I've changed my photo, but it's a subtle change. And I've included a more convenient link below it so you can sign up for my RSS feed. That's so you can get updates of my posts sent directly to your e-mail address, if you like.

And be sure to participate in my poll. I'm curious to know what you do for stress relief. December is a pretty timely month to discuss this. After all, we're out there tackling traffic, trying to fit as much into our schedules as possible to create happy holidays ahead.

I hope yours will lead to something new and exciting.

Sunday, 30 November 2008

Ted Turner wisdom

I wouldn't say I'm a fan of Ted Turner, but I dated a guy in college who admired him greatly. That admiration had a lot to do with the fact that they both had ties to Atlanta. I wound up marrying this college sweetheart of mine (He later died.), and I've always noticed anything said or written about Ted Turner since. It's not anything I purposefully look for, but when he appears on TV or on a magazine cover, I can't help but notice. Perhaps it's simply because the guy reminds me of my late husband; they share the same hairline and color , color of eyes, and that dimple on the chin...

This morning, Ted Turner appeared on NBC's "Meet the Press"--I WAS a big fan of Tim Russert's!--and I watched. Discussing with Tom Brokaw a former rift with Rupert Murdock, Turner said about their reconciliation: "It hurts you when you don't like someone; it doesn't really hurt them."

It hurts you when you don't like someone; it doesn't really hurt them.

That's a line worth repeating. It made me stop and think. There are people in my life who I haven't really liked, and I've experienced my fair share of rifts. Turner's insightful words made me immediately think, Who cares? Who really cares? They don't.

So what's the point? He's basically saying, "Let it go."

Let it go.

Three more words worth repeating, again and again.

Can you think of a rift in your life that needs to be discarded? If you're being your Best self, you'll find a way to admit there probably is such a rift, and you'll figure out how you can let it go. Not for them, but for you. It means you recognize where you can make improvements in your life, and that you will take the steps to do that. It may take time--and the letting go part doesn't have to involve that other person directly--but you know you have the power of choice. You'll rely on your Inner strength to remove the shame or doubt that surfaces. You'll trust your Killer instincts to take the necessary action. And you'll use your Expressive voice to say what might need to be said or to simply reach out in whatever way will move you forward.

Here at BIKE WITH JACKIE, it's always about forward movement. That's our goal with this mental bike ride. Whatever's holding you back, whether or not it's a rift, together we look for ways to get beyond the struggles, which can come at us so unexpectedly. We know we're not in this alone. Thankfully, if we're open to improvement, we'll gain the insights or epiphanies needed--even if they come from a TV personality.

Saturday, 29 November 2008

Shopping frenzy or farce

It's hard to believe what happened yesterday on "Black Friday." But I'm sure you heard about it: a Wal-Mart temp was trampled at the door while thousands of shoppers rushed inside for the sales!

It gives a whole new meaning to the phrase.

If a man hadn't died, the scene might be called comical. But it's been billed by some people who were there an "accident." This was no accident. I'm not sure what you'd call it, but accident is not the word.

Can you imagine being a part of this frenzy, this over-sized crowd of shoppers, trying to get inside a Wal-Mart of all places? For what? Can anything you might ever wish to buy at a discount store--or anywhere else, for that matter--be worth the cost of a man's life?

How could anyone who participated in this chaos justify their behavior? I can't imagine how I'd feel if I'd gotten caught up in that. No apology could right this wrong.

I would say this is why I avoid shopping on Black Friday, as they call the busiest shopping day of the holiday season. But that wouldn't be true. For one thing, I've never heard anything like this happen before. And for another, I've gone shopping many times on the day after Thanksgiving. Just never seriously. I'm not the biggest fan of shopping. I can enjoy it. I can engage in it for many hours at a time. But I've never felt the need to buy a gift for anyone--no, not even my kids--that would require standing in lines overnight or anything that would even come close to putting me in a crowd such as the one that must have been standing outside the door of that Wal-Mart in Long Island yesterday.

Maybe those who were there will now think twice about the importance of owning a material item. It's just not that important. A man's life was taken. That's all that matters in this story. A man was knocked down and trampled on till he could no longer breathe life. And now he's gone. He and his family and friends were robbed of his life. That's all that matters.

An innocent man was killed.

And what about the people who killed him? The gifts they brought home...what meaning do they have left? How do you explain to your young son or your husband or your mother, "Oh, I waited in line all night to get this for you. I even knocked down a man to get this for you. He died so I could get this for you. I hope you appreciate it."

Merry Christmas?

I can't imagine.

When We Have Hope

When We Have Hope

Friday, 28 November 2008

After dinner transition

The turkey's put away. The dishes cleaned. The dining room back in order. Family's gone home or back to the hotel. Now what? That after dinner transition can be an unsettling time for some. Your mind has taken you to this high-energy place and kind of wants to stay there, where it's fun and exciting, but the next day--after that big dinner and all the company that comes with it for the Thanksgiving meal--can feel pretty, well, blah.

For some people, this can move into a slight depression, the post-holiday blues, I've heard it called.

To avoid this, what kinds of things do you do to keep the holiday moving forward and the momentum going through to the end of the year? With our economy in a flux, that may seem difficult to think about. Worries about bank accounts and jobs and relationships may be trying to move in on your inner peace. But you can take charge of how you perceive the holiday season. You can decide it will be stressful, or you can decide it won't. You can let the rush seem maddening, or you can simply slow things down. Even when life seems out of control, as it may today, you still have choices about how you interpret what's happening to you.

After my holiday meal yesterday, I overheard friends talking about getting together the next evening--today--for card games in the evening. They were making plans to extend the fun, so that it all didn't just end so abruptly. I kind of liked that idea. It was simple, inviting, and would involve an all-age crowd--no one had to be left out.

I'll be going to a football game myself.

Another friend and his family will attend Glendale Glitters--one city's special event that involves a tree lighting display.

So it seems, as with most things, planning things to do can be a real life saver. It can help you move your thoughts to more positive places.

To keep the momentum going--especially when, as in my case, I couldn't have all of my family together this year--I've decided to spend the rest of the weekend decorating, even though I won't likely see guests in my house this Christmas, either. It'll help remind me that the season is here, that celebrating is a choice. And maybe I'll create a few spontaneous get-togethers, which is always a fun thing to do.

So what are you doing to keep the momentum going, to keep the spirit of the holidays alive? Are you going to church or other religious service? Are you listening to holiday music? Are you planning to map out the homes with holiday lights and visit them?

Are you PLANNING to enjoy the holidays?

Think about that, and if you if you have a few holiday ideas to share, I hope you'll post them here.



Thursday, 27 November 2008

Wednesday, 26 November 2008

Tuesday, 25 November 2008

Monday, 24 November 2008

An addition to my Blogroll

I've never thought about doing this till today, but it makes sense to me for some reason (I can see clearly now?)...But I thought I'd announce from here on out when I add a new blog to my Blogroll, you know, to introduce you.

Today, I've added the Crystle Ball to the list. Owned by Chrystle Fiedler, author of the soon-to-be-released, The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Natural Remedies, this blog will focus on mainstream and alternative health, as well as self-help topics. And since Chrystle writes about the mind-body connection, which we talk about a lot here, I thought she'd be a good fit. Plus, she's a colleague of mine from, which I refer to frequently as well, and you can't go wrong with these folks.

If you want to take a look at the other blogs on the list, they're on the left-hand side of the page, under the title, "Blogs that make you go ummmm."

Powerful Thoughts

Powerful Thoughts

Sunday, 23 November 2008

The bike route to freedom

Remember the Underground Railroad--that secret path that was once used by slaves to escape to freedom? This part of American history has been preserved by way of a bike path--a 2,028-mile bike path that takes the rider along the same route American slaves took before and during the Civil War.

The path follows secret routes and safe houses used by the "freedom seekers" who dared to risk their lives to escape slavery. The Underground Railroad Bicycle Route, as it's called today, takes the rider past points of interest and historic sites between Alabama and Ontario, where the free slaves created a settlement in 1857.

If this isn't one of the better reasons to ride a bike--to learn and live this history, and see for yourself what it means to overcome--I don't know what is. Not only can the power behind the pedal lead to good physical and mental health, but it can teach you first-hand what it means to become free of your bondage--however that may be defined.

To me, this path is so symbolic of what our trials and tribulations in life can do to us. Yes, they can chain us down, but faith proves there's always a way out. With faith, you find a way. And this bike path testifies to the power behind that faith. It may take physical power, such as pedaling a bike for as long as it takes to reach your destination, but if you believe in yourself, faith says you'll get there.

I'd love to do this tour some day.

Recently, the groups that created this adventurous ride, Adventure Cycling and the Center for Minority Health, received an award at the National Trails Symposium. To that, I say congratulations!

Friday, 21 November 2008

A recent Associated Press report

This week from the AP wire:

"BIKE ON: More urban pedal-pushers are trading their cars for a more low-tech way to get around because of gas prices as well as health and environmental concerns. Bicycles were a $5.4 billion industry in the U.S. in 2007, including the retail value of bikes, related parts and accessories, according to research funded by the National Sporting Goods Association."

I like this. People are turning to bikes both for HEALTH and ENVIRONMENTAL reasons. It's all good.

How about you? Are you thinking about riding yet?

Take Time

Take Time

Thursday, 20 November 2008

Laser Spine Institute Helping Patients to "Stand Up and Be Free" from Debilitating Back Pain

Tampa, FL (PRWEB) November 12, 2008 -- People suffering from chronic back pain are reaching out to an innovative solution helping them to "Stand Up and Be Free" through minimally invasive endoscopic surgery. With facilities in Tampa and Scottsdale, the Laser Spine Institute is revolutionizing the landscape of spinal surgery using cutting-edge lasers and a 5-day process from surgery to recovery, drastically reducing the time it takes for patients to be pain-free and back to doing the activities they love, whether it's being active with their families or enjoying favorite sports. With just a tiny one-inch incision, expert surgeons can correct a variety of back and neck ailments from degenerative disc disease and spinal stenosis to herniated discs and spinal arthritis.

A team of renowned surgeons led by Dr. James St. Louis, a two-time recipient of the Physician of the Year award, have performed more than 8,000 surgeries, perfecting minimally invasive techniques and allowing surgeons to perform multiple procedures in one 60 minute surgery, with less risk and less recovery time than traditional open back surgeries or fusions, and the added comfort of resort-style amenities at a state-of-the-art facility.

Dr. St. Louis explains, "We understand our patients want to dance with their spouses and play 18 holes of golf free from pain. Using laser-assisted techniques, we are able to preserve a full-range of motion for patients, whereas spinal fusion is a restrictive and not always successful fix. Patients desire and deserve an active lifestyle, and our procedures are able to give them back their lives, in as little as five days."

At LSI, patients receive all of their spinal health care needs in one location. From pre-operative imaging and diagnostic testing, to endoscopic laser surgery and post-operative physical therapy, patients receive the highest quality care combined with the most advanced treatments. In today's fast paced world, back pain sufferers don't have time for a six-week recovery from traditional back surgery.

By offering a streamlined 5-day process, LSI allows patients to recover from their minimally invasive endoscopic procedure while enjoying resort amenities at the institute. From massage chairs and catered meals to free internet and a concierge who keeps waiting families in touch with the OR, LSI provides a comforting environment for patients and caregivers.

Former patient and mother, Cheryl Harper found relief and a new outlook after her successful surgery. "The pain took over my life from morning to night. I have two little boys and I was always tired. After surgery, I feel like I've added 10 to 20 years onto my life. Now I'm active, and spending time with my family, especially my two little boys."

Debilitating back pain can affect patient lives socially, emotionally and financially. After receiving life changing surgery, LSI patients are able to return to do doing the things they love whether it's on the golf course, returning to work, or simply bending down to give kids and grandkids a hug.

Potential candidates with back and neck pain can visit or call toll free 1-866-853-6191 for more information on outpatient, minimally invasive spine surgery and upcoming seminars in cities across the United States.

About Laser Spine Institute: Laser Spine Institute offers a successful alternative to traditional open back and neck surgeries. The orthopedic surgeons at LSI can correct painful ailments with endoscopic outpatient procedures. Chronic pain that stems from pinched nerves, herniated discs, bulging discs, degenerative disc disease, spinal stenosis, foraminal stenosis, spinal arthritis, bone spurs, scar tissue and failed open back or neck surgery can be alleviated with Laser Spine Institute’s minimally invasive approach.

Researchers Tackle CLL, Diabetes and Trauma-Hemorrhage

Molecular Medicine, a bimonthly, biomedical journal published by The Feinstein Institute for Medical Research, strives to understand normal body functioning and disease pathogenesis at the molecular level which may allow researchers and physician-scientists to use that knowledge in the design of specific molecular tools for disease diagnosis, treatment, prognosis, and prevention. Featured in the November/December issue: “Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia Cells Recognize Conserved Epitopes Associated with Apoptosis and Oxidation”, “Angiogenesis and Diabetes: Different Responses to Pro-Angiogenic Factors in the Chorioallantoic Membrane Assay”, and “Estradiol’s Salutary Effects on Keratinocytes following Trauma-Hemorrhage Are Mediated by Estrogen Receptor (ER)-± and ER-²”.

(Vocus) November 14, 2008 -- Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia (CLL) is a disease of the B lymphocytes of the immune system. Under normal conditions, B lymphocytes (or B cells) play an important role in battling infection. CLL is a disease manifested by uncontrolled growth of these B lymphocytes. In this month’s issue of Molecular Medicine, Rosa Catera and her colleagues found that CLL cells react with cells undergoing programmed cell death (apoptosis), and those with the worst outcomes have the most potent reactivity. CLL comes in several forms and has different outcomes for patients. Some can live for years or decades with few symptoms, while others progress quickly into advanced stages of disease and thus have a shorter life expectancy.

Catera and her colleagues have been trying to unravel a curious observation that many of the antibodies in CLL patients share a similar genetic sequence, no matter where in the world they live. The finding suggests that apoptosis generates substances that could stimulate CLL cell growth. In laboratory models, they have shown that this type of reactivity is seen in a small subset of B cells, suggesting that CLL might evolve from this type of normal B lymphocyte. Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia Cells Recognize Conserved Epitopes Associated with Apoptosis and Oxidation. Rosa Catera and colleagues can be reached at rcatera @

In other major news in the journal, scientists at INSERM in France have evidence that hyperglycemia impedes therapeutic angiogenesis, which could be a problem when designing ways to test these new treatment. Angiogenesis and Diabetes: Different Responses to Pro-Angiogenic Factors in the Chorioallantoic Membrane Assay Giovana Di Marco, Etienne Larger and colleagues can be reached at Scientists at the University of Alabama report stunning findings of estrogen receptor involvement in trauma and hemorrhage. Estradiol’s Salutary Effects on Keratinocytes following Trauma-Hemorrhage Are Mediated by Estrogen Receptor (ER)-± and ER-². Fariba Moeinpour, Irshad H Chaudry and colleagues can be reached at Irshad.Chaudry @

To read the journal online and view this month’s popular podcast go to For more information contact Margot Puerta, managing editor of Molecular Medicine at 516-562-1129.

Substance in Red Grapes and Wine Key to Alzheimer’s Disease

Scientists at The Feinstein Institute for Medical Research have figured out why a substance in red grapes and red wine lowers amyloid beta levels that accumulate in the brains of Alzheimer’s patients.

Washington, DC (Vocus) November 16, 2008 -- Scientists at The Feinstein Institute for Medical Research have figured out why a substance in red grapes and red wine lowers amyloid beta levels that accumulate in the brains of Alzheimer’s patients. Medicines targeting amyloid beta that make up the clumps in the hallmark plaques are now in many phases of experimental testing. The hope is that clearing out amyloid beta before it accumulates could stave off the disease and reduce symptoms. Scientists at the Feinstein hope to develop this natural substance, called resveratrol, or synthetic versions, for the treatment of Alzheimer’s.

Valorie Vingtdeux, PhD and their colleagues have discovered that a specific kinase – AMPK – controls Abeta levels. AMPK is an interesting protein because it is a metabolic sensor in the cells and throughout the body. It senses levels of ATP, the body’s fuel source. When ATP levels drop, AMPK is activated to prepare the cells to adjust to the metabolic change in the body – when fuel is low. It’s like a driver moving along at 50 and slowing down when it realizes that there is trouble ahead.

Resveratrol activates AMPK and in turn this protein lowers Abeta levels. Dr. Vingtdeux presented these findings at the Society for Neuroscience annual meeting in Washington, DC, this week. The work has been done so far in cell culture but Philippe Marambaud, PhD, who oversees the research, said there is every reason to believe that a similar process takes place in nature. “We hope that this result will translate into beneficial effects for Alzheimer’s patients someday,” said Dr. Marambaud. This is an important finding because the scientists identified a new potential molecular target – AMPK – to lower Abeta levels in Alzheimer’s. It also opens the door to considering more potent analogs of resveratrol. Feinstein scientists are now screening libraries of substances to see whether there are any compounds that could mimic the effects found in this substance. As it is, the amounts found in grapes and wine are small and it would not be feasible to ingest enough to have a benefit. The Feinstein chemists have identified several compounds that are now in different stages of testing.

Dt. Marambaud said that there are drugs available that are used for type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome and obesity that activate AMPK.

Quick Medical and Clarity Partner to Help Meet the Needs of the Hearing Impaired

Quick Medical Supply and Clarity, the leading provider of communication devices for the hearing impaired announced today an alliance to provide more products, services and education to the hearing impaired population.

Chattanooga, TN (PRWEB) November 17, 2008 -- Clarity®, a division of Plantronics, Inc. (NYSE: PLT) and the nation's leading supplier of amplified telephones and other communications devices for the hearing impaired, announced an alliance with Quick Medical a national supplier of medical supplies who will provide Clarity with distribution channels for the Clarity line of hearing assisted devices.

"We are very excited about the partnership with Quick Medical and all of the opportunities it will bring to Clarity. We are particularly pleased to help Quick Medical reach their vast customer base. Quick Medical has a proven track record of excellent distribution channels and customer service; we are looking forward to the variety of tools and services that will now be available to both companies", said Steve Woods, National Sales Manger for Clarity. "We believe that by working with Quick Medical we can reduce cost and provide more products and services to our customers."

As a national distributor of medical supplies since 1993, Quick Medical has been experiencing strong sales growth; by adding the Clarity line of devices, Quick Medical will provide added value to their services, meet the ongoing customer requests for Clarity devices, increase Clarity distribution channels and help to reduce cost.

"Clarity is the leading provider of sound amplification devices. They provide customized solutions for individuals who otherwise could not communicate easily and effectively with the outside world," said Scott Hanna, President and CEO for Quick Medical." At Quick Medical we carry a complete line of home medical products, so we believe that by adding the Clarity devices we will help to reduce cost and help meet the special needs of the home care patients." Mr. Hanna went on to say, "older Americans value their ability to live independently and as a company, we must find ways to help our parents and grandparents live their latter years at home. We must make aging in place a national priority and a reality for older Americans."

About Quick Medical: Quick Medical is a Medical Supply Store offering a large selection of medical equipment and medical supplies. Established in 1993 we currently offer over fifteen thousand medical products. Quick Medical offers a large selection of home health supplies and fitness products; we are an authorized distributor for Tanita scales, seca, Detecto, and Health O Meter. We also provide the largest selection of medical scales available on the internet. If you're looking for medical equipment, we have a large selection of medical furniture, medical cabinets, medical casework, medical exam tables, medical lighting, x-ray equipment and physical therapy products.

About Clarity: Clarity(R), a Division of Plantronics Inc. (NYSE:PLT), is a leading supplier of amplified telephones, notification systems, assistive listening devices and other communications devices for the hearing loss and deaf markets. A leader in sound amplification, Clarity's patented technologies, Clarity(R) Power(TM) and Digital Clarity Power(TM), provide customized solutions for customers who otherwise could not communicate easily and effectively with the outside world. As more people begin to address their hearing needs, Clarity will continue to provide effective technologies that are simple and easy to use. The company began in 1969 as a telecommunications manufacturer, and was acquired in 1986 by Plantronics, Inc., a leading provider of headsets to business and individual consumers worldwide.

Healthcare Experts Weigh in on Financial Crisis: Hospitals Facing Tight Credit Must Seek Creative Expense Control

While much has been written about how the economic crisis is affecting hospitals, IMA Consulting provides real and achievable solutions for cost management. The experts recommend a new evaluation of discretionary spending and close monitoring of labor productivity.

Chadds Ford, PA (PRWEB) November 17, 2008 -- Hospitals, long used to slim margins and careful expense management, must seek new and creative ways to manage expenses in the wake of the nation's financial crisis, according to healthcare experts at IMA Consulting. In a recent customer briefing, experts from IMA Consulting clarified the financial challenges through the healthcare lens, and recommended that hospitals compensate by reducing discretionary and supply spending and closely monitoring labor productivity.

The Effect of the Crisis on Hospitals: "Hospitals already face limited access to and increased costs of capital, along with decreased returns on investments," said Mary Ann Holt, RN, a senior partner in IMA Consulting's operations improvement practice. "One hospital client has seen his interest rate on short-term demand notes quadruple, moving from below two percent to almost eight percent in fewer than three weeks."

This challenge to financing comes at a time when many hospitals have significant building and renovation projects in process. Modern Healthcare reports that acute care projects, including new hospitals, expansions, and renovations, exceeded $251 billion nationwide last year. The demand for new and updated facilities, with expanded diagnostic and therapeutic capabilities, fuels the demand for healthcare financing.

"Health providers are also dealing with the same declines in investment income facing all of us, but given the 'trickle down' payment structure of healthcare, many are also bracing for payment delays from state-funded programs, and from insurers seeking to retain short term cash," said Holt.

"Providers are also concerned about patients delaying treatments due to high co-pays and therefore increasing the severity of their illness and cost of care," said Holt. "A recent hospital survey cited in the New York Times found that patient admissions were down nearly 3% versus 2007."

Suppliers are also passing on cost increases, and hospitals are bracing for reduction in charitable giving. But according to Holt, the biggest impact may stem from debt financing bonds, which require certain performance levels. Decreased revenues and increased costs may call debt covenant ratios into play and trigger potentially draconian measures by bondholders to assure financial viability.

Seek New Sources of Savings, With an Eye on Productivity: While one obvious solution is to reduce the financial burden holding off on major capital projects, IMA Consulting also recommends that hospitals take a new and creative look at expenses and productivity.

"Crisis can mean opportunity, and we are encouraging our clients to find savings through less traditional approaches," said Holt. "Labor costs often take top priority, but our analysis shows that discretionary spending, such as marketing, travel, and professional fees, presents new opportunities to save."

IMA Consulting's analysis of three years of expense data from recent client engagements shows that as salaries, benefits and supplies were decreasing or remaining steady, discretionary spending was creeping upwards. When each expense category is reviewed against the number of patient discharges, IMA's calculation of the compound annual growth rate (CAGR) puts the spotlight again on discretionary spending.

(The numbers below are the percent of spending in year one and year three. The last number is the compound annual growth rate)
Labor 51 % 47 % 3%
Supplies 25 % 25 % 6%
Discretionary24 % 28 % 8%

"Discretionary spending can be a black hole for hospitals, as data is limited on the exact nature of some expenses," said Holt. "Our clients who clarify program-specific costs by category are better equipped to determine the strategic importance of each program and the related costs."

IMA also recommends that hospitals trend spending by account over time, determining which accounts have experienced the greatest increases and targeting the understanding of the decisions that drove those increases. In addition, IMA helps clients find comparative data from hospitals of similar size and complexity. This analysis then triggers discussions about the changes necessary to further reduce costs.

"While supply costs remained steady in our analyses, we still encourage clients to review this category to reduce both costs and environmental impact," said Holt. "We recently helped a client achieve $300,000 in savings by eliminating the one-time use disposable supplies. While savings was the goal, the reduced environmental impact was also appreciated by staff and patients."

In addition to expense management, IMA Consulting recommends increased attention to productivity. By monitoring the variable workload standard of each department on a bi-weekly basis, leadership can get a better grasp on demand.

"Department managers should be accountable for flexing staffing to meet the variable workload demand, and senior leadership should review any vacant position with an eye to eliminating or distributing the workload performed by that role."

To read the full report that appears in the November IMA Insights, go to

About IMA Consulting: Founded in 1996, IMA Consulting exclusively supports hospitals and health provider organizations, providing customer-focused, cost-effective solutions to the toughest problems in healthcare management. Service lines include operations improvement, financial services, revenue management, revenue recovery and related educational services. IMA Consulting currently provides services and solutions to over 600 healthcare organizations across the United States.

Zero MRSA or Patient Infections Reported After Two Years as D.I.S.C. Sports and Spine Center Sets New Standard for Specialty Hospitals

D.I.S.C. Sports and Spine Center, proudly announces its surgical center is "infection free" after an initial two years of operation where over 2,000 procedures have been performed, according to Dr. Robert S. Bray Jr., founding director and CEO. This outpatient specialty hospital has taken a variety of proactive measures to reduce the risk of infection along with instituting very stringent protocols and procedures to ensure the safety of the patients.

Marina del Rey, Calif. (Vocus) November 20, 2008 -- D.I.S.C. Sports and Spine Center proudly announces its surgical center remains "infection free" which includes the highly-virulent bacteria MRSA. This is after two years of operation with over 2,000 procedures performed and extremely proactive measures implemented to combat infection according to Dr. Robert S. Bray Jr., founding director and CEO. In a study released in 2007, the CDC estimated there were 4.5 hospital infections for every 100 patient admissions resulting in nearly 100,000 deaths. With the increased resistance to infection-fighting drugs, especially the potent MRSA bacteria, these figures are alarming.

"Our goal from day was to redefine how patient care was delivered and we are extremely proud of how our hard work has paid off by minimizing the risk of patient infections," Dr. Bray said. "This is a highly-significant accomplishment and we are extremely proud of our achievement. We have proven through a comprehensive and strategic plan that our procedures, protocols and technologies can have a dramatic impact in ensuring patient safety and saving lives."

The outpatient specialty hospital is a fully-integrated medical group featuring next generation diagnostics, conservative care and a state-of-art surgical center. With three digital ORs, D.I.S.C. specializes in minimally invasive outpatient spine procedures including fusion, motion preservation, lumbar reconstruction and microdiscectomy along with orthopedic procedures including joint replacement, cartilage preservation and reconstruction.

With the explicit goal of minimizing the risk of infection in the 7,200-square foot surgery center, Dr. Bray made a strategic decision to install a $750,000 environmental air conditioning system throughout the entire center. Special attention was given to the three ultra clean operating rooms installing individual true 99.71% efficient HEPA filters to further eliminate any comingling of bacteria. With 30 air exchanges/per hour this filter exceeds the industry standard.

As an added level of protection, D.I.S.C. installed UVC Emitters (ultraviolet) in all critical area air moving units to destroy incoming airborne germs, bacteria and microorganisms including the highly-lethal anthrax. This level of protection is unprecedented in a medical facility and is the same type of system used by the CDC in Atlanta.

Moreover, very stringent policies were developed to address the basic functioning and hygiene of the surgery center. These protocols encompass patient contact, hand washing, outside clothing regulations along with minimal use of catheters. D.I.S.C. has also begun pre-screening high-risk patients for MRSA.

"When I founded D.I.S.C., I made a commitment to our patients to provide a higher standard of care," Bray said. "We will continue to be vigilant, pro-active and do everything in our power to ensure the safety of our patients and staff in all situations."

About Dr. Robert S. Bray, Jr.: Dr. Robert S. Bray, Jr. is widely recognized as one of the world's preeminent neurological spine surgeons. The first California neurosurgeon to specialize in minimally invasive procedures, he is at the forefront of the revolutionary innovations taking place in this highly skilled field. With numerous patents and inventions to his credit, he is committed to reducing surgical trauma to the patient, with better mobilization and faster, less painful recovery times. His illustrious career has spanned 27 years, with more than 9,000 micro procedures performed and 27 Fellows trained. A graduate of Baylor School of Medical School, he rose to the rank a major in the US Air Force and was the chief of neurosurgery at the David Grant Medical Center. In 2002, he became the founding director of the Institute for Spinal Disorders at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center. Under his leadership, it grew into the one of the premier spine centers in the U.S.

About D.I.S.C. Sports and Spine Center: Dr. Bray founded D.I.S.C. Sports and Spine Center in Marina del Rey, Calif., with the vision of developing a new model for delivering comprehensive health care for sports medicine, orthopedic and spine ailments. Offering both established and innovative solutions, D.I.S.C. is distinguished by a multi-disciplinary approach conveniently housed in one location, offering an unmatched continuity of care. With more than 20 board certified physicians, D.I.S.C. provides next generation diagnostics, preventative, conservative and rehabilitative care, along with one of the country’s most advanced surgical centers specializing in minimally invasive spine procedures and advanced arthroscopic techniques, D.I.S.C. is the Official Medical Center of the Los Angeles Kings, Los Angeles Clippers and USA Volleyball, For more information please contact D.I.S.C. at (310) 574-0400 or visit their website at:

Quadriplegic Man Defied the Odds, Continues to Inspire

In honor of National Disability Awareness Month, personal development coach and photographer, Laura Young, launches a line of products inspired by Michael Schwass. Schwass, the first quadriplegic to walk again without the aid of braces, will be the recipient of all proceeds.

Chicago, IL (PRWEB) October 18, 2008 -- Michael Schwass was a star high school athlete with dreams of playing professional hockey when an injury during a championship series left him paralyzed. While his team went on to win the Illinois State Championship, Michael channeled his indomitable spirit into achieving the impossible. Befriended and encouraged by Chicago Blackhawks great, Keith Magnuson, Schwass overcame incredible odds, ultimately becoming the first quadriplegic to walk again without the aid of braces.

Thirty-three years later, Schwass continues to surpass expectations, surviving well past his anticipated lifespan. His autobiography, Don't Blame the Game outlines the principles he employs to maintain his motivation and focus. He has gone on to inspire disabled and able-bodied alike as a motivational speaker, therapist, and life coach.

In honor of National Disability Awareness Month, fellow life coach and photographer, Laura Young, has created a line of products inspired by Schwass.

"Michael is arguably the single most influential person in my life. His grace, dignity and strength of character are astounding. Through the example he has set while enduring great suffering, he has absolutely inspired me to become a better person. I owe him a debt of gratitude. I created my book, All Is Well, to honor him in recognition of the principles he has taught me to live by."

All profits from All Is Well and the All is Well Collection of photography prints and cards which accompany them have been designated by Young to benefit Schwass for his ongoing medical care.

"People don't realize what it takes just to get him out of the house every day," says Young. "Not only is Michael supporting himself and paying outrageous health care costs but he has a staff of seven working behind the scenes doing everything from helping him set up speaking engagements and managing his office to making sure he can get in to bed at night and dressed in the morning."

"He has done such a great service in challenging beliefs about what is possible with a spinal cord injury. It took him six years of fierce dedication to take that first step. I think it is important that we recognize and honor that contribution. I would love to see a show of support for his ongoing challenges especially this month as we try to raise awareness of the needs of disabled everywhere."

Further information on Michael Schwass is available at Learn more about Laura Young's coaching services and gallery offerings by visiting her site, No Safe Distance. (

No time to wait

I ran across this quote today:

“How wonderful it is that no one need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world." —Anne Frank

If you think about it for a second--for a single moment--Anne Frank's words make sense. Despite the fact that she and her family were hiding in a secret annex from the Nazi soldiers during WWII...despite the fact they had left their German homeland to escape the Jewish persecution...despite the fact they were then arrested and taken to the concentration camps, where Anne, her mother and sister were later killed...before her death, Anne Frank still sensed some control over her life. It's why she continued to write in her journal, the diary of her life, as short as it was. It's why her father, who survived the death camps, published her thoughts for the world to read.

The book, Anne Frank: Diary of a Young Girl, was made into a stage play and then a movie.

Her words have, indeed, helped to improve the world. As she sat in the annex, she did not wait at all. She wrote and wrote and wrote. Perhaps she didn't know then the exact impact her words would have after her death, but I think she'd be pleased they continue to inspire.

What are you doing right now to help improve the world? What are you waiting for?