Blood Donation: An Easy and Important Way to Give Back

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Donate Blood: It Saves LivesIt’s always been important for me to do some sort of charity regularly but I made a deal with myself to go outside of my norm and give back in different ways this year and do it at least monthly. So with that in mind, I read a Facebook call out that blood donation was needed and that they were especially in need of type O.

I happen to be Type O+.

Type O+ blood is important because it is the most common blood type (1 in 3 people have it) and therefore is needed most. It is what maintains the country’s blood supply. So, I checked online to see if I could make an appointment to donate and sure enough, there was an appointment available nearby. Here’s where I went: Inova Blood Donor Services

You can choose to donate plasma and platelets, but I opted for a whole blood donation. There was a dude there donating platelets and you could tell it was quite a process and takes some time.

After filling out the paperwork, I was taken into a little office and asked some general follow up questions. Then my blood pressure was taken and my finger was pricked to get some blood to check my iron levels. All was good, so I headed to the blood donation lounge chair area. There, the person taking my blood looked for a good vein – found one and got me all set up and the blood flowing. I’m not that squeamish around needles – my strategy is as long as I don’t look while they are sticking me – I’m good to go.  I did have two babies after all!

Here are a few things to know before you go…

  1. Do not, I repeat, DO NOT, work out beforehand. The person who took my blood explained that many times if a person comes in after a workout, they are dehydrated and it’s not only harder to get blood from them, the patient could end up not feeling so good.  Good to know, since I did indeed go in after a boxing workout!
  2. Bring ID. You will have to fill out some quick paperwork and they will need to see your ID.
  3. Make an appointment. I do believe that they will take walk ins but if you make an appointment, the entire process is not that long. At least when I went yesterday – from start to finish it took less than 30 mins.
  4. Bring your own Post Donation Snack if you have Restrictions. They strongly encourage you to stick around their cafe area and enjoy a snack and a drink. It’s to ensure you don’t faint or have other strange side effects from the donation. The ‘cafe’ was stocked with high sugar, processed foods though. I just happened to have a protein bar in my purse that I ate. The fridge was full of fruit juices and water. I opted for water.  Not a judgement, just a good to know…
  5. Post blood donation, take it easy. Drink lots of water and refrain from strenuous exercise or lifting heavy. Ha!

Blood Donation MattersThat’s it – 30 minutes from start to finish. I feel fine today and feel even better because I know I am helping someone, somewhere. If you can, donate! It’s an easy way to give back on a regular basis.

BTW: I donated in honor and memory of Mathias Giordano. Their family has set up a Team Mathias sponsor code 8164 so anyone can donate in his memory & for all the kids who have been affected by cancer.

 

Bone Conduction Headphones: Are they right for you?

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Aftershokz HeadphonesMy brother recently told me about these cool headphones that use bone conduction to transmit the sound, sending the vibrations straight into the top of your jaw and from there to your inner ear and brain. The company, Aftershokz, originally started making bone conduction headphones for the military and now they are offering them to the public. After hearing how much my brother loved them, I went to the website, checked them out and ordered the Trekz Titanium Wireless model. Here’s what the website has to say about this particular model…

“The lightweight and comfortable Trekz Titanium wireless stereo headphones are the safest alternative to traditional sport headphones and earbuds. Bone conduction technology, an open ear design and a suite of convenient features deliver premium music play and crystal clear calling without compromise. Designed with athletes in mind, Trekz Titanium are sweatproof, secure, and will allow you to hear your surroundings – no matter where life takes you.”

They arrived late last week and so far, I am loving them.  They don’t have crystal clear sound quality (you compete with outside noise after all)– and that’s ok with me. I love that I can wear them comfortably and still hear things around me. And they are comfortable. I have found that after a while with regular headphones that go in your ear, i have to move them around because they become uncomfortable. These fit nicely on the outside of the ear, and I haven’t really needed to readjust them that much as I move around. They are bluetooth and rechargeable. So far, I have gone 2-3 days without having to recharge them.

And you know what else? It uses cool new technology. THEY ARE COOL! 

Should You Try These Headphones?

If you run a lot outside with music and always leave one side of your headphones out so you can hear around you, these headphones are for you! Or the kind of active person who likes to hear what’s going on around you in general, go for these! If you are a audiophile and into really super crystal clear sound or are the type of person who puts your headphones on and zones out from the world around you – these are probably not going to be the right headphones for you right now. With technology constantly improving, that could change… so, keep your eye on the space because who knows, the next iteration could address those issues.

By the way: I was not asked to share info on these headphones. I just ordered them independently and really like them.  I will revisit my thoughts about them in a month to follow up on how well they have performed.

Want even more info? Here’s a good recap of these headphones from The Verge: Are bone conduction headphones good enough yet?

Aftershokz

Image by Aftershokz

 

Help! The Digital World is Taking Over Our Lives

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I rarely watch videos from start to end when they are more than a few min long, but the other day this one: Simon Sinek speaking about Millennials in the workplace of today, caught my attention and has really stuck with me. I have had to learn how to manage millennials and work with them in my day to day life. They are definitely a different generation than the GenX I am a part of.

Simon brings up so many good points about why they are the way they are — but his points don’t only apply to the Millennial generation. So many of us are addicted to our devices. We don’t leave home without them, we sit down at the table with them right beside us, we bring them to meetings – we are attached to these devices night and day. I remember having to sit for Jury Duty and the first thing I thought –WTF I can’t bring my phone or iPad while I wait? What am I going to do?? (I ended up running into an old friend and we chatted the time away and I wasn’t chosen so I got to leave early – so it all worked out.)

 

 

I went to Wegmans earlier this week and after watching this video, I stood in line and purposely left my phone at my side but what did I see all around me? Everyone else was on their phones waiting for their lane to checkout. Sinek is so spot on – we are losing the moments of connection, the moments that lead to an idea, innovation. We are so busy looking down at our phones, we miss out on all the opportunities to connect with others – known and unknown.  We need to look up more. I’m not in the camp that devices are evil – but they have all but taken over our lives. We are rarely disconnected, our kids are viewing celebrity lives through filtered lenses, heck, we see our own community through filters.  It does affect people –good and bad.

I wonder how hard it would be for all of us to do a digital cleanse? Maybe it would do us all good especially now that Trump will be in office soon and with him, comes a lot of propaganda, fake news and sensationalism.

Have you done a digital cleanse? Let me know —

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Do Not Confuse Motion with Progress

There’s No Escaping Getting Older

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Carrie Fisher quoteAs if hearing about George Michael’s passing wasn’t enough, now Carrie Fisher has died too. If you grew up in the 80’s, like I did, you have noticed that many of our childhood heroes and iconic figures are dying. Nancy Reagan, Prince, Bowie, Ali to name a few. I wonder if this is the beginning of our generation starting to feel old…

Carrie Fisher was Princess Leia in Star Wars- and if you know my family, Scotty’s favorite thing is STAR WARS. Beyond that, she was an author, comedienne and lent her voice to help to remove the stigma of mental illness- sharing that she was bi-polar.  It’s no secret she had led a pretty hard life  — and it eventually catches up to you, I guess.

It’s another reason why taking care of ourselves is so important. We aren’t spring chickens anymore. We can’t pass for kids in our 20s. We are getting old.  Just last night, Scott and I hit up the new MGM Casino at the National Harbor for his birthday. As we were walking into the casino, with our IDs ready for inspection, what happens? The security guard says – Ma’am you can go on through. No ID check, no humor me and look at the damn thing, nothing and he added a Ma’am to boot. What’s next?  Reading glasses!!!??

I realize there is no escaping getting older, so why do I, like so many others. fear it or live in constant denial that it’s happening? I don’t have an answer, but here are some articles to read for insight…

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Just Enjoy Today

Goodbye George Michael

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George Michael - QuoteAnother cultural icon passes away too soon. George Michael was a huge part of my growing up. His music was a constant as I grew up in the 80s and early 90s. We have lost so many greats in music this year -Glenn Frey, David Bowie, Prince, George Michael…

Do you remember how controversial his song “I want your Sex” was? How it was obvious he was gay but wouldn’t publicly admit it because back then –artists didn’t talk about it. My how times have changed. I was trying to explain this whole thing to HB and she just looked at me like I was crazy. His music is so uncontroversial compared to what is put out today — but back in the 80s and 90s, he was blazing new trails and pumping out the hits.

This has been a rough year in so many ways – Politically, in the Pop Culture sphere, and around the World. I am sure I’m not the only one who is ready to put a pin in 2016 and call it a year. I’m not one to wish away time – but it’s been tough.

What do you think of the quote I included by George Michael? That “because of the media, the way the world is perceived is as a place where resources and time are running out?”  I agree  that our sense of normal has been skewed by the constant barrage of media images, today more than ever. It’s information overload and much of it is not accurate. It’s no surprise that the younger generation is having a rough time deciphering real from fake news. Do we even know what’s real anymore?

I know it’s the holiday season and things are supposed to be merry and bright, but that isn’t real either. There are a lot of people who are more depressed, alone and lonely during this time of year than any other — so, I want to suggest to everyone out there, let’s be kinder, more tolerant of one another and make decisions with the best of intentions. You never know what someone is going through or what might happen – so start at home, with yourself.

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Merry Everything and a happy always

Parenting: Does It Ever Get Easier?

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It’s no secret that I’m not the tallest person — I’m around 5’3. Scotty, my husband, is 6’3. I figured when we had kids that they would most likely be taller than me. So, while it’s not a surprise that HB is now taller – there is a milestone moment in parenting when it hits you  – your baby is now grown up. I had that moment recently and my super tall husband had to point it out —

Parenting: It Never Gets EasierWe were shopping at a local sports store and I couldn’t reach something –so I asked HB to get it for me and sure enough, she reached up and got it with no problem. It was not a noticeable moment for me – do you know how many times I have to ask someone to get something for me? I can’t count that high — short people are used to asking for help.  But Scotty – well he strolled by and asked “Did you just ask HB to get something up high for you?”  That was the moment when I realized it had happened. My first born child is growing up. Can we make time stop?

As much as I love who she is now, I wish I had that time back when she was a baby. I would have been less nervous with her and enjoyed the time more. Life really does happen so quickly and before you know it – they are up and grown and your roles change. Circle of life, I suppose. Parenting – it never gets easy – what’s hard just changes.

Other thoughts around Parenting

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Laugh

Scotty posted this to my Facebook wall recently to let me know I’m not alone. I was once asked by a friend, “Does your husband know you are moving out?” after he saw my car.

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Challenging Times Lead to Empowering Lessons

Light Therapy for the Winter Blues

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Light Therapy for the Winter BluesThe holidays are such an interesting time of the year. It’s the most wonderful time of the year – or so we are told – but is it? I find that for many people, myself included it’s a tough time of year. High expectations, over indulgence, missing family – it can all add up to being depressed. Not to mention the winter blues start to hit.

A few years ago my doctor suggested I buy a light therapy lamp. Each year about this time, I start to feel the effects of winter starting creeping up and I have to start using the lamp again. It’s hard to believe, but 30-45 minutes each day really does make a difference. Here’s a little bit of info from the Mayo Clinic about choosing light therapy box: Seasonal affective disorder (SAD)

When using it, you have to keep an open mind when trying out light therapy. I have it on desk at the office and people stop me often and ask about it. Some are skeptical and aren’t shy in sharing their thoughts. But the thing is – I really do feel better after using it. Even if it’s all in my head (science proves otherwise)- who cares…

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Get out of your comfort zone.

Kindness Benefits the Mind and Body

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It should go without saying, but it’s more important than ever to look for ways to help each other out in our own neighborhoods and globally. Look for ways to lift each other up when possible -even if its simply a kind word and approach things with the best intentions. And, sometimes we need to remind ourselves that most people in our lives try to act with the best intentions even if they annoy us. And above all — BE KIND. Kindness Matters always. 

Health Benefits of Kindness

Kindness Benefits the Mind and BodyDid you know there is scientific research that proves being kind and generous is actually good for your health? When you do something that makes you feel good, your body makes Oxytocin, which then releases nitric oxide which dilates your blood vessels and reduces your blood pressure!

Research has also shown a link between being kind and your body releasing dopamine, which helps with your mood and aids in giving you a sense of euphoria and eases anxiety.

Here’s some good info on Why Being Kind is Good for your Health to drive the point home even more…

On a related note, I do not share much related to religion here, however, this was a story and a lesson about kindness and support that should resonate with us all, especially now as we are seeing an increase in hate crimes and mean spirited politics…

 

“Let me tell you the secret of Judaism. When you warm other people’s hearts, you remain warm yourself. When you seek to support, encourage and inspire others; then you discover support, encouragement and inspiration in your own life as well. That, my friends, is “Judaism 101”.”

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No Mediocre

Fitness is Rented and Needs to Be Paid Every Day

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Where have I been? What’s been going on? I wish I could share some exciting details or news, but the truth is I have been lacking inspiration and motivation the past few weeks. Maybe it’s the election results, or the change of seasons- whatever it is, it’s been affecting me big time.

Fitness is RentedNow that the holiday season is here, most of us will be out socializing a lot more than usual. I get invited to a ton of Holiday Parties and Happy Hours in December and if I’m not careful, I start to slip back into old eating habits. I’m sure I’m not alone.  Last week, during one of my Body By Wayne training sessions, I was bitching about how hard the workout was (something I do regularly). I asked Wayne why it’s so hard to stay lean and healthy. How come there isn’t a pill I can take to keep this way? I workout all the damn time –hard workouts, that challenge me in many different ways, but yet each time I go, it’s a mental and physical challenge once again.  It’s not freakin’ fair, but the truth is — Fitness is rented. You have to pay that rent each and every day. And if it’s important to you, then you will do it.

What keeps me motivated to stay fit?

Here’s some insight into how I think…

  1. I have seen far too many older people become immobile and unable to take care of their most basic needs without help. For some, it wasn’t something under their control, but for the vast majority – if they moved their bodies and paid a bit more attention to their overall health when they were younger, they wouldn’t be that way.  When I start to lament about having to workout, I remember this.
  2. When Scotty was sick with colon cancer, we spent every other Tues at Georgetown Hospital getting his chemo. I saw and met a lot of very sick people. Exercising is one of the best ways to prevent many cancers — and it’s an hour of of my day.  One friggin hour! And if you can’t do a full workout – then just go for a walk. MOVE YOUR BODY. I remember our time getting Scotty well and the people I met. 
  3. I live in the suburbs and I am seeing more and more, people my age ignoring their health. We are at the cusp of “no, we aren’t old” and “no, we aren’t young” and so many of take little time to take care of ourselves. We know how important it is – but tend to get wrapped up in everything else. I remind myself how important it is to take time for myself to take care of myself. Not only for my own well-being, but as a good role model for my kids.

After thinking about those three important things, how can I really not go and workout? Those aren’t trivial reasons and I have no real excuse to skip. Not to mention that I love the feeling I have after a good workout and the great people I have met through my fitness journey. Hopefully, the insight I shared will help motivate you to stop waiting and begin…

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Determination is your responsiblity

Election in America: Pulling up the Bootstraps

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Election in America: Pulling up the BootstrapsToday I am choosing Happiness. I am willing to accept the outcome (like I have a choice or anything) and will be figuring out how I help. For me, it was important to take time yesterday to feel what I was feeling. I am seeking to learn about the perspective of those that voted for Trump. I want to understand – really I do. One of the most shocking things to me about the election was the realization that I didn’t even know how a huge number of people were feeling in this country. I like to think I am a caring, smart, well-read person, so for me not to even know the disillusionment and anger that a huge percentage of people are feeling — it rocks me to my core.

I didn’t spend my time yesterday insulting anyone. I spent my time thinking about what happened and seeking clarity on what exactly happened. If you don’t understand what caused this outcome, than you can’t do much to fix it.

I am finding it difficult to understand some Trump supporters reasoning’s though. When asked about how they reconcile Trump being ok with having the KKK support him, I’ve read that “it’s a Democrat conspiracy”, even when presented with a tweet from David Duke himself. It seems that some of his supporters are fine with simply ignoring some of the dirtier aspects of their candidate while magnifying those of HRC.  I am truly trying to understand because I don’t.

However, I did read a really well thought out post yesterday from Alex Young that put some perspective around this whole thing for me and suggested a coherent game plan that we all need to get behind…

I am concerned about what Trump’s win says about us a country. We are really broken — and yes, we are America and will pull ourselves up by our bootstraps and fight against injustice. It’s in our blood. I trust in the great document that we live and die by created by our founding fathers. It has stood the test of time. But, this is a big shift in our country and a wake up call for each and every one of us. Yes, politicians come and go. Yes, I woke up today and have the same responsibilities to my family as I did Monday.  But, none of us should forget we have a responsibility to our country and to each of its citizens. We can’t grow and prosper without taking care of one another. And that’s what I am going to focus on.

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