Make America Nasty Again!


I feel so honored!  Today, a right winger, bitter clingin’ Trumpite referred to me as a….you guessed it…a NASTY WOMAN!   I couldn’t have been more thrilled. I had merely pointed out that Melania Trump was a former stripper, and pow!  I am a bit perplexed, however, because I’m not the one who stripped for money.  That was the pretty mizzrus.   Our FLOTUS.  SHE is the stripper, not I.  Anyway, it really tickled me to be part of the 100 words in this person’s vocabulary.  (snicker)


I’m not going to engage with this woman further, but if I did, this is what I would say:

If you voted for trump because you believe in fiscal conservatism, you should be furious that your tax dollars are going to build a wall that will have zero impact on the effects of immigration.
If you voted for the trump to “drain the swamp” you have been hoodwinked because he filled his cabinet with more conflict of interest than any ever.
If you hate the left because of “Political Correctness,” you need to be asking yourself if you’re okay with trump censoring communications from MULTIPLE government organizations like the National Park Service, the EPA and more.

If you voted because you hated Secretary Clinton’s email server, I expect you to be calling your representatives to ask why trump, Steve Bannon and others continue to use their unsecured personal emails and why your president is still using an unsecured Android device.

If you believe that fertilized eggs are people but refugee children are not, you need to stop acting like your concerns are religious, ’cause you’re no Christian, sweetie.

If you voted because you believed trump  would better protect you against terrorists, you need to ask yourself why it’s okay that your president just took away $130 million in anti-terror funds from New York with his punishment of Sanctuary Cities.

If you are angry that your insurance is too expensive, you should ask why your senators are repealing ACA without a replacement, an action that will leave 20 million people without insurance at all.

If you wanted to bring jobs back to the US you should be angry that Mar a Lago just hired another round of international workers, over Americans.

If you were concerned with national security I expect you to be concerned with the restructuring of the National Security Council with an anti semitic, fascist, racist, misogynistic domestic abuser.

If you believe the Clinton Initiative provided unequal treatment to countries that supported their foundation, you should be livid that trump has moved to block visas from Muslim countries like Syria, Iraq, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen, but not places where he has business ties like Egypt, Qatar, Turkey, United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia. Not only that, but the countries that are blocked have literally BILLIONS of American business dollars invested in them and are considering blocking people from the US.  Trump doesn’t have business interests in these particular countries, so in effect, he will be destroying his own business competition while letting known terrorist countries into America willingly. 

But hey….You want to call me names? Have at it!  I’m proud to be who I am, and I’m ashamed to share my country with you.

This is About Insurance


This is about insurance:
This is the most straightforward explanation of the nature of insurance and health savings accounts I have seen.
Insurance is a way of sharing the cost of risk. Health insurance is no different. It is a lottery where you buy a ticket and bet you are going to lose and hope you don’t at the same time. There is no free lunch.

We all need to understand this: First, for those who are confused, the Affordable Care Act, “ACA,” is the same thing as “Obamacare.”

Now, when Trump or Paul Ryan say they want to replace the ACA with “Health Savings Accounts” (HSAs), they are also saying they want to replace Obamacare or Medicare or Medicaid with YOU paying for your healthcare.

That means YOU pay for chemotherapy…YOU pay for all surgeries and hospitalization… YOU pay for all your family’s doctor visits, urgent care, ER visits, and prescription drugs out-of-our-pocket.
A Health Savings Account is just a tax-free way for you to save up money to pay for your own medical bills. So if you are paying off college loans, or saving for a house down-payment, or simply living paycheck to paycheck, guess what — a Health Savings Account does you no good, unless you have discretionary funds to deposit into it. And even if you manage to save five grand or ten grand in an HSA, that could all get wiped out in one hospital visit for you or a family member. Then you are back to square zero again.

Even if you can supplement your HSA with affordable health insurance, you will be eating away at money that you should be investing for your retirement or your kids’ college tuition.
Statistics reveal only the top 3-5% of Americans can save enough for retirement, college AND their own out-of-pocket medical expenses. Therefore, the tax benefits of HSA’s will only help those people.

Please call your Congress member to express your concern.

Pay Attention, People!



· To recap:

* On January 19th, 2017, DT said that he would cut funding for the DOJ’s Violence Against Women programs.

* On January 19th, 2017, DT said that he would cut funding for the National Endowment for the Arts.

* On January 19th, 2017, DT said that he would cut funding for the National Endowment for the Humanities.

* On January 19th, 2017, DT said that he would cut funding for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

* On January 19th, 2017, DT said that he would cut funding for the Minority Business Development Agency.

* On January 19th, 2017, DT said that he would cut funding for the Economic Development Administration.

* On January 19th, 2017, DT said that he would cut funding for the International Trade Administration.

* On January 19th, 2017, DT said that he would cut funding for the Manufacturing Extension Partnership.

* On January 19th, 2017, DT said that he would cut funding for the Office of Community Oriented Policing Services.

* On January 19th, 2017, DT said that he would cut funding for the Legal Services Corporation.

* On January 19th, 2017, DT said that he would cut funding for the Civil Rights Division of the DOJ.

* On January 19th, 2017, DT said that he would cut funding for the Environmental and Natural Resources Division of the DOJ.

* On January 19th, 2017, DT said that he would cut funding for the Overseas Private Investment Corporation.

* On January 19th, 2017, DT said that he would cut funding for the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

* On January 19th, 2017, DT said that he would cut funding for the Office of Electricity Deliverability and Energy Reliability.

* On January 19th, 2017, DT said that he would cut funding for the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy.

* On January 19th, 2017, DT said that he would cut funding for the Office of Fossil Energy.

* On January 20th, 2017, DT ordered all regulatory powers of all federal agencies frozen.

* On January 20th, 2017, DT ordered the National Parks Service to stop using social media after RTing factual, side by side photos of the crowds for the 2009 and 2017 inaugurations.

* On January 20th, 2017, roughly 230 protestors were arrested in DC and face unprecedented felony riot charges. Among them were legal observers, journalists, and medics.

* On January 20th, 2017, a member of the International Workers of the World was shot in the stomach at an anti-fascist protest in Seattle. He remains in critical condition.

* On January 21st, 2017, DT brought a group of 40 cheerleaders to a meeting with the CIA to cheer for him during a speech that consisted almost entirely of framing himself as the victim of dishonest press.

* On January 21st, 2017, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer held a press conference largely to attack the press for accurately reporting the size of attendance at the inaugural festivities, saying that the inauguration had the largest audience of any in history, “period.”

* On January 22nd, 2017, White House advisor Kellyann Conway defended Spicer’s lies as “alternative facts” on national television news.

* On January 22nd, 2017, DT appeared to blow a kiss to director James Comey during a meeting with the FBI, and then opened his arms in a gesture of strange, paternal affection, before hugging him with a pat on the back.

* On January 23rd, 2017, DT reinstated the global gag order, which defunds international organizations that even mention abortion as a medical option.

* On January 23rd, 2017, Spicer said that the US will not tolerate China’s expansion onto islands in the South China Sea, essentially threatening war with China.

* On January 23rd, 2017, DT repeated the lie that 3-5 million people voted “illegally” thus costing him the popular vote.

* On January 23rd, 2017, it was announced that the man who shot the anti-fascist protester in Seattle was released without charges, despite turning himself in.

* On January 24th, 2017, Spicer reiterated the lie that 3-5 million people voted “illegally” thus costing DT the popular vote.

* On January 24th, 2017, DT tweeted a picture from his personal Twitter account of a photo he says depicts the crowd at his inauguration and will hang in the White House press room. The photo is curiously dated January 21st, 2017, the day AFTER the inauguration and the day of the Women’s March, the largest inauguration related protest in history.

* On January 24th, 2017, the EPA was ordered to stop communicating with the public through social media or the press and to freeze all grants and contracts.

* On January 24th, 2017, the USDA was ordered to stop communicating with the public through social media or the press and to stop publishing any papers or research. All communication with the press would also have to be authorized and vetted by the White House.

* On January 24th, 2017, HR7, a bill that would prohibit federal funding not only to abortion service providers, but to any insurance coverage, including Medicaid, that provides abortion coverage, went to the floor of the House for a vote.

* On January 24th, 2017, Director of the Department of Health and Human Service nominee Tom Price characterized federal guidelines on transgender equality as “absurd.”

* On January 24th, 2017, DT ordered the resumption of construction on the Dakota Access Pipeline, while the North Dakota state congress considers a bill that would legalize hitting and killing protestors with cars if they are on roadways.

* On January 24th, 2017, it was discovered that police officers had used confiscated cell phones to search the emails and messages of the 230 demonstrators now facing felony riot charges for protesting on January 20th, including lawyers and journalists whose email accounts contain privileged information of clients and sources.

And today: the wall and a Muslim ban.

Teachers Can Change Lives


I woke this morning to find my husband in tears…but they were happy tears. He had just received an email from a student from 20 years ago. I wanted to share it with you, because it just goes to show how much positive influence a good teacher can have. It made me so proud to read this:

Hello, Dr. Freed!

Xxxxx and I were thinking of you this morning, and so I decided to share some of our happy thoughts with you!

I think your teaching made a strong impact on both of us. I have never considered until this morning that Xxxxx and I fell in love in your class.. I wonder how much of a success factor it was that we shared ourselves in that environment, through the stories we wrote?

You assigned us the challenge of writing original fiction short stories every week. As I faced rejection from his parents because of my father’s West African contribution to my skin, I explored my thoughts in writing. My first story for your class featured a European-American male in a secret relationship with a girl he wasn’t supposed to love – a slave. You listened with full attention, looking over your wonderful half-glasses, and I felt heard.

I also heard you. Really heard you. At age 17, I respected and believed you when you told our class that we were special. You told me a phrase I’ve repeated to myself often, when I felt blocked in writing: “Your writing is worth waiting for, because what you write is good.” That single vote of confidence has saved me from despair a number of times. It grew in me like a Rama word. I remember a few key lessons from you clearly. You taught me that a title had to have the right balance between providing information and attention-getting. You said that no writer could produce a story that didn’t reflect his own life, in some way. There was no real separation between author and product, and the writer who is honest with herself must come to terms with how much of her work is fantasy and how much is a look in the mirror.

You shared yourself with us, too, through your own writing. Both Xxxxx and I remember your short story about the robber who came and broke into a heart. On a lighter note, we also remember how you made us laugh as we analyzed James Joyce. You asked us what the meaning of “bottle green eyes” might be, and Xxxxx answered quickly, “A leprechaun!”

In spite of meeting my spouse in Freshman English, your film critique class was my favorite. Do you know that I cannot watch a film today without hearing the voice of Dr. Freed? You ask me, regularly, “Why was THAT song playing in the background? Did you hear those lyrics?” I often tell my own four children today that “Every word is a choice.” That’s a Freed film class phrase for sure. 🙂

We miss hearing from you, and maybe that’s why I’m writing you now. I imagine that you aren’t on Facebook, but that you might be sharing yourself and your wisdom
through your stories. I’m sure you’re writing prolifically; is any of your work available for the public (or us) to read? I saw that you’ve written some pieces for theater?

You attended our wedding when I was 20 and Xxxxx was 22. We will celebrate 20 years this June! Here is a picture of our family of 6, grown through both birth and adoption. Our 15 year old son XXXXX is almost 16; XXXXX is 13; XXXXX is 8; and XXXXX is 7. We still remember that when we met you, you told us stories about your skinny 16 year old son who was 6 feet tall. Parenting seemed so lofty and removed from us then.. Now our own nearly 16 year old son is 6’2, and I’ve written more than a few short stories about raising little people. Time flies!

What became of your two students?

We are living the life of liberal arts graduates, I suppose, if that means using various talents in our careers and free time! Xxxxx graduated from UST with a BA in Biology and Philosophy and went on to earn a Master of Arts in Marriage and Family Therapy. However, he currently works as a software developer in the IT consulting firm we own together. Ha!

The late, great Dr. Gordon-Kelter would be proud of the diversity. He still loves dogs as much as ever. (Do you remember telling me that you knew Xxxxx heart was good because you’d read what he’d written about dogs?). For my own part, I was a UST French major who minored in biology, went on to earn an MBA (Management Information Systems) from UST and to work as a software consultant, and am now a practicing licensed marriage and family therapist. If it helps my case for a unifying theme, though, I did speak French throughout my IT career. 🙂

May God bless you! I wish you the very best in all you do. One day, we want to see one of the screenplays you always dreamed of writing – I think you said there would be a theme of a blue car that appeared in all of your films. Is that still the plan?



The Affordable Health Care Act


As his first order of business trump signed an executive order to repeal the ACA. Here’s what this means… even if you are safely covered behind employer-provided insurance, the protections set forth in the ACA (Affordable Care Act), apply to you too. And if those protections are repealed along with the rest (or any part) of the program, you will also be affected.
That means you may be trapped in a job, because your pre-existing condition may mean you will not qualify for new insurance offered by another employer, and the cost of private insurance would be prohibitive. If your employer shuts down, lays you off, or even changes insurers, well, you are out of luck. The Senate GOP voted this week that they would not require an eventual ACA replacement to protect against discrimination for pre-existing conditions, which was the standard before the ACA.
It means that you (a young adult under the age of 26) or your adult children (over 18) may find yourselves without the protection of insurance, as the Senate GOP voted last night that an eventual ACA replacement will not be required to allow young people to remain on their parents’ insurance up to the age of 26.

It means that if you have a high-risk pregnancy, or life-threatening illness such as cancer, you may not be able to afford all the care you need, because you may hit lifetime or annual caps. If you have an infant born with any kind of severe medical condition, or premature, they may hit their lifetime insurance cap before they are old enough to walk. The Senate GOP voted last night that an eventual ACA replacement program would not be required to prohibit lifetime insurance caps.

It means that if you are a struggling parent who is uninsured or under-insured, you will no longer be able to count on at least your kids getting the routine medical and dental care they need under the Children’s Health Insurance Plan (CHIP). The Senate GOP voted that CHIP is not required to be protected by an eventual ACA replacement.

These provisions of the ACA affect everyone in this country, not just those without insurance through their employers.

If you are not okay with these changes, call your representatives and let them know what’s important to you. Nothing has been set in stone yet, but our legislators have shown us a map of what they plan to do if constituents don’t make their voices heard loud and clear.

The Federal Week in Review


The federal week in review:
1. Trump fires all Ambassadors and Special Envoys, ordering them out by inauguration day.
2. House brings back the Holman rule allowing them to reduce an individual civil service, SES positions, or political appointee’s salary to $1, effectively firing them by amendment to any piece of legislation. We now know why they wanted names and positions of people in Energy and State.
3. Senate schedules 6 simultaneous hearings on cabinet nominees many of whom have not completed an ETHICS review and triple-books those hearings with Trump’s first press conference in months and an ACA budget vote, effectively preventing any concentrated coverage or protest.
4. House GOP expressly forbids the Congressional Budget Office from reporting or tracking ANY costs related to the repeal of the ACA.
5. Trump continues to throw the intelligence community under the bus to protect Putin, despite the growing mountain of evidence that the Russians deliberately interfered in our election.
6. Trump breaks a central campaign promise to make Mexico pay for the wall by asking Congress (in other words, us, the taxpayers) to pay for it.
7. Trump threatens Toyota over a new plant that was never coming to the US nor will take jobs out of the US.
8. House passes the REINS act, giving them veto power over any rules enacted by any federal agency or department–for example, FDA or EPA bans a drug or pesticide, Congress can overrule based on lobbyists not science. Don’t like that endangered species designation, Congress kills it.

We all need to wake up to what is actually happening to our beloved country.

A Quiet Day


I didn’t speak with a single person today.  I turned off my phone, turned off the computer and spent my time meditating, practicing my guitar, practicing my piano, studying, cleaning my house, playing with my puppy, organizing and cooking. It was divine.  It was a full day, but everything was done at my own pace.  I had almost forgotten how much I enjoy my alone time, because I am seldom alone.  I consider it a great luxury.

John is in San Francisco going into the first round of rehearsals for his new play, which will open in June.  He is so excited, and I’m excited and happy for him.  He has worked very hard to get this far.

I am nearing the end of my training to be an integrative wellness and life coach.  This certification will go along with my masters degree in Psychology, and boost my marketability with my new company.  It has been hard work, draining at times, and I have had to get up at 3-4 a.m. to do my job.  I have really been burning the candle at both ends!

Burning the candle at both ends can be grueling, but it can be so satisfying if one is doing what he or she wants to be doing…and this is the case with me.  I have a higher goal, so the temporary inconvenience of working long hours and staying up late will pay off in the end.  It feels so great to be married to someone as busy as I.  We have a lot to share with one another, and I am very grateful for this.

Tomorrow is supposed to be a snow day, which means I will have Ingrid all day long, if school is cancelled.  I look forward to that, but if she doesn’t come, I will have another day to myself to appreciate and enjoy.

I apologize for not keeping my readers more entertained with this blog lately. I’ll be back to my regular posts once I complete my certification training.

Ciao for now.  xoxo

From the Business Insider – A neuroscience researcher reveals 4 rituals that will make you happier


This piece was written by Eric Barker for The Business Insider.

You get all kinds of happiness advice on the internet from people who don’t know what they’re talking about. Don’t trust them.

Actually, don’t trust me either. Trust neuroscientists. They study that gray blob in your head all day and have learned a lot about what truly will make you happy.

UCLA neuroscience researcher Alex Korb has some insights that can create an upward spiral of happiness in your life.

Here’s what you and I can learn from the people who really have answers:

1. The most important question to ask when you feel down

Sometimes it doesn’t feel like your brain wants you to be happy. You may feel guilty or shameful. Why?

Believe it or not, guilt and shame activate the brain’s reward center.

Via The Upward Spiral:

Despite their differences, pride, shame, and guilt all activate similar neural circuits, including the dorsomedial prefrontal cortex, amygdala, insula, and the nucleus accumbens. Interestingly, pride is the most powerful of these emotions at triggering activity in these regions — except in the nucleus accumbens, where guilt and shame win out. This explains why it can be so appealing to heap guilt and shame on ourselves — they’re activating the brain’s reward center.

And you worry a lot, too. Why? In the short term, worrying makes your brain feel a little better — at least you’re doing something about your problems.

Via The Upward Spiral:

In fact, worrying can help calm the limbic system by increasing activity in the medial prefrontal cortex and decreasing activity in the amygdala. That might seem counterintuitive, but it just goes to show that if you’re feeling anxiety, doing something about it — even worrying — is better than doing nothing.

But guilt, shame, and worry are horrible, long-term solutions. So what do neuroscientists say you should do? Ask yourself this question:

What am I grateful for?

Yeah, gratitude is awesome … but does it really affect your brain at the biological level? Yup.

You know what the antidepressant Wellbutrin does? Boosts the neurotransmitter dopamine. So does gratitude.

Via The Upward Spiral:

The benefits of gratitude start with the dopamine system, because feeling grateful activates the brain stem region that produces dopamine. Additionally, gratitude toward others increases activity in social dopamine circuits, which makes social interactions more enjoyable …

Know what Prozac does? Boosts the neurotransmitter serotonin. So does gratitude.

Via The Upward Spiral:

One powerful effect of gratitude is that it can boost serotonin. Trying to think of things you are grateful for forces you to focus on the positive aspects of your life. This simple act increases serotonin production in the anterior cingulate cortex.

I know, sometimes life lands a really mean punch in the gut and it feels like there’s nothing to be grateful for. Guess what?

Doesn’t matter. You don’t have to find anything. It’s the searching that counts.

Via The Upward Spiral:

It’s not finding gratitude that matters most; it’s remembering to look in the first place. Remembering to be grateful is a form of emotional intelligence. One study found that it actually affected neuron density in both the ventromedial and lateral prefrontal cortex. These density changes suggest that as emotional intelligence increases, the neurons in these areas become more efficient. With higher emotional intelligence, it simply takes less effort to be grateful.

And gratitude doesn’t just make your brain happy — it can also create a positive feedback loop in your relationships. So express that gratitude to the people you care about.

For more on how gratitude can make you happier and more successful, click here.

But what happens when bad feelings completely overtake you? When you’re really in the dumps and don’t even know how to deal with it? There’s an easy answer …

Point out the things that upset you.ibm4381/Flickr

2. Label negative feelings

You feel awful. OK, give that awfulness a name. Sad? Anxious? Angry?

Boom. It’s that simple. Sound stupid? Your noggin disagrees.

Via The Upward Spiral:

[I]n one fMRI study, appropriately titled “Putting Feelings into Words” participants viewed pictures of people with emotional facial expressions. Predictably, each participant’s amygdala activated to the emotions in the picture. But when they were asked to name the emotion, the ventrolateral prefrontal cortex activated and reduced the emotional amygdala reactivity. In other words, consciously recognizing the emotions reduced their impact.

Suppressing emotions doesn’t work and can backfire on you.

Via Your Brain at Work: Strategies for Overcoming Distraction, Regaining Focus, and Working Smarter All Day Long:

Gross found that people who tried to suppress a negative emotional experience failed to do so. While they thought they looked fine outwardly, inwardly their limbic system was just as aroused as without suppression, and in some cases, even more aroused. Kevin Ochsner, at Columbia, repeated these findings using an fMRI. Trying not to feel something doesn’t work, and in some cases even backfires.

But labeling, on the other hand, makes a big difference.

Via Your Brain at Work: Strategies for Overcoming Distraction, Regaining Focus, and Working Smarter All Day Long:

To reduce arousal, you need to use just a few words to describe an emotion, and ideally use symbolic language, which means using indirect metaphors, metrics, and simplifications of your experience. This requires you to activate your prefrontal cortex, which reduces the arousal in the limbic system. Here’s the bottom line: describe an emotion in just a word or two, and it helps reduce the emotion.

Ancient methods were way ahead of us on this one. Meditation has employed this for centuries. Labeling is a fundamental tool of mindfulness.

In fact, labeling affects the brain so powerfully it works with other people, too. Labeling emotions is one of the primary tools used by FBI hostage negotiators.

To learn more of the secrets of FBI hostage negotiators, click here.

Okay, hopefully you’re not reading this and labeling your current emotional state as bored. Maybe you’re not feeling awful but you probably have things going on in your life that are causing you some stress. Here’s a simple way to beat them.

thinkingMake decisions to do things you enjoy.Francisco Osorio/Flickr

3. Make that decision

Ever make a decision and then your brain finally feels at rest? That’s no random occurrence.

Brain science shows that making decisions reduces worry and anxiety — as well as helping you solve problems.

Via The Upward Spiral:

Making decisions includes creating intentions and setting goals — all three are part of the same neural circuitry and engage the prefrontal cortex in a positive way, reducing worry and anxiety. Making decisions also helps overcome striatum activity, which usually pulls you toward negative impulses and routines. Finally, making decisions changes your perception of the world — finding solutions to your problems and calming the limbic system.

But deciding can be hard. I agree. So what kind of decisions should you make? Neuroscience has an answer.

Make a “good enough” decision. Don’t sweat making the absolute 100% best decision. We all know being a perfectionist can be stressful. And brain studies back this up.

Trying to be perfect overwhelms your brain with emotions and makes you feel out of control.

Via The Upward Spiral:

Trying for the best, instead of good enough, brings too much emotional ventromedial prefrontal activity into the decision-making process. In contrast, recognizing that good enough is good enough activates more dorsolateral prefrontal areas, which helps you feel more in control …

As Swarthmore professor Barry Schwartz said in my interview with him: “Good enough is almost always good enough.”

So when you make a decision, your brain feels you have control. And, as I’ve talked about before, a feeling of control reduces stress. But here’s what’s really fascinating: Deciding also boosts pleasure.

Via The Upward Spiral:

Actively choosing caused changes in attention circuits and in how the participants felt about the action, and it increased rewarding dopamine activity.

Want proof? No problem. Let’s talk about cocaine.

You give two rats injections of cocaine. Rat A had to pull a lever first. Rat B didn’t have to do anything. Any difference? Yup: Rat A gets a bigger boost of dopamine.

Via The Upward Spiral:

So they both got the same injections of cocaine at the same time, but rat A had to actively press the lever, and rat B didn’t have to do anything. And you guessed it — rat A released more dopamine in its nucleus accumbens.

So what’s the lesson here? Next time you buy cocaine … whoops, wrong lesson. Point is, when you make a decision on a goal and then achieve it, you feel better than when good stuff just happens by chance.

And this answers the eternal mystery of why dragging your butt to the gym can be so hard.

If you go because you feel you have to or you should, well, it’s not really a voluntary decision. Your brain doesn’t get the pleasure boost. It just feels stress. And that’s no way to build a good exercise habit.

Via The Upward Spiral:

Interestingly, if they are forced to exercise, they don’t get the same benefits, because without choice, the exercise itself is a source of stress.

So make more decisions. Neuroscience researcher Alex Korb sums it up nicely:

We don’t just choose the things we like; we also like the things we choose.

To learn what neuroscientists say is the best way to use caffeine, click here.

OK, you’re being grateful, labeling negative emotions and making more decisions. Great, but this is feeling kinda lonely for a happiness prescription. Let’s get some other people in here.

What’s something you can do with others that neuroscience says is a path to mucho happiness? And something that’s stupidly simple so you don’t get lazy and skip it? Brain docs have an answer for you.

happy laughing friendsHave fun with friends.Business Insider

4. Touch people

No, not indiscriminately; that can get you in a lot of trouble.

But we need to feel love and acceptance from others. When we don’t it’s painful. And I don’t mean “awkward” or “disappointing.” I mean actually painful.

Neuroscientists did a study where people played a ball-tossing video game. The other players tossed the ball to you and you tossed it back to them. Actually, there were no other players; that was all done by the computer program.

But the subjects were told the characters were controlled by real people. So what happened when the “other players” stopped playing nice and didn’t share the ball?

Subjects’ brains responded the same way as if they experienced physical pain. Rejection doesn’t just hurt like a broken heart; your brain feels it like a broken leg.

Via The Upward Spiral:

In fact, as demonstrated in an fMRI experiment, social exclusion activates the same circuitry as physical pain … at one point they stopped sharing, only throwing back and forth to each other, ignoring the participant. This small change was enough to elicit feelings of social exclusion, and it activated the anterior cingulate and insula, just like physical pain would.

Relationships are important to your brain’s feeling of happiness. Want to take that to the next level? Touch people.

Via The Upward Spiral:

One of the primary ways to release oxytocin is through touching. Obviously, it’s not always appropriate to touch most people, but small touches like handshakes and pats on the back are usually okay. For people you’re close with, make more of an effort to touch more often.

Touching is incredibly powerful. We just don’t give it enough credit. It makes you more persuasive, increases team performance, improves your flirting … heck, it even boosts math skills.

Touching someone you love actually reduces pain. In fact, when studies were done on married couples, the stronger the marriage, the more powerful the effect.

Via The Upward Spiral:

In addition, holding hands with someone can help comfort you and your brain through painful situations. One fMRI study scanned married women as they were warned that they were about to get a small electric shock. While anticipating the painful shocks, the brain showed a predictable pattern of response in pain and worrying circuits, with activation in the insula, anterior cingulate, and dorsolateral prefrontal cortex. During a separate scan, the women either held their husbands’ hands or the hand of the experimenter. When a subject held her husband’s hand, the threat of shock had a smaller effect. The brain showed reduced activation in both the anterior cingulate cortex and dorsolateral prefrontal cortex — that is, less activity in the pain and worrying circuits. In addition, the stronger the marriage, the lower the discomfort-related insula activity.

So hug someone today. And do not accept little, quick hugs. No, no, no. Tell them your neuroscientist recommended long hugs.

Via The Upward Spiral:

A hug, especially a long one, releases a neurotransmitter and hormone oxytocin, which reduces the reactivity of the amygdala.

Research shows getting five hugs a day for four weeks increases happiness big time.

Don’t have anyone to hug right now? No? (I’m sorry to hear that. I would give you a hug right now if I could.) But there’s an answer: Neuroscience says you should go get a massage.

Via The Upward Spiral:

The results are fairly clear that massage boosts your serotonin by as much as 30 percent. Massage also decreases stress hormones and raises dopamine levels, which helps you create new good habits … Massage reduces pain because the oxytocin system activates painkilling endorphins. Massage also improves sleep and reduces fatigue by increasing serotonin and dopamine and decreasing the stress hormone cortisol.

So spend time with other people and give some hugs. Sorry, texting is not enough.

When you put people in a stressful situation and then let them visit loved ones or talk to them on the phone, they felt better. What about when they just texted? Their bodies responded the same as if they had no support at all.

Via The Upward Spiral:

[T]he text-message group had cortisol and oxytocin levels similar to the no-contact group.

Author’s note: I totally approve of texting if you make a hug appointment.

To learn what neuroscience says is the best way to get smarter and happier, click here.

OK, I don’t want to strain your brain with too much info. Let’s round it up and learn the quickest and easiest way to start that upward spiral of neuroscience-inspired happiness.

Sum up

Here’s what brain research says will make you happy:

  • Ask “What am I grateful for?” No answers? Doesn’t matter. Just searching helps.
  • Label those negative emotions. Give it a name and your brain isn’t so bothered by it.
  • Decide. Go for “good enough” instead of ‘best decision ever made on Earth.”
  • Hugs, hugs, hugs. Don’t text — touch.

So what’s the simple way to start that upward spiral of happiness?

Just send someone a thank-you email. If you feel awkward about it, you can send them this post to tell them why.

This really can start an upward spiral of happiness in your life. UCLA neuroscience researcher Alex Korb explains:

Everything is interconnected. Gratitude improves sleep. Sleep reduces pain. Reduced pain improves your mood. Improved mood reduces anxiety, which improves focus and planning. Focus and planning help with decision making. Decision making further reduces anxiety and improves enjoyment. Enjoyment gives you more to be grateful for, which keeps that loop of the upward spiral going. Enjoyment also makes it more likely you’ll exercise and be social, which, in turn, will make you happier.

So thank you for reading this.

And send that thank-you email now to make you and someone you care about happy.


Dental Implants – Yes or No?


My friend, H, is considering dental implants to replace a few of her teeth that were damaged in an accident.  She has done her research, and found that many of the overseas medical spas offer them at extreme discounts and have stellar reputations, so this might be the way to go.


What are Dental Implants?

Dental implants are popular options for tooth replacements.  They  helps achieve the look and feel of one’s natural teeth much better than conventional dentures or bridges.

Dental implants are artificial tooth roots  that are usually made of titanium.  These roots are surgically implanted  directly into the  jawbone beneath the gum to hold a bridge or replacement tooth in place. These implants fuse directly to the bone to provide long lasting support for the new teeth. With dental implants, it is not necessary for adjacent teeth to be ground down to hold a replacement tooth into place.

Are Dental Implants the way to go for everyone?

Dental implants are not the best choice for everyone. The perfect candidate for these kinds of implants must have enough bone left in his or her jaw to support them.  The candidate’s gums should be nice and healthy as well.  Sometimes, bone grafting must take place to aid in the support of the implant.  It is crucial that the candidate for dental implants commit to maintaining his her her very best oral hygiene habits, and to paying their dentist regular  visits.

When considering dental implants, the initial consultation with the dentist is the most important. It is at this point that the important planning phase for the treatment will occur. This includes diagnostic imaging, such as a panoramic X-ray and other diagnostic evaluations that help the dentist fully assess the health of the patient’s jawbone and teeth.



Are all dental implants the same?

There are two most commonly used types of dental implants.

Subperiosteal implants are metal frames that are fitted onto the bone directly beneath the gum tissue. As the gums begin to heal, the frame fuses to the jawbone leaving posts that are attached to the frame, to appear through the gums. The artificial teeth are mounted to these posts.

Endosteal implants entail two surgeries. This type of implant is surgically placed directly into the jawbone. When the gum tissue surrounding the incision has healed, a post is connected to the original implant via a second surgery. The final step involves the attachment of an artificial tooth or teeth to the post, either individually, or on a denture or bridge.

What do Dental Implants Cost?

The cost for dental implants is usually around  $5,000 minimum,  in the United States. As mentioned earlier, they can be much less expensive in foreign medical spas.   Perfection Medical Spa in Cancun, for example, charges from $500-4300.   In most cases, quoted prices include the costs of the consultations and examinations, the implant, the abutment, the crown and all surgical costs. Followup treatments usually usually incur additional costs . Some insurance companies will cover part or all of the costs, depending on the individual carrier.




A Sad, Sad Day


A week ago, someone I have known and loved for decades, suffered a major heart attack in Europe where he lived.  Today, the doctors were going to remove him from life support, and I haven’t heard any news yet….but I am suffering already, from a profound loss.  My daughter is also, as the two of us were very close to him.  He was my ex husband.  I had heard from him only days before the attack.  He sounded cheerful and friendly.  He was an upbeat kind of guy.


My husband today, has been so supportive and understanding of my pain.  I am counting my blessings that he is in my life now, but I will miss Steve.  Ours was an exciting life together.  He was a brilliant petroleum geologist.  We traveled here and there together, went on lots of hikes and explored the world in the most intimate of ways.  He knew a lot about things…about the earth, history, how things work.  He was such an interesting guy, really into biking, and, in fact, in his last email to me, that is what he talked about.


Today, I am finding comfort in the small things that life has to offer during sobering times such as these.  A couple of Steve’s family members reached out to me and we have reconnected, which is a blessing.  I have been watching the little hummingbird outside my window, so frail and tiny, but powerfully convincing of the gratitude that I feel for its being there in its beautiful spender during this sad time.


I am grateful for my wonderful husband, for my best friend, for my daughter and my grandchildren.  I have so much to be thankful for, and today especially, I am mindful of the temporary nature of our time here on the earth.  In the words of one of Steve’s Aunts who contacted me yesterday, “Put your arms around the people you love and hold them tight.  Hold on to your family….”  and that is what I shall do.  The family that I have in my life is the best one could possibly hope for.


I am grateful for them…..and for my life today.

Hey, Andy!


I joined a group of artists last Tuesday as we immersed ourselves in the world of Pop art master Andy Warhol.   The Portland art Museum is hosting the  largest Warhol print retrospective ever presented.  It spans two floors of the Museum and showcases nearly 250 prints, including instantly recognizable images such as Warhol’s iconic Campbell’s Soup Can (Tomato) and Marilyn Monroe (Marilyn).  We had a blast!


This was my first time meeting this particular group of women, but we quickly became fast friends.  We were a bawdy bunch, laughing and having fun the entire time.


The exhibit was amazing in its diversity, with many pieces made during Warhol’s early career as a commercial artist.  There were sketches of his shoe designs, and this endearing little cartoon series:















Then there were the recognizable pieces that were a thrill to see.


and this….


and this….


After the exhibit, we all walked down the block and had lunch at a sushi restaurant.  (I had veggie raman, but was reminded of how much I miss eating sushi…)

Anyway…if you are in the vicinity of Portland, this is a show you don’t want to miss. It is bright and energetic and full of life.   Catch it if you can!











America is in Trouble



We now have a President Elect whose relationship with Vladimir Putin is becoming more ridiculous by the hour, much less by the day. Why is this not a front page story in every newspaper in the country? Why is this not the lead-in to every news broadcast in the nation? We now have a President Elect who just settled a fraud lawsuit for $25 million for his Trump University scam. We now have a President Elect whose closest advisor is a man who is a white supremacist.


Some call him a white nationalist. What’s the difference? Both imply that the United States should be white and ruled by whites, preferably white men. An article from Breitbart claims that the inventions of the washing machine and the birth control pill were the worst things that ever happened to women because they are so very unhappy about being allowed to follow their dreams and denied an exciting career of housework and being a handmaiden to the man of the house. We now have a President Elect who has said incredibly hideous things about women and boasted about sexually assaulting them. We now have a President Elect who has fomented violence at his rallies and that violence has ratcheted up in the wake of the election. We now have a President Elect who not only condones torture; he says he will use it – in direct violation of the Geneva Convention. We now have a President Elect who has vowed to ban all Muslims from entering the country and cited the Japanese internment camps as a “precedent” for a Muslim registry.


Trump has chosen General Mike Flynn as his National Security Advisor – a position that requires no approval from Congress. Flynn is virulently anti-Muslim and a war monger. He has nominated openly racist Jeff Sessions for Attorney General. We now have a President Elect who is a climate change denier despite the findings of every major climate scientist in the world.  His wife worked in this country and an illegal immigrant.  She was a prostitute and nude model.  What kind of example does she set for other young women/girls in America?


Hillary Clinton won the popular vote.  Her margin of victory is still growing, now to almost 2 million. She is a smart, capable woman with vast experience. Donald Trump didn’t even know that the White House staff doesn’t stay on when a new president is elected. His promise to “drain the swamp” has proven to be just like his promises to enrich those he fleeced with Trump University.  He did $175 million worth of damage and paid $25 million, walking away himself with $150 million of his innocent victim’s money.


Donald J. Trump  is nothing more than a con man out to enrich himself, and he could care less about the working people of this country.  His supporters are the ones who will be hardest hit by his tax breaks for the rich….and he got away with it because they are too stupid to do their homework.  The rogues gallery he has assembled and floated for high government positions are all throwbacks to the Bush/Cheney neocon philosophy. They ARE the swamp.  AND his followers are the misinformation.


If the Electoral College was included in the Constitution to protect our Republic against elevating a despot or an individual patently unqualified by experience or temperament to the presidency, then this is the time to flex those muscles. Because if not, what is the point of continuing with that institution?





Call to Action


Yesterday Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner sat in on Trump’s first meeting with a foreign dignitary, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe (a photo verifies this, although no press were permitted at the meeting). This is a state meeting and they had no security clearance and she is supposed to be running his businesses during his presidential term.

Please call the House Oversight Committee (202-225-5074) to support the call for a bipartisan review of Trump’s financials and apparent conflicts of interest. It takes two minutes, and the woman on the phone said that they are absolutely tallying calls – the more they get, the more likely the Committee is to demand ALL of Trump’s financial information.

She said that there’s not much time left, as they are out of the office next week for Thanksgiving. And after that, they’re going to make a decision.

NOW is your chance to use what’s left of democracy to send a strong message and demand change. Please, do this ASAP. If you get a “mailbox is full” message, call back in a minute or so – that seems to be the default when lines are busy.

That number again is (202-225-5074)

You can also call 202-225-7751 which is Jason Chaffitz number.

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On Being Married to a College Professor



Being married to a college professor can be, at times, like being married to a rock star…or at least someone famous.   What I mean by that is, there is always a group of women with crushes, there are always nighttime phone calls, unexpected gifts and flirtations galore.  Flowers will arrive on his birthday.  Gifts come at Christmas….everything from magazine subscriptions to gift certificates to nice restaurants. These things always make me smile.  I’m the lucky one.

The women who do it are knowledge junkies who are turned on by my husband’s intelligence.  There is a whole group of people who strive to get close to close to him because he is their professor.  They call at all hours with questions…and, “Oh…would you like to go out for a drink?”  I say, “Go!”  It doesn’t bother me a bit.  A man who is happy in his marriage is not going to stray.  That is the bottom line, and I know my husband is happy, because he shows me in one way or another, every day, always putting the marriage first, looking out for me, being loving and kind, taking the time to really discuss things with me without raising his voice.

My husband has traveled the globe in his capacity as a professor, administrator, author, playwright, et al.  There is the story of the woman in China…his tour guide….who exchanged email addresses and proceeded to ruthlessly flirt.  There are countless stories of students who send him gifts and flirty notes.  It happens, and I barely notice.  It doesn’t bother me at all.  I trust the man implicitly.  Otherwise, I would not be married to him.  I would not be in a marriage or any relationship, in which I couldn’t trust the other person.  I mean, what is the point?  Who is that insecure, anyway? I can’t imagine.

There are always women who have worked hard on their writing….their short stories and poetry, who target him as someone who really cares.  They are right.  He does.  He cares about his students, their writing and work, and he does what he can to help them. He just doesn’t care about their crushes the way that they want him to.  I mean, he does care, and is gentle with them as he lets them down.   About this, he is sincere.  He is an excellent lecturer, and his classwork is interesting and stimulating.  However, just as many patients develop crushes on their doctors, or church attendees develop crushes on their ministers, so goes it with college professors.

There are the ones who try to sidle up to me, because I am his wife, thus providing easy access.  I can spot them a mile away, because it has happened so many times.  I’m nice to them, invite them over for tea, interact with them in a friendly manner, knowing full well that they are seeking the attention of my husband.  It’s sort of funny really.  I think we both work together to let them down gently.

Not a day passes that I am not grateful that I can be secure in my relationship, that I know, deep in my heart, that despite those who develop crushes on him, he is true to his marriage.  I would never even consider being in a relationship in which trust was not at the forefront of all interactions.  I can’t imagine being so insecure that I’d stay in a relationship that was any different.  Nope.  I’m a pretty lucky woman.

Ours is not a conventional marriage.  Some of you reading this will understand this statement more than others.  However, a good marriage it is.  We are deeply in love with one another, and are always concerned about the other person.  Isn’t that the way a good marriage should be?