January 12, 2013

The Good News about Schizophrenia

It’s easy to dwell on the negatives when dealing with schizophrenia, but the truth is, there are many reasons for hope:

·         We know, without question, that schizophrenia is a no-fault disorder of the brain and that with appropriate treatment and supports, the illness doesn't necessarily have to have a chronic, deteriorating course. People do and can recover!

·         Early diagnosis and the availability of community-based treatment and social supports can restore an individual’s dignity, improve her quality of life, and enable her to make meaningful contributions to her family and community. Your loved one may find a different path than you or she anticipated, but it can still be a good one.

·         The ultimate goal of recovery is about more than relief of symptoms. Recovery entails helping people get back to work or school, live with others, and make their own life decisions. Patients and families should accept no less.

·         The role of families and friends is critical to recovery. They need to:

§  Support and anchor their loved ones during the acute phases of the illness
§  Help their loved ones find the tools they need to recover and avoid relapse

·         Continue to educate themselves to better cope with the challenges they encounter, working individually and collectively to fight stigma and discrimination based on misunderstanding.

Just as scientists now know that there are many different types of cancer, researchers may one day learn that schizophrenia is a family of similar disorders that are currently lumped under one term. This discovery could pave the way for more targeted and personalized treatments. Because the precise causes of schizophrenia are still unknown for any particular individual, scientists are exploring a number of possibilities including genetic, viral, infectious, chemical, developmental, and environmental explanations. There has never been more research being conducted on the causes and cures for schizophrenia than there is today.

Read the Label

Get into a habit of reading the labels on food. While they may have messages such as “Low Fat” or “Reduced Calorie” written all over the front of the package or can, when you read the label and understand what you are looking for, you will probably be surprised. Regardless of what the claim may be, the label may tell another story. The concerned state agency provides these important guidelines, therefore, should be what you look for. If the message and label do not jive, move on to a different product.

Fat-Free - Less than 0.5 grams of fat per serving, with no added fat or oil

Low fat - 3 grams or less of fat per serving

Less fat - 25% or less fat than the comparison food

Saturated Fat Free- Less than 0.5 grams of saturated fat and 0.5 grams of trans-fatty acids per serving

Cholesterol-Free- Less than 2 mg cholesterol per serving, and 2 grams or less saturated fat per serving

Low Cholesterol- 20 mg or less cholesterol per serving and 2 grams or less saturated fat per serving

Reduced Calorie- At least 25% fewer calories per serving than the comparison food

Low Calorie- 40 calories or less per serving

Extra Lean- Less than 5 grams of fat, 2 grams of saturated fat, and 95 mg of cholesterol per (100 gram) serving of meat, poultry or seafood

Lean- Less than 10 grams of fat, 4.5 g of saturated fat, and 95 mg of cholesterol per (100 gram) serving of meat, poultry or seafood

Light (fat)- 50% or less of the fat than in the comparison food (ex: 50% less fat than our regular cheese)

Light (calories)- 1/3 fewer calories than the comparison food

High-Fiber- 5 grams or more fiber per serving

Sugar-Free- Less than 0.5 grams of sugar per serving

Sodium-Free or Salt-Free- Less than 5 mg of sodium per serving

Low Sodium 140 mg or less per serving

Very Low Sodium- 35 mg or less per serving

Schizophrenia Risks - cont'd....

Prenatal factors

What happens to you before you’re born — or during the process of birth- can affect you all your life. The likelihood of schizophrenia developing has been linked to several prenatal (before birth) factors:

·         The age of the birth father: One prenatal risk factor that’s been linked to schizophrenia is the age of the birth father. Children with fathers who are over the age of 50 are three times more likely to develop schizophrenia than children whose fathers are under 30 years old at the time of their birth. Some researchers have suggested that this may be the result of sperm mutations that occur with advancing age.

·         Influenza: Studies have shown that children born to mothers who contracted the flu while pregnant (especially during the second trimester) also have a greater chance of developing schizophrenia.

·         Starvation: Maternal starvation is linked to increased risk of schizophrenia in offspring. Starvation can occur either because of poverty or because of eating disorders such as anorexia.

·         Stress: Recently, a large epidemiological study looked at stressors such as the death of a close relative or a diagnosis of cancer, heart attack, or stroke in a close relative as risk factors for having children who would develop schizophrenia later in life. Only one of these factors increased risk: The risk of developing schizophrenia or a related disorder was 67 percent greater among the children of mothers who experienced the death of a close family member during the first trimester than those who did not have that stress. The vast majority of fetuses exposed to these prenatal environmental stressors did not develop schizophrenia, leaving the perplexing question of why some did and others didn't still unanswered.

Schizophrenia Risks

Obstetrical and birth complications

The ways in which birth complications double the risk for schizophrenia are not known. But several studies show that various obstetrical and birth complications do increase risk.

A statistical review of multiple studies looking at the link between obstetric complications and schizophrenia found three groups of complications associated with the disorder:

·         Complications of pregnancy, including bleeding, diabetes, Rh incompatibility, and pregnancy-induced high blood pressure

·         Abnormal fetal growth and development, including low birth weight, cardiovascular congenital anomalies, and small head circumference

·         Complications of delivery, including lack of uterine muscle tone, inadequate oxygen intake by the baby, and emergency cesarean section (C-section)

·         Other life experiences

Although parents have been let off the hook as far as finger-pointing blame for schizophrenia goes, the current consensus is that other environmental stressors and stress in general may contribute to the onset of schizophrenia. For example, urban life, geographic migration, and poverty are all associated with increased rates of schizophrenia.

Other studies have shown that individuals with schizophrenia smoke marijuana more often than the general population. Some prospective studies now show that smoking marijuana (before the onset of psychotic symptoms) increases the likelihood of schizophrenia by two to four times. On the other hand, the overwhelming majority of people who smoke marijuana don’t develop schizophrenia.

Myths Associated with Schizophrenia

People wrongly associate the symptoms of schizophrenia with split or multiple personalities (like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde), antisocial behavior (similar to what we see in serial killers), and developmental disabilities. Others believe that schizophrenia is a character defect and that the individual could behave normally if he really wanted to.

Here are a few of the most common misconceptions about schizophrenia:

Schizophrenia is the same as a split or multiple personality. Schizophrenia is not the same as multiple personality, which is an exceedingly rare, totally different disorder that is now more commonly called a dissociative identity disorder. (Under stress, people with this disorder often assume different identities, each with different names, voices, characteristics, and personal histories.)

People with schizophrenia are violent. People with schizophrenia are more likely to be victims rather than perpetrators of crimes. Many people believe that most people with schizophrenia have a propensity for violence, but the reality is that most people with schizophrenia don’t commit violent crimes, and most violent criminals don’t have schizophrenia. For example, serial killers (people who commit three or more subsequent murders) usually aren’t psychotic (out of touch with reality); they’re likely to be diagnosed with an antisocial personality disorder (a disorder in which people disregard commonly accepted social rules and norms, display impulsive behavior, and are indifferent to the rights and feelings of others).

However, people with untreated schizophrenia, who refuse to take medication and whose thinking is out of touch with reality are at increased risk of aggressive behavior and self-neglect. The risk of violence also increases if someone with schizophrenia is actively abusing alcohol or illicit drugs. For better or worse, the aggressive behavior is usually directed toward family or friends rather than toward strangers.

Poor parenting causes schizophrenia. For many years, clinicians were taught and actually believed that schizophrenia was caused by parents who were either too permissive or too controlling. The term schizophrenogenic mother was once used to describe such parents — the blame usually fell heavily on mothers because they tended to spend the most time with their offspring.

Another outdated theory is the double-bind theory, which suggested that schizophrenia is due to inconsistent parenting, with conflicting messages. These ideas were not based on controlled studies, and these theories no longer have credibility today. Schizophrenia is a no-fault disorder of the brain.

People with schizophrenia are mentally retarded. Some people think that schizophrenia is synonymous with mental retardation (now called developmental disabilities). No. Like the general public, people with schizophrenia have a wide range of intellectual abilities. They may appear less intelligent because of the impaired social skills, odd behaviors, and cognitive impairments that are characteristic of schizophrenia.

However, they’re not lacking in intelligence, and schizophrenia is distinct from developmental disabilities (physical and mental deficits that are chronic and severe and that generally begin in childhood).

Schizophrenia is a defect of character. Negative symptoms of schizophrenia give people the mistaken impression that those with the disorder are lazy and could act “normally” if they wanted to. This idea is no more realistic than suggesting that someone could prevent his epileptic seizures if he really wanted to or that someone could “decide” not to have cancer if he ate the right foods. What often appears as character defects are symptoms of schizophrenia. When the negative symptoms of schizophrenia are persistent and primarily caused by schizophrenia, they’re referred to as deficit syndrome.

There’s no hope for people diagnosed with schizophrenia. Sixty years ago when people were diagnosed with schizophrenia, they were either kept at home behind closed doors by embarrassed and forlorn families who saw no other alternative, or consigned to long-term stays in distant state hospitals for care that was largely custodial (they weren’t treated — they were just taken care of). Other than using highly sedating drugs, doctors had few tools available to them to relieve the agitation and torment of their patients or to help restore their functioning.

In contrast to how things were in the past, schizophrenia is now considered highly treatable. Several generations of new medications and the emergence of new forms of therapies have enabled doctors to treat the symptoms of the large majority of patients with schizophrenia enabling them to live meaningful, productive lives in their communities.


Meditation is simply the practice of focusing your attention on a particular object — generally something simple, like a word or phrase, a candle flame or geometrical figure, or the coming and going of your breath. In everyday life, your mind is constantly processing a barrage of sensations, visual impressions, emotions, and thoughts. When you meditate, you narrow your focus, limit the stimuli bombarding your nervous system — and calm your mind in the process.

To get a quick taste of meditation, follow these instructions:

1. Find a quiet place and sit comfortably with your back relatively straight. If you tend to disappear into your favorite chair, find something a bit more supportive.

2. Take a few deep breaths, close your eyes, and relax your body as much as you can.

3. Choose a word or phrase that has special personal or spiritual meaning for you. Here are some examples: “There’s only love,” “Don’t worry, be happy,” “Trust in God.”

4. Begin to breathe through your nose (if you can), and as you breathe, repeat the word or phrase quietly to yourself. You can whisper the word or phrase, sub-vocalize it (that is, move your tongue as though saying it, but not aloud), or just repeat it in your mind. If you get distracted, come back to the repetition of the word or phrase. As an alternative, you can follow your breath as it comes and goes through your nostrils, returning to your breathing when you get distracted.

5. Keep the meditation going for five minutes or more; then slowly get up and go about your day.

How did you feel? Did it seem weird to say the same thing or follow your breath over and over? Did you find it difficult to stay focused? Did you keep changing the phrase? If so, don’t worry. With regular practice, you’ll gradually get the knack.

Of course, you could easily spend many fruitful and enjoyable years mastering the subtleties and complexities of meditation. But the good news is, the basic practice is actually quite simple, and you don’t have to be an expert to do it — or to enjoy its extraordinary benefits.

January 10, 2013

Healthy Lifestyle

Keep joints mobile

The source of the healing power of evening primrose oil is its constituent omega-6 essential fatty acid GLA (gamma-linoleic acid), which the body converts into inflammation-controlling prostaglandins. The body converts dietary fat into GLA less efficiently as we age, making supplements popular. Taking evening primrose oil can lessen joint pain and swelling in rheumatoid arthritis, has the added advantage of keeping skin, hair, and nails looking youthful and may be useful in keeping memory strong by boosting the transmission of nerve impulses. Take 1,000 mg with food up to three times a day.

Build bones

Vital for energy production, metabolism, digestion, and bone health, calcium-rich food and supplements reduce risk of bone loss and fracture, lower blood pressure, and keep the heart and blood vessels healthy. Calcium also protects against colon cancer, insomnia, and migraines. Food sources include dairy foods, oily fish (eat the bones), eggs, nuts, sunflower and sesame seeds, dried figs, and green leafy vegetables. Organic food has more calcium. Soak up the sun for 15 minutes daily to generate vitamin D, which is essential for calcium uptake, as is magnesium, available from nuts, whole grains, and yeast extract. To ensure your intake is high enough, take 1,000 mg calcium a day to age 50, 1,200 mg if you are over 50.

Healthy Lifestyle - cont'd....

Eating meditation

Don’t miss out on the spirit refuelling possibilities of eating with all your senses engaged. Before sitting down to eat, make sure you are hungry. Sit upright, close your eyes, and focus within. Open your eyes and look at your plate, as if for the first time: examine the blend of colors and textures, steam rising or beads of oil. When other thoughts arise, let them pass; bring your awareness back to the food in front of you.

As you cut and spear, appreciate the textures: crisp, tender, oozing. Close your eyes, place a morsel in your mouth and feel the sensations as flavors activate taste buds on various parts of your tongue. After finishing, sit in silence briefly and concentrate on your digestion. Visualize food circulating through your body systems and being transformed into energy.

Why breakfast matters

Kick-start the day with a good portion of the nutrients your body needs — without fuel body and mind won’t cope with all your demands. Choose foods that offer a sustained energy boost: oatmeal, homemade muesli, Whole meal toast, eggs, yogurt with fruit, nuts, and seeds.

Healthy Lifestyle - cont'd....

Support the heart

Co-enzyme Q10 keeps all parts of the body working well, and is essential for generating energy and for muscle function and stamina, but it declines in the body and is less easily absorbed after our 20s. An antioxidant, it may help treat heart disease and lower high blood pressure, and seems to have an anticancer action. It is also prescribed to prevent age-related memory loss and boost immunity. Food sources include sardines, peanuts, and spinach, or take 50 mg daily with food (consult your doctor if taking heart or blood-pressure medication).


Go green

A potent antioxidant, green tea has been found in studies to boost longevity and the immune system, cut risk of heart disease and reduce inflammation. Antibacterial and antiviral, it also helps stimulate the burning of calories according to researchers at the University of Geneva. Drinking more than two cups a day keeps mind and memory sharp with age. Japanese women who drink green tea also have lower risk.

• Nettle tea helps maintain strong bones and is an antioxidant.
• Lemon balm tea refreshes in summer heat and stimulates brain and memory.
• Ginger tea gives instant zing and keeps joints mobile and circulation moving. Grate 1 in (2.5 cm) fresh ginger into a cup, pour over boiling water and steep for 10 minutes; sweeten with honey.

January 9, 2013


When Spanish conquerors reached Colombia in 1499, they discovered a civilization that was rich in gold. They spread tales of a mysterious lost city called El Dorado, filled with wealth, but it has never been found. Since 1819, when Colombia became an independent country, it has suffered decades of violent political battles and, more recently, bloody rivalry between drug cartels. Today Colombia is the world’s largest producer of cocaine. Large rivers, such as the Orinoco and Amazon, form an important means of transportation for goods across the country.


The bustling port of Cartagena was founded by the Spanish in the 1500s. Great Spanish galleons bound for home set off from here piled high with riches looted from the native peoples. The old city walls, enclosing beautiful mansions and churches, are still there today, along with the many fortifications built by the Spanish to ward off pirates and attacks from other countries.


All Colombians know how to dance the cumbia, even young children. The dance is a blend of traditions from the black slaves who were brought to Colombia from Africa in the 1800s, together with Spanish and native Indian influences. The men wear white, which was the color of slaves’ clothes. Women’s clothes are more Spanish in origin.


Many people consider Colombian emeralds to be the finest in the world. The earliest civilizations to live in this region made beautiful objects from gold and emeralds. Today, Colombia produces more than half of the world’s emeralds.


This small village near the southern mountains is famous for its ancient stone figures. The statues are at least 800 years old, but very little is known about the people who carved them. Some experts believe that the site was a ceremonial center where the Agustinians buried their dead, placing statues near the tombs.

January 8, 2013

Work Pacing

Reset Your Pace

Consider where you are right now on the path of your career (or careers). You have probably spent hours thinking about the approaches to productivity you take, as well as the goals you plan, work toward, and achieve. Most likely, every day you begin by following the same habits and routines (i.e., your pace) that have become comfortable for you over the past few years. To reset the pace, you need to look at three areas:

1. What do you do to manage the time you have? To hold your pace, you must study your workflow habits and find ways to work smarter and more effectively with the time you have. You must think about when you work, how you work, and what you need to be as efficient as possible.

2. How do you use tools and technology to help you get things done? You need to understand the tools of productivity that are available to you. By learning something about productivity technology, the processes you follow, and the organizational tools you can use, you may find you’re saving time, getting more done faster, and working at a more easily sustainable pace than you have in the past.

3. When do you relax and rejuvenate, to reset the pace? Resting and resetting doesn’t just happen. And scheduling a vacation or sleeping in one morning a weekend may not be enough rest and relaxation for you to completely reengage in what you’re doing.

To survive and thrive, you need to be productive with consistency, professionalism, and excellence. The old time management tricks no longer give you the help you need. Rewriting your to-do list takes up precious minutes each morning. Getting less sleep each night isn’t healthy. And, certainly, watching the clock won’t help you get things done. There is a famous saying that “practice makes perfect.” Parents, teachers, and coaches said it about many of our activities; I, on my part, tried to learn to play the guitar, practiced basketball, and took art classes. Though I never quite reached a level of perfection in any of those efforts, I did achieve a feeling of comfort with them. I could go through the motions, even though I knew I wasn’t going to make a career out of any of these endeavors.

What I know: Practice doesn’t always make perfect, but repeating something over and over again will eventually make it seem normal and feel comfortable.

January 6, 2013

Reaching your GOAL

Just Keep Moving

When you clearly identify an objective goal (perhaps your Ideal Day!), you automatically begin to make things better, and you can continue moving in a positive direction. When you think about where you are going, talk about your dreams, write goals, and reflect on your efforts, you make significant progress. Focusing on a specific direction is important for two reasons: (1) You’ll notice more opportunities, while (2) you narrow your focus. The more you can see the direction in which you are heading, the easier it will be to collect ideas and information to get you closer to achieving the results you’re after. Remember the words of Abraham Lincoln: “A goal properly set is halfway reached.”

But how do you pick, manage, and celebrate the “right” goals, whether they are personal or professional, short term or long term? Surely you have heard that one way to be effective is to set goals that are SMART: Specific, Meaningful, Actionable, Realistic, and Timely. However, that doesn’t work for everyone. It’s too easy to make excuses for, to “explain away,” not reaching goals and objectives. Here are the “goal-stoppers” heard all too often:

But, what if goal-setting doesn’t work? Do you know someone who has said this? Generally, it happens when people set the bar too high, taking on goals that are too big to begin with. They take something on, work on it, stress about it, think about it, work on it some more, only to realize that for some reason (and they usually have several to share with you!), they won’t be able to “just do it.” They won’t be able to finish what they started.

Won’t setting a goal limit my opportunities? Other times, people claim they prefer the serendipity of achievement; that is, by not picking anything too specific to work toward, they keep themselves open to living life in the moment and taking advantage of what shows up, as it shows up. “Sure I’d like to know about that next promotion, if it’s ever offered. If not, it’s okay; something else will show up.” That was a comment I heard from a participant in an open seminar I presented at a not-for-profit organization.

There is a middle ground, fortunately. For those of you who have set goals in the past and not achieved them, it’s time to start anew. And for those of you who enjoy the surprises life has to offer, I encourage you to keep on working and living that way. Just realize that to make your best better there will be some things you’ll want to do starting now.

Better work

Focus on Making Your Best Better

In this part about work, outlined in detail the three steps—concepts that are crucial to a focus on making your best better:

1. Set a goal. A goal goes a long way toward making more things possible. A clear outcome helps form a structure, clarifying the destination while making obvious the direction to go in. Once you have set a clear path to achieving a goal, it will be easier to say no to things that take you off-course.

2. Be consistent. Consistency is key to personal and career success. If you can repeat positive, valuable behaviors, develop routines that build upon each other and that generate and enhance momentum, you will demonstrate your trustworthiness to everyone you work with and around.

3. Take action. Action is necessary to achieve your goals. To get from where you are to where you want to be, you must plan and take specific action steps directly related to the goal.

Now it’s time to stop and ask yourself, “How do I apply these three concepts to my own work and life experiences?” As you continue reading, make notes of how you think you identify your goals, how you plan for consistency, and how you take deliberate action toward achieving your desired outcomes.

Understand the Impact of Your Style of Working

Your individual role in making your best better requires that you: (1) know the way you work and get things done, and (2) constantly ensure that you are aligned with the way you work and get things done.

There’s a simple question you can ask to distinguish your own working style: Are you a verb person or a noun person? To help you answer that, it’s best to have a list with more than 30 things that need your attention. Now look at the first (or sometimes, only) word of each item on the list. Is it a noun or is it a verb?

There’s no right or wrong way to write a list. I find that although everyone will switch between nouns and verbs here and there, the very real data is there for you to see in your own hand; some people tend to choose nouns over verbs; others prefer verbs to nouns. As you clarify the ways you can work smarter, consider the distinction between the two.

Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ

Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to Saint Matthew 2:1-12. 

When Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea, in the days of King Herod, behold, magi from the east arrived in Jerusalem,  saying, "Where is the newborn king of the Jews? We saw his star at its rising and have come to do him homage."

When King Herod heard this, he was greatly troubled, and all Jerusalem with him. 

Assembling all the chief priests and the scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Messiah was to be born.

They said to him, "In Bethlehem of Judea, for thus it has been written through the prophet:  'And you, Bethlehem, land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; since from you shall come a ruler, who is to shepherd my people Israel.'"

Then Herod called the magi secretly and ascertained from them the time of the star's appearance. 

He sent them to Bethlehem and said, "Go and search diligently for the child. When you have found him, bring me word, that I too may go and do him homage." 

After their audience with the king they set out. And behold, the star that they had seen at its rising preceded them, until it came and stopped over the place where the child was. 

They were overjoyed at seeing the star,  and on entering the house they saw the child with Mary his mother. They prostrated themselves and did him homage. Then they opened their treasures and offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.

And having been warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they departed for their country by another way.