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Living Well - Inspire Your Spirit

Dare to Dream

When was the last time you dared to dream? Not the in-your-sleep kind of dream but the aspiration kind of dream, such as a strong desire for a career shift, a new house or a better relationship with a loved one. Dreams are like carrots that dangle just out of reach. They’re good for us because they inspire us to move forward.

Make your dream more than a pie-in-the-sky wish by taking action. Take a class, find a mentor or create a collage that reflects your dream vision. For example, cut out words and images and glue them to a poster board. Let the artistic spirit flow freely as you bring your vision into a pictorial reality.

Then look for synchronicity in the days ahead. Perhaps you’ll suddenly see a book related to your dream or see a seminar about your subject of interest. It’s a little like shopping for a car. Once you decide upon the make and model, you see them everywhere. Creating a dream collage helps you see your dream more clearly.

But what if you’re stuck and don’t even know what your dream is? In her groundbreaking book on creativity called The Artist’s Way, Julia Cameron includes an exercise on unearthing your dreams. Below is an excerpt of the exercise. The key to this exercise is speed. Jot down your answers quickly—they will point you in the direction of your dream:

  1. List five hobbies that sound fun.
  2. List five classes that sound fun.
  3. List five things you used to enjoy doing.
  4. List five silly things you would like to try once.

Seeing Red

'Tis the season for all things green and red, including the pomegranate, a fruit that hails from Persia. This gorgeous ruby-colored beauty has long played a starring role in art, literature and in ancient Greek medical texts. Today, science tells us what ancient medical practitioners have long known—pomegranates are very good for health.

The fruit is jam-packed with polyphenol antioxidants, which guard the body against free radicals, molecules that destroy healthy cells. Research has shown that pomegranate juice has higher levels of antioxidants than red wine and green tea. In a 2007 issue of Cancer Research, researchers led by Hasan Mukhtar, PhD—coleader of the Cancer Chemoprevention Program of the University of Wisconsin Paul P. Carbone Comprehensive Cancer Center—demonstrated that drinking pomegranate fruit extract helps slow the growth of lung cancer in mice.

"Pomegranate fruit continues to show great promise,” says Mukhtar, professor of dermatology at the School of Medicine and Public Health and a member of the Carbone Cancer Center. “We have earlier shown that pomegranate fruit contains very powerful skin and prostate cancer-fighting agents. These recent findings expand the possible health benefits of the fruit to the leading cause of cancer death in the country and worldwide: lung cancer."

During the fall and winter, the fruit appears in the produce section. The seeds (called arils) can be tossed into salads, rice dishes, smoothies or simply enjoyed fresh. Because the juice easily stains, the best way to peel this fruit is under water. Just submerge the pomegranate in a bowl of water placed in the sink, cut it into quarters, pull back the peel and strip away the paper-thin membrane. The seeds will fall to the bottom.

When choosing a fresh pomegranate look for those that feel heavy for their size, which indicates they contain lots of juice. The exterior color (can vary from yellow-pink to deep red) and a few blemishes are irrelevant. You can store pomegranates at room temperature for a several days or in the refrigerator for up to a month.

With a little ice and soda water, the readily available juice is festive in a wine glass and a refreshing alternative to alcohol. Try it this holiday season. Cheers!

Light up to Banish Winter Blues

In winter, everyone gets a little cabin fever now and then. But if you find yourself often anxious, depressed, lethargic, gaining weight and losing sleep, you might be suffering from Seasonal Anxiety Disorder, commonly referred to as SAD.

No one knows for sure what exactly causes SAD, but the amount of sunlight— or lack thereof—is a contributing factor. That makes winter an especially difficult time for millions of people. Winter’s dwindling daylight hours disrupt natural sleep patterns. Inadequate sleep leads to grouchiness at best. But continuous lack of sleep is a symptom of SAD and requires attention.

Some researchers suspect that seasonally caused variants in serotonin and melatonin may also trigger SAD. Again, light is a factor. Melatonin is produced during nighttime. Too much melatonin is linked to depression and SAD is considered a type of depression. Conversely, too little serotonin, produced during daylight hours, can also cause seasonal depression.

Here are four ways that can help alleviate the problem:

  1. See the Light. Since lack of daylight is a major culprit, get a lightbox that transmits about 10,000 lux (a measurement of intensity). Be in the light for about 30 minutes a day. Likewise, use full spectrum lightbulbs wherever you can, including in your office. Open the blinds and allow whatever sunlight there is to pour in throughout the day.
  2. Exercise. Get outside whenever possible. Even if the day is a bit overcast, you’re still exposing yourself to some light. If you can’t exercise outdoors, do it inside, at least three to four times a week. Don’t let lack of time stop you. Research has shown that exercise bouts of 10 minutes each done two to three times per day are as effective as 30 consecutive minutes. Just move and you’ll feel better!
  3. Relax. Finding ways to better manage your stress will also reduce symptoms of SAD. Meditate, listen to relaxing music, draw a bubble bath with your favorite essential oils, read a spiritually oriented book or get a massage. Find a massage therapist buddy and exchange weekly massages.
  4. Take a Trip. Of course, nothing beats the winter blahs like a trip to a sunny locale. Take a course in a new massage modality in a warm destination, and you can write that trip off as a business expense … a great way to get a dose of sunshine and a tax write-off, too!

MTJ People

Forty-four-year-old Kerry Methot didn’t get the singing voice in her family but went on to work with some musicians, thanks to her talent as a massage therapist and her flair for entrepreneurship. She has been a therapist for 17 years and lives in Moosup, Connecticut.

What attracted you to becoming a massage therapist?
I was in car accident and was amazed what physical therapy could do for me. When work dried up in the aerospace industry I decided to go to massage school. I gave my resume to the clinic where I got my physical therapy and have now been working there for 17 years.

Describe your practice.
I specialize in working with injuries at the Eastern Connecticut Rehabilitation Center in Dayville. I’ve been working with physical therapists and they’re amazing resources. In addition to working with people post-trauma, I also massage musicians, weightlifters and runners.

You created a rather unique internship as part of your school requirement - what did you do?
I’m a huge music fan. I met with the operations manager at the local civic center arena and offered my massage services, for free, to the musicians who came to play there. He was leery at first, but agreed. On show day, I introduced myself to the musicians and said here’s what I do, let me know if I can help. Def Leppard now hires me whenever they come to the area. I’ve also worked with Peter Gabriel, Sarah McLachlan, ZZ Top, Andrea Bocelli and Van Halen.

What do you love about being a massage therapist?
I enjoy making people feel better. Because I work with a lot of injured people, I try to give them tools so they don’t get into the same situation, for example offering different pillowing techniques. I want to empower them to help themselves.

Advice for new people entering the field?
Volunteer. Collectively, we are the voice of AMTA and I believe it’s important to give back and promote the profession. I feel it’s important that people consider volunteering at least once a year for something they feel strongly about. It’s not all about making money.

POM Cranberry Sauce

Time to Table: 15 minutes prep, 10-20 minutes cooking, 15 minutes cooling

Makes 1 3/4 cups sauce

  • 1c juice pomegranate juice (use two to three large POM Wonderful Pomegranates,* or 1 cup POM Wonderful 100% Pomegranate Juice)
  • 1/3c arils from 1 large POM Wonderful Pomegranate
  • 1c water
  • 1 1/4c dried cranberries
  • 2/3c sugar
  • 2 tsp shredded orange peel
  • 1 tbsp cornstarch
    1. Score one fresh pomegranate and place in a bowl of water. Break open the pomegranate under water to free the arils (seed sacs). The arils will sink to the bottom of the bowl and the membrane will float to the top. Sieve and put the arils in a separate bowl. Reserve 1/3 cup of the arils from fruit and set aside. (Refrigerate or freeze remaining arils for another use.)
    2. Prepare fresh pomegranate juice.*
    3. In a medium saucepan combine the juice, water, cranberries, sugar, orange peel and cornstarch.
    4. Bring mixture to a boil; reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, for 10 minutes, stirring frequently. (If a thicker sauce is desired, simmer 10 minutes more.)
    5. Remove from heat; stir in reserved arils. Cool 15 minutes; if not using right away, place in a tightly covered container and refrigerate for up to one week.

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Kristie W., AMTA member since 2011

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