Summer Safety and Wellness Tips

Hit the beach

Hit the beach

“Summertime and the living is easy…” My father often sang these words, though I can’t recall him ever singing the rest of the song. That is beside the point. Summertime is here and so here is some advice to make the living of it easier.

Let’s talk about protecting our skin while the sun is burning down. July is UV Safety Month. I didn’t know there was such a thing, but I do now and so do you. Nobody wants melanoma, skin cancer, or the leathery rough skin that makes you look 20 years older than you are. The best prevention info lies ahead.

First of all put sunscreen on that has an SPF rating of 15 or higher a half hour before you head outdoors. Don’t forget your ears, scalp, and back of your neck. (Even if I wear a hat, I find that my ears are exposed and I forget to put sunscreen on them. I get an uncomfortable burn and then peeling skin.) If you are swimming or sweating a lot, reapply your sunscreen.

Avoid being out in the sun between 10 am and 2 pm. That is when the sun shines down the strongest. Trees block out 60% of the sun’s rays. Umbrellas in this country are customarily used to prevent one from getting drenched in the rain. In other countries, umbrellas help keep out the sun on hot days. Try using a parasol.

Dress for summer. I don’t know about you, but the heat really gets to me sometimes. So much for being fresh as a daisy. Try wet and limp like a noodle. When it gets hot, we think about wearing less clothing to keep cooler. However, clothing provides even better protection than sunscreen alone. Wear a brimmed hat. Wear cotton clothing and lighter colors. Cotton is much cooler than other fabrics and breathes better.

Here are some signs of heat stroke – excessive sweating, extreme thirst, muscle cramps, headache, nausea and dizziness. Promptly get the person in the shade or an air conditioned room. Have him/her rest and drink water or something that has sodium and potassium in it. Something like Gatorade or energy water. I am not advocating a certain brand, just giving you an idea of what will help replace lost nutrients. No brand is better than the other. Quick intervention will help restore the person’s fluid balance and keep him/her from needing an ER.

So you are outdoors for the day enjoying a family picnic. One of the family members has been participating in a fast-paced soccer game. He becomes very red-faced, his skin feels hot, and he is not sweating as a person normally would when exercising. He’s even starting to be a little spacy and then seems to be losing consciousness. Breathing becomes very rapid as the body tries to cool itself. You were a Girl Scout and you have a thermometer. His temp reads 104’ F or higher. His pulse is rapid.These signs indicate a true emergency – heat exhaustion. While someone is calling for an ambulance others in the group can kick into action. Take some ice from the cooler and wrap in plastic or a zip lock and place the bags at the top of his head, in his armpits and groin area. Try to have the person drink fluids if they have not lost consciousness. Make sure to get them in the shade.

A few other things might have helped prevent this event. Take breaks from intense activity and get in the shade for a bit. Get plenty of water in. Pay attention to what your body is telling you before things get out of control. Some stores sell a necklace, so to speak, which has bubbles that are filled with fluid. You put this in the freezer before going out on your trip and put it around your neck when you go. This really helped one of the young woman in our church group one year when we were taking a hike one summer. She was given plenty of water and then the cold “necklace” was placed on her, and it really made a world of difference. Taking rests in the shade as we climbed also prevented an emergency situation.

“Summertime and the living is easy…” It sure can be with a lot of fun thrown in as well. Don’t forget your water bottle, take breaks, and enjoy the good times. This could be a summer you will gladly remember if you follow these tips, instead of a nightmare because of a heat emergency.

Stay Safe and Enjoy the Summer!

Book Review: StrengthsFinder 2.0 by Tom Rath


StrengthsFinder 2.0
By Tom Rath

Never heard of StrengthFinders before? Neither had I until our management handed a copy of the book to each of the supervisors and asked them to read it and take the strengths test. The premise of this psychology theory is that focusing on a person’s strengths is much more productive and efficacious than always pointing out what they have done wrong. I would agree with that. I think we have all completed the test and the book at work, but so far I haven’t seen much improvement in the maximizing one’s strengths and not focusing on what is wrong. Well, change does take time.

Don Clifton is considered to be the Father of Strengths Psychology and he invented the test. This test is not true and false or necessarily multiple choice as in A, B, C, D. That doesn’t mean the test was easy. The exam consists of choosing between two character traits in a single question. For example, “Do you prefer working in a team or working on your own?” Each question has a Likert scale with strongly agree on each end, then somewhat agree, and in the center neutral. The thing that was hard was choosing between two strengths that one individual has. Am I more responsible than I am a learner, etc.? Daphne had to help me decide some of the answers because they were so close as to how I see myself. To add to the fun, you may only use 20 seconds to answer each question or the test will move to the next item.

After taking the test, which is conducted by the Gallup folks, you are provided with a list of your top 5 strengths or themes. The experts have identified 34 themes (skills) such as Achiever, Activator, Arranger, Developer, Discipline, Intellection, Maximizer, and Relator to name a few. At work, we compared our results with each other. I had one in common with another supervisor and no one else had any of my other strengths. I also didn’t believe I wasn’t an Achiever or Arranger. I am very competitive with myself and am always trying to improve and reach goals. I also like putting things together and planning. I am very disciplined. However, some of my 5 top themes were odd: Learner (True. I love to learn.), Intellection (Yes, I do like to use my brain.), Restorative (What in the world is that?), Responsibility (Yes. This fits, and the only trait I had in common with someone else.), and Input (Huh?).

I was disappointed, because I was sure I fit into other categories, ones I thought were more important and popular until I read what Restorative and Input mean. You can pretty much guess what Responsibility, Intellection, and Learner mean. Restorative people love to solve problems. They like to take things that are broken, not just items, but processes, etc., and breathe life back into them, return them to their former glory. Restoratives are energized by challenges.

Input – Inquisitive and a collector of things, facts, ideas, as well as baseball cards, etc. I am a collector of quotes and books. We love to add information or collectible items to our “archives.” We love collecting info because we never know when it will come in handy. Because there are so many wonderful things in the world, we find the world exciting.

I am definitely all of the above. So even if I am the only one who had these themes in our group, they are good traits. The details above are brief explanations. The book not only explains the themes, but gives real life examples of people who have these strengths as well as ways in which we can put our strengths into action.

If you are interested in finding your strengths whether for your own knowledge or to apply in work and life situations, you will find this book and its accompanying test very interesting. Remember, all 34 themes are strengths and there is not a bad one in the bunch. The book can be passed along to family and friends to read, but if taking the test is desired, a new copy will need to be purchased as the book gives an individual key to access the test. The code can’t be used by anone else.

Life is good. And I firmly believe we all have strengths that make us the wonderful people we are. Happy Reading!

Something to Think About

Quote sign icon. Quotation mark symbol. Double quotes at the end

You can’t hold a man down
without staying down with him.
~ Booker T. Washington

What’s on your own bucket list?


Most people know what a bucket list is. If you saw the movie “Bucket List” starring Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman, then you know what it is and how it works. If you do not know, basically, it is list of things a person would like to accomplish before he/she “kicks the bucket.” (The slang term for dying. Hence, the name bucket list.) Looking on line there are many sites devoted to creating one’s own bucket list, to giving a person ideas to add to his/her list, to even sporting videos and how to’s. Amazing!

Have any of you created a bucket list? I have a small list in my head of the major things I would like to do before I “kick the bucket,” but it is by no means officially recorded anywhere, except in my gray cells. One of the things on my list, which has been there for years, is to learn to scuba dive, and once I learn, I would actually like to have a few adventures in water that is actually blue, and not gray like the waters off the coast of Southern Cali.

In high school, which was just a “few” years ago for me, we had an assembly once in which some scuba folks came and showed us the equipment, a movie, and rhapsodized on how amazing scuba diving was. I was hooked right off. I love the water, and I always loved watching Jacques Cousteau and the Calypso go diving around the world and teaching about the amazing creatures under the sea. I wanted to scuba dive so badly, but in a family with 7 children, money didn’t grow on any of the trees in our yard. Scuba diving is an expensive sport.

As an adult money wasn’t flowing in like crazy and I had a family of my own to support. On top of that I had become a rather large woman after having 2 children (Yes, I still blame my girth on the baby fat those children put on me when I was pregnant) and I was certain that there was not a wet suit big enough to cover this big mama. I have never gotten over the wish to learn to scuba dive. So what has this got to do with anything?

Allow me to explain. Very recently I have been diagnosed as having moderately severe obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). In relation to the life span and bucket lists, untreated OSA can take 10 to 15 years of a person’s life. In that case, one should start working on his/her bucket list and then get into gear and do the things listed. However, I have decided that I really do love life and want to live as long as I can in a healthy way, so I have chosen to lose weight (which has a direct correlation with OSA), and use a CPAP (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure) machine which is the recommended treatment for OSA. To get the benefits from the air being blown at me, I have to wear a mask connected to tubing. The mask fits tightly so that there will not be any air leaks. Though my daughter told me I look like Hannibal Lecter wearing the mask, and I thoroughly do not, it gives me the feeling of being connected to a regulator and oxygen tank. In my convoluted thought process, remember, I am a genius and I like to connect odd things together to make a coherent thought, this new CPAP equipment has made me think of my long held desire to learn to scuba dive. Getting used to the mask and avoiding air leaks kind of translates when scuba diving to have an airtight mask. After all, who wants to suck ocean water up one’s nose instead of oxygen. Most of us don’t have gills and don’t do well snorting water. I’d like to know if any of you have gills and can breathe deeply under water.

So now that some major bills have been paid off, and I am losing weight so that there will be a wet suit just my size, I can put learning to scuba dive near the top of my bucket list, along with becoming fluent in Spanish instead of speaking un poquito, as one of the things I will accomplish before I croak, take a dirt nap, pass on, bite the dust, return to mother earth, or kick the bucket!

So, what would you like to do before you bite the big one? Plan and make it happen. (Refer to the Something to Think About quote listed above.)

Blog You Later!

Book Review: The Racketeer by John Grisham


The Racketeer
By John Grisham

Malcolm Bannister is, or should we saw was since he lost his license to practice law, a lawyer. He is bitter because he claims he did nothing illegal; however, his client prior to his trial was a wanted crook. Their connection lands him in prison where he has served 5 of his ten year sentence. He helps fellow inmates with their legal troubles and has been assigned to work in the prison library. All this time he is working on a plan for his own release for prison.

In contrast to his current situation, a federal judge and his young secretary are murdered in the judge’s country cabin. Also inside the country cabin a huge safe is found which stands open and empty. What was in the safe? And whodunit?

Malcolm Bannister knows who the culprit is. He hears a lot of things from fellow inmates, and he is willing to trade the information to the FBI for a commutation of his sentence and entrance into the witness protection program. The FBI makes the deal, and Malcolm not only changes his name, but is given a new identity surgically, and starts a new life for himself, living off the reward money for naming the murderer of the judge. It doesn’t take long for his cover to be blown and then things start spinning out of control.

In my humble opinion, this is definitely not one of John Grisham’s best novels. The cover has various persons’ opinions of how good the book is. The first 100+ pages are very boring. After that, the book speeds up and twist after twist occurs. The author leaves us guessing because he puts a character in the book that hasn’t been heard of before and he leaves out important information about this new character. I was left guessing what this had to do with anything. At the end of the book the mystery character’s raison d’etre is explained. I didn’t see it coming, but despite that, it had nothing to do with my low opinion of the book. It was just boring.

I won’t be keeping this novel on my shelf as I have some of his others. I’d give this book 3 of 5 stars and that is for the ingenuity of the master plot once it is revealed.

Something to think about accomplishment


Two twins stand before us, about whom we must make a choice.
They are: “Do it now” and “Put it off.”
Remember, decision is of little account unless it is followed by action,
and there is no recipe for getting things done
so good as the one to start doing them.
~ President Thomas S. Monson

Blog tour/book review: Wrong Highway by Wendy Gordon

untitledAbout Wrong Highway

Paperback: 390 pages

Publisher: Shepherdess Press

It is 1986. Erica Richards lives in West Meadow, Long Island with her three young boys, newborn baby girl, and successful Wall Street analyst husband. But don’t be fooled by her seemingly placid suburban lifestyle. Erica is fierce, curious, uncompromising, and often impulsive. When her teenage nephew Jared rebels against his straight-laced parents Ron and Debbie, he turns to Erica for help, setting in motion a chain of events that will take all of them careening down a dangerous and twisty highway. Buckle your seatbelt, crank up the 80’s soundtrack, and learn how stunningly easy it is to keep BIG SECRETS.

“…Wrong Highway is a captivating debut novel…”–Kim Bissell, co-owner, Broadway Books, Portland, Oregon


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Purchase Links

Amazon | Itasca Books | Barnes & Noble

My Review

This is the first novel by Wendy Gordon. With a Master’s Degree in Clinical Nutrition, Ms. Gordon has also done quite a bit of writing. She has been a journalist for over 25 years, and has been published in newspapers, magazines, and on the internet. She was born and raised back east, but has found her home on the West Coast. (Coming from Pennsylvania and living on the West Coast myself, I can see how this could happen.)

As I read this book, the intensity of the plot line and the characters and their behavior, immediately made me think of the novel Rabbit, Run by John Updike and some of the novels by Jodi Piccoult. Their books are very intense, as well. The characters in Wrong Highway, as well as in these other authors’ books were restless, quite flawed, and unsettled, and there was a pervading sense that something cataclysmic was going to occur.

Go back a few years in Wrong Highway, to 1986. Two sisters and their families dominate the story. The oldest sister, Debbie, is organized, a neat freak, and likes everything to be calm and under control. Debbie is also straight-laced. In addition, she is also quite neurotic and attributes all types of health problems as the cause for Jared, her teenaged son’s rebelliousness. Sending him here and there for specialist evaluations, Debbie and her DJ husband, Ron, think Jared will be fine if they treat all his “ailments.” Debbie is also good at placing the blame for his wildness on his girlfriend, whom she considers to be “white trash”.

Meet Erica, her younger sister, by four years. She and her family live in an expensive home in Long Island that comes with all the toys. She has 3 young boys, a newborn girl, and seems to have it all. She looks like the poster child for the upper class. But Erica is restless. She is free-spirited, looking for excitement, curious, and in a rut. She just seems to be on a treadmill of family responsibilities, never seeming to catch up. Don’t get me wrong, she adores her children and husband. Yet she feels there has to be more and she wants to find it. She and Debbie are polar opposites.

When Jared comes to Aunt Erica for help, sister Debbie is hoping Erica will assist the boy to get back on track. Erica does help Jared, but not in all the ways her sister would like. Events begin to tumble quickly downhill affecting all family members, and before anyone realizes what all is going on, it seems too late to turn things around. But is it?

As I mentioned, this book is an intense read. Be prepared for the unexpected is my warning to you. And strap on your seatbelt as you are going to be taking one wild ride.

A special thank you to TLC Book Tours for giving me the opportunity to read this novel and write about it.


About Wendy GordonWendy_Print_2016-2-2-300x232

Wendy Gordon grew up in Bethesda, Maryland, and has lived in Boston, Chicago, and New York before finding her true home on the West Coast. She received a B.S. from Simmons College in Boston and an M.S. from the University of Chicago Pritzker School of Medicine. She has been a journalist for over twenty-five years, publishing in newspapers, magazines, and electronic formats. She lives in Portland, Oregon with her husband and children. This is her first book.


Wendy Gordon’s TLC Book Tours TOUR STOPS:

Monday, June 6th: The Magic All Around Us

Tuesday, June 7th: Lavish Bookshelf

Wednesday, June 8th: The Avid Reader

Thursday, June 9th: Thoughts on This ‘n That

Monday, June 13th: No More Grumpy Bookseller

Saturday, June 18th: Sharon’s Garden of Book Reviews

Wednesday, June 22nd: BookNAround

Thursday, June 23rd: Why Girls are Weird

Monday, June 27th: Patricia’s Wisdom

Monday, June 27th: Chick Lit Central

Tuesday, June 28th: Puddletown Reviews

Wednesday, June 29th: Write Read Life

Tuesday, July 5th: Mama Vicky Says

Thursday, July 7th: Bloggin’ ‘Bout Books

TBD: Good Girl Gone Redneck


Something to think about ambition


Without ambition one starts nothing.
Without work one finishes nothing.
~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

So many good books, so little time


I have finished a book since I last blogged entitled Facing the Son by Kris Belcher. This was given to me by a dear friend, and I absolutely loved it! It was short but a very good book that focused on one’s perspective.

Currently, I am reading a book that was given to me at work (I wonder if this is a clue on how to be a better employee?) entitled Strengthsfinder 2.0 by Tom Rath. The books helps you identify your strengths instead of focusing on your weaknesses. I am also reading The Racketeer by John Grisham. I’ll hopefully post book reviews soon.

You may recall that I made an A to Z reading list of books to read during this year. I keep finding other books I read first and I haven’t made a whole lot of progress on my list. So far I have read 6 books from my list: (G) The Girl from the Train by Irma Joubert; (I) Inferno by Dan Brown (Angels and Demons is my all-time favorite book of his.); (L) Last to Die by Tess Gerritsen (Harvest being my absolute favorite of hers.); (N) Now You See Her by James Patterson and Michael Ledwidge; (U) Under the Knife by Tess Gerritsen; and (X) Xanadu: Marco Polo and Europe’s Discovery of the East by John Mann. That’s not a whole lot.

Daphne and I are reading an R.L. Stine book aloud to each other. He was one of her favorite authors when she was younger. She has a whole collection of his books. We are reading The Overnight and have not made it even half-way through. We better get reading tonight.

Why are there so many wonderful books out there and so little time to enjoy them all?  Hoping you have plenty of time to read this summer! Enjoy a book or two!

Safe driving is no accident

Don't get distracted when you're driving

Don’t get distracted when you’re driving

School is out and summer is here. For many that means vacation time. Hurray! Where do you plan to go this summer to get away from it all? Camping? Taking a cross country trip to see distant family members? Going to Europe and then renting a car to see the countryside? Doesn’t it all sound great?

If you are going to be doing any driving, pay attention to the tips below. Enjoy your road trip and return safe and sound. By the way, these ideas are also effective for your everyday driving.

  1. Ditch the phone when driving. That means not only don’t be talking on it, but also do not text and drive! I don’t know about other states, but for those of us in California, there are stiff fines for talking and texting while driving. What’s the fuss about? The Institute of Highway Safety reports that a person who is chatting on the phone, even hands free, is 4 times more likely to have an accident than those who don’t use their phones. Cell phones cause your brain to be distracted whether you are using a headset or not. And the problem is not caused as much from holding the phone as it does from removing your attention from the important task of driving. Besides, you are on vacation. Ditch the electronics and talk to your passengers instead. Isn’t that a distraction, too? Not really. There is a big difference and here’s why: a passenger knows to pause the conversation when the road demands your attention. The person on the other end of your phone line has no clue. Why not talk to your passengers? Live conversation is better anyway. (In addition, I would like to ask people to stop putting on make-up or reading the newspaper while driving. Yep, I’ve seen it. Talk about distracting!)
  2. Watch the road and not all the dials in the car. Of course, pay attention to the speed limit, but don’t be distracted by the CD player, the satellite radio, your GPS, etc. Cars today have dashboards that almost make you feel you have a computer at your fingertips. All those extras are nice, but if you are keeping your eyes on the dials and not on the road, it is easy to get into an accident. That would spoil one’s vacation for sure! There is no harm in listening to music, but set your music before you start driving. Know your route before you get cruising. Experts suggest looking down the road at least 15 seconds ahead of your car. My father had to take a couple of safe driving classes as part of his employment with Ma Bell. Of course, my dad would enlighten all of his children on driving safety after his classes. What sticks with me, and my father was faithful in doing this while driving, was to stay far enough away from the car in front of you when stopping so that the back tires of the other car could be seen clearly. I still do that. (Unfortunately, either not every driver knows this tip, or worse, doesn’t care to follow it, because you, as well as I, have experienced some one hitting the brakes a half inch from your behind.)
  3. The other tip is to look at the big picture. Don’t hunker down over the steering wheel and stare straight ahead. You need your peripheral vision to detect motion from the side. (My father was pretty near perfect, except for one thing: he loved looking around while driving. We took a driving/camping trip across the country when I was in 9th grade. America is really beautiful and has a lot of scenery at which to look. The bad thing is that I was always in the back of our truck turned camper with my siblings. No window to talk through. I hated it when we were on twisty mountain roads and my dad was enjoying the scenery while behind the wheel. There were so many times when I was sure my father would drive us off the edge off the cliff because he was spending too much time, in my opinion, looking at the scenery and not the road. Those were tense miles for me and he couldn’t hear me shout warnings, or scream in panic, either. I guess my frantic prayers to God worked because we did not end up over the cliff. Phew!
  4. Be a defensive driver. A defensive driver doesn’t cut people off, speed in a busy area, or use the car as a weapon, nor think he/she is the only person of importance on the road and the only one with a destination to get to. A defensive driver not only anticipates the actions of other drivers or knows the road conditions, but also prepares for vehicle malfunctions. For example, warmer temps are hard on a car’s tires so keep them properly inflated and balanced. To avoid overheating, change your oil and filter at least every 3 months and reduce the use of the air conditioner if your are driving on and on uphill.

Arrive alive and by all means, enjoy your vacation! Don’t forget to take lots of pictures.

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