Archive | December 2017

This Is A Beautiful Woman

This is a picture of a beautiful woman that everyone calls Sunny, because that describes her perfectly. She celebrated her one hundredth birthday this week on  Christmas Day. No matter how feeble she’s become in the last two years, those who know her best still see only the smiling, gracious woman we’ve known all these years.  Although time has certainly taken its toll on her face and body after 100 years of living on this often unpleasant planet, her personality still shines though with the cheerful sweater and stole she chooses to wear. No little old lady looks for her!

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Sunny at Christmas/Birthday party in the Nineteen-nineties.

Growing up on a sheep ranch on the Llano Estacado, sometimes called the Staked Plain area of Texas and New Mexico, taught her that softies do not win in this life. Winning, or sometimes maybe just surviving, is only for those who work hard for what they want and need.

Being the oldest of three girls, she always did the “boys” chores while growing up. After she married her high school sweetheart and moved into town, she had to learn the “girls” chores like housekeeping and cooking. But she approached the new challenges with such determination and  aplomb that she soon conquered  unusual delicacies like  home made doughnuts.

Her blissful life of keeping house and mothering her three children  came crashing down around her about two weeks after they had celebrated the baby’s first birthday. Her beloved husband was killed in a plane crash, leaving her without insurance, but with debt from starting a new small business. At that time, she had never even written a check, much less balanced a check book. There was no time to grieve; she had to learn to provide sustenance immediately.

After an intense eight weeks of tutoring in typing and shorthand by a kindly Catholic neighbor (in an area so Protestant that there was only one Catholic church in the whole county), this twenty-eight year old began her new career. She became the secretary of one of the more successful businessmen in the area. Determined to make the best of every situation she faced, she absorbed the nuances and information of the new world of deals and legal transactions like a dry sponge placed under a running faucet.

But after a few years, she began to feel the need for a formal education and started searching her options.  Her acceptance at a small college in Central Texas became the omen that the world agreed with her plan. With her usual grit and determination, she moved with her three children  just in time to unpack before classes started.

Never one to tip toe in, unobtrusively, she jumped into the college life in the Fall of 1949 with all of the fervor of a small terrier that just found himself in possession of a meaty bone. On registration day, she eagerly signed up for 24 credit hours of work (8 classes) because she wanted to be sure to get her money’s worth out of school and she’d only saved up enough for one year.

After the white haired Registrar recovered from her fainting spell, she did manage to talk this ex-sheepherder into dropping one class. Still concerned about the 21 hour load for someone who had been out of school for fourteen years, she secretly contacted all the professors to look out for this crazy woman with three kids who expected college to be easy. The only problem with that tactic for the jaded professors was that each one of them was absolutely entranced by any student who was truly eager to learn, as opposed to just getting a diploma. And learning is easy when you’re excited about it. It was so easy for this beautiful woman that she graduated within four years with both a Bachelor of Arts and a Bachelor of Science degree with a double major and double minor. And at the same time, she provided for and reared her three children.

Stay tuned for the rest of “This Is A Beautiful Woman;” we have 64 more years to go.

Copyright 2017 by Kaye Fairweather

Music and Healing Guest Post

Hey Everyone!   Hope you’re all doing well!

When most of us think of music we think of it as a means of entertainment. However, the reality is that music can be so much more than entertaining, in fact, it can be used as a critical tool by medical professionals to help patients with a wide range of conditions.

Music therapy is basically the use of music to help patients with various physical, emotional, cognitive and social needs. Music therapy can be of benefit to people with dementia, brain injuries, respiratory problems, chronic pain and many other problems.

Music therapy is not just given by random doctors and nurses there are professionals called music therapists who have rigorously studied this form of treatment. Music therapists work in a wide range settings including hospitals, community health centers, drug rehab centers, senior centers, nursing homes and schools.

Here are just some of the ways that music therapy can help patients:

Regaining the Abillity to Move

Music therapy is very useful for patients who suffer from brain injuries such as car accidents, assaults, gun shot wounds, falls, stroke, lack of oxygen to the brain, etc. Often these patients are left with limited mobility. Rhythmic entertainment is used to help these patients gradually start to move again.

Such patients are asked to listen to strong rhythmically accentuated music. Rhythmic entertainment works by locking the motor systems rhythm to an external auditory source. This works because there is actually a rich connection beteeen our auditory system and our motor system. We all have an “internal timekeeper” that helps us regulate our movements. When this “internal timekeeper” is damaged as a result of the injury the internal timing system can be retrained and the brain can gradually adjust itself and the patient can regain much of the lost ability. As an example the patient walks to the beat of the music starting off with slow tempo music and then gradually working their way up as their ability improves.

Regaining the Abillity to Speak 

After certain types of brain injuries, some patients are no longer able to speak but music therapy can help them regain this vital ability. One prominent example of this is Gaby Giffords. As some of you may know Gaby Giffords was a member of the U.S. Congress who was tragically shot in the head in 2011.

Due to damage to the language pathways in the left side of her brain Gaby Giffords was not able to speak after the injury. The good news for Gaby was that music, singing in particular, accesses language in a way that is different from talking.

Gaby started seeing a music therapist on a regular basis and she started being able to sing the words that she could not speak. After many regular sessions her brain started to reorganize and she gradually started to speak again!

Music therapy is a great tool for patients with damage to the left side of their brain because it helps the patient regain the abillity to speak by helping patients retrain their brain to use the right side of their brain to learn language.

Reducing Effects of Dementia

Listening to music can help Dementia patients by bringing back memories and emotions. It can also reduce the stress of Dementia patients and it can help them more easily communicate with their healthcare staff. Listening to music can also help Dementia patients better interact with each other by discussing the memories and feelings evoked by the music.

With Dementia patients, songs from the patients young adult years (ages 18 to 25) are especially helpful because they’re most likely to evoke reactions and memories. However, unfamiliar music can also aid in relaxation and stress management.

Active participation in music can also be helpful for Dementia patients.  Studies have shown that Dementia patients who regularly sing have improved cognitive abillity and an increased life satisfaction.

Easing Asthma Symptoms:

Active music therapy can be very helpful for children who suffer from asthma. One study compared the effects of asthmatic children singing to another group of asthmatic children who passively listened to music. The results showed that the group that sang had better breathing and overall more positive mood than the group that just passively listened to music.

Playing a wind instrument can be especially helpful for asthma patients. Studies have shown that playing a wind instrument trains and improves the muscles involved in breathing. Playing a wind instrument can help asthma patients develop a relaxed breathing rhythm that can help them stay calm and focused during an asthma attack. Other studies have found that students who play wind instrument are more optimistic about their asthma and are less likely to have an athmaic episode.

Helping Child Cancer Patients:

Studies show that music therapy music therapy has a positive effect on children who are hospitalized due to having cancer. Unfortunately, music therapy cannot cure cancer but it can improve the feelings of these young patients. Studies show that music therapy led students to have more positive feelings. Children who were more actively involved in music therapy (as judged by the music therapist) showed greater improvement.

Basically music therapy can be effective in helping a young child cope with a tragic situation such as cancer. Some studies have shown that music therapy can improve the overall quality of life in these young cancer patients.

Doctors and Music:

As a side note, in the healthcare field, patients are not the only ones who listen to music. A recent poll of 700 surgeons throughout the United States revealed that nearly 90 percent of them report that they listen to music in the operating room as it calms their nerves and helps increase the operating staffs morale. Of course, they do turn it down during the important parts of the operation.

It is amazing how much music therapy can truly help a wide range of patients without any of the negative side effects of some other treatments.

With Love,

Yasmin 

I noticed Yasmin’s post on music and healing, Here’s How Music Can Heal You,  right about the time I became even more aware of the connection. Since ‘great minds run together,’ I presume that means we’re both geniuses. She graciously agreed to allow me to post her article so you all could get another view point on the subject. For more of her delightful offerings, go to A Bit Better: Curating Lifestyle Tips and Knowledge with the Hope of Making Your Life a Bit Better. https://abitbetterblog.com

Beauty Connects Head and Heart, Part II

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 Centerpiece of the Sistine Chapel ceiling painted by Michelangelo around 1511

Whether one believes in creation according to the Book of Genesis or not, hardly anyone find the chapters about creation riveting reading. It seems rather dry and too simplistic to be “real” to our 21st Century culture. We can hardly accept it, even as “head” knowledge.

On the other hand, beauty in the form of Michelangelo’s masterpiece of the Creation of Adam, still invites repeated contemplation from most viewers after 500+ years. The painting shows a man offering his hand toward God while reclining on a green and blue background representing the land and sea of earth. In contrast, God leans forward and forcefully reaches down to bring life to the solitary person.

As we continue to absorb the emotional meaning of the painting,  we can hardly escape the fact that the shape of the cloud that God inhabits somewhat resembles a brain cut in half. Could it be that the figures surrounding Him are “in the mind of God,” although not yet present on earth?

The figure of God reaches toward His new creation with His right hand while His left arm embraces a woman who eagerly, perhaps even lovingly,  gazes at Adam. It makes you think of Eve, created especially for Adam and from Adam – to be a helpmate for him, but not exactly the same as another man.

A baby sits in front of the woman, the only person in the painting who looks at the audience. God’s hand rests on his shoulder, as if He embraces man, woman, and the child who comes from their union. It’s as if Michelangelo believed God created mankind to live together in families and wants his audience to understand that.

Copyright 2017 by Kaye Fairweather

Beauty Connects Head and Heart

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That’s why schools have their own song; why atheists gaze in awe of the Sistine chapel ceiling; why important events are memorialized in monuments; why men give engagement rings to their beloved; why wives want to decorate the place where th family lives; why Coats of Arms and flags are specially designed to rally loyalty to a cause; etc., etc., etc.

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PS to my faithful followers: I apologize for neglecting you the last two weeks. Life has just gotten in the way again. But I’m back at home with the computer after two trips to visit family, so I promise to get back to you at least twice a week. And I must learn to use my new tablet for future trips.