We critters (including Peggy, Judy & Freddie) wish everyone, everywhere a very
Happy New Year
“The study, by a team at University College London, comes after decades of research showing that both loneliness and infrequent contact with friends and family can, independently, shorten a person’s life. The scientists expected to find that the combination of these two risk factors would be especially dangerous.”
“We were thinking that people who were socially isolated but also felt lonely might be at particularly high risk,” says Andrew Steptoe, a professor of psychology at University College London.”
“To find out, the team studied 6,500 men and women ages 52 and older. All of them had answered a questionnaire back in 2004 or 2005 that assessed both their sense of loneliness and how much contact they had with friends and family. The researchers looked to see what happened to those people over the next seven or eight years.”
“And Steptoe says he was surprised by the result. “Both social isolation and loneliness appeared initially to be associated with a greater risk of dying,” he says. “But it was really the isolation which was more important.”‘
‘”At first, it looked like people who reported greater levels of loneliness were more likely to die, Steptoe says. But closer analysis showed that these people were also more likely to have other risk factors, like being poor and having existing health problems. Once those factors were taken into account, the extra risk associated with loneliness pretty much disappeared, Steptoe says.”‘
“It’s not clear why social isolation is linked to mortality. But one possibility is that having other people around has practical benefits as you get older, Steptoe says. For example, they may push you to go see a doctor if you are having symptoms like chest pain, he says. And if you were to lose consciousness, they would call for help.”
“Other researchers say they are surprised and not necessarily convinced by the new study, even though they say it’s large and well-done.”
*https://www.ahajournals.org/doi/abs/10.1161/01.cir.0000151424.02045.f7 (There are multiple explanations for this association, including the possibility that holiday-induced delays in seeking treatment play a role in producing the twin holiday spikes.)
Most people don’t realize I’m an outdoor person at heart. I bike, hike, kayak and fish. I just returned from fly fishing with my cousin Kate in the Catskill Mountains in southeast New York. We had perfect weather and I was in my element with the tall green, green trees, flowers in bloom, blue, blue lakes and country roads winding through low hills and picturesque towns.
Judy asked me what life lessons I learned form fly fishing. I thought and thought but NOT while I was fly fishing. NO, never when, you are fly fishing which is the first lesson.
Fly Fishing: To catch fish, I must pay close attention to what I’m doing: Watch where to throw my line, watch if I’m getting a nibble. Fly fishing requires lots of concentrated attention, similar to meditation . . . and life.
Lesson #2. Be prepared. Have a plan for unwanted but foreseeable events. If you fall in the water make sure it’s shallow but learn how to swim before you take the plunge.
Fly Fishing: When wading in a moving river, it’s possible I could fall in. My wading stick helps me avoid that, but I still keep a whistle to call for help,and have learned what to do (like positioning my feet downstream).
If there’s room, I add things that are not essential but handy – extra flies, line, goo that help a fly float, gadgets to help flies sink, and indicators that help me know when a fish has taken my fly.
Fly Fishing: Most of the time I catch small fish but I’m ready for the biggest fish. I carry a BIG net because I can put a small fish in a big net, but can’t put a big fish in a small net. When I “land” my catch I look to make sure it’s a fish before cradling it back into the water to join his other fishy friends.
Fly Fishing: I dress for success. That means waterproof clothing and boots, so I can stand in a stream trying not to fall in. But nice accessories are important, such as a cute vest with all the flys, and my wading stick (form and fashion all in one).
Fly Fshing I practiced casting first and a lot (because I couldn’t practice landing a fish until I caught one). Practice means noticing where my fly lands (in the water is definitely desirable), and learning were it is likely there’s a fish waiting. Practice means reading the currents and . . . improving my aim
Fly Fishing: I keep what I value close by and tied down. Standing in a moving stream and dropping something I need (like my fishing rod) means it’s GONE. Finding a way to attach important stuff -like my “nippers” that are on a “zinger” (a retractible string with a pin on the end) is what makes a good fly fisher person . . . which brings me back to Lesson #6.
Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui, dancer and choreographer
“In 1982 the Dance Committee of ITI founded International Dance Day to be celebrated every year on the 29th April, the birthday of Jean-Georges Noverre (1727-1810), creator of modern ballet. The intention of the International Dance Day Message is to celebrate dance, revel in the universality of this art form, cross all political, cultural and ethnic barriers, and bring people together with a common language – dance.”
2 cups zucchini, grated (Grate very fine so your brain doesn’t recognize anything healthy
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 cup honey or agave nectar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 3/4 cup flour (white, spelt, whole wheat – different flours = different textures)
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chi[ps
Add Walnuts, flax seed or chia seeds (optional health foods)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
1) “Brain imaging research techniques such as PET scans (positron emission tomography) and fMRI (functional magnetic resonance imaging) clearly show that the vast majority of the brain does not lie fallow. Indeed, although certain minor functions may use only a small part of the brain at one time, any sufficiently complex set of activities or thought patterns will indeed use many parts of the brain. Just as people don’t use all of their muscle groups at one time, they also don’t use all of their brain at once.”
2) “The myth presupposes an extreme localization of functions in the brain. If the “used” or “necessary” parts of the brain were scattered all around the organ, that would imply that much of the brain is in fact necessary. But the myth implies that the “used” part of the brain is a discrete area, and the “unused” part is like an appendix or tonsil, taking up space but essentially unnecessary. But if all those parts of the brain are unused, removal or damage to the “unused” part of the brain should be minor or unnoticed. Yet people who have suffered head trauma, a stroke, or other brain injury are frequently severely impaired. Have you ever heard a doctor say, “. . . But luckily when that bullet entered his skull, it only damaged the 90 percent of his brain he didn’t use”?”
We’ve tried to remain true to our goal of sharing the information we’ve accumulated in our collective 60+ years as psychotherapists and our love of current neuroscience and neuropsychology research.
Our vow to each other: Peggy keeps us on the track while Judy tries to swerve around the curves and bends. So far our collaboration has worked – now Peggy is swerving and Judy is tracking.
CATNIPblog will stay focused on “Self-care tips, tools, techniques & neuroscience research for MIND, BODY & SOUL – shared with a wink and a smile”
AND . . . since Peggy & Judy have “stuff” – stories, poems, drawings etc. that aren’t geared to CATNIP’s mission, you’ll find them on CURIOUS to the Max . . . which is . . . how would we describe it? . . .
. . . open-ended . . .
“Curious STUFF that makes me love, learn and laugh”
Are you lucky OR WHAT?! Since you missed sending me Valentine’s treats you get another chance. February 20th is National LOVE YOUR PET DAY.
National Love Your Pet Day is an unofficial holiday because we pets are apolitical and don’t have an effective lobby. The purpose of this holiday is to encourage you to show us the love and affection we deserve
Several studies show that children in households with pets have a 33% lower chance of developing a related allergy.
Children in households with pets didn’t just have less allergies to the particular animal in the home, the children also had stronger immunity systems overall. Studies have shown that children who live in homes with pets miss less school due to sickness than children who grow up in pet-less homes.
If you are shy we are instant icebreaker when you take us out in public. My human is always interrupting my walk and talking to other pet owners.
According to the latest research, is that we may improve your heart health. Studies have shown that owning a pet can lower blood pressure, triglyceride and cholesterol levels in their owners. Which can lower the chance of a heart attack. I’m better than prescriptions . . . maybe not cheaper but BETTER.
I help prevent my human from becoming obese. Studies show that walking you dog on a regular basis helps pet owners lose weight . . . or at the very least maintain it. She tends to over-indulge (in eating, not walking).
Pets have been shown as a great cure for the blues. It’s becoming more and more common for using Pet Facilitate Therapy (PFT) in hospitals and nursing homes. Many people immediately feel better just by petting a dog or cat.
“Using data from a large Danish health study, researchers have found an association between chocolate consumption and a lowered risk for atrial fibrillation, the irregular heartbeat that can lead to stroke, heart failure and other serious problems. The study is in Heart.”
“Scientists tracked diet and health in 55,502 men and women ages 50 to 64. They used a well-validated 192-item food-frequency questionnaire to determine chocolate consumption. During an average 14 years of follow-up, there were 3,346 diagnosed cases of atrial fibrillation.”
“After controlling for total calorie intake, smoking, alcohol consumption, body mass index and other factors, they found that compared with people who ate no chocolate, those who had one to three one-ounce servings a month had a 10 percent reduced relative risk for atrial fibrillation, those who ate one serving a week had a 17 percent reduced risk, and those who ate two to six a week had a 20 percent reduced risk.”
“Dark chocolate with higher cocoa content is better, according to the lead author, Elizabeth Mostofsky, an instructor at Harvard, because it is the cocoa, not the milk and sugar, that provides the benefit.”
Check these out too! Just click:
1) Hugs make us feel “happy”! When we hug another person, our bodies release oxytocin, a hormone associated with “happiness,” according to scientific studies.
2) Hugs alleviate stress! Just as a good hug increases our oxytocin levels, it decreases our cortisol or “stress” levels.
3) Babies need hugs as much as water and food! According to researchers at Harvard University, hugs help promote normal levels of cortisol necessary for child development.
4) Hugs make us better students! Students who receive a supportive touch from a teacher are twice as likely to volunteer in class.
5) Hugs improve our game! Scientists at University of California, Berkley discovered that the more affectionate members of a team are with each other, the more likely they are to win.
7) A hug stops the bug! Researchers at Carnegie Mellon proved that individuals who were sick and received hugs had less severe symptoms and were able to get better quicker.
8) A hugging heart is a healthy heart! Research from University of North Carolina showed that a good hug helps ease blood flow and lower cortisol levels, which in turn help lower our heart rates.
9) A hugging couple is a happy couple! Couples that experience their partners’ love through physical affection share higher oxytocin levels.
Remember our last drawing MUG on a MUG? After PLEADING with friends and colleagues to “follow” CATNIPblog I received the above message from my grade-school crush (who shall remain nameless but knows who he is . . . cuz I told him.)
Many of you have made it abundantly clear you don’t want things, so DO NOT MISS THIS OPPORTUNITY to not get anything!
Here’s all you have to do to insure you never have to apologize to Peggy & Judy with lame excuses like they’ve already heard:
Join hundreds of other wonderful fellow-followers on the CATNIPblog of OFFICIAL LOSERS – you will receive nothing, at no time, nohow in perpetuity.”
Besides being soft and cuddly a mission of mine is to bring poetry to the masses, of which you are some. And I am here to bring you the truth . . . even though it might hurt.
Santa was frantic at the North Pole
Finances in the red, he was in the hole
Mrs Claus couldn’t afford sugar
For her cookies sublime
Dear old hubby didn’t have a dime
North Pole employment had exploded
and Santa’s credit was eroded
He’d spent his last cent on black Friday deals
and turkey with the trimmings for thanksgiving meals
The night before Christmas he no longer had clout
When all the elves threatened a walk-out
Elf-union held all the chips
As evidenced by the grin on all the elf lips
For every elf in all the land
had won a pay deal without tipping their hand:
Double pay all December
a free thanksgiving meal in November
Finally fringe benefits for elves was real
For Santa and the Mrs, there was no appeal
Santa had bitten his nails to the quick
Both right and left eyes developed a tic
All Santa could do was self medicate
So he stuffed his mouth from the cookie plate
And downed all the rum from a hot toddy cup
his blood pressure sky-high, went up and up
His big fat belly shook like a bowl full of lead
While visions of bankruptcy danced in his head
So all you children and adults too
Have compassion and learn to make due
STOP asking for presents and things you don’t need
YOU must now take heed.
It’s no time for greed
If you want Santa another Christmas to live
to every red-kettle-bell-ringer
Dig in your pocket and GIVE.
Freddie Parker Westerfield
In my family when we bought someone a gift we asked ourselves 3 questions:
Sometimes the resulting gift was wonderful and appreciated. This, I will admit, was often when the gift giver didn’t follow those rules or asked the recipient what they WANTED.
A Baha’i Bit
Essentially a mystical Faith, the Baha’i teachings focus on the soul’s relationship with the eternal, unknowable essence of God, and recommend daily prayer and meditation to everyone.
Baha’is believe that the human spirit lives eternally, and so endeavor to illumine their souls with spiritual attributes—kindness, generosity, integrity, truthfulness, humility and selfless service to others.
1 Corinthians 13:13
‘Abdu’l-Bahá, (Baha’i World Faith)
During the month of November, Baha’i Blogging is hosting a post-a-day-or-so something related to or inspired by Faith. Because so many of you follow both this blog and CATNIPblog Peggy & I will post our “dailies” here and Sunday “retrospectives” on CATNIPblog.com
The hashtag is #bahaiblogging.
Almost everyone I saw in private practice as a psychotherapist, at one time or another, expressed guilt:
Some harbored guilty feelings they were responsible for a parent’s short-comings, abusive behavior or unhappiness; Many felt guilty they had left an abusive home when they were of age and left a younger sibling behind without protection; Clients felt guilty they couldn’t provide for their family in the way they imagined they should. I could give millions . . . of other examples.
If I said this once while I was in practice, I said it a trillion times:
Why do we choose guilt when our actions aren’t immoral, illegal or unethical? We want to think we have/had control – that we could have chosen to do something differently and therefore we will be in control and have choice in the future. With feelings of sadness, fear or hurt we are simply vulnerable and feel out of control – out of control of ourselves and over circumstances.
As therapists we were privy to the fact that holidays are stressful and often bring out the worst in family and interpersonal relationships.
It’s gratifying to know we were on track with how we approached client holiday stress & strain. The research bears this out:
Here’s a synopsis of the research and article:
“Repeated studies have found that people prone to depression can get worse if they excessively dwell or ruminate on a stressful incident such as a quarrel or a loss. But experiments by Exeter University psychologists have found that when individuals practised running emotional incidents through their head, focusing on sensory details and recalling exactly what happened, how it happened, and even where it happened, it helped them respond constructively and stopped them becoming so upset about a future or past stressful experience.”
“Psychologists at the University of Exeter have found that recalling the detail of shouting matches and disagreements, including exactly who said what to whom and how, may not be destructive and prolong the tension, but could help people keep incidents in perspective and stop the triggering of self-doubt and even depression.”
“After training to recall the details of an upsetting incident including the tone of a voice, the words used and how the event happened, people became more resilient and put the upsetting incident into context, stopping a downward spiral into low mood.”
“The same exercise of focusing on the sensory details of sad experiences and asking “How did it happen?” “How can I do something about it?” was also found to speed up recovery from doing badly on a test in undergraduates, and to improve interpersonal problem solving, such as finding a way to make up with your partner after an argument, in people who were currently or formerly depressed.”
Zazzle has frequent promotions so your particular item will undoubtedly be on sale at some time.
Dear Joyce, human-being, former Freddie Fan Club President and Current Vice President in Charge of Marketing,
It’s that time of year when my human-beings buy bags of candy in the pretext of passing it out on Halloween. Then they close all the curtains, turn off the lights and eat the candy themselves.
I’m putting their artistic endeavors up for sale on
All the designs are on
Please buy a lot of these things because all we get is 5% of the sale and that doesn’t buy a lot of treats (human or canine).
Freddie Parker Westerfield, HMS
Head of Marketing & Sales
Unless you are a blogger you might not know that every commenter and follower is catalogued in the statistics. This makes my job easy keeping track of everyone (and how many treats I get).
Dear Freddie Fans, human and otherwise,
I suspect I’m a lure to get more followers to CATNIP but I’m all for it. The more followers the more FREDDIE FANS. (Peggy & Judy have the good sense to understand they aren’t the prime movers and motivators on “my blogs”.)
1. CREATE A Goodbye RITUAL
Create a way to say goodbye to your old feelings. I say set aside, not discard, because everything in your life is a resource and you may want to draw upon this resource sometime in the future. My ritual was to gather all objects, letter and notes that reminded me of the relationship, put them in a large box, and store them in the attic. Other people have written things on paper and then burned the paper.
2. TURN TO NATURE
Getting out into nature helps you gain perspective. There is wonder and beauty in nature. Look up to the stars, out to the sea and watch the sun give life to the trees, plants, flowers and you! It’s simply there for you to notice. Take a walk by water and feel the release of the endorphins. Read Falling Water Boosts Your Mood.
3. REPLACE WHAT YOU HAVE LOST
Your loved one played several roles in your life, and you can replace them. And the “replacement” need just with just one person. Volunteer, enlarge your circle of friends, stretch yourself and do things alone, take dancing lessons, learn to play a musical instrument, travel
My dad traveled the world: Europe, Australia, New Zealand, Japan. and Tahiti where he found his 3rd wife. Hawaii was one place he returned to often and where he lived the last few years of his life. He died at 93, blessed to live a long life and see the world.
Excerpted from Why are People so Incredibly Gullible by David Robson, BBC Future’s feature writer.
(This was such a fascinating article I had trouble editing it down. For the entire article click on the Title.)
“According to the email chain, the FDA was trying to cover up the epidemic to avoid panic. Faced with the threat, readers were encouraged to spread the word to their friends and family.”
“The threat was pure nonsense, of course. But by 28 January, the concern was great enough for the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to issue a statement decrying the rumor.”
” . . . Rather than quelling the rumour, they had only poured fuel on its flames. Within weeks, the CDC was hearing from so many distressed callers it had to set up a banana hotline. The facts became so distorted that people eventually started to quote the CDC as the source of the rumour. Even today, new variants of the myth have occasionally reignited those old fears.”
As a simple example, quickly answer the following questions:
“How many animals of each kind did Moses take on the Ark?”
“Between 10 and 50% of study participants presented with these questions fail to notice that it was Noah, not Moses, who built the Ark, . . . even when they have been explicitly asked to note inaccuracies.”
“Known as the “Moses illusion”, this absent-mindedness illustrates just how easily we miss the details of a statement, favouring the general gist in place of the specifics. Instead, we normally just judge whether it “feels” right or wrong before accepting or rejecting its message. “Even when we ‘know’ we should be drawing on facts and evidence, we just draw on feelings,” says Eryn Newman at the University of Southern California, whose forthcoming paper summarises the latest research on misinformation.”
Then there’s the “cognitive fluency” of a statement – essentially, whether it tells a good, coherent story that is simple to imagine. “If something feels smooth and easy to process, then our default is to expect things to be true,” says Newman. This is particularly true if a myth easily fits with our expectations. “It has to be sticky – a nugget or soundbite that links to what you know, and reaffirms your beliefs,” agrees Stephan Lewandowsky at the University of Bristol in the UK, whose work has examined the psychology of climate change deniers.”
“In light of these discoveries, you can begin to understand why the fear of the flesh-eating bananas was so infectious. For one thing, the chain emails were coming from people you inherently trust – your friends – increasing the credibility of the claim, and making it appear more popular. The concept itself was vivid and easy to picture – it had high cognitive fluency. If you happened to distrust the FDA and the government, the thought of a cover-up would have fitted neatly into your worldview.”
“As a result of these frailties, we are instantly drawn to the juicier details of a story – the original myth – while forgetting the piddling little fact that it’s been proven false. Worse still, by repeating the original myth, the correction will have increased the familiarity of the claim – and as we’ve seen, familiarity breeds believability. Rather than uprooting the myth, the well-intentioned correction has only pushed it deeper.”