Finding Purpose

Have you been feeling a little bit bored lately? Like maybe there's something you're missing out on as you go through the motions, day by day? If you answered yes to either of those questions it probably means that you're ready to do something that will fulfill you and challenge you. It means its time to take actions that will help you find a purpose in life. Before you do that, you need to ask yourself a few questions. Do you have a particular passion that inspires you? Do you like to learn new things? How do you feel about helping others? Do you want to make a difference in your community? And how can your particular skill sets help you do something worthwhile and fulfilling?

As you ask yourself those questions, brainstorm a bit. As you find the answer to your questions, write it down. Write down any and all ideas that you have - big or small. For example, you may not have a lot of extra money, but you may have some extra time. Why not spend some time volunteering for a cause that is near and dear to your heart? Do you have a passion for animals? Try volunteering for a local animal shelter. Do you have a special rapport with kids? Sign up to be a tutor or for a local mentoring program.

Developing meaningful goals actually makes it easier to wake up in the mornings and give you a reason to jump out of bed. Are you passionate about finding a cure for cancer or growing awareness for organ donation? Do you have a green thumb for gardening and the ability to teach others how to grow delicious food? Start by weighing your strengths and then pairing them with your passions. And why not include your family? Your endeavor could be a great teaching tool for your children or grandchildren. You could also get people at work involved as well. Accomplishing your goals might be easier if you allow others to help. After you decide on how you'd like to proceed, take actions to make it happen. You'll probably be pleasantly surprised at how it enhances your life - and the lives of those around you. ]

Milk and Arthritis

We've been told for years that milk is full of vitamins and minerals that are needed for strong bones. And a recent study that focused on people who were diagnosed with knee osteoarthritis found that people, particularly women, could really benefit from drinking it on a regular basis. In fact, the multiple year study showed that it could slow down the progression of arthritis. That is most definitely good news for people who have been diagnosed with the degenerative and painful condition.

The findings from this study don't exactly prove a causal connection - meaning that there are other factors involved. Most notably those factors include being overweight, the amount of alcohol a person takes in, and smoking. All of those can wreak havoc on the human body and lead to other health risks - including diabetes and cancer.

The people who participated in the study drank low-fat or no fat versions. Many people think they won't get the same benefits from drinking those versions, but that simply isn't true. And if you are underweight, perhaps alternating between the different offerings could be a good idea. Remember, certain fats are good, especially in moderation.

If you are one of the many people who have been diagnosed with osteoarthritis, particularly of the knee, it might be a good idea to stock your refrigerator with this inexpensive and refreshing drink. It also have protein, which is needed for healthy muscles. It also has amino acids and antioxidants that contribute to healthy skin. So it works on the inside and the outside of the body, working to repair damage.

Even if you were diagnosed years ago, it is probably not too late to start making it a part of your regular diet so that you can reap the benefits of this tasty beverage. It could help slow down the progression of the disease and therefore help you find relief. It can be a great way to start the day every morning, especially in a bowl of cereal. It can also be a refreshing beverage after a meal. And not only is it good for you, it also tastes good - so you can have the best of both worlds and not feel guilty or feel like you are compromising your health!

Fun Spring Weekend Ideas

Due to the frigid temperatures and record breaking snowfall across much of the United States, most of us spent our winters cooped up indoors. Now it seems as if the temperatures are progressing nicely upward, away from the freezing mark. The sun is starting to thaw the ground and the grass is getting greener. Spring is finally here - and what a great time of year to get the family together to do something fun, especially if it involves the great outdoors! It really is the perfect time to get away for the weekend and leave the stress of winter behind.

If you're like most people, the work week can seem interminably long. Planning a weekend away can give you and your loved ones something to look forward to. It certainly doesn't have to be extravagant, after all the main goal is to get some quality family time in. Even getting away for just a few hours is well worth it - go fishing, hit the bike trail, take the dog for a long walk in a local park. Do whatever is enjoyable, whether it is playing a round of golf or venturing out onto the local tennis courts with the kids.

Staying active is an integral part for getting and staying healthy. And being in the warm sun can definitely make you happy. Feeling those warm rays is definitely a way to put a smile on your face.

Warmer weather also makes it easier to get back into shape. Sure, the gym is open during the winter. But after a certain point, you probably started to feel bored with the same old work out routine all the time. Now that the temperatures are getting more comfortable, it is time to add a little spice to your work outs. Go for a jog outside. Grab the kids and head out for a scavenger hunt at the park or even in your own neighborhood.

Now is also a great time to do some preliminary yard work. Maybe a trip to the local nursery is in order to pick up some flowers. After all the bitter cold weather we endured and the limited options most of us have regarding wintertime activities, your kids (and you) will no doubt have fun no matter what you do.

Possible El Nino Year

Researchers and weather predictors are stating that early indicators show that this year could be an El Nino southern oscillation year. They are basing their predictions on a number of factors, including the temperatures of ocean surfaces. The fluctuations in temperatures occur due to climate changes. These changes cause floods and droughts. These patterns do more than just affect how the air feels - they also affect the prices of food and the supply.

There are certain markers that are noted during these times. They include an increase of surface pressure throughout the Indian Ocean, as well as Australia and Indonesia. This leads to a weakening of air pressure which is seen in the Pacific Ocean, particularly in the east and central areas. Scientists have noted the next change regards trade winds in the South Pacific region, which either blow toward the east or weaken dramatically. As Peru gets an onslaught of rain, the conditions of the Eastern and Western Pacific areas to flip flop. This phenomenon of changes in the surface water is what led to the California drought.

During these weather conditions, areas south of the equator often see more strong rain during the winter months. By contrast, the summer months see less rainfall. This means less heavy storms to contend with. And these patterns may start to happen more often due to the effects of global warming throughout the Earth.

Many scoffed at global warming years ago. But recent reports have led some of the previous doubters to believe the truth of this phenomenon. And as the Earth's population continues to grow and carbon emissions increase, the threat of permanent changes in the Earth's climate is growing. In fact, a very recent report warns leaders that the window of opportunity to reverse the process (or at least maintain it) is closing rapidly unless major changes occur.

We also need to keep in mind that the climate changes that occur do more than just affect weather conditions - they also contribute to food shortages and an increase in certain types of diseases. What we do to the planet has serious long term consequences - and those consequences might not be as long-term as were originally thought.

Strong Allergy Season Coming up

Allergy season is almost upon us. Unfortunately, it looks like it might be a difficult one thanks to all of the frigid temperatures and snow that we endured throughout the winter. This winter's brutal weather means that the pollen count is most likely going to be very high. Forecasters also believe that the mold spores will also have an effect on those who are sensitive to that particular culprit. Again, this is due to the high levels of moisture from record snowfalls throughout the United States.

Doctors believe the best time to treat the impending symptoms is now - before the change of the season is upon us. People who suffer from the pain of headaches, congestion, coughing, sneezing and watery eyes will probably help themselves by taking medications to treat the symptoms before they get a chance to start. Treating them now, rather than waiting until later in the spring, might help decrease the suffering and increase your ability to control the annoying signs of pollen sensitivity. Now is also the time to learn how to manage the symptoms and find out what works best for you and your lifestyle.

Some people can get by on over the counter medications, others need something stronger, such as prescription strength medicines or regular visits to the doctor to get shots. Keep in mind that what worked for you in previous years might not work this year, so stay ahead of the game as much as you can. Know what you are allergic to - and look into getting tested so that you can treat accordingly. Also keep in mind that the warmer weather (and therefore the pollen increase) may seem to start almost overnight - much like the cold weather did.

Staying comfortable during the upcoming season might prove to be a difficult task for some of us. If it gets too bad, your best option might be to stay indoors, especially during the morning and evening hours. Interestingly enough, doctors say the best time to be outside is mid-day - avoid being out while the sun is coming up or as it is setting. Another tip to keep allergens from getting in your home is to take off your shoes and jackets before coming in - store them outside your living area, perhaps in the garage or a mudroom.


Whooping cough, also known as pertussis, is a serious respiratory tract infection. It is caused by a bacteria knowns as bordetella pertussis. Symptoms start out similar to the common cold - nasal congestion, fever, watery eyes, and a cough. After a week or so symptoms get progressively worse. The hacking cough is often followed by a small sound that resembles a "whoop" as people try to breathe air into their lungs. It is considered to be a serious medical condition, and can be fatal for those who have a compromised (or not fully formed) immune system. Infants and children are usually the most affected by it.

Before the invention and widespread use of vaccines, this condition was blamed for many deaths. However, as medical science as evolved, the amount of fatalities has lowered considerably. Unfortunately, there are still some segments of the population who don't believe in vaccines, and that means a higher risk of this highly contagious disease is a very real possibility. Because the illness is caused by a bacteria (as opposed to a virus), it can be treated with antibiotics. The earlier treatment starts, the better it works. Unfortunately, the cough can stick around up to a month and a half.

Testing for this condition might include a mouth swab, chest x-rays, and a blood test. This may help the doctor to narrow down the possibilities. Unfortunately, there are other diseases that can mimic the signs of pertussis, so ruling those out quickly is a very real hurdle that doctors face. The bacteria will only respond to certain medicines, so getting the correct diagnosis as soon as possible will help get people on the road to recovery. In some cases, a person may need to be hospitalized and kept under isolation. This is especially true if they can't breathe properly and are unable to eat or drink.

As symptoms progressively get worse they often include vomiting, fainting, hemorrhages, and painful breathing due to fractured ribs. The ribs can actually crack from the force of the coughing fits.

Keep in mind the importance of getting vaccinated, as this is (and other diseases) are often preventable. Doing so can help keep you and your loved ones healthier and prevent you from developing any number of serious medical conditions.

Skin Health

Your skin is the largest organ in your body. It protects your internal organs, helps your body maintain its temperature and allows you to experience a variety of sensations. Keeping it healthy plays an important role in keeping your whole body healthier.

One of the best ways to protect this extensive organ is by protecting it from the sun. The sun gives off harmful UVA and UVB rays. UVA rays are linked with premature aging while UVB rays can cause the skin to burn. A broad spectrum sunblock that protects against these rays should be used whenever you spend time outside and reapplied after swimming or heavy sweating. Wearing long-sleeved shirts, long pants and a broad-brimmed hat or using a cover up at the beach can further reduce your exposure.

Apply coconut oil directly to your body to soothe dryness, irritation and rough patches. You can even apply this natural moisturizer to your face to combat wrinkles and smooth your complexion. A pea-sized dab is enough to soften your face. Concentrate your application on any fine lines around your eyes, and massage the oil into dry areas using gentle, circular strokes. Scoop out a tablespoon-sized amount to soften arms and elbows or to smooth legs and ankles.

What you put into your body will eventually show on the outside. A diet high in salt will lead to puffiness and swelling while nutrient-poor convenience or fast foods can leave you looking pale, ashy and drawn. Avoid processed foods and sugar. Try to enjoy a few servings of fruits and vegetables at each meal. Add in some good sources of omega-3 fatty acids, such as flaxseed, walnuts and salmon, to improve suppleness, and drink plenty of fresh water to hydrate from the inside out.

Finally, keep an eye on its health. Perform a self-exam every month. Examine your body from head to toe, and note any areas of concerns. Use a mirror to see hard-to-reach places, or ask a close friend, family member or your partner for help. Changing moles, abnormal lesions, spots or sores that do not heal should be evaluated by your doctor.

Exercise for Mobility

We are all well aware of the fact that aging changes our bodies. But it doesn't mean we have to live sedentary lifestyles and turn our backs on being active. In fact, getting older doesn't mean we can't try new things to get back into (or stay in) shape. And there are a few different activities that will directly contribute to your physical well-being - such as yoga, tai-chi, or going for a simple stroll around the neighborhood. Both yoga and tai chi will help you stay flexible as well as help your balance. They both incorporate healthy stretches that will help to invigorate you at the beginning of the day and help to relax you at the end of the day.

Some people find that mobility becomes an issue as they get older. But there are definitely ways to keep yourself up and moving. Sports such as swimming or water aerobics are two great choices for cardiovascular activities. Join a class to stay consistent or trying exercising with a buddy on a regular basis. And be sure to keep the mind engages. Getting older doesn't mean giving up hobbies. In fact, now is the perfect time to start a new one.

If you are starting a completely new exercise venture that you haven't tried before, it may be a good idea to get some guidance. This may mean signing up for a wellness coach, someone who is knowledgeable about helping others reach their full potential and not get hurt during the process. Getting back into physical activity after an injury or illness might seem difficult. But it can be done, especially with the help of physical therapy. A physical therapist will guide you toward utilizing the correct strength exercises and balance improvement activities, while giving you the support you need as you work through the recovery process. The important thing is to take it slow and steady.

Aging doesn't mean living a sedentary lifestyle. There are still plenty of activities to participate in. Now is the perfect time to take action and go do things you enjoy. See if you can get friends and family to join you. This will help make all of you accountable and stay on track. And who doesn't need help like that once in a while? It may even be fun to start a little competition - that will make your exercise routine even more interesting!


Burns are labeled in three major classifications, such as first degree, second degree and third degree. Examples of a first degree burn is what people may get after spending time in the sun, especially without wearing sunscreen. The skin is usually red and it also may be painful or sensitive to the touch. The sun's rays are very strong and a sunburn can happen in a very short time or even on cloudy days. That's why wearing sunscreen is always a good idea - especially for babies and children so that permanent damage doesn't occur. Treatment for this level includes aloe and a cool water compress.

A second degree burn affects the top layer as well as the second layer of the skin. These are often painful and red. They will often lead to blistering. Unfortunately, the incidence for infection is higher. There is usually significant pain and swelling to the affected area. It is often a good idea to get to the doctors office or the hospital for these types of cases to make sure the damage hasn't penetrated to the lower levels and to ensure proper treatment. This is particularly true if the groin, face, hands, or feet are affected. These areas may have a longer healing time.

The most serious level is a third degree burn. These are extremely severe and are usually the result of fire. These affect all the dermal layers and often affect the sensory and nervous system. The affected areas are usually never the same due to scar tissue forming. They generally require extensive treatment in the hospital, especially to keep infection from occurring.

One of the most common rooms in the house where burns occur is the kitchen. There are always safety and prevention measures that should be exercised, especially while cooking and while there are children around. Never leave pots and pans unattended, always use care when handling hot dishes, and always pay attention to children. Another good idea for every family is to practice fire drills and what to do in the event of an emergency. Doing so can help save a life as well as minimize the risk of many other injuries, including burns.

Early Childhood Obesity

Early childhood obesity is an epidemic in the United States. It can lead to a number of illnesses and health complications including high blood pressure, joint problems, breathing issues and diabetes. The results of a recent study have found that children who are overweight in kindergarten are more likely to become obese in the 8th grade. The findings also emphasize that building good eating and exercise habits should start as early as possible. After all, there's no going back. And learning good habits to begin with is easier than breaking bad ones, especially regarding food and exercise.

Researchers have found that a child who is overweight and has established early tendencies toward weight gain often stayed overweight through elementary school and junior high. They looked at a number of different factors during the study, including socio-economic backgrounds, sex, and birth weight. What they found is that people in lower income brackets often had a higher incidence of unhealthy habits - and weighed more than people in higher income (and educational brackets).

There are ways to fight off the unhealthy epidemic and turn things around. One of them is for parents to become more informed about nutrition. As role models, parents often set examples for their children. Kids mimic what they see. If parents eat junk food, the children are more likely to do so as well. It stands to reason that if they see healthy choices being made, they will also make those same choices. For that reason, try to stock the refrigerator and pantry with fresh foods such as fruits and vegetables. Avoid foods high in fat and try to stay away from items with a lot of preservatives. Read labels - if you can't pronounce what's in them, do you really want to eat that?

It is up to the older generation to teach the younger generation about diet and physical activity. We need to lead by example. This means getting up off the couch and doing some form of physical activity on a regular basis. Go for walks with your children. Take them to the park, go for bike rides. Encourage them to play sports - and think about what you can do to get into better shape. It can be an extremely rewarding experience and will help both you and your child to decrease the chances of becoming obese.