Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Nine Low-Cost Things -- New & Old -- that Keep Me Healthy & Happy

My original plan: escape the swamp called Washington, D.C. this month. I was considering Maine and Nova Scotia, but by the time I got around to making plans, I found that others had already filled up the places where I wanted to stay. So, finding no rooms at the inns, I stayed home and watched the temperature soar above 100, day after day.

To restore my spirits, I made a list of the low-cost things, some newly discovered, that keep me happy and healthy regardless of the weather. Here are the top nine.

Let's start at the bottom (pun intended) and work our way up.

9. The "Blue Bidet"

Having spent a lot of time in Southeast Asia this past decade, I've discovered that water is better than paper when it comes to toilet hygiene. Earlier this year, I saw a recommendation for the Blue Bidet, which is a simple, relatively cheap ($60) attachment for our standard toilets. I tried it out on one toilet and really liked it. Now it's also installed on the other two.

8. Disco and Marching Band CDs for My Office

I spend a lot of time (make that "too much time") on the computer. It isn't good to plant our duffs in chairs for hours at a time, as I do; we need to get up and move around periodically. So, I keep a kitchen timer by my PC that's set to ring after 25 minutes. But I often forget to set it, or it goes off when I'm in the middle of something engrossing and I ignore it. A few months ago, I reviewed my old CDs and found Barry White, Diana Ross, and a compilation of "favorite marches." I play these CDs while I'm working, and --even without the timer ringing -- I get up, and start marching... or what passes for dancing with me.

7.  Serenity CDs for Bedtime

In my search for relief from lower back pain, I tried Reiki with its laying on of healing hands. It was relaxing but didn't do much for my back, so I stopped. But I really liked the background music that played during my sessions. So I bought two of the CDs: "The Silent Path" by Robert Haig Coxon and "Oriental Sunrise" by Riley Lee. I enjoy listening to this music at bedtime, naptime, and sometimes when meditating.

6.  Leonard Cohen's "Live in London" CD

Why did it take me until age 83 to discover singer/songwriter/novelist/poet Leonard Cohen? When I was researching a post about the final days of Dudley Clendinen, I read that he enjoyed the two CDs from Cohen's live concert in London. So... one click at Amazon, and the album was on its way. I like playing it in the car. His lyrics command attention, so it doesn't work for me to play this music while I'm reading or working at the computer. So I enjoy Cohen in the car. And, yes, I still pay careful attention to my driving.

5. My New Ninja Blender 

I most definitely am not a cook. But, given my age and ailments, I want to maintain a healthful diet. Eating lots of fruits and vegetables is a frequent nutrition recommendation. In my research, I often find items touted as particularly beneficial. Lately, for example, I've seen recommendations for beet juice, tart cherry juice, kale, and tomatoes. If I were a cook, I'd go online and find recipes for these items. But I'm not. The blender, which I bought a month ago at the recommendation of a friend, is the perfect solution. Almost every day, I use it to make a fruit or vegetable semi-smoothie and toss in some of these ingredients. Today, I went through the refrigerator and pulled out all the little containers of left-over veggies that were stashed away, threw the contents into the blender with some concord grape juice (another frequent recommendation) and... presto! Enough veggie smoothie to serve as a healthy accompaniment for several meals.

4. My Curcumin Pills

Several recent posts here have concerned the studies about possible benefits of curcumin (the active ingredient in the Indian curry spice turmeric) for treating many ailments, including three I have -- Parkinson's disease, cancer, and arthritis -- and one I fear -- Alzheimer's. More clinical studies are needed to confirm the promising early results, which could take years. Since I'm running out of years, I decided to start taking the BCM-95 variety of curcumin found best able to be absorbed by the body. My choice: Life Extension's "Super-Bio Curcumin," 400mg. It's recommended that this supplement be taken with meals, so the bottle pictured above sits on my kitchen counter, reminding me at mealtime. There's no good way of telling whether it's doing anything for my PD or cancer, but I sense it's helping relieve the arthritic pain. As soon as I started taking it, I felt more energetic. And my libido has shown signs of resurrection.

3. My Meditation Chair

I'm convinced. Nothing has recently done more to enhance the quality of my life than meditation. I could continue at great length on this subject, but I'll save details for later. For now, envision the pictured meditation chair at 5am, about the time I get up for a bathroom visit (don't envision THAT). I come down to the porch. Meditating for 30 to 60 minutes, I listen to the waterfall in my back yard pond accompanied by a chorus of crickets and watch the dawn come up. As close to heaven as I'll ever get!!

2. Playing Bridge with Old Friends

Family and friends usually top the list when seniors are asked what's important for their quality of life. Playing bridge with friends is one of the more enjoyable pastimes in my life these days, particularly when it brings together old friends. Here I am, playing with Vola and Marty. All three of us lived in rental units in a Georgetown house at 31st and Q Streets in 1956. Here we are, reunited at the bridge table 56 years later. (In 1956, we'd be holding beers or martinis in my case... not cards.) The  photo was taken by my good pal Daniel, whom I've known for about 20 years. The four of us play a couple times a month.

1. Celebrating a Birthday with my New Housemate

I met Nimesh at his dad's bookstore in Kathmandu about ten years ago. He came to the U.S on a student visa nine years ago and has lived at my house for the past few years while he got his masters at nearby American University. Now he works at the World Bank. I've only known Bhawana since March, when I returned to Nepal for her marriage to Nimesh. Now, I have double the pleasure of Nepali housemates.

So, even in Washington's worst summer ever, life is pretty damn good.

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