Archive for December, 2011

If Disney Ran Our Holidays

December 19, 2011

I just read Fred Lee’s book, If Disney Ran Your Hospital. Several years ago, I spent a few days at Disney World and never heard a child cry or people argue the whole time we were there. I did hear lots of laughter and knew I was on a super holiday! Disney’s genius lay in requiring his staff to be friendly, cheerful, helpful, and sympathetic.

 When I talk with other folks about this refreshing book and how the Disney philosophy could go a long way toward improving any business and even any family, some say, “Oh, but Disney’s all about acting; the staff may not really feel like keeping up a perky persona all the time; it’s their job.

 Maybe, but the idea has great potential as a means toward keeping each other well. And we learn most of our skills by first acting them out. The holidays are a time when families gather from all directions just to touch base and catch up on each other’s lives. What if we all celebrated the holidays by making it our self-selected job to be friendly, cheerful, helpful, and sympathetic to whomever we meet? Obviously, this would be a tall order for most of us on a year-round basis, but just might be doable for the holidays. And, if it carries over beyond the holidays, no problem.

 This would mean setting aside our anger, complaints, resentment, one-upmanship habits…, you get the idea. Our one goal would be to do all we can to make the people around us feel included, happy, cared for, and heard.

 This philosophy isn’t far fetched. We are in the middle of the toughest season of the year, emotionally. Our support for each other strengthens and enlightens us.  The new babe symbolizes our hope that together we can move forward  in the new year with a fresh start, cared for, and with limitless possibilities. Disney got that one right.

Peace on Earth

December 12, 2011

Silent night, holy night, all is calm, all is bright…, mother and child sleep in heavenly peace…. Familiar words to a Christmas carol, probably the most commonly sung carol of all; it often moves people to tears as we yearn for the reality of peace on earth where every child, every one of us, is cared for.

 The carol, sung in community with others, seems to tell the story of how we all wish our world to be. In the best of all scenarios, this is how it would be, with everyone relaxed and singing as one voice.

 While that may be our intended focus, we are distracted from that yearning as we are caught up in advertising that encourages us to make each other happy by buying things to give each other. One TV ad showed a brand new little white car decked out like a package with a big red bow on top. The woman receiving the gift from her man was thrilled. As they embraced, a bigger, classier car drove by, and her look changed to disappointment and his to shame. Suddenly, the little white car was no longer good enough.

 Just as suddenly, that ad seemed like a crime committed against the season that tries to figure out how we can realize Peace on Earth.

 At the other extreme is O. Henry’s classic, “The Gift of the Magi,” which captured the essence of gifts of love that were much more than enough. (Easy to Google if you need a refresher.) The difference is between an insatiable need for more that can never bring peace, and a deeper need to love that makes peace possible.

 This year, I see hopeful signs that people are waking up in our country and around the world. More people are speaking up, organizing to get their message across, and being listened to, however small the steps toward peace may seem to be. Situations that were once reacted to automatically with censure and violence now include more listening responses as communities attempt to see the big picture and reframe their agendas to provide a peaceful, safe, enriching life for all people, especially children.

 We can go a long way toward keeping each other well and generating peace by continuing to speak up where necessary and listening respectfully to each other.

Water has no substitute.

December 2, 2011

In NH, it’s difficult to get serious about water. This week, I walked the Flume Loop trail that includes powerful waterfalls generated by both  Flume and Liberty Gorges. Water continually purified itself as it pounded over huge pink granite boulders. It seemed like an endless supply. Yet, water is probably the least respected natural resource we have, except in protected areas.

 Water is clearly the most valuable substance on earth. We cannot live at all without water and we can’t enjoy optimum health without consuming enough unadulterated water.

 Dehydration is associated with most of our diseases and conditions. One hundred years ago, many of the diseases and conditions prevalent today were practically nonexistent. Since then, consumption of water has been replaced by excessive reliance on coffee, tea, soda, beer and more, so that it is not unusual for a person to only drink 8 oz. or less of  water daily.

 However, in order for our body systems to function realistically, we need to consume half our body weight in ounces of water daily (including what we consume in our foods.) Water has no substitute. The above drinks mentioned are all dehydrators. They move right through our systems as quick stimulants without sustenance. Excessive sugar in sodas is converted and stored as fat. Sugar substitutes in diet sodas stimulate our appetite as much or more than sugar, hence our obesity problem. Excess protein in beer can’t be stored by the body; it’s converted to fat as well.

 Think of all the ways we use water. Drink it and water helps the body make plenty of enzymes to digest our food, provides enough liquid to turn the food we eat into a digestible slurry. Water can warm a chilled body and cool an overheated body. Water can relax strained muscles, heal injuries; it can be skied, skated and sailed on; bathed or swum in. We cook with it to soften and blend our foods. Water helps plants grow, provides for diversity and homes for fish…. The list is endless.

 Water is the number one issue that towns, states, and countries throughout the world must deal with currently and is already cited in water wars in our southwest and great lakes, as well as Palestine, for starters – all with the potential for disaster. Daily, in the news, we see how long term, limited clean water threatens lives throughout the world.

 Here in NH, it’s not too soon to check up on our rivers, lakes, aquifers and wells, to be sure that our water stays free of contamination. The NH Dept. of Environmental Services (DES) has volunteer programs to test lake and river water quality. See www.des.nh.gov.

 Local Conservation Commissions are concerned about failing septic systems and the need for people to do the right thing with garbage, gasoline, oil, sewage, etc. To be informed and do our part in our own communities, a good place to start is to attend our hometown Conservation Commission meetings and find out what we each of us can do to assure safe water. Time and place are listed on the internet and at local town offices.

 If we want to keep each other well, before it’s too late, we need to stay ahead of potential shortages and contamination so that we and our offspring can all enjoy cool, clear, safe water both now and in the years to come.