Healthy Life Stylist: Caffeine Addiction

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Question

I drink tea and coffee all day, even at night. Are tea and coffee really healthy or unhealthy? What is the truth about how caffeine can help or hinder me from having a healthy life?Jamie, TN

Answer

Jamie,
This is an excellent question & certainly something that many people seem to struggle with these days. As a culture we’re overworked, under-rested and, as a result, highly caffeinated. Plus, because caffeine is an addictive substance that often causes withdrawal when you try to quit, it can be quite hard to shake the feeling of tired to wired and back again.

There are two sides to the argument about caffeine, on the one hand, moderate amounts of caffeine have been found to improve concentration, increase memory function, reduce muscle soreness and even possibly prevent Alzheimer’s disease. On the other hand, it also interferes with your absorption of vitamins & minerals, stimulates stress hormones, spikes your blood sugar and dehydrates your cells, causing premature aging.

From the sound of things, your personal caffeine consumption is certainly above average. Over time, consuming at your current rate could fatigue your adrenal glands, putting your body in a perpetual state of stress and exhaustion. Cutting back on your caffeine, especially from coffee, can bring things back into balance, help you sleep better, and allow your body to absorb important nutrients it could be missing out on.

If you were one of my clients, I would encourage you to choose tea over coffee for awhile. Yes, you’ll still be consuming caffeine, but the caffeine in tea is more bio-available to your body than the caffeine in coffee. Plus, since tea is super high in antioxidants, the healthy benefits far out way any damage done by the caffeine that accompanies it.

The other great thing about the caffeine in tea is that it varies from type to type. This is helpful when trying to reduce your stimulant consumption slowly to avoid withdrawal. You can start off by trading your cup of joe for a nice black tea, the most caffeinated variety of teas. Then switch to oolong, green & white teas, the next step down. Until finally you can switch things up entirely with some tasty herbal teas. With the exception of yerba mate, herbal teas contain no caffeine at all, but they do help to replace the ritual of waking up to a warm beverage. If you find that you miss the earthy taste of coffee after cutting back, you may want to check out Teeccino, an herbal tea brand that’s roasted to mimic that java taste without the harmful caffeine.

Happy Drinking,
Michelle Shea Walker, H.C.

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Finding Inspiration to Climb Higher

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I sometimes hear I should find something to do when I’m sitting around puzzling over what’s inspiring me in that moment and which way I should move with it (which appears from the outside to be some sort of boredom or stagnation) but is actually me almost in a living/meditating state. I’m taking everything in around me, iI’m imagining and I’m stalling. I don’t usually move fast with new ideas; In fact I usually move so slow that I tire of them before I even get them finished. I also currently favor the idea that in your worst times (most depressed, most angry, most passionate) you make your greatest discoveries about yourself which in turn shells out some pretty brutally honest and amazing work. (ahem, Eminem)

Why is inspiration such a process? And how do you get inspiration? Sometimes.. I’ll admit.. I actually pull the inspiration and motivation to move ahead with ideas from dreams. I dreamt I finally went to Japan to study which let me to finally decide I would study in Japan while in college. I had to do all of the work to get there; my college didn’t really have any programs in Japan in place at the time. It happened! I couldn’t believe everything went as smoothly as it did (this seems to happen sometimes when you follow your heart — things go smooth and easy). They told me to pick several programs and apply because I might not get the one I want, I chose the one I wanted and didn’t even apply anywhere else. I got accepted.

My host family was the most rad family in the whole program because they also just started so they weren’t sure what to expect either and they had a daughter that was just a bit older than me. So that means lots of shopping, events, festivals, sake and karaoke with friends. They are so wonderful and amazing, I’m glad we’re still in touch. Eri, the daughter, and I practically became real sisters (and our bond is exactly the same after all of these years). That little push I needed to live in Japan as the Japanese do was not just a dream anymore, it was a reality.

Some well-known self-esteem experts, such as Jack Canfield, claim that a way of proving you’re on the right path in life: everything, no matter how hard it at first seems (change is often scary), seems to almost come easily and moves along smoothly. Now I’m not saying you’re likely to avoid obstacles if you follow your dreams. Because, in my experience, often times the harder something is to get, the more worth or value it carries. So whether obstacles get in the way or not, always be prepared for them. I’m only saying it feels right.. you just know it’s the way you’re supposed to go. There will likely be obstacles but not impossible ones, rather they are empowering ones.

I also dreamt (No, I do not live in a Dream Castle.) I started a store downtown (dream come true) and a magazine with friends and found happiness and fulfillment in that. I’m an artist and designer first and foremost. When I finally dropped News/Editorial from my major I felt a little remorse, but sadly not enough. Somehow writing was not something I was after anymore, it didn’t feel right anymore. So what did I do anyway? I took heed from my dream and started this mega blogazine that you’re staring at right now. I opened a connected shop and sold pendants, original artwork, prints and the most random handmade gifts. I (sort of) started working towards making that dream a reality.

If fact sometimes dreams you once had come floating back as if reminding you to keep on your journey but to perhaps try another route. Sometimes to become who you want to be you have to re-harness some of your past, favorable qualities that you let fall to the wayside. For instance recently I was obsessing over these more recent prints and images I was creating (never released) and now I’m considering listing them at the store here. They were pre-falling-down-the-rabbit-hole-again stage but became a pretty big series in my life for awhile and I actually enjoyed creating them a lot. I found again that I work well with dolls as models and I decided to mix typography in more like my web-based designs thus furthering my interest in print making once more. Finally.

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Some other ways I get inspiration are as follows:
Japanese fashion and interior magazines, vintage woman’s magazines, 20s records, having a cup of black coffee or almond tea to get re-energized, taking a bubble bath with or without a book or candles and champagne, looking through my photo albums, looking through my record collection, hanging out with family & friends, taking a walk, swinging, carrying my camera, listening to electro, writing in my journal or any nearby notebook, getting out a pencil and a blank canvas and, most importantly, love and kisses from my husband and daughter. Every time I have genuine bonding time with my daughter I get an instant dose of inspiration.. I guess that’s why I tend to stay up quite late after her bedtime to work.

So want to pump up the process of getting inspiration by reading a few tips about gaining inspiration from other artists? That’s exactly what I had in mind. Also remember I always ask our featured artists to explain where they get inspiration from.

Need Inspiration?

Four Steps To Finding Inspiration, From An Idea DJ – I especially like the idea of video art, collaging video clips with music and/or audio.
50 Ways to Find Inspiration – I’ve done a lot of these and found some of them that I’d actually like to try. There are tons of great ideas here. I really liked: 31. Ask someone you love what they consider to be the most important thing they’ve ever learned., 34. Ask your parents to tell you what you were like as a child, and remember what mattered to you then. and 40. Spend time with children and see the world through their eyes.. Very positive and inspirational.
16 Ways to Get Motivated When You’re In a Slump

From Man’s Land to Wonderland

I love Rice DK decor, it’s no secret. I love Wu and Wu tins, Jeu de Paumes books and all the colorful and modern European designs with a flair of kitsch. I cannot get enough. My Lovely Lovely UK collection is still in wrapping because my kitchen is not yet ready for the palette nor have we finished deciding how, why and where things will be.

In this stage of our relationship I am NESTING. Nesting to the max. No I am not pregnant but I believe women are nesters in these stages anyway. Stages of the decision that this is going to be your life together, your home, your family. With that I’d like to say that men can also be nesters as my mister plans and completes renovations of spots in our home without me even implying I want him to. He also asks for my opinion and I ask for his. This is tough for 2 artists with VERY DIFFERENT art styles. I’m saying pop surrealism VS contemporary realism. Think bright color POPs vs calming earth tones.

I believe when you settle down and start a new life with someone else that you are combining your lives into one delicious (lemon poppyseed) cake. You must sacrifice yourself to become unified and to ensure both feel at home rather than one being resentful or stifled. So we begin the road to mixing the 2 styles in one big (pink) Kitchenaid mixer and set it to low speed (while I toss in sprinkles for funfetti cake). I found a few articles on the subject of collaborative design in the home with your partner but not many so I feel it’s best at this point to learn from the adventure. Please join us on our journey to create our dream home from our beautiful house (inspiration and mood boards included!) and the things I learn about designing it with mister.

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Getting Lost and Being Found

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I’ve cleaning and organizing our studio because that’s often what I end up doing in times when I’m stuck at home (such as the ridiculous amount of time we’ve been snowed in lately). Our house and all of her cupboards, closets and drawers have slowly been organized and sorted since I’ve moved in but never so much as lately. I can’t get enough of discarding the old, jaded and faded and replenishing with all things good and sometimes new. In this spare time I’ve also found extra moments to spend sorting through packages, boxes and files filled with photos, letters, nostalgia and clippings. Things I had forgotten about and things I had chocked up as gone — casualties in the divorce, move and hard reset of my life.

Wendy & I at Midland Antiques

Wendy & I at Midland Antiques

I’ve realized that in finding these fossils of my past life I’ve also found a part of myself that was neglected to the inner and outer war that has been going on since around age 15. Losing yourself teaches you a lot about the hardships and the long journey you have ahead of you to try to find yourself again. It teaches you about the you you always hoped and planned to be, the yous that you left behind and want to find, the yous that you’d prefer to grow apart from for the extent of your waking hours.

In realizing these things exist you find you have changed, your life has changed and quite possibly you have found the person you know you will be. I believe this happens to each of us a bit with every new year, we reflect. However, in my experience, unless a grand change is made resolutions will be forgotten and old habits will resurface.

I lost myself once and I am still looking for myself. Who I wanted to be as a young girl, the things I wanted to do and see, the life I wanted to live. I’d gotten so closed in, I magnified certain aspects of my goals and forgot about others. For instance, I wanted to get married and have a daughter but I forgot I had wanted the most grand love there ever was. I forgot that I didn’t want to just be content, that I wanted to experience pure love for a beautiful man, to experience a love like we hear about in fairytales only more real and passionate. Someone I didn’t want to change but someone whose love changed my life. I didn’t just want to have a child but I wanted to bring a child into a love-filled family of magical wonder, a magnificent home life and many adventures lined neatly with security and stability. With parents who love one another more than anything else, with siblings that give, teach, take and give some more.

by David Cunningham

by David Cunningham

I saw that I wanted to write. I found many old memoir notes and pages of manga dialogue, articles, fairytales and more. I lost the motivation in trying to do anything other than to fix things that were far too broken and then zoning out completely when they appeared impossibly broken.

I saw that my art was a major focus in my life, other than true love and family, and designing everything I do. I saw my plans for paintings, illustrations and web sketches; designs that never made it off the paper and into illustrator because I lost the ambition and self-esteem needed to go.

Now that I am finding myself in so many ways, I figured there were others that have lost important pieces along their journeys as well. Others that might need a little push to gather those pieces strewn along the ground and trudge on through their own adventure of finding their true, superior self. The self they are, were and wanted to be. What have you lost and found along the way?

Happy New Year.

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Obsessively Compulsively: Navigating OCD

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So how do I begin my story? My life has taken me many crazy places, but none as wild as when I worked on an acute psychiatric ward for children. I moved out of state and was pressed to find a job with my only experience and education being in the field of psychology.

I’ll be honest, I saw a lot of disturbing things on that unit, but the day that changed me was when a 12 year old girl was admitted. She had herpes all over her mouth. As soon as I found out what it was, I couldn’t feel clean enough. I’ve never been a type-A, hand-washing, anal-retentive person, but that is quickly what I became. Seemingly overnight. Upon coming home from work I was in horror to discover I still continued to feel unclean, even after I had showered, washed my hands about a billion times and sanitized everything that I had had with me at work.

From there it got much, much worse… washing my hands once at a time wasn’t enough. Twice wasn’t even enough. Then I started having obsessive thoughts. What if I had accidentally touched the phone at work to my face? What if I hadn’t washed my hands enough and had touched something I ate? It got to the point where I wouldn’t even kiss my boyfriend, avoided situations that previously seemed normal and so on. The obsessive questions were never ending. They even haunted me in my sleep.

Later I had a tragic death in my family and I started obsessing over other things in my life. Had I done something wrong? Was I going to hell? Was I going to jail? Was I going to hurt my family beyond repair? These thoughts were so constant and pervasive that I sometimes hoped that I wouldn’t wake up. I wished that somehow the pain and constant anxiety could end without hurting my family and loved ones. I did this for three years and it was the most painful three years of my life.

I’m only pouring out my heart anonymously because I wouldn’t wish what I went through on my worst enemy. OCD on its own is hard enough, but it also brings extra disorders to the front such as anxiety and depression. One happy day I decided that I could not live like this anymore. I sucked up my pride and went to my childhood doctor and told him that I had OCD. He didn’t judge me. He told me that stress can trigger reactions in the brain that lead to these kinds of thought patterns. He didn’t even treat me like I was sick. He put me on Prozac and probably saved my life. Since I have taken the medication, I have transformed back into my old self that I and loved ones know and love. I didn’t realize how much I missed being me until I started to get better. I started to think about normal things instead of morbid obsessions. I started to smile again… a real smile that meant something, not that sad inside, outwardly fake one that I had become so good at. I started realizing that my life was promising and happy, not scary and terrible.

I know that medication is not the answer for everyone, but if you read this and have ever wondered what is wrong with you or why you have so much anxiety then maybe it is an avenue to explore paired with talking openly to a professional. I would never push medication on anyone, but when I see myself now as opposed to two years ago, I know that I made the best decision of my life. I had something inbalanced in my brain, and medicine was able to fix it. Best wishes and love if you find yourself on this haunting journey, I hope my honesty can help you. I decided to publish this anonymous article in hopes that it could save someone some pain in feeling like they’re crazy and to be open with a professional and get help so they can live a hopeful life.