A Case for Driving Peacefully

A Case for Driving Peacefully

Most of us only think about one thing when we turn the key in the ignition: getting to where we’re going, and fast.

Driving is something most of us have to do every day. We usually take the same route, get stuck behind the same people, and have the same bad habits behind the wheel. For some, driving is a pleasure and a sport. For others, it’s a chore. But what happens if we completely change how we approach driving?

Before putting the keys in the ignition, take a few breaths to center yourself and to bring calm and clarity to your mind and heart. 

Take the time to acknowledge how lucky you are. You have a car! You have a driver’s license! You have driving skills that allow you to deliver yourself from point A to point B. If you’re thankful about owning a car, and thankful about your skills as a driver, you’re more likely to drive mindfully.

If you’re distracted, emotional, or under the influence, give someone else the keys. 

Driving drunk is shockingly common. So is driving with a cellphone in hand. These are behaviors that spring from the invincibility mindset. “It won’t happen to me”. “I’ve gotten away with it before”. or “I’m a good enough driver that I can pull this off.”

It takes one tiny mistake to change your life – or someone else’s life – forever. It takes a couple of seconds that you don’t see the guy on the motorcycle. You can save someone’s life by putting down the phone, or giving someone else the keys.

Place your phone in a place you can’t reach. 

I’m particularly bad about wanting to DJ while I drive. My best alternative is to make myself a playlist and toss the phone in the back seat.

Texting while driving is something I see people do on the highway all the time. Traveling 80 mph, driving a 1-ton block of steel, and sharing the road with semi’s? Put the damn phone down.

Take your time. Don’t rush. 

I have definitely been guilty of this. I tend to get so impatient when I get stuck behind a slow driver on a country road. I get so annoyed when someone is putzing in the left lane on the highway. But then I think: what’s the rush? If I’m late, I’m late.

I’ve started leaving my house on time so I can feel stress-free on my journeys. After all, why stress when you can leave earlier?

Your car is your sanctuary!

How great is it that we’re lucky enough to have our own space when we travel? We can listen to music, listen to our favorite radio station, or we can choose to enjoy the peace and quiet. We can decorate our cars with colorful wheels, rear-view dangles, and seat covers. It’s our own space to enjoy.

So there’s no reason to worry. Traffic jams, slow drivers, and poor weather conditions will always be a fact of life. But how will you handle what the road brings? How will you drive?

Healthy Reasons to Get Naked

Healthy Reasons to Get Naked

You have the right to strut around the house naked.

There are delightful reasons to shed your clothes. It boosts confidence and makes you feel better in your own skin. It helps us accept ourselves. Perhaps it’s because we’re not trying to fight anything. We’re not fighting fashion, tight straps, skinny jeans, and there’s no reason to suck in our gut. We are loping around the house naked with no apologies.

Confidence boost aside, why go nude? I investigated.

Sleep Naked, Lose Weight, Look Younger, Have Sex, Sleep Better.

annie-spratt-493162

There are so many reasons to sleep naked.

Better Sleep

Sleeping in the nude keeps you cooler, which helps you fall asleep faster. Falling asleep faster allows you to produce more melatonin, a hormone that regulates sleep cycles and has anti-aging properties.

Healthier Skin

Going nude allows your skin to breathe! How many hours a day are you wearing restricting underwear? How many indentations do your clothes make in your skin? Take it off, take it all off! Let your skin breathe.

Improved Reproductive Health

Men who sleep naked have higher sperm count and better sperm quality than those who wear boxers or briefs.

Women who sleep naked have healthier vaginal PH levels and less yeast infections.

More Sexy Time

Couples who sleep naked have more sex. All that skin-to-skin contact triggers your body to release more oxytocin, “the love hormone”, which plays a role in relationship bonding and sexual desire.

Couples that have more sex are happier in their relationships, have lower stress levels, stronger immune systems, less chronic pain, and lower blood pressure.

Skip the undies and get busy.

And here’s a challenge.

This summer, find an empty beach or a remote patch of forest, and drape your clothes on a tree branch. The sensations you will feel being outside with nothing on will be something you will not soon forget. Feel the ocean, feel the wind, and step out of that comfort zone.

 

To Bra or Not to Bra: What that Underwire is Doing to Your Girls

To Bra or Not to Bra: What that Underwire is Doing to Your Girls

Bras support cultural norms way more than they support your boobs.

Maybe it’s the flower child in me, but damn I hate bras. Back when I worked in an office, I strapped on a bra and stepped into high heels so I could look posh and professional. But by the end of the day, my ankles pained me and my bra strap cut into my flesh.

Hear me roar.

A few months ago, the last underwire bra in my rotation finally broke its strap. I didn’t run out to get a new bra. I never will.

“But aren’t you concerned about people seeing your nipples under your shirt?” “What are you going to do when you have to work out and do physical activities?” “How will you wear a tee-shirt?”

None of this bothers me. In fact, I perform on stage without a bra on, and it’s freeing.

And guess what? Wearing a bra does not benefit your breasts. In fact, there is some research that suggests that your bra is making your boobs saggier.

So all you ladies that wear bras so your boobs don’t sag? Listen up.

French Professor Jean-Denis Rouillon, a sports medicine specialist from Centre Hospitalier Universitaire de Besancon, measured changes in women’s breasts for 15 years. He had 330 volunteers between the ages of 18 and 35.

Women who went braless had higher nipples by 7-millimeters than their underwired peers. The boobs of freedom were perkier!

“Our first results confirm the hypothesis that the bra is a false need. Medically, physiologically, anatomically, the breast does not benefit from being deprived of gravity. Instead, it languishes with a bra.” – Professor Jean-Denis Rouillon

The women who didn’t wear bras had firmer breasts with less stretch marks. Some braless women even celebrated the fact that they had less back pain. 

Don’t want headlights showing? Wear a bralette! They’re prettier anyways.

But let’s be real. As a culture, we shouldn’t have an issue with the natural way a woman’s body looks. Bra or no bra. After all these years, it shouldn’t be shocking to see a woman going braless. It’s beautiful, brave, and sexy.

marius-ciocirlan-414583

 

These Factors Made Me Quit Smoking Once & For All

These Factors Made Me Quit Smoking Once & For All

I’m not proud of this, but I used to smoke. When I turned 21, I started hanging out with people who left the party to huddle outside in a tobacco cloud.

I never should have been smoking in the first place. During one of my opera lessons when I was 14, my vocal coach placed her hands on my lungs and told me to breathe in  as long as I could, and she said, “You don’t smoke.”
Me: “Well of course I don’t smoke, I’m fourteen.”
Teacher: “You’d be surprised.”

At 21 I wasn’t sure if I had a future in music. My opera and chorus days were behind me, and I didn’t know how music fit into my future, if at all. I was in a “screw it” phase of my life. I felt invincible, like nothing bad could happen to me. I thought I was going to be out partying at the bars for years and years. It took me less than a year to realize that wasn’t the life I wanted.

By the time I turned 22, I was buying my own packs of cigarettes weekly. I smoked after eating, after work, and whenever I had some drinks with friends. This was around the time I started becoming more adult, and I had a real decision to make.

Below are the factors that made me quit smoking once and for all.

1. Exercise-Induced Asthma 

I have been active my entire life. I’ve always loved hiking, sailing, walking, and running. I have always loved looking healthy and feeling my best. But when I turned 22, something strange happened.

I went to the gym like I normally did three times a week, and I ran on the treadmill for about an hour, but I felt different. Instead of my lungs being able to handle the activity, they wheezed with every breath. I couldn’t take a breath without my lungs whistling. And the wheezing didn’t stop until much later, when my heart rate went down.

I went to the doctor, and they gave me a small red inhaler that I was supposed to take a hit from before and after I exercised. This inhaler made me feel high, and I felt uncomfortable driving after inhaling from it.

It was also the first sign I had that my smoking habit was destroying my lungs. I couldn’t run, I couldn’t be as active as I wanted to be, because my lungs couldn’t handle it. If I needed to inhale steroids every time I wanted to exercise, what did that mean for my pulmonary health? There was no secret it was the cigarettes.

2. Being a Nanny to two wonderful children

When I was in college, I took some internships that left a bad taste in my mouth for office life. So when I graduated, I didn’t think office work was the answer for me. Instead, I took a nanny job to an infant and a four year old not far from my house. I read them books, played outside with them, took them to museums, and we danced around to music together.

One major thing I learned from my time with these children was that I didn’t have to smoke. Of course I wasn’t going to smoke around children, and I couldn’t take smoke breaks, because I had nobody helping me. Not only that, but I didn’t want children to smell cigarette smoke on me. I wanted to set a good example.

Dancing with toddlers to Hakuna Matata feels better than lighting up a smoke. Any day.

3. Researching what smoking literally does to the lungs 

My friends and I made every excuse in the book that supported our smoking habit, but I wanted to dive deeper and see what damage was actually caused by smoking. Was I educated by a bunch of alarmists that blew the risks of tobacco out of proportion? I investigated.

It didn’t take much research to put down the cigarette. Our lungs are balloon-like and soft. There are tiny hairs called cilia that trap particles and prevent against dirt and infection. Smoking cigarettes coats these cilia in sticky tar. This sticky tar covers the thousands of tiny air sacks that make up the lungs, and it prevents them from functioning the way they should.

Now, smoke-free for 6 years, I sometimes inhale as deep as I can to appreciate what my lungs do for me.

4. Incessant Gum chewing

When I quit smoking, I realized that so much of my addiction was an oral fixation. I’m not sure if I ever was addicted to nicotine, but I’m not sure I’ve ever been addicted to anything. I don’t have an addictive personality, but I know I love my oral fixations. I sucked my thumb when I was a kid, and smoking was probably connected to the comforting feeling of having something to suck on.

So I reached for the gum. I chewed until I was minty fresh. I got all my frustrations out through the chew. It may not have been great for my teeth and jaws, but it was a hell of a lot better than getting throat or mouth cancer.

5. Quitting with someone else 

I met my husband right before I quit smoking. I think I was successful in quitting because he decided to quit too. C attended five grueling years of Transportation Design school at DAAP in Cincinnati, and he chain smoked while working all throughout the night.

Both of C’s parents fought cancer (and are still fighting!). He knew he had to put down the cigarettes. We both quit, and we supported each other.

6. The smoking cessation app Smoke Free

When it comes to quitting an addiction, I realized I couldn’t rely on willpower alone. I needed any help I could get. I downloaded the Smoke Free App, which gave me real-time notifications on how my health was improving since my last cigarette. And when I craved a cigarette? All I had to do was open the app for motivation. Reading about what smoking did to my health (and wallet) was enough to distract my brain for a second to get over the desire to smoke.

 

Friends, stop smoking. Seriously. Our lungs mature around age 25, and their function begins to decline around 35. Chances are, you’re running out of time to improve your lung health. Read more about lung health at the American Lung Association. Educate yourself. Put down the cigarette.