Crisis Survival: Find a Passion

Finding Your Passion

After interviewing many successful women who not only survived but excelled following personal losses, serious health issues or tragedies, I found their crisis recovery and survival methods carried hope and lessons of success for all women.

The process used by these women to gain strength and overcome adversity is three fold. Without being able to state the mental mechanics of their recovery, descriptions of their actions and end results are the same. Through their actions, they became survivors.

Immediately following a serious blow to their existence, that moment, in a heart beat, when everything changed, the initial response was shock and disbelief. Instead of withdrawing and giving up, three things occurred. Each woman was able to:

  • Acknowledge their nightmare as real
  • Compartmentalize the overwhelming grief
  • With time, deal with each facet and move on with a passion

Each woman innately used the protective mental process, “compartmentalization.” This adaptive mechanism blunts emotional overload. In other words, they placed their shock aside, hid it in a “shock box” and went on with life. By hiding their pain, an inner strength gradually developed allowing each woman to regain control and deal with each painful issue.

A loved one dies, a frightening diagnosis is delivered, financial ruin occurs or even blindness strikes. Some life events are so devastating they must be absorbed gradually. When the initial shockwave strikes, it is much like a rock being dropped in water. At first a large splash surges upward. The splash is followed by ring after ring of spreading waves. The waves move outward becoming smaller and softer. With their initial shock buried beneath the surface like the stone, these women were able to perform jobs and care for their families; they had to. Although the initial shock and pain of the spreading waves weighed heavily on their ability to function, emotions gradually stabilized and life order returned.

Each of us experience crisis; it is part of living. Some women survive, and in the end, excel. Others collapse in despair and never fully recover. Instead, they become victims of their experiences and stagnate in depression or self-destructive behaviors. You can take control and avoid becoming a victim of your grief. You have the power.

A broad recovery base developed for the ones who found the strength to survive. Many discovered new friendships and found a passion. “What is a passion?” When you find yours, you’ll know it. A passion is a focus of enjoyment. It makes you smile even when a blur of pain surrounds you. It provides a focus for your brain and meaning for existence. You can share it, but the passion is yours alone.

Does this mean finding a man? No. If your loss is related to a failed relationship, divorce or loss of a loved one through death, it is essential you become “whole” first. Before developing any new relationship, it is essential to recover and experience who you are first. You are not the same person as before the life-changing event. There is a new you, within you, a resilient woman able to succeed without an immediate mate. After an event, you are vulnerable and a target for many men for various reasons. Entering a relationship too soon will leave you muddled and searching.

A word of caution: Internet dating sites are not for everyone. There are many sordid tales of rape, violence and thievery. When you are ready, meeting someone through a group, such as a college class, a writers group or when learning a new skill, provides a start in a safe setting and in a situation where you already share an interest. After a failed marriage, I met my husband when taking sailing lessons. I have a close friend who met a man through a personals column. He was good looking, charming, employed and—a pathological liar. She nearly died at the hands of this violent man who is now in prison. She is very lucky to be alive and is truly a survivor.

Each of us is different. Women who have a passion before a life-changing event occurs find it helps them recover more quickly. If you need a focus, consider using your life skills to help others. You may find a niche volunteering or helping others less fortunate, such as reading to the vision-impaired, helping at a pet shelter, visiting the elderly or delivering Meals-on-Wheels.

Some women helped their recovery by taking a class at the community college to learn something new, like how to make cheese, weave beautiful pine needle baskets, make jewelry, excel in marital arts, or to write a memoir. All things you may not have been interested in previously.

Daily activity is important for mental and physical health. Consider walking or hiking with a group. Try reviving an old interest. It may set you in the direction of finding your passion in a place you least expect.

We all need something to energize daily life. For me, it’s watching the sun rise and looking at an image of my granddaughter’s beautiful face before I start my day of writing. Writing is my passion, but I love walking my dog Valkyrie, reading and learning new skills, such as computer applications like PhotoShop, which feeds my interest in photography.

We can all find strength in the words and life example of Helen Keller, who at 19 months of age, suddenly lost both hearing and vision. With these profound disabilities, she learned to speak, became a prolific writer and graduated with honor from Radcliffe College. Throughout her life, she worked incessantly for the improvement of others and became a symbol of triumph over adversity. She said, “Although the world is full of suffering, it is also full of the overcoming of it.”

Studies show people who socialize, are physically active and engage their brains learning new things every day, live longer happier lives.

Search for your passion.

Lipstick Logic /Betty Kuffel, MD

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Lipstick is More Than Color, It’s an Attitude

 NATIONAL LIPSTICK DAY – JULY 29th

Lipstick- more than a little color

 Lipstick became a prominent part of daily wear for women beginning in the 19th century. Enhanced lips add color to your face and your life. A little makeup, lip color and mascara can brighten your face and your attitude. Our mother, who died at age 89, was a lipstick advocate. She said if you wore bright clothes, accessories, a touch of make-up and lipstick, you’d feel better about yourself. I think she was on to something! Crippled with arthritis and barely ambulatory,  she always looked beautiful and stylish and always wore her lipstick.

Studies have shown there is a personal well-being benefit in taking the time to improve your appearance. Even in cancer patients, when chemo has taken their hair, eyelashes and eyebrows, carefully applied makeup is a way to improve that inner spirit. If you look better on the outside, you’ll feel better on the inside. Betty applied our mother’s advice while recovering from breast cancer and by doing her best to always look good, she was able to keep up her spirits during some pretty tough months.

Lip dyes used today aren’t new, but the stick variety is. Not until 1915 could a woman buy a tube of lipstick. Around 1880, when actresses began wearing lipstick in public, they used a rather disgusting process of painting their lips with a brush dipped in carmine dye, a red pigment made from cochineal beetles. Carminic acid, produced by the beetles, deters other insects. In the 15th century, Central American natives found by mixing the carminic acid with a salt they could produce a beautiful color useful in dying fabrics. Popularity for the dye grew and it was soon exported to use as food coloring and in cosmetics. Most lipsticks today contain synthetic dyes.

Actress Sara Bernhard began wearing makeup in public in the 1880’s, but her look was highly theatrical. In the early 1900’s, lip color products had a more natural look after a carmine-ointment was applied. By 1915, women had access to push-up metal tubes of color being newly manufactured and by 1930, a wide variety of lip products became available. Styles were changing and advertisements encouraged women to look like the stars… a pale orange color called Tangee became popular with young women. From then until now, options have exploded as hundreds of companies search for the right colors, luminescence, durability and ease of application. Today we have everything from flavored sticks and flavored gloss to 24-hour kiss-proof varieties- some of which do not last all that well.

With today’s ballooning tattoo artistry, permanent cosmetics have become popular. Many women are delighted with tattooed eye lids and lips, but if an undesirable result occurs, the cost and discomfort to remove tattoos can be substantial.

Many new lip products tout color durability and cost a lot less than a cosmetic tattoo. A few include: Revlon ColorStay, Este Lauder Double Wear, and Maybelline Super Stay. They actually work! So if you are looking for a lasting lipstick that stays where you put it, give one of these a try and add a colorful smile to your face.

Betty and Bev

Travel Checklist

Before pilots leave the ground, they use detailed checklists to be sure the airplane is ready to fly. Are the engine gauges accurate? Is the fuel tank full? Like a pilot, do you have a personal checklist to assure you’re traveling safely, with the information and supplies required for the duration of time you’re away from home? Don’t run out of fuel before you touchdown back home.

I have cared for many people in emergency rooms who didn’t plan ahead. They left blood pressure and heart medications at home. They ran out of narcotic medications that doctors who don’t know them are unlikely to prescribe. Some even ran out of insulin or forgot asthma inhalers. Managing chronic health problems when you’re away from home is an important aspect of travel that requires planning.

If you are traveling across international borders, you must have your medications in pharmacy bottles labeled with your name. Ideally, whether you are traveling or just running to the grocery store, you carry a list of your medical problems, your physician’s name and phone number, a list of surgical procedures you’ve had, and a list of medications and dosages you take daily. When you fly or even travel by rail, your medications and important health information must be in a carry-on bag or on your person, not checked into baggage. If your luggage is lost or delayed, you are separated from important medications that impact your health and destroy your travel plans.

People with chronic pain problems requiring narcotic medication to suppress the symptoms are in a world of hurt without medications, especially if withdrawal occurs. Addiction to legally obtained medications is common. You likely are addicted if you take them daily throughout the day and will therefore, experience uncomfortable effects if you run out. There are many commonly used addictive drugs, both narcotics and sedatives, including sleeping pills. The market for these medications on the street is huge. Don’t risk having yours stolen.

If you leave these medications in your hotel room, even locked in a safe provided at the hotel, they are no safer than other belongings or jewelry. Hotel workers have keys to your room and your safe. Leave your jewelry at home. Carry your medication on your person.

Try to stay healthy. Only eat fruit you peel. Don’t eat food from street vendors.  Cold viruses can survive for days on surfaces such as an airline tray. Highly contagious Norovirus can survive up to a month, so what you touch and what you eat could ruin your day and your trip.

Germicidal hand wipes and lotions help purify surfaces and decrease your risks. Bring a clean pillow case to place between you and a pillow shared with other flight passengers. Sitting adjacent to a coughing, wheezing passenger could make you sick. Some people carry masks to wear if this happens. Some take Airborne, a popular herbal and vitamin product, believing it helps prevent colds. The company was sued and paid millions in a class-action suit for false advertising. Airborne does not prevent colds.

Sitting for long periods while driving, flying or even at home, places you at risk for a pulmonary embolism (PE), a problem far more serious than the flu and common cold; it can be fatal. PE results from stagnant venous blood flow in the legs, leading to blood clots that break loose and travel to heart and into the lung.

The clots often develop in the legs or groin. You are at higher risk if you have suffered a leg injury, your leg is casted or you’ve recently had pelvic surgery, such as a hysterectomy. Check with your doctor before taking a long trip. Consider wearing elastic compression stockings to wear while traveling. Do not wear short tight socks or cross your legs. If you are traveling by car, get out and walk every hour. Between connecting flights, walk. Exercise your legs while sitting. Flexing muscles helps move venous blood back to the heart. Pumping your feet up and down, and moving your legs while sitting, reduces blood clot risk. While seated, increase your circulation by using your feet to write letters of the alphabet. Do some exercise at least once an hour. Drink extra water to avoid dehydration. On long flights, get up and move around.

A few weeks before you travel, make your personal check list.

Example:

Carry on your person:

ID, credit cards, passport (if needed), insurance information

Make copies of above items and store in separate location

Cash, keep it out of sight

Medication supply for entire trip; list with dosages

Medical information and a copy of your ECG if you have heart problems

Cell phone with charger

List of important phone numbers in case cell phone or coverage is lost

Camera with extra digital storage, a charger or extra batteries

Bottled water

Extra contact lenses or glasses, sunglasses

Small first aid kit

If traveling outside the US: Consider travel and transport insurance. Have addresses and phone numbers of embassies and consulates in the areas you plan to visit.

Happy Travels.

www.usembassy.gov

Written by: Betty Kuffel, MD

Edited by: Bev Erickson

Lipstick Logic

Travel Tips

Leaving On Vacation

Sometimes we take cleanliness for granted in the United States. In spite of coming in contact with contaminated surfaces, we remain healthy. Yet we all know door knobs, shopping carts, computer keyboards, remote controls, telephones and even magazines in a waiting room, have been touched by many hands, contaminated hands. Touching any of these items and then rubbing your eye or licking a finger to turn a page can transfer enough organisms to make you ill.

Foodborne disease is common and occurs after consuming contaminated foods and drinks. Some foods contain toxins and chemicals that can also make you ill. In 2009 there were a number of foodborne disease outbreaks in Montana including bacterial diarrhea caused by Salmonella and E coli 0157:H7, and Norovirus. Some occurrences were in long-term-care facilities, but many were in community settings. Proper food- handling and hand-washing can prevent bacterial and viral transfer.

Consider the following surfaces that transfer germs that could ruin travel plans:

  • Fruit – eat only fruit you peel yourself. Skip the lemon wedge on a drink.
  • Salad bars – avoid them! Many hands contaminate serving utensils. Improperly refrigerated items or food warmed for long periods encourages bacterial growth.
  • Menus and ketchup bottles – wash your hands after touching them and don’t let them touch your plate or utensils.
  • Soap dispensers and bathroom faucets – use a paper towel when you touch them.
  • Airliner and other bathrooms – cover seats with a barrier. Use a towel to open all bathroom doors as they tend to be highly contaminated.
  • Doors – use a towel or clothing (like a sleeve) to open all doors.
  • Drinking water – most US water is safe, but when traveling outside the country, drink only from commercially sealed water or drink containers. Do Not Use Ice in your drinks as it is often contaminated, too.

By thoroughly washing your hands, using lots of soap and water, you can avoid the highly contagious Norovirus stomach flu (the kind that sweeps through cruise ships). Do the same for your children. Remain clear of people who are ill with vomiting and diarrhea. Clean surfaces with soapy water and bleach.

Potlucks and buffets are often sources of foodborne illness. Using utmost care when preparing food for large gatherings and keeping foods properly refrigerated will go a long way toward keeping yourself, your family and friends healthy this summer.

For added protection, carry antibacterial wipes and alcohol-based lotion to purify your hands, when soap and water are not available.

Betty Kuffel MD

Lipstick Logic

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Summer Sun – Benefits, Dangers & Preventions

Image1.  Sun Benefits: Smiles and Vitamin D

Invigorating sunshine can scatter the winter blues and put a smile on your face. When ultraviolet sun rays strike and warm your skin they trigger Vitamin D synthesis. Residents in northern climate are often Vitamin D deficient. We miss the beneficial sun effect because much of the year we are bundled in clothing. To maximize your absorption of Vitamin D from the sun, you may want to soak up a few rays before applying your daily sunscreen. Vitamin D is necessary for the body to absorb dietary calcium, essential for strong bones, teeth and more. Very few foods are rich in Vitamin D, so dietary supplements may be necessary to maintain a healthy Vitamin D level. All Vitamin D forms, including those from the sun, food and supplements are inactive. The liver and kidneys convert the inactive forms into active calcitriol molecules capable of being absorbed by the body.

Inadequate Vitamin D impacts many complex cellular processes including:

  • Bone structure and weakness due to calcium deficiency
  • Cell growth, immune and neuromuscular function, and reduced inflammatory response

A simple blood test can determine an individuals’ level of Vitamin D and supplements can be prescribed to offset a deficiency.

2.  Sun Dangers: Skin & Eye Damage and Skin Cancer

The two ultraviolet radiation spectrums of concern are UVA (320-400nm) and UVB (290-320). UVA is known to penetrate deeper into the skin and is the primary cause of skin wrinkling, non-melanoma skin cancers and possibly melanoma. It is not blocked by automobile or window glass and does not result in sunburn – 95% of sunlight reaching the earth is UVA. UVB is known to be the major factor in tanning and sunburn.

In addition to skin damage, the sun rays can damage both the lens and cornea of the eyes. Clouding in the lens indicates a cataract formation and reduces vision. A feared disease of the retina, the macula, is responsible for sharp visual focus. When the macula deteriorates, acute vision required for reading, is impaired. Macular degeneration often runs in families but UV radiation has also been linked to this disorder. Vitamin supplements may be helpful in prevention. There are some treatments available, but they are not always successful in preventing vision loss.

3.  Sun Risk Preventions:

  • Protect yourself and your children against UVB by wearing sunscreen. SPF stands for Sun Protection Factor. An SPF 15, for example will provide about an hour of protection before it is necessary to reapply sunscreen. This varies from person to person, however, so be watchful and read product directions carefully.
  • Protect your skin against UVA burning, by wearing a protective hat, and clothing.
  • Always avoid prolonged sun exposure to decrease risk for collagen destruction resulting in early skin aging and dramatic increased risk for melanoma.
  • Protect your eyes by always wearing sunglasses. Children also need to wear them. Dogs, too, develop UV eye damage. Doggie goggles are available at www.goggles.com

Enjoy the sun, but in moderation.

Betty Kuffel, MD

A Logical Approach To Health

Welcome to Lipstick Logic, where you will find timely science-based women’s health news and lifestyle tips.

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