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Thrive.

A few years ago my husband and I had the great opportunity to meet Dan Buettner who is a world cyclist, adventurer, researcher and author of health books The Blue Zones and Thrive.

His talk was about his research into the healthiest communities in the world.

He started out by asking the audience of 100 adults a powerful question:

“Did you walk or bike to school as a kid?” Every one of us raised our hand.

“Do your kids walk or bike to school now?” Not one person raised their hand.

That got our attention Dan!

His research was inspired by the Danish Twin Studies, among others, which established that only 25% of how long the average person lives is dictated by genes. In other words almost 80% of how long and how well you live is up to you. 

Beginning in 2004 Dan, along with longevity geneticists, medical researchers, anthropologists, demographic scientists, epidemiologists funded by National Geographic, identified pockets of people across the world who live the longest and are the happiest.

Then they went to visit them!

They were searching for evidence-based common denominators among all places.

They termed these healthy pockets “Blue Zones.”

In these Blue Zones they found that people reach age 100 at rates 10 times greater than in the United States! And they have astoundingly low incredible lower rates of cancer, heart disease and diabetes, those big and nasty killers in the US. Here is what else they found.

9 common traits in Blue Zone members:

1. They move naturally all day.

The world’s longest-lived people don’t just pump iron, run marathons or join gyms. Instead, they live in environments that constantly nudge them into moving without thinking about.

Think: Do I really need to drive to the library or grocery store? Can I walk or ride a bike? Can I get a stand up desk? Take a walk at lunch outside? Get a dog and walk it?

2. They know their Purpose. 

The Okinawans call it “Ikigai” and the Nicoyans in Costa Rica call it “plan de vida;” for both it translates to “why I wake up in the morning.” Knowing your sense of purpose is worth up to seven years of extra life expectancy!!!

Identify what you are passionate about and pursue it as your purpose daily.

3. They take time to Down Shift.

They experience stress like we do. But they take time to relax every day. Okinawans take a few moments each day in the am to remember their ancestors, Seventh DayAdventists (Lomo Linda, CA) pray, Ikarians (Greece) take a nap and Sardinians (Italy) do happy hour with friends.

Take time to relax, meditate, and give thanks daily. We know stress leads to chronic inflammation which contributes to very major age-related disease. Why feed the monster?

4. They stop eating when they are just 80% full.
“Hara hachi bu” –Is the  Okinawan, 2500-year old Confucian mantra said before meals which reminds Okinawans to stop eating when their stomachs are 80 percent full.

Think. Do you really need that extra helping?

5. They eat a lot of beans and plants.

They have a “Plant Slant.” They eat what they grow too. Vegetables and beans, including fava, black, soy and lentils, are the basics of most centenarian diets. Meat—mostly pork—is eaten on average only five times per month.

Start small: Double daily intake of beans and veggies.

6. They enjoy wine moderately. 

People in all Blue Zones (except Adventists) drink alcohol moderately and regularly with friends and/or with food. Moderate drinkers outlive non-drinkers in these zones. The trick is to drink 1-2 glasses per day (preferably Sardinian Cannonau wine says Dan).

If you can drink just 1 or 2, do.

7. They have a faith-based community. 

All but five of the 263 centenarians they interviewed belonged to some faith-based community. Denomination doesn’t seem to matter. Research shows that attending faith-based services four times per month will add 4-14 years of life expectancy!

We need God and each other. Find a faith community and connect.

8. They put loved ones first. 

Successful centenarians in the Blue Zones put their families first. This means keeping aging parents and grandparents nearby or in the home (It lowers disease and mortality rates of elders and children).  Neighbors of all ages are also active in visiting other families and learning from elders.

Have you talked to or hugged your family lately? Checked in with your neighbor?

9. They have like-minded friends

Dan said,

“The world’s longest lived people chose–or were born into–social circles that supported healthy behaviors, Okinawans created ”moais”–groups of five friends that committed to each other for life.

Research from the Framingham Nurses Studies shows that smoking, obesity, happiness, and even loneliness are contagious. So the social networks of long-lived people have favorably shaped their health behaviors.”

Connect with a healthy, caring tribe daily.

It is so interesting that 6, 7,8 and 9 are all about the power of connecting in community.

Try to apply some of these tips today and let me know how it goes.

Check out Dans new mission – Creating Blue Zones across the US! http://www.bluezones.com/live-happier/thrive-centers/

Fin! Amy

My 1st Guitar Lesson:Seven Bridges Road

Isn’t it funny that one song or piece of news can spur so many memories?

Then the next thing you know you are in a daze traveling down memory lane?

When I heard the news about Glenn Frey, it immediately took me back to the music he and the Eagles produced.

Memories started flooding in.

I used to love listening to “Hotel California” on the CD player we had in our very first house. The speakers were amazing. The music was so clear.

In fact, the very first song I learned to play on guitar was by the Eagles.

My mother gave me a gift certificate for music lessons on my 24th birthday.

My mom, dad and sisters all were musically inclined. Third child (me) not so.

Guess she knew.

How is it I did not learn an instrument in school or get lessons until I was 24?

Impatient? Too busy? Parents tired?

Anyway.

Never too late to learn.

My instrument of choice was guitar and my plan was to use my Dad’s old Spanish guitar.

The night of my first lesson, I sneaked away from work early.  I wanted to be sure to make it to my music lesson on time.

I made it just on time. I flew open the door to the music store and saw my new guitar instructor patiently waiting for me. My instructor was tall and skinny. I could tell he was nice instantly by his gentle smile and easy-going demeanor.

He looked about 40 years old and was wearing faded jeans, a white t-shirt and dusty worn boots. He held his long blond hair back in a low ponytail.

He was very calm.  Just the calm I needed back then (and now).

To slow down.

We smiled, shook hands and had some small talk before beginning our lesson.

I could tell he was eyeing my guitar.

To me it was just my Dad’s guitar.

I felt a little uncomfortable and asked if the old guitar would work.

“Sure, for now.” He said with a smile.

Then he asked me what was the one song I really wanted to play on my guitar.

What song?  My heart leaped for joy!  No need to worry about chords first?

“Well…I really love “Seven Bridges Road” by the Eagles.

I was introduced to this song by the Phi Mu Washboard Band at The University of Georgia  in Athens, GA. They sang it so beautifully. Friends and I played “Seven Bridges Road” on many a road trip thereafter.

He laughed then nodded, “Well, that is a fast one, but let’s get started.”

So that was the first song I learned to play on my guitar!  Several others followed and I eventually bought a new guitar, but I will always remember that first lesson and the freedom in learning a song I loved…first.

So, thanks to my music instructor, thanks to Glenn Frey, The Eagles, PhiMu Washboard Band, patient teachers, singers, song writers and my talented family.

There ARE stars in the southern sky.

Fin. Amy Peacock

 

 

 

“Brain Gone Fishing”

“Brain Gone Fishing.”

At our meeting to change the world last May, my friend Anna, a fellow daughter of a Marine said this:

“If you need me to do anything let’s get it done right now. Otherwise, I am on mom duty all summer and won’t be able to do anything.”

I thought she was a bit serious at the time. We can do it all right?

Ha. Now its August and I know she was right. 

I adore my kiddies and they are my priority during summer. But by late August, I am ready!  Ready for school, a rhythm, and a routine….for them and me!  

All this talk about our kids brains draining over summer, what about stay at home Mommy or Daddy brains?

I crave some mental gymnastics, problems to actually solve, new ideas to chase. To knock off all the items on my To Do list. To have some time to think clearly, or read or talk in a paragraph versus a baby tweet.

It’s just not happening until those kiddies are back in school.

Yesterday I met with our carpool team to plan out our exciting 2015-2016 year of carpool when I realized the fog had set in on us all! We could not get past the first two weeks of September.

Then the other day I told my daughter to stop whining, get out of the house, or go to the pool. When I dropped her booty off at the pool, I saw two girls we knew on their iPad sitting in a corner.

“Hi girls! Have you been swimming all morning? Will you be staying longer?”  I asked them. 

Yes!” They exclaimed in unison.

Then the elder sister said, “We have been here since 11 AM! Our dad kicked us out of the house and told us not to come home until 5PM.”

My kinda guy. Get outside kids! I gotta think!

I am dreaming of running a 100 mile ultra marathon. Never mind the fact I have not trained for one. Brain gone fishing! No think. Jus’ run. 

See ya family!  It’s  “Mommy time out!” 

Lord, give me the strength, peace, and wisdom to chill out, laugh and play a little more as school starts back up. Who cares if I have brain drain, right?  I can catch up on some brain training when “we” go back to school.  

Research says, and I know from personal experience, constant interruptions, distractions whether the good or bad, can short-circuit your thoughts, dreams and actions. And give you a dash of ADD.

Oh well. Got kids.

“Brain’s Gone Fishing.” Back in September. 

Why What a Day blog?

The 2014 Push Onward.

1. Research: I researched leadership, resilience, trust, community, health, anger, positive thinking and the power of the brain to change. Important stuff to share.

2. Mentor: My former English teacher, Dave Sharrett, encouraged me to write.  Not only had Dave and his wife been a huge support when my Dad died, he understood grief at its highest level. He lost his own son, Dave, aka “Bean” to war.

3. Reality: Life is short. Cut to the chase. I participated in the SouthEastern Brain Tumor Foundation Race for Research on the Babes with Brains team for the 3rd time on behalf of Jen Gilberto, my amazing Babe with Brains friend, who has a “piece of shit” brain tumor (see her blog at Greymatterlife.com).  Over the weekend, Jen and I had been discussing transparency, writing and life.  She finally said, “Amy, what are you waiting for? You need to start pressing publish!”

4: Freedom: I heard it yet once again, this time from Ron Carter, President of JCSU: “When you tell your story, it sets you free, and lights the path for others.”

What a day!

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