Saturday, April 30, 2022

Save The Date! Friday, May 13, 2022: 11th Annual Mental Health Symposium - I Am Not Alone

11th Annual Mental Health Symposium
Friday, May 13, 2022

The 11th annual Mental Health Symposium will take place in Virtual Ability’s Sojourner Auditorium, on Virtual Ability Island on Friday, May 13, 2022.

The theme of this Symposium is “I Am Not Alone.” Our presenters will offer a wide interpretation of the theme, based on their interests and academic backgrounds.

Virtual Ability hosts this annual Symposium to share information about mental health and mental disabilities with the general population. Within our cross-disability community we have members who deal with a variety of mental health issues. Not only is this an opportunity for our community members to learn more about topics related to mental health from experts they probably would not have a chance to meet otherwise, but it also allows the general public to attend a professional conference at no cost.

Link for further information on the sessions and the presenters:

Sunday, April 24, 2022

What are the “Dirty Dozen” Produce?

Picture of washing strawberries and lettuce
Washing fruits and vegetables

The “Dirty Dozen” is a list of the twelve produce items with the most pesticide contamination as sold in grocery stores. This list is produced annually by the Environmental Working Group (EWG)

The twelve worst offenders for 2022 are:

  • strawberries
  • spinach
  • kale, collard and mustard greens
  • nectarines
  • apples
  • grapes
  • bell and hot peppers
  • cherries
  • peaches
  • pears
  • celery
  • tomatoes

The EWG also produces a list called the “Clean Fifteen.” These are produce types with the least pesticide residue. Many are covered with an inedible peel, which keeps the part you eat free of chemicals. This list for 2022 includes:

  • avocados
  • sweet corn
  • pineapple
  • onions
  • papaya
  • frozen sweet peas
  • asparagus
  • honeydew melon
  • kiwi
  • cabbage
  • mushrooms
  • cantaloupe
  • mango
  • watermelon
  • sweet potatoes

The testing of produce that informs these lists was done by the US Department of Agriculture and the US Food and Drug Administration

Pesticides have numerous health effects on humans, including impacts on the nervous system, skin, eyes, and hormones. Some pesticides may cause cancer.

To reduce your family’s exposure to toxic pesticides on produce, be sure to wash fruits and vegetables properly and thoroughly before eating or cooking them.

Monday, April 18, 2022

April 17-23, 2022, is Psychology Week

The American Psychological Association (APA) has recognized the third week in April as Psychology Week. The purpose of this week is dedicated to raising the profile of psychology as a discipline and profession and celebrating psychology’s contributions that benefit society and improve the quality of our lives.

How can you participate in Psychology Week? Here are some suggestions.

Saturday, April 16, 2022

Spring Home Maintenance Tips

This house was clean yesterday, we're sorry you missed it.

When you set your clocks ahead, check smoke and carbon monoxide detectors.

Set up annual maintenance for your air conditioner. Replace or clean the filters.

Check the outside of your home and any outdoor equipment for winter storm damage.

If you have an outdoor grill, check it to make sure corrosion hasn't compromised the fuel feed. Check your propane tank for damage.

Clean out gutters. Think ahead about April showers.

Friday, April 15, 2022

What Do Doctors Know About Legal Protections for People with Disabilities?

Doctor in white coat standing next to man in red shirt sitting in a black wheelchair

The answer to that question is: Apparently, not enough!

It’s been three decades since the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) took effect. Researchers recently quizzed doctors about the ADA and its requirements to provide appropriate accommodations for their patients who have disabilities. The quiz results are shocking.

Over a third of doctors surveyed said they knew little or nothing about their legal responsibilities as outlined in the ADA.

Almost three-quarters of the doctors did not know who was responsible for determining reasonable accommodations.

One in five doctors could not correctly identify who was to pay for the accommodations.

And because of their lack of knowledge, almost two-thirds felt they were at risk of an ADA lawsuit.

Physicians’ lack of knowledge about accommodations is yet one more barrier between a disabled person and adequate and appropriate healthcare. As our population ages doctors will see increasing numbers of persons with disabilities. Medical schools bear some responsibility for improving physician training on the topic of legal accommodations.

As patients, we can also explain our accommodation needs when we schedule an appointment with a medical office. Ask that your accommodation request be entered into your electronic health record. Don’t feel shy about asking how any new equipment will work for you.

You can become part of the system for improving your doctor’s knowledge about the ADA and its accommodation requirements.

Wednesday, April 13, 2022

Improve Your Forgiveness Skills

Forgiveness is an important skill to master. Knowing when and how to forgive people who are not good to you will help you manage stress in your life and improve your relationships overall.

Forgiveness is a learned skill that takes practice. Don’t expect to be good at it right away. Forgive yourself if you goof up while learning to improve your skill, because it is not the easiest skill to master.

One useful definition of forgiveness is that it is “a conscious, deliberate decision to release feelings of resentment or vengeance toward a person or group who has harmed you, regardless of whether they actually deserve your forgiveness.”

Forgiving someone does not mean offering excuses for their behavior. When you think of the phrase “forgive and forget,” remember that forgetting is not part of forgiving. When you forgive someone, you are not saying that they didn’t do anything wrong. On the contrary, they will have to work to rebuild your trust that they won’t repeat that wrong.

Just as forgiveness isn’t about forgetting the wrong, it’s also not about punishing the wrongdoer. Resentment and retaliation are not part of forgiveness.

Research has shown numerous psychological and social benefits of practicing forgiveness:

  • improved sense of mental wellbeing
  • reduction in negative affect
  • feeling positive emotions
  • positive relations with others
  • spiritual growth
  • a sense of meaning and purpose in life, and 
  • greater sense of empowerment. 

Physical health benefits of forgiveness include improvements in cardiovascular health indicators (heart rate and blood pressure).

Robert Enright has identified a Process Model of Forgiveness that involves four phases. Forgiveness begins with identifying that you have been wronged and understanding how this has affected you. Enright calls this the Uncovering Phase. The second phase, Decision, means actively committing to forgiving the offending person.

Commitment is followed by the Work Phase. You try to understand the offender and view him or her differently. This is a reframing or rethinking of the offensive situation. The final phase is Deepening, when you discover that forgiveness has released you from negative emotions.

How to improve your forgiveness skills? Begin with Uncovering. In addition to the obvious facts to think about, try to figure out how NOT forgiving the offending person is affecting you. Perhaps you are angry. When you Decide to forgive, you may come to realize that forgiveness isn’t a favor you are doing for someone else, it’s actually something you are doing to improve the quality of your own life.

In the Work phase, think about the offensive event from a different perspective. Often you will see the people who bully have been bullied, or people who say mean things have heard those things said to themselves. Think about standing in the other person’s shoes. You will be working to develop compassion and empathy. The other person is a human just like you, not someone evil.

In the Deepening phase, you will be able to release your negative emotions about the situation. You can take a positive action by doing something nice for the person who wronged you. When you are good to somebody else, you receive more benefits than you are giving.

The world needs a lot more forgiveness. Let’s all work on our forgiveness skills.

Monday, April 11, 2022

Eat Sustainable Fish

You want to add more seafood into your diet; you know fish and shellfish are healthy foods. The omega-3 fatty acids in fish are particularly beneficial for heart health.

But you’re also concerned about the natural environment. You have heard of overfishing. Over a third of fish stocks worldwide are overfished.  You don’t want to eat species whose populations are threatened. You’ve heard of farmed fish, but how healthy are they compared to wild-caught types?

So many species of edible fish and other seafood to choose from! What are the most environmentally responsible choices?

Here’s help figuring it all out. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has created FishWatch, a database of sustainable food fish and other seafood.

At this website you will find information about various types of seafood, both wild and farmed. NOAA provides many facts about sustainable fishing and aquaculture, both in the US and globally. You can learn how to buy, handle, and cook seafoods safely. As a bonus, you can even get easy recipes for your favorite seafood from NOAA.

Enjoy your Sole Meuniere or Spicy Redfish Tacos.

Saturday, April 9, 2022

Accessible Parking Thoughtfulness and More

Experienced and written by Joy F. S.©

It is fun to be loving. Someone may really need a seat for whatever reason. There are seats, but Oooops - they are all taken by energetic people. It is nice to give a seat to someone who may need it more.

When taking a client who needed assistance to a local museum, I needed an accessible parking spot. Her legal placard was on the rear-view mirror. As I was approaching the very last accessible parking space, a man who noticed the placard still hurried and took this space out of turn. I pulled behind, got out of my car and politely explained that I needed that spot for my client. He drove to a spot further away. Nice. It was fun catching and helping him understand that thoughtfulness wins!

Another incident involved me witnessing a woman parking in an accessible parking spot. She put a placard in the rear-view mirror. She had our same model of car, so it was perfect timing in that I approached her to discuss our cars and offer help! She said that she and others did not need help and was waiting for her children to finish shopping after sports practice. She used someone else’s placard for convenience. How thoughtless, unloving, inconsiderate, and selfish! One should not need to be policed or patrolled to be kind, loving, thoughtful, considerate, polite, and unselfish. People should use their conscience and enjoy the feeling of giving another person a happier, safer and better day.

A bicycle parked across an accessible ramp at an eatery? Despicable! Any guesses what I did? Yup! I reported it and the bike was moved. If they were not going to move it, I would have!

Put yourself in someone else’s situation. How would it feel if you needed an accessible parking spot that was taken by others who do not need it? Not too nice.

Grocery carts left in accessible parking spots?  

That  is…...s  t  r  e  t  c  h  i  n  g   it!

In a store, I saw two teens racing in motorized carts. I asked, “Do you need those carts?” They said “No.” I asked, “How would you feel if you needed them and they were all taken?” A loving gift of a “think-about-it-look” from me was given to them!

For those who can walk and run, great. Enjoy parking further away for your health, refreshment and being considerate of others needing accessible parking spots. Want extra bonuses? Calories gone, and feeling good for the other person!  Imagine that!

Now more! Thoughtfulness goes beyond accessible parking. When on a walk, bike ride or at any indoor or outdoor place, people can clear and collect debris off of walkways and aisles for safety.

Keeping one's own home clear and clean inside and out is needed for family members, friends, clients, or anyone that may have needs. If possible - have ramps, accessible bars and higher toilets installed, double railings for stairs, door areas widened, furniture arranged for open space, an elevator and/or stair lift added, and whatever else! Being prepared is being protected.

When parking vehicles, do they have to be hanging over a sidewalk or accessible parking space? Thoughtfulness that makes it easier for others blesses all and blesses the person expressing it!

Being merciful, thoughtful, loving, considerate, caring and gentle is not bullying!  Go for it!

Sunday, April 3, 2022

April 4-10 Is National Public Health Week

April 4-10 is National Public Health Week. The American Public Health Association has declared this year’s theme to be “Public Health Is Where You Are” to champion the health of ALL Americans.

Here are some interesting public health facts:

How can you get involved? Check out the links in this article to find out actions everyone can take to improve their own and their community’s health