5 Cool Websites for Lifelong Learners

Bea Boomer’s Wellness Project – Day 25 – 2/27/15

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Bea’s Buzz for Friday:

How did we ever live without the Internet?  It’s a giant treasure trove of fun, cool, and interesting stuff! 

Recently, Bea was stumbling around on the StumbleUpon website, a place that collects this information, pages, websites, etc. from the Internet and puts it all in one place. When you sign up (free) you can pick categories of topics and stumble through them, picking out stuff that you like.  She found a list that included a variety of educational websites. Since she’s on a lifelong learning journey, so she explored some of these sites to see if they were worth sharing with you. 

Check ‘em out!

Open Culture – The Open Culture editorial staff finds educational content on the Internet and brings it all to one website.  At the Open Culture website, you can find:  630 audiobooks, 1100 online courses from leading worldwide universities, 300 language courses, 150 business courses, and tons more. All free.   There’s even educational resources for your kids!  Bea was amazed at the variety of awesome learning options.  

Want to learn a new language?  Check out the LiveMocha websiteThis site’s goal is to teach lifelong learners conversational fluency in the language they are learning.  LiveMocha explains the method it uses here.  The site offers offer 35 language options.

Unplug the TV – This site suggests that Instead of TV you should watch, and introduces a topic you can immediately click on to watch (such as, Why is the heart associated with love? or An Astronaut’s View of Earth).  If you don’t want to watch the one that’s being shown on the screen, you just click “I want to watch something else.”  Bea loves this concept, so she bookmarked this site.

If you can’t get to your local library, check out:

Bartleby – This site offers reference books, poetry, fiction and non-fiction, by classic authors.  Love quotes?  Bartleby offers a collection of books and dictionaries of quotations. 

Read Any Book  Bea registered (free) and started reading Catcher in the Rye online.  (She hasn’t read that one in years!) The home page of this website included “Top books” and “New books.”  When you scroll down to the bottom of the home page, each genre is listed, with the number of books included in each one. 

There’s so many more options out there – the sites listed above are just the tip of the iceberg.  You can learn about almost anything you imagine!  

Anyone who stops learning is old, whether at twenty or eighty. Anyone who keeps learning stays young. The greatest thing in life is to keep your mind young. (Henry Ford)

 

Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever. (Gandhi)

 

Curiosity is one of the permanent and certain characteristics of a vigorous intellect. (Samuel Johnson)

 

 

 

Sleep Thief Solutions

Bea Boomer’s Wellness Project – Day 23 – 2/25/15

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What Bea has found on and off the Internet about getting a better sleep:

For those of you who have kids, remember when they were small and you established a bedtime routine for them?  You can do the same for yourself.  Turn of the computer or television for 45 minutes to an hour before bedtime.  Warning: Don’t watch the nightly news!  When Bea does this, all the bad news leaves her tossing and turning. Take a nice warm bath. Sit on a comfortable chair and read a book.   

 Both caffeine and alcohol aren’t good for a sound sleep.  Bea has tried a glass of wine before bedtime; however, experts warn against this.  They point out that you might fall asleep more quickly, but you are more likely to wake up in a few hours, or sleep less soundly. 

Around an hour before bedtime have a snack that contains both protein and carbs.  For example, whole wheat bread with peanut butter or whole wheat pita bread with hummus.  Another suggestion I read about in Good Housekeeping magazine is to have a bowl of cornflakes and milk. The cereal enhances our tryptophan levels  (an amino acid that helps us sleep) and increases serotonin in our brain. The milk contains melatonin, a hormone that regulates sleep

No clock-watching, please!  Another thing Bea has been guilty of when she wakes up in the middle of the night; peeking at the clock, which makes her more anxious.  “OMG!  There’s only an hour and a half before the alarm goes off!” 

Try meditation!  As Bea mentioned before in her post about the benefits of meditationresearchers have discovered that mindful meditation leads to better quality sleep for chronic insomnia sufferers.  By meditating, you may be able to turn off that mind chatter that goes on at night when you’re trying to get some shuteye.  

Bea started a new bedtime routine (only in the last few days) after talking to a co-worker who swears by this method; she also let Bea borrow some essential oils and an oil diffuser.   

About 30 minutes before bed, she drags herself away from Facebook and her new favorite game, Word Crack, and turns off her laptop.  She uses an essential oil called Tranquil (containing lavender and other oils) on her temples and the back of her neck.  She lies down on a couch and puts in her Ipod earphones, relaxing and listening to one or two of the guided meditation tracks from an album she downloaded. She just breathes deeply and allows the music into her mind. Before getting into bed, she adds water and a few drops of another essential oil, called Slumber into the diffuser, plugs it in, and lets it do its sleepy time magic.  Sure, it sounds complicated, but if it helps Bea get the slumber she needs, she’s up for it. So far, it seems to be working – which means that her daytime hours are much more pleasant! 

What method(s) or routine do you use to get quality sleep?  Bea would love to get your input.

For additional reading:

You can find some “out of the ordinary” better sleep tips in this article from the Pick the Brain website.

How to Treat Insomnia Naturally

 Foods High in Tryptophan

Melatonin Overview by WebMD

 

 

Insomnia: Sleep Thief

 

 

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Bea’s Wellness Project – Day 22 – 2/23/15

You know as well as Bea does that a lack of sleep simply sucks. During perimenopause, along with all those other fun things such as night sweats and hot flashes, insomnia reared its ugly head and made her life very, very unpleasant. Now menopausal (yikes), Bea still suffers from sleepless nights and they wreak havoc on the daylight hours. 

This lack of sleep makes her grumpy, fuzzy-brained and isn’t too good for her looks. There’s nothing more annoying than have one of her bright-eyed co-workers starting a conversation with “Boy, you look tired!”  Especially if that statement is made every day.

Bea knows she isn’t suffering alone – According to the researchers who study this stuff, at least 40% of Americans don’t get the 7 hours of quality sleep they need to function well (Aschwanden). Many of these insomnia sufferers are women.  (Can we create a silk purse out of a sow’s ear?  Maybe we should all get together and start the Middle of the Night Club, since misery loves company). 

For those of you who suffer with insomnia like Bea does, you already know that lack of sleep can lead to crabbiness, inability to focus/concentrate, forgetfulness, lack of energy, just to name a few annoyances.

Chronic insomnia, unfortunately, ends up causing more than just minor disturbances in our lives.

  • Lack of sleep can cause problems with the functioning of our brains. It affects our brain’s plasticity, by weakening our brain’s ability to make connections between brain cells.  This decreases our learning ability.  (Evans & Burghardt)
  • Lack of sleep makes us more susceptible to viruses and infections by weakening our immune system (Evans & Burghardt)
  • In many studies, sleep deprivation has been linked to memory loss and even Alzheimer’s disease (Aschwanden)
  • Lack of sleep has been linked to obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure and even earlier death.  
  • One very recent study has even shown that it can make our brain smaller. Now THAT sounds weird. You can read more in this article from the CNN website.

Bea has been trying to find things that will help her sleep better.  In her next post (Wednesday, February 25th) she’ll let you know what she’s found out – by the way, ladies, do you have any “sleep better” suggestions?  What’s worked for you? 

For Further Reading:

Brain Basics: Understanding Sleep

Interested in visuals?

Check out this cool infographic to see what sleep deprivation does to our brain

Resources: 

Evans, S. PhD, & Burghardt, P., PhD. Brain Fit for Life A User’s Guide to Life Long Brain Health and Fitness. 2008. River Point Publications: Milan, MI

Aschwanden, Christie. Counting Sleep. Prevention Magazine November 2014. 

 

 

 

 

5 Great Websites for Women

 

Bea’s Wellness Project – Day 21 – 2/20/15

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Bea’s Buzz for Friday:

 Are you looking for healthy recipes and other dietary information? 

Look no further than WebMD’s Food and Recipes center – you’ll find healthy recipes, slideshows, quizzes, articles about all kinds of food topics

Bea recently found a healthy and easy-to-make enchilada recipe in her inbox, after signing up for WebMD’s Daily Bite newsletter.  

Want to help other women/girls live a better life?  Check out the Live Your Dream website.

Looking for a great online blogging community for women?  Bea recently joined the Blogher Community.  At Blogher, you’ll find tons of articles about food, family, health, style, and more, written by women.  Are you a blogger?  Are you looking for fun opportunities to get involved online?  Take a look at the Blogher Publishing Network, Influencer Network, Visionaries Panel, or Blogher.com Syndication.  

Are you 40+?  Check out the 40+ Style Community Blog and discover a great fashion, beauty and style site. 

Aging Abundantly, by Dorothy Sander, is a wonderful website/blog for us over 50 ladies. I particularly enjoyed her Window to Wisdom post for 2015.  Dorothy also has some good articles for those of us who are what she describes as Late Blooming Writers.  

 

5 Reasons to Try Meditation for Vital Aging

Bea Boomer’s Wellness Project – Day 20 – 2/18/15

 Asian woman meditating.

(1) Meditation may help us sleep better. At least 40% of Americans don’t get enough of the quality sleep they need to function well (Aschwanden).  Many of these insomnia sufferers are women.  Our insomnia is caused by hormonal changes we face in our lives, such as pregnancy and perimenopause.  Bea is one of those women, and she’s ready to try meditation to get her zzzzzz’s back! 

(2) Meditation relieves stress, and can help those of us who suffer from anxiety and depression. 

(3) Meditation provides other mental health benefits:  an increase in happiness, self-acceptance and awareness, concentration, focus and more – as found in this article from The Art of Living

(4) Meditation can lower blood pressure, boost the immune system and even increase energy levels, just to name a few physical health benefits.  

(5) Meditation may help strengthen our aging brain by slowing down the loss of gray matter, as described in this article from the UCLA newsroom.

Source:

Aschwanden, Christie. (Nov 2014). Counting Sleep. Prevention Magazine.

For Further Reading: 

Want to try Guided Meditation?  Bea downloaded a guided meditation album onto her Ipod, but there are free options online as well:  

 UCLA Mindful Awareness Research Center 

If you search YouTube, “guided meditations,” you’ll also find some good options.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

http://www.medicaldaily.com/mental-health-benefits-meditation-itll-alter-your-brains-grey-matter-and-improve-319298

How to Build Self-Confidence for Vital Aging

 

Bea’s Wellness Project – Day 18 – 2/13/15

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Bea’s Buzz for Friday:  

How to create a habit of self-confidence

  • Listen to your self-talk – are you calling yourself derogatory names?  Do you kick yourself internally when you make a mistake?  Then ask yourself this question:  Would you call your best friend stupid, or refer to them as an idiot?  If you did, your friendship wouldn’t last.  You have to live with yourself every day.  You need to be your own best friend.  Make a concentrated effort to replace negative self-talk with positive self-talk. Need some help? Listen to positive thinking CDs and read inspirational books. Do some research; find out what it takes to change bad habits.  It won’t be easy, but it will be well worth it. 
  • Create a mind-set of gratitude.  Every night, before bed, think about the things in your life that you’re thankful for. Think about your accomplishments. Focus on the things you did well that day. This is a good way to rid yourself of that negative self-talk.
  • Create success for yourself.  You can do that by accepting failure.  This means taking risks and working toward your goals, even though success isn’t guaranteed.  Those inevitable failures in life are valuable learning experiences.  A failure that results in a “ah-ha” moment is a stepping stone to success in reaching a goal.
  • Take care of yourself, physically and mentally.  Eating healthy food and having a regular exercise program will help you achieve a confidence in your body’s abilities; along with boosting your self-esteem.  To enhance your mental health, take steps to manage stress, get enough sleep, and socialize with friends and family.
  • When conversing with others, make a habit of active listening. We often worry about what others think about us, but when we get to know other people, we find out that they have the same fears.  Listening to others and helping them become more confident boosts our own self-confidence.
  • When facing a situation that makes you apprehensive, such as an important job interview, do your best to prepare and practice, by using online and other resources.  When facing a new situation in life, it helps to research and learn about that situation in order to help you handle uncertainties.
  • Stand up for yourself in an assertive way and hold onto your values. Attempting to live by other people’s values and beliefs, rather than your own, makes you doubt yourself.
  • Finally, stand tall, and walk with a purpose.  Wear clothes that make you feel and look good. When people compliment you, simply say “thank you,” with a smile.  Take time to compliment others.  Don’t take yourself too seriously; laugh at yourself.  Socialize with people who are positive, not those who drag you down. 

Building self-confidence isn’t something that will happen overnight.  But it’s a trait worth pursuing, because it can help us meet life’s challenges with a ‘can-do’ attitude. This is an important key to vital aging.   

  It’s not who you are that holds you back, it’s who you think you’re not. (Attributed to Hanoch McCarty)

 

Make the most of yourself, for that is all there is of you. ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

 

Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one’s courage. ~Anaïs Nin

A Journey to Self-Confidence

 

Bea Boomer’s Wellness Project – Day 17 – 2/11/15

Today, I’m just going to be myself, Camille – not Bea Boomer. 

Cam Photo

For many years, I lived with my eyes open only to my weaknesses and what I believed I was constantly doing “wrong.”  In high school, I tried to hide – I felt ugly. In young adulthood, I made wrong choices, based on my lack of self-worth.  In my thirties, I often felt my daughter and husband would be better off without me. 

It wasn’t until I was in my forties that I realized I had to take the steps toward building my self-confidence. My brother died unexpectedly at 50 years old, and I realized how short life was.  My life was passing me by, and I wasn’t living the life I wanted to be living! I was afraid, and didn’t think I had what it took to achieve my goals. The first step to change involved taking charge of my inner beliefs. 

At the age of 47, when I got a job in a workplace that offered tuition reimbursement.  I made a commitment to myself and finally pursued my dream of getting my Bachelor’s degree (many years after getting my Associate’s at a local community college).  I graduated with high honors at the age of 50.  I felt so accomplished! 

Then at work, I became one of the primary members of our workplace wellness committee, and I got the opportunity to write health/wellness email newsletters for the employees.  And people liked what I wrote.  Then a work friend gave me a magazine article about blogging, and encouraged me to start a blog of my own.  It was so cool to be doing something I’ll always be passionate about:  writing about health and fitness for women.

These were a couple of the things that made me realize I had something valuable to offer the world.  As does every woman I know, and those I don’t know (but who I hope are reading these words).   I’ll be 58 soon, and I’ve finally content with myself, flaws and all.  I believe that changing my outlook will help me “grow” as I age, rather than just “getting” old.

Vital aging is not only about resilience, as I wrote about on Monday’s post.  It’s about discovering the wealth inside yourself.  It’s about becoming the self-confident woman you should be, no matter what your age. 

For several strategies you can take to build your own self-confidence, see Bea’s Buzz on Friday, February 13th. 

 

How to Build Resilience for Vital Aging

Bea Boomer’s Wellness Project – Day 16 – 2/9/15

The thundercloud

Vital aging requires the ability to bounce back and weather life’s storms.  Some of us appear to have a natural resilience, coping with life’s changes and losses and coming back stronger than ever.  Others aren’t as lucky.

However, when you think about it, there’s often an important lesson, and even unexpected rewards that bloom from difficult times in life.  We just have to be able to see beyond the darkness of that moment. 

Research has shown that we can all learn how to become resilient, if we’re willing to try.   

Check out Bea’s strategies for building resilience, in her Building Resilience – 6 Tips article from EzineArticles.com 

 

 

Let us not pray to be sheltered from dangers but to be fearless when facing them (Rabindranath Tagore)

 

10 Ways to Enhance your Social Wellness

Bea’s Wellness Project – Day 15 – 2/6/15

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Bea’s Buzz for Friday:

How to “bee” happier and enhance your social wellness:

1.  Be kind to someone else, quietly.

2.  Don’t speak; simply listen.

3.  Pay attention to your kids; give them your presence.

4.  Send a loved one an “un-birthday” card – just to show you’re thinking about them.

5.  Put yourself in someone else’s shoes for a few moments.

6.  Volunteer at an animal shelter.

7.  Help a neighbor.

8. Collect food for a local food pantry.

9. Have a kid in college?  Send ’em a care package.

10. Call a friend, just to chat.

 Friday’s Quote:

When you arise in the morning, think of what a precious privilege it is to be alive – to breathe, to think, to enjoy, to love. (Marcus Aurelius)

Long Term Benefits of Aerobic Exercise

Bea Boomer’s Wellness Project – Day 14 – 2/4/15

In Bea’s previous post, she talked about the short term benefits of aerobic exercise.

The long term benefits of this form of exercise are just as important, and affect our longevity in several ways.

  • Aerobic exercise, along with other fitness options, are a boon for our brain health.  Who in the heck wants their brain cells to rust as they age?  Bea sure doesn’t.  A recent study published in Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience documented the effects of exercise on memory and other cognitive functions.  This is only one study, of course; but there are plenty more out there in Googleland that provide additional evidence of the power of aerobic activity on our brains.  
  • Aerobic exercise helps us fight off age-related disease and conditions that make aging not-so-fun! There’s a great deal of scientific evidence linking aerobic exericise to the prevention of heart diseases, certain cancers, Type II diabetes, and stroke. 
  • Aerobic exercise can helps us increase our endurance, flexibility and balance, all of which help fight off frailty as we age.  

Wonderful winter aerobic exercise option:

 

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For further reading:

Here’s what the CDC has to say about physical activity:  Physical Activity and Health 

Short Term Aerobic Exercise Helps you Stay Mentally Sharp 

Bea’s Wellness Beat: Running 

80 Percent of American Adults don’t get Recommended Exercise