At precisely 6:00 a.m. the alarm clock rudely buzzes. Lori groans involuntarily as she fumbles for the switch to turn it off, then rolls on her back and forces her still-groggy mind to contemplate the day. Rain is softly pelting her window. Its gentle sound sparks a fast and furious flow of thoughts…
Oh, no. . . the last time it rained, there were traffic tie-ups all over the interstates. I won’t make it to work on time! Last week Madeline gave me the most hateful look for arriving a few minutes late. . . just my luck to have a boss who doesn’t like me! If there was ever a layoff at work, my name would be at the top of the list. And then how would I pay the mortgage? What would I tell the children? How would I feed them?
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Scott had recently turned 45 years of age and was the owner of a prosperous retail business he had spent the past 20 years building. Then, seemingly without warning, Scott sold his retail business and the night before their twenty-fifth wedding anniversary informed his wife that he wanted to live as a single man.
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There is a very common notion among people across the world that addictive drugs are substances that make people feel drunk and sleepy, and interrupt their natural senses. Though this may be true especially for alcohol, this simply is not the case for cocaine, a very dangerous drug commonly used.
Cocaine is a white powder that comes from the coca plant grown in Peru, Bolivia, and Colombia. Coca plants were initially reserved for use by Inca royalty. The rest of the population eventually used coca plant leaves for mystical, religious, social, and medical purposes. They exploited its stimulant properties to ward off fatigue and hunger, enhance endurance, and to promote a sense of well-being.
The invading Spanish forced the Incan people to work hard in the fields. But the Spanish quickly learned that their captives could barely do work in the fields without chewing on the coca leaf (then referred to as the “gift of the gods”). Eventually the coca leaves were harvested and distributed to the Incan workers three or four times per day.
With the use of this magical plant, the Incans were able to do much productive work. Soon the use of cocaine became so common that the leaves were used as money; distances were measured by how far one could travel before having to stop and replenish the leaves.
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A young woman named Cynthia vividly recalls one of the high points in her life. It took place when she was 12 years old. Her father promised to take her with him on a business trip to San Francisco. For months the two of them talked about the trip.
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A woman tells of her ex-husband, who became hooked on painkillers and muscle relaxants for years. “He could not hold a job, and we lost our house, our credit, and our friends. We tried counseling and drug treatment centers, both in-patient and out-patient, but nothing worked.” The man continued his addiction, becoming creative in finding doctors from out of state and even out of the country who would ship him pills.
Finally, for her own sanity and the safety of their two children, the woman left him. Here is her description of her husband’s life after she and the children departed: “He fell in and out of jobs and lived on the streets, with friends, or in homeless shelters. All this finally caught up with him, and he died of hepatitis C. He had not seen his children in three years and owed more than $50,000 in back child support. He died broke and alone.”
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Stress. We all live with it. Yet did you know that there are easy ways to stop stress before it causes harm to your body, mind, and spirit?
Let’s think about the stressors that hit us daily-mortgage and utility payments, crowded freeways, traffic jams, rising interest rates, declining mutual funds, increased taxes, upgrading, downsizing, child care, self-care, elder care, health care … and who cares! Is it any wonder that most of us feel as if we need stronger, made-to-order defense mechanisms just to make it through the day?
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If you are a vegetarian, the thought of having a food-borne illness probably never crosses your mind. After all, everyone knows that E. coli makes its home in raw beef, and Salmonella breeds rapidly in undercooked chicken or pork.
Well, it’s time to rethink your past beliefs about food-borne illness, as fresh fruits, vegetables, eggs, lentils, and dairy products can also play host to a variety of deleterious bacteria, including E. coli and Salmonella. In fact, some of the most common carriers of food-borne germs include basil, cantaloupe, lettuce, potatoes, raspberries, scallions, strawberries, and tomatoes.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), food-borne diseases cause an estimated 76 million illnesses, 325,000 hospitalizations, and 5,200 deaths in the United States each year. Not only are the symptoms uncomfortable; food-borne illnesses can lead to secondary long-term illnesses. For example, there are some strains of E. coli that can cause kidney failure in young children, while Salmonella can lead to reactive arthritis and serious infections. For pregnant women, the Listeria bacteria (commonly found in soft cheeses such as brie and feta) can cause meningitis and stillbirths.
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Why do people do things that they know are harmful? The next time you go to the grocery store and see an elderly man pulling an oxygen bottle behind him with the tubes going into his nostrils at the same time he is smoking a cigarette, stop and think. Why is he doing something that he knows is the cause of his inability to breathe well? It doesn’t make sense, does it? That very man would probably advise others not to smoke while at the same time be unable to correct his own problem.
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It’s easy to live on “automatic pilot.” Yet doing precisely the things you have to do, or are supposed to do, day after day can make you become nearly robotlike and feel life is growing stale and ho-hum.
You can change all of that. With a bit of planning and direction, it’s possible to pack the fun and excitement of a vacation into short daily spurts. You can enjoy a change of pace, a change of attitude, and a lot less stress.
Learning to take a daily vacation is learning to recreate and re-create you. A daily vacation is more than just a lull in routine. It is a piece of time when you wholeheartedly pursue something you truly enjoy.
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Some skeptically eye sheer ice and hard-packed snow as hazardous places to slip or crash out of control. But if you tried pegging hope’s fullest potential in degrees Fahrenheit, it would be on H2O at 32 or less–at least for winter athletes racing for Olympic gold. At these temperatures, water that once felt soft as a kitten’s paw or frothy like bubble bath suds hardens into something cold and carvable by skate blades and ski edges.
Read more about Racing for the Gold With God …