Doctor, Doctor: The Hope Factor

Doctor, Doctor: The Hope Factor

We all hope for something.

At least I HOPE you hope for something. The loss of hope is dangerous – of course mentally, but also physically. Hope is an especially powerful force for good in our health.

Science has been able to demonstrate the very real biologic effects of hope. Believing and expecting that something good can happen, for example, can block physical pain. With even a little bit of hope the brain releases endorphins and enkephalins – substances that act like morphine in eliminating pain and providing a sense of well-being. The pain lessens a little, which increases hope that the pain may lessen even more. It creates a positive cycle leading to healing.

Hope can also change the function of the autonomic nervous system, which controls many physical functions that we don’t usually think about, such as heart rate, gastrointestinal function, and our level of tension or relaxation. It can alter the chemical function of portions of the brain.

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A Baby: God’s Opinion That the World Should Go On

A Baby: God’s Opinion That the World Should Go On

As an OB-Gyn physician I’ve seen it many many times. A brand new baby comes into the world, takes that first cry, and begins the long journey of life with its ups and downs, joys and sorrows, and more than a little uncertainty.

But today you’ll have to excuse a few of my personal musings. This morning the youngest grandchild in our family entered the world much earlier than planned, but alive and well. She has her mother’s checks, and all ten fingers and ten toes. Mommy and daddy are already exhausted, but thrilled that Madelyn is here. And Poppa and Grandma Carol are proud!

If you are a parent or grandparent perhaps you can remember the soft feel of a baby’s skin, their unique smell, the silkiness of their baby hair, the feel of tiny fingers wrapping around your finger – and your heart.

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Step-Parenting for Adults

Step-Parenting for Adults

Parenting is forever. Sure, the details change through the years. And for the most part the load often gets lighter. But children are always on your heart. You will ALWAYS be a mom or a dad.

And the same goes for step-parenting. Some of those realities have become especially clear to me recently. I married late in life – I was 48. My husband had two adult sons with families of their own. I became a step-mother under perhaps the easiest of possible circumstances. And yet there was still a very real process of adjustment in becoming a family.

I had it easy. My husband was very clear about where I stood in his heart, and I never felt I had to compete with his boys for his affection. His sons and their wives welcomed me gladly into the family, and we never felt any resistance from them about our marriage. There have been no fights with an ex-spouse, no shuffling kids back and forth between two parents, or any of the other painful dramas many step-families must address.

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Wisdom to Know the Difference

Wisdom to Know the Difference

September is Recovery Month. That means something to millions of people who have been or are part of a 12-Step program of recovery from some type of addiction/dysfunction, or many related programs. If you’re one of them, it’s almost certain you know – and probably can recite – the Serenity Prayer:

“God, grant me the Serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the Courage to change the things I can, and the Wisdom to know the difference.”

Don’t we get into trouble when we neglect any of those three points? When we fight against those things we cannot change we only wear ourselves out. We become miserable to be around. We become frustrated, anxious, and often angry and bitter. Getting into a negative emotional rut is almost certain. And if you’re fighting an addiction, all that misery certainly sets one up for a relapse.

When we shrink from doing what is within our power to change we are no less miserable. Waiting for anyone, even God, to do for us what we CAN do for ourselves leaves us feeling hopeless and powerless, while becoming weaker all the time. You wonder why things seem to work out for everyone else but not for you. And again, if you’re fighting an addiction it’s a setup for a relapse.

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Doctor, Doctor: Are You Addicted?

Doctor, Doctor: Are You Addicted?

Alcohol. Drugs – legal and illegal. Tobacco. Those are the “usual suspects.”

But there are a whole lot more: food, pornography, sex, gambling, internet/tech use, exercise, and more.

Is addiction a physical problem? A mental health issue? A spiritual matter?

Yes, yes, and yes. It’s all those. And if you struggle with any addiction and you don’t address each one of these areas, you are very unlikely to experience any real healing or relief. As with most things, it’s a matter of body, mind, and soul.

A whole movement has come about convinced that addiction is a disease. Calling addiction a disease does emphasize some things that are true about any addiction.

Being addicted is not a matter of weakness.

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