Are the mind and body separate?

C.E. Alexander

By C.E. Alexander: If ghosts can be photographed—however rarely—why haven’t they ever turned up in medical imaging?

It may seem like a pointless gambit, or unnecessarily combative, but it begins the conversation at the heart of the mind-body problem.  Is our essence nothing more than brain, a critical but nonetheless bodily organ, limited to the gray matter and to the neurochemistry coursing through it?

This idea is in general referred to as monism, and any one of us could offer plenty of evidence to support it: tissue damage affects cognition in the form of stroke and concussion.  When the mind is exhausted, the body is exhausted, and vice-versa.  When sickness seizes the body, it seizes the mind as well.

Nondrinkers?  Go ahead and accept this as a reliable and first-hand account: logic, memory and creativity are no match for Jose Cuervo. Continue reading

Nell’s Christmas Prune Tarts

By Jane and Chux: My brothers and I would look out the front window of our house anxiously waiting for our Grandparent’s to arrive for Christmas.

“Are they here yet?  When are they coming?”  We would excitedly ask our parents.

They would say, “Soon, soon they will be here.”

When they finally did arrive, my grandmother would be holding her round clear container with perfectly shaped little pinwheels. After hugs, she would show us these prized cookies.  They were like little jewels.  This was the one treat we all looked forward to every Christmas.

Grandma Nell’s Finnish prune tarts, perfectly shaped pinwheels of slightly sweet buttery pastry with a prune/date filling.

Our tradition was to have them at breakfast on Christmas morning with grapefruit and scrambled eggs.  My Grandmother Nell was a wonderful cook, and she taught me how to bake.  I continue the tradition she started and make these tarts for Christmas every year.

Now it’s Chux who anxiously waits for me to make these delicious little jewels.  “Are they ready yet?  Why do they take so long?  Is the oven on?”  Merry Christmas! Continue reading

When is enough not just enough, it’s the best?

Janine Fugate

By Janine Fugate: Lately, I’ve been watching a lot of HGTV.

It’s an old addiction. For years I was hooked – I couldn’t miss an episode of Design on a Dime, loved me some Candice Olson, couldn’t get enough of the team that would go into a house and fix it up so the hapless sellers could actually sell their home… Funny that I can’t remember the name of the show now.

Weaning myself was hard, and actually took a new obsession (grad school) to accomplish. And although I finished relatively few home projects during those three and a half years, I might have been better off.

But grad school eventually ends (in a degree for me, thankfully!), home maintenance does rear its ugly head and colder weather inevitably drives me indoors to run on the treadmill. In front of the television.

Which, after experiencing what I can only describe as a near nervous breakdown during a first-season episode of Downton Abbey due to my already-elevated heart rate from running, I had no choice: I tuned to HGTV.

Good, old, safe HGTV. Continue reading

What scares you?

Confession time: there are a lot of silly, nonsensical things that scare me.

I’m not talking about the Big, Crippling Fears, such as outliving my children. I’ve been to funerals for children. I know what constitutes a Real Fear and what does not.

I am talking about those irritating agitations that putter around in the back of your mind, only to poke through when you least expect them, and ruin your day.

Here are some of my Small, Annoying Fears: Continue reading

How do we teach children about death?

Cindy Moy

By Cindy Moy: Buddy was four weeks old and weighed less than two pounds when he came to our house as a foster kitten. He was black and fuzzy and had a LOT of energy.

Three days later I carried Buddy’s little lifeless body back to the animal shelter in a towel. BaoBao and J.J. were crushed, especially J.J., as she was the main caregiver for all of our foster cats. Buddy was our lone foster kitten at that time, but we’ve fostered as many as six cats at a time.

J.J. blamed herself at first for Buddy’s death. Later we learned that Buddy had distemper, and that if the shelter had known of Buddy’s disease, they would have euthanized him right away. (Distemper is highly contagious.)

By coming to live with us, Buddy had three days of undivided love and attention before succumbing to the disease.

It was the girls’ first close experience with death. They learned that it is okay to cry and grieve. Even I, who grew up on a farm and experienced the loss of many farm animals, walked into the shelter and burst into tears. Not only for Buddy, but for the pain I knew my girls were going through, and for the pain I knew was in their future.

We’re facing that future now, as my family deals with my mother entering hospice.

Life and death rarely make sense to me.
So how do I teach my children about loss and grief?