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Expat wanderer

Gardening Leads to a Longer Life

Back when The Fonz was still blogging, he ran this free test from REAL AGE which I took, full of pride because I lead such a healthy life. Man, did I get a bad surprise, the first of many. First the REAL LIFE people told me my body was one year OLDER than my real age because I don’t like to exercise, and then at my annual physical, my doctor looked me in the eye and said I had to make some changes.

I have. I’ve made some changes. One of the changes is I don’t take tests like that any more!

But REAL AGE doesn’t give up on me. They send me helpful newsletters every week, and I have to admit, they really are interesting, and they really do help me stay on track, like eating oatmeal and drinking green tea.

Today they talk about a hobby that lengthens your life – gardening:


The Hobby That Leads to a Longer Life

A hobby is more than a way to pass the time. It may be a way to get more of it.

Know which hobby has probably added years to the longest-lived people in the world? It’s gardening. Okinawans — whose men typically live to age 78, women to age 86 — have a long tradition of working with soil.

Flex Your Green Thumb
The benefits of gardening reach body and soul, according to Dan Buettner and his book The Blue Zones: Lessons for Living Longer from the People Who’ve Lived the Longest. “It’s a source of daily physical activity that exercises the body with a wide range of motion and helps reduce stress,” he writes. So, as the ground thaws and the seed catalogues start arriving, make a pact to plan — and plant — a plot this year.

Grow for Years
It’s not a coincidence: There are lots of other wonderful side benefits to gardening besides the body and mind boost. Here are the other garden goodies Buettner notes in his book:

A veggie-packed life. Okinawan centenarians eat a plant-based diet, often incorporating vegetables that they grow.

A bit of sun. Vitamin D, produced by the body when it’s exposed to sunlight, promotes stronger bones and better health. Vitamin D also helps your body fight cancer.

A dash of spice. Mugwort, ginger, and turmeric are staples of an Okinawan garden, and all have proven medicinal qualities.

Older Okinawans are active gardeners and walkers. Walk your way to a healthier, fitter life.

March 31, 2009 Posted by | Aging, Cultural, Diet / Weight Loss, Exercise, ExPat Life, Experiment, Health Issues, Kuwait | 5 Comments

Feast Day of John Donne

In church, on Friday, the speaker was discussing Lenten practices, and told us of a woman who seriously committed herself to Lent, but allowed herself respite on the feast days of the saints of the church. She has one coming up today – the feast of John Donne, a great priest, poet and thinker in the church.

His life is fascinating, and when he falls in love and secretly marries the daughter of the rich and powerful man for whom he works, he is imprisoned. When released, he began preaching, and ended up revered for his work with the church, and his fine writings.

He was also ahead of his times. Here is one of the essays/meditations best known in our culture; it is often read at funerals, and says, as many are saying now – we are all connected. What happens to my neighbor, happens to me. In this earthly world, we are connected in ways we don’t even understand, and it is our duty, as well as our own best interest, to look after our neighbor:



[Now this bell tolling softly for another, says to me, Thou must

Perchance he for whom this bell tolls may be so ill as that he know not it tolls for him; and perchance I may think myself so much better than I am, as that they who are about me and see my state may have caused it to toll for me, and I know not that.

The church is catholic, universal, so are all her actions; all that she does, belongs to all. When she baptizes a child, that action concerns me; for that child is thereby connected to that body which is my head too, and ingrafted into that body whereof I am a member. And when she buries a man, that action concerns me: all mankind is of one author and is one volume; when one man dies, one chapter is not torn out of the book, but translated into a better language; and every chapter must be so translated. God employs several translators; some pieces are translated by age, some by sickness, some by war, some by justice; but God’s hand is in every translation, and his hand shall bind up all our scattered leaves again for that library where every book shall lie open to one another.

As therefore the bell that rings to a sermon calls not upon the preacher only, but upon the congregation to come, so this bell calls us all; but how much more me, who am brought so near the door by this sickness.

There was a contention as far as a suit (in which piety and dignity, religion and estimation, were mingled) which of the religious orders should ring to prayers first in the morning; and it was determined that they should ring first that rose earliest. If we understand aright the dignity of this bell that tolls for our evening prayer, we would be glad to make it ours by rising early, in that application, that it might be ours as well as his whose indeed it is. The bell doth toll for him that thinks it doth; and though it intermit again, yet from that minute that that occasion wrought upon him, he is united to God. Who casts not up his eye to the sun when it rises? but who takes off his eye from a comet when that breaks out? Who bends not his ear to any bell which upon eny occasion rings? but who can remove it from that bell which is passing a piece of himself out of this world?

No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main. If a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less, as well as if a promentory were, as well as if a manor of thy friend’s or of thine own were. Any man’s death dimishes me because I am involved in mankind, and therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.

Neither can we call this a begging of misery or a borrowing of misery, as though we were not miserable enough of ourselves but must fetch in more from the next house, in taking upon us the misery of our neighbors. Truly it were an excusable covetousness if we did; for affliction is a treasure, and scarcely any man hath enough of it. No man hath affliction enough that is not matured and ripened by it and made fit for God by that affliction. If a man carry treasure in bullion, or in a wedge of gold, and have none coined into current money, his treasure will not defray him as he travels. Tribulation is treaure in the nature of it, but it is not current money in the use of it, except we get nearer and nearer our home, heaven, by it. Another man may be sick too, and sick unto death, and this affliction may lie in his bowels as gold in a mine and be no use to him; but this bell that tells me of his affliction digs out and applies that gold to me, if by this consideration of another’s danger I take mine own into contemplation and so secure myself by making my recourse to my God, who is our only security.

You can read his history and learn more about him here: John Donne.

March 31, 2009 Posted by | Biography, Character, Community, Interconnected, Marriage, Poetry/Literature | Leave a comment

Apache Sunrise

Just a patch of sunrise this morning, as we awake to more of the same – heavy clouds and it looks like the continued possibility of rain. I didn’t hear thunder and lightning last night, but the roads are damp, so I am guessing we had some rain, if not a lot.


March 31, 2009 Posted by | ExPat Life, Kuwait, Living Conditions, sunrise series, Weather | 9 Comments