The summer solstice, a red moon (which I didn’t see), Ecoli outbreak (wash your hands!), loads of rain, Wimbledon, Glastonbury, my boyfriend’s birthday and the resulting Nutella and Cinnamon Cake I baked.
How was June for you?
In the sixth grade, we got a new teacher called Ms Ann. She was a blonde, blue-eyed Scot with a strong Glaswegian accent (despite having lived in Greece for over 10 years). The very first morning she walked in and asked us to stand up and greet her with “Good morning, Ms Ann.” She would then glance at all twelve of us and reply, “Good morning, Class.” And that was how it was from that day till the following June.
Sixth grade was like being transported to some parallel universe of a rose-tinted childhood in an Enid Blyton book. Every morning consisted of answering rapid-fire multiplication table questions until you were the last one standing, and once a week we were given a new poem to learn and recite. Oh how we ravaged “A Red, Red Rose” (As fair art thou, my bony ass) and it wasn’t until a year later in the seventh grade when I fully comprehended Emily Bronte’s “Fall, leaves, fall”.
Looking back, it seems quaint and a bit twee to be standing up by our desks reciting poetry that we didn’t fully understand, repeating sounds and syllables rather than words and meaning. But those memories and the poems (!) have remained twenty years later (oh how Ms Ann would fume at using “but” in the beginning of a sentence).
1. In her (very short) blog post, Susan Orlean contemplates on why computers and Google could never replace the human touch in helping us understand our history and our past.
2. Last week I wrote how good city planning resulted in healthier and happier residents. In the same week a study revealed that city dwellers have a higher incidence of anxiety and mood disorders than those who live in a rural setting. The research involved brain scanning volunteers who lived in a range of locations while they performed difficult mathematical calculations designed to make them feel anxious. The results showed that urban participants had a more over-active amygdala (the part of the brain that senses danger) and cingulate cortex (active in emotional and cognitive tasks).
In a nutshell, the urban environment causes our amydalas to be over-stimulated which results in a higher rate of mental disorders. What are all these stress factors that are over-stimulating our systems? It could be noise, perceived levels of threat or over-crowding. So again, even more reason to have good, informed city planning that doesn’t only involve planning permission for that back extension.
3. Mademoiselle Soleil de Juin (the fashionably late socialite you may know as the sun in June) finally made her entrance over the weekend (hurray). I was never in doubt that she would appear and as such already had my sun hat and sunscreen at the ready.
Despite the education and awareness of the dangers of too much sun, every year I still see painfully red skin abound framed by the inevitable white strap lines. A bit of sunlight taken sensibly is good for us, as the vitamin D gets absorbed into our systems but you still need to take precautions. This article is a nice, short way to refresh your memory on UVB and UVA and sunscreen, and finally answers that question: Is SPF 50 any better than SPF 30?
4. In this month’s Prevention (US edition) there is an article that articulates neatly why acupuncture (and Chinese medicine) works. It also lists the health problems acupuncture is best for which include digestive issues, hot flashes, stress, anxiety, depression and the side effects of chemotherapy as well as the most famous one of all: pain.
5. One of the great things about Chinese medicine is the emphasis on flexibility, the ability to mould and change for the seasons in the year and in our lives. It’s this constant changing that helps shape and strengthen our beliefs and personalities; how boring would we all be if we were exactly the same as our 16-year-old selves. This brilliant performance, available as usual on the wonderful Youtube, shows that no matter how different we think things are, there are actually quite a whole lot of things that are more similar than we think.
Image: Nana B Agyei via Flickr
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