In honor of Mesothelioma Awareness Day

Few weeks ago a beautiful, inspiring and strong young lady contacted me and shared her story with me. Her name is Heather Von St. James. Heather was diagnosed with mesothelioma 8 years ago – a rare and preventable cancer caused only by exposure to asbestos. She had just given birth to her beautiful daughter, when she was given 15 months to live. After the life saving surgery that included the removal of her left lung, Heather made it her mission to protect the innocent victims and spread awareness about mesothelioma and the dangers of asbestos.

Heather and Family

Mesothelioma is an aggressive cancer that attacks the lining of the body cavity called the mesothelium. The only known cause to mesothelioma is exposure to asbestos. The sad fact is that asbestos is still not banned in all countries across the world.

Mesothelioma is dangerous because it commonly sits dormant in the body for 20-50 years after initial exposure to asbestos.

September 26th, 2014 marks the 10th anniversary of Mesothelioma Awareness Day and in honor of it, I want to share some facts and help spread awareness and I do believe that together we can help the victims and change the regulations related to asbestos.

  • Asbestos is a naturally occuring mineral that is classified as a known human carcinogen, because of its association with mesothelioma.
  • On average, 30 million pounds of asbestos are still being used in the United States today. The substance can still be found in many homes, schools, and commercial or industrial buildings.
  • Asbestos is used as building material in several developing countries throughout the world, including India and Brazil. Industrialized nations such as China, Russia, and Canada also continue to mine and use asbestos as material for consumer products.
  • This year 10,000 Americans will die of asbestos-related diseases such as lung cancer or mesothelioma and 200,000 people will be living with asbestos.
  • The EPA estimates that there are asbestos containing materials in most of the nations approximately 107,000 primary and secondary schools and 733,000 public and commercial buildings.
  • Between 2,500 and 3,000 new cases of mesothelioma are diagnosed each year. On average, they are given 10 months to live.

What can you do to help? – Re-blog, share and spread the word on social media to raise awareness. One way you could do it is through Heather’s awareness page. You can also make a donation through MARF (Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation) donation form. For more information, see mesothelioma.com.

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Art of the day: ‘The Starry Night’ by Vincent Van Gogh

Vincent Van Gogh is definitely one of my favorite artists and the one I feel I can relate to the most. Apart from sharing the love for a bit exaggerated, magical colors and shapes, we unite on battling the same monsters. Depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, constant self-doubt and lack of confidence in his abilities and his works. I have experienced very similar feelings and fears since my adolescent years and battled them with varied success over the years. But, this post is not going to be about depression or sadness, on a contrary, there is a positive point I want to make.

I have done extensive research on the painting, the artist, his life, vision and meaning behind the painting and I want to bring the most interesting facts, quotes, and bits and pieces of information I found across many different sources.

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Type Oil on canvas Dimensions 73.7 cm × 92.1 cm (29 in × 36 1⁄4 in) Location Museum of Modern Art, New York City

Just as Van Gogh, I’ve always been attracted to the night. To him night was ‘more alive than the day’ and was the time of creativity, reflection and meditation after a day of activity and it brought with it a feeling of security and comfort. It was also kind of metaphor for the cycle of life. And he linked this with the changing of the seasons. However, van Gogh was aware that darkness could also conjure up feelings of loneliness and anguish.

The night sky  is mesmerizing. It looks as the stars in the painting are swirling and moving within it’s frame. You feel captured in this magical place and you don’t want to leave. ‘Starry night’ is the mixture of imagination and reality. While the village and location of the stars in the sky might reflect what he really saw from his window at a hospital in Saint Rémy, the church resembles with his memories of his motherland, the Netherlands.

When he looked at the night sky, he wrote to his brotherTheo in August 1888, he saw “the mysterious brightness of a pale star in the infinite.”
As he wrote to his sister Willemien van Gogh from Arles, “It often seems to me that the night is even more richly colored than the day, colored with the most intense violets, blues and greens. If you look carefully, you’ll see that some stars are lemony, others have a pink, green, forget-me-not blue glow. And without labouring the point, it’s clear to paint a starry sky it’s not nearly enough to put white spots on blue-black.” (678, 14 September 1888)
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In a letter written to Émile Bernard in April 1888, Van Gogh expressed his desire to paint the night sky, and questioned whether he could achieve his intention by painting from nature as the Impressionists did:

The imagination is certainly a faculty which we must develop and it alone can bring us to creation of a more exalting and consoling nature … A star-spangled sky, for instance, that’s a thing I would like to try to do … But how can I manage unless I make up my mind to work … from imagination?

In Arles, in 1888 and 1889, van Gogh’s paintings took on a mystical, dreamlike quality. Straight lines became wavy, colors intensified, thick paint became thicker, sometimes squeezed straight onto the canvas from the tube. Some of these changes were later taken as a sign of his madness, and even van Gogh feared that “some of my pictures certainly show traces of having been painted by a sick man.” But there was premeditation and technique behind these distortions, as he tried to put a sense of life’s mysteries into paint. In a letter to Wil, he explained that “the bizarre lines, purposely selected and multiplied, meandering all through the picture, may fail to give the garden a vulgar resemblance, but may present it to our minds as seen in a dream, depicting its character, and at the same time stranger than it is in reality.”

The artist’s focus on the relationship between dreams and reality—and life and death—had a profound meaning for him, as he had confided to Theo in a letter a year before his first crisis in Arles. “Looking at the stars always makes me dream, as simply as I dream over the black dots representing towns and villages on a map. Why, I ask myself, shouldn’t the shining dots of the sky be as accessible as the black dots on the map of France? Just as we take the train to get to Tarascon or Rouen, we take death to reach a star.”
“And these trees that are drawn almost like flames of fire very much allude to Van Gogh’s ongoing concern with afterlife, with eternity, with death, and with all these different forces, which indeed he does associate with the night.”

There are various interpretations of Starry Night and one is that this canvas depicts hope. It seems that van Gogh was showing that even with darkness it is still possible to see light in the windows of the houses, and with shining stars filling the sky, there is always light to guide you. It seems that van Gogh was finally being cured of his illness and had essentially found his heaven.

 

The drawing Cypresses in Starry Night, a reed pen study executed by Van Gogh after the painting in 1889. Originally held at Kunsthalle Bremen, today part of the disputed Baldin Collection
The drawing Cypresses in Starry Night, a reed pen study executed by Van Gogh after the painting in 1889. Originally held at Kunsthalle Bremen, today part of the disputed Baldin Collection

Another popular theory is about the biblical meaning behind the ‘Starry Night’.

Perhaps the real reason why the Van Gogh painting is so famous and appreciated today is not due to the negative emotions that may have initially inspired the artwork, but the strong feelings of hope Van Gogh conveys through the bright lights of the stars shining down over the dark landscape at night. In 1888, Van Gogh wrote a personal letter in which he described “a great starlit vault of heaven…one can only call God.” With a theologian for an uncle, Van Gogh himself was also religious, even serving as a missionary in his younger days. Many art scholars believe there is a hidden religious meaning to Starry Night. In the painting, the moon and stars in the night sky are surrounded by large halos of light while a church steeple stands out above the smaller, less detailed buildings in the town below. In fact, some art critics find a biblical meaning in the number of stars painted in Starry Night that alludes to specific Bible verse in Genesis.

Then he dreamed still another dream and told it to his brothers, saying, “Look, I have dreamed another dream. And this time, the sun, the moon and the eleven stars bowed down to me.” Genesis 37:9

 

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In a letter to his brother, Theo, van Gogh refers to Leo Tolstoy´s book My Religion and its lack of belief in resurrection. His use of the word ‘quiet’ and reference to Tolstoy´s book indicates that the night sky made him feel calm and brought to mind eternity.

Why did Van Gogh paint exactly 11 stars? By painting exactly eleven stars in the Starry Night painting, Vincent Van Gogh might have been directly referencing Genesis 37:9, a key verse in the biblical account of Joseph, a “dreamer” and an outcast in the company of his eleven older brothers. It isn’t hard to see why Van Gogh might have identified with Joseph in the Bible. In the Bible, Joseph was thrown into a pit, sold into slavery, and underwent years of imprisonment, much like Van Gogh did the last years of his life in the Arles asylum. No matter what Joseph did he could not receive the acceptance or respect of his 11 older brothers. Likewise, despite his best efforts, as an artist Van Gogh failed to receive the recognition of art critics of his day.

Van Gogh considered his now-iconic The Starry Night, which he painted from his barred window at Saint-Rémy, a failed attempt at abstraction. Before leaving Saint-Rémy, he wrote to Émile Bernard: “I have been slaving away on nature the whole year, hardly thinking of impressionism or of this, that and the other. And yet, once again I let myself go reaching for stars that are too big—a new failure—and I have had enough of it.”

Theo liked the painting but was worried. He wrote Vincent that “the expression of your thoughts on nature and living creatures shows how strongly you are attached to them. But how your brain must have labored, and how you have risked everything….” Vincent didn’t live to know that in his reaching for the stars, he had created a masterpiece.

While Van Gogh died a poor and disrespected artist, he is now one of the most famous and reproduced painters today. Within the madness, there was genius.

“It is inspiring to see how a man so plagued by sorrow and despair could turn his inner battles into glowing, vibrant canvases that still speak a message of hope and joy more than 100 years later”

Following the recent news on Robbin Williams death, I spent a lot of time thinking about how many lives could have been saved, how many wonderful things could have been created, if they did find the strength to say to themselves: “I am strong. I am valuable. I am worthy”. If only they knew the impact they have on the people around them, on the world and the Universe. If only they could see their problems from the perspective of eternal starry night sky. If only there was a family member or a friend holding their hand that would tell them: “I care for you. You are loved.”

If you came across this post and you’re battling depression and anxiety, I want you to know that I love you and you’re not lonely.  While I’m battling my own hardships, I understand what you’re going through and you can reach me out to vent, to cry, to smile and laugh and while I’m no specialist, I will hold your hand and give you all the support I can give. My e-mail is 1happyblog@outlook.com.

If you have a family member, a friend or anybody else suffering from mental disorders, please don’t just ignore them. A lot of times we are seen as people with ‘personal weaknesses’ or ‘drowned in self-pity’ and our condition is not taken seriously. There are times when we cannot help ourselves and if we could, do you really think that we would stay depressed and miserable? Sometimes, a small gesture, a nice word or just being by our side, can mean the world. Spread some love and I’m sure it will come back to you multiplied.

For more inspiration, I urge you to watch Doctor Who: ‘Vincent and the Doctor’ (Season 5, Episode 10). It literally brought tears to my eyes.

I’m going to leave you with a tribute to Vincent, a song called ‘Vincent (Starry, Starry Night)’ by Don McLean.

“Vincent (Starry, Starry Night)”

Starry, starry night
Paint your palette blue and gray
Look out on a summer’s day
With eyes that know the darkness in my soul

Shadows on the hills
Sketch the trees and the daffodils
Catch the breeze and the winter chills
In colors on the snowy linen land

Now I understand
What you tried to say to me
And how you suffered for your sanity
And how you tried to set them free

They would not listen, they did not know how
Perhaps they’ll listen now

Starry, starry night
Flaming flowers that brightly blaze
Swirling clouds in violet haze
Reflect in Vincent’s eyes of china blue

Colors changing hue
Morning fields of amber grain
Weathered faces lined in pain
Are soothed beneath the artist’s loving hand

Now I understand
What you tried to say to me
And how you suffered for your sanity
And how you tried to set them free

They would not listen, they did not know how
Perhaps they’ll listen now

For they could not love you
But still your love was true
And when no hope was left in sight
On that starry, starry night

You took your life, as lovers often do
But I could’ve told you Vincent
This world was never meant for
One as beautiful as you

Starry, starry night
Portraits hung in empty halls
Frame-less heads on nameless walls
With eyes that watch the world and can’t forget

Like the strangers that you’ve met
The ragged men in ragged clothes
The silver thorn of bloody rose
Lie crushed and broken on the virgin snow

Now I think I know
What you tried to say to me
And how you suffered for your sanity
And how you tried to set them free

They would not listen, they’re not listening still
Perhaps they never will

 

Beautiful soul, Vincent, I know I’ll meet you one day somewhere across the Universe and we’ll paint the sky purple and yellow.

For further reading:

App of the day: RxmindMe

Vitamin Packaging
Vitamin Packaging (Photo credit: colindunn)

RxminMe is an app that can help you track the medicine / vitamins you’re taking and with helpful reminders.

It is easy-to-use and is very useful to keep all your medications history in one place. You can also extract the data from the app and send it to your doctor. App also allows you to take pictures of the medicine / vitamins / supplements.

You can also order refills from Walgreens.

It’s my savior as I always tend to forget to take my vitamins, especially if I need to take them at different times of the day.

iTunes link

And here is a walk-through the app.

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Горло: метафизические причины проблем и болезней горла

Горло: метафизические причины проблем и болезней горла.

Если Вас беспокоят боли в горле и Вы хотите найти истинную (метафизическую) причину заболевания, то эта статья идеально подходит для Вас, так как она собрала в себе материалы из лугших книг на данную тематику.

Я уже читала Валерия Синельникова “Возлюби болезнь свою”, также знакома с трудами Лазарева, Луизы Хей, Лууле Вилмы и, конечно же, горячо мною любимого Ричарда Баха.

Я верю в то,что болезни – это способ нашего подсознания сообщить нам, что определённое ложное убеждение мешает нам жить полной и гармоничной жизнью, о которой мы мечтаем.

Желаю Вам крепкого здоровья!

Benefits of Meditation

Just found an interesting article with the results of different studies on meditation. I’m still mastering the art of meditation, yet I already had magical experiences.

Meditation helps in finding peace, balance and harmony and sometimes even heal the body, as they’re all one.

Individuals regularly practicing meditation emit gamma waves, which are the highest frequency and most important brain waves.

Buddhist monks can emit heat in a state of deep meditation while in a room with 4 degrees Celsius (40 degrees Fahrenheit) and draped in sheets that were soaked in cold water.

Buddhists feel the reality we live in is not the ultimate one. There’s another reality we can tap into that’s unaffected by our emotions, by our everyday world. Buddhists believe this state of mind can be achieved by doing good for others and by meditation.

For more interesting information on meditation -> Superhuman Energy Cultivated by Meditators: It’s Science » The Epoch Times.

Olive oil

I heard before that the secret of beauty of gorgeous Italian women is Italian men (haha) and olive oil. In Italy olive oil is used almost in every meal and in most of the beauty products. Below are some beauty tips on use of olive oil taken from here – http://fashiony.ru/page.php?id_n=83615

  • Best type of olive oil is considered Extra Virgin. It should be stored in a tinted glass bottle as it doesn’t let pass the rays of sun and preserves the oil in good quality.  Personally, I prefer Borges Extra Virgin Olive Oil as per the picture below.borges_extra_virgin_olive_oil_500ml
  • Olive oil as an eye make-up remover – Moisten the cotton pad and pour couple of drops of olive oil – Voila! Cheap, effective and 100% organic liquid!
  • Add few drops of olive oil in your night cream – and after you get your beauty sleep your skin will be soft and luminous
  • Mix few drops of olive oil with your hand and foot cream – and you will get the same great results
  • Once a week prepare a scrub – Mix the sea salt with olive oil for beautiful baby-like skin
  • Spread the olive oil all over your skin after the shower and you don’t need any lotion or body butter or cream
  • Make a hair mask – just heat the olive oil a bit and apply it all over the hair. Fix the hair on the top of the head with a clip and go on doing the house work or whatever. After few hours, rinse it off with the shampoo. Best done over the weekend.

 

Brush for skin exfoliation

Another beauty secret my  Miranda Kerr was to exfoliate the skin with dry brush with natural bristle.  A note to myself is to always get enough info before using something. I tried the brush yesterday, but in the shower. I had no idea that you’re actually supposed to use it before the shower or a bath. The results were still great, though! My skin felt like baby’s skin. Next time I will use it properly though.

Here’s my dry brush by WellFit (Made in Germany):

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And here’s a great post by Sachi from Versachi 🙂 about dry brushing how to:

http://versachi17.wordpress.com/2013/05/30/body-brushing/

 

Rosehip oil

Another beauty tip by Miranda Kerr is to use rose-hip oil. Miranda applies it after the shower all over her body for the whole night. And when she wakes up the next day her skin is glowing.  She also uses it as an eye make-up remover and adds the oil to her night cream.

I applied the oil after the shower last night and I have to admit Miranda is right. My skin feels very soft and silky and it even seems to have light bronzing effect. Perfect!

Time to try it as an eye make-up remover and and add it to the night cream too!

This is how the rose-hip oil I bought in one of the drugstores looks like. I wish the bottle was bigger though! After I applied it last night almost half of the bottle is gone…

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Glossfinity by MaxFactor

Another product by MaxFactor that I recently tried and adore is Glossfinity nail polish in Opal color. It says on the bottle: “glossy nails for up to 7 days”. It stayed for almost 3 weeks! Quite amazing! The color is very neutral and goes well with any make-u  p and clothes.

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Coconut oil hair mask recipe

Couple of days ago, I tried another beauty suggestion by Miranda Kerr that I read in this article – http://fashiony.ru/page.php?id_n=83659. It’s the coconut oil hair mask that should repair the hair and add shine to it.

Use 2-4 table spoons of coconut oil (depending on hair length), heat it a bit and then spread it evenly along the full length of hair, rubbing it in circular motions. The mask can be left for a few hours or for the whole night. I put the shower cap on and left it for the night, then rinsed it with the shampoo in the morning.

It’s hard to tell the results right now, but I will come back after a month of applying this mask and will track the progress.