Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Back in Portland!

My walkabout blog has not kept up with my walk-about these past four months, April to August...
From Manila
 and it's traffic

To Hong Kong

and an Island Resort

To Lake Michigan in Chicago
Last month we returned to Portland Oregon after leaving for Manila one year ago this week. Woo wee, 8 homes in 12 months!  It's a lot for this former suburban farm mom of four and developing public health advocate to take in!  The world is full of gracious, generous people.  Look for them and enjoy them in your corner of the world, it off sets unexpected events.

I am happy to report that in spite of surprising turns and readjustments my healthy living practices continue to build resiliency and support recovery from the unexpected.

For any of you out there living a full life facing uncertainty or recovering from disappointment, I encourage you to consider...

5 Fruits and Veggies a day,
Increase fiber (ease into this one)
and Drink your water,
8 hours of sleep which is helped by
walking briskly for a few minutes once or several times a day.

It's not about perfection just keep moving forward, some of you are living day by day.  At this time that is an aspiration of mine, I am enjoying moment by moment.

Make it fun! Resiliency is supported by turning the mundane into a game.  I found www.superbetter.com a great way to turn my health regime into a game.

Be Well,

More to come next up....Healthy living lessons transferred from The Philippines to Rockwood Neighborhood in Gresham-Portland 

Friday, July 13, 2012

Deep Dive into Personal Genomics

What?  You are asking, I thought this was a healthy living blog.  Well, it is and one of my health practices is resilience by pursuing new information on topics of interests, for me that is personal genomics.

The next several postings will share media I've watched and reading I've done on the topic of genomics. Wait, don't check out, it really is fascinating!  There is a quiet revolution of consumer genomics building. And you can know enough to consider yourself an informed consumer.  Genomics is the study of  the human genome. This is important to you and I because ultimately we would like some say in what is known and done with our personal information, correct?

Do I have the gene for THAT? 
As I passed by the new release shelf of the fabulous Wheaton Public Library, my eye was drawn to a black and blue case.  Three months ago PBS-NOVA and the bioethics research Hastings Center released a film Cracking your Genetic Code. I was thrilled to indulge my inner geek, genetic geekiness that is.
Thanks to Hastings Center board member and Wesleyan president, Dr. Michael Roth’s blog I quickly found the accompanying sites for NOVA and The Hastings Center’s Help With Hard Questions supplemental material.  Don’t overlook the video clips shot at the film premier of a panel of the film’s geneticists and bioethicists (try saying that three time fast…) discussing our weakness for genetic determinism.

The message of the film implores the public to shift our view of genetics from the black/white, simplistic, deterministic view of genetic we tend toward (exploited by sound bytes of the popular press); to a more complex probabilistic view that incorporates statistics and risk elements.  Hum, what exactly does that mean?   Well that's what I want to explore further in future posts.  To start with, watch the film as its discussion of the gene popularly held responsible (a deterministic view) for late onset Alzheimer’s is informative regarding probabilistic genetics and illustrates how non-deterministic the “Alzheimer’s gene” is.

Some of the deterministic/probabilistic confusion is there are some genetic illnesses that if you've got the gene, you've most likely (leaving room for other factors)... got the illness.  The film shares moving stories of real people whose genetic based health conditions have been positively impacted by genetic research. Each gives us a tangible picture of what genomics means to the future of rare and acute health conditions.  Gene therapy for cystic fibrosis has had a breakthrough in the FDA approved Kalydeco (with a 6 figure annual pharmacy bill).  For each one of the 1200 CF patients for whom this drug could treat, and if they can afford it, suffering is averted.
Watch Cracking your Genetic Code…enjoy!    

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Goodbye Philippines, Salamat Po! Hello Chicago!

Blogging, what a great idea! Stand back a few feet from my own life, take photos, observe and make pithy comments, reflecting wryly through a health and wellness lens.  And then life happens, faster than I can take photos or reflect in witty stories, let alone apply the experiences to health and wellness practices.

After 8 whirlwind months my time living in the Philippines has come to an end!  As I write I am air-bound for Chicago.  So many experiences in such a short time, mining my reflections in the months to come will no doubt yield some posts on healthy living based on my experience of urban living. Manila was quite a shock for this Alaska-raised, former suburban-Chicago baseball mom, and most recently Oregon small-farm girl. Wow! It's a varied life!

While my emotional status is definitely up for discussion I am choosing to focus on my physical health (with serotonin side benefits).  Honestly healthy choices may be all I can control right now.   I’m thinking specifically of my heart health.  Hurling 550 mph on my way to Tokyo, I read the April 24th Asia version of the Wall Street Journal which ran a great story on heart health by Melinda Beck.  Do you know if I walk just 30 minutes a day I reduce my chances of heart attack by 70%, only 10 minutes a day reduces it by 50%!  

I have been regularly walking on a treadmill while living in Manila, primarily to avoided the heavy pollution, and humid heat while addressing the sedentary nature of my work at the computer. The same article mentioned that spending my work day sitting in front of a computer is the equivalent of being a smoker in regards to my heart’s health, that’s a surprise! The solution is to have regular intervals of moving through out the day.  I guess I could have used the office stairs a few more times a day.

I have had a love-hate relationship with my walking shoes. How many times living in the states I’ve thought, I’m going to start walking regularly, 20 to 30 minutes a day, how hard can that be?  Then the weather changes or the dog has carried off one of my shoes, or the guys in my house have decided to watch my favorite show, or I just don’t feel like walking at the moment, I’ll do it later.  

While I do not like anticipating difficult circumstances, I believe that my daily living choices are an opportunity to practice so, when life is difficult, I have established a pattern.  It seems counter intuitive that when all is disrupted, I am going to walk.  I’ve been “practicing”regular walking in my daily Manila living and now when I need it most, I have the preparation and confidence to carry out daily walking, while readjusting to life in the states.

I have got to walk, for cardiac health.  Okay, mental health too.  Already as I think about where we will be staying when we first arrive in Chicago, I envision myself outdoors walking in the beautiful spring weather, except when it’s cold, blustery and raining sideways.  So, I see myself doing circuits in the nearby mall, that’s if there is no treadmill in sight.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Healthy Eating in Manila

As we settle into Manila life we have found great markets with wonderful fresh veggies and fruits.  Tonight's dinner is nothing fancy and satisfies our need for an American style dinner.  We served a fresh green leaf, carrot and amazing tasting cherry tomatoes, oven broiled asparagus, fresh baked, mashed potatos and sweet ham. The ham portion is small because it is sweet ham and I want to control the calories from sugar.  Food here is not cheap, though the veggies are very fresh and a thrifty choice over the aisles and aisles of canned food.

What is significant about this plate of food are the portions.  As you can see the plate is not large, remember the small corelle plates we use to eat from before the giant platter sized dinner plates became popular in the US?

This plate represents the myplate which has replaced the FDA's food pyramid none of us could remember the order or amounts.  1/2 the plate is fresh vegetables and fruit, 1/4 is protein and 1/4 is grains.  Sooo much easier than the food pyramid which none of us memorized, right?

Go to  http://www.choosemyplate.gov/  for family friendly info or
http://www.fruitsandveggiesmatter.gov/activities/analyze_my_plate.html  for an adult version.

Be well!

Saturday, March 10, 2012

What do we actually DO in the Philippines?

Brad is CEO and leads an amazing international team of 4, 2 Filipinos and 2 Aussies.

One mate (Aussie), Dan is a computer tech CEO who moved his family to Manila the same month we arrived. Not only has he completely revamp the orgs finances, but his most amazing achievement is creating a whole new system for receiving our gifts in kind food packs from the US.  We serve over 1.5 million meals to the malnourished and under nourished  poor.  Dan and his staff have a  tax free avenue for receiving food and medicines into the country!  More importantly this new system fully supports the new Aquino government's corruption free system. Change is happening in the RP!

The second mate, Helen oversees all the orgs operations and is a wealth of knowledge and experience.  She  oversees the Directors of Education, Livelihood, Health (so she is my boss) and Metrics.

Ptr. Herman, Filipino, is a specialist in leadership development and mentoring. He has rolled out mentoring and training for the 3000+ partner pastors who lead  ICM community development.

Mr Louie, joined the team in January and is focused on developing funding sources in and outside of Asia.  He comes with years of fund raising expertise in the Phils.

Brad's life/work experiences, skill set and ministry/business philosophy are very well suited for ICM at this time.  He is in his element working with a high capacity, highly skilled team.  He loves his job.

As for me, what an unexpected adventure.  I am just now finishing  my Public Health Grad. Cert. (one more class this spring) and CAN NOT believe I am in the job I have.  It's more like an internship with an official  title (Dir. of Health).  I work for Helen an ER - mental health trained nurse, who is a hoot and a spitfire!  I am happy to follow her direction and she is comfortable giving me rope to hang myself :D.  Next posting I will share the 4 month Project REFRESH we are implementing in ICM Health Services.

I am nurturing the care clinic staff.  They are nurses, midwives, and volunteer docs who see up to 30 patients a day for common complaints.  What they do really well is screening for major medical cases and then case managing them through the government and private health care system  to get care.  Over the past three months over 50 cleft palate/lip patients have received restoration surgeries through the work of our staff partnering with local and international organizations.

My lack of clinical expertise is not an issue because I work with a national adviser of medicine, Dr Mindy, who oversees all the special medical cases and malnutrition children's program.  My skills and interests in Public Health, group process, coaching, time management, and online education are all being utilized.  My passion to empower and build capacity in the developing Filipino health workforce is realized.  How sa-weeet!

For those who know my son Andy, 15, I am often asked, how is Andy doing?  He is an amazing young man and doing very well.  It was an incredibly challenging fall semester for school.  In hindsight, it would have been better do 1 or 2 online classes to become familiar with the learning system.  We thought he would get into a school here and that has not happened.  It all has to do with timing.  So, he  has just started his second semester of online classes and  is optimistic once again.  He loves his new little dog, Gibson (pronounced by the national tagalog speakers with the emphasis on the "son" and sounds more like "san" think papa-san, we however call him Gibson, like the guitar :D)

It's been almost 7 months since we boarded a plane for our visit in August of which I've only been here for 4.5 month to date.  I will be here through the summer at the least, there are no formal plans for Andy or I to return to the states at this time.  Brad however has board and fundraising responsibilities in the states and will be in Chicago for a week end of March.

Our adult children are all scheduled to come this summer. Two of the boys and their girl friends will come for their college summer break and intern for ICM.  Our married kids will join us for the week of our 25 anniversary in July.  We will have them all here to celebrate on the beautiful Philippine beaches!

We love the Filipino people.  We are inspired by their passion and ability to lead change in the lives of the disenfranchised and marginalized on very limited resources.  It is an honor and privilege to be here.

I have a renewed commitment to the blog and will be posting again in a few weeks with some details and photos of  Operation REFRESH for Health Services, it is after all a wellness blog :)

Be Well

Saturday, February 25, 2012

6 month reflection:

Wait... What happened?

The short story is after 40 resumes sent out last spring/summer the only bonifide job offer Brad got was through an old Wheaton college connection he had renewed when the guy moved to Portland.  Through Dave's contacts we learned of a faith based community development organization in the Philippines that works through the local protestant pastors. ICM is 20 years old, started by local Filipino's, and financed almost exclusively through Hong Kong's wealthy.  There are strong supporters in each of the home countries of the board members, Philippines, US, UK and Aus.

The HK board (specifically the board chair) wanted to find an American style leader to tighten the org up administratively.  The cool thing is those out in the field bases are pastors, so they wanted someone who is specifically suited to shepherd, not just administrate.  Brad is a great match.

Here is a retrospective of events, August to the first of the year, 2012

July 20th-ish Brad, "I am considering the job in Manila, You, I and Andy need to travel there in two weeks to candidate."
Great flurry of activity...to include the arrival of my daughter-in-law to be  and her mother on August 1st for an Aug. 21st wedding.

Aug 4-16 Brad, Lynn and Andy flying to, around and from the Philippines AMAZING group of people and very exciting work.  The rest of the family was in shock and/or working like dogs prepping for the wedding.

21st Lee and Kit's gorgeous wedding in the orchard and garden of our home

Aug 22nd rest

Brad flew to HK then Manila to begin work Sept. 1st.

Aug 23-Sept 25 I start packing and did so until the day I flew out.
We reduced 10 years of farm life, 3 buildings down to one double long storage garage, it took a village of friends and family to sort, sell, toss, give away and store 24 years of accumulation.  Thank goodness for the move 10 years earlier or I think I'd still be there...:D

Oct 1st delayed arrival in the Philippines due to back to back typhoons, what a welcome!

Oct 1st -Nov 4th.  two weeks of recovery under the care of a staff of 4 at our host home, starting online schooling for Andy and I (OHSU-PH Cert). During that month I started work, located a new home (bless Daphne) and moved in, our 17 shipped boxes all showed up by moving day.

Nov 4th -25th  3 weeks to settle in to our new home and continue schooling, working and adjusting, make that ADJUSTING.

Thanksgiving Day, flew out to Chicago and spent the weekend with most of our kids (David was still in England studying abroad for the semester)

Nov 30th -Dec 6th  Spent in Washington DC for fundraising events, sightseeing and doing online school for Andy and finishing my final...fun times!

Dec 6-Dec31 Returned to Portland, completely fell apart.  Note to self do not return to previous home for an extended stay only 7 weeks after making an international move. It's too hard on everyone.

9:30pm New Years Eve landed back in Manila! We were home!

We have settled in nicely, it's taken the first two months of 2012 to recover from the first 5 months of this adventure.

Wellness tips for International travelers:

  • Sleep 8 hrs at night take naps if needed, 
  • eat regular meals & keep hydrated, 
  • walk briskly and 
  • allow yourself time to grieve change. Even good change is accompanied by loss.  
  • Be kind to yourself and others, 
  • set boundaries with others who may not relate

  1. More to follow on our early work with ICM in 2012.