Healthy Living Columnist
As I hit my 50’s, I “created” a health crisis- Literally, I was sitting in a hospital on my 50th birthday. I say “created” because my own behavior led me to it. The journey to better health started out of necessity. Two years ago, I found myself over committed, overwhelmed and incredibly stressed. Like a lot of working moms and entrepreneurs, I felt I could handle it all. I had 3 jobs, countless volunteer jobs and was also a wife, mom, animal mom and much more. Something needed to give- and unfortunately it was my heart that yelled from the inside- “Hey, we protest this treatment!”.
I had to reassess the priorities in my life for my health. I found through this process I needed to focus on three core priorities. To do this right, I excused myself from many of the responsibilities that were dragging me down, eliminated the jobs I didn’t need, and refocused on my health. I want to share with you a bit about my journey and break down the three core goals I set for myself.
Restorative sleep- we need it. When you don’t sleep properly you will be heavier, unhappier and sometimes cranky. All three are undesirable, but common. Shut down and repower your brain. Some interruptions are unavoidable, like soothing a child or grandchild in the night, but the majority of us need to shut it down for seven to eight hours a night. Limit any light entering your brain 30 minutes before sleep. It signals your brain to slow down for restoration. No electronics- phone, television, Kindle, etc. Your sleep patterns, and ultimately your body, will thank you. I suggest quiet meditative time working on your I AM statements in the complete dark before bed. I AM Confident, I AM strong, I AM healthy, I AM a goal getter, etc. You choose your own I AM because you know where you are headed. Your brain continues to work on the tasks you give it before bed. Focus on what you want to manifest by repeating what you want to accomplish the next day! Intention and mindset is everything. One may find this weird, but I spoke to my heart every day during my health crisis, and still do today. I tell it I am grateful that it is healthy and happy and wonderfully made. When I find myself stressing, I tell my heart to be strong, work correctly and maintain balance. I am not able to control others so I focus on my own health and wellness. Healthy mindset = healthy body. I claim it. And I sleep to retain it.
The second core goal is exercise. No I am not a gym rat or a marathon runner. You don’t need to be either. Here is what you DO need to do… move. Exercise is about baby steps- or maybe upping the total number of steps. People become overwhelmed with the idea of exercise. Make it simple. If you love to watch TV, commit to planking for a commercial break, or doing 25 squats or 20 sit ups each break. Decide to walk the same number of minutes you choose to watch TV. Stop talking yourself out of exercising. Start small but be consistent. There are no excuses. Seriously, there is a modification for everything. If you are very overweight, then start with walking to the end of your driveway or the other end of your house. Increase the distance each time. Maybe you will be able to reach the end of the block next time. If you need to stop and catch your breath at any time, do so. Document your progress. Progress is the motivation that will keep you consistent and on task. The last and most important part of exercise- NEVER compare yourself to others and their journey. Run your own race!
Last and most important core goal. You cannot out train your diet! Yes, you are what you eat and drink. Figure out what you want your eating goals to be. Yes, it’s confusing, but you have to be able to maintain your plan, so it has to be able to be done as a lifestyle change rather than a fad diet plan. I prefer learning how to eat real food with a balanced consumption of nutrients while controlling sugar intake. Read labels and avoid excess sodium and packaged food. It’s convenient to eat packaged foods, but come with a cost, often an expanding waist line. There are lots of resources online to help you get a handle on the food intake part. I prefer the My Fitness Pal app, especially for beginners, as it helps you actually SEE what is happening when you eat certain foods. Nutrition is 80% of improving your health. Your water intake is critical. In helping people every day improve their health, it’s the one deficiency, I see most often. We have learned to use sugary soda, energy drinks and sugary snacks as a crutch for a quick boost of energy, at the expense of proper hydration and nutrition.
Of course, I love the occasional binge of barbecue ribs or lasagna! It only become a problem if this is your diet every day, even more so if you are the king or queen of seconds. Measure your portions until you are 100% sure what a portion is. No excuses.
These three core goals will not always be in perfect alignment. One day you may eat well, sleep poorly but walk 15,000 steps. Be kind to yourself and look at how you are progressing over time. It’s about the progress, not each individual day. Don’t micro-manage every tiny detail or you will fail at becoming a healthier you. Love yourself on your journey, run your own race. Focus on feeling good, being strong, creating inner happiness and living the life you deserve!
Cannabis and Your Voice
Today’s the day, that’s right 4/20…Can we be real for a second and talk about the elephant in the room for a few minutes? I’m talking about that green sticky stuff with the funny smell when lit. Some people call it Pot, Grass, Herb, Mary Jane and remember back in the day some people even called it Reefer? For the purpose of this article, I will refer to Marijuana as “weed”. I wanted to talk about the possible effects that weed can have on your voice. Before we get into this very interesting and controversial topic let me be clear, I’m not here to judge or point figures, nor pick sides to each is own. I’m here to point out some facts and perhaps give you something to chew on, pun intended LOL!
Many of you know that April 20th often just referred to 4/20, international “Pot” holiday, originated by five high school students from California in 1971. The story itself is pretty fascinating but whats even more fascinating, to me is how it quickly became an international holiday all over the world. If this subject tickles your fancy, you’ll have to do a little research to learn more.
As I look through different articles looking for the long and short-term effects weed (the most used illegal drug in the world ), I was surprised at the small amount of information I found about the cause and effects with emphasis on the voice. I found this interesting because many of you already know artists and musicians are often perceived as heavy drug users of many different kinds, not always weed. While we often hear about and are driven to focus on harder drugs, weed it’s often accused to be the gateway drug. We all know or have read about singers, rappers, actors, pastors, even former President Bill Clinton was accused of using the drug many refer too as “weed” but don’t fret, he didn’t inhale…
Okay, here goes the tea… Regardless of how you smoke weed, (or any other substance) rather it’s in a vaporizer, pipe, blunt or old fashioned joint, any inhaled agent has the ability to over time damage the overall quality of your voice. Just as caffeine, heating/cooling systems and allergy medication, and even sleeping with your mouth open at night dry your voice and sinus completely. Dryness in your throat causes a plethora of problems you might not even be aware of some of which include difficulty swallowing, coughing, heartburn and body aches, just to name a few. Some studies show that a vaporizer is safer because the substance isn’t burned and fewer toxins are actually produced. However, other studies shown say that any smoke at all inhaled has potential to damage your voice.
Marijuana is now legal in nine states for recreational use and other 15 states for medical purposes, weed has quickly become in higher demand among the states that haven’t been considered for legalization, as of yet… You can cut the tension with a knife among both citizens and legislators when this touchy subject resurfaces.
We live in a stressful world that seems to be constantly on the move, with pressures of becoming bigger and better by the microsecond. People who suffer from stress, anxiety, depression, ADHD and health problems, particularly pain and much more is at an all-time high in our nation as a whole. From the stress of raising a family to the stress of being an entrepreneur creating your dream job, weed has become a multi-billion dollar industry. Millions of people all over the world swear by the substance called “Marijuana”. In a small serve, I conducted today, some claim they couldn’t, and some even stated they wouldn’t live without. Weed helps “take the edge off and calms me down at the end a stressful day,” several people said from my serve, verbatim.14-20 people I asked, (would like to remain anonymous) admitted to consuming daily.
6 Singers (2 college students)
4 Males (over age 60)
3 Mothers (between 25-44)
7 Professional “White Collar” (Unisex ages 23-52)
All of which had valid reasons why consume daily, all of which were compelling. The other six had various reasons for daily use from chronic pain to high anxiety. At the end of the day, we all must do what we think is best for our overall mental health and well-being. Being a person who was without a voice for almost three years, I tend to examine things a little differently than I once did, especially when it comes to my voice.
Youtube: Deonna Marie Cattledge
Oklahoma Teachers Exercise their Voice
Oklahoma Teachers Exercise their VOICE!
Oklahoma public school teachers banded together to strike for supplies and better wages
Have you heard the “tea” on the statewide teacher walk-out in the state of Oklahoma and the ripple effect it’s starting in the country? Well, if you haven’t and you’re the kind of person that need numbers and statics, which are important, don’t get me wrong. I hope that this article encourages you to take a deeper look into this now national situation and also, take a deeper look at your education system in your own backyard. However, in this article, I want to give readers a candid look inside of the protest from the perspective of a now local resident and a first time experience of anything like this.
I originally had no intention of attending the walk-out at the state capital here in Oklahoma City. To keep it all the way real, which I wouldn’t have it another way, I didn’t think it would last more than a day if it happened at all. Now I know, some of you are probably wondering why I’m glad you asked… While I’m not a public educator, I’ve lived in Oklahoma City for 10 years now and have worked closely with the public school system for the majority of my time here. Teachers have been complaining about things like lack of fair pay, little to sometimes no supplies and little to no budget to properly serve those with special needs, to name a few. However, even though this is a real problem, the teachers stay for something much bigger than themselves and their personal needs, they stay for the love of the children and communities they serve. Because, I know first hand of the passion and degree of selflessness it takes to continue to work under certain conditions, I didn’t think they would actually follow through with it.
April 2, 2018, was the first day of the protest and over 35,000 we’re said were in attendance. In my gut, I didn’t think it would last but thought they put forth a gallant effort to get the attention of Governor Mary Fallin and legislators. Day 2 a reported 38,000 was reported to have been in attendance, the people weren’t backing down. In fact, they said they weren’t moving until their voices were heard! I had the exhilarating experience of attending Day 3 of the protest at the capital with, again well over 30,000 people in attendance, standing strong. By this time, teachers from Tulsa Oklahoma banded together to make the 107-mile walk to the capital and the public educators in Kentucky started a protest of their own. I’ve never actually experienced anything like that in my life and I wanted to give you my raw perspective on what it was like up close and personal. I’ll start by saying that seeing the coverage is one thing but actually being there has had an entirely different effect and perspective for me as an individual.
On my way to the capital, I didn’t know what to expect, it was bumper to bumper traffic down 23rd street. I saw people walking from as far as three miles back with bright signs, picketing on their way to the capital. I would be lying if I told you I didn’t say a little prayer driving past them, just hoping I had a closer parking place just for me… whoa yes! Keep in mind, I just started doing research that morning and even with that, I didn’t know how deep it would be. I found a spot a little under a mile from the action and for that, I was grateful.
Upon the first exit of my car, I felt an almost magnetic pull in the atmosphere that drew me towards the masses. It was a surreal feeling as if I couldn’t help it. I don’t think I’ve experienced a situation where I was standing near or in the middle of a crowd of people where most of the attendees stood in agreement of what they saw as the greater good for humanity. Sure, this amount of people fill-up arena venues and stadiums all over the world every day with numbers larger than this. However, this was an entirely different energy that surged among the masses.
Coming alone to something like this definitely has its pros and cons, but I decided to make the best out of this situation and take it all in. I took my time and literally observed everything before I actually arrived and walked straight into the nucleus of the action. To be honest, my mind was blown before I got there. The first thing I noticed was the amount of school age kids that were there to either stand with their parents or support their teachers. I’m not kidding, there was an almost equal ratio of teens to adults. Most made very creative signs that reflected their personal feelings and viewpoints. People of all races, colors, and creeds stood together in unity, standing for what they believed was right.
I was overwhelmed by the number of people that wanted to be a part of my candid coverage for Exposure Magazine. I walked next to different groups of people and gained many different perspectives, from both sides, although mostly from one, how affected the public education community and the children that are in it really are. Because people were literally standing there ALL DAY there were food vendors who volunteered their foods and services to the cause. Other services that we might not think of like water and restrooms were also provided and school-aged kids 18 and under had everything provided for them free of charge, from snacks, water, meals and even some local events were held around the city, and childcare in some places as well.
The photo (on the left) depicts not only the unity but the faith exercised by some of the teens in attendance at the protest rally. However, I must acknowledge some of the views from the opposing side as well. People were concerned that a rally like this could cause an uproar in not only the state of Oklahoma but the country as a whole, which could threaten not only overthrowing the government at a state level but eventually the country. There were also some angry parents across the state that were concerned that, they weren’t properly informed or considered during the uprising in standing against both local and state officials. Parents that are accustomed to their children going to school all day. The walkout could cause other unforeseen charges such as childcare, extra food, and transportation expenses. Some parents are concerned, if this goes on much longer, they too, are at risk of not having a job. Some people think this entire protest can help create a lose/lose effect on children both home and at school. I completely understand and see this side clearly. Seeing this side so clearly made me want to take a deeper look at another viewpoint, just to even out the playing field so to speak.
As I walked through the massive amounts of people, reading the signs, listening to conversations and observing the different emotions throughout the capital, I found myself almost at the front of the stage which to me, served as the nucleus of the protest. This is where I had the pleasure of meeting and interviewing teacher of Del City school district Joy A. Glenn Ahmad. She has been a teacher since 1976 and explained her viewpoint with literal tears in her eyes. Ahmad explained that the teachers demanded 200 million dollars from local and state officials which would cover a $6,000 raise to teachers, some whom haven’t seen a raise for over a decade and some who are only making it with the help of there spouses income to sustain their own family. The rest of the money would be used for much-needed supplies and educational material for the 700,000 students the public school system serves.
Teachers voices were in fact heard and they were granted 50 million dollars, a quarter of what they were asking, which only would cover the much-needed raises for the teachers. This offer was rejected by the teachers and the strike continued as planned. Teachers claim that this was less about them and more about the students they serve and they refused to take a raise and leave the students needs out. To give me a clear perspective she shared the picture with me you see to the left.
I know, it seems like a cart with books on it, what’s the big deal, right? I thought the same thing until she explained to me that this was the cart of books shared between classes for teaching materials for both students and teachers. This cart is the only access to educational materials for the entire high school. I was shocked, to say the least, I couldn’t help but wonder if the parents who are against the protest are aware of the true condition of their children education. Were they aware that this was perhaps the reason for Oklahoma having the lowest test scores and reading scores in the country? Or, does the need to survive and provide for their families now take precedence over the future of their children and possibly the future of the leaders of the state of Oklahoma. This is obviously an “elephant in the room” that couldn’t be ignored anymore. What do you think? Are you aware, truly aware of your education system in your own backyard? This movement that now, has national attention will continue for week 2 in the state Oklahoma. Teachers claim, they will not back down until their voices are heard! This protest has potential to change the education system not only in the state but in the country. Don’t forget to keep up with both local and national news for up close and personal coverage.
Youtube: Deonna Marie Cattledge
Vocal Tips for the Voice during Allergy Season
Springtime is here! I don’t know about you, but its one of my favorite seasons. Unfortunately, for professional voice users, it’s also the worst season for keeping and maintaining a healthy voice. Some of us refer to spring as, the dreaded allergy season. From the blooming flowers, the seemingly invisible pollen that floats in the air and, if you have a pet, the excessive pet dander is more than enough to cause that itchy, scratchy feeling in your throat and cause your sinuses to go bananas! There are several things you can do to relieve both your voice and sinuses during the spring season. I won’t list everything because we would be here ALLDAY and this article will look more like a dissertation and sweet brown says it best, “Ain’t nobody got time for that”. Don’t worry, I got you, I picked five of my favorite practices that offer me IMMEDIATE relief and it will do the same for you.
1) The first and most important thing you can do is stay hydrated. Drinking the proper amount of water offer a plethora of benefits to your mind, body, and soul. However, water is especially important for professional voice users like you and me. Water helps to naturally flush out allergens and thin mucus. Also, things like caffeinated beverages, allergy pills and a host of other things many people consume daily, immensely dry the throat and sinus cavities. Water not only keep the throat moist, it helps prevent you overworking your voice to produce sound.
2) Consuming local honey will help you develop immunity to the local pollen Keep in mind, if you travel a lot for speaking, singing or both, you should find local honey where you are traveling as well. You can put in your favorite herbal tea or even take a teaspoon full a day will help you SO MUCH! It might sound weird but I will work and will thank me later. Note: ( You can find local honey at some farm to table restaurants or local grocery stores like Whole Foods, Sprouts or Adkins).
3) Check the pollen index daily on your local news or weather app. Yes, this is a real thing and is an awesome way to know how to care for your voice and sinuses BEFORE you go outside. How so?!, I’m glad you asked…This helps me decide if I will need to do a sinus rinse, cover my mouth and nose to prevent breathing in so many air born allergens, which cause soreness and vocal fatigue. It also helps me decide what allergy pill I’ll need for the day If any. This is especially important if you have to speak of sing that day.
4) A neti pot or saline rise, used regularly (with distilled water only) will keep your nasal passages clear of things like pollen and other air born allergies. Although seemingly uncomfortable to some, this will give your sinuses instant relief and help significantly minimize post-nasal drip.
5) Last but surely not least a cool mist humidifier next to your bed while you sleep will serve multiple purposes. If you’ve ever experienced waking up with a dry sticky throat, this means you aren’t hydrated enough. The cool mist humidifier will be like you’re drinking water as you sleep. The cool mist you breathe in while you sleep will add much needed moister to vocal cords while you sleep. This will, over a short period of time, eliminate that dry scratchy feeling. A cool mist humidifier will also work against allergens, such as dust while you rest as well. So, you see, its a win, win! I hope these tips we helpful and that you’ll return for more tea, with ya girl Deonna Marie. Remember, If you have a voice to share with the world, you should care for it because it’s your voice that takes care of you. `
That’s all ♥
Youtube: Deonna Marie Cattledge
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