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Maggie DeMellier

Maggie DeMellier

Maggie DeMellier has been Health Journeys go-to customer service representative and marketing associate since March 2012. She worked as a surgical technician and pharmacy technician before she earned a BA in Mass Media Communication at The University of Akron. She operates a freelance writing business, specializing in medical ads, news articles, police blotters, features and business writing.  She was a teacher at a career college for six years, and earned a MA in Forensic Psychology in 2010. Maggie is the co-author of Parenting by Law or Grace, published by Synchronisity Press, in 2004.

“Education is the most powerful weapon you can use to change the world.”— Nelson Mandela

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the country’s schools and colleges will welcome record numbers of students this year. In 2012, Americans spent $8.5 billion on school clothes and supplies in August. Wow.

When I was a kid, summer ended abruptly with the arrival of the school bus. Back-to-school meant September, post-Labor Day, the end of summer and the beginning of early mornings, long walks to the school bus and nightly homework. The words literally meant going back to school. There was no big push in August to buy new clothes and supplies.

When my kids were growing up, ‘back to school’ became more of a concept. It meant making oneself or ones children ready for the educational experience, physically, mentally and emotionally. The first day of school came before Labor Day and the pressure to prepare early in August gained momentum.

From players in PeeWee Football and T-ball games to those in college and professional leagues, athletes are making the transition from playing for fun to playing for real.
 
Here in the Northern Hemisphere, we are holding fast to summer, hoping it lingers for a long while. Perhaps our desire for an endless summer is fueled by what seemed like an endless winter not so long ago.

Though we might be lucky enough to enjoy warm weather a little longer, we can’t delay the onset of many pre-fall events, the first yellow leaf that floats down from a tree, the last free summer concert in the park and that favorite end-of-summer event—training camp.

                                    

According to the people who provide services in my neighborhood, the last weekend in July is the most popular for moving. Whether it‘s cross-country or a move around the corner, that’s the weekend more people choose for making a change of residence.
 
One factor contributing to the popularity of July moves is the need to get children situated before school starts. For those going off to college, the last week in July provides ample time to get settled before classes start. Most of us have done enough moving at other times of the year to know that if you have to move, and you can choose when to do it, the month of July offers many advantages. Best of all, once you get where you’re going, it’s still summer.

There is a wealth of information available on everything from buying, selling and renting living spaces to the minute details of packing and unpacking your belongings. For example, check out Five Mistakes you Don’t Want to Make When You Move, by Divya Raghavan.

With the assistance of friends, relatives, lists, transition technicians (movers) and helpful tips from places like the post office, we think it will all go like clock-work. But even if Mother Nature smiles on us and July offers up her warmth and hospitality, there is still the matter of taking every single thing you own from one place to another.

What do summer and sleep have in common? We can’t seem to get enough of either. In winter, we blame our sleep insufficiency on things like the reduction in the availability of natural light during the shorter days, the hibernation response that encourages us to eat and sleep more, disturbing sleep cycles and the aversion to waking up when it is still dark outside. There are a number of things in winter that delay the arrival of the sandman.
           
In summer, we have more light, sometimes too much light, which results in a disruption of our sleep schedules. Add to that the disturbance of circadian rhythms brought on by vacations to other time zones, increased activity levels during evening hours, kids who stay up later and sleep later and the temptations of enjoying summer night activities in lieu of sleep.

Freedom: No matter how you celebrate it or what kind of freedom stirs your heart, the Fourth of July--Independence Day—is all about gratitude for living in the land of the free. Let freedom ring! 

Fireworks: You can find a safe, public fireworks display ** in a nearby community, no matter where you live. If you’re not a fan of crowds or loud noise, find a parking lot where you get a good view from your car, or go to a hillside where you can spread a blanket, sit or lie down and take in the splendor of the night sky, with or without fireworks.

**Please don’t make me tell you why you should not use fireworks at home. I worked as a surgical technician in three states and I have stories from all three. Please don’t allow your festivities to end in tragedy.

If you don’t have symptoms caused by post-traumatic stress, it’s safe to say you know someone who does. That’s what PTSD Awareness Month is all about and why it encourages us to do three things: learn, connect and share and emphasizes that we can make a difference.

When I was growing up, my uncle visited us regularly. I knew him as a gentle, fun-loving person, witty, intelligent and an accomplished executive. But a sudden, loud noise could evoke bizarre behavior, limbic rage that sent me and my siblings scattering.

People spoke in hushed tones about how he was ‘shell-shocked’ from World War II and though my aunt tried to get help for him, the prognosis was that there was nothing that could be done. Fortunately, this behavior did not occur often or disrupt our lives, but for other soldiers it took a grave toll. A family friend, who suffered what was then called battle-fatigue, from the Korean War, had a much worse prognosis and eventually lost his job, his family and committed suicide.

Pictured above is Cheryl’s son, Evan. This photo makes you want to buy a ticket to a ball game, kick back and celebrate summer.

When I was a kid, there was no more euphoric month than June. My siblings, friends, classmates and I were looking at what seemed like an endless summer stretching out before us. There was no fear of being bored, no nothing-to-do doldrums. We played ball in the field, built treehouses, ate our meals outside, ran lemonade stands on the side of a country road and slept in back yard tents.

When my kids were growing up, it seemed there had to be much more planning by parents, in order for them to enjoy summer in the same way and limits on TV and video games, in order to encourage them to be more active.

Pictured above is the ‘before’ photo of Operation Waist Management, my son Bob’s weight-loss team, a group of professional medical guys, who had some weight to lose and decided to join a national competition through Western Reserve Hospital, where they work. They came in first among the hospital’s teams and 16th out of 380 teams in the nation. To read more, please go to http://enjoy.ohio.com/hospital-staff-has-friendly-weight-loss-competition-1.489221

To me, this is a great example of how guys are getting the message about taking charge of their health. During the 90’s, I covered a local hospital’s men’s health meeting for a newspaper. It was a huge and very informative conference, with numerous physicians making presentations, each one followed by a Q & A segment.

According to the American Automobile Association (AAA) travelers are expected to hit the roads, rails and airways this summer in numbers not seen since 2005. My guess is that this has something to do with the end of a long, brutal winter in most parts of the country. Around here there is a lot of excited buzzing about vacations.

Looking at this photo of traffic, it’s difficult to think of platitudes, but the one I like to remember is, “It’s the journey that brings you happiness, not the destination,” by Dan Millman, from The Way of the Peaceful Warrior.  Of course, in this context, the vacation itself is part of the journey. In fact, all life is a journey, and according to Millman, if we rush through it without being in the moment, the sad thing is not that we die, but that we never lived.

That philosophy can be translated to vacations. Sometimes, the sad thing might not be that they have to end, but that so much allotted time is spent in planes, cars, trains and busses or waiting for them. What would it take to make more of the traveling at least a little more enjoyable?

“If your mind is empty, it is always ready for anything, it is open to everything. In the beginner's mind there are many possibilities, but in the expert's mind there are few. ” ― Shunryu Suzuki, from Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind.

I had a coffee mug with a slogan that read, “Don’t just do something, sit there.” I bought it on my first trip to a Zen center in California, where I learned the phrase, “There are two words that describe Zen-not always so.” That’s where I also learned that meditation is so simple that it’s difficult. You just sit there. How hard it that? The trick is you just sit there. You don’t think, you don’t worry, you don’t mentally complain how stuffy the room is, you don’t fidget, sleep, daydream, chew gum or think about what the monks are making for lunch.