All posts filed under: WELLNESS

We have freedom, but we’re not independent

I have been a journalist for 25 years. In fact, this year marks my 25th year of being in the journalism industry in some area, starting in college at a local radio station and later as a paid intern at a newspaper. This also marks the 20th year of my college graduation.

In the last 25 years, I have covered a variety of stories, including homicides, fires and car accidents. I was good at establishing trustworthy relationships with law enforcement, but I have never really enjoyed covering spot news.

Ten Resolutions for the New Year

When I started thinking about New Year’s resolutions that I wanted to write for 2017, I initially had a very short list of things that were realistic and attainable that might be suitable for a short Facebook status update. But the more I thought about it, I came up with at least 10 things I hope to work on in the coming year that I have expanded into a blog post. Maybe you will find some of them relatable. Exercise 30 minutes a day. I started doing this a couple of years ago, and by run/walking 30 minutes a day in the park, I quickly lost about 40 pounds in three months. It’s a good habit to get into. It’s a stress reliever. It allows you to be one with nature. It’s good for your heart. And as someone who has always had skinny legs, it made my legs more shapely. It’s so hard for many of us to find time in our busy lives for exercise, and we sometimes think it’s impossible to lose …

How to Cope With Holiday Stress and Make Life More Enjoyable

By LaReeca Rucker This article originally appeared in The Clarion-Ledger and USA TODAY circa 2011. Cole Smith, owner of Creative Gifts in Jackson, feels his stress levels rise during the holiday season. As the owner of a wholesale gift packaging company, he sells materials like gift wrap, ribbons, tissues, boxes and bows. “My customers are predominantly female, and most of them are just like every other shopper,” he said. “They get in a panic after Thanksgiving realizing it’s Christmas.” It’s also a stressful time for Smith and his employees. A season dubbed the “happiest time of the year” can be anything but when work, finances, parties and perfection bring more worry than welcome at Christmas. “My little business is blessed to have many customers, but we are not Walmart,” he said. “My co-workers work part-time, and I’m very blessed they are hanging in there. They are hard workers, and it is stressful. “We have an attitude of one customer at a time. People can be rude and distract you, but we keep a smile on …

Living a Life of Gratitude Can Change Your Perspective on the World

By LaReeca Rucker This article originally appeared in The Clarion-Ledger circa 2011. Jackson resident Andi Barbrey watched a celebrity she follows on Facebook write about what she was thankful for daily, and Barbrey decided to do the same. “One day, I thanked my dad for always staying calm even though he raised three girls,” she said. “Last night, I had a rough day at work, and I said I was thankful for beer,” she laughed. “But I try to be thankful for things that have made a difference in my life. Doing the updates really makes you think about it every day.” Gratitude has attracted a lot of attention from psychological researchers in recent years in the field of “positive psychology.” It examines topics like quality of life, virtues, character and happiness, said Stephen Southern, professor and chairman of the Mississippi College Department of Psychology and Counseling. Southern said gratitude has been shown in studies to reduce stress while improving health, physically, mentally and emotionally. “Gratitude is a key ingredient in quality of life,” Southern …

The Force is always with Star Wars fans

By LaReeca Rucker In 1983, I saw my first Star Wars film. “Return of the Jedi” was my introduction to the movie franchise, and I was hooked, because I wanted to look like and become Princess Leia. I wanted to ride speeder bikes through the thick, green forests of Endor; hang out in a village with adorable Ewoks, save Han Solo from the carbonite chamber, and command The Force as skillfully as a seasoned Jedi Knight. Throughout most of my childhood, I lived in a Star Wars fantasy world inhabited by me and my next door neighbor, who believed he was Luke Skywalker. Almost every day, we went on adventures to other planets in a galaxy far, far away. He often saved me from disgusting aliens like Jabba the Hut, and I was a beautiful princess who sometimes saved him – a feminist before I knew the word. We piloted space ships, killed alien creatures, and battled other evil forces with lightsabers, all underneath the big oak tree in my grandmother’s backyard. She often watched …

One day at a time

Anyone who has ever faced health issues will appreciate this saying. I’m not sure who the first person on Earth was to utter it, but in my opinion, it is one of the wisest thoughts that has ever been expressed. Unfortunately, you won’t realize the depth of wisdom this idea carries until you struggle. When every day is difficult, it’s important to take things one day at a time – and sometimes one hour at a time and one minute at a time. One day may be bad, but the next three could be good. Hold onto hope. Stay positive. It can be overwhelming sometimes if you speculate about life too far ahead. So be mindful of the moment. Got a comment? E-mail me at endyanna@earthlink.com or Tweet me at @lareecarucker. Save

The fruits of my labor

This summer, I decided to plant and grow a garden. I dug a spot in my yard for it, and I bought a lot of seeds and planted them. But unfortunately, the only thing that grew were five cherry tomatoes. They were promptly eaten. I’m not sure if there was a sneaky rabbit involved in stealing my crops, but my garden frog did not alert me about intruders. It appears I did not have a green thumb this year, but maybe next. Got a comment? E-mail me at endyanna@earthlink.com or Tweet me at @lareecarucker. Save

Mississippi’s obesity rate among low-income preschoolers declines

The obesity rate among low-income preschoolers has declined in Mississippi, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports. According to the study called “Progress on Childhood Obesity,” obesity among low-income preschoolers declined from 2008 through 2011 in 19 of 43 states and territories studied, and Mississippi was one. Obesity rates in low-income preschoolers, after decades of rising, began to level off from 2003 through 2008 and now are showing small declines in many states, according to the CDC. However, too many preschoolers are obese – about 1 in 8. The CDC says obese children are more likely to become obese adults and suffer lifelong physical and mental health problems. State and local officials can play a big part in reducing obesity among preschoolers. The CDC offers the following suggestions: • Create partnerships with community members such as civic leaders and child care providers to make community changes that promote healthy eating and active living. • Make it easier for families with children to buy healthy, affordable foods and beverages in their neighborhood. • Help provide …

More of the story: Miss Mississippi contestant Kennitra Thompson fought for her life against Stevens Johnson Syndrome

When Kennitra Thompson was 6, she told her mother she wanted to become Miss America. The determined little girl convinced Patricia Thompson to purchase a few blank VHS tapes to record the annual pageant, and she repeatedly watched the videos, studying the winners and learning to emulate Miss Americas like Heather Whiteston (1995), Angela Perez Baraquio (2000) and Erika Dunlap (2004). At 13, she entered and won her first real pageant, Miss Junior Teen Jackson as number 135 out of more than 200 contestants. Other pageant wins followed. Then, Thompson was crowned Miss Metro Jackson and got to compete in the Miss Mississippi Pageant for the first time last year, bringing her a step closer to the Miss America crown. This year, she’ll return to Miss Mississippi as Miss Rankin County Southwest, but a lot has changed for Thompson in the last few months. When she walks on the stage wearing a swimsuit, audience members may notice that her body is blemished with scars or “warrior wounds” from the life-threatening illness she recently battled. Kennitra …

Getting back on the horse

Near the end of the school year at Brandon’s University Christian School, the art teacher gave his first period students large canvases, leftover paint and the freedom to go at them Jackson Pollack-style. Danielle Parkman, 14, dipped her hands in color and splattered it against the white – tossing pink, blue and red across the rectangle. Then she threw it on her friends, who laughed and retaliated until, pretty soon, everyone was engaged in a colorful, carefree mess of creativity. It is her most vibrant memory of the day her life went black, canvas wiped clean. On that day, May 12, 2009, her mother, Julie Parkman, a wife and mother of three, had a lot on her mind. In two days, her eldest son, Mitchell, would graduate from UCS. He was away on a mission trip with his father, Louie, but they would return that evening. On May 14, the family would leave for the Bahamas, and she couldn’t forget about Danielle’s upcoming horse show. After work, she drove to register her daughter for the …

Kala Harvey’s story

Kala Harvey spent Nov. 24, 2008, attending Northwest Community College, where the former high school valedictorian was one day away from finishing her first semester. Around noon, she and sister, Candace, took their brother out for his birthday lunch, and around 6 p.m., the girls reconnected to take their usual fitness walk. Within moments, Candace heard the sound of a speeding vehicle approaching from behind. She turned, and saw it coming toward her on the wrong side of the road. Candace reached for Kala to pull her out its path, but missed by a hair. The car struck, knocking the teenager upon the windshield, then tossing her against the hard pavement. “They had been gone about 20 minutes when I received the call,” said mom Alma Harvey. “Candace was screaming and crying. I went to where they were and found Kala in critical condition. I didn’t really recognize her, but I recognized what she was wearing.” A helicopter airlifted Kala, 18, to The MED in Memphis. Doctors were not encouraging. They could find no sign …

LEGO Jackson

Vicksburg native Scott Crawford practiced clinical psychology in Miami, working with older adults and people with brain injuries and their families. But when he was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, he returned to Jackson in 2006 to be closer to his family. To focus on the positive, Crawford adopted a childhood pastime that led to a colorful project that represents his hopeful vision of a better Jackson. “LEGO Jackson is about promoting civic pride. It has well-kept streets and homes. People go out and meet their neighbors. They reduce, reuse and recycle. They have a solar wind farm. They confront crime. They respect each other and the city. “LEGO Jackson is my dream of how Jackson will be, and it’s a little whimsical to make it fun.” The Greater Jackson Arts Council and the city of Jackson welcomed the arrival of LEGO Jackson in the main gallery of the Arts Center of Mississippi Thursday on Crawford’s 46th birthday. “Scott’s dedication to detail is truly astounding,” said Janet Scott, Arts Center executive director, in a news release. …

What my Golden Retriever Taught Me About God

While walking her sister’s 10-year-old golden retriever, DeKalb native and author Rhonda McRae had a spiritual epiphany. “I was just enjoying how much Sadie was enjoying the walk,” McRae said. “The thought occurred to me: I wondered if this is how God feels to give me joy. “It kind of opened up a new way of thinking about God’s love for me. Then I started observing her behavior, and the book came out of that.” What My Golden Retriever Taught Me about God ($11.99, P&R Publishing, 2010), chronicles McRae’s year-long spiritual journey with Sadie. McRae said you can learn a lot about God from a pet, and it’s an idea many churches across the nation have implemented by creating pet ministries that visit nursing homes. Some even offer pet food pantries and pet-friendly church services. “I didn’t really decide to write a book about Sadie,” said McRae, a member of First Presbyterian Church of Jackson who works in the corporate communications department of Baptist Medical Center. “That was just the process of what God was …