Munich Memories

I had a long flight delay over the summer, and instead of wasting time wandering around the airport shops, I went to visit Munich city center.
Bikes, bikes and more bikes.  Also, Mercedes sedans as taxis.. brilliant!
German women possibly sizing up the authenticity of the dirndl/lederhosen??
Music on the streets.. AWESOME!
The view coming up to the street from the metro.

Back to the airport..

Overall, I really liked the vibe of the city.  It was so GREEN there; in the countryside, in the city gardens, even on every street corner there were fresh fruits and vegetables for sale.

Munich is a beautiful city with wonderful old buildings, pleasant people and decent food (nice potato salad, but sorry, they lose a point for their love of meat!)

Death to the Schnitzel!!  Eat more fruits and veggies!

I hope you have the opportunity to spend some time in a nice city plaza this weekend.

Happy Saturday, everyone!

It happened again...

Please allow me a moment to reflect on a global social problem: OBSESSION with cell phones.

How many of us are this ignorant?  How many of us allow others to suffer in silence?

Maybe if more people put their darn cell phones down, more of us would see our fellow citizens sitting alone and offer a pleasantry and a smile.  I know this photo is only one moment of the whole hour the man spent at the McDonalds, but I can't imagine the other 59 minutes looked any different.  Above all, he's an elder of Chinese [HK] society, and his respect and dignity are not being honored by his own people. 

It really doesn't take much to brighten one another's day....

This photo really breaks my heart--mostly because it captures the sadness of the entire article.

Beyond the shock factor of living in a tiny cubicle, his days of roaming HK mindlessly is such a waste of precious time; of human life.  It saddens me to think that this man was once a little boy filled with hopes and dreams and now he's alone and beat down by circumstances that are not in his favor.

I believe this man needs a notebook and a pen to write, draw, dream, and sketch about his life; the wisdom he has gained and the lessons he has learned.  Instead of hanging out at McDonalds, I hope he can find his way to a library and be comforted by books and poems; stories of adventure and heroes; people who have risen above their challenges.   Or maybe he will find his faith, and be comforted within a faith-based community.

My challenge to you today is to put your cell phone down! Acknowledge the people you are sitting with, the people who are sitting by your sides, and the people you don't know yet, but will meet in passing.  Smile at others, hold the door for others, wish people a nice day; every drop of kindness makes a difference in this world!

Until next time, namaste!

<3 paz. amor. felicidad siempre

Joan MirĂ³ museum in Mallorca

Just a bit of beauty to brighten your day!

These are a few pictures from the summer that I've been meaning to post...

Dogs from the street...and one cat.

The Mystery of Fibromyalgia...

The medical terminology of the word "fibromyalgia" derives from Latin, fibro-, prefix meaning "fibrous tissues", Greek myo-, "muscle", and Greek algos-, suffix meaning "pain"; therefore, the term literally means muscle and connective tissue pain.  Along with arthritis, low back or muscle pain, fibromyalgia affects “nearly a third of the U.S. population every year” (Kerns, 345).  The psychological and social toll of chronic pain is enormous, and pain specialists estimate its cost in medical expenses and lost income and productivity to be “between $50 billion and $100 billion annually.” (Carpenter, 61).  What is unique about fibromyalgia is that its exact cause is unknown.  Most medical experts agree that psychological, genetic, neurobiological and environmental factors lead to the development of this condition.

It is interesting to note that researchers have found that pain is as individual as the people who have it, and that subjective assessments of pain do not necessarily match the degree of actual bodily damage.  Therefore, it is not unusual for a patient to also be suffering from psychiatric issues such as depression and anxiety.  Patients with fibromyalgia often live their lives with “emotional distress, lost productivity or inability to work, and high medical costs.” (Kerns, 345).    As per chapter two, page 30 of our textbook, “Emotions can affect physiological responses such as blood pressure, heart rate, respiration and threshold of pain and tolerance.”  Studied have found that “Patients who are "interpersonally distressed"--about 20 to 35 percent--experience severe pain and feel they get little support from those around them”. (Carpenter, 61).  The most fortunate of chronic pain patients are the "adaptive copers,"--20 to 35 percent--who experience “significant pain but are reasonably well-adjusted and feel in control of their pain” (Carpenter, 61).  With this in mind, it is important for health care providers to treat patients with fibromyalgia in a multidimensional nature and with continuous comprehensive assessments.

One such assessment is the West Haven Multidimensional Pain Inventory, developed by Dr. Kerns.  This assessment helped initiate dialog between psychologists, physiotherapists and physicians, and initiated research on cognitive and behavioral aspects of pain.  This same research has emphasized the importance of looking at the whole “person with pain” instead of isolating the pain as just one problem that needs treatment.  Most recent advances in the treatment of fibromyalgia have helped people feel better and cope better with their pain, but they have also reduced dependency on potentially addictive pain medications and lowered the burden on the health-care system.

According to the course textbook in chapter two, page 34, the diathesis-stress model indicates that individuals inherit tendencies to express certain traits or behaviors, which may then be activated under conditions of stress.  Research has shown evidence that environmental factors and certain genes increase the risk of developing fibromyalgia.  These same genes are also associated with other psychosomatic syndromes and major depressive disorder.  According to the NIH, people with depression have “higher than normal levels of proteins called cytokines” (Depression and Chronic Pain, 1) which results in abnormalities in pain processing.  In addition, some research suggests that these brain abnormalities may be the “result of childhood stress, or prolonged or severe stress”. (Schweinhardt, 415).  While the cause of fibromyalgia is officially unknown, there is little doubt that the diathesis is stress.

Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that regulates sleep patterns, mood, concentration and pain.  The treatment of fibromyalgia with SSRIs has been relatively unsuccessful, as the results have been inconsistent.  SNRIs have appeared to work better in more patients.  However, the NIH suggests that people living with chronic pain may be able to manage their symptoms through lifestyle changes. Such changes could include “regular aerobic exercise, talk therapy, quitting smoking, and eating healthier” (Depression and Chronic Pain, 2).

Whichever methods a patient and their physician decide to use, it is important for the patient to remember fibromyalgia is a multidimensional condition, and not everyone responds to treatments in the same way.  Medications can take several weeks to work, may need to have combined with cognitive behavioral therapy or may need to be changed or adjusted to minimize side effects and improve the quality of the patients’ life in the best possible way.

Works Cited

American Psychological Association (2006). Pain, Pain, Go Away.

Carpenter, S.  (2002).  Hope on the Horizon.  Page 61

Kerns, R.D., Turk, D.C., & Rudy, T.E. (1985). The West Haven-Yale Multidimensional Pain Inventory (WHYMPI).

NIMH (2010).  Depression and Chronic Pain.  Pages 1-2.

Schweinhardt P, Sauro KM, Bushnell MC. (October 2008). "Fibromyalgia: a disorder of the brain?”. Neuroscientist.
Pages 415-21.

September Newsletter

It's hard to believe, but we've just completed the fourth week of school year 2013-14!  The students are hard at work, learning new skills in flag football, volleyball and rock climbing.  The students have also been using their new personal iPods in the gymnasium, taking photos, videos, and screenshots of their fitness blasts and skill progression.  Here is the September issue of Get FIT with FITZ.

Hope you all have a healthy and happy weekend!

<3 paz. amor. felicidad. siempre 

My Shanghai favorites...

I don't think I was ever consciously aware of this before, but after thinking of things that I like about Shanghai, I now realize most of what I like about this city centers around food. 

I never really realized how much food affects my mood (i.e. when I'm craving Reese's pieces peanut butter cups and they are nearly impossible to find) and how food provides comfort on days when homesickness sets in.

Drumroll please....

Organic Kitchen

Sprout restaurant

Dong Bei restaurant in French concession


Pink Korean restaurant off West Nanjing Lu

Jiaozi and veggie crepe from street vendors

Restaurant next to O'malleys (the one with a lot of bamboo decorations)

Hot Pot restaurant in Carrefour mall

The networking opportunities

A ton of foreigners living in a foreign land looking to make opportunities and share experiences.

Cherry and almond blossom trees in the spring

The pool at tomorrow square marriot

Cervantes spanish library

Latinas en Shanghai forum

Fast, cheap and easy to use metro system



Bar Rouge

Soul Dancing studio

Zumba Shanghai

Chinese work ethic and resilience!!

Stay happy and healthy y'all!

<3 paz. amor. felicidad. siempre

Team Planning, inspired by my studies with TCNJ

We're making progress in our journey of collaboration!  YAY!

Recently, on the MS PE team, we all wrote personal items of interest/on our to-do list on post-it notes, organized them by priority and then devised action steps to accomplish pressing concerns and develop a long term team vision in a more cohesive manner.

Overall, the visual display of notes really opened up our dialog, and helped us form a clear picture of a timeline to work with.  Likewise, everyone's opinion was expressed in a safe manner.  Writing, instead of talking, allowed each member equal opportunity to share their feelings and no one's thoughts were interrupted.  In my moment of overflowing pride, I took this picture of our collaboration!

If you're hitting a roadblock in communication on your teams, I suggest you try this method to stay organized and help keep momentum moving forward.