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an eye in the storm
Caring, Self-Care

Becoming the Eye of the Storm

Between the pandemic, wildfires, hurricanes, political tension, and everyday stressors of our lives, it seems like we are in a chaotic whirlwind called 2020. These turbulent times can make us feel uncomfortable, uncertain, angry, fearful, disappointed, or any combination of the mentioned emotions along with a slew of others. That is external chaos and it’s is out of our control.  

We can only control ourselves and how we react and give meaning to the chaos. Let’s look at these times as a hurricane and, in the following paragraphs, gain a sense of how we can be the eye of the storm (a calming force) for ourselves and others until brighter days come.

Fighting Fire with Fire?

Our raw emotions can seem like a fire boiling our blood or drawing us to tears. Whatever our experience, our emotions are powerful. These emotions can make us feel like chaos not only exists outside of us but is one with our being. Imagine a time where a situation arose that was hectic or negative and our emotions thrust us into a frantic internal state. How did that impact the situation? Did it change the circumstances or make anything better?

We all instinctively know the answers to those questions. In turbulent times, fighting fire with fire doesn’t work – it just consumes us. Our emotions are meant to be felt and used a GPS. The problem comes when we start to give subjective meaning to emotions we experience, turning them into a feeling which changes our state or becomes the lens through which we see everything.

During these times, it’s important we find ways to feel deeply and release our emotions in constructive ways. We must catch ourselves as we give meaning to what our emotions signify. Why? Because that meaning we give them determines what feelings linger, it determines our state, and can alter our attitude.

Attitude is Key 

Attitude is defined as ”a feeling or opinion about something or someone, or a way of behaving that is caused by this.” Note that attitude can be a “feeling” which is our mental opinion or meaning we give an emotion that comes up. With that in mind, our attitudes have the power to shape how we perceive reality, how we see people, and even how we show up. To be the eye of the storm, it’s vital that we keep a positive mental attitude. According to Positive Psychology the characteristics of a positive mental attitude we must cultivate are:

  • Optimism: Being hopeful and confident about the future even when things seem bleak
  • Acceptance: acknowledging that things don’t always turn out how we want them to, but we can learn from everything.
  • Resilience: bouncing back from adversity, disappointment, and failure.
  • Gratitude: actively, continuously appreciating the good things in our lives
  • Consciousness/Mindfulness: dedicating the mind to conscious awareness and enhancing the ability to focus.
  • Integrity: the trait of being honorable, righteous, and straightforward, instead of deceitful and self-serving

Stay Grounded

The third and final element we get to master as we become a calming force in chaotic times is staying grounded. This simply means we find a way to free our mind of thoughts and be still. This can be done through mediation, visualization, and other breathing practices. There are a plethora of ways to do these practices and the key is finding a practice that fits us personally.

3 elements to becoming the eye of the storm

In a Nutshell

Turbulent times are bound to happen at some point in our lives. Right now, it seems as though the whole world is experiencing subtle and not-so-subtle chaos. In these times, the only thing we can control is ourselves. Becoming the eye of the storm helps us bring a peacefulness to our inner state and allows us to show up as a calming force for others. We become that force by remembering the following:

  1. Don’t fight fire with fire: We get to feel our emotions as they come up and remember the moment we give a mental meaning to them or lament over them, we feel it internally.
  2. Attitude is key: It’s important we cultivate and keep a positive mental attitude if we want to remain calm in turbulent times.
  3. Stay grounded: When we stay grounded through meditation, breathwork, or visualizations we keep a peaceful inner state.

By Mona Nyree Stephens, contributing author

We invite you to discover inspiring and effective ways to care for yourself and to serve others.  Now more than ever, caring is what we all need most. Caring for our self.  Caring for others around us.  Life now demands caring, resilience and compassion like never before.  So, become a Custodian of the Caring Movement and help create the world we need right now, the world we want for our future generations.

UCA resources available to help include the Turbulent Times Resources Center,  radio show, publications and online store offering members huge discounts and always free shipping.

a hurricane and comfort from the storm
Caring, Self-Care

Comfort from the Storm

In these turbulent times, you’ve probably observed that just about every news story is overwhelmingly about things we can’t influence or control, and ultimately this leaves us feeling unable to help, or make a change. It’s easy to get hooked on this headline distress – there’s even a new name for the excessive amount of screen time devoted to the absorption of dystopian news: “Doom-Scrolling” or “Doom-Surfing.” Where’s the comfort needed from the storm?

If you find yourself continuing to scroll or surf through bad news, even though that news is saddening, disheartening, or depressing, you need to stop or step back – you need to re-balance with something comforting. That’s because simply hearing bad news can feel like an attack on the comfortable worlds we have built around us. Consuming too much makes us feel bombarded, increases our stress levels, and leads to rising feelings of anxiety.

In fact, that sense of unease is the origin of the word “dis-ease.” So it’s no wonder that feeling low, helpless and stressed are common side effects of the perpetual news cycle we’re all living in.

If you’re anxious, sad or overwhelmed, it’s time to make a change and trade the news for some soothes. To do so, it helps to have a collection of comforting — and healthy — tools you can turn to.

Self-Care vs. Self-Comfort

Much has been said and written about self-care, because it’s so important.  But we don’t hear as much about its fraternal twin . . . self-comfort – the ability to truly soothe your mind and body. And here’s some good news you can use: self-comfort doesn’t require more money or more time – just healthy strategies.

For example, we store anxiety in our body, so the simple act of standing up and doing a full-body stretch is an easy way to comfort yourself anytime.

Speaking compassionately to yourself with consideration and care – by extending the same kindness to your inner-self as you would to a good friend is another form of effective self-comfort.

See if you can introduce more compassion into your internal dialogue in response to unkind self-talk.

Offer yourself encouragement and support when you can. Speak to yourself gently, as you would to a loved one, with phrases such as: “You’re doing the best that you can,” “You’re allowed to make mistakes,” You’re allowed to feel disappointed, and that’s okay,” “Your best is good enough,” “Your feelings are real, and really important.” The key to self-comfort is making sure that you really believe the caring things that you say to yourself.

If you’re not quite yet in a place where you believe that you’re allowed to make mistakes, at the very least, you can compassionately acknowledge your reality at the moment with constructively comforting self-talk like this instead: “You find it really painful when you make a mistake – it’s understandable.”

The opposite approach of self-talk works too, when we reach out to people we trust to support us. We’re all wired to connect with others and to comfort each other emotionally and physically, so don’t be shy about seeking that connection.

Music Has Charms

One of the most mis-quoted phrases is: “Music calms the savage beast.” The phrase actually comes to us from a poem written by William Congreve in 1697: “Music has charms to sooth a savage breast, to soften rocks, or bend a knotted oak.”  As you can see, no “beast” involved, but rather the “breast,” which in 1697 meant the heart, or emotions.

More than 400 years later, it’s still true. The benefits of listening to calming music – pairing soothing tunes with deep breathing can even lower your blood pressure. So give the Netflix binging a break and instead create your own playlist of comforting songs that help you to slow down or connect with positive memories and experiences.

Self-Comfort to soothe your mind and body

Unicorns & Cotton Candy

When considering self-comfort, it’s important to remember that the goal isn’t to fix your feelings right away.  So, don’t find fault in yourself if you aren’t seeing unicorns and cotton candy skies within the first 10 minutes.  The important thing is that you’re building a self-comfort toolbox of healthy strategies to turn to any time you need it.  Sometimes the most comforting thing is to just simply say you’re having a really crappy day.

Every feeling has a purpose, because feelings send important messages that tell us something isn’t quite right, and it’s time to re-balance.  With healthy habits to choose from, you can reach for some self-comfort when you’re ready to feel better.

Now isn’t that a comforting thought?

By Mark Smith, contributing author

We invite you to discover inspiring and effective ways to care for yourself and to serve others.  Now more than ever, caring is what we all need most. Caring for our self.  Caring for others around us.  Life now demands caring, resilience and compassion like never before.  So, become a Custodian of the Caring Movement and help create the world we need right now, the world we want for our future generations.

UCA resources available to help include the Turbulent Times Resources Center,  radio show, publications and online store offering members huge discounts and always free shipping.

ready, set, stop!
Self-Care

Ready… Set… Stop?

ready, set, stop!

Most of us have grown up being taught that the proper formula is “Ready, Set, GO!”  But in almost every case, we actually need to “GO” before we feel ready.

In fact, starting before feeling ready is often cited as one of the chief habits of successful people.  Why is that?  Aren’t we supposed to have all of our proverbial ducks in a row first? Or is that just ducking commitment?

It turns out that committing to something is far more important than being ready for something.  You probably know of people in your own life that finally quit smoking – not because they were ready to – but because they were committed to it.  Throughout history, how many soldiers were ready to take a hill, versus being committed to taking it, when it was “go” time?

The very act of starting something and committing to it forces us to focus better.  Think of those moments in your own life when you were thinking about starting a new project. You probably had less trouble with focus, and more trouble simply deciding.  Recall the things you absolutely had to get done – even if you put it off for a bit – once you committed to doing it, you got it done, right?  If you want to make meaningful progress in your life, or your job, or your own health, it’s not so much about being ready, it’s more about making the decision to commit, and the needed focus will be there.

Work Begun is Half Done

Want to lose the extra pounds from the COVID quarantine? Great! You don’t need to do a ton of research. You don’t need more information to get “ready.” Just commit to the fundamentals of eating real food and exercising more, and commit to making it happen.  If it’s important to you, you’ll take the first step and trust that you’ll figure out the rest along the way.

The Only Wrong Choice is NO Choice at All

Whether you ever spent time in a high school drama class or not, you’ve probably been reminded on more than one occasion of the old axiom: “Life Isn’t A Dress Rehearsal.”  That’s because this is your life, right now! It’s happening whether you sit quietly or whether you actively participate in it.

If you want to lose weight, or you want to quit smoking, or you want to be more kind, or change jobs, then make the choice to begin – ready or not! If you know where you are going, the universe will help you get there, or at the very least clear a path for you.  A willingness to start is the littlest thing in your life that can make the biggest difference.

Good Enough is Plenty Enough

Allow yourself to be propelled forward by the excitement of doing something challenging.  Naturally, you’ll feel unsure, unrehearsed, and unskilled.  That’s a given.  So if you use that as an excuse to do more planning and more prep work, that’s all it is – an excuse.  You have a choice, though. You can get going right now, if you want to.

Remember the expression some people will say before embarking on a new goal: “I’m as ready as I’ll ever be!”  It’s a wonderful way of admitting that who you are, what you have, and what you know in this very moment is all you really need to start. 

Take a chance, and contribute something – anything – to your partner, to your workplace, to your community. If you need more incentive, keep in mind: the people who get started are the only ones who end up finishing.

Begin today. Stand up, step up, rise up, and raise a hand.  Everything from a meaningful existence to a vibrant relationship requires a willingness to get started.  As the old saying goes: “You can’t plan for everything, or you’ll never get started in the first place.” So just get set . . . and GO . . . ready or not!

By Mark Smith, contributing author

We invite you to discover inspiring and effective ways to care for yourself and to serve others.  Now more than ever, caring is what we all need most. Caring for our self.  Caring for others around us.  Life now demands caring, resilience and compassion like never before.  So, become a Custodian of the Caring Movement and help create the world we need right now, the world we want for our future generations.

UCA resources available to help include the Turbulent Times Resources Center,  radio show, publications and online store offering members huge discounts and always free shipping.

Self-Care

How to Gain Confidence Even If We Never Had It

how to gain confidence

There is a truth weaved in the famous quote from Marcus Garvey that states “with confidence, you have won before you have started,” that many of us can relate to. Despite that resonance and countless examples of how even in failure a confident person’s confidence doesn’t diminish, the number one regret among the dying remains a wish for the courage to have lived a life true to their selves, and not the life expected of them. It takes true confidence to run towards our dreams, unapologetically, and live a life true to who we really are.

If we are to change that end of life narrative for ourselves and reap the wins Garvey talks about because even when we lose we still are whole and our self-worth isn’t tainted.  We must cultivate confidence. Here’s a simple road map for how to do that.

Confidence is a Seed

Every one of us is born with a seed of confidence. Some of us are lucky to be born in an environment that nurtures and waters the kernel inside of us regularly; giving birth to courageous and bold individuals. For those of us who didn’t grow up in environments like that, it can seem as if those traits are not present in us at all or will never be. The truth is, confidence is something that can be cultivated and grown no matter what. Knowing this fact serves as the first step in letting this plant blossom inside of us.

Growing the Confidence Seed

Many of us believe we are not this bold, self-assured person who can show up in any circumstance as such. These beliefs are exactly why we feel insecure or doubtful in our abilities. In human psychology, self-signaling refers to the truth that our actions reveal to us who we are. Those of us who lack confidence simply do not take the actions of a confident person. These actions may seem impossible at first but that is just a mental barrier. The only way to grow into a courageous person is to take the actions – we believe – courageous individuals take.

This is why practitioners of Neuro-Linguistic Programming say that modeling behaviors, thoughts, and patterns is the most important aspect of changing ourselves. To grow this seed of confidence all one must do is define the actions they associate with a confident person (this is already the belief). No matter how uncomfortable it feels, take those actions daily. Not only does this process rewire our neural pathways and stretch the limits of our comfort zone, it changes the way we see ourselves. It changes the narrative around who we are and when that changes, the stories we tell ourselves about what is possible for our lives change.

Let’s Get Confidence Going

Take these words and transform them into the action steps needed to not have that number one regret of dying humans be ours. Let’s ask ourselves the following questions:

  1. What does confidence look like to us?
  2. What do all the confident people we admire do to make us admire them?
  3. What can we model from this behavior?
  4. What actions can we take every day over the next 3 months to mimic these behaviors?

Once we answer those questions and devise that 3-month action plan, the only thing stopping us from being the powerhouse of confidence we truly are is ourselves.

by Mona Nyree Stephens, contributing author

We are all working our way through a changed world as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. We may no longer be quarantined or under stay-at-home orders, but everyone is stretched to adapt like never before.  All of us are in this together. Now more than ever, caring is what we need most. Caring for our self. Caring for others around us in our communities. Life now demands caring, resilience and compassion like never before. This is a great opportunity to create the world we want for our future generations. We invite you to join us in creating a caring movement!

Would you like to read more about UCA caring resources and products? We have other blogs on Unified Caring Association and our products, caring in our communities, and caring the UCA way!

Everybody's on the Run
Health, Self-Care

Everybody’s on the Run: The Question is “To” or “From”?

You’ve been hearing it more than ever before.  “I feel run down.” “I need a change.” “I’m tapping out.”  “I need to get away.”  “I’m on a dead run, and I’m tired.”

Probably sounds familiar.  So we’ll take it as read that everybody is running – not in the physical jogging or power-walking sense, but mentally.  It’s important to understand though, that there is a tremendous distinction between running from something and running to something.

Sometimes, people even run back and forth between the two, but you can probably guess which direction is healthier. 

Embracing Change Can Be Hard

If you’re not sure which direction you’re headed, there are some signposts that help you along the way.  Typically, if you’re running “to” or “toward” something, you’ll feel like you’re embracing a change that is intrinsically good.  If you’re unsure, ask yourself if value is being created from the activity. Perhaps the easiest way to tell if you’re running “to,” is if it feels hard.  In some ways, it is supposed to. There’s a reason it’s called “Growing Pains,” after all.

From creating a new job for yourself, to writing a song, or building a relationship, these valuable pursuits can be tough sledding – but almost always worth the effort – because they are things and causes that are important to you.

Running Away is Easy – That’s Why Everyone Does It

By contrast, running away is much easier – it’s an avoidance maneuver – but ultimately, far less satisfying.

So much of running away is based on fear and a desire to retreat to familiar (if unhappy) surroundings.  The well-worn path of least resistance is backwards. Been there, done that, got the T-Shirt. So why am I doing it again? Because the “T-Shirt” is comfortable. Trying something new on for the first time can be daring.

That’s why, if you’re running “to” something, you will probably notice that you’re actually excited about it, instead of afraid of it.  This is significant, because excitement is a sure-fire foundational proof that you’re feeding the very health and happiness that leads to living a remarkable life vs. a tedious one.  Don’t ask yourself which is harder.  Just ask which sounds more appealing: Adventure or inactivity? Being Enterprising or unimaginative?

Running backwards sends you rewinding into the crowd of already-known experiences – some of which are unhealthy – watching your life from the sidelines (again!).

“New” Can Be Uncomfortable – At First

It’s worth the short-term discomfort to explore the new.  Because it’s better to run toward the things that are important to you even if you feel the frustration of failure once in a while.  There’s very little reward if you always play it safe and never push yourself.

If you’re running “to” something, you will probably notice that you’re actually excited about it.

Take it from the Sharks

We can learn a lesson from our seafaring friends, the sharks.  Some of them must swim forward constantly in order to keep oxygen-rich water flowing over their gills. It’s a literal matter of life and death for them to always move forward to the next thing. 

If you find yourself struggling with your latest project, don’t stand still or run way from it, just make like a shark and go forward to the next thing: even if it’s just meeting up with a trusted confidant for a “socially-distanced” lunch. Failing to get that new job off the ground? Go have a good workout. Keep moving onward (and upward).

Sprints & Marathons

If something isn’t going particularly well, find something that you can get excited about, and run toward it instead.

Success is when you look up to find that you’re spending far more time on things that pull you in vs. activity that just pushes your frustration(s) away.

It can be a subtle shift moving toward the next good exciting thing, instead of away from the last thing… but you’ll find it makes a big difference… in the long run.

By Mark Smith, contributing author

We are all working our way through a changed world as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. We may no longer be quarantined or under stay-at-home orders, but everyone is stretched to adapt like never before.  All of us are in this together. Now more than ever, caring is what we need most. Caring for our self. Caring for others around us in our communities. Life now demands caring, resilience and compassion like never before. This is a great opportunity to create the world we want for our future generations. We invite you to join us in creating a caring movement!

Would you like to read more about UCA caring resources and products? We have other blogs on Unified Caring Association and our products, caring in our communities, and caring the UCA way!

Post-It Notes Collage
Self-Care

Are You Living A Busy Life or a Productive One?

bust or productive life?

There has always been a great emphasis on staying “busy” (or at least looking busy). It was once seen as a surefire way to stay employed or to gain admiration from others. But a closer examination reveals that “busy work” has little value in itself.

And value is important.  Just as “quality time” is more important than the quantity of time, busy is falling out of favor while measuring productivity is becoming more vital.

This is certainly true in most professions, but what about in your own personal life?  What do you really care about?

With only a few precious hours in each day, are we using them to catch a glimpse of what we are capable of – who we are destined to be – or are we spending them shuffling papers and alphabetizing the soup cans in the pantry?

Important questions, because important desires are calling us all the time.  The inspiration to write a book or a poem. The yearning to lose the extra weight. The urge to build something of our own versus sticking with a dissatisfying job.

Is the urgency of a busy life getting in the way of a productive one? 

A text comes in. Your tires need air. A client demands an impossible deadline. Real life. But also an excuse to delay dreams one more day for the sake of another fire drill.

How do you make the leap from busy to productive? How do we start living the life that’s important to us instead of just responding to the everyday emergencies?

Think of it this way: you’re going to spend the next decade doing something.

Will you respond to what is urgent, or will you choose to pursue what is important, instead?

Is your craving to be noticed or appreciated (busy) winning out over the ability to be present and satisfied (productive)?

Become Purposeful

Of course handling responsibilities is part of life. But how long will you delay what’s important to you just so that you can handle the Next Urgent Thing in front of you? How long will you put off what productive thing you’re capable of doing, just to maintain what you’re currently doing (staying busy)?

Will you wait 12 months? Ten years? Your entire life?

If you want to start living a productive life, then choose a clear direction for yourself right now.  It takes courage to say, “This is what is important to me and I’m going after it,” but you can do it. 

Otherwise, you’ll only be living the life that other people expect you to live.

You’ll soon find that having a clear purpose and a specific goal prevents you from being sucked into the multiple vortexes of time–consuming, unimportant busy work.

A Specific Goal

A crucial point to understand is that a specific goal is different than a desire.  Wanting to get in shape is a desire, running a marathon is a specific goal. Wanting to start your own daycare center is a desire, securing the first three paying families is a specific goal.

The secret to living an important, productive life is recognizing that it will never demand your attention right now, on its own. You have to cultivate that sense of purpose and prioritize it over the long haul.

There is a lot of talk these days about getting back to normal. Abandon that notion and think more about going forward to new. Start the slow march from busy to productive by picking one thing that you care deeply about, and get started today. 

Trade frantic for focused, and you’ll be surprised how soon perfectionism gives way to purpose. 

Become a purposeful soul, instead of a busy body, and you can celebrate success for a lifetime.

By Mark Smith, contributing author

We are all working our way through a changed world as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. We may no longer be quarantined or under stay-at-home orders, but everyone is stretched to adapt like never before.  All of us are in this together. Now more than ever, caring is what we need most. Caring for our self. Caring for others around us in our communities. Life now demands caring, resilience and compassion like never before. This is a great opportunity to create the world we want for our future generations. We invite you to join us in creating a caring movement!

Would you like to read more about UCA caring resources and products? We have other blogs on Unified Caring Association and our products, caring in our communities, and caring the UCA way!

sound mind
Health, Self-Care

In the Privacy of Your Own Mind

When people consider what it means to live a healthy lifestyle, physical aspects such as diet and exercise are usually the first to be mentioned. Though these aspects are unquestionably essential, they fail to acknowledge the role that the mind plays in our overall health. So, how do you speak to yourself in the privacy of your own mind?  We ask because it’s important to recognize that the body and mind are intricately connected and fundamental to our well-being.

Exercising Our Minds

While there exists plenty of emphasis to workout the body, there seems to be a lack of awareness around working out the mind. In the same way that we get to exercise and move our bodies to become stronger, we also get to exercise our minds in order to have supportive thoughts that lift us up rather than drag us down.

For too many, it’s become second nature to unknowingly perpetuate a self-destructive inner dialogue. Meaning that it’s ‘normal’ for people to talk down on themselves, call themselves names, or be hyper-critical of their own interactions and self-image. Just think of how often we look in the mirror and immediately begin scanning for flaws without a single kind thought to follow.

It’s rightfully said that the relationship we have with ourselves is the most significant relationship we will ever have in this lifetime. So why then do we have a tendency to feed habitual thought patterns that are simply not helpful or caring?

The Quality of Our Private Thoughts

In order for us to be serious about supporting our health, we have to begin getting serious about examining the quality of our thoughts. This is because the thoughts that pass through the mind, pass through the body in the form of biological responses. Clinical research continues to show us how thoughts directly affect our immune systems, chemical messengers, hormones, blood pressure, weight, and numerous relating functions. 

Negative, positive, and neutral thoughts each trigger specific biochemical reactions in the body.

For example, stressed or worrisome thoughts trigger a surge in cortisol and adrenaline. These are stress hormones that essentially prepare the body for danger. This is helpful when one is in actual danger, yet detrimental if the danger is only living within the confines of the mind.

Of course it’s natural to have a combination of different types of thoughts–negative, positive, neutral– but it’s important to not linger too long on the negative spectrum if wishing to support the health of the whole body.

This all being said, thoughts and activities of the mind are not benign.

It’s Time for a Mind Check-Up

When was the last time you took a moment to check-in with the happenings of your mind? What narratives or stories are on repeat?  Is your inner voice working in your favor, or not?

Asking ourselves these questions is useful because the thoughts that we have today are literally the building blocks of our tomorrow. Our most visited thoughts become embedded in our belief systems and what we believe will either limit or expand our life’s potential.

By creating awareness around how our inner dialogue is behaving, we can better monitor and steer the direction of our thoughts.  That helps to exponentially improve the quality of our experience day to day. 

by Melissa Aparicio, contributing author

We are all working our way through a changed world as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. We may no longer be quarantined or under stay-at-home orders, but everyone is stretched to adapt like never before.  All of us are in this together. Now more than ever, caring is what we need most. Caring for our self. Caring for others around us in our communities. Life now demands caring, resilience and compassion like never before. This is a great opportunity to create the world we want for our future generations. We invite you to join us in creating a caring movement!

Would you like to read more about UCA caring resources and products? We have other blogs on Unified Caring Association and our products, caring in our communities, and caring the UCA way!

Unified Caring Association

It is Time to Water the Growing Edge

How we focus our energy on what we want to grow

As our world continues to change quickly and sometimes dramatically, it may be easy to pine over what we have lost, and what we may not get back. It is natural to miss what was once normal. However, it is time that we look to the growing edge. We can focus our energy on what we want to grow: it is time to water the growing edge.

As people continue to seek new ways to live fulfilling lives, they are coming up against challenges.

Challenges like meeting basic needs. These are challenges that UCA has the capacity to help with. Like providing food and needed supplies for children and families. In a pilot project to meet critical needs for children in foster care, UCA provided warm winter clothes, under garments, feminine care supplies, shoes, toiletries and warm accessories.  UCA also provided bicycles to middle school and high school students who would otherwise miss school due to lacking transportation options.

At UCA, we continue to seek the growing edge

We are delighted when we see organizations like One Tree Planted doing their part to restore salmon habitat. This is to grow an increase in the local salmon population to feed a suffering pod of Orca whales! UCA had to step in and do our part to support these endeavors. You can read more about that here.

We also have to water our own growing edge

That is why at UCA, we prioritize self-care for our members and provide articles like this or these. Some members want step-by-step how-to’s of self-care, while others thrive with our updates on inspiration for small acts of self-care that give a big impact. You can’t water from an empty cup, so make sure yours gets refilled regularly!

We hope to help you do your best to water your own growing edge, by staying healthy and active

We also want to know if you have any growing edges that need watering in your community. Reach out to us through access on your Membership Dashboard. We want to hear your ideas as well, and if your Share Your Caring Story about how you watered a growing edge in someone’s life or in your community, we will share it with our members on our website!

Health, Self-Care

Water: The Nourishing Art of Hydration

One of the most simple and effective things we can do to support the body is drink an abundance of water. This is a fact that most of us are well aware of yet still seem to regularly bypass or struggle to keep up with. By taking command of our hydration we are actively setting our body up for sustained longevity. It’s helpful to first understand the foundational role water plays in our well-being in order to be inspired to hydrate more consistently. This is the nourishing art of hydration.

Water: The Nourishing Art of Hydration

The first thing to note is that you are mostly made of water. Did you know that the human body is made up of about 70% water? Our blood is 90% water, while each major organ has its own unique water composition. For example the brain is about 73% water, the lungs 83%, muscles and kidneys 79%, and even our bones are 31% water.

Every cell, tissue, and organ in the body is dependent on the presence of water. One can even consider water to be the body’s primary building material. From supporting a healthy digestive system to lubricating our joints for fluid mobility, water plays a major role in virtually all bodily functions. A number of common ailments are a direct result of mild to severe water dehydration. They vary from headaches, dry skin, poor sleep, dizziness, rapid heartbeat, among other symptoms that can be prevented by regularly welcoming more water into the system.

What does water do for you (Source: USGS)

We also age ourselves more rapidly when we are not properly hydrated – inviting fine lines, wrinkles, and loss of skin elasticity. Plump skin is hydrated skin from the inside out.

It’s also important to note that basic functions such as breathing, digesting, and sweating deplete us of water thus requires consistent replenishing. It’s estimated that we lose about one pound of water while we sleep from breathing alone, hence the importance of hydrating first thing upon waking up.

The amount of water recommended for daily consumption varies from person to person. There are multiple factors that can help determine this, such as the climate you live in, how physically active you are, if any illnesses are present, body size, amongst others. With time and practice, you will figure out the amount of water that feels nourishing to you.

5 healthy habits for hydration

Beyond drinking plenty of clean water, we can also receive hydration from water rich foods such as fruits and vegetables. Watermelon, tomatoes, cucumber, zucchini, spinach, and lettuces are a few to name. Not only are you offering your body more water by eating these kinds of foods, but you’re also receiving new minerals and electrolytes which we regularly flush out.

Another thing to note is that it’s common for people to confuse thirst for hunger. Next time you decide you’re hungry, ask yourself, “when was the last time I drank water?” So often our body is simply asking for hydration and we deliver it with something else.

Lastly, aim to drink the best quality of water available to you. Quality water should taste sweet, alive, and mineral rich. As we sink into summer, let us practice the nourishing art of hydration.

By Melissa Aparicio, contributing author

We are all working our way through a changed world as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. We may no longer be quarantined or under stay-at-home orders, but everyone is stretched to adapt like never before.  All of us are in this together. Now more than ever, caring is what we need most. Caring for our self. Caring for others around us in our communities. Life now demands caring, resilience and compassion like never before. This is a great opportunity to create the world we want for our future generations. We invite you to join us in creating a caring movement!

Would you like to read more about UCA caring resources and products? We have other blogs on Unified Caring Association and our products, caring in our communities, and caring the UCA way!

Orca whale breaching
Animals, C.A.R.E., Caring Action, Nature, Unified Caring Association

A Story About Whales, Fish and Trees

The Southern Resident Orcas, often referred to as killer whales, are an icon of the Pacific Northwest. Swimming the waters off the coast of North America from California to British Columbia, the black and white whales are one of the most recognizable and beloved marine animals in the world. Saving these Orcas turns out to be a story about whales, fish and trees.

Unified Caring Association recently co-sponsored a new project with One Tree Planted to save animals and environment through reforestation.

Sadly, there are only 75 Southern Resident Orcas remaining – which makes them an endangered species, and they are starving.

Thankfully, new conservation efforts involving One Tree Planted and Promise the Pod are drawing the connection between restoring the forests of the Pacific Northwest and saving the Orcas. By repairing critical watersheds and planting lots of trees, conservationists hope to bring back the Orcas from the brink of extinction.

But what connects trees and whales? It all comes down to what they eat!

Orca whale breaching

Bring Back the Chinook Salmon!

One of the biggest threats to the Orca is an ever-decreasing supply of fatty, healthy, plentiful salmon.

For thousands of years, the Southern Resident Orca population has relied primarily on Chinook salmon as a staple of their diet, amounting to some 80% of their caloric intake.

As the Orca migrate North and South along the Pacific coast they feed on the nutrient dense salmon coming downstream from the numerous rivers and streams that flow into the Pacific – and they need a lot of it!

Scientists estimate that it takes over 700 Chinook salmon to feed the entire current Southern Resident Orca population every single day.

However, once an abundant source of food, the Chinook salmon stocks have collapsed over the last 150 years. Today, just a little more than half of the Northwest Chinook salmon populations remain.

Human interference such as through fish hatcheries, dams, dykes and levees, logging, over-fishing, pollution, and highway construction are all impeding the salmon’s ability to spawn and survive – not to mention the impact climate change is having on rising water temperatures.

With all of these changes to their habitat, the number of Chinook salmon traveling from the Pacific Ocean upstream to their spawning grounds – and eventually returning to the ocean where the Orca feed upon them – has been steadily diminishing for decades.

But there is a way to improve this… by planting trees!

The Benefit of Trees Is Undeniable

Tree planting and restoring riparian zones (the areas where land meets a river or stream) across the Pacific Northwest is a simple and effective solution for protecting salmon stocks and ensuring the Orca can rely on Chinook salmon for years to come.

Planting trees has a number of knock-on effects that benefit the salmon and, ultimately, the Orca. The first of which is improved water quality.

The rivers and streams the salmon populate are filled with pollution. As the salmon feed and grow in these waters they store pollutants in their tissue until they return to the ocean where they are fed upon by Orca. Those contaminants are then passed on to the whales making them more vulnerable to disease and can even cause difficulties reproducing. Sadly, Orcas are one of the most polluted marine mammals in the world.

Trees planted along the banks of the river can help filter out toxins as water passes through the soil and into the rivers where the salmon spawn. This not only improves salmon survivability, but also improves the quality and quantity of food available to the Orca.

In the longer-term, the benefits of tree planting for salmon and Orca is much more apparent. As the trees grow and their roots spread, the banks of the rivers solidify, protecting against erosion and keeping the river water clear of excessive sediment, which is necessary for the salmon to spawn.

Trees also help provide important nutrients for the young salmon as they grow. Leaves, needles, and woody debris falling into the river create habitat for insects the salmon eat, helping them fatten up for the long journey downstream to the Pacific Ocean.

As the trees mature and the forest canopy thickens it provides critical shade over salmon spawning grounds. Salmon eggs need to be kept cool, and without adequate shade from vegetation on the banks of the river water temperatures will rise, reducing the chances the eggs have to develop and hatch.

Even dying and fallen trees on the banks of the river benefit salmon. Branches and trees that fall into the water help to slow down the flow, making it easier for the salmon to lay their eggs without them getting immediately washed away. Planting trees today means the debris created in the future ensures the salmon have plenty of spots to lay their eggs.

The trophic cascade brought on by planting trees is undeniable. Balancing an ecosystem is a major part of ensuring that critical species survive – and planting trees is a great place to start!

Trees Can’t Do It All On Their Own

We know that saving a species from extinction is much more complex than just planting trees. The Orca are affected by many other factors like ship traffic and ocean pollution, so there is no doubt that other steps must be taken to ensure their survival.

That being said, planting trees to restore critical salmon habitat will go a long way to making sure the Orca have enough healthy, toxin free food to eat – and it’s an action that can be taken today.

We encourage our readers to join UCA and One Tree Planted to take caring action by donating to the Orca Project today.

This article and photos reprinted from OneTreePlanted.org with permission.