Over the rainbow and a volcano- visiting Hawaii in Tuesday Travels

Israel kamakawiwo’ole was not from Kansas, far from it. He was a native and life-long resident of Hawaii. (I have been to both places ;they could not be more different.)

israel kamakawiwo’ole somewhere over the rainbow

The first time I listened to this song, I had never heard of the artist. I was captivated by his melodious voice, as well as this unique version of an iconic song.

In case you’re not old enough to remember (I’m not either), the song Over the Rainbow was written for the movie The Wizard of Oz in 1939. As Dorothy from Kansas who became stranded in Oz, the late actress Judy Garland sang the song which won an Academy Award and is “one of the greatest movie songs of all times.”

(This post includes affiliate links, from which a purchase might pay a commission to this blog, but cost you nothing extra. thank you. )

IZ- THE SINGER

Unlike Dorothy, Israel kamakawiwo’ole was not from Kansas, far from it. He was a native and life-long resident of Hawaii. (I have been to both places ;they could not be more different.)

He was a popular and beloved citizen and celebrity there and his music represented and extolled the island geography and culture.

Unfortunately, he developed morbid obesity. At a reported height of 6’2” (1.88 m) and weighing 757 pounds (343 kilos), his body mass index (BMI) was 97. (BMI over 30 is defined as obese). I have discussed BMI and obesity  in a previous post  What is obesity and why does it matter?

As a result, his health suffered from lung and heart problems which eventually caused his untimely death at only 38 years old. All of Hawaii mourned his passing.

Fortunately, he left to Hawaii and the world a wealth of music to enjoy.

HAWAII- THE BIG ISLAND 

Several years ago my husband accompanied me to Hawaii to attend a medical conference. (If you have to sit and listen to medical lectures all day, that is definitely the place to do it)

Hawaii, the 50th state added to the United States of America,  is made up of 6 major islands.  The conference was on the Big Island, which is also called Hawaii. One of the largest and most active volcanoes in the world is there at Hawaii Volcanoes National Park  ,  so it is a must see . And we did.

couple , flowers, waterfall
leis (flowers) around our neck upon arrival

Exploring the volcano

boats, dock, water
On an island you’re never far from water and boats
beach, palm trees, hammock
Hawaii is often called a paradise for good reason

exploring the HEART of health

I appreciate all of you who follow this blog; there are numerous other blogs to choose from so I am honored you chose to spend some time here. A special welcome to all my new followers from this past month.

I would love for you to start following Watercress Words : use this form to get an email notification of new posts . Please find and follow me on Facebook, Pinterest and LinkedIn. Thanks so much.

                              Dr. Aletha 

"sharing the HEART of health" written over a globe with two crossed bandaids

Here are some affiliate links you may find helpful. Thanks for considering and using, which helps me fund this blog’s mission-to share the HEART of health.

Take a food journey around the world

Remembering the Oklahoma City bombing- Tuesday Travels

 

April 19  is the anniversary of the 1995 bombing  of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building, in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, which remains the deadliest domestic “homegrown” terrorist incident in the United States.

I lived there in the 1970s while in medical school and residency at the University of Oklahoma Medical Center and visit frequently. These are my memories of that day.

“I will never forget the Oklahoma City bombing”

On April 19, 1995 I was seeing patients in my family practice office  in Tulsa Oklahoma when my medical assistant  told me a bomb had exploded in Oklahoma City, 90 miles away. We didn’t have computers, smartphones or internet so I turned on a radio and heard news reports that shocked and saddened me.

A massive bomb had exploded at the Federal building in downtown Oklahoma City , something I thought only happened overseas. Who would bomb a building in Oklahoma?  we all asked ourselves. Several employees heard from friends or relatives who lived in or near OKC, as we call it; some said they felt their homes shake several miles away from the blast site.

Oklahoma mural
A mural representing Oklahoma culture decorates downtown Oklahoma City today

 

 

 

 

As I drove home from work that afternoon I encountered a traffic jam on a usually easy drive; I assumed a car wreck was  tying up traffic. Instead,  cars of people  trying to get into the local Red Cross blood donation facility created the backup; when I finally drove past I saw a long line of people waiting to enter.

I picked up my 10 year old son from school and realized the teachers had not told the students . I explained to him what had happened , as well as you can explain something so horrible to a child.

He looked at me and said, ” Mom, the 5th graders went to Oklahoma City today.” I remembered seeing the charter bus parked at the school that morning for the annual field trip to the science museum in OKC. Since I knew the museum was not downtown, I assured him the children from his school were safe.

Bricktown in Oklahoma City
Bricktown area of OKC with Cox Convention Center and Devon Energy Center tower behind

 

Chesapeake Arena
Chesapeake Arena, home of our popular Thunder Basketball team

 

 

They next morning as usual I turned on the television to watch the morning news while I dressed for work. I can’t believe now that I wondered if there would be any news of the bombing on national television; it had dominated our local news the evening before.

I turned to the Today show and found that it was broadcasting from OKC, as were all the major networks ,and devoted the entire broadcast to the bombing. I think that was my first inkling what a momentous event it was.

They interviewed a doctor from St Anthony Hospital, just down the street from the Murrah Building- he was one of my medical school professors, the first time someone I knew personally was on national television.

 

window at the museum
window from the museum overlooking outdoor memorial

Memorial pool and chairs
Field of Empty Chairs beside the Reflecting Pool – Each gold chair represents a deceased victim.

 

 

In the following days, weeks and months we learned all the details about the bombing- the perpetrators, the victims, the rescuers, the survivors.

168 Oklahomans lost their lives there that day, including 19 children.

 

My husband and I visited the site after the wreckage was imploded, when the site was fenced off.  The fence became a makeshift memorial, as people left mementos of all kinds- dolls, stuffed animals, photos, pictures, flowers, crafts, flags, shirts, letters.  We have visited again since the official memorial  and the museum were established on April 19, 2000.

 

 

 

 

2016-03-07 12.05.50 2016-03-07 12.08.17 2016-03-07 12.12.19 2016-03-07 12.11.04

 

a long section of the original fence has been left intact, as well as parts of the original federal building wall.

 

sections of damaged wall sections of damaged wall

 

 

 

Until 9/11, it was the deadliest act of terrorism on United States soil.

 

OKC memorial and federal building in the distance
The West Gate of Time. the Reflecting Pool  and looking  northwest toward the new federal building in the distance

 

 

That day in Oklahoma City showed the best  in our state and our country as people, some with no training , risked their lives to help rescue people who were injured and trapped inside. Firefighters and police came from all over the United States to help. People donated food and first aid supplies.

 

children and adults visiting a wall decorated with handprints
Schools regularly bring students to visit the memorial and museum; these are visiting the children’s area

 

colorful hand painted tiles from children
Tiles hand painted by children were sent to the city as a show of support and sympathy.

 

 

 

 

 

 

I was proud to be an Oklahoman then and now, and still grieve for the lives we lost that day.

The Survivor Tree
The Survivor Tree, an American Elm, survived the blast

 

a video remembrance:

20 years later: Remembering Oklahoma City

 

"We search for the Truth" written on a wall.
On the wall of the Journal Record Building which was also damaged by the blast; the museum now occupies part of it.

 

statue of Christ with head bowed
statue of a grieving Christ, in the courtyard of a church across the street from the memorial

 

The Oklahoma City National Memorial and Museum is privately funded. The memorial is free and open to the public. An admission is charged to tour the museum. According to the website-

 

“The Oklahoma City National Memorial Foundation is a private 501(c)(3) organization which owns and operates the Oklahoma City National Memorial & Museum. The Foundation is the caretaker of both the Outdoor Symbolic Memorial and the Memorial Museum. It does not receive any annual operating funds from the federal, state or local government. Museum admissions, store sales, the Memorial Marathon, private fundraising and earnings from an endowment allow the Memorial and Museum to be self-sustaining.”

Thank you for joining me to remember and honor those injured and killed in the Murrah Building and the heroes who rescued them.

                                               Dr.Aletha 

Dr. Bonhoeffer and a visit to Berlin- Tuesday Travels

Dietrich Bonhoeffer may have passed his life quietly in Christian service and scholarly pursuits had it not been for the rise of Nazism in Germany and the resulting  second world war.

 

I feel an instant connection whenever I meet another physician or someone related to a physician.  You will recognize it as the way you feel when you meet someone from your hometown, or high school, or previous job, after being away a long time.

People who share a common bond  with you best understand where you’re coming from, what you’ve been through, and what it’s like being you .

My patients who have physician relatives tend to be the most respectful of my knowledge, time, and privacy.  Anytime a physician’s  relative asks me a medical question in a social setting, I know it’s something important.

Many well-known people, past and present, come from physician families and I discovered one in my reading recently. About that time my son returned from a trip to Germany and posted beautiful photos online. Those two discoveries provided the idea for this blog post.

ornate building in Berlin

 

 

Dr. Bonhoeffer, psychiatrist

Dr. Karl Bonhoeffer started a medical practice in 1893 in what is now Wroclaw Poland, where he met and married his wife Paula Von Hase. He was a neurologist/psychiatrist at a time when both of those specialties were young. They had 8 children, including a set of boy/girl twins.

In 1912 they moved to Berlin where he was appointed head of psychiatry at Charite Hospital. There he taught and conducted research in brain disease; he worked with Dr. Carl Wernicke who became famous himself, having a disorder named after him- Wernicke encephalopathy, a brain disease caused by thiamine (vitamin B1) deficiency, usually due to long term alcoholism. His name is also assigned to an area of the brain which helps us understand and produce meaningful speech, Wernicke center.

Dr. Bonhoeffer had two other famous physician colleagues- Dr.Sigmund Freud and Dr. Carl Jung.

One of the Bonhoeffers’ sons became a physicist, another a linguist (before dying in military service in the war), another entered law school. But the fourth son, brother to the twin girl, chose a different path, one his family did not heartily approve of. That son, Dietrich, pursued theology, a choice that would ultimately determine his unfortunate fate.

 

Reverend Bonhoeffer, theologian and pastor

Dietrich Bonhoeffer first attended Tubingen University and finished at Humboldt University. He traveled extensively abroad, including the United States and India and returned to Germany to serve the Church as pastor and preacher. He may have passed his life quietly in Christian service and scholarly pursuits had it not been for the rise of Nazism in Germany and the resulting  second world war.

Humboldt University, Berlin ,Germany
Humboldt University, Berlin, Germany

 

Bonhoeffer believed that Germany’s political and military goals were not compatible with Christian beliefs, so he clandestinely entered the resistance movement, including working as a confidential agent of military intelligence. He helped Jews escape Germany. He also was aware of and possibly  involved in plots to assassinate Hitler.

The burned books memorial in Berlin
memorial to burned books in Berlin

 

 

 

 

Reverend Bonhoeffer, the martyr

Unfortunately, he eventually came under suspicion and was arrested. After 18 months in a prison, he was transferred to a concentration camp where he was sentenced to death.

On April 9, 1945 he was executed by hanging, and his body was cremated. He was 39 years old. His brother Klaus and two brothers-in-law were also executed by the Nazis for their involvement in the resistance. Their father, Dr. Bonhoeffer, died in Berlin in 1948.

 

Memorial to Murdered Jews in Berlin
At the Memorial to Murdered Jews of Europe in Berlin

 

Fortunately, Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s prolific writing survived and inspires us  to live the way he did. Writing in Bonhoeffer for Armchair Theologians, the authors quote the concentration camp doctor  saying about him,

“I was most deeply moved by the way this unusually lovable man prayed, so devout and so certain that God heard his prayer. In my fifty years …as a doctor, I have hardly ever seen a man die so entirely submissive to the will of God.”

BONHOEFFER for Armchair Theologians

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here are a few quotes from his many books and sermons which were published both before and after his death.

 

 

 

“God wants to lead us. Not all the ways of humans are God’s leading. For a long time we can walk our own paths. On those we are pawns of coincidence, whether they bring good luck or misfortune. Our own ways always lead in a circle back to ourselves. But when God leads our ways, they guide us to him. God’s ways guide us to God. God leads us through happiness and unhappiness always and only towards God. In this we recognize god’s way.”

The mystery of Easter.

Brandenburg Gate, Berlin Germany
Brandenburg Gate, Berlin Germany

 

 

 

 

“Do and dare what is right not swayed by the whim of the moment. Bravely take hold of the real not dallying now with what might be. Not in the flight of ideas but only in action is freedom. Make up your mind and come out into the tempest of living. God’s command is enough and your faith in him to sustain you. Then at last freedom will welcome your spirit among great rejoicing.”

Ethics

 

 

One of many murals on the east Berlin Wall
One of many murals on the east Berlin Wall

“To go one’s way under the sign of the cross is not misery and desperation, but peace and refreshment for the soul ,it is the highest joy”

The Cost of Discipleship

church in Berlin

 

 

Photos used courtesy of Ryan Oglesby 

 

Thank you for joining me to explore the HEART of health. I hope you’ve learned something. Please contact me about topics you want to read about.

Share this and other posts on social media and consider my affiliates and ads that will fund this blog and support projects to deliver the HEART of health around the world.

with my regards, Dr. Aletha WATERCRESSWORDS.COM-exploring the HEART of health

 

A tour of the U.S. Olympic Training Center, Colorado Springs, Colorado- Tuesday Travels

As we walked around the complex on a guided tour, I remembered the importance of physical activity for our physical and mental health, and made a note to remind you too. Almost no one will disagree with the recommendation to include and increase physical activity in our daily lives.

On a recent trip to  Colorado Springs my husband and I visited the United States Olympic Training Center . I hope these photos help you understand why his facility is called the “flagship” training center . Both Olympic and Paralympic athletes on Team USA train here.

You’re welcome to continue here, or you can read an updated version of this post at this link

Life Lessons from Team USA

As much as I admire the elite athletes who comprise the Olympic team, the Paralympic athletes captivate my imagination.

These are athletes who compete with, not necessarily despite, significant physical impairments; but to call them “disabled” does them an injustice. Many of them play and compete in physically demanding sports without full use of their arms and legs; some don’t even have all of their arms and legs.

As we walked around the complex on a guided tour, I remembered the importance of physical activity for our physical and mental health, and made a note to remind you too.  Almost no one will disagree with the recommendation to include and increase physical activity in our daily lives.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans call for moderate-intensive physical activity for 150 minutes or more per week, vigorous-intensity activity for at least 75 minutes per week, or an equivalent combination of the 2, and engaging in muscle strengthening activity at least twice per week.

  • Medical studies show that exercise can prevent or improve many chronic health conditions and lack of exercise contributes to many diseases.
  • Physical activity may reduce the risk of cancers of the breast, colon, uterus, prostate and pancreas.
  • Regular exercise may help prevent diabetes and heart disease.
  • Exercise can relieve joint and back pain due to arthritis.
  • Depression is treated with physical activity successfully

As we walked through the  USA Shooting area I picked up a flyer titled “Winning Attitudes”. I liked what it said so I am using some of the ideas to illustrate my photos. I hope they will encourage you to develop a “winning attitude” in all areas of your life.

Enjoy this brief tour through the Olympic Complex and if you go to Colorado Springs, be sure and visit; the cost is reasonable and worth the price.

Become excited, confident, and enthusiastic about your goals.

statue of athletes at entrance to facility
statue of athletes at entrance to facility

Winners have the ability to look inside themselves and find that special dream.

“Olympic Strength” statue- four athletes supporting the world with a figure skater beside them

Winners focus on solutions, not problems.

wheelchairs
wheelchairs adapted for playing

Winners have positive attitudes in all elements of their lives. The more you think about, talk about, and write about a thing happening, the greater the certainty of that thing happening.

vehicle
on display in the Hall of Fame

Goals should identify minimum performance levels. They should never limit your performance.

swimming pool
a real “olympic sized” swimming pool

Real winners are champions in life, not just in sports.

two champion athletes
Runner Tyson Gay and gymnast Mary Lou Retton in the Hall of Fame

Missing a goal means setting another goal to strive for.

gym
multi use gymnasium

A champion constantly learns and improves.

practice
words to train by and live by

Champions are willing to risk a little in the short run to gain an advantage in the long run

2 athletes
2 athletes hard at work

Winners have the ability to look inside themselves and find that special dream. 

be a champion.
I may not be a competitive athlete, but I will stay as active as possible as long as possible.

Excellence is achieved only through constant pursuit. 

housing.
The athletes live, eat, and sleep here.

Are YOU a CHAMPION? 

I would love for you to start following Watercress Words : use this form to get an email notification of new posts . Please find and follow me on Facebook, Pinterest and LinkedIn. Thanks so much.

                              Dr. Aletha 

sharing grief, love and memories at the beach in Cancun, Mexico- Tuesday Travels

George and Emma are people who love God and express that love by caring for each other, their family and everyone else they meet. That week we were the fortunate recipients of that love too.

My husband and I had travelled to Mexico on mission trips but never for a vacation . Our friends, who I will call George and Emma, own a time share in Cancun and graciously invited us to share it with them on their annual visit. They purchased it many years ago, and celebrated their wedding anniversary there annually. We appreciated their generosity and began planning the trip.

A few weeks later Raymond received an email from George with detailed instructions on how to book a flight to Cancun, how to get a reliable taxi to the condo and some other information. Since the trip was still 9 months away we were surprised, but knowing George is a planner and organizer, thought nothing else about it.

Not more than a couple of weeks later, we received  chilling and scary news. George was ill; we didn’t immediately learn details, but apparently it was something bad. And indeed it was. We soon learned that he was diagnosed with an advanced cancer, that chemo could slow, but not cure. We were heartbroken for our friends.

We did not consider options for the trip; obviously neither they nor we would go.  However, George the planner had other ideas. We went to visit them and after we all sat down and were comfortable George looked at Raymond and said, “I won’t be able to go to Cancun, but I want Emma to go, and I want you and Aletha to go with her.” They showed us a photo of the condo, located in a beautiful beachfront resort. It looked lush and luxurious, a stark contrast to the situation they were facing.

We didn’t know what to say; what do you say to a request like that? We didn’t want to upset him, so we just said yes, both of us silently wondering if it was the right thing to do.

George was right, he was not able to go to Cancun; he died a few weeks after our visit. We attended a memorial service for him; it was not a traditional funeral but a celebration of his life. And soon after, Emma contacted us and confirmed her intention to go on the trip and wanting us to go with her.

So we did and had a wonderful time. Emma was a gracious hostess, making sure we were comfortable, taking us to nice restaurants, ordering food in on a rainy evening. Having been there many times, she did not want to sightsee with us, but sent us out to visit the interesting local sites that she knew we would enjoy.

the Maya pyramid at Chichen Itza
the Maya pyramid at Chichen Itza

Over meals she charmed us with stories of her life with George, their children and grandchildren, pastoring a church, and fostering more than 30 children. And she listened with understanding and unconditional acceptance as we shared some of the dark griefs that we have walked through, some of which we have shared with no one outside our family.

IMG_2231
close up of the Chichen Itza pyramid

George and Emma are people who love God and express that love by caring for each other, their family and everyone else they meet.  That week we were the fortunate recipients of that love too. In some ways, it felt like George was there with us after all.

Cathedral of San Gervacio in Valladolid
Cathedral of San Gervacio in Valladolid
IMG_2196
Taking a tour of a local “resort”, we almost were convinced we should buy a time share there. The sales people were persistent but we prevailed, and left with our money intact.
IMG_2217
in a cenote, an underground lake
in a cenote, an underground lake
Mayan crafts
Mayan crafts
2014-10-23 11.23.13
watching our waiter preparing a flaming strawberry dessert
watching our waiter preparing a flaming strawberry dessert
2014-10-24 19.38.13
We all enjoyed this our last evening there. Perfect finish to an enjoyable trip .

While in Mexico, I used Frommer’s travel guide for information about the Cancun area and found it helpful and easy to use (this is an affiliate link that can help support this blog when used to purchase; thank you)

sharing the HEART of friendship

I appreciate all of you who follow this blog; there are numerous other blogs to choose from so I am honored you chose to spend some time here. A special welcome to all my new followers from this past month.

I would love for you to start following Watercress Words : use this form to get an email notification of new posts . Please find and follow me on Facebook, Pinterest and LinkedIn. Thanks so much.

                              Dr. Aletha 

Tuesday Travels- VietNam, week 2

Embroidered table clothes, silk paintings, marble sculptures and lacquerware are some of the handiwork we have brought home from VietNam, much of it as gifts for our family and friends who supported us in our mission trips. Visiting the shops where the items are made and sold was always a highlight of each trip.

Vietnam 2004 035

Vietnam 2004 036

Vietnam 2004 030

Vietnam 2004 032

Vietnam 2004 029

Vietnam 2004 033

Vietnam 2004 026 Vietnam 2004 028Vietnam 2004 028

daily reminders of our visits
daily reminders of our visits

Tuesday Travels- VietNam, week 1

April 30, 2015 marks the 40th anniversary of the official end of United States military involvement in VietNam. On that day in 1975, the American Embassy in Saigon was evacuated as the North Vietnamese army entered the city, thereby establishing what they now observe as “Reunification”.

via The Vietnam Center and Archive: Exhibits – The Fall of Saigon.

My husband and I have travelled to VietNam to serve on humanitarian aid teams with Vets with a Mission (VWAM).

a husband and wife clown team; Vietnamese had never seen clowns
a husband and wife clown team; Vietnamese had never seen clowns

DSC00105 DSC00114 DSC00124 DSC00144 DSC00154 DSC00040 DSC00044 In 1988 VWAM was founded by a small group of VietNam veterans who wanted to make a positive impact on the country in which they had served. Like my husband, many other veterans have served on their teams, as well as their spouses, children and other interested persons.

National Geographic Traveller:Vietnam

Every Tuesday in April I will show you the country of VietNam as it has been since the end of that conflict. Please share your thoughts and feelings in the comments.