Pre-tourist season, a great time to mosey around the Black Hills without very much traffic. All images taken Monday, April 16, 2018 in the early afternoon. Actually, tourist are coming into the area–Spoke to a few Czechoslovakian tourist near Mt.Rushmore and a few Canadians down by Sylvan Lake.
Winter has only just begun and already I’ve heard about several incidents of injuries from falls, at least one of them serious. Of course, anyone can fall at any time of the year, but it seems like winter is a particularly dangerous time when ice and snow accumulate all around us. Some falls result from what we call “black ice”. This is that devilish condition when a thin layer of ice on asphalt is invisible to the eye. When encountered it can cause supports like feet, bicycle tires or even autos to slide perilously. Another insidious form of hidden ice occurs frequently in my area where daytime sunshine causes standing snow to melt and then refreeze when the sun goes down and temperatures fall. This condition can be particularly precarious when another layer of snow falls on top obscuring the ice layer below so you don’t know where it is until you step on it.
Although older adults seem more prone to falls, and many studies show that the consequences of falling for older adults can be particularly dire, no one is immune from falls. There are many articles featuring suggestions for preventing falls. All you have to do is Google “Fall Prevention” and you will find examples. But I would like to focus on the causes that I see most frequently and that I think can be at least partially addressed with training. First and foremost is failure to pay attention. Our modern lifestyle seems to encourage hurrying. We worry about slowing down when there are people behind us. Or making that car wait for more than a few seconds while we cross a street. Something distracts us and we forget to pay attention to our surroundings. Have you ever been looking down at your feet (or your cell phone) and suddenly been hit in the head with a tree branch? Admittedly I’m guilty of that one. So the first piece of advice I would give is slow down. Look around you in all directions. Be aware of your surroundings. Make sure your next step is on firm ground. Sometimes I will take my foot and just slide it back and forth in front of me to make sure my next step is not on ice. That car that’s waiting for you to pass is most likely not going to run you over. And no matter where you’re going, the extra few minutes will not make any difference in the long run. Unless they save you from injury. Then, in fact, the extra few minutes might make a huge difference!
The second most frequent cause of falls I’ve observed or heard about is not taking proper precautions. For example, not wearing appropriate shoes. You think “I’m only going out for a few minutes. I can make it in my high heels.” Perhaps that’s a little extreme, but you get the picture. You get away with it once and think it won’t be a problem the next time. And maybe it’s not. Until it is. Wouldn’t it be better to just take that extra few moments to be safe. I could go into a big rant here about the footwear industry and how it encourages us (especially women) to wear inappropriate shoes, but I’ll save that for another time. Suffice it to say that most of you know what works in these situations. It often comes down to the choices you make. It’s also important to remember that just because you’ve been careful to clear your own walkways, this may not be the case everywhere you need to go.
There are many reasons why people fall. Some of them are related to physical conditions or side-effects of medication. If you have these types of concerns hopefully you will get professional advice on how to deal with them. But so many falls result from preventable circumstances that it’s worth another reminder. This provides yet another reason to tout the benefits of movement practices. Mind-body practices like yoga, Pilates and others can help you to learn to pay more attention to the way you move. These practices help encourage strength, flexibility and balance. We think of balance as being able to stand on one foot. But practicing balance exercises can also be a way to strengthen the muscles that will help you catch yourself and avoid falling. Or help you get up if you do fall. Holding onto something because you fear falling might be helpful, but wouldn’t it be better if the muscles that support you were stronger.
Mobility has been described as more than just being able to move, but also maintaining strength through a full range of motion. Stability is the quality that enables one to retain or regain position when impacted by an external force. So, for example, if you’re standing and something pushes you, you’re ability to recover your position would be a way to measure stability. So you can see how mobility and stability go hand in hand. Then there is flexibility which might be described as the quality of being able to bend without breaking. Clearly all of these traits are also necessary components for good balance. If you feel stronger and more stable you will also gain confidence. Fear can make us tense. Tension makes us brittle and rigid. Rigidity is the opposite of flexibility. Tension zaps energy and strength. So learning to relax can be as important as all the other elements of balance. Breathing practices, also an important component of mind-body practices such as yoga and Pilates, can help relieve tension and encourage relaxation. They also help you slow down and recognize that few circumstances merit the hurrying we often feel is so necessary.
Finally, being in good physical condition might not prevent a fall, but it will certainly help you recover from one. And cultivating more conscious awareness of your mind and your movements can help you in all aspects of your life. If you haven’t tried it yet, it’s never too late. If you can move and breathe, there is a practice for you. Take the time to find one. You won’t be sorry. And it just might save you from yourself.
Last week I received an e-mail from a dear friend thanking me for continuing to remind everyone that there is always value in making an effort no matter how small it might seem. If you participate in available activities at whatever level you can, you will almost always be glad you did, even when that effort is sporadic. This has been a recurring theme throughout these blog posts. But consistency of effort has also been a theme. And here we are in the middle of summer when consistency in any aspect of our lives seems elusive. If we’re not busy travelling, we’re hosting visitors. When I first moved to this tourist town I remember being told, “if you live in the Black Hills, everyone wants to come and visit you”. Many of my friends make their living during the summer months which doesn’t allow much time for anything else. As the saying goes, we all need to make hay while the sun shines. Sprinkle into this mix that kids (including children, grandchildren, nieces, nephews and friends) are out of school and you have a recipe that’s guaranteed to throw your usual routines off-kilter. So how do we reconcile the need for consistency in our practices in the face of so much disruption?
My first suggestion is to do what you can. If you find some space in between commitments take advantage of it. Bring your visitors to a class or if you are the visitor, ask where you can find a class. It can fun to try something different. And if you don’t like it, you never have to do it again! Takes all the pressure off so you can just have fun. Still all the traveling and hosting can be exhausting. But according to an article in the Harvard Health blog, exercise beats caffeine when you’re feeling tired. One more reason to squeeze it in whenever you can.
Maybe you can’t fit in a class, but you can probably manage a walk. Even 15 or 20 minutes is enough to revive your energy levels and bring some color to your cheeks. If you’re out of town and don’t know where to go, head for some trees. There has been a huge amount of research lately touting the benefits of connecting with nature. A recent book called “The Nature Fix: Why Nature Makes Us Happier, Healthier and More Creative” by Florence Williams cites numerous examples from this research. Summer is the perfect time to take advantage of these benefits. Greenery abounds. Even in inner cities. Ms. Williams says that even if you can walk down a city street where trees are growing you will feel the difference in your mood. Another article in the Harvard Health blog echoes this sentiment and takes it a step further. The article refers to an analysis published by the National Institute for Environmental Health Sciences which shows that time spent in “green” places is linked to longer life in women. “Specifically, there was a 13% lower rate for cancer mortality, 35% lower respiratory disease-related mortality, and 41% lower rate for kidney disease mortality in the women living in the areas with the highest levels of green vegetation.” Green things are growing all around us no matter where you live. Smile as you walk by them. It just might extend your life!
Another suggestion: remember that anything you do is better than nothing. One thing we know is that summer will end. Even if the weather doesn’t change much, the kids will go back to school, travelers become less frequent for a while and routines can resume. Anything you’ve done during the hiatus will be helpful when you get back to your regular activities. Coming back and regaining your former strength, stamina and flexibility will be that much easier if you’ve been able to practice at all, even intermittently.
Which brings me to my third suggestion: be patient and gentle with yourself. Doing a little here and there can be frustrating. You might recognize that you’ve lost some of the gains you made during regular practice. Getting them back might seem daunting and be a bit slower and more difficult than you hoped. Take heart. You got where you were once, you can get there again. Of course, if you’re recovering from a physical setback modification may also be in order. But no matter where you are, set your expectations aside and focus on the process. Try setting goals related to process rather than specific achievements. In other words, rather than saying, “I will be able to touch my toes in six weeks” try making your goal something like “I will practice regularly for the next six weeks”. The term “regular” can have any definition you like (e.g. daily, every other day, bi-weekly, weekly, whatever). Just make it something you can maintain on a consistent basis. Try to be consistent for as long as you can. Another thing you can be sure of is that life will throw curves into your best intentions. When that happens, go back to the suggestions above and return to consistency when you can.
Finally, relax and enjoy the novelty of change. Accept what is and go with the flow. Life is finite. Time is precious. If you can’t do everything you want to do, don’t beat yourself up. Just do what you can. Focus on the positive. Do what you can with what you have now and you will always be right.
Crazy Horse, SD – Crazy Horse Memorial will host their annual Memorial Day Weekend Open House. The public is invited to Crazy Horse Memorial May 26th through the 29th. Visitors will enjoy waived admission with the donation of 3 cans of food per person for the KOTA Care and Share Food Drive. Crazy Horse Memorial offers three museums, a historic video, Korczak’s Studio-Home and Workshop, sculptures, artwork and antiques.
Memorial Day Weekend kicks off the summer festivities at the Memorial. New displays have been created in the INDIAN MUSEUM OF NORTH AMERICA® and NATIVE AMERICAN EDUCATIONAL & CULTURAL CENTER®. The Memorial is especially proud of the American Bison display, located in the NATIVE AMERICAN EDUCATIONAL & CULTURAL CENTER®. The exhibit includes educational hands-on displays. The story begins with the history of the bison in North American from its prehistoric beginnings to its near extinction, the exploits of western figures who helped save the remaining bison at the end of the 1800’s, to the cultural significance of the buffalo to tribes across the country.
Visitors to the Crazy Horse Memorial facilities will also enjoy Native American Dance performances during the day (weather permitting), every day through October 1, 2017. Guests can visit with the artists working on and selling their works. A visitor favorite, the nightly Laser Light Show starts this weekend at dark. See the Mountain drenched in a spectacular laser lights with wonderful narration and animation.
About Crazy Horse Memorial
Crazy Horse Memorial Foundation’s mission is to honor, protect, and preserve the culture, traditions, and living heritage of the Indians of North America. The Memorial fulfills its mission by continuing the progress on the world’s largest mountain sculpture, acting as a repository for Native American artifacts, arts and crafts through the INDIAN MUSEUM OF NORTH AMERICA® and the NATIVE AMERICAN EDUCATIONAL & CULTURAL CENTER®; by establishing and operating the INDIAN UNIVERSITY OF NORTH AMERICA®, and when practical, a medical training center for American Indians.
CUSTER, SD – Lunafest, an annual traveling international festival that features women filmmakers, this year highlights a showing of “Chosen”, a short film made to help stop human trafficking. It will be followed by a discussion, and a presentation on “Service and Advocacy of Indigenous Women.”
The festival of “Short Films By, For, About Women” is hosted by Zonta Club of the Southern Black Hills at Custer High School Saturday, April 1, 2017 beginning at 10 a.m. The club is part of a worldwide organization of executives in business and the professions working together to advance the status of women.
“Chosen” is a true story of two teens tricked by traffickers. Brianna, 18, was a star student, cheerleader and waitress eager to break out of her small town to attend college in the big city. Lacy, 13, enjoyed church and school but struggled to help care for her siblings while her stepfather was deployed and mother worked to support the family. Brianna and Lacy relate how traffickers used manipulation to lure them into the world of sex trafficking.
The 20-minute movie will be shown at 12 and 2 p.m. The film discussion group will be at 12:30 p.m. and the presentation on Service and Advocacy of Indigenous Women is from 1 to 2 p.m.
In addition to this and other documentary shorts, Lunafest includes films in the genres of art, animation, and fictional drama. Nine movies on the program cover topics such as health, leadership, motherhood, body image, aging, cultural diversity and breaking barriers.
All proceeds from Lunafest benefit the Breast Cancer Fund and Zonta Club of the Southern Black Hills.
The movies will be screened in connection with a trade show of exhibitors representing local businesses and services. Trade show hours are from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Refreshments will be available for purchase during that time.
SCHEDULE OF EVENTS
10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. Trade Show featuring Business and Service Exhibitors
10:00 a.m. Continuous showing of Lunafest films begins; final showing at 3:00 PM
12:00 Noon Film “Chosen”
12:30 p.m. Film Discussion group
1:00 – 2:00 p.m. Presentation on Service and Advocacy of Indigenous Women
2:00 p.m. Film “Chosen”
TICKETS: Admission to Films: $10.00 Suggested Donation
No Charge for Trade Show or Presentation Service and Advocacy of Indigenous Women
SPONSORS: Edward Jones, Black Hills Energy, Carson Drugs, State Farm Insurance, Women Escaping a Violent Environment (W.E.A.V.E.), South Dakota Coalition Ending Domestic & Sexual Violence, Custer Real Estate