Review Category : Contributors

The art of letting go

By Lee Scott

Adjusting to a new setting means letting go of things that you are used to having around you. With so many military personnel in our area and retirees, they can appreciate the “art of letting go.”

I am talking about when you move. The transition between your old home and your new home. There are the normal places we become so accustomed–our grocery stores, our dry cleaners, the hair salon or barber shops. Sometimes we luck out and the name brand is the same, like a Publix or a Bi-Lo. But some of the difficulty of letting go is harder still when you still get the emails from Amazon for the local deals-restaurants and movie theatres that you know. Or you get the emails from your old hardware store or wine store. There is a point when it is time to unsubscribe, time to let the old newspaper digital subscription lapse. Time to unsubscribe from all those old organizations you belonged to like the local hospice or the book clubs.

Now is the time to change your calendar at home and start filling it with local events. What festivals are coming up? Is there a local hospice group? How about meeting other people that are in the same boat you are in?

The local newspaper will tell you what is going on about upcoming events or volunteer opportunities. There are leadership programs that will introduce you to the whole county. Before long, the emails will be from new friends and organizations.

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Hot feet

By Tracie Korol

Next time you take a trip to a big box store in the middle of the day, park on the far end of the parking lot. Slip off your flip-flops and walk to the store. Chances are you won’t get too far before you slip your sandals right back on, or dance quickly over to a grassy area.

Because asphalt is black it absorbs rather than reflects the heat from the sun. In fact, a study published in the Annals of Emergency Medicine noted that 35 seconds of exposure, from 10 am to 5 pm, to hot asphalt pavement could result in second-degree burns to the exposed area. That shouldn’t be surprising, given that on sunny summer days, the temperature of pavement can easily reach 300 degrees.  For a dog forced to barefoot it over such a surface, the result can be painfully burned paw pads.

Or, take off your shoes and hop up into the back of your pick-up in the middle of the day. Chances are you won’t spend too much time up there, either. We prudently do not allow our toddlers to play on the metal slide at midday for fear of searing their little fannies, but we load our dogs into the bed of a pick-up to go for a ride. Can you even imagine how painful it is to stand on what is essentially a hot frying pan?

Notice, next time you attend one of the local festivals, how uncomfortable the attending dogs are as they wait patiently beside their humans. These dogs, while you may think are having a great time on an outing, are standing barefoot on hot pavement, sometimes for long periods of time. While a dog’s paws are the toughest part of his skin, they still need protection from heat, just like yours do.

A day at the beach is not much fun for your dog, either, especially if he is not inclined to get wet. Hot sand can scald paws. Even heading down the metal boat ramp for a family day at sea can fry Fido’s feet in minutes.

Unlike obvious wounds such as lacerations, foot infections (fungal, bacterial or foreign bodies—like stickers and thorns), burned pads may not be readily apparent to the eye.  That’s why pup parents need to be on the lookout for blisters or redness on the pads. Also, suspect a burn if you notice missing parts of the pads or they seem dark in color. Your dog may try to compensate for the pain of a paw pad burn by limping, refusing to walk, or licking and chewing at his bottoms of his feet.

If you suspect your dog has a pad burn it is important to keep the area cool and clean. As soon as you notice the problem (limping along on the road, lifting paws in rotation, excessive licking), flush with cool water or a cool compress if available. Sacrifice your cup of beer at the festival, if necessary. Get your dog to a grassy area or if possible, carry him.

At first chance, examine your dog for signs of deeper burns, blisters and possibility of infection. Washing the feet with a gentle cleanser and keeping them clean is important. Bandaging can be difficult to do and to maintain (monitor and change often), but licking must be kept to a minimum, easier said than done. Some dogs will tolerate a sock for a few minutes but most dogs I know would rather chew off the sock and eat it. Lick deterrents (bitter sprays) may help reduce the damage caused by licking but many of my dog friends view the spray as a condiment.

Best advice is to be mindful of hot surfaces — asphalt and metal (i.e. boat dock, car or truck surfaces). Put yourself in his place just for a few minutes; how would your bare feet feel? Walk your dog on the cool, shady side of the street or in the grass. Schedule exercise for early or late in the day or after a good rain. And while it may look silly and your human friends may razz you, lay down a wet towel for your Best Friend to stand on when grassy areas are not available. Your Best Friend deserves to be treated as a best friend.

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If I knew then what I know now …

By Martha O’Regan

Do you ever wish you could have a “do over” of experiences in your past? As it turns out, you can — it is called imagination.  The brain records everything in present time and doesn’t know the difference between what we perceive and what is imagined — they both create neural pathways that affect our health, behaviors, relationships and even our surroundings.

Martha O'Regan

Martha O’Regan

We can go back to any experience recorded from our past, even decades ago, that at the time we judged as “bad” or “wrong” and imagine or re-create it with a perspective of “good” or a lesson learned and it will actually create a new network in the brain, completely altering our physiology in that milli-blip of time. We don’t change the facts, only the energy in which it is stored. Remember when we used to transfer files on our computer and the little file would dance across the screen?  Well, think about moving the story from one file to the next: from the fear file to the gratitude file just by choosing to. The trick is keeping it in the positive file.  Every time we pull it out and express it from the victim perspective, we dump it right back in affecting our life all over again.

At the risk of being repetitive, remember that everything in all of creation is energy including every thought, feeling, word and deed. Simply put, positive energy is expansive and alive with frequency while negative energy is contractive and sluggish in frequency.  Every experience is neutral until you decide which charge to attach to it — positive or negative — and that perception immediately translates into your physical body as either one of survival (contractive) or ease (expansive). As an example, 20 people can witness the same car accident: Five of them put the event in their fear file as it could’ve been them; five will walk away in gratitude that it wasn’t them; five will walk away worried about the victims; and five will just be ticked off that they are late for work. Same experience, different perspectives, with each one being correct for each person.

Every experience we have ever had — including everything we have ever seen, heard, touched, tasted or smelled — gets filed in our mental hard drive (aka the brain) based on the perspective that we deemed appropriate in the moment, even the ones that belonged to the “big people” who were in our lives during our early years. These files set up a neural pathway or network that is instantly retrieved for future use, whether it be for learning, becoming proficient in a hobby or sport, determining the best course of action in a project, or just basic survival. These pathways also have an energy attached that will emit into our physical body or surroundings. Those experiences that we perceived as negative, with either great intensity or long duration, can set up a message into the body that over time can become a symptom, habit or behavior that we wish we didn’t have. So, an experience that created immense fear for a short time can get us just as stuck in the mental hard drive as long-term worry.  Both can set up a mental loop that can lead to such things as tight muscles, high blood pressure, self-sabotage or procrastination.

Think about an experience that you wish had never happened and tune into how it feels in the body.  Notice how fast you were able to retrieve that stored memory? Think about the gazillion stored memories that we judged as negative in our lifetime that are controlling our physiology 24/7. Eewwwhhh — not interested in that.

So, knowing what we know now about the brain, we can go back to an experience and, without changing the facts, see the lesson or look at it again through the lens of forgiveness, gratitude, love, peace or joy, creating a brand new neural pathway in the brain, allowing for more appropriate physiology. Aahh, that feels better already.

Live Awake … Have Fun.

Martha O’Regan, is Your “B.E.S.T. Life” Coach, supporting you in creating and allowing the B.E.S.T. Life of your Dreams! Contact her at 843-812-1328 or to discover how easy it can be to create change in your life.

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Do you have plenty to smile about?

By Dr. Jennifer Wallace

Have you always wanted a brighter smile? Well you aren’t in the minority. It’s one of the most popular concerns among patients I talk with these day. Many ask, “Dr. Wallace, how can I get my teeth whiter?”

A recent survey I read had these staggering statistics: Fifty percent of people consider the smile the first facial feature they notice and yet 80 percent are not happy with their smile. Your smile — simple, straightforward, and most important, sincere — can attract more than admiring looks. A smiling face tells people that you’re an outgoing and intelligent person worth getting to know.

How white should your teeth become? Well that depends on a few factors. Bleachers should aim for a color that matches the whites of their eyes. If you bleach your teeth a whiter color than the whites of your eyes, this color will cause your teeth to become your focal point (the place people’s eyes go to first and keep being drawn back to).   If the color of your teeth is a brighter white than the whites of your eyes, this  will not only cause your teeth to look fake, but it may make your skin look dull or washed out next to the very bright white of your teeth.

Well, there’s no reason for those closed-lipped smiles in holiday, vacation or Facebook pictures anymore, due to being self-conscious of dingy teeth, because there’s an app for that! Well, not actually an app, but there are options.  Some people want an instant and dramatic change, while others prefer more gradual whitening such as the type that results from a whitening toothpaste or gel. Surface stains and internal discoloration can be caused with age of course, but as a dental professional we take into consideration habits such as tobacco use, drinking coffee, tea, colas or red wine, and eating pigmented foods such as cherries and blueberries. The accumulation of plaque and tartar deposits, prior trauma or even exposures with the antibiotic tetracycline during childhood tooth development, can also affect the overall color of a tooth to appear gray or brown.

There are many reasons for whitening your teeth, including:

• The boost to your confidence and self-esteem that comes from a great smile

• A younger appearance

• A special event such as a wedding, job interview or class reunion

• To make a positive first impression on others

• To simply reverse years of everyday staining and yellowing.

Whitening is safe as long as people follow the directions and use a product that carries a seal of approval from the American Dental Association. While whitening can occasionally change tooth color nine or more shades, the majority of people who whiten their teeth see a change of between two and seven shades. Each procedure has its advantages and disadvantages. Laser whitening and other in-office bleaching procedures, for example, may produce the most dramatic results, but obviously cost more. Final results depend on your natural tooth color, any prior dental work you have, how stubborn any stains are and the treatment you choose. Keep in mind that a change of just two or three shades can make a noticeable difference in most smiles.

Whitening products work mainly in one of two ways. The first is a “non-bleaching” approach to abrasively help remove surface stains. Drug store whitening toothpastes have polishing agents that provide additional stain removal that regular mild abrasion toothpastes do not. A professional cleaning by a dentist or hygienist also uses abrasion and polishing to remove most external staining caused by food/tobacco and is always recommended before starting any whitening procedures. The second approach to whiter teeth would be those bleaching procedures offered by your dentist to actually change your natural tooth color, usually anywhere from five to seven shades brighter. In-office whitening procedures like Zoom rely on hydrogen peroxide in concentrations of 25% that is applied by a dental professional in a careful, controlled ‘all at once’ application. At-home tray whitening bleaches contain an active ingredient called carbamide peroxide. Both hydrogen and carbamide peroxide professional bleaching techniques help to remove both deep and surface stains. However, after several months or a year of eating and drinking normally (coffee, tea, soft drinks, wines, berries, and red sauces), your teeth can become slightly discolored again and develop new stains. It’s a good idea to plan a maintenance whitening regimen with your dentist to protect your new smile.

Everyone responds differently to different whitening procedures. Some people respond well to whitening toothpastes, while people with gray teeth or other serious discoloration may require porcelain veneers or bonding to achieve the smiles they’ve always wanted. Only your dentist or hygienist can determine what’s right for you.

Dr. Wallace practices at Palmetto Smiles of Beaufort and can be contacted at 843-524-7645 or

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Canine cabin fever

By Tracie Korol

It’s another day of smothery heat. The humidity is neck and neck with the temperature and the AC runs constantly. We’re all getting a bit crabby; even a walk to the mailbox requires resolve before, and icy beverages afterward. Your dog bursts out of the house expecting his usual run but stops dead in his tracks, turns to glare at you with the dog equivalent of WTF?.

We already know the important summertime safety tips: Do not leave your dog in the car alone, even with the AC running. Save the big runs for early morning or late evening. Keep our flat-faced and heavy-coated friends indoors as they have little hope of self-cooling.  Here are a few ideas for hot-weather, boredom-relieving dog fun when it’s Too. Darn. Hot.

Bobbing for Hot Dogs: Scoring food always ranks high among favorite canine activities. With a cheap kiddie pool and a few hot dogs you can engage your dog’s brain in the lowest-key way possible.  Fill the pool in a shady spot in the yard or the garage, pull up a chair and toss hot dog pennies into the pool for Best Friend to fish out.  You could turn this game into a teaching moment with cues or command review, but it’s just too hot to think about that. Just have fun.  Remember to cut dinner rations by an equal amount of wet hot dog. And, please, hose the slimy hot dog goo out of the pool when the game is over or you’ll have to buy a new pool.

Nose Games: We have a mere five million olfactory receptors in our noses, while our dogs have upwards of 125 million. That’s why our dogs sometimes seem distracted when we think there’s nothing of interest around; they’re reading the air. Having a big smeller is also great for indoor low-energy doggy brain games. An easy one to teach is find it!  (Your dog needs to know how to stay for this game.)

Ask your BF to stay. Show her a small, high value treat — a fingernail-size piece of cheese or freeze-dried liver is perfect. Tell her, find it! and drop the treat on the ground near her. Hopefully, she’ll find it in a split second. (praise, praise, praise!) Always starting from a Stay, do several reps, tossing the treats farther away, and have her return to you and the Stay.  The challenge: Put the treat down just out of sight — around the corner of the couch, for instance, or behind a table leg. Remember to show her the treat in advance, so she knows what scent she’s hunting for and cue to find it!.

When BF’s attention begins to wander, up the ante. Park her in a Stay and hide the treat in the next room. Or put the treat in the same room but hide it under a throw pillow or a shoebox. Up the ante again: put out three empty shoe boxes with a treat under just one of them. Take the game outside when it cools off.  Hide the treat above ground level — on a chair, or windowsill. BF will keep going as long as you have snacks and as long as you praise.

The Sniffy Walk: All dogs need regular, off-leash aerobic exercise to burn off pent-up energy. But when it’s too hot to move, it’s time for the pokey, sniffy walk. Sniffy walks, an important counterpart to aerobic exercise, meet doggy behavioral needs at any age. My granddog, now an elder gent, excels at the sniffy walk, going into a trance at a rock, a can or something else seemingly uninteresting to us. His thoughtful upward gaze, the one that makes you think that dogs do understand the complexities of the world, is the pay-off. Pure satisfaction!  Half an hour of nosing around, with pauses for inspection at every bush and fire hydrant, can leave your dog refreshed and content. I think it’s comparable to how we feel after we’ve had our coffee, read the paper, and checked our email. When it’s too hot to play fetch or wrestle with other dogs, slow, sniffy walks become even more important as boredom killer.

This week I have three giant dogs with me. Normally, we’d spend hours every day on long rambling off-road walks to burn off big dog energy. But this week we’re all flattened by the heat. Today, I placed a big sheet over the carpet and everyone worked on large, frozen bones, indoors, in the AC and in front of a fan. Then, nap.  We’ll go for a short run later. Maybe.

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Learning to look away

By Cherimie Crane Weatherford

I remember quite well the sidewalk, sunburned grass sneaking its way through the child-counted cracks. The building was nothing special, more akin to an oversized stone block rather than an office of award-winning medical care. The waiting room was pleasant enough, thoughtfully dressed in child friendly decor. Tattered coloring books mixed with sanitized toys served as a distraction while parent filled out necessary paperwork. Being an odd child, I found the pamphlets and sparse medical journals more appealing than the Sesame Street figurines or toys of varying size and sound. Maybe that explains why I often hid under the carefully cleaned chairs, behind the plainly painted doors or found it necessary to visit the little girls room every five seconds, just for good measure. No different than now, I simply wasn’t easily distracted when pain was imminent. I knew why I was there.

Recently, in keeping with my odd ways, while others were basking in joy, intent on celebration and awed by the beauty that is a blushing bride, I couldn’t help but remember trips to the doctor’s office as a child. No matter what my Mom would promise, I was certain there would be a shot. An otherwise fabulous day would be interrupted by a painful prick. In order to keep me from displaying my masterful skills of escape, my mom would gently and desperately try to convince me to look away. “Isn’t that photo of that random, lifeless bird beautiful?” she would say, doing her very best to get me to look in the opposite direction from the pending good day interruption. From making extremely odd faces, to dancing, even attempting to entice me with the promise of ice cream, she would try everything to get me to look away from the needle resting on the nurse’s table. She failed more often than not. I knew what was coming. I knew why I was there. Ice cream was not going to fix this.

Today, I am preparing to watch my very best friend marry a man who makes her heart sing. Friends and family are traveling from all of the country to join her on this most special day. She has asked me to stand by her side as she takes his hand and begins her new journey. Any normal female would fill her mind with thoughts of fun, fodder and bridal dresses adorned in layers of lavender, instead, I find myself preparing to look away.

It isn’t my preference to avoid the spotlight that has my stomach in knots and my heart in shambles — it is the fact that her “I do” will be leading her to Spain. Never feeling deep hatred for a country before, this is a new dilemma. I am sure there are plenty of beautiful people in Spain, there is no reason they should require another. Doing my very best to keep my hands from shaking, my heart from breaking and my bridal party makeup from erupting into mayhem, I will fluff her train, hold her bouquet and hand her the ring to place on the hand she will hold.

On the ride to the ceremony, I counted trees, I noticed flowers and took breaths deeper than any river. This is her day, her story, my tears will just have to wait. And wait they did, until she walked down the aisle. I couldn’t tell you what music was playing, who was in the audience or even the colors of the decor. I can tell you the first day we met, the first fight we had, her favorite color, her biggest fears, her favorite song, the pitch of her laugh,  even her favorite way to eat eggs. She is my best friend. Staring at the grass did no good, with each step she took I replayed some portion of my life that simply wouldn’t not have been the same without her beside me. Knowing that kidnapping her was not only a felony but completely inappropriate during a wedding, I did the only thing I knew to do. Momma would be proud, I finally looked away. Not really the portrait of the perfect Maid of Honor, but I knew Lydia would understand. I had too. One of life’s most prickly sticks is heading my way. Of course, we will visit. No doubt we will keep in touch. It just isn’t the same.

It is the double-edged sword of friendship. She is happy, she is beautiful and he loves her dearly. Wanting only the very best for her, I smile during photos, bustle her gown, hand over her very favorite lip gloss and light a sparkler as she rides away. My days, and my closet, will not be the same without her nearby. There is something so special, so rare as the bond of a woman and her best friend. We know each others strengths, weaknesses, shoe size and boiling point. Although we both know distance is only a number, I will miss her greatly. I have no doubt that she understands why I might just have to look the other way. I know what is coming, I know why I am here. Ice cream isn’t going to fix this.

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Salmonella: Pathogen of politics

By Tracie Korol

Any food in the commercial food stream can present a bio-hazard. Lunch meats at the deli are notorious for being Listeria vectors. We’re told not to rinse our factory chickens before cooking to reduce the risk of splashing Salmonella all over the kitchen.  My personal food-bacteria creep-out is the lemon slice in every restaurant water/iced tea glass. They’re fingered by everyone — from the folks who pick the fruit, the people in the packing plants, the back-room handlers all the way down to the waitron who slices it at the bar — and rarely, if ever, washed. (Source: my son, the chef.)

Recently, the FDA announced new guidelines for feeding our pets: Do not feed raw food because of the risk of Salmonella.  But why just raw food? Why not kibbles that are recalled every week? Salmonella lives just about everywhere and has adapted well to diverse environments, can survive for weeks in water and years in the soil.  It thrives when conditions of humidity, temperature and pH are favorable in areas like sitting water, wet soil shielded from the sun, and unclean fecal contaminated areas.

Its principal habitat is the intestinal tract of humans and animals. Dogs generally have low stomach pH and shorter GI tracts than humans meaning their stomach acid makes it harder for Salmonella to make it all the way through.  That’s why our people friends complain about having “stomach flu” for a day or so while our dog friends do not.  Most likely a dirty lemon. There has been no known reported incidence of human beings being infected with Salmonella by raw-fed cats and dogs.

Salmonella can be found in up to 36% of all healthy dogs regardless of the food they consume. Many pets harbor these bacteria as a part of their normal GI flora and naturally shed Salmonella organisms in feces and saliva regardless of what food they eat. If a body’s immune system is sound, bad bacteria are typically kept in check by the good flora of the intestines.

As you know, I am a proponent for feeding dogs real food as much as it is financially feasible. And as you know, I think kibble, even the best, is still fast food processed from creamed mysterious body parts, chemicals and unpronounceable additives in factories that may or may not have good cleaning crews that then sits in bags for undisclosed periods of time in un-refrigerated warehouses. Even more unappealing than dirty lemons.

If you are a reasonably tidy sort and you personally manage what foods go into your family — and your dog is family, too — then you can be fairly content knowing that Salmonella is probably not going to be an issue. If your food came from a reputable source (hopefully, a local farm), if you handle it properly and prepare it well, whether you choose to feed raw or choose to cook for your Best Friend, you should not be faced with the symptoms. But kibble is currently the prime culprit in pet-related Salmonella outbreaks, not real food. Check out the FDA’s own website ( for a list of processed pet foods currently under recall for Salmonella, among other nasties. New recalls are added every day.

So why is the FDA picking on raw foods? Because there’s no lobby for real food. Because there’s a lot of money backing commercially prepared foods. For instance, the Associated Press reported that Schering-Plough Corp. spent half a million dollars in the third quarter of 2008 to lobby on veterinary products, drug pricing and food-based issues. One lobby group spent $500,000 in three months? Just imagine how much money is spent in total by Big Ag and Big Pharm lobbyists alone.  After all, the APPA (American Pet Products Association) projects $58.51 billion will be spent on US pets in 2014.  It’s a huge and growing market.  Everyone wants a bit of that Big Money.

But what about your Best Friend?  Feed raw if you think it will make your pet happier and healthier.  Just be smart, that’s all.

• Store raw food in the freezer and thaw in the refrigerator;

• Store kibble in a sealed container out of reach of children;

• Don’t allow children to handle the dog’s food. If they do, make sure they wash their hands afterward;

• Properly wash hands, all bowls, utensils and contact surfaces after handling the dog’s food (kibble or raw);

• Limit time raw food is held at room temperature during feeding to less than 2 hours and dispose of food left out for periods longer than this;

• Pick up your dog’s poop and always wash your hands with soap and warm water afterward.

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Faith like a mustard seed

By Ifetayo White

There is a huge movement going on in our country and even in the Lowcountry of folk who have a great faith in their own ability to heal and restore their bodies, minds, psyches, spirits and lives. There are those of us who are everyday living in the faith of an all-knowing power guiding and supporting the “wholeness” of our lives. Learning to trust this guidance and support asks us to take a faith walk — to take one step, then another, then another in faith.

My own faith walk in healing began when I was 30 years old and diagnosed with asthma. When the emergency room doctor declared that adult-onset asthma is usually stress related, I could only agree with his suggestion. I knew that I had chosen to remain in a marriage for security with a mate who, because of his own emotional immaturity, was emotionally abusive to me. My life was full of stress and pain. I felt stifled and unable to receive love. Thus, asthma showed up physically and metaphorically.  The first step of recovery was for me to find the courage to end this hopeless marriage.

It took three more years of going through the fears of not being capable of supporting myself and my daughters before I could ask for a separation.

For years my asthmatic condition was stabilized through the use of an atomizer and infrequent trips to the ER for adrenaline shots. In addition, my allergies to animals grew and it was more and more difficult to visit friends who lived with pets.  It became my prayer that I not live the rest of my life having such difficulties breathing.  Then things began to happen.

A high school friend who had begun practicing meditation in the mid-70s suggested that meditation may help my stress and anxiety.  At this point, I was so anxious raising my daughters and working in a stressful environment at the U.S. House of Representatives in Washington, D.C., that my friend’s suggestion was received wholeheartedly. Committing to a practice of meditating for 20 minutes twice a day seemed daunting at the time, but like someone who makes a last ditch effort for life, I went for it.

When it appeared to me after a short while that I was making no progress, my friend encouraged me to not give up the consistency of the practice.  I continued in faith that something was happening.

Within the community of meditators in D.C., I met a woman who proposed to me that perhaps eliminating mucous-forming red meat from my diet might help my breathing. So, feeling I had nothing to lose, I eliminated beef from my diet.  From nowhere I began to feel the urge to stop eating pork and chicken and fish and, my favorite, turkey. Within two years, my asthma and allergies had disappeared from my body.  It has been almost 30 years since I experienced the empowerment of this life-changing healing. Even though I am no longer a vegetarian, meditation is still the foundation of my own wellness practices.

When we are ready, the teacher will appear. When we are ready, we will be led where to go next and what to do next.  During that time of need for healing, and during the many times of need for healing or renewal of my body, mind, emotions, relationships, finances or spirit, my intention or prayer for healing led me to what or who I needed.

Faith in a higher intelligence as energy flowing through me and my life and all of life has paved the path for me.  Know that this same intelligence is acting in and for you and your well being as well.  Listen to your inner guidance and follow — in faith.

Ifetayo White has been a holistic healing practitioner since 1989. She offers support to her community through classes and meditation at TheraVista, in addition to providing life empowerment coaching, Reiki training and treatment, trigger point therapy, integrative bodywork, childbirth preparation and education, birth and postpartum doula services through her businesses.  Ifetayo can be contacted at 843-271-1923 or

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Hoodlum in the house

By Tracie Korol

When my son turned 13, I bemoaned to a friend that a hulking stranger who ate enormous amounts of cereal at a sitting and smelled vaguely of monkeys had replaced my charming little boy.  She replied, “It’s normal. It makes it a joy when they leave.” Her son was 18 and off to college. She had survived and I settled in for the tumultuous teen years.

Of course, there are parallels in the dog world. The sweet and cuddly baby morphs into a teenage hoodlum in a New York minute. Your sweet, fuzzy puppy that stubbornly refused to walk to the end of the driveway a few days ago now adventures alone to the wonders of the neighbor’s compost pile.  The sound of the doorbell that was once ignored now elicits shrieks, mad scrambling and the inevitable crash as he bounces off the front window.  Depending on your dog’s individual personality and breed, starting at around five months, teenagerhood lasts anywhere from one year to three years. This is their experimental age. Oh, dear.

Each change you see tells you that puddles on the floor and high-pitched yaps in the pre-dawn hours are almost behind you. The future promises an adult dog, wise and compliant. Yet the present reality can be jarring.  As your pup continues to mature, you find yourself in the company of an animal you no longer understand, and one that is filled with boundless energy and the desire for all things doggy.

While many pups sail though adolescence with an angelic, cooperative attitude, most dogs frazzle their families with confusing, fluctuating behaviors.  That’s because major internal and external metamorphoses are going on, fueled by physiological changes.

Breed-specific characteristics such as a desire to herd, or adult traits such as scent marking, “turn on” or intensify.  Owners discover they are now being taken for walks, gasping for breath and hanging on for dear life. Squirrels take on a fascination as never before and new people and dogs are greeted with full body force or unfortunately sometimes, suspicion.  Responses to simple requests, such as going to crate or sitting on command, may result in a doggie version of “nuh-uh!” ranging from playful avoidance to downright refusal. A teen-beagle friend of mine expresses his willfulness for command by grabbing up the nearest fabric item — pillows, socks, his blanket — and running full-out through three levels of house. By the time he’s concluded his run, his owners have forgotten his command. Clever beagle, isn’t he?

The teen dog’s rapid changes, physically and mentally, qualify this period as a “critical” one. The socialization phase — from three to 12 weeks — is also “critical”. (Any fast organizational process in the development of a living creature is considered critical.) When behavior changes rapidly, something important is going on and owners must be just as fast to do what they can to modify pet’s behavior to their advantage.

In the first critical phase, your pup should have learned basic skills of good dog behavior — sit, come, leave it, potty outside, this is yours, this is mine and don’t jump on Grandma. Because you’ve taken your pup with you in your daily excursions and introduced him to variants of the human world, he is a congenial easy-going, “hey, what’s that?” kind of companion.  When the teen years hit, your pet will begin to test the parameters you’ve set and may attempt to create a few of his own behaviors through trial and error.

An undesirable behavior is most easily altered in the initial learning phase, before it stabilizes. And for sure, it can stabilize in a split second. An example is territorial barking, which can escalate rapidly if not checked.  The very first time sweet puppy lunges at the door, screaming hysterically at the mail carrier is the time to step in. Unchecked, you’ll have a frenzied, territorial adult dog who has taught himself a routine, difficult to modify. The best time for families to work with undesirable behavior is as it emerges otherwise the dog will gladly take on the job.

Families need to understand that teen-dogs want more freedom and will certainly test the limits. It’s up to their humans to use this period to guide development of adult behavior.  Spaying and neutering helps modify emerging territoriality, marking and wandering behaviors. Socialization must be continued to impress on the dog that the world does not end at the front door.  The world is big and wonderful but we all have to be polite about it.

Canine adolescence can’t be avoided, but the period is much more than just annoying.  It’s the time between puppy hood and adulthood during which good dog temperament stabilizes. Make the most of it.

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Leave fireworks to professionals this Fourth of July

By Dr. Mark S. Siegel

I recall a few extraordinary patients during my ophthalmology residency who have left an indelible memory. One such patient was a 13 year old who was playing with an M-80 explosive device that he placed in a soup can. The subsequent explosion sent shards of metal that were absorbed by his face and one of his eyes. The metal perforated his cornea and lens and lodged in the back wall of his eye in his retina. After multiple surgeries, he can see a hand waved in front of his face.

I really hate to be a buzz kill before this Fourth of July holiday — what should be a time when wonderful memories are made with family and loved ones.

Unfortunately, more than 9,000 fireworks injuries happen each year on average in the United States, with roughly 1 in 8 fireworks injuries harming the eyes, according to the most recent fireworks injury report from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. Common fireworks eye injuries include burns, lacerations, abrasions, retinal detachment, optic nerve damage and ruptured eyeballs.

Those injured are not necessarily handling the explosives themselves. In fact, nearly half of people injured by fireworks are bystanders, according to an international study. Children are frequent victims: 30 percent who sustained a fireworks injury near the Fourth of July holiday are ages 15 and under, according to the commission report.

Even sparklers can burn more than 1,000 degrees hotter than the boiling point of water. So, fireworks should not be thought of as toys, but devices that can cause third-degree burns. This is why people must be vigilant and take precautions to avoid the risk of serious eye injury.

Fireworks Safety Tips

The best way to avoid a potentially blinding fireworks injury is by attending a professional public fireworks show rather than purchasing fireworks for home use.

For those who attend professional fireworks displays and/or live in communities surrounding the shows:

• Respect safety barriers at fireworks shows and view fireworks from at least 500 feet away.

• Do not touch unexploded fireworks; instead, immediately contact local fire or police departments to help.

For those who decide to purchase consumer fireworks because they live in states where they are legal, such as South Carolina, follow the following safety tips to prevent eye injuries:

• Never let children play with fireworks of any type, even sparklers.

• Adults handling fireworks should always wear protective eyewear that meets the parameters set by the American National Standards Institute and ensure that all bystanders are also wearing eye protection.

• Leave the lighting of professional-grade fireworks to trained pyro technicians.

Remember, if an eye injury from fireworks occurs, seek medical attention immediately.

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