Hidden in the stacks

A few too many stacks of papers have been piling up in my office. My filing is way behind. To the rescue has come my niece, who has put in some hours over the last couple weeks making folder labels, alphabetizing, and filing. The stacks are going down and I can practically feel a fresh breeze coming through my office door. One of the benefits of getting caught up on filing is the discovery of interesting items that have been lurking, forgotten, in the stacks.

Consider this sampling of what I found:

–A print-out of a "Key Lime Pie" recipe from Brad Boydston's blog. I've not tried this recipe yet, but good key lime pie is perhaps my favorite dessert.

–A list of cold and cough  remedies. Here's one: 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper, 1/4 tsp powdered ginger, 1/4 tsp cloves, 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar, 1 tbsp honey (or to taste), 2 tbsp water. I've not tried this and offer a disclaimer to try at your own risk.

–A quote from Thomas Merton (from, Seeds of Contemplation): "The most dangerous man in the world is the contemplative who is guided by nobody. He trusts his own visions. He obeys the attractions of an interior voice but will not listen to other men. He identifies the will of God with anything that makes him feel, within his own heart, a big, warm, sweet, interior glow. The sweeter and the warmer the feeling is, the more he is convinced of his own infallibility."

–A couple pages of ideas for journaling that I downloaded some time ago from Catherine deCuir's website. One of the ideas is to think back to times in your life that you wish you had written about at the time, but never did. It's not too late, encourages deCuir. Write about them now in your journal. She calls this a "Retroactive Journal". Another idea is what she refers to as a "Word Snapshot," for which she provides a printable form. "Print the form, seize the day," she writes. On the form is a list of prompts to write down what you are listening to, watching, wearing, learning, working on, etc, on any given day.

–A nutritional study conducted at Cornell University and published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry about the benefits of hot cocoa–which I think I'll get up and make right now. The study found that the antioxidants in hot cocoa are almost two times stronger than red wine, two to three times stronger than green tea, and four to five times stronger than black tea. Apparently, the key is in the heat. More antioxidants are released when the cocoa is hot than when it is cold.

–And finally–and I saved the best for last–an article entitled, "The Importance of a Well-Groomed Child" by Robert M. Sapolsky. The article begins, "It is a rare parent of a newborn who does not feel a panic built around the consequences that her or his actions now have. Developmental studies have indicated that the quality, quantity, and timing of infant stimulation can have long-lasting effects–and soon the anxious parent is convinced that one lullaby song off-key ensures that a child will not only one day be a sociopath, but will also never use dental floss." Every parent reading this can relate to the anxiety. This article confirms that such anxiety is well founded. In Science, Sapolsky writes about a study conducted by Liu and colleagues in which baby rats who were well licked and groomed by their mommy rats had life-long positive effect in their brain and nervous systems compared to the baby rats who were not well licked and groomed. In his concluding paragraph, Sapolsky writes, "Although the specifics of licking and grooming do not extend to humans, the broader point emphasizing the importance of early experience certainly does."

Here is my suggestion: If you have a child at home, run your fingers through his or her hair (ie, grooming), put your arm around him or her (a hug will be an adequate replacement for a lick), and then make some hot cocoa and sit down and drink it together. When your well-groomed and antioxidized child is tucked in bed, get out some paper and write about how pleasurable it was to boost the trajectory of your child's (and your) life.