With all the festivities and outdoor play during the wintertime, we can become run down and more susceptible to catching a cold or flu. External germs can enter our body via our skin, mouth or nose. Staying warm and wearing a scarf while enjoying all that outdoor winter fun are really helpful ways to block these external germs from finding an entry point in our immune armor.

According to Traditional Chinese Medicine, wind is the spearhead of 100 diseases. Wind frequently changes and varies in intensity. When our bodies cannot respond to these changes, whether they are environmentally induced or from mental, emotional or physical stresses, our bodies become overwhelmed and our immunity is then compromised. This is when a gap appears in that immune armor, and a cold or flu can enter our body.

Cold symptoms consist of head congestion and headache, sneezing, watery eyes, coughing, restlessness and an achy body, while flu symptoms have body aches along with intermittent fever and chills, sore throat, coughing, not much appetite and an upset stomach. When you feel under the weather, try to get plenty of bed rest, avoid mucus producing foods such as dairy products and sugary or oily foods, drink soothing herbal teas along with warm vegetable soups, and avoid sudden temperature changes in your environment.

If you do catch a cold or flu, here are some simple, soothing remedies:

Chilly body or scratchy throat:

  • Slice 2-3 pieces of fresh ginger root (about the size of your thumb). According to Chinese medicine, fresh ginger can cause sweating and push away the chill and scratchy throat feeling.
  • Add one bunch of chopped green onions (scallions) and two cups of water.
  • Bring water to a boil. Add ingredients then cover and steep for 10 minutes. Drink the liquid. Bundle up in bed and let your body chase away the cold symptoms.

Sore throat or dry cough:

  • Core a pear and add a little honey with a pinch of cinnamon. According to Ayurvedic medicine, cinnamon helps the lungs decongest the chest.
  • Wrap in aluminum foil and bake in the oven until soft. Eat the soothing mixture.

Go-Away-Cold-or-Flu Joy Juice:

  • Juice of one lemon.
  • One teaspoon of fresh crushed garlic.
  • One teaspoon of fresh chopped ginger.
  • One pinch of cayenne pepper.
  • Place ingredients in a large mug or cup. Pour boiling water over the ingredients and steep for 10 minutes. Strain if desired. Add honey to taste and drink before going to sleep.

Keep immunologically armored with good food and rest, and keep well-bundled when playing outdoors. But if you do happen to catch a cold or flu, try one of these time-tested remedies to help nurse yourself back to optimal health. And while you're drinking your ginger root tea, or eating your honeyed pear, or sipping your Go-Away-Cold Joy Juice, curl up with the Vitality Fusion Second Edition and discover some new ways of maintaining and increasing your overall wellness.

About the Author: Susan Shane, L.Ac., is creator of Exaircise, a cross-cultural fitness program based on the primacy of breathing in global health traditions. Her book, Vitality Fusion, a Comparative, Interactive Survey of Western, Chinese and Ayurvedic Medicine, illuminates ancient and modern modalities to help readers create a customized path to optimal health. For more information, visit

Weight Loss Surgery Cover

I'm a trial lawyer turned young adult fantasy fiction writer who's never really had a weight problem, mostly because I'm an obsessive runner who runs at least two marathons a year. When my friend, surgeon Nick Nicholson, asked me to co-author Weight Loss Surgery: The Real Skinny, a book on the emotional consequences of weight loss surgery, my initial thought was that maybe he should find someone else. If he'd wanted to write about running, I'd have been all over it, but how was I going to find the common ground necessary for open communication with the patients I'd need to interview?

I needn't have worried. It turns out that weight loss surgery at its core isn't really about weight at all. It's about answering the question Melvin Udall asked in the movie As Good As it Gets.

Remember Melvin? He's brilliant, wealthy, and obsessive compulsive to the point that he has no friends and no real life. He's miserable, he makes everyone around him miserable, and it's clear in the first few minutes of the movie that despite the fact that he's in his fifties, has the money to hire the best psychiatrists and the time to put into recovery, he's had zero success in managing his mental illness. When he sees the weary faces of patients like him sitting in his psychiatrist's waiting room, he blurts out, "What if this is as good as it gets?"

Weight loss surgery is about daring to hope that the answer to Melvin Udall's question is "not if you don't want it to be" and having the guts to act on that hope.

Unhealthy eating has little to do with physical need and everything to do with emotional need. People overeat to numb, to avoid, to soothe, to escape. Weight loss surgery can't cure that. It's a tool that jump starts someone into a new life, like giving someone a powerful push on a swing to propel them forward, but after that it's up to them to keep it going.

Anyone can eat their way out of the surgery, no matter how drastic the procedure. To stay healthy, the patient ultimately has to figure out what's really eating them – whether it's a bad marriage, a job they hate, an inability to handle conflict, a lack of self-worth, dissatisfaction with where they've ended up in life, or a myriad of other issues – and face it head on. Keeping the weight off means doing the unpleasant work of identifying and confronting uncomfortable emotions and finding healthy ways to deal with them.

At some point, every adult faces Melvin Udall's fundamental question. Many hunker down in their dysfunctional foxholes, unwilling to feel the pain and put in the work to change the course of their lives.

Successful weight lost surgery patients have dared to do what many won't – believed that their lives could be better and then backed that belief by putting their heart, soul and mind into the effort of making it so.

Interviewing them and hearing about their challenges and successes was as relatable and inspirational to me as watching someone who'd never run a marathon cross the finish line with tears streaming down her face. Their efforts made me want to tackle the issues in my own life that keep it from being as good as it can be.

Like them, I want to be able to answer Melvin's question with an in-your-face "just watch – I can make it better".

~ by B. A. Blackwood

Dr. Nick Nicholson a renowned bariatric surgeon, and B. A. Blackwood, an author, retired trial lawyer, and marathon runner, teamed up to write Weight Loss Surgery: The Real Skinny, a guide for people who are considering or have already undergone bariatric surgery. Nicholson was voted one of D Magazine's top bariatric doctors seven years in a row, and Blackwood has completed more than 20 marathons. Together they share a passion for encouraging people to achieve and maintain healthy lifestyles. Find out more about them at and

Commitment is the Cure

by Guest Author on November 24, 2013 · 5 comments


So how do I do it? Well, it's been about four years now of being clean and sober. I can't say it has been an easy road, but the last two have been pretty smooth sailing.

I've managed to keep a good part of my focus and time dedicated to an incredible project: Chaser Eight, a band I'm the drummer for. Prior to being asked to join Chaser Eight, I of course had other tools to manage my sobriety: keeping myself around positive people, the support of my wife and family, a great guy who has become my best friend, and a quest for spiritual guidance.

The day I was asked to join Chaser Eight everything changed and it helped my journey for continued sobriety and success. I knew it was a full time commitment with a group that is on its way up. My opportunity for creativity, opinions, and challenges were here and it was my time to step up my game. The days of playing along with compact discs or jamming with musicians that have absolutely no commitment or drive to do more than play in a basement were over.

It was now my chance to work with a dedicated group of fantastic musicians who push for the best from each other! Chaser Eight has consumed so much of my focus (in a good way!) to writing my drum parts, weekly rehearsals by myself and with the band, and live performances to sold-out audiences. My free time consists of a few nights a week to spend with my family, and the occasional Sunday golf round.

The drive I have to work on our music is incredibly positive and very exciting. It's a great channel to focus my energy. Of course we all have our moments of frustration, but it's a good frustration. It means what you're doing is important. All in all, I have to say Chaser Eight has and is a very important part of who I am, what I do, and keeping a great outlook in general.

Pete Giannini is the drummer for fast-growing female fronted rock band Chaser Eight. A few years back he was struggling with a terrible addiction, but through the love and support of his band mates and family he was able to overcome his problem. He is  now living clean and sober while creatively contributing to Chaser Eight’s new EP “At the 426”, available now! To learn more about Pete Gianni and Chaser Eight please visit:

Austin's Loving and Caring Music Community


What's it like to live in a community of musicians and music fans who care and support each other? I can testify on that.

Meaux Jeaux, my wife and bassist extraordinaire, live in the boonies near Austin. When not touring, we play music in Austin sometimes 8 or 9 times a week, never less than four times a week.

On February 24, 2012, after the Jitterbug Vipers, my band, played at the Elephant Room, our second gig that night was at the Gypsy Jazz Jamboree at Volstead Lounge at Hotel Vegas on 6th Street. If you've heard much about Austin, you've heard about 6th Street. It has so many music clubs that the streets are barricaded from 9 PM 'til 2 AM to protect the club hoppers who walk down the street. But the Volstead Lounge is way out on the East Side and the streets aren't barricaded.

For what happened I'll say only what I remember then fill in the blanks. I had put my guitar and amp in the car and decided to load Meaux Jeaux's stand up bass, a nice hand made Czech bass. My next memory is waking up in the hospital.

So here's what happened. I was run over by a big SUV. There were lots of witnesses. The witnesses I talked to said it was a Ford Expedition. The witnesses Sarah, vocalist for the Jitterbug Vipers, talked to said it was a Cadillac Escapade. All agreed it was a big SUV, It was a hit and run accident. Several persons tried to step in front of the SUV to stop it and had to jump out of the way to avoid being run over. The SUV had paper dealer tags, with lots of small numbers and letters. The back tags were flapping in the wind. The car or driver was never identified.

So this driver left me in the street for dead, unconscious and bleeding. The bass was splintered and was said to have saved my life. Sarah was the first band member to reach me. She held my bloody head in her lap and told me that Meaux Jeaux was there and I needed to come to. I don't remember any of this, but I opened my eyes tried to raise up and asked if I had been hit by a car. I apparently asked it several times.

Fast forward. While I was in the hospital, there was a benefit held at the Volsted Lounge. This was one of the few Jitterbug Viper gigs I missed though I was pretty messed up with a deep gash in my hear, a brain concussion, injured right knee and hip and cut up hands. No broken bones but the long term results were loss of hearing and a slight loss of vision in one eye. But I walked as soon as I got out of the hospital. Because of the brain concussion, I had a balance problem. It was hard not to look drunk when I walked. Ha! Friends would ask me if I was back 100%. I avoided the long detailed answer. Sarah would say, he never was 100%, and I would just smile.

A fine guitarist, jamming buddy and friend, Greg Harkins, played at the benefit at the Volstead Lounge and subbed for me at a gig in Houston. I played my first gig after the accident at Jo's Coffee, siting down this time! There was a high profile gig coming up in Dallas at the Kessler Theater. Meaux Jeaux was set on my not playing, and I was set on playing. I played a 4 hour gig at Z Tejas to prove I could and she relented. The Kessler gig was just one set and the ride was a little tortuous but otherwise the gig not that challenging. Except, after the sound check I lost my balance and fell off the stage. I knew how to fall and wasn't hurt. Luckily, Meaux Jeaux was in the green room and missed it. She would have had a heart attack!

But this story is about the Austin, Texas community of musicians and music fans who care and support each other. I had medical bills for the hospital, EMS, doctors, anesthesiologist and the ongoing doctor bills after I got out. I think we paid EMS first and started on the hospital bill which was about $55,000.00. Did I say we had zero insurance. That's true enough although our car insurance eventually was some help because of my uninsured motorist option, which they stretched to take care of a new bass, my leather jacket and some odd bills.

Friends, Ted and Linda Branson, organized a benefit at Threadgill's that was huge. Eddie Wilson said he hadn't seen so many hippies in one place since the Armadillo closed. There were other benefits and everywhere I played, for a while, folks would give us money. And a famous Austin cartoon artist, Jeremy the Artist, who saw the accident, made a hip drawing of me in a super man shirt with the caption, "Takes a Lickin' and Keeps On Pickin'". We used the drawing to make posters and T-shirts and raised oodles. And all my medical bills are paid for.

Local news video of after accident.

Article shared by Slim Richey, guitarist for the Jitterbug Vipers.

How Hobbies Really Can Enrich Your Life

by Guest Author

Do you ever feel that being good at what you do – as a professional, a parent, a partner – takes up so much of your time and focus that it seems sometimes as if that’s all you are? Of course it’s important to strive to be the best we can at these aspects of […]

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12 Spiritual Principles to Live By

by Guest Author

Life is hard. It doesn’t matter if you’re living in a huge mansion or standing in line at a soup kitchen, the truth of the matter is, not many of us are given the tools while growing up to cope with the many stressors in our lives. But, there are people out there who seem […]

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Three Funerals and an Album

by Guest Author

My father passed away a couple years ago. My uncle one month before him. Another uncle a month after. I went to three funerals in the span of three months all at the same funeral home. I’m fairly certain the funeral home was getting suspicious of the ladies in our family. Had any of the […]

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Sick of Casseroles? Good. Time to Clean out the Fridge!

by Guest Author

Every time there’s a knock on the door, the doorbell rings or there’s a pan left on your doorstep covered in aluminum, you know exactly what to expect. Casserole. Lasagna, spinach, or maybe if you’re lucky, scalloped potatoes and ham. With it reads a note similar to “I am so sorry for your loss. If […]

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What’s the best thing you can do with limited free time?…. GIVE IT AWAY!

by Guest Author

I’m busy – we’re all busy… I’m an active touring singer-songwriter-pianist in Canada. I’m lucky to be really busy performing my music and I do about 100 shows a year. I find working in the arts incredibly fulfilling but my schedule and being self-employed doesn’t offer up very much down time so that time is […]

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How to Get Unstuck in Life: 4 Lessons I Learned on Moving Forward in Uncertainty

by Guest Author

All the negativity in the news media, the cold temperatures and dark skies outside, uncertainty at work and craziness in life can make anyone freeze. You get nervous constantly thinking and analyzing what steps to take in life. You make resolutions and give up because you say, “What’s the point?”, “Why should I even bother […]

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