By: Paul Foreman
Just last week, the U.S. Congress approved a bill titled, “The National Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act.” The bill now needs to be voted on by the Senate, then signed by President Trump before it becomes law. All of you need to contact your senators and urge them to vote YES and get the “Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act” (AKA HR 38) passed. Last I heard, there will be quite a battle in the Senate, to get this badly needed bill passed.

This proposed law, AKA HR 38, will require every state to recognize all other states’ concealed carry permits. This law is badly needed to prevent innocent law-abiding people from being arrested for exercising their constitutional right to keep and bear arms.

Some who are against the law being passed, the anti-gunners, are claiming all kinds of myths and outright lies about HR 38. Here some of them:

Myth #1: Criminals will be able to have guns. Truth: Federal law prohibits criminals from possessing firearms.

Myth #2: Women will be less safe. Truth: Women will be safer when allowed to legally defend themselves and NOT be arrested for possessing a gun even though they have a permit from their home state.

Myth #3: Domestic abusers will be able to get a permit from another state. Truth: In all states, federal law prohibits domestic abusers from possessing firearms.

Myth #4: Gun crime rates will go up. Truth: Concealed carry permit holders, must go through a criminal background check, in order to have a concealed carry permit. They are also the most law-abiding section of society. Statistically they break laws less than law enforcement officers. Criminals get guns the illegal way, they steal them.

Myth #5: This bill will allow stalkers to carry guns. Truth: Anyone who has a restraining order against them is not permitted to possess any firearms in any state (see Myth #3). The people who this bill will help are the very people, the victims, who are being stalked. The law will allow them to carry a gun for their protection.

Myth #6: Even if a person is prohibited from having a gun, this bill will give them the right to carry one. Truth: Once again, this bill does not overturn any laws on prohibited people. If you are banned from possessing a gun by federal law, then you cannot own or possess a gun.

Myth # 7: This is a free pass to gun manufacturers and the NRA. Truth: As of 2017, according to Wikipedia, there are 16.3 million concealed weapon permits issued in the United States. This bill would empower every single one of those permit holders to be able to travel freely from state to state with their firearms. Law-abiding citizens are the people most affected by this law. Criminals will go right on being criminals. The NRA also represents the interest of firearms owners. The NRA is about protecting the Second Amendment rights of the people, and this is what this bill does.

The anti-gun left tried to use a lot of emotion to defeat this bill, and they will still do so as it moves to the Senate. The reason they use emotion is that the facts are not on their side. The people on the pro-gun side need to keep hitting them with factual arguments, aka the Truth, and not get drawn into an emotional battle. This law will make it legal for those who have a concealed carry permit issued in Alabama to also be recognized and legal in all 49 other states, including Washington, DC. Right now, there are a dozen or so states that will throw you in the slammer for entering their state with your firearm which is perfectly legal in your home state. How would you like it if those states did that with your driver’s license?
By: Paul Foreman

By: Rachel Clark, RN, BSN
It’s winter again, and the days are getting shorter. The skies seem cloudier, the air colder, and the wind has a bite to it that isn’t there in Spring and Summer. With the change of the seasons can come a change in mood for some people. This is known as Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD. According to the Mayo Clinic, SAD is a type of depression related to the change in seasons that begins and ends around the same time every year. For most, that happens in the winter.
How do you know if you’re “SAD?” Some common signs and symptoms include irritability, feeling tired or having less energy, issues getting along with others, hypersensitivity to rejection (real or perceived), oversleeping, heavy feeling in arms or legs, appetite changes (especially increased cravings for high-carbohydrate foods), and weight gain. As SAD as this all sounds, there are some simple, natural ways to combat this change in moods. So if you’re ready to get back to your usual self, and leave the grumpy, irritable you that comes in the winter behind, below are five simple ways to get started.

1. Scents can be used as a “pick-me-up.” Most people have scents that they personally associate with positivity and comfort. For some, that is the mingled scents of baking sugar cookies, with warm vanilla and sugar wafting through the house. For others it might be roses, cinnamon, or oranges. Diffusing essential oils can be a great way to help lift your mood, without side effects connected to anti-depressants and other chemical alternatives. A “recipe” of sorts that I can’t wait to try is as follows: 20 drops Sweet Orange oil, 20 drops Clove Bud oil, and 20 drops Cinnamon oil. Check out Pinterest or other social media sites for additional information on essential oils and blends that can help lift your mood this winter.

2. Let the sunshine in! The lack of available sunlight is a key factor in SAD. Open up your curtains, blinds, and doors on sunny days. Letting in the sun can lift your mood exponentially. Sit next to those open windows to maximize your sunlight absorption. You can also use phototherapy to help. This involves using lights that mimic natural sunlight. You can also surround yourself with imagery that is bright and sunny when the days are cloudy and dull. Set your screensaver on your phone or computer to something warm, inviting, and bright. This can also help elevate your mood.

3. Start listening! Music and mood have been linked for quite some time. Choose music that is uplifting rather than dark and moody. Christmas carols or summer themed choices are generally best for combating the blues. Who can be sad when the beat is happy? Also, schedule time to talk with your significant other, best friend, or someone else you care about. Consider an alarm clock that uses natural sounds and/or light to wake you rather than your usual methods. And enjoy the peace and quiet, get away from the noise and chaos that is everyday life.

4. Taste the joy! Many people gain weight when battling SAD. Choose foods that remind you of summer. Mix blueberries, chocolate, and nuts into trail mix and snack on it. Choose hot tea rather than coffee when you need to warm up on cold afternoons. Eat fresh fruits and vegetables as often as you can. When you can’t choose frozen options. Put them in salads, smoothies, or as dessert itself. You’ll be amazed at the difference it can make as far as your mood is concerned.

5. Be sensitive to TOUCH! Touch is one of the first senses to develop inside the womb, so it only makes sense that it can be a huge anti-depressant for some people. Clothing that is soft, breathable and comfortable can go a long way. Also, the same characteristics in bedding can be helpful. Get affirming touches such as hugs, cuddling, and other gentle affections from your spouse, significant other, or even your pets. You may also wish to consider getting regular massages from a licensed massage therapist.

Don’t be SAD this winter. Take some of the tips above and change the pattern that may have been going on for years. You’ll be glad you did.
By: Rachel Clark, RN, BSN

By: Lisa Philippart
Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) used to be considered an anxiety disorder, but because of its complexity, it is now considered to be a unique condition. Do you double-check the locks at night or worry about the safety of a family member? This is “normal.” But for those with OCD, these types of thoughts and behaviors become so extreme that they interfere with daily routines, work, and even relationships. For example, people with OCD have been known to wash their hands for eight hours in a day. (Think Jack Nicholson in the movie, “As Good As It Gets.”)

OCD does not just go away by itself. And in my opinion, it takes more than willpower to try to manage it. I have seen people with OCD who are trapped in patterns of thoughts and behaviors that are beyond their control. The obsessive part involves ideas or thoughts that continuously intrude on a person’s mind, such as fear, worry, dread, or perfectionism. The compulsive piece is repetitive actions driven by these obsessions, such as hand washing, checking, and hoarding. For some people, OCD actions like counting, aren’t as obvious, so they continue to suffer in silence.

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder may develop gradually, moving from thoughts to actions, which will eventually produce symptoms that affect daily life. People with OCD often feel embarrassed and will avoid talking to anyone about what is going on…even to their healthcare provider. OCD can develop at any age, but the research indicates that it often begins in adolescence, with the average age being 19. If you or someone you know is suffering with OCD or OCD-like indicators, what can you do? Because OCD is chronic, it is important to understand that you can learn to handle it and be in recovery, but there is no cure.

I believe that the concept of doubt is what an OCD-sufferer struggles with daily. Doubt can override even the most intelligent person. It causes the person to check things hundreds of times or ask endless questions. And only when the OCD-sufferer recognizes the challenge of trying to resolve this doubt, can he or she make progress. You can resist acting out a compulsion, but it is extremely difficult to refuse to think an obsessive thought. This is where cognitive-behavior therapy (CBT) comes in. CBT will help you to confront fearful thoughts and situations, while resisting the carrying out of your compulsions. Once you start questioning the likelihood of your fears actually coming true, you can challenge that logic. But this can take time as there is no quick and easy fix….and no partial recovery.

As with most of life, balance is the key. And achieving balance is the result of being healthy and choosing a healthy lifestyle, which includes getting enough sleep, a proper diet, exercise, positive social relationships, and purposeful work. So take care of yourself. Start now in this season of hope and joy! Merry Christmas!
By: Lisa Philippart
Licensed Professional Counselor

By: Deb Kitchenmaster
Have you ever had a conversation with someone and wondered what zone they live in? You know, it’s like what are we talking about here? They tend to speak a language that creates confusing pictures in your mind as you listen. There are also people whose language is more like an artist with a paintbrush in their hand as they stoke each sentence with heartfelt conversation. You sense something INSIDE — a ‘new,’ ‘fresh’ kind of language.

I’m laughing as I remember a conversation I had with my daughter back in the day. She looks at me and asks, “Mom, do we always have to have intense (deep) conversations? I mean, do you think maybe we could just talk about the weather sometime?” Seriously, that NEVER occurred to me. I did GET the message and I heard her loud and clear. The rest of the story is, I took her advice to heart. The next time we had a mother/daughter connection, I made a sincere effort and talked about the weather. Basically, she started laughing halfway through my sincere weather reporting, and told me how lousy I was on this level of communication. You know what? She’s absolutely right! We had a great laugh!
As you interact with your horse, you will engage with leadership, language, and love; hopefully in equal doses. Language is important on so many levels.

Let’s talk about our souls. Our soul is located midpoint between spirit and matter, somewhat like a rainbow bridging earth and sky. Soul is a different reality than body. It is eternal. It hears with eternal ears, sees with eternal eyes, and smells with eternal nose. Its presence resonates with that “other dimension.” It has NO language. Therefore, it speaks in imagery – the only way it can communicate eternal truths to beings that are both eternal and temporal. “Matter” is not seen merely with the natural eye, but is perceived with the inner eye. Voilà! When matter is perceived, the soul has created an image. Perception requires imagination, creativity, and reflection.

Now, let’s saddle up and go on a little trail ride with Aristotle. “And of course the brain is not responsible for any of the sensations at all. The correct view is that the seat and the source of sensation is the region of the heart.” The words “heart” and “soul” are interchangeable. There is a danger in becoming too brain-focused when looking at horse/human relationships. We need to be more aware of the heart’s intelligence. We more-than-likely will find ourselves “stuck” in going forward with our horse if we are singly analytical. We need to invite our soul to meet their spirit.



HORSE AND SOUL #1
– A twelve-year-old girl sends a card expressing her experience with the horses … “Keep listening with your heart/soul, not just your ears, because horses gave me that advice to pass on to others.”

HORSE AND SOUL #2
– A teenager who is in weekly professional counseling tells her friend (Lucy) who asked, “How’s it going?” that all is going well. “I just tell them what they want to hear, get up, and walk out the door after I have had the required time with my counselor.” Lucy, who has been spending time with horses, responds by saying, “Oh, my horse would never let me get by with that! My horse knows exactly where I am and she holds me accountable. My horse knows when I’m real and when I’m not. She doesn’t let me get away with anything!” Note to teens: You may be able to fool a human, but you will not fool a horse.

HORSE AND SOUL #3 – I asked, “Does this horse speak to you?” “Yes,” she responded. “How do you know this horse is speaking to you?” I asked. “HERE,” she answered, thumping her stomach area gently. “I feel it here.” Curious, I asked, “What is that place where you hear the horse speaking to you?” She tenderly said, “It’s my soul; my heart.”

And the HORSE AND SOUL stories continue.
Note to self: “The best way to relate to a horse is to have the courage to follow your heart.”
MERRY CHRISTMAS ya’ll!
Your “NEIGH”bor
By: Deb Kitchenmaster

By: Jackie Warner

Time
A telephone call, text message, holding the door for someone, meeting for a cup of coffee, etc. It is precious to share our time and just,one minute can go along way.

Forgiveness
Build bridges of understanding, acceptance, and peace. It is good for our souls.

Knowledge

Empty your cup to fill someone else with growth.

Appreciation
Say “Thank you,” and show you mean it!

Opportunity
Blaze a trail for others and point them in the right direction.

Love
Essence of Christmas Wishing everyone a wonderful Christmas and Happy New Year!
Until Next Time, Be
Sincere, Kind and
Intentional
Jackie Warner
Community Outreach
Specialist
Email: thebridge.us@gmail.com

By Eric Betts,
Curtis Coleman Center for Religious Studies and Ethics,
Athens State University.

I remember many years ago while living on the West Coast, I made a trip from Nevada to Alabama. I had a layover in Atlanta, but had it fixed in my mind that when we arrived in Alabama, I would be in the Central time zone. However, after arriving in Atlanta, somehow I kept thinking about the Central time zone, unmindful that Atlanta was East Coast time. The second flight from Atlanta to Alabama was missed by an hour because of my miscalculation of time zones. Is it possible that those who are reading this article could be missing opportunities in life because of miscalculations?

One of the chief miscalculations for missed opportunity in the lives of so many is that of second guessing of oneself. Many question their own abilities or giftedness. They convince themselves that they are not as good as the last person who seized their opportunity and found success. Opportunity is not an advantage that belongs only to those who have the most resources or the best connections. There may be those who reason within themselves that opportunities will never come because they are not well known in the community. Brian Vaszily said it best, “Opportunity is always knocking. The problem is that most people have the self-doubt station in their head turned up way too loud to hear it.” Once you begin to shake off the self-doubt, you will be in a better position to recognize opportunity when it comes and to seize it.

A second miscalculation that causes so many to miss the flight into the land of opportunity is that of hard work. Some calculate that the opportunity that lies before them will take too many years to work on. Others declare that it is too mentally draining to do it, or that they will have to sacrifice too many enjoyable activities in order to pursue it. None of these are reasonable excuses for missing opportunities. Thomas Edison understood this best. Edison said, “Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.” Sometimes, going on a trip takes hard work and planning; packing, dragging luggage, walking through airports and the discomfort of the plane are often considered well worth it when considering the enjoyment which is to come at the destination.

A third reason why so many miss the trip into the land of opportunity is because they have failed so many times before. Remember that Michael Jordan, arguably the best professional basketball player ever, was cut from his high school basketball team when he first tried out. His coach did not see the value in his abilities the first time around. He went on to win a championship for his team at the University of North Carolina, and six championships for the NBA’s Chicago Bulls. What if he had given up the first time he did not succeed? Henry Ford, one of the great inventors of automobile manufacturing, understood that failure is not a barrier to future opportunity. Ford said, “Failure is simply the opportunity to begin again, this time more intelligently.” Failure simply educates those who are making the attempt on what they should do or not do the next time opportunity comes.

Interestingly, many miss their opportunities because they do not seek them out and do not go where they are. One of the greatest mistakes that people make when in this area is that they wait for opportunity to come to them. Delay is a major hindrance to opportunity. I saw a marquee on a church sign which said, “If your ship doesn’t come in, swim out to it.” Live your life ever seeking for opportunities to grow and improve. Do all that is within your power to fulfill your goals and dreams. Think of small things that will move you closer to your goals and act on them. The comedian Milton Berle said something similar when he stated, “If opportunity doesn’t knock, build a door.”

One way of building doors to opportunity is community engagement and involvement. The more engaged you are, the more opportunities will appear. Every day opportunities come your way. Opportunities are often viewed as a new job or a promotion. What are you doing when it comes to the often unnoticed opportunities? These may involve good deeds, reconciling differences, spending time with your children, visiting the elderly, making a phone call and checking up on someone, encouraging someone, volunteering for the homeless, visiting the sick, and showing hospitality. It may also include sending a thank you card to show your appreciation, sending a care package to a college student, or listening to someone’s story. When smaller opportunities are taken, this creates room for more open doors of greater opportunity.

Most of all, rather than complain about the difficulties of life, understand that with every difficulty there are opportunities. The words of Winston Churchill are timeless, “A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.”
By Eric Betts,
Curtis Coleman Center for Religious Studies and Ethics,
Athens State University.

By: Janet Hunt
Besides exercise, proper nutrition keeps an aging brain healthy. The Mediterranean dDiet and DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) dDiet are both known for their cardiovascular health benefits. T The Mediterranean ddiet emphasizes eating mostly plant-based foods, such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes and nuts; replacing butter with healthy fats such as olive oil; using herbs and spices instead of salt to flavor foods; limiting red meat to no more than a few times a month; and eating fish and poultry at least twice a week. The DASH diet includes lots of whole grains, fruits, vegetables and low-fat dairy products. The DASH diet also includes some fish, poultry and legumes, and encourages a small amount of nuts and seeds a few times a week. You can eat red meat, sweets and fats in small amounts. The DASH diet is low in saturated fat, cholesterol and total fat. Recently, researchers have combined pieces of both the Mediterranean dDiet and the DASH dDiet to emphasize foods with the greatest impact on brain health. This is called MIND (Mediterranean-DASH dDiet for Neurodegenerative Delay).

Two studies with more than 900 adults, found that by sticking to the MIND diet, cognitive decline was slowed by as much as 53%. By strictly following the MIND diet principles, the best results were achieved. But even following the diet partially showed directly proportional results.

The MIND diet emphasizes 10 brain-healthy food groups: green leafy vegetables, other vegetables, nuts, berries, beans, whole grains, fish, poultry, olive oil, and moderate amounts of wine. It avoids foods from five unhealthy groups: red meats, butter and margarine, cheeses, pastries and sweets, and fried or fast foods.

If you or someone you know enjoys cookbooks, several excellent cookbooks for the MIND diet are available.

Additional healthy holiday gift ideas might include:

  • Personal tTraining sSessions
  • Gym membership
  • Weight Watcher membership
  • Fitness shoes/hiking boots
  • Fitness clothing/swimwear
  • Yoga mat
  • Activity tracker
  • Workout music

For more answers to fitness questions, call Janet Hunt at 256-614-3530.
By: Janet Hunt
Janet Hunt is a Certified Personal Trainer and can be reached at 256-614-3530 to schedule an appointment

By: Rosemary Dewar
This past year has been nothing short of a whirlwind, and all that has been highlighted by culture itself is desperation and the grotesque. The tenets of nature’s law seem weakened even though they are holding as true as they always have. The dark will continue to darken; however the light can only grow more brilliant. The principles of morality are akin to the general understanding of gravity; they are universal, absolute, and unrelenting.

Similar to Newton’s third law of motion, where every action has an equal and opposite reaction; every unforgettable dark hour will be eventually be met with an hour of undeniable brilliance. Our culture has a chronic habit of focusing on what displeases the human consciousness. It seems to take additional effort to perceive positivity and wholesomeness.

Mankind is broken. It is observable that humans do not consistently make decisions that have beneficial outcomes. Hopefully the moral standards of the society assist in curbing disaster and dread. When the standard fails to withstand damage, what manifests? The gravity of morality strains society until it eventually cracks the shell that it has built up around itself. That frail veneer that blotted out the light systematically falls apart.

When a crack in a structure reveals itself, that which is outside cannot help but pierce what inhabits the inside. The air and the light begin to permeate what is barricaded within. As pressure mounts, the crack stretches across the structure until it collapses. Then, you are exposed, broken, and forced to create equilibrium with what was forcefully kept out.

Structure is still an essential, and you can’t make it out of what just failed to protect you. A binding agent to re-fortify the defense must be made of something valuable and resilient.

A repairing technique called ‘golden joinery’ is a process of using precious metals like gold, silver, or platinum to restore broken pottery. It is most interesting that an object has the potential to become more valuable after once being damaged.

Much as it is with a person; they may make mistakes. They may even cause great harm. Additionally, should one break under the weight of ethics, what one determines to repair themselves with is just as vital. As for society, it breaks under the weight of its rebellion. When it chooses unwisely, it cannot help but fail and crack again.

Experience, turmoil, and responsibility break everyone on some level. While broken, you get to see what you have made yourself to be. The quandary is, what are you going to use to pick yourself back up with? Will what you use be easily tampered with and unsustainable, or will it be something of intrinsic worth that can stand the test of time?

Brokenness can be a stunning place to start. Once the light is let in and that atmosphere is aired out, an extravagant confidence can be rebuilt.

As we enter the season of lights, let’s be aware of the darkness that is broken by the things that hold the greatest value to us. The very thing that we need the most is sometimes that which will humble. Once the pressure is lifted, we will mend each other with the most precious substance that sustains us. Whether it is your faith, love, or morals, find what will reinforce your value, and do not squander what will bring the greatest return.

Let it catch the light.
By: Rosemary Dewar

Even though winter doesn’t actual begin until December 21, the weather the past few weeks seems to think otherwise. As soon as we have the first chilly night, I want to curl up under a cozy blanket with a big bowl of hearty soup. Some of the classics are tomato, chili, or chicken stew.
When I’m wanting something a little different, my go to is Mulligatawny Soup. Unlike traditional Mulligatawny Soup, which has rice and apples in it, mine has a classic Southern twist by adding potatoes. The potatoes add a hearty element, making this soup truly eat like a meal and become a favorite on cold winter nights.
My sweet, Southern husband can never remember the name of this soup. He stumbles through the name and always lands on Mele Kalikimake. Now as some of you may know, Mele Kalikimake means Merry Christmas in Hawaiian. So now in our house we have Mele Kalikimake soup, especially during Christmas. So this Christmas, enjoy a big bowl and Mele Kalikimake Soup. Merry Christmas Y’all!

Directions & Ingredients

1 small onion, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
1 carrot, diced
1 garlic clove, minced
¼ cup butter
1 Tbsp flour
1-2 tsp curry powder
4 cups chicken broth
4 large potatoes, peeled and diced
1 lb chicken breast, cooked and shredded
1 small can diced mushrooms
½ -1 cup heavy cream
Salt and pepper to taste
Sauté onions, celery, carrot, garlic, and butter in a large soup pot until vegetables are soft. Add flour and curry, and cook for 5 minutes. Add chicken stock and mix well. Add potatoes, mushrooms, and chicken. Simmer until potatoes are tender. Stir in heavy cream. Simmer until cream is heated through. Serve with warm bread and a green salad.
By: Anna Hamilton