The process of slow reflection on what is important and exciting is the manner in which progress occurs for many great researchers, inventers, artists, writers and social activists and ordinary people like you and me. It is the way people change the course of their lives.

          In the process of repetition a person surrounds and comes to better understand the object of his or her attention. Over time the artist, writer or researcher changes, of course, and so may the way he or she addresses the essay, painting, garden or casserole that is being created. This revisiting of exciting old haunts, disciplines, stories or truths is moving “from strength to strength.”

          Dr. Elizabeth Collins in our Department of Gynecology and Obstetrics at Emory, provided me an example of one way in which a competent caring doctor functions when she is at her best. “One of my best friends from high school had smoked for years,” she wrote. “Every time we visited I encouraged her to quit and pick up healthier behaviors like exercise instead. She eventually got married to a great guy, but he also smoked. I pushed on with my crusade, to the point I was sure they’d stop calling me, but finally she called to tell me she was pregnant.  She and her husband had quit smoking and had begun exercising and losing weight and had become committed to living healthier lives due to her pregnancy.  I gave her an A+ and told her I couldn’t be more proud of her and her husband.”

          In the course of her teaching medical students, residents and faculty at Emory Medical School Betsy Collins repeatedly demonstrates and discusses the importance of repetition of the right practices in the prevention and treating of health problems… helping people to do the right thing over and over a again.

          My friend and colleague, James Trussell analyses and reanalyzes the effectiveness of various contraceptives, reflecting on the errors individuals and couples make using the various means of birth control and the errors researchers make in evaluating failure rates. He studies, explains and reflects on the errors and biases that can throw off conclusions. He looks at the effects of age, duration of contraceptive use, and frequency of intercourse on failure rates. He polishes and revises and knows that the process is ongoing and will always be a part of his remarkable career.  His tables of contraceptive failure rates gain in stature over the entire world appearing in articles, books, websites and literature handed to women in physicians’ offices. 

          When a woman anywhere in the United States receives a package insert describing her contraceptive method she learns its effectiveness from this mathematician/economist/scientist who grew up in Columbus, Georgia and became a leader in the field of reproductive health worldwide in part because of his tenacious quest to learn the truth – to learn how effectively and why contraceptives work.

          When we playfully think and rethink and reanalyze we are not wasting time.  What is important to us is changing and we are helping it to change.


Do it again and again and again (part 2)

Bob Hatcher

Adapted from article used in our local paper

          There are people whose habits related to eating, drinking, work and exercise last for long periods of time. Most of us are creatures of habit.

          The repetitive process works best when ones good habits continue on indefinitely and we do them without thinking.  Lifetime good habits that we don’t have to think about are like money invested in Starbucks, Coca Cola, Apple or Microsoft and left there forever. Soon they are doing great things for us without our thinking about them.

          Our bad habits need to be recognized quickly and then minimized or stopped.        

          One of God’s gifts to each of us is the ability (and responsibility) to use our capacity to reason. We must be on the lookout for patterns of living that enrich our lives and put us onto healthy patterns of living.  Read on!

          Stamatis Morautis lived in Boynton Beach Florida. He was short of breath leading fairly quickly to the diagnosis of far advanced lung cancer and to the prognosis that he had 9 months to live. He returned to Ikaria, a small island which is home to 10,000 Greek  nationals. He returned there so that he could be buried with his ancestors in a small family graveyard looking out over the Aegean Sea, some 30 miles off the Western coast of Turkey. 

          But in the months that followed he didn’t die.  He planted vegetables that he thought he would never eat, drank local wines with friends, regularly took afternoon naps, played dominoes until midnight, slept until he wanted to get up and walked up and down the hills of this island. Gradually he became healthier and stronger. He added rooms to his parents’ home so his children from the United States could visit. He lived well over 25 years to the age of either 98 or ’02.

          You can read about this remarkable gentleman in Dan Buettner’s book THE BLUE ZONES or in the February 2015 issue of Reader’s Digest. Buettner has been studying places where people live longer. His article is calledWelcome to the Island Where People Forget to Die.  Men on this  island are four times more likely to reach 90, live eight to ten years longer before dying from their cancers, experience less depression and a lower rate of dementia.

          In addition to relatively carefree lives, staying up very late, sleeping when they feel like sleeping, and lots of vigorous exercise virtually every day, what happens again and again on Ikaria is a pattern of eating you and I might try to emulate. It starts with virtually no processed food.

          Vegetables and fruits are central to the diets of these people. Also mountain tea from dried herbs, wild marjoram, sage, a type of mint made boiling dandelion leaves and adding a bit of lemon. Rosemary used regularly and specifically to treat gout, artemisia. The herbs used on this island have been found to have strong antioxidant properties and are mild diuretics. Goat milk, fish, beans, potatoes, olives, a variety of greens, including a spinach like green called horta, and bread are eaten regularly. Pork is eaten at Christmas and Easter time “

          At day’s end you’ll share a cup of tea with your neighbor. You are never alone”.

          Laughter is important the article notes. Read about this man and you will find out about the sex life of older Ikarian folks.  From the above you can probably imagine what it will tell you.