Natural Living


Driving Barefoot - What Drivers Need to Know 0

While enjoying spring, summer and the approaching fall, you may be inclined to take off your shoes and run barefoot through your lawn to feel the grass crunch between your toes. If you’re thinking about driving your car barefoot, though, you may want to give that a little more thought.

Why Do People Think Barefoot Driving is Illegal? The myth of illegal barefoot driving has been around for a long time. It may stem from the rules against being barefoot that we see in other places, such as retail stores that put “no shoes, no shirt, no service” signs on their doors. It just may be that people sense that it could be dangerous, and generally, it may simply not seem like a good idea. If you ask someone, they might tell you that driving without shoes on is against the law. In the United States, this is actually false. None of our 50 states has a law against barefoot driving, but the practice is often discouraged. The main concern is that bare feet could slip off the pedals and cause the driver to lose control of the vehicle. Some people who drive barefoot disagree, saying that barefoot driving helps them to feel the pedals better and keeps them more alert.

Can Barefoot Driving be Considered Reckless? You can be ticketed for reckless driving while driving barefoot, if there is a good reason to associate your lack of shoes with recklessness. In Colorado for instance, according to their Drivers Handbook, reckless driving is “willful disregard for the safety of persons or property.” And, careless driving means operating a vehicle “in a careless and imprudent manner.” A police officer would have to have good reason to cite you for reckless driving, simply for the fact that you are not wearing shoes. The most likely scenario would be if you had caused an accident by having lost control (of the brakes for instance). West Virginia attorney, Troy Giatras, reminds us that accidents can be traumatic - one very good reason you want to have legal input before you say something incriminating.

Which Shoes are Best For Driving? The Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles warns that flip flops are potentially even more hazardous than bare feet when driving. This senior citizen ended up breaking through his garage, with his car immersed in the pool after his flip flops became entangled in the pedals. Sneakers or low-heeled shoes for are suggested for driving, and keeping a spare pair of good driving shoes in your car is a great idea. Although it is legal to drive a car barefoot in all 50 states, it may be illegal to drive something other than a car, like a motorcycle. In some states even passengers on motorcycles are required by law to wear shoes. Another cautionary tip given by police and motor vehicle safety experts is to be sure that if you do drive barefoot, that you don’t leave your shoes on the floor near the pedals (where they could get caught under the pedals and interfere with their operation). Image courtesy of marin at

Author Holly Chavez

Assisted Living and Art Therapy: Finding the Right Program for You 1

Author: Holly Chavez As artists get older, they often wonder what life will have in store for them once they reach a certain age - and aging can be particularly scary to them because much of their life is built around their visual senses and being able to use their hands for their craft. They often worry about things such as their vision diminishing because so much of their work depends on being able to see vibrant colors and shapes of objects. They also wonder if they will still be able to continue to do arts and crafts, or will ailments that are a natural part of aging interfere.

However, not only are hobbies such as arts and crafts a possibility for seniors to continue, but they are considered to be very therapeutic to them. Creative hobbies are considered a type of sensory-based therapy, and according to caretakers at Chateau Vestavia, an assisted living facility, "A positive correlation exists between sensory-based therapies and improved memory, mood, and quality of life." One of their pitches there for seniors is to "pick up a new hobby, or enjoy your old ones." That's good news because it means that the elderly artist can continue the life they are currently living and continue to pursue their hobbies — while also enjoying an extra boost to their quality of life. Here are a few encouraging stories to consider for those that want to retire and continue to pursue their passion whether at home or later in an assisted living facility:

Creativity Never Stops A recent study by the Research Center for Arts and Culture found that as artists age they are role models for society because of the way they live their later years — particularly when you consider how the workforce is constantly changing to incorporate multiple career paths and making way for the huge wave of baby boomers entering retirement.1 Indeed, aging artists buck the retirement stereotype because of how passionate they are about their work and how high their internal barometer ranks for self-esteem and general satisfaction. They lead an active social life, which is always good for a senior's health, and over half communicate weekly or daily with their peers. Many won't be officially retiring until they're 90, and others, like Dan Brown, have reached that age while still creating masterpieces. Brown, who will see his 91st birthday this year is a successful sculptor and painter who has won global competitions and earned several commissions. The colorful World War II veteran started his art career later in life as a relaxing pastime and a way to keep himself creative and busy after he retired. He was recently interviewed by Susan Risoli of the Times of Huntington who asked if his creativity would ever slow down, His reply was, "Never."2 Brown commented further in the interview that he has never liked the 'Golden Age' moniker that people put on retirement and feels that getting older does bring some boredom and depression with it — he also went on to say that artists can always locate new projects and try to find like-minded people to stay satisfied in life. And what about seniors that haven't even able to draw a stick figure or straight line in the past? Assisted living facilities often offer classes taught by professional artists that help these hesitant residents not only improve their art talent, but also improve their cognitive abilities.

Niche Facilities Help the Transition Moving into an assisted living facility is a huge change for anyone. Most of the residents have spent many years in the same home where they raised their families and enjoyed their careers. Moving into a facility that is more like a community will be very different. It will take time to adjust.Some of the residents who move into an assisted living facility also find that they miss their old neighbors and friends. Again, after spending so much time in one home, it can be a disruption to their routine and make them lonesome. Now that they have the time to actually pursue a hobby or develop a talent, many retirees find that being exposed to many different art forms gives them a sense of purpose in their life. This is why it is very important when you are looking for an assisted living facility to find one that offers a large variety of arts and crafts classes, and you can find several that offer niche programs such as arts and crafts to their residents. Arts and crafts classes provide these new residents with a chance to encounter new people and make friends, learn or define a skill, or even the opportunity to teach a class. It is the perfect way to become accustomed to new surroundings.Another benefit of having residents attend arts and crafts classes is the therapeutic one. Many residents, as they age, find that they suffer from some ailments that make other areas of their life more difficult. They can take an enjoyable class such as these listed below that can also double as therapy:

Pottery Classes
  • Making pottery or other items from shaping clay can help residents retain hand strength or rebuild strength after a stroke. For those suffering with arthritis, the clay and water often brings much needed relief because the act of shaping the clay is soothing. There are often art gallery showings for elderly artists that can sell their pottery and many are involved in volunteer projects that sell the artwork for a cause such as local children's hospitals.        



      • Painting or Sketching


    Learning or enhancing artistic skills like painting or sketching is relaxing and helps keep cognitive skills sharp. Some programs in assisted living homes that teach the skill have the residents do lino printing, silk paintings, water colorings, sketching and glass paintings - to name a few. Tools such as wide brushes are used by instructors to help residents that may have arthritic hands grip it and aid those whose vision isn't as sharp anymore. This type of creative outlet can help seniors' cognitive memory and can often help them remember something from their childhood that they couldn't recall before.      
    • Crocheting or Knitting

     This hobby deserves mention because not only does the craft produce beautiful pieces of knitted or crocheted clothing and knick knacks, it is also an instrumental therapy method for the elderly. Knitting and crocheting creates camaraderie and relaxation that can facilitate healing from chronic illness and surgery. Residents that participate in this hobby have seen a decrease in such symptoms as depression, chronic and short-term pain, and dexterity.        

    Special Exhibits Help Seniors with Dementia Many assisted living residents like to look at art pieces in exhibits - when the exhibits are shown at nursing homes, they have been found to activate the mind of Alzheimer's patients and increase their participation in activities. Art therapy of this kind is beneficial to patients with dementia and helps the sufferers tap into the subconscious part of their minds. Dementia patients often don't respond well to structured therapies which is one of the reasons the exhibits have such good results.

    Of course, there are countless other art and crafts courses that are offered that have the same or additional benefits. Woodworking, origami and paper arts, sewing, and sculpture are just a few additional classes that are offered in assisted living facilities.The main objective, however, is to make sure that any facility you select for yourself or your loved one offers a wide arrangement of arts and craft classes to ensure the happiness of its residents.


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    More Ways to Green Your Holiday 3

    Mid December is the time of year that the internet abounds with useful tips to green your holiday and a multitude of tips to lighten your environmental impact over the holidays. The Most Repeated Eco Holiday Tips Switch to LED lights to conserve massive amounts of electricity and forego the wrapping paper for something homemade from old magazines, newspapers or brown bags and festive bows. [caption id="" align="alignleft" width="178"]Reusable shopping bags Image by Luca Penati via Flickr[/caption] Ways to save money and environmental impact include:
    • From Eco-Wrap Your Holiday Gifts: Use vintage tins, reusable bags or eco paper to wrap your special gift.
    • Buy presents that don't require packaging such as gift certificates, movie passes or restaurant cards.
    • Don't wrap the presents or buy presents that don't need wrapping such as a charitable donation.
    • Give reusable shopping bags for gifts. Everyone should own these anyway.
    • Make your own gift with a reusable bag, fair trade coffee, a stainless steel water bottle and some soap nuts.
    • Make your own ornaments either from recycled materials or fun items from a thrift store.
    Eco Book Gift Ideas From Eco-Libris: The Green Collar Holiday Gift Guide for Book Lovers - Part 1 - Consider the gift of an eco-book that will educate and inspire. Some of the more exciting recommendations include: “Gorgeously Green: 8 Simple Steps to an Earth-Friendly Life” by Sophie Uliano “Eco Chick Guide to Life: How to Be Fabulously Green” by Starre Vartan “The Lazy Environmentalist” by Josh Dorfman “The Better World Shopping Guide: Every Dollar Makes a Difference” by Ellis Jones For the eco conscious woman in your life, check out Inhabitat's Green Gift Guide for Her, with creative, unique eco-friendly gift ideas like a recycled chain bracelet, organic bath and body treats, purses made from recycled leather jackets or TONS of soda pull tabs. As always, Inhabitat finds great items that are as unique and stylish as they are sustainable.

    Tips to Green Your Holiday 4

    [caption id="" align="alignleft" width="300"]An artificial fiber optic Christmas tree Image via Wikipedia[/caption] Green Your Holiday starting with your tree What is better? Real or artificial? Deforestation or plastic contraption? Here is Christmas tree 101 with tips from the Chicago Tribune. Artificial Tree Pros: Durable, affordable, easy to set up and maintain and continues to look good. Cons: PVC, phthalates, huge carbon footprint and no natural tree scent Real Tree Pros: environmentally friendly, local, renewable and recyclable and they smell good Cons: grown with pesticides, difficult to set up and maintain, pricey Solution? I already have an artificial so I am going with "reuse" despite the PVC and phthalates concerns. Plus I like a white tree and that is tough to find at the tree farm. Still can't decide? You could always go with a Festivus pole. Holiday Gifts With a Donation Twist If you would like to make a donation to a worthy cause and go holiday shopping in the process, then check out greenlagirls Give to get: Picking an eco-gift bag. Her useful review actually compares the contents of two different eco gift bags to determine if the bag is truly eco-useful or just fluff. One bag is from Environmental Working Group for a $135 donation and the other is from Jump Start to Green for an $89.99 donation. Either bag is a great way to get an "eco-interested" friend or relative started on the right foot.    
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    Going Green Starts at Home 4

    [caption id="" align="alignleft" width="300"]Space-filling model of a part of a PVC chain Space-filling model of a part of a PVC chain[/caption] Did you know that the EPA not only considers indoor air to be much more polluted than outdoor air, but it is one of the top 5 human health concerns? It is no wonder when you consider that most homes contain toxin soaked carpeting, formaldehyde soaked particleboard, toxic household cleaning supplies, PVC, offgassing, dry cleaning, plastics and much more. If it was manufactured in a lab, odds are it is not good for you or your family. The short and long term dangers are compounded if you have children or pets. The good news is that it is not terribly difficult or expensive to start going green at home. Gaiam has a nice article called 5 Easy and Cheap Ways to Green Your Home and the list includes: 1. Take your shoes off at the door to avoid tracking in lead, pesticides and other contaminants. The good news is, your home will stay much cleaner too. 2. Get rid of vinyl (PVC) which is commonly found in shower curtains, kids toys and backpacks. Look for the #3 or letters PVC. Why get rid of it?
    "PVC frequently contains notorious phthalates to make it soft. According to the Children's Health Environmental Coalition, these phthalates are known to cause liver and kidney damage, endocrine disruption, reproductive system damage and, possibly, cancer, and they can easily leach out of PVC. And finally, harder PVC often contains lead and cadmium, two heavy metals that have also been linked to a host of health issues, including cancers."
    3. Switch to green cleaners because traditional household cleaners turn your indoor air and surfaces into toxic hazards. There are many green cleaners on the market today and they are a step in the right direction but making your own cleaners with vinegar, baking soda and salt is the most healthy, inexpensive, non-toxic and earth friendly way to clean your home. 4. Use indoor plants. They look great, are positive feng shui and yes they absorb toxins from the air. The best plants for toxic absorption are ficus, spider plants and English ivy. 5. Open your windows even if it is for a few minutes a day and yes, even in the winter. Even adding a little fresh air to the mix will help dilute the toxins in your household air.
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