Friday, March 13, 2015

Friday the 13th, Telomeres and Collage Feathers

I have always loved Fridays that fall on the 13th. I turned 13 on a Friday and was given a surprise party by a dear friend. I remember walking down the stairs to her basement and getting the full vocal surprise treatment and being ,well -- utterly surprised! I wonder what percentage of people turn 13 on 13th Fridays? But math has never been my forte, so I will leave that to the statisticians. Triskaidekaphobia (fear of Friday the 13th) is foreign to me.
This Friday the 13th finds me on the mend in the frozen shoulders department. I do my PT exercises regularly and get massages as needed. My official land and water PT is over, so it's all on me now. I believe this malady is a stress reaction as it started last fall when I took on a big volunteer art project for my church. The adrenaline was thrilling but too much for me, and I spent too many hours hunched over my work.  So I was fascinated to learn about the connection between telomeres and stress.
What are telomeres? Simply put, they are compound structures at the end of our chromosomes. They shorten as we age. They are very much affected by stress. Having done just a bit of reading on the subject, I can not claim to understand it the way a geneticist would, but my takeaway was that I needed to lessen the stress in my life whenever possible. And so that has become more a part of my operating system. When faced with any choice in life (even what route to take if driving across town), I ask myself which choice is less stressful. No one can totally control the stress in their lives, but often we forget that there are plenty of alternatives in any given situation. The knowledge that stress affects my health is nothing new, but this telomere stuff really spoke to me for some reason. One study referred to in a National Institute of Aging article found that "telomeres of healthy centenarians were significantly longer than those of unhealthy centenarians".
On the collage front, I have been trying my hand at feathers made of paper, cloth and wire. Here are a few photos of my efforts so far. I very much consider these a work in progress and have given away the few I've made to friends on special occasions.
And so it goes! I can not believe we are almost halfway through March. It has been cold and rainy here in Houston. There is lots to do in the yard, so I am looking forward to "spring-ier" weather. But I am not going to overdo the digging, planting or raking, etc. My telomeres might not like that... Here's wishing you much "telomeric" longevity and spring sunshine!
P.S. Another reason life feels good today: I just started Anne Tyler's latest book, A Spool of Blue Thread. Anne Tyler is one of my all time favorite authors....

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