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  • JD Harper


Recently I had the good fortune to spend two weekends in a row in two different cities in the Sunshine State. As my husband and I traversed the plethora of small towns decorating the rural side of Florida on the way to our destinations, I smiled every time we passed a road side stand advertising “fresh Florida oranges” for sale. Now, there are many things that are synonymous with Florida in my mind: the smell of Hawaiian Tropic, an ocean breeze, a key lime pie and the proverbial road side fruit stand are but a few to mention. From my much younger days, I remember seeing the countless rows of orange trees standing at diagonal attention while traveling through the middle part of the state with my family during summer vacations, the smell of orange blossom hand cream at the local Five and Dime drugstore and the orange in my stocking on Christmas morning. Of course, being a native Floridian, I think orange juice quite literally runs in my blood, and nothing can make me happier than a freshly squeezed glass of Florida OJ. Needless to say, I love oranges, and the navel orange is my favorite variety of this fruit power packed with Vitamin C, the topic of my blog this week because it is a very important vitamin. Odds are you have heard of Vitamin C, but do you really know this nutrient? For example, did you know another name for Vitamin C is ascorbic acid? By the end of this blog, if you don’t know Vitamin C all that well, you will!


Humans are the only animals that cannot produce or store Vitamin C; therefore, it is essential to consume it regularly in sufficient amounts.

Vitamin C is a water-soluble vitamin found in lots of food, but mostly in fruits and vegetables.


It is a powerful anti-oxidant which blocks the oxidative stresses in the body that can trigger DNA damage, leading to cancer initiation.

Vitamin C has positive effects on skin health and immune function. It is vital for collagen synthesis (the framework of the skin), connective tissue, teeth and small blood vessels.

Because of its anti-oxidant properties, vitamin C is also cardio protective by acting on several of the pathways involved in the development of atherosclerosis and arterial blockage that can result in stroke and/or heart attacks.


Vitamin C may help boost mood and subsequently fight depression through activation of the receptors for the neurotransmitter, GABA.


Recent studies have shown that Vitamin C boosts longevity by reversing several age related abnormalities found in tissues.


Vitamin C deficiency symptoms include: bleeding gums, frequent bruising and/or infections, poor wound healing, anemia and scurvy (yes, this disease still happens although mostly in third world, underdeveloped countries).


The current daily value for Vitamin C for adults is 90 mg with an upper limit of 2,000 mg. Please note, we should get most of nutrients through food, but if you do supplement, keep in mind too much Vitamin C will cause diarrhea, nausea and stomach cramps. Vitamin C can also have interactions with certain prescription medications.


Bottom line, Vitamin C is essential for your immune system, skin, connective tissue, heart and blood vessel health and may have longevity and mood boosting benefits. A Vitamin C deficiency can have negative effects on your health. Citrus fruits are the most famous source of Vitamin C, but there is a large variety of foods packed with Vitamin C, often exceeding the amount found in the citrus fruits. A diet rich in Vitamin C is a crucial step toward good health and disease prevention. Happy Eating!


Food high in Vitamin C:

  1. Guavas

  2. Sweet Yellow Peppers

  3. Black Currants

  4. Thyme

  5. Parsley

  6. Kale

  7. Kiwis

  8. Broccoli

  9. Brussels Sprouts

  10. Lemons

  11. Papayas

  12. Strawberries

  13. Oranges (saved the best for last!)

#vitaminC #florida #citrus #Halesoranges #indianriverfruit #ascorbicacid

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By: Tina L. Hullender



As the surrounding landscape awakens from its winter slumber, the signs and scents of spring’s arrival render me nearly spellbound with anticipation. This first day of spring brings to mind images and inspiring ideas as numerous as there are wildflowers blanketing a meadow; a virtual bouquet of experiences awaits. Once again, I am summoned by the garden to give it attention and care, and in return, I’ll reap the benefits of time well spent. British biographer and historian, Jenny Uglow, sums it up perfectly, “We may think we are nurturing our garden, but of course, it’s our garden that is really nurturing us”.



Goodness from the ground up. Behind the disarray of clay pots and stacked planters, underneath spent perennial beds and leaf covered mulch, lies the source of the garden’s transformational ingredient and what scientists believe is a key component of our health. Dirt. Exposure to Mycobacterium vaccae, the bacteria found in soil, supports the immune system by suppressing inflammation in the body and enriching our gut flora. In a 2007 study integrative physiologist Dr. Christopher Lowry concluded that “getting our hands dirty” is good for our health. Contact with soil (and animals) exposes us to microorganisms and bacteria that we breathe in and ingest. Jack Gilbert, Ph.D. at the University of Chicago and author of “Dirt is Good: The Advantages of Germs for Your Child’s Developing Immune System”, told NPR, “most dirt exposures are beneficial” (and) “the more parasites, viruses, and bacteria our immune system is introduced to, the better chance we have of staving off infections, allergies, and asthma”. Other researchers around the world believe exposure to soil bacteria can boost our mood and serve as a preventative to depression. So, dig in!



But there’s more to gardening than the nitty-gritty. Performing basic tasks in the garden provides the same benefit as exercising and jogging. Besides burning calories and improving cardiovascular health, toiling in the garden can reduce stress. Simple chores such as raking, digging, or pulling up weeds are ‘mindless tasks’ that psychologists refer to as procedural memory because they can be performed without thinking. While we are engaging in chores, our minds are given time to wander and daydream, allowing our brains to access information that was dormant. Thus, resulting in creativity, insight, and solutions. Researchers at Florida State and University of California Santa Barbara confirm that these repetitive motions have mental health benefits which channel our brains to engage in problem solving. However, mental health professionals advise keeping your garden to do list short and pleasant. Turn gardening into a hobby, not an obligatory chore. Don’t create additional stress by engaging in projects that become overly time consuming and physically taxing. If desired, limit your ‘garden’ to a few planters on a porch or patio. A container filled with a variety of herbs, or perhaps, a concrete urn displaying a cascade of colorful blooms to attract butterflies will give pleasure to the senses and provide a tranquil respite. Even on a small scale, the rewards of tending a garden remain beneficial to the participant. After all, it’s rooted in science.



Cultivate a natural habitat. Whether you choose to plant flowers here and there around the yard or design a vegetable garden, the goal should be to create a space where you can slow down and reconnect with the natural world. In her book, “The Happy Hour Effect: Twelve Secrets to Minimize Stress and Maximize Life”, author Kristin K. Brown discusses how this connection can restore attention, relax our body, and revive our mood. Take time to observe the garden’s creature residents. Linger at the event of a ladybug traversing a long blade of grass, follow an industrious earthworm wriggling through the moist soil, gaze after a blue tailed lizard sunning on a warm rock – marvel at tiny wonders! For more access to the natural world, welcome wildlife visitors to your garden. Create a sanctuary for wild birds by setting up feeders and a birdbath, or plant berry producing shrubs and trees that will provide a food source for feathered friends. Invest in native plants and flowering perennials to attract pollinators and enjoy beautiful butterflies, honeybees, and other beneficial flying insects. They’ll reward you by fertilizing and enriching the garden’s production. Watch for curious squirrels, scampering chipmunks, and grazing cottontails to become regular guests. Before you know it, your garden will become a hive of activity.



Branch out with new hobbies inspired from the garden. Take an interest in birdwatching; keep a list of the visiting birds and learn to identify them by their songs. Observing birds and their behavior can be enjoyed throughout the calendar year. My interest in birding evolved into wildlife photography. Snapping photos of birds perched on my feeders soon expanded to capturing all the visiting and resident ‘critters’ with the lens. Turtles, chipmunks, raccoons, wild turkeys, deer, hawks, snakes, lizards, rabbits, and insects, all visitors at one time or another to the backyard, have contributed to a wealth of photo opportunities and landed themselves in flattering album collections. Another garden related hobby involves creating a miniature ‘Fairy Garden’ featuring small plantings and decorated with whimsical figurines and tiny objects. Some nurseries provide classes and materials to get you started. What a delightful hobby to share with children of all ages?! Discover new interests that stem from the garden.



Bloom where you are planted. Even a humble garden can serve as an inviting space for reflection and meditation. Select a desirable spot for a bench, and create a peaceful space for solace and devotion by hanging wind chimes and installing a simple birdbath fountain, or some other inexpensive water feature. Imagine transforming a portion of your garden into a zen-like environment. Gardens have long been connected with spirituality and as metaphors of life’s lessons. The Scriptures are filled with descriptions and images of gardens and gardeners. For further insight on the spiritual aspects of gardening, I’ve provided a short list of suggested readings: “The Spiritual Dimension of Gardening” by Miriam Diaz-Gilbert at the Huffpost.com, “The Seven Spiritual Laws of Gardening” based on Dr. Deepak Chopra’s writings, and “Ten Spiritual Lessons from Gardening; Not Quite Amish” by Valerie Comer. May you blossom with new growth and harvest beautiful experiences from a garden.



I will close with ‘Advice from the garden’: Cultivate lasting friendships, sow seeds of kindness, listen to sage advice, don’t let the little things bug you, be outstanding in your field, take thyme for yourself, and no vining! (Yourtruenature.com



From my wonderful collection of friends, Tina Hullender and I have know each other for nearly 18 years having meet at the little league baseball fields when our sons were on the same 4 year old team. Tina studied Psychology and has worked as a counselor. Her interests are many and varied. She is an avid gardener, amateur wildlife photographer, enjoys traveling overseas, especially to France, is an art advocate and an animal lover, particularly those of the feline persuasion. She is currently working on a coffee table book collection of her wildlife photography. Be on the lookout for it!


#gardeningisgoodforyou #gardening #garden #friendship #nature #DeepakChopra #diginthedirt #valeriecomer #yourtruenature #miriamdiazgilbert #kristenkbrown #drchristopherlowry #jackgilbert #jennyuglow


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Photo credit: Constant Contact

Recently I was “on the town” with a friend, and we had a young gentleman approach our table and strike up a conversation. I won’t bore you with all the details, but I will share with you that he believed me to be in my early 40’s, gray hair and all: this from a close to but not quite yet 30 year old. I won’t mention that it was a low light venue, nor did he appear to be inebriated. My friend and I had a good laugh once he was far from our presence which was quite quickly when we shared with him that we were in our early 50’s. I share this story with you because I’m not gonna lie, it was fun to have a much younger person appreciate me in this youth obsessed world. But the real reason for joy at this occurrence is as I have said before, it re-enforces my knowledge and belief that how I choose to live my life: what I eat, products I use, how I exercise and with whom I surround myself is paying off!

Actual photo from the night "on the town"

The next day, I analyzed the aforementioned scene and was reminded of the 1992 movie, “Death Becomes Her,” staring Goldie Hawn, Meryl Streep and Bruce Willis. The focus of the film is on two beautiful rivals who drink a magic potion that promises eternal youth, but when they physically die, they experience some unpleasant side-effects as they become walking, talking corpses who then employ the talents of a now defunct plastic surgeon, Ernest, working as a reconstructive mortician, played by Bruce Willis, to keep them looking “fresh.” Well, I certainly have not drunk a “magic potion” but some “trick the eye” techniques that I employ have me feeling like Bruce Willis’, Ernest, on any given day.


Here are four that I use with my make-up routine:


#1: Fill in and darken my eyebrows-When we are young, our eyebrows are thick, full and darker, but as we age, they tend to lighten (i.e. turn gray=horrors!) and thin, especially if we have tended to “over-pluck” them when we were younger. I use Ulta Beauty eyeshadow (made in the USA!): Vampress applied with an Elf eyebrow duo brush.



#2: Use a honey-toned eyeshade on my upper lid just under the brow line to brighten the eye area giving the illusion that the eye is lifted because we all know this area starts to sag with age. I consider it my eye-lift without the knife. I use Merle Norman eyeshadow (made in the USA, too!): Vanilla Mousse.



#3: Use an illumination powder under eyes and across forehead to “blur” the fine and not so fine lines. The powder reflects the light making those pesky lines less noticeable-think of it like those fancy diffuser lights used on all the celebs. I use Laura Mercier Secret Brightening Powder.

#4: Use a bronzer along jaw line and down neck to create the sharp lines of youth-this is the same technique make-up artists use on models to “enhance” those 6-pack abs. I use Laura Geller Baked Body Frosting: Tahitian Glow.


In regards to appearing slimmer: improving your posture is all you need to do and this starts with awareness of your body in space. Gravity, although great for keeping objects from floating out to space, can wreak havoc on our bodies when it comes to posture as it is constantly working to push us to the ground and why the forward head, rounded shoulders, sway back (which enhances the belly by making it project forward), stooped posture is so prevalent, and today’s world of technology isn’t doing anything to help us, rather it enhances the already bad habits of our upright beings, pulling us further into the forward head, rounded shoulder, sway back/forward projected belly, stooped posture.


Photo credit: backinmotion.co.nz

A great way to become aware of your posture is to, and this is where the technology is good, ask someone whom you are comfortable with to take a picture of you with your phone from the front, sides and back, preferably in a swimsuit/undergarments so you can see your body really well for comparison purposes later (hence why you want someone you are comfortable with, and yes, if you were to see me in the clinic, I would have you put on a sports bra and ugly athletic shorts). If your posture is less than ideal, you will immediately see the forward head, rounded shoulders, sway back/forward projected belly, and stooped posture. Next you will “improve” your posture, moving toward “optimal posture” by tightening your tummy (core muscles): it’s the movement you do when you zip up a pair of pants, especially, if they are a bit snug but DON’T hold your breath– breathe normally! (Can you hear the PT coming out in me?) Once you tighten your core it will feel like you are clenching your butt, and that’s ok because that means you have engaged your gluteal muscles which are part of the force couple along with the core muscles that keep your pelvis in “ neutral “ and optimal alignment for upright posture purposes. Next tuck your chin so that it is parallel to the ground, and pull your shoulders back and down so they align over your hips. Now, ask your “person” to take another series of pictures from the front, sides and back while you are in optimal posture and compare the images. Blaze the images into your brain of what poor and optimal posture looks like for you. Appreciate how your body feels as you move back and forth between the two postures because these feelings will become your feedback system. As you move through your days, start incorporating postural awareness into your daily routine – set a reminder (i.e. use your smart phone to set an alarm, place a red sticker on your computer screen or place a drop of colored nail polish on your watch: anything that will remind you of your posture when you see it) to check your posture every waking hour on the hour and made adjustments as needed. We set a schedule for everything else in our lives, why not for us, isn’t our health and well being something we should schedule first and foremost? Think about that for a moment. I won’t lie, it’s hard becoming aware of and improving one’s posture at first and it is uncomfortable because the soft tissues on the front of your body have become shortened and tightened and on the back of your body, lengthened and weakened. But the good news is that being consistent with postural checks will soon translate to your body automatically doing its own checks and now when you fall into poor posture, you will become uncomfortable and immediately correct your posture subconsciously. Now for the really good news: proper posture pulls in the abdominal area making you look up to ten pounds slimmer immediately!!! And who doesn’t want to look slimmer?


Photo credit: backinmotion.co.nz

So, now you know my tricks. I suspect the next time you see me, you’ll subtly try and check them all out, and that’s ok! I welcome the assessment. Have fun, y’all!


#posture #techneck #mouseshoulder #PT #physicaltherapy #DeathBecomesHer #GoldieHawn #MerylStreep #BruceWillis #eyebrows #chattanoogablogger #loveyourself

#merlenorman #ulta #lauragellar #lauramercier #elfcosmetics




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