The Chosen People?

TEVYE: I know, I know. We are Your chosen people. But, once in awhile, can’t You choose someone else?

Jewish people are roughly divided into two main groups; Ashkenazic and Sephardic. Simply stated, Ashkenazic Jews are from Central or Eastern Europe while Sephardic Jews are from Spain and the Middle East. While people from any ethnic group can develop genetic disease, Ashkenazic Jews are at higher risk of certain diseases because of specific genetic mutations. They are, in general, a more genetically homogenous group compared to the Sephardic Jews.

A study done in 2014 and published in Nature Communications found that today’s population of 10 million Ashkenazic Jews descended from a core group of 350 people 600-800 years back. This small group, referred to as a population “bottleneck”, passed on the same genes to the next generations, putting them at higher risk of certain genetic mutations. Scary thought. 75-90% of American Jews are Ashkenazic. The Ashkenazic Jewish population are at a higher risk of over 100 different diseases. 

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What Is Mercury Retrograde And What Does It Have To Do With You?

Love+Medicine - Mercury Retrograde

I went to the librarian and asked for a book about stars… The scale of the universe suddenly opened up to me. There was a magnificence to it, a grandeur, a scale that has never left me. Never, ever left me.

Carl Sagan

Mercury in retrograde comes up in conversation too many times for me to ignore. It seems to be the default scapegoat when you’re having a bad day, your computer crashes or if you have to explain doing something really impulsive (like texting an ex). Before we start judging it as fact or folly, L+M wants to know what it actually means. It suits me as a once aspiring astronaut who always wondered about astrology.

Mercury Retrograde. Take a deep breath. And don't text your ex.

Mercury is a tiny planet that moves super fast. When Mercury zips around the sun, as it passes Earth it appears to be moving backwards, from Earth’s vantage point. This optical illusion is what is known as Mercury retrograde. This happens about 3-4 times a year and lasts three weeks each time.

Stargazers have always been fascinated by retrograde motion. “As above, so too below” is the cardinal astrologic rule. When Mercury speeds by, it creates a sort of disruption or turbulence that is thought to affect us on earth. In astrology, Mercury is associated with communication, relationships, travel, contracts, and computer codes. The 1st century poet Marus Manilius called it the “inconsistent, vivacious and curious planet.”

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The Magic of the Bird Feeder

I don’t feed the birds because they need me; I feed the birds because I need them.

Kathi Hutton

Watching birds has become part of my morning routine. For me It is a an exercise in being still. I’m not a bird watching nerd – the cardinal, robin, woodpecker and chickadee are the only ones I recognize by name – I just enjoy watching them move.

Birds add sound, color and movement to a stationary house. At my house, there is always action at the bird feeder. I can be in the middle of a conversation, cooking a meal or writing but my attention shifts to the birds outside my kitchen window.

Two of my feeders hang on the backyard deck. One is a cylinder feeder with hot pepper seed. This is a way to entice the birds and keep the squirrels at bay – squirrels dislike the spicy food and birds are quite indifferent to spiciness. They love the mixture of tree nuts, sunflower, peanuts and hot pepper.

These simple, inexpensive structures provide a microcosm of nature right outside the window. I moved recently from a palatial office with a view of Lake Mendota to a cubicle. My patients use the word “dreary” or a similar adjective when describing my new office – but there is one shining light. I have a window which faces a courtyard and I hung a bird feeder from one of the trees. There was reluctance by the birds to enter the dark enclosed courtyard. I had to coax them in by moving the feeder in increments to it’s present spot. The word is out now – I am starting to see more birds lately, dipping in and out. They provide the perfect antidote to the dull and depressing interior.

I have a definite love-hate relationship with birds. The swooping Magpies in Australia scare the crap out of me.


I’m the one with the bike helmet covered in cable ties, even in the off season in Hervey Bay. I won’t ride a bike in Australia without them. Hitchcock’s masterpiece The Birds had such an effect on me that I wrote Alfred Hitchcock a letter, asking about the special effects. He even wrote me back, signed with his iconic signature.

I know that watching the movement and activities of the birds is beneficial to all of us, if we take the time to actually do it. It can lift our spirits in a simple, subtle way. I consider it calming like meditation. Watching birds is proven to improve the quality of life for patients suffering from dementia. A bird feeder is the perfect gift idea for someone who is suffering. After stressing about what to buy for a memory impaired family member, I bought a small bird feeder. This gift has provided hours of multi-sensory joy for her.

I usually wake up to the call of the Mourning Dove, when the clock strikes seven o’clock on my Audubon birdsong clock but today is a rainy Sunday. I’ll wait for the nine o’clock Northern Chickadee.

If you don’t have a bird feeder, get one. Hang it high so it doesn’t attract coyotes. Most importantly, hang it in a spot where you can see it. Take notice. True zen can only be found in nature.

FAIRY TALE IRL

We woke up today to a fairy tale.

Bishop Curry was a preacher out of central casting – he stole the show. He did it by talking about the elephant in the room, love. The Royal Wedding, as cynical as I can be, was all about love. Not dresses, celebrity sightings and lemon elderflower cake. Pomp and circumstance aside, it was indeed about the power of love.

In that carriage Meghan Markle must have felt like it was a dream. As unlikely as those fairy tales read to us in childhood, she found a prince.

Embed from Getty Images

What does it all mean for the rest of us? On a superficial level not much. A future episode of The Crown maybe. To say we woke up at dawn and watched for the historical value is like saying you read Playboy for the articles.

Families are a mess, divorce is statistically likely and the monarchy is both is dated and ridiculous. We can easily choose to focus on that.

L+M takes a different approach.

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HAIR YOGA: Yes, It’s a Thing

Love+Medicine Hair Yoga

We all want to have better hair. Our hair reflects our health, genetics, age, hormone levels and priorities. I, unfortunately inherited my mom’s fine, wispy hair. I bring my stylist a picture of a killer hairstyle from a magazine – only to be told I need product. Lots of product. I have tossed hundreds of bottles of ‘product’ that I swore I would use after seeing how great my hair looked at the shop. In truth hair has never been a priority for me. I’ve heard it’s a Koplin trait but I hardly ever brush my hair. Or blow dry, or really do anything.

Some things get better with age, hair is not one of them.

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