LIFT: A Great Non-Profit Organization

Dear Naylor blog-ites,

Welcome back.

Who said we ever left?

Aww, so sweet.

Dont get ahead of yourself now.

Janus-faced, as always.

To the subject at hand—or, should I say keyboard—: LIFT.

 

In a nutshell, LIFT is a registered non-profit organization specialized in guiding and supporting healthy youth development, in order to prevent substance use disorders, delinquency and high-school drop outs (taken from LIFT’s website).

LIFT organizes two adult retreats a year, from which all profits go to organizing retreats for youth. The adult retreats last one weekend, normally from Friday afternoon to Sunday afternoon.

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LIFT participants and volunteers – November 2017

The main focus of the weekend is taking care of one’s self, by means of meditation, yoga, osteopathy, healthy eating, and relaxation.

One of my close friends Antoine—whom I met during my osteopathic studies—joined the LIFT team a few years back. When he told me about the organization’s mission and motives, I was enthralled, and I wanted to take a part in it right away; however, at the time, they were not in the need of extra hands—pun intended.

So I lifted LIFT out of my head for the time being.

Nice dad joke.

Several months later, I was asked to come to the second adult retreat organized by LIFT—which took place in early 2017 and at which I volunteered at—to offer osteopathic consultations and workshops on maintaining good bodily health.

You can imagine that my answer was an ecstatic yes!

It was a rich experience, in which I relaxed profoundly, disconnected from technology, and made a handful of deep connections with the volunteers and participants at the retreat.

This past weekend, I volunteered once again—at the third adult retreat organized by LIFT thus far—, and had another inspiring weekend.

A Little Summary Of The Weekend

The weekend begins on Friday afternoon. The participants are asked to arrive sometime in the afternoon, between 4:00 PM and 5:00 PM. The two retreats that I volunteered at took place at Au tournant du coeur, located in Sutton.

Once all the participants have arrived, supper is served. On cooking duty for the weekend is Meesh Coles, a holistic chef, from British Columbia, who is aided in the kitchen by her hard-working companion and lover, Ben Sbrollini, a co-founder of LIFT. They labor non-stop, all weekend—and I mean, all weekend—in the kitchen, preparing sumptuous dishes beyond your imagination.

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Meesh, hard at work in the kitchen at Au tournant du coeur

After supper, everyone goes up to the large meditation room to participate in the opening circle. Participants are given the choice to speak up if they’d like, with emphasis on what they think they can contribute to the weekend. The LIFT team also explains the proposed schedule for the weekend, and goes over some other important information—information not pertinent to this blog post.

A short restorative yoga class is then given by Jeanne Mudie, one of the owners of Ashtanga Yoga, located in Montreal.

On the morrow: a morning walk on the Arcadian property of Au tournant du coeur, breakfast, mindfulness meditation—given by Elvis Grahovic, a mindfulness meditation teacher based in Montreal—, yoga, lunch, a hike, supper, and some more yoga.

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Elvis and some participants, sitting the meditation room

All throughout the weekend, osteopathic consultations were offered to participants who were interested in receiving one. They were offered by yours truly, the writer of the Jonathan Naylor Blog: Jonathan Naylor, an osteopath from Montreal.

Talking about yourself in the third person? Haughty mister.

Sunday’s schedule was: morning walk, breakfast, mindfulness meditation, yoga, the closing circle, and lunch.

The closing circle is always an emotional intrapersonal and interpersonal event, in which participants are asked to share anything and everything they have in mind. Several tissues are needed to wipe the flow of tears that inevitably ensue, occurring with one participant beginning the waterfall, and several others hoping aboard and aiding the stream of blotted rivulets.

After lunch, the bags are packed, and everyone says goodbye, wishing they could spend another week at the amazing Au tournant du coeur.

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The view from the main room, Au tournant du coeur

The two days spent were rich emotionally, tiring and relaxing physically, and all around peaceful. I always have trouble leaving Au tournant du coeur‘s gorgeous landscape, but such is life.

I can’t wait to do the next retreat, which will be with the youth in January.

Excitement level: very high!

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LIFT participants and volunteers – November 2017

Have you ever volunteered at a retreat? Or have you been to a retreat as a participant before?

Side-note: you will LIFT up the youth, and the youth will LIFT up the world.

Don’t Starve – The Video Game

Ever since I’ve started playing video games, I’ve always loved those in which you need to survive. Whether it be trying to find food in the wilderness, build a house from scratch, or even strive in space, these games have always appealed to me. The feelings they brought were visceral, as if it was really me there, trying to stay alive, surviving ever so slightly, on the brink.

Are you able to survive in real life at least?

So far, I’ve been doing alright.

Anyways, in 2013, a game such as this was released on STEAM: Don’t Starve.

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Don’t Starve is an open world survival game. You spawn in a randomly generated world, with no resources whatsoever. You must walk around and collect resources, such as grass, flint, rock, etc. Then, using the resources you’ve gathered, you craft items such as an ax to chop down trees to collect wood for fire, a farm to plant seeds to grow vegetables, a parasol to protect you from the rain so your tools don’t get all wet, and the list goes on.

When you spawn, you are considered to be on Day 1. Each day lasts about 8-10 minutes, part day and part night. You normally being in summer—or fall—, so the days are long, and the nights are short and warm. Your goal is to survive as long as possible, or to escape the world through a cascading set of objectives—that are never stated in the game; you must simply learn then as you play, through exploration and cunning.

At evenfall, you must prepare for the darkness: you need to have a light source, or else you die in the pitch of the night, attacked by abyssal creatures that you never see.

For those who watch Game of Thrones, you are all familiar with Winter Is Coming.

So are those who live on Earth, seeing as winter comes every year.

Yes, but I’m sure you get the point. Give me some slack, just sometimes.

In Don’t Starve, winters looms over your mind like a guillotine over a bandit’s neck: you must prepare for winter constantly, because food will be scarce, your character will freeze to death if not kept warm, and days are short and treacherous, which do not allow you to explore and collect resources as you do in the summer.

Did I mention that you must also take care of your hunger level—eat some nice veggies to partially fill your belly, or cook a meal in the crock-pot for a full replenishment—, keep sane—dig up graves, you get scared, your sanity drops, but pick flowers, you feel good, your sanity level increases slightly—, and monitor your health—if you start starving, your health drops rapidly until you find food, if you take one hit from a spider without your armor you could lose a fifth of your health, and don’t even get me started on Beefalos.

There are also caves, wild animals, hoards of spiders, angry walruses, and other imaginative creatures that haunt you at every forest turn. And the music in this game is stellar. It reminds me of Sherlock Holmes.

Here is a screenshot from the game, to give you an idea of the art style—a hat has been crafted to help keep warm during the winter:

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There exists a multiplayer version, called Don’t Starve Together. In this, you can play with up to 5 other players, and attempt to survive the wild together. Two expansions also came out following the original game. In one of them, you are no longer in a forest-scene, but on a seafaring adventure: you ride little boats, find islands full of monkeys that steal all your goods, and much more.

Have you ever played this game? If not, what is your favorite survival game?

Foot-note: not starving of starvation is comforting, but starving of starvation is deadly.

What Is Endometriosis?

I recently met someone who has endometriosis. If this had been 6 years ago—before my studies in osteopathy—I would have perplexedly gazed into the horizon and thought: What the heck is endometriosis? Is it a parasite? A pathology? Maybe even a super-power?

Thanks to a course I took 4 years ago—hooray!—I know what endometriosis is. Since that course 4 years ago, I have only met two people with endometriosis even though I know it is somewhat prevalent among women.

After discovering that this person—let us call her Joan—had endometriosis, the flood gates opened; I could not withhold from reading about it all over again to re-discover every nook and cranny there is to know about it.

That’s it for this post!

[Insert reader’s thoughts in the parentheses]

[Ummm…

Wait, aren’t you going to tell me what it is? The class you took, was it a class on super-powers or something?!

I want to know if this is a super-power or not!]

I’m glad that you ask. Of course I’m going to tell you! However, please take a moment to commend me on the dad joke I just pulled. It was just that funny.

Anyways.

Sadly for you—and more importantly those with endometriosis—I must inform you that this is not a super-power. Furthermore, if you’re a male, even if it was a super-power, it would be one reserved for women. Why, you ask?

Do you have a uterus?9a1b2bd8e595c1c8ee497547dda53db5.jpg

I didn’t think so, and that is why!

Briefly put, endometriosis is a health issue regarding the endometrium, which is the inner lining of the uterus.

Image note: I find all women are Wonder Woman for dealing with an ever-changing internal equilibrium once a month. You go girl(s)!

To you I share a short summary I put together after spending about half an hour reading on endometriosis:

  • To understand endometriosis you must first know what the endometrium is. The endometrium is a tissue present in women; it is the inner most tissue of the uterus. About once a month, a part of the endometrium is expelled via menstruations at the end of the menstrual cycle if no fertilization occurred.
  • Endometriosis is defined as the presence of endometrial cells outside of the uterus. These could be nearby (such as the ovaries or the fallopian tubes) or at a distance (such as in the lungs or in an arm).
  • 5% to 10% of woman old enough to bear children are affected by endometriosis and it is most often diagnosed from 25 to 40 years old. In many cases there is no pain associated with endometriosis and it does not affect fertility. However, there are still 30% to 40% of women diagnosed with endometriosis who are infertile.
  • The symptoms of endometriosis often occur in synergy with the menstrual cycle. Regardless of their location, endometrial cells will react to the change of hormone levels at the end of the menstrual cycle and will “bleed”. Normally, this bleeding is evacuated through menstruations; however, when the endometrial cells are located somewhere else than the uterus, there is no escape route for the cells that shed.
  • The most frequent symptoms of endometriosis are low abdominal pains similar to menstrual cramps which increase during menstruation, sexual activity and urination. It is often difficult to differentiate them from typical menstrual cramps.
  • Several alternative approaches exist that may help women affected by endometriosis, such as Traditional Chinese Medicine, yoga, meditation, osteopathy, and dietary changes.

Joan told me to add one more point—which comes from experience—:

“I would add that once the endometriosis becomes advanced, the pains no longer follow the menstrual cycle and appear sporadically without an identifiable cause.” (Joana, 2017. Retrieved from the prestigious scientific database known as Facebook Messenger).

I hope I managed to help you learn something new with this post!

Do you know anyone who has endometriosis? If so, did you know what it was before they told you? Or did you learn about it thanks to them?

Footnote: I still wish this was a super-power.

References: passport santé; Facebook Messenger, the prestigious scientific database.

How A Fever Works

Have you ever wondered the following:

  • How does a fever work?
  • Why does my body become so cold?
  • How exactly does the fever help me?

I certainly have.

I took the time to read on it several years ago, but for the sake of this post I read it all again.

I’ll try to summarize it in simple terms—without too much jargon:

What Is A Fever?

A fever is an increase of body temperature to an abnormal level usually caused by pyrogens. Pyrogens are substances that produce a rise in body temperature. The hypothalamus—a structure of the brain—is the area in charge of controlling body temperature. The control of body temperature is named thermoregulation. For this reason, the hypothalamus is sometimes called the Body’s Thermostat.

How Do Pyrogens Affect The Hypothalamus?

Pyrogens affect the thermoregulation control center. When this happens, the reference value for the body’s normal temperature is temporarily increased. This leads to your body feeling that it is colder than it should be. This sensation leads the body to attempt to heat itself up—and to achieve this, symptoms can occur, i.e., shivering.

Ok, I Am Cold Now. I Take My Blanket. I Am Still Cold. Is It All Worth It?

If the fever is slight, here are two reasons why it is beneficial—I am sure there are other reasons as well:

  • It increases the speed of the body’s defensive reactions to aid in killing pyrogens faster. 
  • It—by means of the liver and spleen—lowers the amount of iron and zinc. Bacteria needs iron and zinc to multiply. This lowering of zinc and iron is done to hinder bacteria proliferation.

Therefore, instances of fever that do not rise the body temperature too much are considered to aid in defense against external agents. However, when the body’s temperature increases drastically, certain enzymes—substance in your body that are essential to producing chemical reactions—deactivate and this can be dangerous.

Here is a passage taken from a Science Daily article from 2011:

“Having a fever might be uncomfortable,” said John Wherry, Ph.D., Deputy Editor of the Journal of Leukocyte Biology, “but this research report and several others are showing that having a fever is part of an effective immune response. We had previously thought that the microbes that infect us simply can’t replicate as well when we have fevers, but this new work also suggests that the immune system might be temporarily enhanced functionally when our temperatures rise with fever. Although very high body temperatures are dangerous and should be controlled, this study shows that we may need to reconsider how and when we treat most mild fevers.”

That just about sums it up without going through the details of everything occurring in the body when you are swarmed by some unwanted pyrogen visitors.

 

How much of this did you already know? And do you know of other key reasons as to why fevers occur?

References: Atlas de poche de physiologie (1992); Vulgaris Médical; Science Daily.