The year 2020 seemed to blow the lid off plant addiction and hoarding. More people than ever before have developed an obsession for houseplants, which makes sense since we have all pretty much been going stir crazy since the beginning of COVID-19 and lockdown. It makes sense that we all turned to these beautiful, air-purifying, living things to enhance our home spaces and give us something to focus on besides our troubles.
There is a fascinating psychology behind collecting plants which differs from accumulation of inanimate collectible items. Houseplants can have an incredibly calming, stress-reducing effect on us, and they also nicely soften the look and feel of home environments while also cleaning the air. In addition, the rewards of watching a plant thriving under one’s care are considerable. I know that every time one of my plants pushes out new growth, I get almost giddy with excitement.
To be honest, I don’t even remember precisely how last year’s plant obsession really started. I remember seeing and ordering two Epipremnum cebu blues on May 27th, and two Zamioculcas zamiifolia ravens on Etsy on May 31st, two weeks after my father’s passing. After that, it’s kind of a green blur. My indoor plant count is now at 140. That’s enough for me, because I have run out of reasonable space.
I think my dad’s death, the lockdown and hysteria surrounding COVID, my two roommates suddenly bailing on me, the loss of work, the fact that my weekly in-person visits with my mom were halted for six months, all pushed me into a very specific nesting mode. I wanted to spruce up my place, and make it cozy and cool. I added an outdoor fountain which immediately attracted mosquitoes during the warmer months (lesson learned, but I still have the fountain). I added comfy pillows to all the seating in my living room and den, imparting a Bohemian vibe which I really enjoy.
After lockdown began, I had no desire to hoard things like clothing or little knick-knacks, though I know other people who began accumulating such items. Instead, I wanted all the plants which caught my eye, living things I could nurture and watch grow, which also helped to melt away my stress. Though I am not one of those people who talks to their plants or names them (a select few have names…more on this in another post), I am aware of every single plant in my home. I know if a leaf is turning yellow, if a specimen needs to be rotated to get more even sun exposure.
So how many plants would be considered overkill? Though I think the answer is quite subjective, there is an interesting Australian article which analyzes the optimal number of plants one should have in a room:
Plants not only clean the air, they have a relaxing and calming effect on humans, so why have a limit on the number of plants to pack into a space? My personal take on this is that I think it’s a mistake to allow one’s plant collection to overtake essential areas in a home, such as a kitchen counter, coffee table, floor space in a shower, stairs, and doorways, with the last two creating hazards since they would impede a speedy exit if a natural disaster were to occur. It’s also a bad idea to put plants in spots where they clearly wouldn’t survive, such as a very dark room with no grow lights added.
I have my plants placed so strategically in my home that no one ever guesses that I have 140 indoor plants. Although I fully address the light and humidity needs of all my plants, I also make sure they harmonize with the space they are in and look like they belong where they are. I will never be one to buy a massive shelving unit or glass cabinet in which to shove my plants, because I think it looks supremely unattractive, and also ironically doesn’t showcase the plants optimally. Whenever I see a plant person with a large shelving unit which is littered with plants, I know that the plant person is the only one who can fully appreciate all the specimens on the shelves, because they all tend to get lost in one big jumble.
I’ve heard some criticism from a couple of close friends about my plant collection, but I know that they don’t have the same mindset that someone who is into plants would have, so I’m not bothered by the snide remarks. Ultimately, what matters is how a plant person feels about their plant collection.
Here is the first houseplant video tour I shot, which I did last month. My indoor plant count was over 120, and now (I am writing this on March 23rd), I have exactly 140 indoor plants. Believe it or not (and many of my friends won’t believe me when I say this), I am for the most part done with searching for plants to add to my collection. As I ventured into more exotic, rare, and challenging plant species, and acquired the varieties which were on my wishlist, I felt that I could finally focus on admiring what I had instead of getting myself into trouble and looking for more plants.
Besides, I am out of room. I bet there are plant people reading that last sentence who are saying, “Nonsense! Just make room! Take over your bookcases! Take over your counters!” I simply can’t do that, because I have this strange built-in aversion to having anything encroaching upon functional areas of my living space. I have a kitchen counter which I would like to keep using (but check out what I did with my kitchen counter to accommodate plants), I have a desk which needs to remain functional, and I have no intention of getting rid of my beloved books to make room for green things.
For those of you who have plants in your home, have you noticed that your plants don’t look as healthy after you return home from a trip? I have consistently noticed in the past year that whenever I go on a trip, at least one of my plants is drooping, exhibiting brown leaf edges, or some other sign of less than optimal health. I didn’t mind it quite as much last winter, when I only had six plants inside my residence, but by my second out of town trip in September, I had over 30 plants, and wasn’t very pleased by the fact that I came home to see half a dozen droopy, sad plants. Four of my plants swung back to perfect health within three days, while two of them ended up in the houseplant graveyard. Thing is, I was only gone for four days, and I returned the day before my regular weekly plant watering day.
Then in November, I made another four-day trip, and by that time I had over 50 plants. I scheduled my trip so that I would once again return home the day before my weekly plant watering/assessment day, yet I once again returned to a number of plants which were not looking very happy. I’m thankful that they bounced back to health, but I still can’t figure out why this keeps happening.
I only devote one hour, one day per week, to assess the watering needs of my plants, water the ones which need a drink, spray orchid plant food on all my Hoyas (Hoyas love it), and rotate the pots by 90 degrees clockwise. I don’t fuss over my plants daily like some people do, not because I don’t care about my plants, but because my plate is always so full that I avoid plants which are fussy and require that type of attention.
Now that my indoor plant collection exceeds 100, I truly wonder what would happen if I were to take a short trip out of town. And though plants don’t have feelings per se, why is it that my plants are so much healthier and perkier when I spend more time at home? As weird as this may sound, I’m almost convinced that plants pick up on our energies, and since I admire my now sizeable plant collection and appreciate every single specimen, I believe my plants sense that. I know that in general, I have a very green thumb, and had discovered that talent about a quarter century ago, but my recent foray back into houseplant cultivation somehow seems different. I feel much more connected to the plants in my home, and though I don’t talk to them, simply looking at them makes me happy. I think they know how I feel.
I read this comment on a blog post about plants on The Smiling Gardener which I found quite interesting:
Feel free to check out the links below, both of which explore the idea of whether plants have feelings. At the very least, there is scientific evidence that plants send chemical signals to each other through the air or soil. Could my plants be chatting it up about how groovy my home is, how the humidity and the grow lights and natural light are (hopefully) just right?
I absolutely love my current L.A. residence, and I hope that I won’t have to move for a very long time. I know a number of people who are currently looking for places to live in Los Angeles, and I can certainly say that I don’t envy them, because the whole process of searching for a desirable new abode can be downright daunting. Thankfully, there’s Zumper, a fantastic comprehensive site on which people can research the rental market to see what the median rent prices are, browse listings, and even schedule viewings directly through the site.
I love the fact that Zumper enables you to research median rental prices for specific regions within Los Angeles County. Recent data by Zumper shows 63% of housing units are renter-occupied in Los Angeles, California, a fact I was not aware of until I visited the site. I discovered that the current median rental price for a 2 bedroom unit in Los Angeles is at $2,650, with an inventory of 4,087 available rentals. However, those of you who are familiar with Los Angeles County know that it is an enormous county, and the rental prices vary dramatically depending on what part of the county you are considering.
For those of you who are flexible about where you could live in L.A., or if you just want to browse the more popular parts of the county, you can simply access popular listings here:
However, since I am an L.A. native, I am pretty particular about which areas I would be willing to set up my cozy home shack. If I wanted to compare three different cities which I would consider living in, I could pull up findings like this:
Average rent for 2 bedroom rental:
- Marina del Rey $3,244
- Silver Lake $2,796
- Greater Toluca Lake $2,613
Based on the average rental prices for the above cities I discovered on Zumper, I could then really hone in on details by adding filters to a customized search. For example, check out the listings for a 2 bedroom unit in Greater Toluca Lake:
You can make your rental search as specific as you want by adding filters to the search engine such as number of bedrooms, number of bathrooms, pet policy, rental type, lease term, amenities, and even adjacent neighborhoods. When you find a listing you are interested in, you can peruse photos of the unit and property, send a message to a property manager or owner, and even schedule a tour directly through Zumper. Who wants to gather phone numbers and contact property managers the hold fashioned way? I sure don’t, and I simply don’t have the time to sit around and make countless phone calls. It’s so convenient to jump on Zumper and send messages which take less than a minute to compile.
One important point I would like to make about hunting for rentals, is that it’s a good idea to do an area search for activities you enjoy, so you are sure that the area you are considering moving to can accommodate your interests. Since I love hiking, one thing I would do if I were considering a move to Toluca Lake would be to look up hiking trails in the area. Here’s a great resource for finding hiking trails in or near Toluca Lake:
If you are looking for a great new residence in Los Angeles, make sure to check out Zumper at https://www.zumper.com/rent-research/los-angeles-ca
Check out this great article by Karen Weeks on getting a good night’s sleep while battling chronic back pain. Karen has more great content on her website, https://elderwellness.net/
Image via Unsplash
One of the comforts of going to sleep at the end of the day is the privilege of leaving behind your worries for eight hours. However, if you’re living with chronic back pain, that worry sticks around in addition to the fact that you won’t be able to fall asleep right away, compounding your problems. Getting a good night’s sleep can be difficult if you’re suffering from back pain, but there are ways to make it happen. Dr. Stacey Naito presents tips for learning to love falling asleep while living with chronic back pain.
Yoga Before Bed
Practicing yoga before you head to bed for the night can help stretch your sore muscles and give you a better chance of falling asleep right away. The ancient practice has numerous health benefits, and research has shown that practicing yoga regularly may even reduce the need for pain medication. There are many different poses you can do that are beneficial for back pain. Doing a few poses before bed will help strengthen your muscles and improve your posture, leading to less pressure on your back in your day-to-day life, resulting in less overall back pain.
Utilize Your Smartphone
Technology is there to help you in most areas of your life, including your sleep. There are a number of different apps available aimed at helping you sleep better at night. Sleep Cycle is an alarm clock app that monitors where you are in your sleep cycle each night and wakes you at an optimal time within your preferred time frame so you feel the most refreshed. White Noise allows you to play soothing sounds from your phone to help you either drown out outside noises or add sound to a too-quiet room. Calm is a leading meditation app for beginners, allowing you to try out the art of meditation in order to calm down your mind at night.
Note that some of these apps stay running throughout the night in order to monitor your sleep or to keep you from waking up sporadically. Make sure that your smartphone has enough battery life! You’ll also want to ensure that your home internet connection is running smoothly. Fast and reliable internet service will give you the freedom to run any of these apps overnight without worrying about being disconnected.
Improve on Your Sleeping Position
We all have preferences when it comes to our sleep positions. Thankfully, there are different ways to improve your preferred sleeping position to help lower your back pain. For side-sleepers, add a pillow between your legs and pull your knees a little toward your chest to stretch out your lower back. If you prefer sleeping on your stomach, place a pillow under your pelvis and forgo the pillow under your head (or switch to a flatter one). For those who like sleeping on your back, place a pillow beneath your knees to add a slight curve to your spine.
Whatever the cause of your back pain, know that it doesn’t have to sentence you to a lifetime of insomnia. Chronic back pain can impact your daily life in a number of different ways, but don’t let it control how much sleep you get at night. Lack of sleep impacts your life even more, causing you to become disoriented, unfocused, and unable to finish your day’s tasks. Use these tips to sleep easier at night and reduce your chronic back pain one night at a time.
There has been a great deal of controversy surrounding the idea of having plants in the bedroom. Feng shui experts generally discourage the use of plants in the same room in which you sleep, since plants carry wood energy, a yang energy which may disrupt the sleep patterns of those who experience difficulties with slumber. Ironically, it is considered healing to have a view of plants and nature from a bedroom window. Just don’t bring those plants indoors and you’ll be fine.
Another concern with bringing greenery into the bedroom is that since plants need to be watered, they also bring in water energy, which is considered bad feng shui for bedrooms. Water energy clashes with fire energy, which brings in passion. Even paintings or photos which depict water scenes are considered a no-no for the boudoir, so I might need to remove three framed photographs from my bedroom which feature water!
Lastly, most plants release carbon dioxide after dark, which may increase the amount of carbon dioxide in your blood to very high levels, which then increases your breathing rate to bring in more oxygen. I don’t know about you, but I don’t exactly feel comfortable knowing that plants in my bedroom might rob me of optimal sleep.
If you are really intent on bringing one or more live houseplants into your bedroom, make sure the room is large enough to offset the buildup of carbon dioxide, or choose plants which actually absorb carbon dioxide at night, including spider plants and orchids. Bring in only one plant in at a time so that you can determine whether the new additions have any negative effect on your sleep. I avoid any issues with houseplants in my bedroom by keeping them out entirely. There are plants in my master bathroom which is attached to my bedroom, but they are far enough from my bed, and I haven’t noticed any disruptions since adding the greenery in 2020.
Please check out this excellent article written by Karen Weeks, which covers healthy habits which seniors can adopt in 2021.
By Karen Weeks of elderwellness.net
A brand new year is ahead of us, making it the perfect time to adopt healthy habits like eating nutritiously, exercising regularly, and spending time with loved ones (whether in-person or virtually). Below, Dr. Stacey Naito offers five senior-friendly habits that can be adopted in the new year — and how seniors can go about incorporating them in their lives.
1. Eat Nutritiously
According to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, seniors need adequate amounts of calcium and vitamin D, B12, dietary fiber, healthy fats, and potassium in order to lead long and healthy lives. And fortunately, seniors can get all the nutrients they need by consuming plenty of fresh leafy greens, lean meats, beans, and healthy fats like avocados and fish. Supplementation may also be necessary if calcium, B12, B6, or vitamin D levels are low.
If you’re looking for some ways to eat better this year, try buying a new cookbook or two, purchasing a grocery delivery service, or visiting your local health foods store to stock up on fresh fruits and veggies, healthy grains, and lean proteins. If you’re thinking of paying for a grocery delivery service, some of the best options for produce include Imperfect Foods, Misfits Market, and Farmbox.
2. Exercise Often
Like good nutrition, seniors need plenty of physical activity — including strength training activities, exercises for balance and flexibility, and aerobic activities such as walking, biking, swimming, or dancing. And fortunately, there are several things seniors can do to increase their physical activity in the year ahead:
Following along to exercise DVDs or online fitness classes.
Walking or biking alone or with friends (while practicing social distancing, of course).
Parking further away from store entrances when shopping.
Purchasing an elliptical machine, exercise bike, or treadmill.
Starting and maintaining a garden.
If you have a medical condition or you’re experiencing body aches or pains, a physical therapist can help you to select the best exercises for you. Plus, many physical therapists are offering virtual services amidst COVID-19.
3. Socialize With Loved Ones
Socializing is tough in the age of the coronavirus, but it isn’t impossible! With senior-friendly video chat software, online multiplayer games and apps, and safe in-person gatherings (like outdoor activities and walks with loved ones), seniors can safely spend more time with their friends and family members in the new year. Regular socialization keeps seniors physically, mentally, and emotionally well — and reduces their risk of cognitive decline and depression.
4. Keep the Mind Sharp
Speaking of cognitive decline, seniors should also make time for brain games and activities in the new year. Brain games keep the mind young and healthy, fight boredom, and improve overall mental well-being. A few brain training activities for seniors include:
Jigsaw puzzles, crosswords, and word finds.
Classes on cooking, foreign languages, dance, or music.
Arts and crafts like knitting, scrapbooking, and upcycling.
Reading, coloring, and drawing.
5. Clean and Declutter
Clutter is harmful for a number of reasons. Not only does it create tripping hazards at home, but excess clutter often triggers anxiety, concentration issues, irritability, and even depression. So, if you’ve been feeling especially negative or depressed as of late, the new year is the perfect time to freshen up your living space by cleaning, decluttering, and letting in as much fresh air as possible. Redfin shares a checklist with some ideas for cleansing your home and creating a happier and healthier living space.
New Year, New You
It’s never too late to adopt healthier habits and take steps to improve your life, and these five tips will help you to tackle everything from changing your diet to eliminating excess clutter at home. No matter your age, the start of a new year is the perfect time to reinvent yourself and improve various areas of your life.
Looking for more health tips and advice? Visit Dr. Stacey Naito’s blog at staceynaitoblog.com.
I was compelled to re-post this article, with a new title, because it always seems to have relevance. Lately, I have noticed that I have been spreading myself thin more than ever before, agreeing to donate my time and resources to people and projects I don’t necessarily feel are worthy of my attention. Though I have a very generous nature, I also become extremely annoyed when I notice that someone is taking advantage of my kindness and assuming that I will always open my door and my heart.
There have been a couple of situations I have allowed to get out of hand recently, in which I have sacrificed time which I need to devote to paid endeavors and life balance. It’s always difficult to pull back the reins and say no to good friends, but I have become increasingly resentful after finding myself rushing to get my chores done in time to donate my time on a regular basis.
This new determination to say NO when I have a plate which is overflowing is still something I struggle with, but enough is enough. Whether it is a brand requesting that I create a post for pennies, a friend asking me to provide personal training right smack dab in the middle of the day several days a week for free, people contacting me for curbside consults which they don’t want to pay for, or a supposed friend nickeling and diming me about my charges for medical treatments, I’m not nearly as amenable to doling out the favors as I used to be. I am mentally, emotionally, physically, spiritually, and financially drained from saying yes altogether too often.
So do you find yourself agreeing to do something when you are either completely unmotivated to do it, or are so over-burdened by other responsibilities that you know you are taking on an impossible schedule? Maybe you’re known as the “nicest person” who always manages to make time for everybody no matter what. And maybe you don’t want people to think otherwise about you, despite the fact that your energy and your patience are worn thin by people who always seem to drain the very lifeblood from you, and expect you to do everything for them at the drop of a hat.
Have you ever considered using the word NO once in a while? By setting limits and boundaries, you will keep energy vampires at bay, and you give yourself a chance to balance out your life so that you don’t burn yourself out. I am sure that the people who have taken your availability for granted will be stunned when you respond to a request with NO, but they’ll get used to it. Whenever I gather the courage to refuse a request, a feeling of complete relief washes over me, especially if I feel like I am drowning in the wide expanse of my to-do list.
When you refuse a request, task, or invitation, you finally allow yourself to take a break. As long as you aren’t shirking responsibilities, you absolutely should feel like you deserve to clear the space around you, especially if you are in dire need of recharging your own batteries. There’s something I say to patients quite frequently, and that is, remember to put the oxygen mask over your OWN face. If you don’t nurture yourself, you won’t perform as well in all the roles you play in your life, whether it’s employee, boss, parent, spouse, etc.
It’s completely acceptable to draw the line in the sand, and to establish boundaries which preserve your sense of self and which keep your life, and your spirit, balanced and happy. If you are having difficulty asserting yourself and getting to the power of NO, then try this: whenever someone asks you for a favor or invites you somewhere, just say that you need to think about it or check your schedule, which is not a lie, and that you will let that person know soon. That gives you a window of time to evaluate the situation, and to determine if you have the time or the resources to accommodate the invitation or request.
Another important consideration is whether you have the inclination to take part in the task or event. Be honest with yourself! I see too many people agree to do things they don’t want to do, then they are steeped in misery. This doesn’t give you permission to be difficult, selfish, or uncooperative, but it certainly gives you some breathing room. If your heart isn’t in it, then don’t do it!
Remember that you will be better equipped to serve others if you take care of yourself first.
From the time I was a little girl, I fantasized about having a beautiful singing voice, but I wasn’t destined to be blessed with such talent. Though I am not tone deaf, and can carry a tune, the quality of my singing voice is very basic and certainly not worthy of any type of showcase. At least I was realistic at an early age (eight years old to be exact) about my utterly ordinary voice, and never attempted to delve into some delusional idea that I might someday develop pipes which would rival Mariah Carey. Instead, I happily lived vicariously through my favorite singers, imagining what it must be like to have such sweet melodies emanate from one’s vocal cords.
Of course, like most of you, I’m not afraid to belt out a tune while driving my car or taking a shower. There is something so cathartic about being able to let loose like that, so I allow myself to indulge in it frequently. Why not? It’s not like I’m going to try out for American Idol or The Voice.
It’s pretty sobering to think that the majority of singers never really get a chance to fully live out their dreams of stardom, despite having massive talent. I recently watched “Twenty Feet From Stardom” which follows several prominent backup singers from the 1960’s to present time. In one portion of the documentary, Merry Clayton describes her experience recording the vocals for the 1969 song “Gimme Shelter” by the Rolling Stones.
In an excerpt from an article on openculture.com, Merry describes the evening:
Well, I’m at home at about 12–I’d say about 11:30, almost 12 o’clock at night. And I’m hunkered down in my bed with my husband, very pregnant, and we got a call from a dear friend of mine and producer named Jack Nitzsche. Jack Nitzsche called and said you know, Merry, are you busy? I said No, I’m in bed. he says, well, you know, There are some guys in town from England. And they need someone to come and sing a duet with them, but I can’t get anybody to do it. Could you come? He said I really think this would be something good for you.
I said, Well, play the track. It’s late. I’d love to get back home. So they play the track and tell me that I’m going to sing–this is what you’re going to sing: Oh, children, it’s just a shot away. It had the lyrics for me. I said, Well, that’s cool. So I did the first part, and we got down to the rape, murder part. And I said, Why am I singing rape, murder? …So they told me the gist of what the lyrics were, and I said Oh, okay, that’s cool. So then I had to sit on a stool because I was a little heavy in my belly. I mean, it was a sight to behold. And we got through it. And then we went in the booth to listen, and I saw them hooting and hollering while I was singing, but I didn’t know what they were hooting and hollering about. And when I got back in the booth and listened, I said, Ooh, that’s really nice. They said, well, You want to do another? I said, well, I’ll do one more, I said and then I’m going to have to say thank you and good night. I did one more, and then I did one more. So it was three times I did it, and then I was gone. The next thing I know, that’s history.
Now listen to her raw vocals. You’ll get the chills from her energy and passion:
Now that’s magical talent!