Maryland National Guard directed to U.S. Virgin Islands

— Governor Larry Hogan has directed 100 soldiers from the Maryland National Guard to deploy to the U.S. Virgin Islands to assist with ongoing recovery efforts from Hurricane Irma, at the request of Governor Kenneth Mapp.

Soldiers from the 200th Military Police Company from Catonsville will be deployed for potentially 30 days to assist with local law enforcement and guarding critical infrastructure as the island works to rebuild from the widespread devastation caused by the hurricane in early September.

“The recovery efforts in the Caribbean will be lengthy due to the level of destruction caused by the recent hurricanes, and Maryland is proud to help our neighbors and friends in their time of need,” said Governor Hogan. “We are incredibly grateful to the dedicated men and women of the Maryland National Guard for their selfless service— they truly represent the very best of our great state.”

Last week, Governor Hogan authorized members of the Maryland National Guard’s 729th Quartermaster Composite Supply Company to assist in the water purification efforts in Puerto Rico. Fresh water has been in critically short supply in Puerto Rico since Hurricane Maria made landfall on September 20, 2017.

The National Guard members are assigned with converting hazardous water into water that is safe for drinking, cooking, and hygiene by using two tactical systems capable of purifying 1,200 gallons of water per hour.

Maryland is providing this support in accordance with the Emergency Management Assistance Compact (EMAC). EMAC is a national mutual aid and partnership agreement that allows state-to-state assistance during governor- or federally-declared state of emergencies.

Governor Hogan established Maryland Call to Action: Relief & Recovery, a website with information about what Maryland is doing and how Maryland citizens can assist with hurricane relief and recovery efforts.

For more information, visit: governor.maryland.gov.

Fats Domino dead at 89, medical examiner’s office says

Antoine “Fats” Domino, a titan of early rock ‘n’ roll whose piano-based hits — such as “Ain’t That a Shame,” “Blueberry Hill” and “Blue Monday” — influenced artists including Paul McCartney and Randy Newman, died Tuesday, an official said.

Domino passed away due to natural causes, according to Mark Bone, chief investigator with the Jefferson Parish Medical Examiner’s office in Louisiana. He was 89.

With producer and arranger Dave Bartholomew, Domino cut a string of songs in the 1950s and early ’60s that helped establish his hometown of New Orleans as a rock ‘n’ roll hotbed and made him one of the music’s leading figures.

The pair recorded “The Fat Man” in late 1949, a song considered one of the first rock ‘n’ roll records — a group that includes Wynonie Harris’ version of “Good Rockin’ Tonight” (1947) and Jackie Brenston and Ike Turner’s “Rocket 88” (1951) — and followed it up with more than 30 Top 40 hits, including 23 gold singles.

Starting in 1955, Domino was a regular on the national pop charts with songs that quickly became classics. Among the titles: “Ain’t That a Shame” — Domino’s first crossover hit, which was watered down in a higher-charting version by Pat Boone — “I’m Walkin’,” “I’m Ready,” “Valley of Tears,” “I Want to Walk You Home” and “Walking to New Orleans.” He sold more records than any 1950s figure except Elvis Presley, according to Rolling Stone.

His version of “Blueberry Hill,” a song written in 1940, topped out at No. 2 on the Billboard charts and remains Domino’s highest-charting record.

Most of his hits were characterized by midtempo rhythms and Domino’s distinctive triplet-based piano style, in which he hammered chords in groups of three in rollicking, melodic fashion. The arrangements usually included a saxophone solo and a lead guitar line that echoed the melody.

The style was widely imitated. McCartney, a big Domino fan, wrote the Beatles song “Lady Madonna” in emulation of the pianist’s work. (Domino returned the favor on his 1968 comeback album, “Fats Is Back,” by covering the tune.) McCartney never grew out of his Domino fascination: Thirty years later, he did a version of the 1920s tune “Coquette” on his 1999 album “Run Devil Run” that was closely based on Domino’s 1958 recording.

Newman, deeply influenced by New Orleans music in general, often seemed to channeling Domino’s sound — if not his smiling attitude — in such songs as “Mama Told Me Not to Come” and “Back on My Feet Again.”

“I was so influenced by Fats Domino that it’s still hard for me to write a song that’s not a New Orleans shuffle,” Newman told The New York Times in 2008. He wrote the horn arrangements for “Fats Is Back.”

Domino covered Newman, too, with a recording of “Have You Seen My Baby.”

Domino’s string of hits ended rather abruptly in the early ’60s with a change of labels, from Imperial to ABC-Paramount. The latter forced him to record in Nashville, and the different atmosphere produced just one hit, a cover of the standard “Red Sails in the Sunset.” But the good-natured Domino continued to tour and earn royalties, allowing him to live a comfortable lifestyle — in New Orleans, of course, where his pink Cadillac could often be seen outside his Ninth Ward house.

When Hurricane Katrina struck in 2005, there was early concern that Domino, who had decided to stay in the Crescent City, had been killed by the storm. Someone even spray-painted “R.I.P. Fats — You will be missed” on his house.

However, he and his family had been rescued by a Coast Guard helicopter. His estate wasn’t as fortunate: “We lost everything,” he said at the time.

Some of his belongings were replaced, including his gold records and a National Medal of Arts he’d been awarded in 1998 (from President Bill Clinton). His white Steinway was refurbished by the Louisiana Music Foundation, which put it on display in the French Quarter in 2013.

Domino remained a steadfast part of the New Orleans scene. He played a sold-out show at Tipitina’s nightclub in 2007 and appeared in an episode of the TV show “Treme” in 2012.

Domino was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1986.

Hair Cuttery’s Veterans Day Share-A-Haircut Program to benefit former servicemen and women across the country

— This Veterans Day, join Hair Cuttery, the largest family-owned and operated chain of hair salons in the country, in saying “thank you” to our veterans through its Share-A-Haircut program.

For every haircut purchased by Hair Cuttery patrons on Veterans Day, Saturday, November 11, a free haircut certificate will be donated back to a veteran in the same community. To distribute the free haircut certificates, Hair Cuttery partners with veteran’s organizations across the U.S., including, the American Red Cross, Operation Sacred Housing and regional Veterans Affairs offices.

“With November’s Share-A-Haircut program, we are saluting former military in neighborhoods throughout our great country,” said Dennis Ratner, Hair Cuttery founder and CEO. “This is our way of expressing our gratitude for their selflessness and courage, and serves as a token of our appreciation for their heroism.”

Since 1999, the Share-A-Haircut program has donated 2.2 million free haircut certificates valued at more than $35.92 million to various causes including the homeless, survivors of domestic violence and disadvantaged children. This November, Hair Cuttery hopes to reach thousands more with its veterans-focused campaign.

Hair Cuttery has an established history of charitable giving, supporting a range of local and national causes including, St. Baldrick’s Foundation, American Red Cross, American Cancer Society, Girls on the Run and The National Network to End Domestic Violence.

Hair Cuttery is the largest family-owned and operated chain of hair salons in the country, with nearly 900 company-owned locations on the East Coast, in New England and the Midwest. For more information, visit: www.haircuttery.com.

Baltimore Dentists Collect Halloween Candy for Overseas Troops Treats

— Children and families in the Baltimore area have a chance to exchange Halloween candy for toys and send deployed U.S. troops a “sweet” reminder of home during “Operation Troop Treats,” an annual candy exchange hosted by local Kool Smiles dental offices in partnership with Operation Gratitude.

Between Saturday, October 28 and Saturday, November 4, 2017, children and families are encouraged to visit the following Kool Smiles dental office locations to exchange their Halloween candy for toys at the offices listed below:

Westside: 2429 Frederick Avenue, Baltimore, MD 21223 — Phone: 443-957-1615

Eastpoint: 7839 Eastern Avenue, Baltimore, MD 21224 — Phone: 443-503-4903

Broadway: 1900 N. Broadway, Baltimore, MD 21213 — Phone: 443-957-1602

Patterson: 4173 Patterson Avenue, Baltimore, MD 21215 — Phone: 443-743-2100

Brooklyn Park: 5700 Ritchie Highway, Brooklyn Park, MD 21225 — 410-589-0711

Area families are invited to participate and candy can be donated any time during regular office hours. All donated candy will be sent in care packages to U.S. service members stationed overseas via Operation Gratitude.

“We started Operation Troop Treats six years ago to promote healthy dental habits during Halloween, and to bring a little bit of holiday joy to U.S. service members deployed overseas who are not able to celebrate with family here at home,” said Dr. Ashley Nichols, Managing Dental Director for Kool Smiles. “Many of our Kool Smiles patient families and employees are current or former service members, so this is a small way for us to share a smile with our troops and say thank you to those who sacrifice so much to ensure our safety and security.”

In addition to the candy shipment, Kool Smiles dentists will donate 200 dental care kits and the funds to cover the assembly and shipment of 200 Operation Gratitude care packages filled with letters of appreciation, food, entertainment and hygiene items, and other sweet reminders of home.

Operation Gratitude is a 501(c)(3), volunteer-based organization that annually produces more than 200,000 care packages for U.S. Service Members deployed in harm’s way, their children, Wounded Heroes, Veterans, New Recruits and First Responders.

“Operation Troop Treats gives children of all ages an opportunity to say thank you to the people who put their lives on the line for our protection, and to experience the values of service and giving in a hands-on and memorable way,” said Carolyn Blashek, Founder of Operation Gratitude. “We’re excited to partner with Kool Smiles again this year to send candy, smiles, and a whole lot of gratitude to U.S. Service Members deployed overseas.”

During regular office hours, between Saturday, October 28 and Saturday, November 4, every child who comes in will receive one toy for every 25 pieces of unopened candy in its original packaging. The program is open to everyone, regardless of whether they are Kool Smiles patients. There is a limit of three toys per child and toys are distributed on a first-come, first-served basis.

In 2016, more than four tons of donated candy was sent to deployed U.S. troops through Operation Troop Treats. In the Baltimore area alone, children and families donated more than 429 pounds of candy last year. Kool Smiles hopes to exceed last year’s candy contribution.

Brushing twice daily and getting regular dental checkups is vital for people of all ages. However, Halloween is an especially important time for parents to pay close attention to their children’s dental health and sugar intake.

“Sugar creates a breeding ground for harmful bacteria in the mouth, which can wear away at tooth enamel and create cavities,” Dr. Nichols explained. “Reducing the frequency of sugar intake can help combat tooth decay during the holiday season. We don’t want to take the fun out of Trick or Treating— just the cavities!”

For more information about the program, including the nearest Kool Smiles location, visit http://www.mykoolsmiles.com/trooptreats.

“Sparkle and Soul” Piano and String Concert in Annapolis

— On Friday, November 3, 2017, pianist Brian Ganz will be joined by Trio Ponce, formerly the Alan Saucedo Trio, which includes Alan Saucedo on cello; Cynthia Saucedo on violin; and Marjory Serrano on violin for an evening of Chamber Music at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Annapolis (UUCA) located at 333 Dubois Road in Annapolis.

The concert is part of a continuing monthly series at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Annapolis now in its fourth year. Rachmaninoff’s soulful Trio Élégiaque and Beethoven’s sparkling Trio in E-flat major, Op.1, No. 1 will be featured, among other compositions.

Brian Ganz is considered one of the leading pianists of his generation, noted for his mastery of Chopin. He has performed locally and worldwide and is well known for annual solo performances at Strathmore Music Center.

Dr. Alan Saucedo has won several international music competitions and performed in Brazil, Japan, Mexico, Paraguay, Portugal, Spain, and the U.S., including appearances at the Smithsonian, the Kennedy Center, and the White House.

Cynthia Saucedo, a native of Mexico, is a member of the Vitali String Quartet that has performed at the White House and at venues in Mexico and in several U.S. states. She is on the faculty at Shenandoah Conservatory Arts Academy in Winchester, Virginia.

Dr. Marjory Serrano, also on violin, has performance credentials in Venezuela and the U.S., including Carnegie Hall and the Kennedy Center, and also has extensive experience as a concertmaster.

Ganz and the Trio Ponce first performed together in the Middleburg Concert Series in southwest Loudoun County, Virginia. Ganz describes the experience as having “absolutely magical chemistry both personally and musically.”

For the concert, which is their second collaboration, Ganz and Trio Ponce have chosen the title “Sparkle and Soul” to feature two exceptional compositions for strings and piano.

“My favorite trio for piano, violin, and cello has always been the very first one Beethoven composed and published: the Trio Op.1, No.1 in E-flat major. I used to go to sleep at night listening to it. It is without argument the greatest opus 1 ever composed,” said Ganz. “From the very first opening arpeggios in the piano, it sparkles with a brilliant energy and is full of beautiful and substantive ideas.”

The Rachmaninoff, by contrast, is “one of the saddest and most soulful works you will ever hear. Its beauty and emotional power can be shattering.” Ganz says the Beethoven number is the “sparkle” in our concert title; the Rachmaninoff is the “soul.”

Tickets are $15 at the door. For more information, call 410-266-8044 or visit: www.tinyurl.com/UUCA-concerts.

Caribbean tourism faces long road to recovery

The Caribbean is fast approaching tourism season. But this year, some of the islands may not see their vital economic lifeblood.

Several islands are still recovering from the one-two punch delivered by hurricanes Irma and Maria, which razed buildings, knocked out communications and killed dozens of people.

It’s still too early to know the full extent of the damage, said Justin Ram, the director of economics for the Caribbean Development Bank.

Ram said even a 1% drop in visitors could mean the region loses out on about $138 million those tourists would have otherwise spent. In the long term, that could mean a $214 million hit to the region’s GDP.

“That’s just from a 1% drop,” he said.

There is some reason to be optimistic, said Hugh Riley, the secretary general of the Caribbean Tourism Organization. About 75% of the region escaped the storms unscathed.

The airport on St. Martin, an island pummeled by Irma, reopened Tuesday. Local restaurants on Anguilla are taking business, too.

Similarly Jose Izquierdo, the executive director of the Puerto Rico Tourism Company, a public company that markets and regulates tourism on the island, says the territory is already rebuilding. San Juan’s airport and cruise ports are operational, and he expects many local hotels to start taking new reservations.

Izquierdo said cruise liners like Royal Caribbean and Princess Cruises are scheduling trips out of the harbor.

“It’s a sign that there’s some sense of normality to operations here in Puerto Rico,” he added.

While tourism operations may be reemerging, residents are still suffering.

Riley said some islanders are still without electricity or a viable banking system. Food, water and even shelter can be scarce.

“They are still dealing with day-to-day real life survival and nutrition experiences,” Riley said.

On the island of Dominica, roofs on at least 80% of the island’s buildings were torn off by Maria. Heavy rainwater made the asphalt roads crumble.

John Collin McIntyre, Dominica’s minister for planning, economic development and investment, said he’s experienced that devastation firsthand. He’s spoken to people on the island who have lost homes or family members and are now trying to recover and rebuild. And he said a crucial part of that process will be figuring out how Dominica can find its economic footing.

The damage costs will almost certainly be enormous. A storm that hit the island two years ago, called Erika, caused around $500 million in damage.

That was a tropical storm, not a Category 5 hurricane. And it didn’t swallow the entire island, as Maria did.

McIntyre said Dominica could start welcoming tourists as early as January, three months after tourism season began.

After agriculture, tourism is one of the island’s most important industries. It contributed about $180 million to Dominica’s economy last year, or about 34% of its GDP, according to the World Travel & Tourism Council.

That’s just a sliver of what’s ultimately a huge economic driver for an entire region. The council reported that 23 Caribbean nations and territories raked in $56 billion from travel and tourism last year, or about 15% of the area’s total GDP.

Can MoviePass be the Netflix of theaters?

Consumers aren’t going to the movies as much lately. It’s been a terrible year for Hollywood and big movie theater chains.

It could be that the movies just aren’t as good. Or it could be that there’s too many quality TV shows competing for our attention and limited free time instead.

But one company is betting people will get off the couch, put their phones down and stop Netflixing (and chilling?) if the price is right.

MoviePass introduced a $9.95 a month subscription service in August that lets you see an unlimited number of new movies in theaters. And the company that is in the process of buying a majority stake in MoviePass has surged lately.

Shares of Helios and Matheson Analytics, a small tech investment firm, have soared nearly 550% this year. The company announced in August that it planned to acquire more than 50% of MoviePass and take it public by the end of next March.

Helios and Matheson is not for the faint of heart. It’s a relatively small and unprofitable company and the stock has alternatively surged and dropped in violent fashion during the past few months.

Nevertheless, it will be interesting to see what happens to MoviePass as a business.

The company has an impressive pedigree. Mitch Lowe, the CEO of MoviePass, is a co-founder of Netflix and former president of DVD rental kiosk service Redbox, which was bought by private equity firm Apollo Global Management last year.

“MoviePass was founded to make it easier for passionate moviegoers and casual fans to see films the way they’re meant to be seen — in the theater,” said Lowe in a press release about the Helios and Matheson investment.

He added that the new movie theater ticket subscription service could disrupt Hollywood “in the same way that Netflix and Redbox have done in years past.”

Still, it’s debatable whether price is the biggest thing keeping people away from the multiplexes. Hollywood has had a spotty track record lately telling stories that people want to see.

And there is no rhyme or reason sometimes as to what will succeed and what’s a dud.

Shares of AMC, Regal and other big movie theater chains tanked last week following the disappointing box office returns of “Blade Runner 2049.” But the theater owners got a boost after “It’ scared up record numbers for a horror movie.

Both movies are relics of the 1980s. “Blade Runner” is a sequel to the sci-fi cult classic from 1982 starting Harrison Ford. (He’s in the sequel too.) And “It’ is based on the Stephen King novel about a creepy clown that was published in 1986.

But “Blade Runner” tanked while “It” thrived.

It just goes to show that there’s only a limited number of must-see movies that people will venture out to the theaters for instead of waiting for it to show up on Netflix, Amazon or another on-demand streaming service.

Ironically enough, “It” may have benefited from the fact that the movie (unlike the original book) had the action with the kids take place in the 1980s as opposed to the 1950s. In that respect, “It” is similar in spirit to the Netflix megahit “Stranger Things.”

Still, this fall will be an interesting time for MoviePass to test how much demand there is for people to go to the theater.

There are several likely blockbusters on tap, including “Thor: Ragnarok,” “The Justice League,” Pixar’s new original, “Coco,” and, of course, “Star Wars: The Last Jedi.”

MoviePass could capitalize on the fact that moviegoers will likely want to see many of these movies as soon as they come out on a huge screen…and possibly more than once.

But for investors, a bet on MoviePass’ potential new owner seems risky in light of the stock’s big surge in the past few months.

Netflix — which will post its latest results after the closing bell Monday and is likely to report that it has nearly 110 million subscribers worldwide — may be the movie stock that has a better chance of enjoying a feelgood Hollywood ending.

Oath CEO Tim Armstrong: I want women to fill 50% of our leadership roles

Oath CEO Tim Armstrong says he is on a mission to fill at least half of the leadership positions at the company with women by 2020.

“We’re roughly in the 30% range right now,” Armstrong says in a new episode of CNN’s Boss Files with Poppy Harlow. “I think to get there it requires us to promote from internally, hire from the outside obviously, and then in some cases, for us to create new positions in areas where we’re going to go into the new business we’re going to have new areas that women can lead.”

Oath, the newly merged company formed out of the merger of AOL and Yahoo, is owned by Verizon and manages media brands like AOL, Huffington Post, Yahoo, TechCruch, and Tumblr.

Oath says they have not yet released their diversity report.

“Having more women leaders is actually an enhancement for the entire corporation,” Armstrong says.

“I think every piece of data you see says having a more diverse workforce and having more women involved in it actually leads to better outcomes, better growth,” he says.

According to a report from consulting firm McKinsey, companies in the top quartile for gender diversity are 15% more likely to outperform financially in their industry.

Armstrong says changes to the “behavior of the company, or the behavior of individuals” are key to gender parity in the workplace.

One example: asking for raises. “If you have a woman and a man come into a business and over the next five years the man is more aggressive asking for a raise each year, and the women are less aggressive, over time… you start with an immediate gap,” he says.

A recent study by Cass Business School, the University of Warwick in the United Kingdom and the University of Wisconsin, found that men are 25% more likely to get a raise when they ask for one.

Armstrong’s commitment to elevating women in the workplace came from “five or six years of understanding the space,” he says. In 2012, as AOL’s CEO, Armstrong launched Makers, a digital platform with original videos and interviews of trailblazing women, including Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Oprah Winfrey. Armstrong says AOL has put its “largest investment” into this brand.

The idea was sparked after his daughter met former Xerox CEO Ursula Burns while the family was on vacation. Armstrong recalls his daughter putting Burns’ signed autograph over her desk in her bedroom.

“It struck me that I had just walked ten steps down the hall, but my son — who I love — may actually end up earning more and having a better opportunity only because he was male, and my two daughters, ten feet down the hall may have not had the same opportunity,” he says.

Armstrong’s initial plan was to launch a separate company in which “all leadership, all people who work for the company [would be] women.”

But after a conversation with actress Marlo Thomas and writer and feminist organizer Gloria Steinem, he changed course.

“Gloria Steinem said, ‘Tim that’s the opposite of what we need. We need somebody like you in your position to essentially take more risk inside of your own ecosystem. And by the way, companies perform better when there’s men and women so don’t think about women-only, think about how to combine that,'” Armstrong recalls.

Armstrong’s mission comes at a time when the tech sector is grappling with rampant sexual harassment.

When asked about the controversial memo by Google engineer James Damore that argued that women are less biologically fit than men for leadership roles in tech, Armstrong says, “I don’t believe it. I don’t see it.”

“If you take the time to understand what someone’s superpower is, it doesn’t matter if they’re male or female. And we have great examples of super power women engineers and product people at our company,” he says.

Armstrong says he realizes his goal of parity of men and women in leadership at Oath by 2020 is going to be difficult to reach.

But, he notes, “I honestly think this: We’re not the biggest company in the world, we’re not the most profitable, but one thing we do have is, we have an investment in the space already. So if there’s one company in the world that should try to lead this, it should be us,” Armstrong tells Harlow.

No, Donna!

Do we really have to go over this again? It hardly seems possible that, once more, people need to be reminded that women do not bring on or invite sexual harassment or assault.

Yet here we are, with the ongoing investigation into harassment and assault by Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein. While a few celebrities have spoken out against Weinstein’s deplorable behavior, many have remained silent.

But Donna Karan takes the cake, having been the latest diarrhea-mouth to claim that women are responsible because of how we present ourselves. Karan went on, “Are we asking for it by presenting all the sensuality and all the sexuality? And what are we throwing out to our children today about how to dance and how to perform and what to wear?” And of course Karan threw in the old atta-boy, noting that Weinstein, who settled sexual harassment suits with eight women and has now been accused by at least three of sexual assault, has done “some amazing things” and called him and his wife “wonderful people.”

No, Donna, we are not “asking for it.” By definition, sexual harassment is unwanted sexual comments and gestures. What we are doing is dealing with it, and on a far too-regular basis. Surveys have shown that approximately one-third of women in the U.S. endure workplace sexual harassment like that perpetrated by Weinstein. If our daughters are being taught anything by this scandal it is that they might have to deal with disgusting old men saying lewd things and making obnoxious and inappropriate advances. These women, some of whom endured not just comments but unwanted groping and forcible oral and vaginal sex, are not teaching our daughters anything about “sensuality and sexuality.” Because guess what? Just like rape, sexual harassment isn’t about sexual attraction. It’s about power and control.

No, Donna. This is not about how women are “presenting themselves.” This isn’t about changing norms or some failed decency on the part of women or about mothers who aren’t raising their girls’ right. It is, however, about our continued inability as a society to teach men how to behave appropriately and to hold them accountable when they do not. Just days ago, I had virtually this same conversation with an elderly gentleman, who decried how difficult it is nowadays because he can’t tell a woman at work that she looks “sexy” without facing potential repercussions. Oh, the horror; you don’t get to say whatever you want! That must be a real threat to your manhood, to your belief that you have license over women. The nerve of these young women who don’t simply accept your garbage!

No, Donna. Weinstein is not a “wonderful” person. He is a dangerous predator who harassed, abused, and assaulted women left and right. There is no one-off here but a pattern of behavior that reeks of entitled masculinity. Like Bill Cosby and other powerful celebrities, Weinstein used his status to dominate women as if it was his birthright.

The courage it took for these women to come forward against Weinstein, who used legal threats, payments, and his power in Hollywood, should be soundly applauded. Because as Ronan Farrow of The New Yorker reported, his behavior was widely known at Miramax and the Weinstein Company yet witnesses and observers feared saying anything because they knew that Weinstein would crush them.

While much more will likely emerge about this situation, what should be ridiculously clear is that we still have a long way to go to make the U.S. a safe place for women and girls. That is the deeply sad reality.

Laura Finley, Ph.D., teaches in the Barry University Department of Sociology & Criminology and is syndicated by PeaceVoice.

Time is the ultimate currency

The things that mean the most usually take the least time, 10 minutes to meditate, saying thank you, smiling at stranger or going for a walk. There are just a few examples of things that are really important to the well being of the mind often referred to as practicing “Mindfulness.” None of these things cost money, but they bring so much value to a person’s life, and can do the same for yours.

We live in a time where our minds are constantly being bombarded with information, attempting to monopolize our attention and influence our thoughts. Finding balance can at times be tough, but there are many different techniques that can help strengthen the mind.

Technology has helped us to discover so many things, but sometimes you need to cut it off and take a break. Modern technology has gained such a presence in our lives that it’s easy to become addicted to social media and smartphone use to the point it starts impacting our relaxation and sleep. In turn, this can cause even more stress to build up through the day, resulting in a cycle of stress accumulation.

When we procrastinate and distract ourselves with all the pings and notifications of technology, we can at times avoid engaging with ourselves and our lives.

Experiencing stressful events cannot always be avoided but we all have the power to change our lives at any moment, and understanding stress triggers is the beginning.

Thoughts change our reality, taking the time to practice mindfulness can not only change the biochemistry of our body, but also change the structuring of our brains. There have even been studies done to support this, one such study was an eight-week mindfulness meditation program that appeared to make measurable changes in brain regions associated with memory, sense of self, empathy, and stress.

The part of the brain that is most talked about when discussing mindfulness and strengthening the brain is the grey matter, which serves to process information in the brain. This gray matter in the brain has been shown to decrease due to increase in age as well as mental illness, leading to things like difficulty with memory. The practice of mindfulness may help to combat the process of gray matter decline and strengthen your mental capacity.

The mind is a muscle just like every other muscle in our bodies, so why would we not want to strengthen it when there is so much information out there to proving that the neural systems are modifiable networks and changes in the neural structure can occur as a result of training. Finding the time to take care

of our bodies is very important, even the parts that we cannot see. Once we learn to use the power of positivity and mindfulness, we can begin the live and even more fulfilling life.

So if you can find the time, even if it’s just for five to 10 minutes, cut yourself off from technology and experience the wonders of nature and self— your mind, body and spirit will thank you later.

Positively Caviar, Inc. focuses on intensifying the message of positivity and

optimism in our digitally centric lives in the Mid-Atlantic region. To learn more about our organization, the nucleus team or how you join our positive movement, visit: staybasedandpositive.com