Monday, December 31, 2012

You gotta know your History

I just got done watching Jamie Foxx on Oprah's show Next Chapter.  He was promoting his new film Django.  I haven't seen it, but I heard it was very intense.  I'm going to have to work myself up to see it.  But what they talked about inspired me to write this post!  Jamie Foxx plays a slave a few years before the American Civil War.  To prepare for the film he researched slavery.  Then he began to talk about the importance of knowing your history and where you come from.
American Slavery
Both Oprah and Jamie Foxx spoke about the real heroes of Slavery - the slaves themselves.  The fact they survived that.  And if they could survive that what could they survive?  Oprah said to know she comes from that inspires her.  Every group has a story like that of survival and endurance.  Oprah spoke about the Holocaust.  Steven Spielberg started an organization to interview every living survivor.  He wants to know their story of survival.  Again it can be inspiring. 
Children in a concentration camp
Even if you are not part of that group like African American or Jew, what I love about history is you can learn from it.  We are all part of the human family.  When you hear stories like slavery and the Holocaust - it makes me think I can do anything.  You can really see the strength of the human spirit.  If they can endure that and survive - I can endure anything!
So I encourage you to get to know your history!  My mom's side of the family is Cherokee.  When I read about the Trail of Tears - it makes me so proud I came from that!  What do you come from?
Trail of Tears

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Hope You Have Had a Great Break!

Sorry I have not been on here for the last few days.  My grandparents have been in town, and I have given them 100% of my attention.  I just wanted to let you guys know that I will be posting every day now.  I had a nice Christmas Break!  I hope you have too!

Monday, December 17, 2012

For 6th Hour

Here is what needs to be in your binder:
  • Hall Pass
    • Should be the first thing I see when I open up your binder.  In the front of your first divider.
    • This is important too because I will take your Hall Pass and you will get extra credit for them.
  • Bell Ringers (1st Divider)
    • You need a tab on the first page of this set.  You should have a set before.
    • You should have around 17 Bell Ringers.  That is how many 2nd Hour has.
    • Each bell ringer should have 5 sentences each on its own line.
  • 8000 B.C.E. to 600 C.E. (2nd Divider)
    • Need all the notes we took about Classical Civilizations - China, India, and Rome
    • On the first page need a tab - order doesn't matter
    • Then behind your notes you need Chapter 3, 4, and 5 Outlines
    • Need a tab on the first page of each outline

Sunday, November 25, 2012


Last year after we studied The Trail of Tears in Oklahoma History, a student asked if we could watch the film, "Avatar?"  I was confused by the question?  I had seen "Avatar."  Who hasn't?  So why was a student asking to watch the movie?  We did not have time - so I laughed the question off.  That student was probably sad.  I looked into it, and I guess the way the humans treated the Na'vi (blue people0 in the film is a direct comparison to the way the Native Americans were treated during Indian Removal.  So this year we watched it in class.  Here is a brief synopsis of the film:
The students wrote a comparison between Avatar and the Trail of Tears.  One student said it was a great modern visual of the Trail of Tears.  I loved that sentence because it is so true.  I graded binders while the students watched it.  I would occasionally look up and watch the film.  It is shocking how similiar the two are!  One student wrote they had seen the film before, and thought Wow that was a good film.  This time around she saw the comparison, and wondered if the filmmaker purposely put that into the film?  I'm not sure either, but it makes you wonder!
Jake and his love
Jake preparing for battle
Here are some of the Big Comparisons students said over and over:
  1. Both were asked to relocate
  2. Americans wanted something resourceful on their land
  3. Both were called Savages
  4. The General in the movie and President Jackson were the same
  5. In Avatar there is a happy ending - the Na'vi fight back and win!
The Na'vi's sacred tree


Wednesday, November 14, 2012

What is Leadership?

We just started the unit on the Executive Branch in US Government, and we did one of my favorite activities.  The class was divided into groups of 4 and they had to make a body that represented the president on a big piece of butcher paper.  They did not add detail because in the body they wrote in qualities and characteristics we look for in a president.  I thought it was great that two groups drew women.  That will be a good day when this country elects a woman to the highest office in the land.

Here are some of the characteristics and qualities the students said:
  • Experienced
  • Honest
  • Religious
  • Heart
  • Respectful
  • Patriotic
  • Consistent
  • Trustworthy
  • Loyal
  • Brave
  • Intelligent
  • Relatable
  • In Control
  • Loving
  • SWAG
  • Optimistic
  • Hardworking
  • Compassionate
  • Generous
  • Strong Minded
  • Resourceful
  • Charismatic
  • Focused
  • Open Minded
  • Dedicated
  • Decisive
  • Thinks Outside The Box
  • Tactical
  • Good Speaker
  • Not Biased
  • Happy
  • Truthful

All the Presidents that were made
Everyone loved "SWAGG" in the middle!
The woman president one group made.  Love it!!!

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Iron Jawed Angels

This is my favorite banner during the Woman's Suffrage Movement!  It is powerful, and it is crazy to think that it took such a long time for women to get the right to vote!

With the election today it made me think about the fight different groups through out American History have had to fight to vote!  Women started the fight in 1848 at Senecca Falls Convention.  And it will take 72 years to get the vote!  It took till the 20th Century for women to get the right to vote, and our country was founded in the 20th century!  What is wrong with that picture?  Here is a description of what these brave women went through so ALL WOMEN could get the right to vote:

The women during Women's Suffrage were innocent and defenseless, but they were jailed nonetheless for picketing the White House, carrying signs asking for the vote.

And by the end of the night, they were barely alive. Forty prison
guards wielding clubs and their warden's blessing went on a
rampage against the 33 women wrongly convicted of 'obstructing
sidewalk traffic.'

(Lucy Burns)
They beat Lucy Burns, chained her hands to the cell bars above her
head and left her hanging for the night, bleeding and gasping for air.

Thus unfolded the 'Night of Terror' on Nov. 15, 1917,
when the warden at the Occoquan Workhouse in Virginia ordered
his guards to teach a lesson to the suffragists imprisoned there because
they dared to picket Woodrow Wilson's White House for the right to vote. 
For weeks, the women's only water came from an open pail. Their food-
all of it colorless slop--was infested with worms.

(Alice Paul)
When one of the leaders, Alice Paul, embarked on a hunger strike,
they tied her to a chair, forced a tube down her throat and poured
liquid into her until she vomited. She was tortured like this for
weeks until word was smuggled out to the press.

HBO's new movie 'Iron Jawed Angels.' It is a graphic depiction of the battle
these women waged so that women could pull the curtain at the polling
booth and have their say.

'What would those women think of the way women use, or don't use, their right
to vote? All of us take it for granted now, not just younger women,
but those of us who did seek to learn.'

It is jarring to watch Woodrow Wilson and his cronies try to persuade a psychiatrist to declare Alice Paul insane so that she could be permanently institutionalized. And it is inspiring to watch the doctor refuse. Alice Paul was strong, he said, and brave. That didn't make her crazy.
The doctor admonished the men: 'Courage in women is often mistaken for insanity.'

So do your part, and VOTE!  It has taken blood, sweat, and tears to have the right!

Monday, November 5, 2012

A Great Site to Review for the EOI!

Here is a GREAT website that has practice exams for the EOI in the winter.  You have to pass 4 of the 7 to graduate.  If I find out the testing schedule for EOIs I'll post it!

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Life Is Beautiful

I have done a post on this movie before, so this is a whole different approach.  Every Homecoming I show a movie because the school goes all out!  I think it is my favorite week because almost every student participates, and you can feel the spirit and love!  But I don't show just any movie.  I show a movie that will expose them to something else, or different cultures.  One year I show a Film Noir, Kiss of Death (1947).  I loved showing that one for many reasons.  One Film Noir is a great genre of film, and I assume most students today have not seen one.  Most likely color films had not been invented yet.  The one I showed was a Black and White film.  When the students heard it was a black and white film they looked nervous.  They didn't know if they would like it?  Which is why I showed the film!  I want the kids to enjoy Homecoming Week, but at the same time do something worthwhile.  At the end of the week so many kids were surprised!  They liked a Black and White Film!

So this year I showed Life is Beautiful, an Italian film.  That is why I chose this film.  I played the film in it's language, and they had to read English Subtitles.  To watch this film dubbed in English is a crime - you will lose some of the magic of the film.  And I was not surprised the kids loved it!  When we finished watching it a student shouted out, "I hate you Ms.Haughey!" All I could say is why?  Then I looked down and saw she was crying.  She said, "You ruined my eye makeup!" 

I also have them complete an assignment to go along with the film.  As long as they watch the film - they can complete the assignment.  So here is some of the things students said about Life is Beautiful.  And the favorite scenes said over and over!

"I thought this was very touching. It makes me see how lucky I am to live in America."

"This Guido guy was very inspirational, and he was a really good guy. I kinda wanna be like him."

Every student loved it, and said nothing but great things!  One student said it should have won picture at the Oscars - not just Best Foreign Film.  You have to see acceptance speech!

The life lessons they got out of the film:
  1. Loyalty
  2. Always Have Fun
  3. Never Give Up
  4. Life is What you Make It
  5. Persistence
  6. Show Unconditional Love
  7. Have Courage - Take Risks in Life
  8. Always be Happy
  9. Look at the Positive
  10. Always Listen to Your Parents
  11. Cherish Every Moment
  12. Perseverance
  13. Think Before You Leap
  14. Live For the Moment
  15. Always Look On the Bright Side
  16. Never Take Life for Granted
  17. Stay Humble
  18. Always Stay Happy
  19. Family Comes First
  20. Challenge What Is Wrong
Favorite Scenes:

Dad protects his son by making the concentration camp a game.

Dad makes the ultimate sacrifice - and still makes his son laugh!

They won the game, and got the prize of a tank!

Friday, October 19, 2012


On the first night of Fall Break I went to go see the new movie, Argo.  It was the best movie I have seen all year.  It is about the 6 American who got out of the American Embassy in Tehran, Iran before it was stormed.  The CIA decides to rescue them, and sends in Tony Mendez to save them. You are on the edge of your seat the whole time.  We know they get out safely, but you doubt it as you watch the film.

It was a great historical film, and you really get an idea of what that time period feels like.  I love historical movies that allow you to feel the time period.  Water for Elephants was the same way.  You really get an idea of what the 1930s must have felt like!

The movie is Rated R for language - so get parental permission first, and it is well worth it!

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Here Comes The Boom

This weekend I saw this movie!  It was fantastic and inspirational.  My whole family thought it was the feel good movie of the year!  As a teacher it was inspiring to see a teacher give his all to his school, and his students. 

The teacher had lost his way, and was even teacher of the year!  There was a part when he talked about looking forward to the beginning of the school year, and decorating his classroom.  He compared it to college and moving into a dorm room.  I totally related to that.  I love decorating my classroom.  I look forward to it every summer!

This movie also shows the importance of education.  As a society we have to make education a priority!  Go see this movie - it won't disappoint!

My classroom - It took a week to decorate!

Saturday, October 6, 2012

"Where The Sting Began" - BTW Homecoming 2012

I just love Homecoming at BTW!  It is a fun filled and spirited week!  The BEST part is such a large percentage of the student body participates.  My mom came and ate lunch with me, and she was amazed at the school.  The doors and halls were decorated, and every student she saw was dressed up!  I feel so lucky that I teach at BTW!  This is my favorite week at school!  And we won the football game against the Stillwater Pioneers!  It can't get even better!

2nd Hours decorate their doors.  It is a contest and Mrs. Ramsey's class won, and besides my door this was my 2nd favorite door!

My door that my second hour did.  I'm so proud of them!  It turned out great, and I had so many students come up to me saying we should have won!

The COOLEST Hornet hat I have ever seen!  A student in my 4th Hour sister made it out of paper mache.

I had to try on the hat!  This was outrageous orange and black day.  That is why I'm wearing the tie!

Me on Retro day!  I went for the 80s look.  I was alive for most of the 80s, but I was a little girl so I don't remember most of it.  My mom always says that is a good thing!  She likes to forget the 80s!  I can see why!

Me on Mix Match Day!  I would only dress like this and leave the house for BTW!

Sunday, September 16, 2012


Ancient Mesopotamian Writing - Cuneiform

In World History we are studying the first civilizations - Ancient River Valley Civilizations.  The frrst known civilization is Mesopotamia.  Which is in Iraq, and they get the distinct honor to say they are the cradle of civilization.  For class they need to know characteristics of the civilizations, and their accomplishments.  One of the biggest accomplishments of Mesopotamia is they invented writing!

Can you imagine that?  Sometimes that is hard for me to wrap my brain around!  Writing!  That is incredible, and when you think about the impact and role writing has on our lives today.  I can't imagine life without writing!  I'm writing right now. 

When they invented writing - here are two big things that happened.  One we now have history because human are now recording their existence.  A common definition of pre history is before recorded time.  So with writing history begins!  And all of these civilizations developed writing.  It's just historians and archaeologists believe Mesopotamia did it first!  Most people know Ancient Egypt's writing - heiroglyphics.

You will notice they would also add art to their writing, and they developed paper.  In Mesopotamia they only had clay, and then would dry the clay in the sun to make a tablet - when they were done.

The second thing writing did was it created an elite class.  In Mesopotamia it would take years to learn to write in Cuneiform.  Not everyone would have the time to dedicate their lives to learn.  Once it was learned they would begin to record.  The most common thing recorded was how much grain someone had, or animals.  They also had contracts in Mesopotamia for marriages, divorce, slaves, and etc.  That is actually where laws came from.  Those who learned to write were called scribes.

Mesopotamian Scribes

So for the students to get a feel for writing in Mesopotamia I developed an activity.  I brought some play-dough, skewers, and sheets of Cuneiform.  Every student got some play-dough and got to practice writing cuneiform.  I didn't have clay so play-dough was the next best thing.  The activity turned out so well!  The students really got it, and had fun!  One thing that everyone talked about was how hard it was, and time consuming it was.  Here is some pictures of that day.  Hopefully they have a new appericiation for our writing!

Working on it

Finished Product

Finished product

Friday, September 7, 2012

What is beautiful about America?

I asked this question the other day to my students, and was so surprised by their answers!  I thought they would say all the beautiful scenic places in America like:

California Beaches - It looks like Paradise!

The Mountains in Colorado!


Or even big cities like New York City!

No they did not say anything like those.  Here is what they said:
  • The Opportunity In America!
  • Our Freedoms and Liberties!
  • Our Democracy!
I was so impressed with these answers!  They appericiate our country and the freedoms we have!

Sunday, August 19, 2012

History of London

I loved this scene because I turned around, and there was Big Ben in the distance!  I had to take a photo!

Me in a London Phone Booth.  I had to take this photo because they are famous for their phone booths!

Me in front of the London Eye.  It is the coolest and most modern Ferris wheel.  It is crazy You don't feel your self moving, and you get the best view of London!

St. Paul's Cathedral.  There is the coolest story about this cathedral.  During WWII during the London Blitz a bomb never touched this cathedral.  The people of London saw it as a miracle!

London is getting a lot of attention right now with the Olympics - so below is a link to a website that tells you the history of London.  London is a wonderful place to visit.  I have been multiple times, and every time I experience something new.  I encourage everyone to go!

Sunday, July 22, 2012

The Brick House

Mr. New is in a movie!  This is the trailer, and he wants it to go viral!  So please watch it and share it!

Sunday, July 8, 2012

What Does It Mean to be an American?

What does it mean to be American to you?  How would you answer that question?  I know many of us take being American for granted.  There are so many people world wide who would die to be an American!  Below is an amazing video about a woman who became an American, but also is doing something incredible!  She symbolizes the idea of the Power of One!  We can all do something to make a difference!

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

I can see the rays of ravishing light and glory

On this Independence Day I wanted to share a letter from John Adams to his wife.  He was a major player in the Declaration, and what he tells his wife is poetic!  All that he says we still do!

The Second Day of July 1776, will be the most memorable Epocha, in the History of America. I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated, by succeeding Generations, as the great anniversary Festival. It ought to be commemorated, as the Day of Deliverance by solemn Acts of Devotion to God Almighty. It ought to be solemnized with Pomp and Parade, with Shews, Games, Sports, Guns, Bells, Bonfires and Illuminations from one End of this Continent to the other from this Time forward forever more.

You will think me transported with Enthusiasm but I am not. I am well aware of the Toil and Blood and Treasure, that it will cost Us to maintain this Declaration, and support and defend these States. Yet through all the Gloom I can see the Rays of ravishing Light and Glory. I can see that the End is more than worth all the Means. And that Posterity will tryumph in that Days Transaction, even altho We should rue it, which I trust in God We shall not.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Impact of War and Violence

Another head hangs lowly,
Child is slowly taken.
And the violence caused such silence,
Who are we mistaken?

But you see, it's not me, it's not my family.
In your head, in your head they are fighting,
With their tanks and their bombs,
And their bombs and their guns.
In your head, in your head, they are crying...

In your head, in your head,
Zombie, zombie, zombie,
Hey, hey, hey. What's in your head,
In your head,
Zombie, zombie, zombie?
Hey, hey, hey, hey, oh, dou, dou, dou, dou, dou...

Another mother's breakin',
Heart is taking over.
When the vi'lence causes silence,
We must be mistaken.

It's the same old theme since nineteen-sixteen.
In your head, in your head they're still fighting,
With their tanks and their bombs,
And their bombs and their guns.
In your head, in your head, they are dying...

In your head, in your head,
Zombie, zombie, zombie,
Hey, hey, hey. What's in your head,
In your head,
Zombie, zombie, zombie?
Hey, hey, hey, hey, oh, oh, oh,
Oh, oh, oh, oh, hey, oh, ya, ya-a...

I love the song "Zombie" by The Cranberries!  When I was in middle school they were actually my favorite band, and I could not get enough of them.  The other day I heard this song, and as I was reminicing my childhood - I heard something new in the song.  I was listening to the lyrics, and couldn't believe what I was hearing!  I had never really listened to the lyrics - boy do they say a lot!

In a nutshell the song is about the impact of war and violence.  The biggest impact the song focuses on is family.  I cannot imagine having a loved one in war.  The lyric that stands out to me is "Another mother's breakin heart..."  There are so many Moms out there who have a heavy heart, and worry about their kids in harms way.  For those who don't have loved ones in war - have no idea what those families are going through.  The other lyric that stands out to me is " is not my family..."

For many they don't pay attention to what famalies and soliders go through. Most are Zombies!  The impact does not effect them, and life gets busy.  But we all should take a moment, stand still, and look.  Look at the impact and open our hearts!  We should do whatever we can to help the armed forces and their families!  If nothing else we need to say Thank You!

Monday, June 25, 2012

How Do You Tell?

The Sullivan Brothers

A powerful song is Sullivan by Caroline Spine.  Everytime I listen to this song I get goose bumps!  It is about the Sullivan Brothers during WWII who all joined the military, and were placed in the South Pacific on the same ship.  They were all killed, and what eats me up is the thought of how the mother dealt with this.  I can't imagine having kids in war.  Knowing they are in harms way, and never knowing fully if they are safe.  But this Mom had all 5 of her sons, and then one day gets a telegram that they were all killed!  This song captures the emotion and heart of this situation.

My favorite line is, " Uncle Sam will send you a telegram - so he doesn't have to tell you over the phone..."  That line speaks to me, and always makes me think.  I really think now after this song that if a family has a loved one die in the military the President should call the family.  That man or woman made the ultimate sacrifice and they deserve more than a telegram.  

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Farewell, My Queen

My dear friend just showed me the most amazing trailer for a movie that is coming out!  It is called Farewell, My Queen, and it is about the French Revolution.  The French Revolution is my favorite historical period!  It captivates me, and I love every part of it!  This movie looks good, and I love that it is in French!!!

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Blind Side

I just watched this movie on TV, and have to do a post!  What is great about this movie is the reminder that someone believes in you!  And when someone believes in you incredible things can happen!  In this movie Michael is a kid from the projects who is taken in by a wealthy family.  All of sudden so much is possible!  He is playing football, making good grades, and getting scholarships to colleges.  It was always possible - he just needed the push and drive!  Michael needed someone to believe in him!

Sandra Bullock as the concerned mother

So it makes me wonder - who believes in you?  Who pushes you, and expects excellence?  Is it your parents, a teacher, a leader in the community, or a friend?  Whoever is pushing you in your life - hold on to them and thank them!  You are so lucky!  If you think you have no one - you DO at BTW!  The administration, staff, and faculty love you so much, and want the best for you!  That is why at BTW teachers expect so much of you, and have high standards.  We want the best for you!  We want you to follow your dreams, and have the life of your dreams! 

Your life is your life.  You make it what you want, and in high school you will make decisions that will impact your adult life.  Just know that I'm behind you - your biggest cheerleader wanting you to accomplish all of your dreams and goals!  I saw Charlize Theron on an interview recently and she discussed helping kids in South Africa.  She said she came home thankful because circumstances worked out for her.  She is an Oscar winning actress making millions!  She was reminded that circumstances don't always work out for everyone.  We are blessed - how are you going to use your life?

Friday, June 1, 2012

The King's Speech

I love movies!  And I love when the movies take a historical event.  Because then it is exciting, and engaging.  You get a sense of what that event was all about!  How people felt, and what they went through!  There is a huge differenc reading about an event, and watching it!  A great historical movie is The King's Speech.  It came out a few years ago, and I was blown away!  It was the best movie I had seen in a long time!  I think I saw it three times at the theater - It was that good!  I knew it would win Oscars.  Colin Firth who plays the King won Best Actor!  And it was so deserved.

The King's Speech follows the King of England during WWII.  He must inspire his country at a horrible time, but there is a problem.  The King of England has a horrible stutter.  Radio has been invented, and all of his advisors want him to address the nation.  But he can't, and it is painful to watch!  So he hires a speech therapist to help him.  The relationship he develops with the therapist is so much fun to watch.  It is an outstandiing movie!  Rent it today!

The real King

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Why US Presidents Age

I find this fascinating!  When you look at a President when they enter office and when they leave it is shocking how much they age!  It has to be the stress, and they have done research on this topic.  The evidence is there.  Here is an article about that, and then some photos to see the evidence!

Why presidents age faster than the rest of us
Presidents of the United States, it seems, age right before our eyes.

Their faces, creased and drawn, are road maps of wars and natural disasters and economic calamity. Tufts of gray hair bear testament to a job framed by unremitting pressure and unrelenting criticism.

A vibrant Jimmy Carter beamed with optimism when he assumed the post in January 1977. As he departed four years later, he was wan and pinched, the legacy of hostages in Iran and energy shortages at home - a cautionary tale for President-elect Barack Obama.

But is accelerated aging in the Oval Office inevitable?

Almost certainly, say some specialists in aging and politics. The pounding stress of the job can unleash biological forces that translate into wrinkles, gray hair, weight fluctuation - and sometimes even premature death, although there is far from universal agreement on the long-term health effects of the presidency.

Dr. Michael Roizen, who has written extensively on aging, said a formula he helped develop suggests that for every year in office, the average president ages two years.

"It doesn't matter if they're Democrats or Republicans, it doesn't matter if they've been athletes or not beforehand, it doesn't matter if they were smokers or not," said Roizen, chief wellness officer at the Cleveland Clinic. "For eight years in office, they age 16 years."

Roizen's analysis, which examines presidents from Theodore Roosevelt forward, relies on medical documents presidents made available before being elected and details from annual checkups while in office. It includes medical factors such as blood pressure and weight and behaviors such as smoking and exercise.

Using his widely publicized "Real Age" formula, Roizen then calculated each president's risk of death and disability before he was elected and after his term had ended. The results showed a consistent acceleration of aging among presidents, said Roizen, who has sometimes faced criticism from peers for his outspoken views on human aging.

Others measure the health toll of the presidency not in gray hairs and wrinkles, but in life expectancy. In his book "The Mortal Presidency," Northeastern University political scientist Robert E. Gilbert reports that presidents, on average, have shorter life spans than members of Congress or the Supreme Court.

And when he examined the ages at which presidents from Washington to Nixon died, Gilbert concluded that 25 of 36 died earlier than would have been predicted using the sort of life expectancy data that insurance companies rely on.

To reach his findings, Gilbert did not look simply at life expectancy from birth. Instead, he mined actuarial life tables to compute how much longer a man of a given generation could be expected to live assuming he made it to certain milestone ages.

Consider Theodore Roosevelt. It was expected that his contemporaries - men born in the late 1850s - would live to be almost 75 if they had survived childhood scourges and war to make it to at least 60. Roosevelt saw his 60th birthday, but no more. So Gilbert concluded Roosevelt died nearly 15 years prematurely. Woodrow Wilson, he calculated, lived roughly seven years less than actuarial tables would have forecast for someone of his generation.

"To be president, you have a position where you are really the focal point of attention," Gilbert said. "Whereas with a Supreme Court justice, you're one of nine. And if you're a member of Congress, you're one of 535. When justices go to their homes, the reporters don't bother them. If they go to the beach, who would even know them?"

Not all doctors agree that presidents are doomed to an early grave. Just look at the longevity of our most recent batch of past presidents, one specialist said; Carter, especially, continues to hopscotch the world deep into his 80s. Herbert Hoover, Harry Truman, Gerald Ford, and Ronald Reagan substantially outlived their contemporaries.

"It's true that when people have the weight of the world on their shoulders, they may get more wrinkles," said Dr. Leo Cooney, chief of geriatrics at Yale School of Medicine. "But the data that this impacts their health is not there."

History is pocked with nonpresidential examples of intense stress fueling aging and early death - among humans and animals, including gorillas.

Dr. Ken Minaker, chief of the Geriatric Medicine Unit at Massachusetts General Hospital, cited the fate of some who survived Nazi occupation during World War II and, after years of privation and fear, experienced higher rates of Alzheimer's disease and premature death.

When humans endure levels of pitched stress, a dangerous cascade of hormones - such as cortisol - begins flowing.

And while younger people can easily reset their hormonal response system once acute stress subsides, older adults don't respond with the same suppleness. In such circumstances, the human body becomes like an engine that is constantly revving.

"It's a good thing that older people can have stress responses, but it's a bad thing that your stress responses stay active for a longer period of time," Minaker said. "It's sort of burning you up."

And all that stress, Minaker said, consumes plenty of fuel, which can cause nutrition and even blood flow to be redirected from relatively unimportant tasks such as producing new hair. As a result, longer-lasting gray hairs proliferate.

Rampaging stress hormones also cause more sugar to spill into the bloodstream, which, in turn, damages blood vessels, paving the way for heart attacks and strokes, said Dr. Michele Bellantoni, a geriatrics specialist at Johns Hopkins University.

"I've seen the stories where you show a photograph of the president at Inauguration Day and then a picture later on, and you see aging and you say, 'Was that person under a sun lamp every day?' " Bellantoni said.

"Well, no. They were under stress."

Dr. Burton Lee witnessed the rigors of the presidency from inside the White House. He served as physician to George H.W. Bush during his entire term in office.

"You can watch presidents age in office," Lee said in a phone interview.

Bush's health, he said, was robust until he was diagnosed with a thyroid condition called Graves' disease. When he recommended at one point that Bush take a vacation, Lee said, he was ridiculed. But, aging specialists said, that's exactly what presidents sometimes need, along with enough sleep and exercise.

The Cleveland Clinic's Roizen said that his analysis of presidential aging - as well as insights he gained in conversations with several former presidents - shows the biggest liability was a lack of real friends. Presidents, he said, tend to become isolated, wary of even their closest advisers.

"It takes about six close friends or social groups where you can let your hair down for you to be able to relieve the stress you have," Roizen said.

The next occupant of the Oval Office has pledged to foreswear one particularly dangerous vice: smoking. And in an interview with the magazine Men's Health, Obama indicated that he plans to stay fit. The small outdoor basketball court at the White House "may need an upgrade," he said.

Still, with two wars and a flagging economy awaiting, there's no guarantee that a commitment to exercise will be enough to keep wrinkles from burrowing or gray hairs from sprouting.

"You take a look at someone going into office and then look at someone coming out of office, and they all look beat up," said Dr. David Reuben, chief of geriatrics at the David Geffen School of Medicine at the University of California at Los Angeles. "It is as stressful as it gets."
President Obama 2008

President Obama 2012

The most drastic evidence: President Lincoln

President Lincoln 1860

President Lincoln 1865

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Unbroken: The Power of Forgiveness

This is Memorial Weekend - a time to remember and thank all the men and women who fight for our freedom.  So this weekend I want to share an incredible story of service and forgiveness.  Now this story is captured in the book, Unbroken.  This WWII fighter pilot crashed in the ocean.  Luckily there was life raft for him to use.  He survived over a month weathering storms and fighting off sharks!  Eventually a boat showed up, but it wasn't a rescue party.  It was the Japanese who took him as a prisoner to Execution Island.  He spent a few years there where he was beaten, tortured, and starved!  I could not even imagine what he went through!

The most amazing thing about his story was years later he decided to forgive his torturers.  He didn't do it in his mind or paper, he went to Japan and forgave them face3 to face!  If he can forgive those men who tortured him and beat him - I can forgive anyone.  He said it has brought him joy, and it freed him!

The World War II Soldier

Him Today