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Greetings Tiny Neighbours…Here’s an invitation to put on your favorite ambient music and lead yourself through a self-guided meditation.  Or perhaps, just grab a cup of coffee and enjoy a thought-provoking read! 

Pretend for a moment that you came across a virtual reality game.  You enlisted yourself and entered to play.  This game was so advanced that once you stepped in you thought that everything you experienced was real. You took up various roles interacting with others who were all playing the same game. You either liked or disliked the role you played, but never the less you learned a lot and you gained much insight about your life. You became so immersed in this virtual reality game that you obeyed and played by the rules with minimal or no questions at all. Think about all this for awhile.

Now imagine this scenario.  “You,” being the player in this virtual reality game, after entering “in” completely forgot who you were before the game started.  Now, you no longer remember the reality you embodied before pretending to be and play the role you took up in the game.  Now you think that the virtual reality game is the only reality that exists.  Like a dream that never ends, you move from one trial to the next trial with no end in sight.  Somehow you know that you are not operating the controls.  You might be asking these questions. Who set up this game?  Why was it set up? How did you get involved?  Think about this for awhile.

Are you able to imagine that you could be living your daily life on Earth similar to a virtual reality game?  Earth feels real and you have a very real role to play in it here.  All the rules, laws and guidelines are written down for you…made solely for your safety and protection.  But can you be sure they are?  Do these rules truly serve who you are?  This current life is all you know isn’t it.  Is it real? Are you sure? Are you sure of anything?

Imagine this next thought…what if this life/your life here is only part of a much greater reality?  What if there are more realities out there, somewhere? Is this hard for you to imagine?  What if this current Earth life reality is being played out just like the virtual reality game you stepped into earlier? If it is, then who or what could be the active agent playing “your” role, the role that you are currently caught up in?  Ponder this thought.

Is it possible for you to imagine this active agent as being You…as being your very own awareness, your consciousness…your soul? Somehow your soul landed in the game.  If you can imagine this, can you also imagine that your soul could be “unknowingly” caught up in an earthly game similar to the virtual reality game you enlisted to play? Could this world be keeping you in its own ongoing narrative of what your life should be?  Could it be possible that you are far more advanced than what you are being allowed to experience within the game?  Could these guidelines, which you are using, be taking you into the center of an illusion? Could they?

Now ask yourself this…are you content playing in this earthly game?  Are you? Do you really know yourself here? What if there was another part of you who was more real than the “you” in this earthly game? Who would that person be?  Where would this person be?  What would this person be like? (Would you even want to know?) What if…just what if you could remove yourself from the game to find out?  Would you dare step out?  And, what if when you did step out that you could instantly see your life from a much different perspective?  Ponder this thought for a moment. 

And now, imagine, with your own conscious thought that you are currently stepping out. See yourself physically stepping out of the game now. Where have you landed?  Now that you have exited the earth game what do you see? What do you feel?  Is anyone else with you?  Do things seem different? Has your perspective changed? Could this be the awakening of your awareness…your consciousness…your soul?  Could this new perspective be your freedom from the game? What does “awakened” feel like to you? These thoughts are a lot to take inRest here a while and ponder this imagined “awakening” for yourself.

Written by Beverley Dujay-Macdonald

Barry McGrady  •  100 Donation certificate  

In Canada, for a whole blood donation, approximately 500 ml or one-half liter of blood is collected. For donations of other blood products, such as platelet or plasma, the amount collected depends on your height, weight and platelet count.

Barry McGrady has given at least 50 litres (11 gallons) of blood.

To become a blood donor in Canada you must be at least 17 years old and meet our minimum height and weight requirements (50 kg/110 lb), particularly if you are between 17 and 23 years old.

You are eligible to donate as long as you are feeling well at the time of your appointment. Remember to bring any prescription medication with you to your appointment.

If you have an infection, you should not donate blood and plasma. When taking medication for an infection, you may temporarily be unable to donate.

To be eligible to donate, your last:

Whole blood donation must have been 56 days ago for males, 84 days ago for females

Plasma donation must have been seven days ago

Platelet donation must have been 14 days ago

Plasma donation intervals vary depending on the type of plasma donation each donor centre collects.

Typically, you must wait six months after receiving a blood transfusion from another person before you can donate blood.

Your eligibility to donate depends on the type of cancer you had and when it was treated.

You are eligible to donate with a cold if you are: 

Feeling well.

Able to participate in day-to-day activities.

Not taking antibiotics.

Not coughing up phlegm. 

If you have the flu, wait until you are fully recovered to donate.

If you have type 2 diabetes and are treated with diet or pills to lower your blood sugar, you can donate.

Pregnant donors are not eligible to donate. There is also a six-month waiting period after giving birth before you may become eligible to donate.

If you are breastfeeding, you are not eligible to donate blood during the first six months after giving birth.

You must wait three months after getting a tattoo (includes microblading and permanent makeup) before you are eligible to donate. The temporary deferral period is due to the increased risk of infections associated with tattoos.

To confirm if you are eligible to donate plasma, call us at 1 888 2 DONATE (1-888-236-6283).

County of Simcoe Paramedic Services on the frontlines of emergency response

Midhurst/February 3, 2021 – Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, and during this heightened second wave, County of Simcoe Paramedic Services have been on the frontlines responding to the needs of our residents, communities and partners.

Providing medical care and transport during 9-1-1 calls continues to be the main priority for Paramedic Services; however, during the pandemic Paramedics have expanded their roles and utilized their training and skillset to support our regional pandemic response needs. Since the beginning of the pandemic, Paramedics have been providing assistance with swabbing and patient management needs in congregate settings, such as workplaces, long-term care and seniors services facilities, conducting wellness checks in area shelters, providing emergency transport of COVID-19 positive patients, working with area health-care teams in vaccination clinics and expanding in-home wellness checks through the innovative Community Paramedicine programs. Logistics staff have also extended themselves to support our long-term care homes with PPE management.

“The response of our Paramedic staff to the pandemic has been extraordinary,” said Andrew Robert, Director and Chief, County of Simcoe Paramedic Services. “Their roles are challenging at the best of times and dealing with added pressures of the pandemic, and safety measures of being in close contact with COVID-19 positive patients, has been very tough on their physical and mental health. I am very proud and grateful to them for their efforts, adaptability and drive to support their patients and community. All our front-line staff are thankful for the public support they have received. We greatly appreciate how our partners and communities continue to support one another as we all work to end this pandemic.”

New Funding Support

County of Simcoe Paramedic Services (CSPS) is pleased to have received additional one-time funding in the amount of $456,008 from Local Health Integration Networks (LHINs) in relation to the COVID-19 response. This funding will support pandemic activities, such as vaccine administration, existing Community Paramedicine (CP) program expansion and CP education development within Simcoe County. The funding was split between three payments from the Central and North Simcoe Muskoka LHINs and will allow future program growth and sustainability at a crucial time. This funding will be reviewed further by County Council on February 9.

“The support and service of our Paramedics is a cornerstone in our fight against COVID-19 and our eventual recovery,” said Warden George Cornell. “We are immensely grateful to our Paramedics, and we continue to work with the Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit and the Province to ensure that Paramedics are prioritized in the roll out of vaccinations due to their expanded role during this pandemic. We also thank the Province for these additional funds, which will assist the County in providing the necessary increased training, staffing, equipment and administration costs to keep our communities safe.”

County of Simcoe is composed of sixteen member municipalities and provides crucial public services to County residents in addition to providing paramedic and social services to the separated cities of Barrie and Orillia. Visit our website at simcoe.ca.

Intelligent Communication

“We can disagree without being disagreeable.”

                                                Barack Obama

 One of the best ways to dramatically improve communication about difficult issues is to respect the right of each individual to have their own point of view, whether we agree with it or not.  

Clearly, we all have our own perspective about situations, but so often rather than “communing”, that is sharing our views, ego gets in there and tries to prove it is right and the other is wrong. With this, the discussion quickly becomes an argument.

 The goal of human communication ideally should understand. We talk with one another to express our thoughts, to share our internal world. What we say is often only a small part of what we think and feel inside.

 So, when another expresses a thought, our aim should be not only to hear the idea, but also to get a sense of all that lies behind that thought. We might explore this deeper part by asking the individual to say more about it, or explain why they feel as they do, or how they came to their conclusions.

 When we do this, we often find we did not fully understand where they were coming from. We may also gain an insight into the situation we did not have before. An effective communicator learns as much about the other’s perspective as possible, and communicates that understanding.

 Once the other knows we understand their thinking, they are much more open to listening to the way we see things. We may find there are points of agreement. We may also find that we still disagree, but now we both understand where the points of disagreement lie. This is all about understanding, and not at all about proving who is right or making the other wrong.  

This is an intelligent, respectful, and mature approach to dealing with others. Whether we are parents, children, business partners, colleagues or even politicians we would all do well to elevate our communication to this level.

 Sometimes we may have a strong emotional reaction to another’s viewpoint, and it bothers us to see them think that way. We may even lose respect for them. It feels as though we cannot be friends with someone with a view so opposite to ours. 

This is not just a difference of opinion, but instead may be a difference in values. If someone is racist, for example, and espouses their views frequently, we might just not want to be around them. If it is someone we want in our lives, we can ask them to refrain from expressing racist comments around us. If they respect this, then we might feel comfortable being with them.

 If not, we can let them go, or learn to live with it. Just know that you will never convince someone they are wrong about how they feel.

Gwen Randall-Young is an author and award-winning psychologist.  For permission to reprint this article, or to obtain books, CDs or MP3s, visit www.gwen.ca. Follow Gwen on Facebook for daily inspiration. 

*– Study: MRI-guided ultrasound treats prostate cancer with few side effects –*

An MRI-guided ultrasound treatment is effective against intermediate-risk prostate cancer and causes minimal side effects, according to a study published Tuesday by the journal Radiology.

Of 44 men who received the treatment, 41 were disease-free five months later, with little effect on erectile function and prostate symptoms, the data showed.

“By combining the high-intensity focused ultrasound device with MRI, we can target our treatment to the exact location because we’re able to pinpoint precisely where the tumor is,” study co-author Dr. Sangeet Ghai said in a press release.

“The results so far have been very good,” said Ghai, a medical imaging specialist at the University Health Network Sinai Health and Women’s College Hospital in Toronto.

“We treated a smaller area using this device, yet still had very good results, [while] … the patients preserved their erectile and urinary function,” he added.

Prostate cancer is the second most common cancer among men after non-melanoma skin cancer, with about 200,000 cases diagnosed in the United States each year, according to the American Cancer Society.

Current treatments such as surgery and radiation therapy that target the entire gland are effective at eliminating the cancer, but often cause incontinence and sexual dysfunction, Ghai and his colleagues said.

A new class of treatments called focal therapy, however, offers an alternative for some men with intermediate-risk disease that is confined to the prostate, the researchers said.

In high-intensity focused ultrasound therapy, the cancer is destroyed by heating the affected tissue by using a probe-like device called an ultrasound transducer, which focuses sound waves to generate heat at a single point.

In the past, the procedure has been performed using ultrasound, but ultrasound does show an image of the site of cancer within the prostate gland well enough to allow for good targeting. Magnetic resonance imaging improves that targeting.

Since the treatment is targeted at a small area within the prostate, side effects are generally less than those associated with surgery and radiation therapy, the researchers said.

For this study, they used a device that delivers MRI-guided focused ultrasound treatment via a probe placed in the rectum while the patient is under general anesthesia.

Results of the procedure, which takes about four hours, were tracked using MRI, biopsies and surveys of erectile and urinary function. Treatment was successfully completed in all the men, with no major side effects, the researchers said.

Using MRI allows thermal feedback during treatment, which is important because killing the cancerous tissue requires a temperature of more than 140 degrees Fahrenheit. The method also allows surgeons to see whether all the cancer has been eradicated, researchers said.

“MRI almost instantaneously gives feedback as to the temperature that we’ve been able to achieve at the site,” Ghai said.

“If the temperature was not what I wanted to get, I can reheat that area so that chances for successful treatment increase,” he said.

The treatment is pending approval by the U.S Food and Drug Administration and Health Canada.

Ways to Kick the Winter Blues

1. Make sure you’re taking Vitamin D.

I don’t know about anyone else, but I hate taking pills. But, by taking Vitamin D on a regular basis, it will actually help fight any depression as well as help keep your body healthy! Make sure to check the labels so that you’re getting Vitamin D with Gamma and Alpha.

2. Up your Omega-3 intake.

By taking Omega-3 pills daily it can help maintain healthy levels of the brain chemicals dopamine and serotonin, both of which increase happiness and reduce symptoms of depression or winter blues! A good Vegan source for Omega-3 is flaxseed, hemp, and walnuts.

3. Get a Sun Lamp!

Some people swear by sun lamps, saying the full-spectrum light is similar in comparison to real sunlight, which people lack exposure to in the winter.

4. Go outside anyways!

While it may be cold and the weather may be crappy, make sure to go outside for at least 10 minutes a day. Believe it or not, even just 10 minutes of exposure to the natural sun light can make a big difference. Because the days are getting shorter, take a break at work once a day, walk around the outside of the building. Even if it is cloudy, the sunlight is going to poke through, increasing your serotonin and dopamine levels.

5. Leave the hermitage.

Resist the urge to sit and do nothing, or to block yourself off from friends. A good book, a new yoga routine, a weekend away with the girls, or even just a night with the girls (or guys), can make a world of a difference Spending time with friends is a great way for you to raise your levels and soothe your soul.

6. Warm up your green drinks and recipes.

When all you want is hot cocoa, sometimes it is hard to want salads, smoothies, and green juices. So, instead, add a bit of kick to it with ginger Or, to get more of your veggies in the colder months, add them to stews or soups. Find ways to change up your recipes, including fruit in your every day schedule. And remember, in the winter months, add a bit of cinnamon to things. It can help keep you from getting sick.

7. Sleep.

Make sure to get your full 8 hours of sleep. By creating a sleep schedule allowing for a full night of sleep, without over sleeping like a teenager, you will be well rested and less likely to be depressed.

8. Don’t eat junk food.

When you eat junk food, it causes you to have sadder thoughts, bad sleep schedules, and leaves you feeling less healthy. We all know when it is cold outside, we want to curl up on the couch and watch a movie and veg out on whatever we have in the house. The more unhealthy the food, the more likely it is for depression to hit.

9. Get Aerobic Exercise.

This may seem like a repeat of #4, but it’s not. By allowing for 30 minutes of exercise a day, 5 days a week, you’ll give your body a chance to stretch, as well as allow for more sunlight exposure, and it will get your endorphins pumping, which helps increase your serotonin and dopamine levels as well. Get some warm close, take a brisk walk, and decrease your anxiety and stress! It’s a win win!

Rosie’s Devotions – Weather Conditions 

As I look out my living room window, I see snow falling again. The white stuff is coming down so heavily that I can’t see the land across the bay or the sailboats that were lifted out of the water, settled onto boat stands and winterized for the colder weather. The trees in the park to the right of us, are laden with so much snow that the branches are almost touching the ground. It is a beautiful sight.

Over two years ago, things were quite different for us. I remember having to shovel the driveway, the balcony and deck whenever it snowed. Lugging the recycling bins and garbage containers towards the curb was always a chore, and became increasingly harder the older I got. I also remember the time when our air conditioner stopped working. The outside temperatures reached over thirty degrees Celsius, which brought the inside temperatures even higher, and it was at that time, I wished for cooler temperatures to bring some sort of relief. All of a sudden, it hit me: I was not happy with the amount of snow that fell, and I wasn’t happy when it was too hot, just like the Israelites who grumbled against Moses as they were marching through the desert to the Promised Land.

Exodus 16:12 – I have heard the grumblings of the sons of Israel; speak to them, saying, “At twilight you shall eat meat, and in the morning you shall be filled with bread; and you shall know that I am the Lord your God.” (NASB)

Today, I don’t understand why we are getting so much snow in the winter months or why we have soaring temperatures in the summer, but what I do know is that God is in control, and it is for us to let go of our anxieties and trust our heavenly Father, who cares for you and me. I am thankful that I don’t have to shovel snow anymore or lug garbage to the curb because now we live in an apartment building and love it.

Matthew 6:26 – Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they? (NASB)

Is there something in your life that you are anxious about?

Prayer: Lord God, You have created the seasons for our benefit. Help us to see the beauty in the seasons of spring, summer, fall, and winter. Help us to trust in Your divine providence, in every season and circumstance, now and always. Amen.

CRISPR tomatoes

Point mutations turning food into a sedative? Report by Testbiotech

Japan granted approval in January 2021 for the first “CRISPR tomatoes” to be used in food production. The tomatoes contain a much higher concentration of a plant compound (GABA) compared to those derived from conventional breeding. GABA (γ-Aminobutyric acid) can diminish the transmission of specific signals in the central nervous system which may, amongst others, cause lower blood pressure. Therefore, the tomatoes will be introduced as a modern “lifestyle” product. At the same time, it is known that GABA has a multifunctional role in tomato plants: it influences, for instance, plant growth, resistance to plants pests and diseases as well as several other metabolic reactions.

The concentration of GABA is naturally enhanced in plants attacked by pest organisms. However, all attempts to achieve a permanent higher level of GABA in the plants through conventional breeding have failed. Due to the multifunctional role of GABA, it has to be assumed that the genetic intervention will affect plant metabolism on several levels. These changes also can cause unintended health effects at the stage of consumption. In addition, the plants can show unexpected reactions to environmental stress conditions, which can again have an impact on the safety of food products.

There have been previous reports on CRISPR tomatoes: In 2018, scientists succeeded in using CRISPR/Cas to change several genes at the same time in non-domesticated wild tomatoes. Six genes were cut with the result that small fruits growing on bushy plants were changed into tomatoes that look similar to the ones currently marketed. This was intended to show that the outcomes of years of conventional breeding are replicable within a very short period of time using new genetic technology. However, there are also greater changes in the concentration of compounds in these GE tomatoes. This kind of gene manipulation, i.e. changing several genes at the same time, is called ‘multiplexing’. Even though no additional genes were inserted, the impact was extraordinary: the number of fruits, their size, form and compounds as well as the architecture of the plants were changed in just a few working steps and within a short period of time.

This example shows how it is possible to bring about major changes in the composition of food plants without inserting additional genes. The cultivation and consumption of the tomatoes are associated with a wide range of risks. Therefore, such genetically engineered plants need to be thoroughly investigated before any conclusions can be drawn on health and environmental risks or safety.