Refining Life

Something New in the Pipeline

Dear Bloggers, Dear Friends,

Here are Milky and Caramel, Heila’s cats, whom she asked to send you this message ’cause she is really busy building a new blog.

After 4 years in which you, dear friends, have been part of the journey through Heila’s thoughts and life, with her beloved, mentally coping son always in the background and in her mind, this blog is making way for a new, self-hosted blog that will combine her love for cats (purr!) and for languages.

The name of the new blog is (there’s nothing to see there, yet) and Heila is working on building and designing it. We hope she won’t forget to feed us while she’s preoccupied using us to show off her language skills … Looking forward to seeing you soon in Heila’s new place…ah, blog.


Milky & Caramel



The Plank – My Favorite Exercise

All you need is a carpet or a gym mat and a few minutes of your time. You hardly even need to move to do this exercise! Doing the Plank almost daily has helped relieve my back pain, it shapes my body, and it always leaves me with an improved mood.

Picture credits and good plank instructions: 1.



Having a Healthy Gut can Equal having a Healthy Mind.

Remember my post about how intestinal bacteria play an important role in brain chemistry and mental health?

Well, the topic is hot and there’s a lot of research going on in the field.

Below is a great infographic, which illustrates the connection between our gut bacteria and our brain. “Within the walls of our digestive system is the gut, or the “second brain,” which contains bacteria that could help mold our brain structure, possibly influencing our moods, behavior, and mental health, such as the likelihood of developing Alzheimer’s disease.”

“The gut is able to communicate with the brain via the vagus nerve — a cranial nerve extending from the brainstem to the abdomen via the heart, esophagus and lung — known as the gut-brain axis. Ninety percent of the fibers in the vagus carry information from the gut to the brain.

Now, an imbalance of beneficial versus harmful gut bacteria, known as “dysbiosis,” has been linked to a number of psychiatric and neurological disorders, such as autism, anxiety, depression and stress. It may even play a role in neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease. This suggests a person’s stomach or intestinal distress can be the cause or the product of anxiety, stress, or depression. This is potentially related to pro-inflammatory states elicited by bacteria imbalance on or inside the body.”


Milky & Caramel – Moving to the North

In August Heila took us to our new home. We were now officially a family – Heila, myself and my brother Caramel. (Remember how we looked in the beginning: Milky & Caramel when they were toddlers.)

We can’t really understand why she moved to the North but it’s fine with us. There are hardly any cars now (we live in a kibbutz, it’s like a small, far-off village) but the nextdoor neighbor has a really scary dog. (But we’re too fast for him anyway.)

The most fun part of moving were the first weeks during which Heila’s new place was a paradise of boxes, bags, and other stuff that made for great hiding places and things to check out and play with.

Did you see the uncomfortable toilet we had then? (Now we have a first class WC, Made in Italy.)

Caramel hurry up and stop looking at your sh.. all the time.
Now it’s my turn, go away.

Happy 70th Birthday

My dear friend Ralph, Happy 70th birthday! I hope you had a great day and are still having a wonderful time – it’s 10 pm here in Israel so probably an hour less in Spain – party time! Snail mail birthday wishes are on their way to you (actually, I sent you two letters, the first announcing the second… just to make sure you’ll receive at least one).

My thoughts were with you a lot today and despite the unfriendly weather I managed to take a few nice pictures for you:

Yuval sends you his love.

And I am sending you a very strong hug! 💕

Love, Heila

The Plastic Byproduct – Mental Illness Connection

It suddenly struck me that there might be a connection between the ubiquity of plastic products in our lives and the increasing number of people diagnosed with mental illness.

Seeing the uncritical way in which most people use plastic products especially in food preparation and storage, leaves me speechless sometimes. I mean it’s not that there isn’t enough information on the web about the harmful effects of plastic byproducts on our and especially our children’s health.

I was never a fan of plastic. Of course life without plastic is nearly impossible today because it is a cheap and versatile material and used nearly everywhere. But when food is concerned I minimize the use of it wherever I can: I mostly store food in glass or stainless steel containers. I don’t use plastic wrap (especially not for hot foods) and I don’t buy mineral water in plastic bottles. For cooking and serving food I use wooden or stainless steel spoons and dippers. And I just can’t stand plastic chopping boards – I have always used a wooden one. And when I buy take-away coffee I drink straight from the cup, not through the white plastic lid.

So here are some eye-openers for those interested:

Plastics are Silent Killers

(Picture credit: )

Write it Off your Chest

When I feel I’m losing control over my thoughts – whether my brain is swirling with too many ideas or fears and anxiety get a grip on me, or if there are just things I don’t want to forget – I write them down. My notebook is always with me, wherever I go.

Writing down thoughts helps process them and sort them out. It is also a great way of confronting anxiety and fears.

Although I have not talked with anyone about what I wrote, I was finally able to deal with it, work through the pain instead of trying to block it out. Now it doesn’t hurt to think about it.”

Sometimes, when I have to meet someone for a talk and I’m not exactly sure how to begin the conversation or I’m afraid I’ll forget to mention the important points, I sit down before and compile the relevant information and arguments in writing. Putting the thoughts to paper helps consolidate them in my mind.

Whatever it is I jot down, writing always leaves me with a feeling of relief and accomplishment.

Writing gives form to your ideas and gets them out of your head, freeing up bandwidth and preventing you from crashing your browser like a late night downward spiral on Wikipedia.”


Sometimes we find ourselves in situations in which we don’t exactly know how to behave or what to say. We then act in a certain way, which afterwards we might find was incorrect or inappropriate. Then the question arises: Should I talk about it with others, colleagues or superiors if it was at work; or friends, family, or whomever it concerns? Sharing might reveal a mistake I made and I risk receiving negative responses.

Still, I opt for talking and sharing because only when we open up to feedback we are able to learn and develop, and become really good at what we do. Only those who dare can grow.

Natural Giving

Marshall Rosenberg, psychologist and founder of the Non Violent Communication, a method to help people learn to communicate in a peaceful and conflict-solving way:

Instead of playing the game Making Life Wonderful and enjoying the quality of natural giving, everywhere and with everyone, we play the game of Who is Right.

The game of Who is Right is a game in which everybody loses. It involves two of the most devious things human beings have ever come upon: Reward and Punishment.

Anything we do out of fear of punishment if we don’t do it – everybody pays for.
Everything we do for a reward – everybody pays for.
Everything we do to make people like us – everybody pays for.
Everything we do out of guilt, shame, duty, obligation – everybody pays for.

The Basics of Non Violent Communication 1.1
The Basics of Non Violent Communication 1.2
(Fun and surprising videos to watch. You’ll also have a good laugh or two.)


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