Here’s to taking care of yourself from the inside out

Forget about the holidays, at times we all get stressed, worn out, depressed, anxious, under the weather or whatever you want to call the things that are affecting your mental health. Even celebrities deal with it. We’re all human, so don’t beat yourself up if you’re feeling blue.

It’s never a bad idea to be informed on your local mental health resources—whether for yourself or for others. Young, old or in-between, taking care of ourselves allows us to take care of others.

growing-inward-mental-health-graphic

When extra responsibilities and commitments are caroling at your door, the combination can leave you troubled.

Maybe it’s something different altogether, like debilitating PTSD, crippling depression or stressful anxiety that’s affecting you. It doesn’t matter one bit. Just know that help is there, waiting for all of us.

Reaching out is a courageous step! Here’s a list of local mental health resources for Birmingham, just in time for the holidays.

Photo courtesy of National Institute of Mental Health
Photo courtesy of National Institute of Mental Health

For general information, the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) offers simple definitions of mental health topics and research. The topics are even divided by audience, so that you can learn about conditions for a particular population.

In the Birmingham-metro area there are a number of community-based resources for counseling, psychology and emergency mental health services for those with our without insurance. If you do have insurance, reach out to your primary healthcare provider for a referral or give the psychiatry department at UAB a call for direction.

  1. For local counseling on a sliding scale that’s geared towards women and children, try Oasis. They offer “individual, couples, group, and family counseling, as well as art therapy and play therapy. Fees are determined on the basis of a sliding fee scale.”
  2. The UAB Community Counseling Clinic “offers affordable counseling services to the residents of Jefferson County through its Community Counseling Clinic.”

    Photo courtesy of Veterans' Administration
    Photo courtesy of Veterans’ Administration
  3. For Birmingham veterans suffering from PTSD, the Birmingham VA Medical Center is a good place to start, and they even offer a suicide hotline. Their contact information and hotline number can be found here.
  4.  For healthcare services for the homeless (including mental health), Alabama Regional Healthcare Services (ARMS) “provides comprehensive urgent, acute, and primary health care services with linkages to community providers when needed.”
  5. The Jefferson County Department of Health also offers a variety of health services for individuals without insurance. Information about specific services and health department offices can be found here.

 

Try a fun day trip to one of Alabama’s orchards

“Johnny Apple Seed” is my favorite blessing, even though it’s a simple child’s song. Above is composer and songwriter Michele Brourman giving it a mature upgrade, but I still love to hear kids sing it before sharing a meal.

alabama-apples

The short and sweet tune reminds me of attending Camp Sumatanga in Gallant, Alabama, where we would sing “Johnny Appleseed” before every meal.

There is a spiritual connection between food and nature, and I can thank the Methodist church for opening my eyes (and stomach) to the sweet message found its lyrics. I feel this same connection when visiting our state’s farmers and witnessing the fruits of their labor. One of my favorite ways to rekindle this connection is with a trip to purchase apples from an Alabama apple farm!

The state has handful of apple orchards, some where you can even pick your own apples. While the picking season ends at the end of October, the orchards below continue to sell the fruits of their labor until they run out.

Photo courtesy of Crow Mountain Orchard
Photo courtesy of Crow Mountain Orchard

Crow Mountain Orchard
6236 County Road 39 Fackler, AL 35746
256-437-9254
Crow Mountain Orchard, while not open for tours, boasts over 20 varieties of apples that they sell to the public. From Ginger Golds to Pippins, along with more common ones like Gala and Golden Delicious, Crow Mountain apples can also be purchased at seven different farmer’s markets.

Photo courtesy of Scott's Orchard
Photo courtesy of Scott’s Orchard

Scott’s Orchard
2163 Scott Road, Hazel Green, AL 35750
(256) 828-4563
Scott’s Orchard is the largest apple orchard in Tennessee, but they are technically located in Alabama. Confused? Don’t be! The 150-acre farm stretches across the state line. They serve apples, peaches, cider, apple and peach cider slushies, vegetables, honey and molasses.

Steele’s Orchard
1695 Co Rd 1141, Cullman, AL 35057
Phone: (256) 734-5249

Steele’s Orchard is located in Cullman, and they give tours of the orchards (unlike most) in addition to selling apples and apple goods on site. Steele’s Orchard has a gift shop and bakery that’s open through December, selling everything from southern fried pies to apple-wood chips for barbecuing.

Now, what to do with all those apples after your day trip? My personal favorite is this healthy breakfast muffin, made with candied ginger and whole-wheat flour. You can also find this recipe on the Bham Now Facebook page.

apple-ginger-muffin-recipe-2
Apple Ginger Muffins
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1 tbsp. chopped candied ginger (available at asian markets)
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. salt
1 c. small-diced apples
1/2 c. vegetable oil
1 eggTopping:
2 tbsp. flour
2 tbsp. brown sugar
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1 tbsp. butter
1 tbsp. candied ginger, chopped finely

Directions: Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line 12 muffin cups with paper baking cups In large bowl, combine flour, brown sugar, ginger, baking soda and salt; blend well.In medium bowl, combine apples, oil, and egg; blend well and Add to Your dry ingredients; stir just until dry ingredients are moistened. don’t over mix! Divide batter evenly among muffin cups.

In a small bowl, combine the topping ingredients and sprinkle over batter. Bake for 18 to 22 minutes or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean.

How to help find forever homes for the furries!

Photo by MomaKat Rescue
Photo by MomaKat Rescue

If you’re looking for a new puppy dog or kitty pal this holiday season, whether for yourself or as a gift for a loved one, be sure to give our local animals a chance to come home with you!

The Birmingham metro area and beyond is home to a handful of animal adoption options that are full of friends looking for their forever homes.

Continue reading “How to help find forever homes for the furries!”

Walking paths, light shows coming to Vulcan Park

kiwanis-club-vulcan-graphicA $4 million, three-part project is underway for Vulcan Park, thanks to the Kiwanis Club. To celebrate the club’s 100th anniversary in 2017, a grand-scale makeover is in the works.

The “big changes” include:

  • A makeover for the North side of the park, improving the paths and the walking trails, as well as other parts in need of an upgrade.
  • The creation of Kiwanis Centennial Park, a meeting an event space. This part of the improvement project will also include walking steps from the north side of the park directly up to Vulcan itself.
  • A two-mile jogging and biking trail is planned for the second phase of the project. It will extend Vulcan Trail to Green Springs Highway, as a part of the planned 750 miles of Birmingham’s Red Rock Ridge and Valley Trail System.
  • The last phase of the project includes the installation of a multicolored light show for Vulcan, like in the rendering below.

Continue reading “Walking paths, light shows coming to Vulcan Park”

AT&T introduces super-fast Internet services for Birmingham

Fast internet, birmingham, high speed, AT&T
Courtesy: Giphy.com

On Tuesday AT&T announced its plan to bring high-speed fiber Internet to Birmingham, with speeds “20X faster than the average cable customer.” According to a news release, customers will be able to “download 25 songs in 1 second or a 90-minute HD movie in less than 34 seconds.”

According to AL.com, “The service will cost $90 for one GB per second as a standalone service and is similar to another recently offered in Huntsville. It can be cheaper when bundled with other offers from AT&T.”

Check out all current internet service providers in Birmingham.

‘Historically close’ super moon comes Sunday night

The moon makes history this weekend by being its fullest and brightest in decades, so whether you’re in search of a cheap date idea or a just a reason to sit on the back porch this weekend, here you go.

supermoon-may-2012-tim-mccord
Photo by space.co

Although extreme drought conditions have spawned wildfires across the Southeast and continue to leave Birmingham dry as a bone, temperatures continue to drop, and the night skies are predicted to be clear this weekend.  The cooler weather means it’s still a great time to get outdoors and

enjoy this Veterans Day weekend in all its supermoon glory.

Continue reading “‘Historically close’ super moon comes Sunday night”

Women dominated Birmingham’s judicial races, and the DA’s office is all about change

Whether you’re a Democrat or a Republican or, like many people fall somewhere in between, it is hard to ignore the different political leanings of some areas of our state.  Jefferson County is one of those areas. This election was an example of ‘out with the old and in with the new’ after eight-year incumbent Republican DA Brandon Falls conceded the race to Democratic challenger Charles Todd Henderson. He will be Jefferson County’s first Democratic DA in three decades.

Photo by WVTM
Photo by WVTM

Continue reading “Women dominated Birmingham’s judicial races, and the DA’s office is all about change”