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Today is May 31, 2021

Interesting facts about Memorial Day

Each year on the last Monday of May, Americans celebrate Memorial Day. Memorial Day is a federal holiday that honors and mourns American military personnel who died while performing their duties in service to the United States Armed Forces.

Memorial Day has a rich history and one that’s worth revisiting as the nation prepares to honor the sacrifices made by its military personnel over the centuries.

· Freed slaves played a role in the establishment of Memorial Day. The American Civil War is the deadliest military conflict in American history, as the Union and the Confederacy each suffered more than 800,000 casualties by the time the war ended in 1865. According to History.com, as the war drew to a close, hundreds of Union soldiers who were being held as prisoners of war died and were buried in a mass grave in a Confederate prison camp in South Carolina. After the Confederate surrender, more than 1,000 now-freed slaves honored those recently deceased Union soldiers during a ceremony in which they sang hymns and distributed flowers. The ceremony was dedicated to the fallen soldiers and served as a precursor to what is now celebrated as Memorial Day.

· Confederate soldiers were honored, too. Confederate losses during the Civil War outnumbered Union losses, and those losses were not forgotten by southerners who survived the war. History.com notes that, in 1866, the Georgia-based Ladies Memorial Association, one of many similar organizations to arise in the aftermath of the war, pushed for a day to honor fallen Confederate soldiers. In fact, these efforts are believed to have influenced General John A. Logan. In 1868, General Logan, a Civil War veteran who was then serving as commander-in-chief of a group of Union veterans, ordered the decoration of Union graves with flowers on May 30. The day would ultimately be known as “Memorial Day.”

· It took a long time for Memorial Day to become a federal holiday. Despite tracing its origins to the immediate aftermath of the Civil War, Memorial Day did not become an official federal holiday until 1971, more than a century after the war ended. This is the same year the holiday was officially designated as taking place on the last Monday in May. The designation has periodically drawn the ire of veterans and military supporters who suggest it is now more widely seen as the unofficial beginning to summer and not a day in which the sacrifices of fallen U.S. soldiers are honored to the extent that they should be.

· Debate exists about which town has the longest history of celebrating Memorial Day. A handful of towns claim to be the first celebrants of Memorial Day. That debate figures to continue in perpetuity, but History.com notes that Waterloo, New York, was officially recognized by U.S. President Lyndon B. Johnson as the birthplace of Memorial Day in 1966. Doylestown, Pennsylvania, and Rochester, Wisconsin are some other towns that claim to have celebrated Memorial Day since the mid-1860s.

Memorial Day has a rich history that highlights the importance of honoring the men and women who have given their lives while in service of the United States military.

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Creating your own backyard oasis

(MS) – Our backyards are some of the best places to spend the summer months, especially if you’re practicing social distancing and are tired of being cooped up indoors. Fortunately, it’s possible to transform your outdoor living space into a secluded, open-air retreat.

Bring the indoors out. We often hear about bringing the outdoors inside, but the reverse is also true when designing a luxurious extension of your home. Homey, lived-in touches can take your outdoor space from sterile and unfinished to cozy and inviting. Think patterned throw pillows, fluffy blankets for chilly evenings, outdoor rugs, colorful lanterns, and decorative accessories like painted terracotta pots or metal tins.

Invest in comfy furniture. What’s the best part of your living or family room? Chances are it’s your comfortable couch or recliner. To recreate the same feeling, splurge on some soft furniture that will make you want to stay outside for hours reading a book or working remotely. It doesn’t have to break the bank either – you can DIY a cozy lounging bench with reclaimed wood and hand-sewn cushions with outdoor stuffing and fabric.

Add a relaxing pool or spa. Water has a calming effect and is often linked to our favorite memories at the cottage or on vacation. A pool or spa can help transport you somewhere far away without leaving your home. A pool can help you and the kids get some exercise while swimming laps, while a spa can soothe tired muscles after a long day hunched over your laptop. To reduce energy costs and increase longevity, consider using Nudura insulated concrete forms, which provide superior insulation. ICF pools also can be custom-made to accommodate any design, making them a very versatile and efficient way to build pools.

Go wild with greenery. Live plants can help you feel connected with nature, and tending to them can help you feel relaxed yet productive during isolation. A vertical garden can add visual interest, while trees and shrubs can provide shade and character. Aromatic herbs like lavender or rosemary offer pleasant scents and can spice up your cooking. And don’t be afraid to cut some flowers from your garden to place in vases or pots for beautiful finishing touches.

Find more information at nudura.com.

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Meditation Day

How meditation can help combat work-life imbalance

Juggling a family and a thriving career is no small task. It’s easy to become overwhelmed when faced with responsibilities at home and at the office, and it’s even easier to fall victim to a work-life imbalance. Such an imbalance can have troubling short- and long-term consequences.

More than 40 percent of working professionals who were recently surveyed by the United Kingdom-based Mental Health Foundation noted that they are neglecting various aspects of their life because of work. The MHF notes that such an imbalance can make professionals more vulnerable to mental health problems. In fact, the same survey found that more than half of all workers who work long hours feel irritable, while 27 percent acknowledged feeling depressed.

Various strategies can help working professionals overcome the negative side effects of work-life imbalance. In addition to exploring ways to work fewer hours and find more time for their families, professionals who feel their life lacks balance can seek ways to overcome the stress associated with such an imbalance. Meditation is one such option.

What is meditation?

The Mayo Clinic notes that meditation dates back thousands of years. Modern meditation often aims to help people relax and reduce stress. When meditating, people focus their attention as they attempt to eliminate jumbled thoughts. That can be especially valuable to adults who are feeling overwhelmed by their many personal and professional responsibilities.

The National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health notes that there are many types of meditation, but most require four common elements:

· a quiet location to meditate where distractions are limited

· a specific, comfortable posture

· something people can focus their attention on while meditating, such as a set of words or an object

· an open attitude

How does meditation benefit the mind and body?

Meditation advocates note that the practice can provide a sense of inner peace and help people rebalance their lives. That can pay dividends for both physical and mental health.

The NCCIH notes that evidence suggests meditation can help reduce blood pressure. High blood pressure has been linked to both heart disease and stroke. A small study by the NCCIH also found that a form of meditation known as mindfulness-based therapy for insomnia helped reduce instances of chronic insomnia in adults.

According to the NCCIH, a 2013 review of three studies suggested that meditation may help slow, stall or even reverse age-related changes in the brain.

Adults confronting a work-life imbalance may feel as though they don’t have the time to address their concerns in a healthy, effective way. Meditation need not take up much time each day, but it can be an effective tool in the fight against work-life imbalance.