By Barbara Wells
The Meridian Star
There are certain topics people do not easily admit to knowing anything about, having never experienced them on their own or admitting to. Some are: mental illness, loneliness, irritable bowel syndrome, or infidelity.
Did you know there are people in this world who still believe that men walking on the moon was a Hollywood production? And others who think that someone with a mental disorder is faking it for attention. In this country we all have a right to believe what we will, or what our friends believe. Generally on our own we need to be wholeheartedly convinced.
Meridian Activity Center’s yoga instructor, Pat Wilson, finds interesting articles to send to me. This one she sent to me because I’d mentioned I had been feeling lonely of late and the first part of the article deals with overeating, how one can binge eat when feeling lonely. The article continues to another topic of interest: I’ve been hearing about inflammation on television programs and now in this New York Times article about loneliness:
Lisa Jaremka, a postdoctoral fellow at Ohio State University, reported in January at the annual meeting of the Society for Personality and Social Psychology that people who are lonely have higher levels of antibodies to certain herpes viruses, indicating more activated viruses in their systems. In another study, she found higher levels of inflammation-inducing substances in the blood of lonely people. Chronic inflammation has been linked to heart disease, arthritis, Type 2 diabetes and even suicide attempts. Dr. Jaremka noted: People who are lonely also react more strongly to negative events and perceive daily life as being more stressful, which can depress the immune system.
Another study at the University of California found that those who were lonely were more likely to develop difficulties performing activities of daily living like bathing and dressing, using their arms and shoulders, climbing stairs and walking. Loneliness was also associated with an increased risk of death during the study period! (I imagine that focusing on one’s loneliness in a long study might make one wish for release!)
Seriously, though, we’ve all wondered about how someone we know seems to just "give up." What is involved in that resignation, when a friend or relative just takes to their chair in front of the TV? And, are we now talking about depression or loneliness? Whether we take a pill to work on depression or become more motivated to be more social and volunteer at a soup kitchen to work on loneliness ... we cannot deny that what is missing is a strong emotional connection. People are fundamentally social beings who require meaningful connections with others to maximize health and well-being. A person in a bad marriage may feel lonelier with the wrong partner than living alone and having a strong group of friends.
One of the writers suggested reaching out to others with "random acts of kindness," such as helping someone with their groceries, leaving change behind in a coffee machine – I’ve heard of drivers in the drive-thru at a fast food restaurant paying for the person behind them! I recall being very shy in seventh grade and my friend telling me to "just compliment them on their outfit" and thinking "How shallow." But it worked, putting others and myself at ease with a smile.
My suggestion at this time is to visit the Meridian Activity Center in June— just take a walk through both buildings and see what people are doing. Don’t worry about interrupting a class, teachers have been made aware of visitors coming into their class this summer. Monday night is our one late day for classes, we go until 8:30 p.m.
• Open House Art Show, June 17-2 – Meridian Activity Center classes will put their art work on display in the big room. Some will be for sale. Monday will be an “open house” for the artists, teachers and classmates to meet one another and see what each class is doing. This is open to the public. We hope you will come and take a look.
This summer Mary Gipson will teach machine quilting on Monday afternoons and evenings.
On Tuesdays, from 10 a.m.-2 p.m., we are offering a basic sewing class with Gracie Payne. You can come and learn on our machines or bring your own.
Then, once again, we are offering a cake decorating class on Tuesday, from 10:30 a.m.-noon. We also have an instructor who wants to teach a T-shirt quilt class. Call to let me know you are interested, (601) 485-1812.
Next: Something everyone has been asking for – an iPad class. We’ll be making a list of interested students to keep this class size down to a minimum; we’ll try to offer several classes.
Tom Milhorn is still teaching computer classes Monday nights, Thursday mornings – and a new day, Wednesday afternoons at 1 p.m. We are offering instruction in Windows 7 and Windows 8. (Windows 8 is the latest program for pcs if your computer was bought between October 2012 and now.)
The Painter’s Palette Club has invited Mark Polomchak, a watercolor artist from Indiana, to teach two classes at the activity center next fall on a Friday and a Saturday. Visit his website at www.polomchak.com to see his style and determine if you want to take the class. His style is suitable for beginners as well as advanced students.
The fee is $50 per class. Call Pat Dean at (601) 774-8354 or the activity center at (601) 485-1812 and speak with Barbara for more information.
Meridian Activity Center is open to adults 21 years and older. The fee for an eight-week class for a Meridian citizen is $20; if you live in the county it is $25. Seniors over the age of 55 pay half price.
We are located in the heart of Meridian, off 29th Avenue and 36th Street – 3300 32nd Ave. – in the old Lamar Elementary School building. Phone (601) 485-1812 for information or if lost.
• Barbara Wells is director of Meridian Activity Center. You may e-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org