This year I’m beyond grateful for a life that only last year I would have done anything to change.There’s nothing like spending a cold day in the mountains to appreciate the coziness of a warm house or weeks of camping to delight in the simple pleasure of sleeping in a bed. Not until my stomach rumbles with hunger that I can’t feed do I understand that I take for granted easy access to food. Getting outside and experiencing discomfort reminds us of abundance.The willingness to leave our comforts behind and venture into new territories can lead to our most profound experiences. I am so incredibly grateful to be leading this life with my son. I’ve been on cloud nine celebrating the recent success of the Pirate Mama Kickstarter. Getting fully funded means that my four-year-old son and I will start the 2016 in the islands sailing. Reflecting on the path that led me here, I’ve realized the important role getting uncomfortable has played.We live in a society that tells us we should strive for a constant state of happiness. When we are sad, we surround ourselves by people and cram our schedules, but at some point all of that is noise muffling our inner truth. Getting quiet often requires squaring up to loneliness. Those uncomfortable times are when we peer into our souls and know our deepest aspirations. It isn’t until we know our dreams that we can begin to follow them.When my son was a baby, I would have wished away my singleness given half the chance. I imagined a partner who possessed the perfect timing to relieve me of baby-duty at the precise moment when my sanity hinged on getting outside for a run. I dreamed of another adult to make up silly songs about poopy diapers, someone to share the despair and beauty in the pale light of those sleepless wee early morning hours when babies refuse to sleep.It wasn’t until I got sick with a month of back-to-back illnesses that I remembered my teenage dream of sailing with my kids, if I ever had them. Delirious with a fever and reading books about female pirates planted the seed for Pirate Mama. If I had lived a consistently comfortable life, if I had never been sick and alone, this adventure would not be happening.Launching a Kickstarter terrified me, from telling my story to being videotaped, to asking everyone I knew to contribute to the campaign, I felt vulnerable and exposed.When I began tinkering with the idea about sailing, I debated writing about it for Blue Ridge Outdoors. What does sailing have to do with the Blue Ridge anyway? Would readers even be interested?I stand in awe at the response. One reader sent me this message. “I just stumbled onto your story. I spent six years of my childhood in the Caribbean, sailing and windsurfing. A year ago, I bought a boat to teach my wife and eleven-year-old son the joys of sailing.”A writer for a local newspaper reached out to me about an interview for a human interest story. She wrote, “As the daughter of a badass single mama – your story pulls my heart strings.”Another reader wrote to me, “You have just started to tap in to the infinite source of strength, support love, faith and inspiration! This project has immense power. I don’t know if you know the impact you have created.”I learned that when I have the courage to share my story with others, they’ll reciprocate with tales of their own. Story by story I’ve realized that our dreams of full and bold and interesting lives connects us.Sharing the project with others propelled it forward. In the early phase when I asked Phil Cheney if he might be able to come up with a pirate ship logo for us, I had no idea that his art and enthusiasm for the project would carry it along when my own motivation waned.Phil also introduced me to Rocky Kenworthy of Dot Editions who donated prints of Pirate Mama for the campaign. The project resonated with him and he told me how his own father was a truck driver. He spent the summers riding with him on his routes and got to know his father in a way that most kids never know their parents. He see’s Pirate Mama as an opportunity for me to pass that same type of life-changing experiences on to my son.Talking about what we are thankful this time of year can sometimes come off as glib.I am grateful for all of the usual suspects, but this year I’ve learned gratitude’s other lesson – that quiet and alone challenges can be the beginning of our most brilliant adventures, if only we have the courage to be uncomfortable.
Meanwhile the equity portion of the balanced sub-fund’s reference index is being increased to 25% from 20%. Included within this equity portion is a strategic exposure of 2.5% to Italian small caps.The balanced sub-fund is also being re-named, and will be called the development sub-fund. It will belong to Fon.Te’s “mixed bonds” management category — where funds have equity allocations of 30% or less.Fon-Te’s dynamic sub-fund, which has the highest equity exposure of all the pension fund’s four compartments, will retain its 60/40 equity/bond weighting, the fund announced.The guaranteed sub-fund is changing its name to the conservative sub-fund, but its strategic asset allocation will remain unchanged.All changes are to take place from 1 November, the pension fund said.Laborfonds offers two mandatesItalian pension fund Laborfonds has launched a tender in search of two external managers to take on mandates within its balanced and dynamic sub-funds.The Trentino-Alto Adige/Südtirol regional pension fund, which has €3bn of assets, announced it intends to appoint a single manager for a €940m mandate within the balanced investment line, which had total assets of €2.3bn at the end of August.The mandate on offer is for active management against a benchmark consisting of 60% equities and 40% bonds.The fund is also offering a mandate involving all assets in the dynamic sub-fund, which amounted to €121m at the end of August.This mandate will also be for active management with a 60/40 equity/bond benchmark.Both contracts are for five years, and the deadline for receipt of tenders is 30 October. Italian pension fund Fon.Te, which covers employees in the trade, tourism and service sectors, is increasing the equity exposure of its growth and balanced sub-funds, it has announced.It also said it was changing the name of its guaranteed sub-fund.As part of a periodic review, the €3.8bn pension fund said it has opted to raise the equities proportion of the benchmark of its growth sub-fund — which falls within the pension fund’s balanced category — to 40% from 35%, with the remaining 60% being in bonds.In the announcement, Fon.Te said: “This change is aimed at increasing the expected level of return, at the same time leading to an increase in market risk associated with share issues and therefore the expected volatility of the managed portfolio.”
When astronauts suddenly experience a medical situation on the International Space Station 250 miles above Earth, the terms “emergency room” or “urgent care” take on a unique meaning.Late last year, NASA researchers suspected that one of their astronauts was suffering from a blood clot during a long duration stay on the space station.The clot was detected during a vascular study of 11 astronauts that was intended to assess the effect of space on the internal jugular vein. In zero gravity, astronauts’ blood and tissue fluid shifts toward the head.The study involved nine men and two women who were an average age of 46. Their identities were not included in the study.A new assessment of the blood clot was published last Thursday in the New England Journal of Medicine.Six of the participating astronauts experienced stagnant or reverse blood flow, another one had a blood clot, and yet another was considered to have a potential partial blood clot.Scientists weighed the risk of the blood clot, as well as its potential to block a vessel in the absence of gravity.Dr. Stephen Moll, from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s School of Medicine, was the only non-NASA physician who was consulted to help the affected astronaut.He says, “My first reaction when NASA reached out to me was to ask if I could visit the International Space Station to examine the patient myself. NASA told me they couldn’t get me up to space quickly enough, so I proceeded with the evaluation and treatment process from here in Chapel Hill.”Moll is a member of UNC’s Blood Research Center and is a blood clot expert.“Normally the protocol for treating a patient with deep vein thrombosis would be to start them on blood thinners for at least three months to prevent the clot from getting bigger and to lessen the harm it could cause if it moved to a different part of the body such as the lungs,” Moll adds. “There is some risk when taking blood thinners that if an injury occurs, it could cause internal bleeding that is difficult to stop. In either case, emergency medical attention could be needed. Knowing there are no emergency rooms in space, we had to weigh our options very carefully.”He spoke with the astronaut during a “phone call from space,” consulting with them as if the person were one of his other patients.The pharmacy aboard the space station contained 20 vials with 300 milligrams each of an injectable blood thinner. Moll directed the astronaut to use them on a daily basis until an anticoagulant drug could be sent to the station during a resupply mission.The astronaut took a higher dose of the injectable, called enoxaparin, for 33 days in order to control the risk of the blood clot. The dose was lowered after that time, as the astronaut awaited the arrival of the drug apixaban.The researchers watched the clot shrink over time. Blood flow was then induced after 47 days through the vein, although spontaneous blood flow was not achieved, even after undergoing treatment for 90 days.The blood clot disappeared 24 hours after landing. Six months later, the astronaut was still free of symptoms.According to Dr. Serena Auñón-Chancellor, study author, NASA astronaut and clinical associate professor of medicine at Louisiana State University’s Health New Orleans School of Medicine, “We still haven’t learned everything about Aerospace Medicine or Space Physiology.”She adds, “The biggest question that remains is how would we deal with this on an exploration class mission to Mars? How would we prepare ourselves medically? More research must be performed to further elucidate clot formation in this environment and possible countermeasures.”