Category Archives: stress cortisol hormone

Murder with No Remains

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Sometimes, despite all the pleasant thoughts of the day, we find ourselves contemplating

some dark and dangerous ones. I was so intrigued at work, watching my good friend and

coworker, Mark C. emptying the combustibles into certain designated large metal barrels.

These containers are sometimes full of gasoline type liquids, never to be mixed with other

ones. He wears a rather strange goggles contraption (a mask with a filter in place), helping

protect his lungs from gaseous vapors. Other containers have fluids taken from a variety of

damaged containers. Liquids that remove dirt and stains, flammable cleaning components,

along with others which are oil based. I have written a rather awful, atrocious story here.

In all fairness, “Sweeney Todd” and “The Little Shop of Horrors,” along with many other

gruesome tales have rumbled around my mind. Setting my story partially in the warehouse

where I daily work, along with the rural country areas, is what textbooks for writing say,

“Use what you know.”

 

I used to travel down roads to remote homes, with my teaching assistant, Karen, for our

bi-annual visits with families. I hope these elements help to make my story seem ‘real.’

 

One eerie and chilling day, we went to a one-main-street (if it had been out West, you

could have called it a “one horse”) town. This was a small blink of a place, where no one

appeared to be home.

On her home visit form, the mother had suggested if she and her child weren’t in their

trailer, to venture down the lane to another location. When a hound dog howled, into the

soundless air, just as we both noticed someone peeking out from behind their curtains,

we both jumped! We each exclaimed the feeling of the town being “haunted” (her reaction)

or “This could be a Stephen King setting” (my reaction).

This may be the ‘seed’ that was planted, as part of my ‘inspiration’ which germinated into

the following macabre story.

 

By pressing “Publish,” this holds my own original thoughts and I would appreciate if you

would contact me, before you re-blog this. Here is a piece of my own wicked mind.

 

“Murder with No Remains”

Weary from working with the various poisonous smells, pouring different liquids into

the huge funnel, Mark got into his truck. He had a lot of responsibility facing him upon

his return to his home. He turned on the radio station to Mansfield’s 93.3 which plays

mostly ‘easy listening’ music.

He was trying to drown out the demons in his head. He was slightly irritated by the

incessant chattering of the girl that works above him in the Aerosol Room. The Bomb

Shelter was a dark and cold dungeon of a place, where there was little warmth to comfort

him. Mark was trying to figure out why that woman even bothered to talk to him.

 

His train of thoughts had been keeping him company all day,

“I mean, she gave me her phone number almost a year ago. When I didn’t use it to call

her, couldn’t she get the hint?”

She was not his type. . . Too talkative and self-centered.

” I think she should just walk out on me, like the other women in my life. I just wish she

would walk on by me, like the people usually do.”

His further thoughts remembered her recent comment to him,

“‘You represent the Gold Standard for me to hold men up to.'”

“Ha! I am sure this is not what most people would think if they were to read my mind. . .

Strange, but most people thought he gave off such a trusting ‘vibe.’ It has not gotten me

very far in this world, me with the boy next door look,” his thoughts smoldering in embers.

 

Then, his thoughts transferred to another subject. A regular occurrence that may have

come today; the wonderful Schwan truck. Oh, how he loved entering the freezing cold

garage to find his designated location for Schwan food products to be stored- filled with

his favorite foods. On the cooler he left a check taped to the top, to cover the amount for

the products that he and Mother would consume.

 

“I hope they had enough of the Peanut Butter Crackle ice cream and did I order two or

three boxes with fried chicken breast strips? I will get the fire started in the fireplace,

go get my shower and hopefully, Mother will hold off on her wanting something. That is

what I hate about going home. The first bell I bought for her. It should have been ‘good

enough’ for her. But, no, she insisted that it was too ‘tinkly-sounding’ and ‘more like one

rung in children’s church school.’ So, she made me go purchase a large cow bell, which is

most annoying. I feel like she overdoes her bell ringing and wish she would realize how

hard my days are.”

 

“I have the edges of a migraine headache coming on,” Mark thought. He turned the silly

song with Tony Orlando and Dawn singing, “Knock Three Times on the Ceiling,” off.

 

“Ah-h-h! Peace and quiet.”

 

Suddenly, a deer ran out in front of Mark’s truck, which caused him to squeal his

skidding tires, along with sliding on the icy road. Dodging the path of the deer, he

stopped on the precipice of a large ditch.  Mark watched the deer gracefully bound

over the snow fence that ran along the other side of the ditch.

 

“Good thing I got those new tires at Goodyear,” Mark sighed in relief.

 

Then his mind wandered off to Mother again. He smiled a kind of sickly smile, he

was a little amused with the thought of ‘poor helpless Mother,’ lying there ringing

her big, old cow bell and no one to answer her frantically, desperate clangs.

 

“Wonder how long it would have taken for someone to go to the house, after

my death, if the deer had impaled me, through the truck’s windshield?”

 

Sometimes, after four hours of having to run up the stairs to help her, getting her

things, Mark felt like he could strangle her.

 

Mark’s guilty conscience brought him up short, out of the gloomy thoughts that

often accompanied any thoughts of work or home. The migraine’s pain throbbed

his head and he was nearly nauseous,

 

“Not sure if I am about to throw up because of the near death experience or

because of the thoughts of Mother being left alone. . . no one to bring her food,

no one to change her Depends, no one to clean her body and turn her in the

middle of the night so she would not have any bed sores.”

 

It would be days before his sister would come by, since she had given up helping,

never able to fulfill Mother’s request to the perfection that Mark had gotten her

accustomed to.

 

If there were a song playing and his head didn’t hurt too much, he felt that the

one which encompassed his caregiving skills would be,

“Nobody Does It Better.”

 

“Hmm… what is that James Bond song?” As Mark drove down the country lane,

with the rocks making abrupt bumps pounding into his brain, he pondered on

what the movie where James Bond had had this in the beginning.

Later, while he had completed all of his household duties, Mark sat by the fire and

opened up the last book of a trilogy he was reading. When the first clang of the cow

bell of the night came, he knew what it meant. He went into the kitchen and scooped

up one scoop of ice cream into a bowl. He grabbed the little spoon he used to feed

Mother. This was one he had bought for his nephew who used to visit. Then, later,

his grandnephew had used it. This was the best one to feed his Mother. Nothing

fell out of her mouth this way. Mark hated to have to change her clothes again, so he

grabbed a new bib to put on her.

“Like a little bird,” Mark thought of the way her old, wrinkled and puckered mouth

opened up for her bites.

By the time the migraine pain pills were working on his headache, he had heard

the bell’s ring 8 times. Something shifted in Mark’s mind, something creeped into

his thoughts. The fire had made him think of the leaves piled up outside, where

he could add a few pieces of lumber to them. He could make a huge bonfire.

As he walked up the steps, Mark plodded slowly.

“If someone could read my mind now, they would not believe what this quiet

man holds inside himself. I have thought of times where I could use the rat

poison from the barn in Mother’s food. I have thought of an easier way, I could

let her slide down under the water, looking away and ‘accidentally’ she might

drown. I imagine a phone call diverting my attention from her, explaining this

was all an accident.”

Oh, there is one other way I contemplate all day long. It would be the best way.

I have this planned out in details.”

 

Mark felt a lift in his mood, jubilant that the release would be in less than an

hour.

 

Mark’s step was lighter and he started to almost run up the stairs to Mother’s

bedroom. The time flew quickly by, as he smothered her with the pillow. He

counted the allotted time which he had studied and practiced in his mind. He

wrapped her up in the blanket. Such a tiny package and light weight to carry. Then,

once again he made sure she was not moving, unrolled the bundle to check. He

decided to kiss her one more time on her cool, papery cheek.

 

The body was light as a feather, as he ran down the stairs.

When he got to the bottom, he unwrapped her one more time, took her dental

plate out of her mouth. He stopped to think about what he could do with it.

He scolded himself for not figuring out this detail ahead of time,

“Would it melt?”

Then, Mark got his coat, gloves, hat and scarf on. He was ready for this, it was

long overdue.

 

He picked her up roughly, “After all, she can’t feel a thing now.”

 

As he hurried out the door, he started to whistle. It was strange but not one bit

of guilt slipped through his mind. His mood was lifting, part of his daily torture

was over.

Mark built the bonfire, stacking tinder under the logs, since he was uncertain if

the leaves were dry enough to ignite.

 

Everything fell into place, not one bad move. The rest was a ‘piece of cake.’

In the later hours of the night, he would get up. Mark had set his alarm clock. He

knew how long the fire would rage, how long it would take till the bones would

snap and become mere splinters, ashes and soot.

 

He had ‘cremated’ his dog, when Buddy had passed away. He remembered how

long it had taken him to get over the death of his faithful hunting hound dog.

Somehow, he didn’t feel he would have any problems getting over the death of

Mother.

 

Sifting through the ashes, he found little bits of bones, he put these into the first

large freezer ziplock bag. The burnt chips were easily gathered, using his gardening

spade and put into bags. He had barely one and a half bags full of her remains.

He laid down to sleep a restful couple of hours more, jumping up when the alarm

went off. Made his toast and coffee, packed his lunch box and left on time. There

was blissful silence in the house.

 

Mark turned on the rock and roll station while he drove into work, tapping his hand

to the driving beat of AC/DC and feeling quite rejuvenated.

 

At the security check point,  he opened his lunch box to show Len, the Security Guard,

the top layer of his lunch box. He did not bother lifting the sandwich, apple and chips.

Instead of his food items lying upon his usual blue freezer pack,  they rested on top of

Mother.

 

When the Aerosol Girl went to her first break, he walked over to his lunch box, took

out his drink and opened it. He rustled around his lunch box to find his straw. He took

a long draw through the straw of Coca Cola. He then took the can, along with the two

ziplock bags over to the large drum of  most toxic chemicals. He had left the large

funnel set carefully on top. He put the pop down and opened the first bag, the ashes

drained easily through the funnel, siphoning down smoothly. When the little brittle

pieces of bones came, he grabbed the straw and poked them through the hole in the

funnel. He had chosen the barrel with full contents, took the lid and screwed it shut.

He hammered it a bit to make it ‘secure.’

Mark  went over to his desk, grabbed the labels that indicated both “Toxic” and

“Flammable” with its skull and crossbones image.

Mark plastered the two large stickers on the blue metal barrel.

“All that is left of Mother is ‘goo,’ he thought.

He went back to work in his small area of the warehouse, whistling.

Tomorrow, since it was a longer day. . .

He would come home and report Mother wandering and missing.

 

He imagined his sincere, most innocent expression on his face as he would

pronounce the words,

“I don’t have a clue where she may have gone off to.”

 

From his pocket, as an after thought, he went to a second big container,

unscrewed the lid and shoved her dental plate into it.

After that, he dumped a few extra jugs of the oily solution into it.

 

With a resounding thump of his hand, not unlike a pat on the top of his coon

dog’s head after he chewed up one of Mother’s slippers, he finally went back

to his daily procedures.

 

“The End”

 

 

 

Just Smile

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How do some people smile all the time, while carrying worries, concerns and other

challenges in their daily lives? This information will fill an aisle of books, in a large

bookstore and possibly be the sole purpose in some blogs and television shows. What

new ways can get your ‘groove’ back? I am not sure if any of these are particularly

“new,” but I am as sure as the “sun will come up tomorrow,” some of these may bring

you a new ‘lease on life!’ (Yes, “Annie,” the musical play and movie, does remind us

that it is a “hard knocks’ life,” along with how we should try to face every new day.)

 

Suggestions for getting happy feelings started in your mind, also getting your energy

revived and other ways for getting out of your funk will be found here. If I were a

speaker, I may try a joke:

 

“There was an elderly man who wanted his younger wife to become pregnant. It was

something she desired also. He went to his family doctor asking for him to suggest

ways of making this result come about. The doctor suggested going to a fertility expert,

so the man set up another appointment. He went on his own, since his athletic wife was

busy taking her tennis lessons.

The specialist’s receptionist gave him a specimen cup to take home and bring back the

next day. She explained what he needed to do to fill it, along with telling him to put it in

the refrigerator overnight. This would get the ‘ball rolling.’ No other way to find out what

level his sperm count would be until he brought this back.

The excited man left the office, with a little more pep in his step.

The patient came back with an empty specimen cup. The receptionist could see the man’s

deflated ego, his head was drooping. She did not ask him a thing,  since she could not

imagine the complications he had run into while collecting the specimen. She had the

dejected gentleman sit down, explaining to him that he must wait to see the doctor.

After reading a few magazines and the newspaper, the man was ready to leave the office,

irritated that such a simple action, which had produced children with his first wife, meant

he had to go through all this trouble again.

When he was escorted into one of the private rooms, the doctor came in and closed the

door behind him. The specialist asked when the empty specimen cup was given to him,

“What exactly was the problem?”

The frustrated man exclaimed,

“Well, I tried it with my right hand. . . nothing.

I tried it with my left hand. . . again, nothing.

So, my wife came home from her tennis lesson, she tried this with her right hand. . .

nothing!

She decided to try her left hand. . .same results.

Then, she used her mouth. . . nothing!”

The doctor stopped this, since he was really shocked at the lack of response from

any of these practices.

The impatient man nearly shouted,

“Wait, doctor, I have to tell you more!”

The fertility specialist paused and said, “Proceed.”

“Well, we were desperate! I ended up asking my wife to invite our neighbor over,

since she is her best friend. . .”

The doctor incredulous interrupted,

“Wait a minute, did you say your wife’s friend tried this, too?”

The man exasperatingly sat down, saying in a low voice,

“Yeah, and we still couldn’t get the lid off the freaking specimen cup!”

 

Here are a few “Prevention Magazine” suggestions for ‘tapping your

inner peace and bringing some joy into your life.

 

1. “Do something called, “the ho’oponopono.”

This is a source of Hawaiian calm and doesn’t mean you need to drink

some Mai-Tai’s or dance at a luau. It is simply repeating these words

in a chant, which helps spread some warmth into your life. Murmuring

the “ho’oponopono” mantra is all about forgiveness. You, your family,

your enemy and the ones who have made your stomach get in a knot.

It means literally, “I’m sorry, please forgive me, I love you, thank you.”

By saying this in a low, quiet way, you will ease your anger, untighten

your thoughts and body, along with lowering your blood pressure.

“Try this, you may like it!”

(Source, “The Hormone Cure,” by Sara Gottfried, M.D.)

 

2. “Spritz a scent.”

There are essential oils which can bring you vitality, exuberance,

evoke special memories. Go to your favorite natural products store

and sniff testers until you find a couple of them which give you that

“Ah-h-h!” all over feeling. Good ones which bring many pleasant

feelings are lavender, orange, sage, and ylang-ylang. I like to head

to the Yankee Candle Company, which I know there are some who

will tell you that burning candles means there are pieces of ‘wick’

floating in the air. (My sister in law told me this before I ever read

this!) But, you can get a candle warmer, choosing your favorite scent.

In the fall, I enjoy and savor pumpkin spice, Home Sweet Home, and

country apple… I also found “Woodland Walk” at Meijer’s which has

a very different scent and it doesn’t cause me to want to eat cookies!

 

3. In 2011, a Michigan State University conducted a study of customer-

service employees. They found that ones who smiled throughout the

day, by thinking positive thoughts, reported feeling more serene overall.

I certainly would feel great if the customer service people would carry

this practice out. But I also did not see in the study, that there must

surely be a reward. By smiling; you get smiles back. This perpetuates

the positive activity. “Psychological Science,” (2013) published the results

which include smiling lowers your body’s stress response and also, can

even overcome ‘road rage,’ if one tries to smile in traffic jams!

 

4. Plant something. (If you are in warmer season now)

or Rake some leaves or clean your garden out. (If you are entering the

cooler season, where your plants need to be covered, the remains of

stems and messes need to be ‘mucked out.)

According to research done in a recent study, gardening is an even more

effective stress reliever than reading a good book! This was done in Holland.

There is also evidence microbes found in soil, may lift your mood, from an

older British study conducted in 2007. If you wish to clean your garden out,

digging in the dirt can also be a good way to greet Autumn’s weather changes,

along with feeling like you accomplished a big task. For me, I love the idea of

building a big pile of leaves, after using physical effort which does get your

endorphins going, and asking your children/grandkids/ neighbor kids or

a silly adult friend or two, to jump into the leaves with you!

 

5. Pet a cat, dog, gerbil or ?

If you don’t have a pet to take care of, it is always uplifting to go to an animal

shelter and offer to walk a dog. If you are a cat person, you are always welcome

to pet the kitties, there may be other unusual animals to see and touch, too. I

have a good friend whose two cats came from a farmer who was over-run with

cats. They are adorable calico cats, which I will be cat-sitting in just a week and

a half from now.

 

6. Offering to read to someone’s child, at the library. Volunteering for a monthly

obligation of being a classroom ‘helper’ or a ‘library aide’ are other ways to get your

spirits lifted.

 

Baking cookies is always a treat for me, along with my grandchildren. I am going to

share a company called “Martha’s Chocolate Chip Cookies.” She has 400 employees,

over 2 million dollars sales in only 12 days of being located at the Minnesota State

Fair. Wow! People want cookies!! This retired elementary school teacher may be fun

to look up and get inspired.

 

Here are two books I can guarantee you will feel are ‘guilty pleasures’ but really will

entertain you! I did not skim nor read just the book jacket for these two FUN books!

 

1. “The Widow’s Guide to Sex and Dating,” by Carole Radziwill. It is considered Popular

Fiction. The author was on the television show, “The Real Housewives of New York.” This

is a very satisfying read, one that used to be considered a ‘Beach book.’ Why does it have to

be summer-time to choose an indulgent piece of fluff, which may surprise you with some

deeper meaning, more than you would expect from a ‘real housewife!’ She was, after all,

an award-winning former journalist/reporter. Her book, “What Remains,” was critically

acclaimed, about the memoir of her marriage after her husband died of cancer in 1999.

The widow may not be based on herself, but her wry sense of humor, her simple writing

without frills, will be possibly one of the moving, insightful books you will enjoy this year.

2. “Confessions of a Counterfeit Country Farm Girl,” made me burst into laughter, each

time a new chapter started. This woman, like Carole R. above, is one who captures your

imagination and pulls your leg, getting you to picture all kinds of lively challenges in an

uprooted lifestyle. She is Susan McCorkindale, one of my friends, in my mind! Here are

some of the chapters I loved, “Days of Whining the Big Wigs,” “Get Down on the Farm,”

and the “Chick in the Mail.” The author was really running with the big wigs being the

former marketing director of both “Family Circle” and “Sports Illustrated.” Her husband’s

choice of farm living to raise their boys, involves the whole story, including learning how

to buy appropriate footwear, helping her boys to not always be the dirtiest kids, and how

to order different products, fertilizer, seeds, and of course baby chicks.

 

Eight Simple Steps to Have All Day Energy: Mini-Meals

1. Get up every day at the same time and eat something OTHER than refined carbs.

Suggestion in the August, 2014 “Prevention Magazine,”

Try some hunks of cheese, fruit and a scrambled egg.

2. When you have another hour until lunch, your cortisol levels are dipping, as is

your energy. So, go ahead and have a second cup of coffee.

3. Adding nuts to your day, will help you stay ‘full’ longer throughout the day.

Recommended only 1.5 ounces of almonds. Oh my, I hope you know how to measure

this delicious snack!

4. Lunch time.

Meat, protein if a vegan, eggs, avocado (decreases people’s appetites by as much as

40%) some fiber and vegetables. A salad with chicken, tomatoes and spring greens,

with some whole grain crackers, instead of croutons. This meal is supposed to be your

‘main’ meal of the day. You still have time to wear off the calories when you walk around

the block, catching up with your kids, friend or husband.

5. Sip water or herbal tea, (I love Bengal Tiger Tea, which is aromatic, cinnamon

and has, I believe some chicory in it.) Dehydrated people report more headaches

and dips in mood.

6. Carrots and hummus, yogurt with blueberries and a drizzle of honey, …

Suggestions for a small snack to ‘beat’ the mid-afternoon slump.

7. Dinner.

Balanced but not heavy. Your meal should not include greasy or spicy food, particularly

as we age. This can interfere with your sleep and also cause heartburn. It may also leave

you groggy in the morning.

8. A light carb-rich snack is okay, according to a new Yale review and American Journal

of Clinical Nutrition. Include a banana, milk or something that is not too heavy. I like the

idea of cookies, my favorite one is oatmeal raisin cookie. (My real favorite one is white

chocolate macadamia nut but am sure this is not allowed on this good food plan!) Often,

I go against protocol, so a small bowl of ice cream or a ‘treat’ is what will make me smile

before I go to bed at night. . . or a small goblet of wine or hard apple cider!

 

Dean Koontz quotation:

“Happiness is a choice. That sounds Pollyanna-ish, but it’s not; you can make it or not.

Readers (of Dean Koontz), over the years, say what they love about my books is that they’re

full of hope, and that’s the way I see life.

If you always dwell on what went wrong in the past it’s almost hopeless.

So, I don’t dwell.”

Check out Dean Koontz’s newest thriller: “Innocence,” at bookstores or the library.

 

 

Analyzing Love Research

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The ancient Greeks called it the “madness of the gods” and has been

given many definitions that are less than positive. The author Sherwood

Anderson called it the “accident of life.” These were words written in an

article by Judith Newman, titled “The Science of Love.”

What I find fascinating is that along with scientists studying germs,

diseases and trying to find cures, they have studied Love! There are

some definite interesting findings and I hope that you will enjoy sharing

these with me. If you have any additions or subtractions, feel free to

mention your “research” and “analysis!”

When researchers use MRI’s to look at brain activity, ones who declare

they are “in love” are more likely to have hormones and neurological

reactions, triggering all over the brain. There are 4 compounds, dopamine,

norepinephrine, oxytocin, and serotonin. Each play a different role in the

process that is so complex, I may only outline the parts I understood

while reading in a few different areas.

Dopamine does equate with addiction. You are truly focused on your

loved one, you are desiring more time with him or her, too. While

together, dopamine is released as a pleasurable reward that your

brain gives you a “high” from. But, to deflate the loving the opposite

sex a little, this can also happen while eating chocolates, hitting a

hole in one or jumping out of an airplane! Liquor lowers inhibitions

along with suspicion of increasing dopamine. I think that there are

several people who would agree that alcohol played some part in

an anniversary celebration or an initial intimate moment! Dopamine

is associated with a “high” that is from engaging in risky behavior.

There you go!

Norepinephrine is attributed with extra energy, which accounts for

those all night dancing, then eating and lying under the stars sharing

thoughts, those exciting moments in a budding romance! It is also

attributed to sleeplessness, elation, loss of appetite and “butterflies

in the stomach.” Sounds like my first crushes!

Serotonin is a neurochemical that creates feelings of calm, that

seems like an unusual reaction to love! Well, as I read further,

it turns out, that we have LOWER levels of serotonin during

our beginning stages of love. This can be extrapolated into

why we are anxious for the phone to ring, obsessive while

thinking about our beloved.

Oh, great! this fact will thrill those who wish to not gain any

weight! In 2004, a study of 24 young people in Italy, at the

University of Pisa, were found to have higher levels of the

stress hormone, which is called cortisol than those who

were not in love. This seems like a small pool of people to

base this study on, but very interesting. I have always read

that “happy” people gain weight. So, this goes hand in had with

the Italian study. More pasta, anyone?

Some studies have verified that men’s testosterone levels are

lowered while in a state of “love” while women’s have been

raised. This is funny, when you think about it! Men can be

“tamed” and women can be more “wild!”

Oxytocin is the lovely way that a woman creates a bond during

breastfeeding. It is “the hormone of attachment and emotional

empathy.” Can you imagine this? They have been able to give

a person an intranasal oxytocin and then the person will look

more deeply into the eyes of the person they love, along with

feeling a greater sense of trust!

When we talk about “not feeling it” or people “aren’t that into

another,” we are talking “Chemistry!” Some scientists attribute

this to pheromones.  The messengers that influence the behavior

and mood of others, which we exude. I have liked a man simply

because he smelled good, not the cologne or after shave, but

the odor of their sweat or skin with just clean water. No soap.

By the way, it has been a long time since I saw 1992’s “Scent of a

Woman.” (Al Pacino, Chris O’Donnell, and Gabrielle Anwar, with

Phillip Seymour Hoffman) It won several Academy Awards, also

had some beautiful messages about love!

Wasn’t that a great movie?

Pheromones are still considered controversial and not proven

to exist. I just was giving a personal flavor and thought to the

possibility that we are drawn to someone besides outer surface

attraction, but a deeper connection. That makes me feel like it

becomes more like we are “meant to be together.”

The good news I discovered for all those long term couples out

there: even after many years of loving the same person, there

is still a greater activation in serotonin and elevated calmness,

along with pleasurable feelings, too. Pictures of their loved ones

brought images (brain scans) of higher levels of dopamine. That

combination creates a secure and longlasting phase of love.

Cheers to forever love!