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May 2019-Serenity: The Path to Inner Peace

This month we continue with our W.E.L.L.N.E.S.S. theme: W.inning E.very L.iving day thru L.ove N.utrition E.xercise S.erenity and S.pirituality. Serenity is an inner feeling of tranquility or peace. 

In that light, I would like to introduce you to two people who embody the practice of S.erenity for wellness, parenting and healing.

First, is Misa Tsuyoshi who is certified as a Tai Chi Fundamentals Instructor as well as a Spring Forest Qigong Instructor/Healer.  Originally from Japan, she came to the US 19 years ago with her husband. She had her son here, who is now 17.  Along the way, she developed cancer for which she was treated with surgery. She was introduced to Spring Forest Qigong and experienced the powerful healing through practicing it.  She felt this Qigong would ensure that she would remain cancer free and developed greater practice in her own healing.  She describes that there were stepping stones which led her from her illness / surgery to a dedicated Tai Chi Instructor, and eventually to discovering the practice of Qigong which she feels has helped with her healing and changing her lifestyle as well as her perceptions.   She has now taken this wisdom to help others to heal and has begun offering Employee Wellness classes at the Medical College of Wisconsin to help people learn the practice of Spring Forest Qigong, based on an ancient Chinese Medicine yet modernized and simplified practice which through research has been found to be the most effective combination of simple movements, meditation, visualization and breathing technique for helping stress reduction and pain relief!  She has such a spirit of peacefulness and joy.  You can find her at https://simplewellnessfacilitator.com.

Next, I also want to introduce you to an Amazing Soul, Katrina Tobey LP.  She has been a Psychologist for many years as a marriage and family therapist.  She has a gift for healing based on her life experience of having been involved in a fire at the age of 8 years old and being burned on the left side of her body.  Children often see this as a natural part of life however her way of adapting to the wounds and scars that resulted from the burns was to ignore the left side of her body, to avoid looking at her scars and to hold her head at a tilt due to the fibrosis that developed.   It wasn’t until many years later when she discovered Qigong and incorporated it into her daily practice and worked with a Qigong Master with healing gifts that she learned how to take her life challenges and not only heal herself but also to help others to heal.  Through guidance by Master Chunyi Lin she began looking in a mirror and practicing seeing the way she related to the right side of her body that she was able to see the left side of her body and then to use the movements of Qigong to increase the energy flow to her left side and help to improve the way she held her neck in a more straight and aligned way.   She practiced sending healing light to herself and slowly her own physiology changed so that her left and right side were more balanced and the scars were less pronounced and slowly healing.  She is now a healer for others and has a true gift to help others to use the healing templates innate within them to heal aspects of themselves that need healing through Qigong and Meditation and wise advice that is heart-centered. 

As parents, we all come from human families and so often we will find ourselves needing to heal our own child within so that we can give to our kids what they need in this uncertain and stressful world in transition.   It is an important practice for we parents to keep ourselves grounded so that we can be the parents our kids need us to be …interested in them, authentic, playful, joyful, supportive, kind, nurturing and predictable!  Parenting can be challenging at times and the more we nurture ourselves, the more we have for our kids! We all have moments of joy, anger, happiness, disappointment, frustration, peacefulness, depression, anxiety, fear and contentment.  It is important to acknowledge our feelings. It is when we have a continuous replay of these feelings and get stuck that the difficult emotions can contribute to ill health so using our stress busters can be immensely helpful to maintaining our health and wellbeing and these become role models for our kids to help them learn how to deal with the challenges and uncertainties of life!

May you have moments of S.erenity during May through your regular practice of stress-busters whether that be Qigong, Mindfulness Meditation, Tai Chi or Prayer!!!!  Have a wonderful month!

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April 2019-Exercise for Fun!

Spring Greetings to all in our Parenting Community! Don’t you just Love Spring as the world seems to come alive again, the flowers bloom, baby birds shout out to their “bird parents” that they are hungry or another day is emerging and new life is born!!

E.xercise is the Theme of this month as we continue to explore W.E.L.L.N.E.S.S© and the simple steps to maintaining good health or helping our kids to have a better chance at a longer, healthier life! When I think of exercise and fun I think of running, biking or swimming and as a parent I think of my daughter running with her Cross Country and Track & Field team. This is a treasured picture of my daughter when she was in high school. As you can see, she is very focused, strong and keeping her eye on her goal! Exercise is so helpful for maintaining good health and reducing disease as research has found that when kids are involved in team sports during the teen years they have lower rates of cancer throughout their lives and it can be a wonderful way to develop lifelong healthful habits!

Exercise keeps our muscles strong, our circulation better, our lungs more efficient, our bodies stronger, immune systems, neurological and stress systems more resilient to the challenges of life. Not only is Exercise of great benefit for our kids but it is also a powerful antidote to dis-ease throughout our lives! Exercise can keep parents in better shape and, in addition, we can be good role models for our kids!

So I encourage each of you who are exercising to give yourself a big pat on the back for all you do for your own good health and for encouraging your kids to do the same! For those who would like to get back into exercise, I encourage you to find one thing you truly enjoy or find a friend that enjoys doing some form of exercise and getting together with them. Keep it fun, keep it regular at least 20-30 minutes 3-5 times a week and trial different types of exercise until you find what works for you!! For those that have trouble walking remember that exercising your arms with a bicycle-like machine can be just as helpful to pump up your heart rate as using your legs so be creative if you need to be or find a good Physical Therapist who can help you. Physical Therapists are an invaluable resource for any muscle strengthening or conditioning. Also use self-protection and if you have any medical conditions to start make sure you check with your doctor about any modifications you will need for your exercise routine. Above all else, have FUN, because you will feel good and you will be inspired to come back and continue to exercise. Here is to your Good, Better, Best Life through W.E.L.L.N.E.S.S.© or W.inning E.very L.iving day thru L.ove N.utrition E.xercise S.erenity and S.pirituality! Have a Wonderful Month!

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March 2019-Wholeful Eating

Welcome to March and the beginning of Spring! This month we will continue exploring the keys to building a Life of Good Health thru W.E.L.L.N.E.S.S.  WELLNESS stands for W.inning E.very L.iving day thru L.ove N.utrition E.xercise S.erenity and S.pirituality.  It is the Simple Key to Lifelong Good Health!   Last month we talked about L.ove.  This month we delve into N.utrition. 

This picture is from the Wellfleet, MA Farmers Market that is so much fun and filled with dedicated, creative and many organic and sustainable farmers who showcase their deep, colorful produce. Notice the sign that says, “Pesticide Free Zone”!!! Love it!!

Many farmers are realizing the benefits of Regenerative Agriculture for better nutrient dense soil, healthier fruits and vegetables, less cost for pesticide use as well as less cost to our environment and especially our vulnerable children’s bodies, as well as our own.

Many of the Pesticides that have been used on our Agricultural foods are Neurotoxins and/ or Immunotoxins.  Those that are most vulnerable are babies, young children and growing teens.

In all of my work with patients, whether those with Diabetes, Heart Disease, or Cancer, Nutrition is the KEY to Good Health for Prevention as well as for Restoring Health! What is most important is that fresh, wholesome, deep colorful veggies and fruits are our lifeline to abundant health. There are numerous vitamins, minerals, anti-oxidants, and phytochemicals in the Four Food Groups for Good Health: Veggies, Fruits, Whole Grains and Legumes!! If there is one thing that is most important to your good health and the health of your family, it is Wholesome, Clean Eating!    It doesn’t have to be hard but it does take some planning.  If you want a quick guide to help with your planning, I recommend 2 fabulous Apps, which have recipes, built into them. 

One is “Ask the Nutritionist: Recipes for Fighting Cancer” App by Nutritionists at Dana Farber Cancer Institute.  What is wonderful about this is that it has recipes by Food Type so that if you have a craving for a certain food you can check out the recipes under that food type such as “fish” or “”fruit/vegetable”.  If you need to plan a special dinner check out their Meal Type such as “Main Dish” or “Soup”.  If you are having Symptoms, then go to that category and it will give you meals that help with diarrhea, constipation, mouth sores or nausea! 

Two is the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine 21 Vegan Kickstart App which has 21 days of menus step by step for Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner that includes the recipes for each item as well as the Calories and Nutrition Info for each dish!  Amazing!!  It is great if you want to start fresh with renewed eating habits!

Of course, now is the season to also start to think about planning your garden and I have also found that there are some great farms and seed companies out there that are also dedicated to your Good Health.  One of my favorites is High Mowing Organic Seeds out of Wolcott, VT.  Their seeds are 100% Certified Organic, Non-GMO Project Verified Seeds and they have an abundance of a variety of each vegetable type.  As an example, there are about 19 different types of carrot seeds alone!!  You can order your Organic Seed Catalog by going to https://www.highmowingseeds.com/

So have fun this month and here is to your Good, Better, Best Life through W.E.L.L.N.E.S.S.© 

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February 2019-Heartful Living

February is the month many of us associate with Valentine’s Day! It is a beautiful Holiday to honor those we love and share cards, chocolate and treasured gifts and memories. This February we continue to explore the keys to building and maintaining a healthful Life through W.E.L.L.N.E.S.S. The first step to creating this wonderful life is W.inning E.very L.iving day thru L.ove!

When we think of Love often we think of the people that we Love which can be like a coin such as a penny. There are two sides to a penny and thus with Love there can be two sides depending upon which direction you are looking. The Best side of Love can be full of support, encouragement, caring, kindness and compassion. A relationship like this is a testament that Every Day can be Valentine’s Day!!!! Often there are wonderful aspects of every relationship which build a strong foundation for the kind of relationship which brings out the best in us. Seems simple right? Often as with many aspects of life, it is not as straightforward as it seems.

In a human world, we all grow up with lessons to learn, in families with imperfect parents, and difficulties to overcome. It was easy for me to see the imperfections in My parents until I became a parent myself and realized I wasn’t a perfect parent either. This invites us to be gentle with ourselves, and as parents to be patient, nurturing and encouraging to the child within who needs love, understanding, kindness and compassion so that we are able to be the kind of parent our child/ren need us to be.

In my work with patients, I see everyday the results of how the ways in which we have love or ill-feelings towards ourselves can correlate with our health. When we love ourselves we are more likely to be good to our bodies, minds and spirits through healthful food choices, self-care, self-nurturing, healthful relationships or positive environments. When we have negative, hurtful or a self-loathing attitude towards ourselves either on a conscious and/or subconscious level, we can actually hurt the body through poor food choices, bad habits, difficult environments or relationships that sabotage our bodies health. Economic environments can also have an influence on these and yet they must also be viewed through an independent lens as economic wealth does not necessarily mean that one will develop a positive healthful lifestyle and being poor does not mean that one’s environment is devoid of a loving home presence….it is just more difficult to create a wholesome healthful environment with inadequate shelter, inadequate food and inadequate educational standards. Sometimes the difficult feelings or unresolved life experiences translate into poor health habits, poor choices, and dis-ease. The truth of the matter though is that as humans we were born with this wonderful, vibrant and loving spirit, it has always been there and it lives in us….we just need to connect with the inner core of ourselves that is good enough, beautiful enough, strong enough, capable enough, loved enough…….ENOUGH!!!

As parents, our purpose is to be the kind of parent our child needs us to be so that we can nurture the best in our children and help them to grow into their own purpose. We can do that best when we connect within with our loved and loving spirit while nurturing and being patient with those sides of ourselves that need to have a loving self-presence.

So in this month in which we focus and are W.orking E.very L.iving day towards L.ove, may we all feel and connect with the Heartfelt being within knowing that we are and always have been loved and cherished which then is reflected in the Love that we give to our children and others around us.

To your Good, Better, Best Life through W.E.L.L.N.E.S.S.

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January 2019-Creating Resiliency through W.E.L.L.N.E.S.S.© Parenting

If you are like most people that I see in my work caring for those with cancer, you try to live your best life and hope that you can avoid cancer. You probably know someone who has had cancer or even had an experience of a parent, relative or friend with cancer. It can be overwhelming at times and leave you feeling vulnerable and wonder if there is anything that you can do about it.

What I can tell you is that there are things that we CAN DO NOW to help our bodies and our kids bodies develop the resiliency and health they need to stay well for life.   While there are no guarantees in this life, there are strategies that we can use that can help us to stay as healthy as possible for as long as possible.  This year, each month, we will discuss some of the strategies to keep ourselves and our kids as healthy as possible for as long as possible.  But before we start to discuss that I first want to share how I got involved with Preventing Cancer in the first place in the video below…..

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December 2018-Craft a Family Life You Love

Stuffed Bunny-Laurie11-18I am not a crafty person.  My sister Laurie is.  Even as a teen I was amazed how she could sew together a stuffed bunny rabbit, pictured here…and still so so cute,  or make her own lamp shade for an existing lamp that needed refreshing!  I am sure you know members of your family just like that too!  They have a gift!  Building a family life we love is also a gift but a secret is that We All Have the Gift to Build that Family Life That We Love…If We Choose!!!!

If there is one thing my patients in these last 40 years have taught me, is that there are only 3 important things in life:  Our Health, Our Family and Our Friends!  Beyond that, the rest is small stuff even though it doesn’t feel that way sometimes!  So what family life would you LOVE to have?  I am sure there are many things you already love about what you are doing as a family and there are probably other things that you would love to create or do better.  So this Holiday season, I invite you to craft a treasured gift for yourself and your family-reflecting on, writing down, and creating the Family Life you have always Dreamed it to be.  What is it that you Love about the life you have created for your kids…the meals, the atmosphere, the Holiday traditions, the sports events, the encouragement, the homework time, the “To Do List” time, the chores, the acknowledgement of what you appreciate about each other, the Family vacations, the service projects to help those in need, the time for oneself to nourish and renew whether going to the gym, being pampered at the spa, getting your nails done?

Our kids need to see that we value ourselves enough that we take good care of ourselves and then they know they are worth it too and it gives them permission to take good care of themselves.  Our kids will “listen” more to what we do than what we say and we are role modelling for them all the time and whether we notice it or not, they are noticing and taking note of us!!

So go ahead Mama’s and Papa’s, give yourself the Gift of your Dream Life this Holiday and maybe invite your kids to share their ideas for a Happy, Dream Life together as a family!  Choose one new thing for yourself and one new thing to do together…then let your Dream Life unfold and notice what happens!

To your Good, Better, Best Life through W.E.L.L.N.E.S.S.  HAPPY HOLIDAYS!!

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November 2018-Build a Network of Support

AC-Katrina-Betty Ann6-25-18This is a picture of my dear friends at work who I have worked with for many years on our inpatient Medical Oncology floor.  Katrina was our Chaplain par Excellence who had creative ways of meeting patients spiritual needs when they were critically ill as well as nurture and nourish the Health Care Professionals who cared for them!  Betty Ann is our Attending RN and has been working on the same floor for the past 41 years.  She is a wealth of information, a great resource and an extremely intuitive person.  I feel so grateful to work with not only with these two Champions for Healing but also such an amazing inpatient team.

Which brings me to November, the month of the Thanksgiving Holiday.  It is a wonderful month to take a deep breath and give thanks and gratefulness for our circle of family, friends and support!  I have for many years felt that eating well, exercising and managing stress were the keys to a long, healthful life.  This year, I learned that those factors are only part of the equation and not even the most important part.  The research shows that those who have positive supportive social interaction and strong relationships actually live longer than those who stop smoking or drinking, get regular exercise, or even get a flu vaccine …boy was I surprised!  So I did some more investigating and surprise, surprise found out that women live longer than men by about 6-8 years and happily married women actually live longer than most.

This all leads to the importance of a Strong Social Network of Support and Connection as a KEY to survival, living longer and frankly, for the better when surrounded by a Positive Social Network of Support.  So the next time you get together with wonderful fun-loving, positive, supportive family, friends, or colleagues,  remember that they are the KEY to your good health!!

To your Good, Better, Best Life through W.E.L.L.N.E.S.S.!!!!

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October 2018-Building Fun and Traditions

Halloween Witch10-18Meet Gilda the Silly Witch…at least that is what I affectionately call her!  I saw her while travelling through Maine one day this fall and I couldn’t help but laugh and enjoyed the silliness of the moment!!

Don’t you just love the fall, it is full of fun and silliness, especially when it comes to Halloween and fall activities!  From apple and pumpkin picking, to hikes in the woods when the leaves are turning colors to dressing up in a costume to go Halloween Trick or Treating!  Oh, Mama’s to be a kid again and have the freedom to just be, enjoy, try on your favorite character for a night and then there is the candy!! 🙂  We all enjoyed our candy!

As parents, sometimes in celebrating with our kids it can bring us back to the fun and outrageous times we had growing up!   Do you remember your favorite costume?  I do remember being a witch one year and I loved it….I was a Salada tea bag another year and wore my favorite silly quote!!!  Having fun and being silly is just as important for our kids as eating healthy, brushing the teeth and getting their rest….it is part of setting good neural connections in the brain and good habits of being!

So on Halloween, our neighborhoods become places for lots of fun and joy for our kids.   Half the fun for our kids is thinking about what character they want to be and knowing that Mom or Dad will be making or buying a “new gift” for them to enjoy!!…Spiderman, Arielle the Mermaid, a Ninja, a Princess….it brings a smile just thinking about the Trick or Treaters knocking on the door shouting “Trick or Treat”, full of energy and excitement for the surprise that awaits them in the candy basket!!!!   It is the one time in the year when my daughter and I would dump the candy out on the livingroom rug and indulge without guilt whatever candy she (or I) wanted to eat!  As kids, it is so important to have family and cultural traditions that create fun and treasured memories.  They last a lifetime and give life meaning and pleasure!

What traditions do you create in your family?  What silly moments do you have for the holidays?   What fun do you and your kids look forward to throughout the year?  You may have some that you want to share on the Facebook, “Beyond Cancer Survival Page”.  We all need fun in life, especially our kids.  Hope you feel comfortable to share your own creative ideas for FUN!!  Above all, wishing you lots of JOY, FUN and SILLINESS this Halloween!

To your Good, Better, Best Life through W.E.L.L.N.E.S.S.!

 

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September 2018-Connecting with Nature

Polyface Farm chicks7-18September is the season for the kids going back to school, students starting or returning to college or graduate school and parents to design a new schedule for the academic year.  While it can be very hectic, it can also be a wonderful season of new beginnings as we carve out a brand new schedule for the year!  It is often a season when the days are warm and nights increasingly cooler or frankly cold at times.  The leaves are changing color, the animals are preparing for the winter and collecting their seeds, nuts, acorns, etc to make it through another winter  season.  It is also a favorite time to visit farms, go apple and pumpkin picking, go on hay rides and pick up a favorite jar of honey or apple cider!

Polyface Farm piggies7-18Connecting with nature is a wonderful way to appreciate the amazing treasures of our planet and our environment!  The Cycle of Life, the miracle of birth, the rhythms of our planet, ecosystem and universe.  The way that we take care of our environment and our food system is a reflection of our overall health.  Healthy, Happy Pigs; Healthy, Happy Chickens; Healthy, Happy Cows; Health, Happy People!!!  It is that simple!!!!

In his classic book, “Folks this Ain’t Normal” by Joel Salatin he reminds us that the food system we have developed in the later half of the twentieth century is not only not normal but not good for our health!  To be healthier, we need to return to the wisdom of our grandparents and great grandparents who respected the earth, grew local, often fresh, organic, sustainably in their own backyards to produce, whole, nutrient-dense fresh fruits and vegetables.  Every part of the ecosystem of the soil, the bugs, the worms, the animals, the crops are dependent on each other for a healthier soil, plant, egg, animal and environment.  So as you begin your new academic year, I hope that you will take the time to reflect about the quality of food that you want for yourself and your family.  Go out, connect with nature, visit a farm, pet a few cows, chickens and pigs, buy some fresh fruits, veggies, herbs and meats from the farm!  Come home and create a meal together with your kids.  It can be a great way to connect our kids to the food they eat and build an appreciation of the value of taking good care of our food system for our own benefit!  As a bonus you can create really fun memories for your kids!

To your Good, Better, Best Life through W.E.L.L.N.E.S.S. Parenting!

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August 2018-Taking Time to Renew

Book-Make ImpossiblePossible11-18August is a wonderful month to take a deep breath and recover from the busyness of the year before the new academic year begins!  I love this month, like many parents, as it is the last time for a year when we have more time as parents for ourselves and just being present with our kids.  So often as our kids are growing up, there are so many activities such as homework, sports, music lessons and recitals, not to mention the responsibilities of work and life, that being a parent can seem overwhelming at sometimes.  August is a great month to relax a bit more, review the year and prepare anew for the next.

Hey Moms and Dads, wouldn’t it be great if everything went smoothly…life is rarely like that though and so in that light, I wanted to share with you a favorite book that is inspiring, full of wisdom and a true account of one man’s quest to achieve a goal which felt out of reach.  The book, as seen above, is called, “Make the Impossible Possible”.  It is a gem and one that brings so much hope and can “prepare the soil of our minds and spirits” to reach for the life of our dreams!   This is important because when our kids see that we have a dream and we work towards, and reach our dreams by role modeling for them, then it allows them to reach for their dreams too!!

Written by Bill Strickland, he shares how his own life growing up poor was transformed by a teacher who believed in him, mentored him and encouraged him to go to college.   He graduated from the University of Pittsburgh and dreamed of running an Arts Job Training Program for life-challenged adults and an after school arts program for at risk youth.  He had a passion for this and many could not see how this program could be funded or be manifested.  Bill Strickland believed in his dream, focused on creative ways to start and maintain this school, and kept a positive and persistent attitude everyday while networking with the elite of Pittsburgh.  He eventually was able to receive the funding for the Manchester Craftsman Guild and the Bidwell Training Center as CEO and founder.  Bill helped to inspire kids who were living in poverty so that 90% completed high school and 85% went on to college!

Bill’s story will inspire you whether rich, poor or middle class, ill or well, because his message is universal and easily transferred into other life lessons.  His basic message is that nothing is impossible if we have the courage, vision and persistence to reach for the doors to our dreams…we need to visualize it, feel it and believe in it!  I hope that you enjoy this book for the wisdom it shares for our kids!!

To your Good, Better, Best Life through W.E.L.L.N.E.S.S.!!!!

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July 2018-Thrive on Five

Farmers Market8-14 Farmers Market2.8-14

 

 

 

 

 

July is a wonderful month for eating whole, fresh, delicious fruits and vegetables.  I remember as a child growing up on Cape Cod, my mom would take all of us to the back roads of Truro early in the morning so that we could pick wild, ripening blueberries off the bush to eat for breakfast.  My mom always made an adventure out of it!  We had the music cranked up with some rock and roll song, we would be singing along, bee bopping as my mom drove the car to the infamous spot where we were sure to find a plentiful supply of blueberries!  We would all jump out of the car and run for the bushes and start picking.  Of course, we couldn’t help but eat some along the way as we each filled our buckets!  When my mom decided we had enough for what she had in mind to bake, we then piled back into the car and away we went back home so that my mom could start making fresh blueberry pancakes, muffins and the classic blueberry pie for my dad, his favorite!!

Those are some of my sweetest memories as a child.  We all need sweet memories and it helps to form good nutritional habits to incorporate into those sweet memories with healthful, great tasting natural and wholesome real food!   Today, there is a whole new movement in our country for sustainability, growing local, going organic, from Farm to Table!  It is a wonderful trend and our kids will greatly benefit from the colorful fresh fruits and veggies that growing bodies need to develop well for the long term.  So as you go about your days this summer, and especially on vacation, try one adventure with your kids that is fun, fresh, wholesome and creates great memories with super foods like blueberries!

Five Ideas for Wholesome Adventures with your kids:

1. Go picking at a berry farm (blueberries, strawberries, raspberries) and make a berry breakfast bowl out of it.

2.  Make a trail mix from organic almonds, walnuts, pumpkin seeds and great chocolate bits and then go for a hike!

3.  Make your own peanut butter or almond butter using whole organic almonds or peanuts with a food processor or blender.  Then create ants on a log by spreading the peanut or almond butter on a celery stick and top off with raisins or craisins!

4.  Make a dish for dinner called the Enchanted Broccoli Forest, a Mollie Katzen special-this was a favorite of my daughter when she was in elementary school.  We would gently cook the broccoli just until it was bright green and then cut the stalks lengthwise to make trees out of them and stick them into a rice foundation in a casserole dish.  The rice can be white, jasmine or brown rice mixed with mozzarella cheese and an beaten egg.  Add  spices to taste and bake in the oven @325 for half an hour.  It is great way to add fun to cooking and to put a positive spin on broccoli (loaded with phytonutrients such as the antioxidants lutein and sulforaphane as well as magnesium, phosphorus, iron and zinc!

5.  Go to a Farmers Market and gather vegetables and fruit such as carrots, beets and apples as well as many others you would enjoy!  Come home and make your own juicer or smoothie in a Blender, NutriBullet or Vitamix (or similar product).  This is a great way for kids to get their nutrients without realizing the veggies inside!  Another favorite of my daughter’s was the carrot, beet, apple juicer on saturday morning!  Have a toast to “Peter Rabbit” when done and drink up!!

Bunnies.6-18

 

 

 

 

 

So here is to your Good, Better, Best Life through W.E.L.L.N.E.S.S.!!!! 🙂

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June 2018-Celebrating Cancer Survivorship Month and Those Making a Difference

KathySullivanJune is a Special Month.  We get to Celebrate Cancer Survivorship Month!  Our world is in the process of transformation, I am sure that you have noticed and can feel it too!!  There is so much energy on this planet now.  It is in transition so not all of it feels comfortable but it is changing and is moving towards a new Paradigm that is even better!  We are developing newer treatments to help people to live with cancer better and longer as well as ways to prevent some cancers.  So this month, I wanted to share with all of you someone who I have admired as an Amazing Role Model for Being their Best, Doing their Best and Surviving Well as a Cancer Survivorship Champion!

I wanted to share with you my cousin and Most Amazing Role Model that I know for being a Cancer Survivorship All Star!!  Kathy McCarthy Sullivan is a beautiful, bright, humorous and fun loving cousin.  She has a gift for fashion and design with a mindset for Dreambuilding!  Kathy was originally diagnosed with Hodgkin’s disease in the summer of 1969 at the age of 15.  At the time, we never spoke about cancers, especially Pediatric cancers.  Kathy went thru 21 Cobalt-60 treatments at Mass General Hospital. As her aunt had recently died of breast cancer, Kathy was never told that she had Hodgkin’s until her early 20’s just before her wedding day because, at that time, it was common in our culture not to tell kids and it was felt better not to worry them about their diagnoses, as many of them would die of their disease!   We have come a long way since then with improved survival and being more open and honest with people’s diagnoses!  Kathy went on to become one of the few at that time who would survive her cancer!  That was her first miracle!

Kathy 3Kathy got married to Richie Sullivan and they created a great life together building a family and having 3 beautiful children:  Kelley, Ryan and Brendon!!   Since then Kathy has been diagnosed with thyroid cancer, lung cancer, breast cancer and had triple bypass surgery for  heart disease that was a long term complication of her treatment.  She has survived them all with a full life, humor and grace.  It hasn’t always been easy but Kathy always spins some humor into every situation and these events have been no different!  She and her husband Richie live a charmed life on Cape Cod, overlooking Cape Cod Bay and are now enjoying their grandchildren!  She believes that  “environmental exposures that damage DNA” contributed to her Hodgkin’s and that the radiation therapy that she received along with great doctors, nursing staff, family, friends and faith helped her with her healing and her ability to Live for the last 50 years  with her 3 other miracle’s.  She is an Amazing Champion Cancer Survivor!!

I think that you will agree that Kathy is a Great Role Model of W.E.L.L.N.E.S.S. for herself as well as for her family.  As Kathy said, “there are many family members who support you along the way” so they also, in essence, become Survivors.  We honor Kathy and her family this month for her Example as a True Champion of Health and Wish both she and her family the Best for Cancer Survivorship Month!  Let us honor and treasure the 15.5 Million Courageous and Brave Cancer Survivors in the US today, their family members and all those Living Every Day to be their Best!

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May 2018-Celebrating Mothers who are Making a Difference

I Love the Month of May!   As a Mom, every day is Mother’s Day because being a Mom is the BEST  and no one can explain how Amazing and Overwhelming the feelings are until one has actually held that baby.  There is nothing else like it!!  Hey Mom’s, I think that we could also acknowledge that it is a very challenging role too!!  You dedicate your life to your kids and your family and there are days when it does truly feel overwhelming and quite a challenge!!  Mom’s have a unique role as the Health Manager, Coach, Organizer, Life Educator and Chief Bottle Washer of the Home!  Today, Dad’s do alot too to help but it seems that Mom’s, for the most part, are still greatly responsible for the kids.   When one is faced with cancer, the stress of being there to oversee our kids lives and growth can become even more intense.  So this month, I wanted to share with all of you 3 Mom’s Living Well with Cancer who I have admired as Amazing Role Models for Being their Best, Doing their Best and Surviving Well after Breast Cancer!

Christy Flory4-18First, is my dear friend of over 35 years, Christy Flory, who was diagnosed with stage 1 Breast Cancer in 2017.   We first met as young Oncology Nurses in Boston together…youth is a wonderful thing and looking back, Christy was always someone with a big smile, a warm heart, lots of positive energy and an encouraging presence on our floor!!  Being bright and energetic, Christy quickly moved on to becoming a Dermatology Nurse Practitioner and she provided personalized, energetic and excellent care to her patients.   With time, Christy would find her soulmate, Peter, and they are a great team devoting their energies to raising their daughter, Grace.

As Christy will attest, however, life is full of unexpected events, and last year she was diagnosed with breast cancer.  It is much different being on the other side of the virtual patient bed however.  It is never easy, and always a shock to hear that one has Cancer; as a Health Care Provider, it can be even more of a shock!   After her diagnosis, Christy quickly mobilized her supports as she navigated the road to treatment and spent the next 6 months undergoing treatment all while caring for her 12 year old daughter, Grace!  She always interjected humor into the situation and is now living her life one day at a time, having completed her treatment!  Christy believes that genetics (her Mom and identical twin also had BC) contributed to her Breast Cancer.  She also believes that continuing Small Group Weight/Cardio Training three times per week during Chemo and after surgery, and walking 10,000-15,000 steps per day has helped in her recovery and also to remain healthy and work towards healing every day!  She has also found that being involved as a Survivor Offering Support (SOS) at her local hospital, and coaching/educating women via Breast Cancer Facebook Support Groups is therapeutic and healing for her.  BEATABLE and TREATABLE is her motto!  Being a true Champion of Good Health and Good Humor, Christy THANKS Breast Cancer for giving her an excuse to COLOR her HAIR a rich auburn red color…something she has always wanted to do but never did!! 🙂

Kara Galvin5-18Second, is my dear friend Kara Galvin whom I met through her work as a Certified Health and Wellness Coach.  Kara is a bundle of energy as she coordinates working not only as a Health Coach, Adult Yoga Teacher, and Children’s Yoga Teacher as well as a Full Time Mom of a 3 year old!!  She inspires women to “Eat Clean”, de-stress thru “Yoga” and get exercise thru the Family Hikes that she is organizing for her community over the summer!  I have seen Kara go thru a Transformation in the last year or two and she is an Amazing Role Model for other Mom’s who are trying to find the balance between work, being a Mom and Managing one’s own Good Health!!  Kara believes that decades of being a workaholic, too much processed foods and not enough self care contributed to her cancer diagnosis. To heal, she embraced as many healing modalities as possible including Yoga, Meditation, reiki, nature therapy and a complete re-prioritizing of her life. She quit her corporate job to become an entrepreneur in the health and wellness field.   As Kara told me, “Cancer helped me to slow down and remember what’s really important: my faith, my health and my family & friends.  Career had to take a back seat and her health and family were a major focus of her life.   Kara describes that her husband, Dave, was her rock during treatment. As she says, “My husband did lots of hand holding and serious talks about treatment decisions at wee hours of the morning”.   Check out her websites at:   https://nopicklesplease.com and www.bStillCounseling.com

 

An-Thanh PhamThird, is my dear friend, An-Thanh Pham whom I have known for over 25 years. She was originally from Hue, the city that was once the imperial city and capital of Vietnam. She first set sites on the United States when she was 13 years old.  In college, she met her now husband, Chau Pham, and they have been a team for 28 years! They were blessed with two children that are now young adults.   An-Thanh was my dental hygienist in Connecticut.  She was one of the THE BEST dental hygienists I have ever had.  She was so astute, so kind and gentle!  For quite a while, we tended to live near each other out of coincidence.  When my daughter was young, An-Thanh and her family would take care of my daughter at times when I had to work on the weekends. I always knew that my daughter was in great hands with them and their two children— they practically grew up together.  An-Thanh is a very smart, athletic person; she has a true gift and passion for gardening.  Her latest project was creating a Japanese Garden with her husband in their backyard!!!

Even though An-Thanh has led a healthy and active lifestyle, she was diagnosed with Breast Cancer (IDC) three years ago. She still considered herself lucky, nevertheless, to have had it detected early and that the treatments were not as involved. During treatments and recovery, however, she made it her goal to nourish her body with an even more wholesome diet in order to continue with another passion, playing tennis. Eating less red meat and processed foods; opting for more wild caught fish, fresh and organically grown vegetables. She has also made healthy eating a priority for her whole family.  An-Thanh and her family not only believe in a healthy diet but also a fair amount of exercise to truly stay healthy and strong. They are regulars at their local gym, and they keep it interesting by doing a variety of exercises. Anything from swimming to indoor cycling, some weights, yoga and tennis. On days when the weather is nice, they take long bike rides or walks!  An-Thanh has always struck me as an authentic person who is energetic, humorous, positive and adaptable to the circumstances of life.  She is now a 3 year Survivor of Breast Cancer.  Having been in Vietnam during the war, she feels that the environment, being exposed to Agent Orange in Vietnam1, may have contributed to her breast cancer and feels that a positive outlook on life, a healthy and active lifestyle as well as the support of her family have contributed to her healing.

I think you will agree that these 3 Moms are Great Role Models of W.E.L.L.N.E.S.S. for themselves as well as their families.  We honor them this month for their Example as True Champions of Health and Wish Them the Best Mother’s Day!

 

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April 2018-Champions for Change!

This month I wanted to highlight two more people that are doing wonderful work on  Nutritional and Environmental issues.  As my patients have taught me so well, what we are knowingly or unknowingly exposed to in the environment or in our food and what we choose to eat for food can have a huge impact on keeping us well OR increasing our risks for cancer.  Both of these women are leading by example, working every day on positive changes to the Environmental exposures and Creative solutions for good nutrition to  advocate for Indigenous Peoples in the States as well as in Hawaii!

Indigikitchen-Mariah GladstoneThe first person I want to highlight this month is Mariah Gladstone. I first saw Mariah when she testified before Senator Tom Udall at an Oversight hearing regarding Native American Agribusiness as the Senate and Congress prepared for Reauthorization of the Farm Bill.   She is a bright and energetic 24 year old from Montana who is a member of the Blackfeet and Cherokee nations.    Mariah is a 2015 Environmental Engineering graduate of Columbia University and one of 5 Native American Youth recognized as a Champion of Change in 2017.   She is so articulate and a strong advocate for Environment, Sustainability and Food Sovereignty.  This is so important as we know too well that Nutrition is Key to Good Health.  What I was shocked to learn, is that despite the fact that connection with Mother Earth and consumption of whole food is an intricate part of the heart and soul of Native American cultures, many Native peoples have been denied the opportunity to eat wholesome, culturally based food, leaving many malnourished and at high risk of chronic diseases.  Mariah is set on changing this situation.   She has her own online cooking show, Indigikitchen, about Native foods and cooking to bring wholesome alternatives and healthy food to Indigenous people and others interested in really fun and delicious food!  Check out her Creative, Nutritious and Delicious recipes at www.Indigikitchen.com or on Facebook at Indigikitchen…her recipe, Nested Elk, looks Amazing!!!   She is one to follow and a True Champion for Change!

Terri NapeahiSecond, is my dear friend Terri Napeahi who is an Indigenous Hawaiian, and has been a Champion for Environmental Advocacy for all in Hawaii for the last 6 years.   This year, she is running as a Hawaiian State Representative in the Big Island.  I first met Terri when I was lost on the Western Side of the Island and needed to get back to Hilo but needed to go up and over the highway along Mauna Kea, the 13,800 foot mountain.  OMG…Being afraid of heights, I was sure glad to find that Terri was willing to show me how to drive over this mountain pass and back to Hilo without hesitation!  This is Terri’s nature and she is a steady advocate for Environmental Safety, Sustainability and Good Health. She is like an eagle, very bright and visionary, constantly on the look out to help those in need, coming up with better strategies and solutions  to provide a healthful environment and advocating for those who are more vulnerable in our society.  Working with those with cancer has given me a unique perspective on health.  Today, more than ever before, our environment is linked intricately with our basic health and that of future generations.  A simple, clean and toxic-free environment is important for life long health and Terri is a tireless advocate for Environmental Sovereignty.  We need more people like Terri in this world today and one of those Champions of Change that is doing valuable work for the most vulnerable in our society!!

To your Good, Better and Best Life through W.E.L.L.N.E.S.S.  Like these 2 women above, I encourage you to develop your own ways of being a Champion for Change with your family, your kids and your community!!

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March 2018-Radical Remissions……

Book-Radical RemissionThis is my new favorite book!  I read it while I was on vacation and it is a gem I wanted to share with all in our Parenting Community.  Did you know that there are a number of people who have had life threatening and advanced cancers who have been able to attain life long remissions?  I have seen this in my own career as an Oncology Nurse/ Nurse Practitioner.  However, I never realized how often this can happen and the unique ways that people have been able to heal!

While I am not saying that this is possible for everyone or for the vast majority of people with cancer, what Kelly Turner PhD is documenting is that it IS possible and that it is very important to capture these Radical Remissions to understand them better for the benefit of all.   She has done extensive interviews and fact finding with people with cancer all over the world as well as the healers who help these individuals achieve remission.  She outlines the 9 Key Factors which seem to be a common thread in all of these Radical Remissions!  What is even more exciting is that she also has created a website, www.RadicalRemission.com for individuals to document their own Transformative and Healing Stories Her website has two sides:

**Those with a particular cancer looking for strategies that have been found to be helpful in achieving remission AND

**A platform for those who have achieved remission to document their own story and what factors they felt helped in their survival!!

I highly recommend you read these amazing stories of courage, resilience, persistance and survival in achieving Radical Remissions!   Many had to make Radical Transformations in their diet and decide that they were going to take control of their own health in unique and beneficial ways!   A fascinating and hopeful read on the power of the body to heal itself when the right conditions were created! Check it out!

To your Good, Better and Best Life Through W.E.L.L.N.E.S.S.!  Have a Blessed Spring!

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February 2018-Living a Heart-Centered Lifestyle!

AC bali cooking3-18This is me having fun and enjoying a cooking class in Bali, Indonesia!  I highly recommend vacationing there as the Balinese people have big smiles and warm hearts.  They are very community oriented and this is a tradition that we could learn alot from.  February is American Heart Health Month and for good reason!  It is easy to feel that cancer is happening to everyone around us.   The reality though is that Cardiovascular Disease, including heart attacks and strokes,  is the #1 cause of death not only in the US,  but also in the world and this is especially important for women!  So I wanted to share what we can do to keep our hearts healthy, in all ways, by reviewing a few strategies.

Many of us know that keeping our blood pressures low helps.  But as one with high blood pressure, how do we do that?  If your blood pressure is high one of the first things we can do is to keep our weight in the “ideal range”.  What is ideal for good health?  Check out this table and it will help guide you to your best weight for good health, https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/educational/lose_wt/BMI/bmicalc.htm

On this note, the #2 strategy for heart health is to exercise!   One of the best kept secrets is that exercise is one of the best ways to lose weight.  I find that there are so many today who are engaging in healthy exercise….and this is Fantastic!!  If you do exercise regularly, you are having a great impact on your overall health!  Engaging in aerobic exercise for 20-30 minutes per day, will not only keep you in better shape but also reduce the stress which pushes up those BP numbers.

#3 is to to Eat foods that lower blood pressure.  What are those foods?  They are foods rich in potassium(avocado, banana, spinach, sweet potato, salmon, pomegranate, coconut water, carrot juice), magnesium(spinach, swiss chard, dark chocolate, pumpkin seeds, almonds), calcium(milk/yogurt/kefir, kale, sardines, broccoli and watercress) and fiber while keeping our fat intake and salt intake low which is part of the DASH (Diet Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diet.   Be aware that many foods naturally have sodium in them.  In fact, if you have a glass of milk and a tuna fish sandwich you have gotten all your sodium requirements for the day!  Imagine a bag of potato or tortilla chips..Oh My!

#4 is to keep alcohol intake low because alcohol can drive up blood pressure.  What does low or moderate mean?  More than you might think! For men, this means less than or equal to 2 drinks/day and for women 1 drink/day.  Alcoholic beverages have different amounts that are considered one drink.  Beer=12 oz; wine=5 oz; hard liquor=1.5 oz.  Of course, less is always better!!

#5 is to manage stress in your life.  This can be done in a variety of really fun ways: Yoga, Mindfulness Meditation,  Qigong, and Tai Chi.  One of the best ways to lower stress is to watch comedy.   Try Jimmie Kimmel, Stephen Colbert, Seth Meyers, Jimmy Fallon, Trevor Noah, Roy Wood Jr or Al Madrigal on a daily basis-it just may fix your blood pressure!!!  As for female comedians, try a steady dose of Ellen Degeneres, Michelle Wolf or Jen Kirkman.  Avoiding the news these days might be another helpful tactic.   The news has the potential to skyrocket your blood pressure in no time flat!!  I am sure you agree!

#6 and most important for lifelong health is to surround yourself with a support network of loving souls!   Over time, this has been found to be more important to life long health than exercise, smoking, drinking, diet or even getting your flu shot!!!  Amazing what good relationships can do for our health!!

To Your Good, Better, Best Life through W.E.L.L.N.E.S.S.  Have a Blessed Heart Healthy Month!

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January 2018-Identifying Challenges, Creating Solutions

Aurelie-Acacia-Darcy.GovBakersOffice11-28-17

As we now enter a whole new year of 2018, I am excited to refocus on where we are going and share some Food For Thought!  As a Mom who is raising a millenial and cares about health, education, the environment and the future, I have concerns about the direction of our global community at this moment in time…I am guessing you do too!!  It is a world in transformation.  There are issues, there is inequity, there is a system and an environment which needs healing.  There are moments when it is easy to feel discouraged.  So what do we do about it?  I invite you to keep focused on an image of where you envision the direction of our world.  I also want to introduce you to 3 amazing people/groups who are doing their part to create this new world by making a difference for our kids, our families, and our world.  They have seen challenges and they are creating solutions in Big and Small ways.  Let me introduce you to Current Day Champions for our Kids!

strawesome2First is Daedra and Brian Surowiec who have a company called, Strawesome!  They had heard about all the plastic that is disposed of in our oceans and threatening the health of the marine life.  They came up with the idea to make glass straws which would be better for our kids and better for our environment!  Posted is a picture of Daedra and Brian with one of their sons who is fortunate enough to grow up only knowing how to use glass straws!  As a team, they design and make the straws by hand-they are beautiful!!  You too can have some in your family!  I bought a set for myself this month and absolutely LOVE them!  Many different colors and designs.  Check them out at www.strawesome.com   Better for your kids; Better for the planet!

Robin-Palliative Care Ctr-FairfieldUniv8-17Second is my dear friend, Robin Bennett Kanarek.  Robin is a wise and experienced nurse who has faced many challenges. Robin and her husband, Joe, lost their son David when he was 15 years old to Leukemia.  It was a very painful experience and Robin identified aspects of the health care system that was so focused on cure that there was no discussion of symptom management or identifying what was important to David/ his parents throughout the course of his illness and the choices that he/ his parents could make to prevent his suffering.  Out of this experience, Robin has become a champion for Pediatric Palliative Care.   Last month, Robin’s vision of nursing becoming a key member of helping patients to navigate this journey was  birthed with the opening of the Kanarek Center for Palliative Care at Fairfield University.   Housed in the Nursing School, it is the first Nursing School in the US to offer expert Palliative Care Training for nursing students.  It was a 16 year journey for Robin that had come full circle and is a lasting tribute to her son and will hopefully provide the guidance for future patients that Robin wished had been there when her son was very ill.  Check out www.kanarekfamilyfoundation.org for more information on the work that Robin is doing!

Aurelie-Acacia-RepDylanFernandes-DarcyCreech11-28-17The third person and group that I want to honor is Moms Across America led by Zen Honeycutt.  Featured in this photo taken at the State House is the Massachusetts Group with Acacia Warren, Darcy Creech and myself, along with Representative Dylan Fernandes.   One moment making a difference for kids through the work to advocate for and inspire all about the harm of glyphosate and toxic pesticides to our kids, our families, our neighbors, our pets, our seafood/ marine life, our aquifers and our environment.  Glyphosate is a neurotoxicant and has been found to be a risk for leukemia, lymphoma (a 50% increase), multiple myeloma, breast cancer and prostate cancer.  In agricultural workers it has been associated with liver and kidney dysfunction and kidney failure.  Rep Dylan Fernandes has submitted Massachusetts House bill H.3927 “An act empowering towns to protect their environment and residents from harmful pesticides”.  You too can be part of this effort by connecting with your friends, community and other moms and dads to create a network of support.  Then connect with your legislators to voice your concerns and be the change!  Check out www.MomsAcrossAmerica.com and www.dylanfernandes.com

All of these groups, Strawesome, Robin Bennett Kanarek, Moms Across America and Rep Dylan Fernandes are making a difference every day by Identifying Challenges and Creating Solutions!  Kudos for all they do to give our kids, our communities and our world a better chance at a better life!!

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December 2017-Words of Wisdom to Ponder

KelsMomPenny-Appalachian Trail9-17As a Clinical Oncology Nurse, I have taken care of many different patients with a variety of illnesses.  One of the wealthiest patients I ever took care of said something to me one time that stuck with me and I have taken as Words of Wisdom.  He said, “It doesn’t matter how much money you have, it can not prevent you from getting sick.  In life, there are only 3 things that are most important:  Our Health, Our Family, and Our Friends”!  I have pondered that statement many times.

My daughter is now 19 years old and I don’t get to see her very often as she explores the world, her interests and what she wants to do with her life.  In September, my daughter was home for two months in between her first and second gap years before she attends college.  She was interested in hiking the Appalachian Trail so off we went to the Berkshires to have an adventure.  We camped and hiked and had an opportunity to reconnect after she had been away in Oregon for a year.   We had an amazing time and it was very special for us because her little dog Penny came too.  Penny was sick at the time but navigated each day with enthusiasm.  Unfortunately, she had to put to sleep in November due to her progressive symptoms and condition.  Kelsey did an amazing job caring for Penny in her last months.  We were grateful that we were able to have so much fun together during that time.  Life is like hiking the Appalachian Trail.  It is challenging, it is adventurous, it is uncertain and unpredictable but we always know that there is a beginning and an end.  If we so choose, there IS Heaven here on Earth!  Yes, my patients words came back to me.  It is so true, our Health, Our Family and Our Friends are the Most Important in this Life!

May you each have a Blessed Holiday and Remember that we can each have a Good, Better, Best Life Through W.E.L.L.N.E.S.S.!!

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November 2017-The Art of Self-Care

AC+KelsBabyPic5-1998This is a picture of my daughter and I when she was about 2-1/2 months old.  So precious!! I am sure that you remember those days…who could forget!!  It is a precious time for moms, dads and babies when all of their needs are met by trying to understand their unique communications-when they are hungry, when they are wet, when they are tired?

I had so many hopes and dreams for my baby then and luckily I was very tuned into the fact that being a parent, as Jon Kabat-Zinn has said for many years, is like being on an 18 year Spiritual Retreat!  He had that nailed!!  Now that my daughter is 19, I have a different vantage point and I am so grateful for my “Miracle from God”.  I was prepared and I wasn’t prepared for being the parent that my daughter needed me to be.  I had learned some of the important points about feeding her, changing her diapers, putting her in her crib face up so that she could breath safely and the potential stresses of being a new parent.  I was totally unprepared for the the Amazing Love that overcame me when my daughter was  born, as well as the Amazing experiences and the Challenging stresses of parenting my own daughter!  That would come with time.

What I know for sure is that without caring for ourselves, nourishing ourselves, loving ourselves and spending time rejuvenating and replenishing our own “Physical, Emotional and Spiritual Parenting Bank”, this work can be difficult, can leave you feeling exhausted, overwhelmed at times and, without realizing it, spill over into creating stresses and life challenges for our kids.  What we focus on multiplies and there are an abundance of Things we can do to keep our life replenished and balanced today: Mindfulness Meditation, Yoga, Qigong, Exercise, Prayer…some of us need alone time and some of us need friendship time and some of us need community time!

So I invite you to Ask yourself, “What is important to me, us, our family for Good Health? AND “What do I need to nourish my Parenting Bank”  for my good, better, best Good Health as a Parent?”  Listen for the answer within….and Trust what answer comes to You!    Have a Wonderful Thanksgiving!!

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October 2017-The Secret to a Longer, Healthier Life

Rachel Carson-90yoBird Watcher10-3-17In keeping with the theme of Believing that Good Health is Possible, this month I wanted to share a story of a couple that I met on a nature walk I had at the Rachel Carson Wildlife Refuge in Maine this week.  I often go there when I am needing a space to connect with Nature and rejuvenate my spirit!   As I was walking along, I met a man and his wife who were taking the same walk along the trails with their binoculars so they could spot some favorite birds of the season.   As we got chatting, the husband said that he had just celebrated his Birthday and he wanted to know if I could guess his age?   As you look at the picture, take a guess yourself!!  He told me that he and his wife walk 4 miles a day-2 miles in the morning and 2 miles in the evening.  He does 250 push-ups a day (breaking it up into 50 pushups five times a day!) and 100+ sit ups.  His mind was really sharp and he spoke quite well.  I guessed he may have been 75!   He then told me he was 90 years old!!  I was shocked…90, what was the secret to his good health?  He told me 2 things: 1) Nutrition, he ate a Mediterranean/DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diet with fresh vegetables and fruits, fish, legumes, nuts, healthy olive oil and he told me 2) Exercise!

What struck me is that this is so very, very simple!   Many researchers have found that one of the healthiest diets in the world is a Mediterranean Diet -Real Foods that you can pronounce (!!).  It consists primarily of Fresh Veggies and Fruits, grains, legumes/ beans, olive oil, fish, herbs and spices and nuts.  For those who eat meat, choose lean meats like chicken and turkey.  For more info on a Mediterranean Diet check out http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/in-depth/mediterranean-diet/art-20047801   The DASH Diet helps to reduce the chance of getting High Blood Pressure. For more info on the DASH Diet, go to: http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/in-depth/dash-diet/art-20048456

Research has also found that 20-30 minutes of Exercise per day that pumps up your Heart Rate is also beneficial for life long health!  Team sports in adolescence has been found to reduce the risk of cancer throughout life and continuing with some aerobic exercise reduces morbidity and mortality.  Getting exercise can be as simple as getting a good power walk out in nature!!

Follow this man’s advice and you will be giving yourself and your kids the gift of a better chance of a Longer, Healthier and Happier Life!!  The First Step is BELIEVING THAT YOUR GOOD HEALTH AND THE LIFELONG HEALTH OF YOUR KIDS IS POSSIBLE!!! : ).  You can check out other good health ideas or research tips on my Facebook Page at https://www.facebook.com/BeyondCancerSurvival/posts/1927701300591530?notif_id=1506999766084290&notif_t=like

Here is to Your Good, Better, Best Life Through W.E.L.L.N.E.S.S.   W.orking E.very L.iving day towards L.ove N.utrition E.xercise S.erenity and S.pirituality

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September 2017-Believing that Good Health is Possible

Kelsey-Disney Princess8-2003This is a picture of my daughter when she was 5 years old and I took her to Disneyworld where she got to be a Princess for several days and meet Mickey Mouse who spun her around before I took this picture and Mickey helped her to feel like a Real Princess!!!  It was one of my favorite memories with my daughter when she was growing up!!

It brought me back to my own childhood when I remember as a child getting so excited every Sunday evening waiting for the Walt Disney show to come on.  Tinkerbell flying across the sky and sprinkling pixie dust all around, the Disney Castle in the background and the next enchanting tale that I would be able to see that would transport me to a magical place where life was good, and wholesome and beautiful….there was always a plot, with challenges and sinister people but the outcome was always a triumph of good over evil, peace over pain, and happiness at the end of a struggle!  Deep down, for me, that show was my inspiration and guiding faith that no matter what happened in day to day life, there was always a decent outcome and the challenges were all worthwhile.

The story of Walt Disney is like that.  I was surprised  to learn, years later, that Walt Disney himself had many obstacles to overcome before becoming the successful artist and entrepreneur that he was.  He began as a starving artist.  He sought work but no one wanted to hire him; no one thought he had any talent.   He went from place to place in the Midwest looking for work.  It wasn’t until a minister with a barn in his back yard BELIEVED in Walt Disney and decided to hire him to do some art work for his church bulletin that Walt Disney had a beginning to his career.  He offered him a place to stay in the barn.  It turned out that the barn was full of mice  and Walt Disney decided to draw some of the mice that he saw running around in the barn…and one of those mice was the Birth of Mickey Mouse!!!

Our health can be like that.   As a parent, if there is one thing I know for sure in the United States, many parents work really, really hard every day to give their children a better life.  We want the best for our children and work hard to give them a better life.  Do we KNOW AND BELIEVE that we can give them a healthy life?   There are many things that we can do to help our children to stay well, grow up healthfully and have a better chance at a longer, healthier life.  The first step is BELIEVING that Good Health and a Longer, Healthier Life is Possible.  As a Nurse who cares for patients with cancer every day, if there is one thing I know for sure, what we do to help our kids to be healthy when they are young in mind, body and spirit will serve them well and give them a Better Chance of Living a Longer, Healthier and Happier Life!!  Believing, despite the challenges,  is Definitely Worth It!!!

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August 2017-Refresh, Rejuvenate, Renew

Sunrise-Lecounts8-7-17 Sunset at Cove8-6-17

 

 

 

 

 

 

August is a wonderful month to Refresh, Rejuvenate and Renew the Spirit!  It is a quieter month in the year, as many families vacation and kids have some down time before they return to the academic year.  There are actually no designated “Awareness of Cancers” for this month, which is perfect!  August is a great month to designate as “Awareness of Health”!!

If there is one thing my patients have taught me is that Our Health, Our Family and Our Friends are the most important aspects of Life!!  As parents, we put a lot of time, energy and emotional investment into helping our kids to grow into the Amazing Souls that they were born to be.  In order to sustain that level of energy and be the best parents we can be for our children, it is helpful to take a break, have fun and recharge our physical, emotional and spiritual batteries so that we can continue to be the parents our children need us to be for them.

I just returned from a wonderful vacation spent with my Mom, some cousins and some friends….it was a great way to connect with the important people in my life and Recharge my batteries!!  I made a point of experiencing the sunrises on the ocean and sunsets on the bay to connect with nature and remind myself of the simple beauty that can be found in everyday life which is available for free!  I took long runs on the ocean to let go of the stress and have a renewed sense of calm and peace within!!     How do you Recharge your batteries and make time for yourself?  Hope that you can make your health Priority #1 this August….it will be a great example for your kids to follow!!

To your Good, Better, Best Health through W.E.L.L.N.E.S.S. : )

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July 2017-Giving Kids a Fair Chance….

Book-GivingKidsFairChance
This month, I wanted to share with you my new favorite book by James Heckman.            Dr Heckman is a Distinguished Professor of Economics at the University of Chicago, and a Nobel Prize Recipient who has devoted his career to understanding the root cause of social inequality and injustice.  Stay with me on this one…you will be surprised to try it!  It’s an easy read, great for an afternoon summer at the pool.  Great info….This is not just gloom and doom; this is a solution-oriented book!!!  He has taken insights from his work to devise strategies and solutions to address these problems to make a difference in the lives of these children born into disadvantage and in turn be of benefit to all of society!!  Being a mom, I have seen the innocence, the love, the joy of a new baby and a toddler…they all deserve our effort to help give them a chance in this life!!

I love Dr Heckman’s thinking, I love that he has so much info to share on the early life environment of kids and the research which has been shown to make a difference.  It is easy to assume that how things operate and the reality of our world is “just the way it is”.  That nothing can be done to make a difference-people are poor, some starve, some go to jail, some die and that is just the way it is.   What Dr Heckman calls us to do is to revisit this “as is” thinking to reimagine the world which is in a period of Massive Transformation and how we can make it better.  This is an opportune time to do this!!

I believe that we DO HAVE the KNOWLEDGE, SKILLS, INTELLECT, KINDNESS, COMPASSION and MOTIVATION to make a difference for the next generation.    Dr Heckman works at the Roots of Social Injustice and we can work at the Roots of Health and Wellness to make a difference for our kids and ALL KIDS, one step at a time.  Moms Across America, Mothers Out Front, Savvy Women’s Alliance and Beyond Cancer Survival:  Parenting for Health are working everyday to make a difference for all of us and the next generation(s).  Moms are making a Difference; Get involved in your own way, Large or small.  To your Good, Better and Best Life through W.E.L.L.N.E.S.S.

 

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June 2017-National Cancer Survivorship Month-Finding Purpose!

Book-AnticaNewWayofLife

In a follow up to last months blog on Debating Chemicals in our environment, I wanted to share with you more info on that topic.  In 1995, as a Clinical Specialist for Women’s Health in Stamford, CT, one of my roles was co-leading a very active and vibrant Breast Cancer Support Group. On one particular evening, I will never forget when one of the members of the group spoke up and said, “Look at all the young faces in this room, there has got to be something in the environment”.   I wasn’t sure how to respond at the time except to say that yes, that did seem to be true.   That night however, I went home and thought a lot more about what that young woman and mother said. At the time, our Medical and Nursing backgrounds taught us that although we were not sure what caused breast cancer, that it was associated with women who got their periods earlier, went through menopause later, and had their kids later but we never spoke about the environment. It was our patients with their personal experiences who would shed greater insight into the nature of breast cancer. I thought about what she said and intuitively knew she was right.   There WAS something in the environment even if we were not sure what that was. That woman’s statement changed the direction of my career and life; I am grateful to that woman for having the courage to share her insights because even though I was the breast cancer specialist, at that time, I was not even aware of environmental factors contributing to this disease.

In the 22 years since then, what we have learned is that environment does impact breast cancer, some we have control over and some we need to be aware of.  Smoking, alcohol, ionizing radiation to the chest, DES, or workplace exposures like gasoline, petroleum products and soldering materials can impact the development of breast cancer.   So what can we do about this-be aware, avoid cancer causing environments, foods and products, set healthful standards for our families that will go a long way towards potentially improving lifelong health for ourselves and our kids, and keep up with the new info!!   Anticancer A new way of life is the resource I wanted to share with you above and I hope you have a chance to read it because it has so much valuable info for Cancer Survivors, those who are in the midst of their cancer treatments and parents who are working to give their kids a better life!!

With that in mind,  I have come to firmly believe that it is the Moms of this world who will help direct our knowledge of how our changing environment and food is impacting our health; it is the Mothers and Cancer Survivors of this world who will Lead the Movement to Change it, and who will Make a Difference. Women are the Hope and the Promise for our health, our environment, our kids health and our grandkids health.   Moms Across America, Mothers Out Front, and Savvy Woman’s Alliance are some of the other groups led by Moms who have become a collective Force for Good as we join forces to spread knowledge, resources and tips for our kids and families.  Hope you can join in to help spread the message of how important our environment is to our health now and always!  To Your Good,Better, Best Life through W.E.L.L.N.E.S.S.  and of course, Happy Father’s Day to all the dads who make a difference in their kids lives!! : )

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May 2017-Debating the Chemicals in our Environment

Book-Only One ChanceThere are numerous debates going on now…some are in the halls of Congress and the Senate, some are in the media, in our state governments and in our homes.  Debates can be good opportunities to openly discuss important issues and find out how others think.

I wanted to share some information that has been debated in the last few months that is showing up on your dinner plate.  A chemical called Chlorpyrifos.  This chemical is commonly used on our fruits and vegetables even though you can’t see it and it can be having effects on your health and your children’s health.  Chlorpyrifos is a neurotoxicant.   It was scheduled to be banned on March 31, 2017 initially by the Obama Administration.  However the EPA and Current Administration reversed that decision on March 30, 2017 so Chlorpyrifos is still being used, according to the President due to a “lack of enough evidence”.  If you check out the book above, you will see that we have lots of evidence of its toxic potential, especially on our children.  Surprisingly, it is being  used on strawberries, broccoli, cauliflower and apples.  If you eat any of these foods, I highly recommend you eat the Organic variety to protect yourself and especially your children.

Chlorpyrifos is not the only neurotoxic chemical in our environment however.   There are doctors and researchers which are finding that chemicals in the environment are contributing to the increased incidence of not only cancer in children but other increasingly common diseases in children, particularly those that impact on the brain and neurobiological and neurocognitive development. In 2014, Grandjean and Landrigan of Harvard School of Public Health and Mt Sinai published an article which synthesized the known chemicals which are neurotoxicants. The first set of five were confirmed in 2006 and included lead, methylmercury, arsenic, toluene and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCB’s).

Six more have been discovered to be neurotoxicants affecting the brain and causing neurocognitive or neurobehavioral disorders.  These additional chemicals are CHLORPYRIFOS, fluoride, dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane, tetrachloroethylene, manganese,and polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDE).   However, there are over 80,000 chemicals currently in use in the US and only a small fraction, roughly 200, have been studied and determined to be toxic to humans; some we know are also immunotoxicants which can have negative effects on the immune system.   The majority have not been studied adequately to determine their toxic potential even though they are being manufactured, distributed, bought, used and incorporated into our everyday products.   One thing that is known about these chemicals is that the developing brain, especially of the fetus, infant and young child is very sensitive to the impacts of these chemicals, even in low dose. These chemicals have a functional affect on the neurological system in about 10-15% of children at birth but the effects are not often recognized until these children are growing and developing and many of the changes have marked effects on IQ, risk of autism, ADD, ADHD, learning disabilities and behavioral issues which have lasting consequences.

I encourage you to communicate with your State and Federal Legislators both Representatives and Senators to let them know how you feel about the use of these chemicals in the environment and on our food which commonly seeps its way into our water, food, animals and children.   For further information, there are 2 good reads:

Grandjean, P (2013). Only one chance How environmental pollution impairs brain development and how to protect the brains of the next generation. Oxford: OxfordUniversity Press.

Grandjean, P & Landrigan, P (2014). Neurobehavioural effects of developmental toxicity. Lancet Neurology, 13, pp 330-338.

To your Good, Better, Best Health…Happy Mother’s Day!!

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