Healthy Concepts

Variety is the spice of life. It feels good to have choices and when you find the right fit, nothing is better. Differences in products, amenities and overall services are what makes up any industry, and health care is no different. Providers vary in their philosophies and treatment plans, along with patients’ ideals and priorities.

Seemingly endless options abound, making the right decision regarding your well-being sometimes overwhelming and intimidating. One thing remains the same, though, and that is wanting to feel appreciated and cared for.

Orthopedic & Spine Therapy gets it. 

Owner Steve Barnett opened the first clinic (it has expanded to 19!) in 1990 with the mission to create a business model that encompasses both high quality care and the kind of environment that makes everyone comfortable — from staff members to patients. 

In celebration of their 27th anniversary on September 4, Orthopedic & Spine Therapy shares their approach to what sets them apart in both values and daily operations as an exceptional choice in physical therapy in the local community:

One-on-one attention, continuity of care and communication

At Orthopedic & Spine Therapy, patients receive the hands-on (literally!) attention they deserve by being the only patient in a session. 

“We see one patient at a time and we’re with them that whole time, we don’t scuttle between rooms, between patients. It’s also important for us to keep the same therapist throughout their therapy,” Steve says. “We find by doing that there’s a greater continuity of care, which will then ideally be a shorter term of care for patients. And in today’s care that means less dollars out of their pocket.” 

“The therapist knows you and knows your condition. You get undivided attention,” Sami Barnett, Marketing and Communications Coordinator, adds.

And that courtesy and care isn’t limited to your one-on-one session.

“My cell phone number is on my card,” Steve says. “It’s easy for patients to call or text me at any point in time. I’ll answer any questions because I want them to recognize that I’m there to help them. Just like they have “a doctor” or “a dentist,” we want to be their physical therapists.” 

Manual physical therapy

Manual physical therapy at Orthopedic & Spine Therapy is a technique that utilizes a therapist’s hands for the treatment process as opposed to modalities like therapeutic ultrasound or hot packs (although these tools are available if a particular case calls for them).

“We feel we get better results when we use our manual therapy skills we have developed in our continuing education courses,” Steve explains. “It’s a mindset, it’s our culture.”

Continuing education

Orthopedic & Spine Therapy believes in building upon education to expand knowledge that benefits therapists, and thus their patients. Dry needling, pelvic health, cranial and TMJ issues are a few of the specialized topics the therapists are continuing to learn about to improve skills and treatment techniques on a regular basis.

“As therapists, we only get to learn so much in school in terms of how to evaluate and treat a patient,” Steve explains. “Every year our therapists go to courses to expand their evaluation and treatment knowledge. My feeling is the bigger the toolbox we can carry with us to treat our patients, the more opportunities there are for them to get better.”

“If there’s something the therapists are interested in — like pelvic health or pediatric health — and they find a course, they’re able to do that,” Sami adds. “We bring in courses and even open it up to therapists from other clinics.”

In-house billing and customer service

Ease and accessibility is important to Orthopedic & Spine Therapy, and that includes in-house billing and customer service within one office. If a patient has any questions or concerns, it’s easy for them to speak with a representative they know and are familiar with.

“If a patient has questions or payment information, they know they’re talking to Katy, for example, because they’ve come to know her,” Sami says. “It’s a part of their experience at Orthopedic & Spine Therapy — part of their treatment and health journey.” 

It’s not just the team’s approach to making the technical process of working with Orthopedic & Spine Therapy that catapults them to a higher level of care, but also the attention to detail to let patients know they’re valued and appreciated.

“We’re in tune with customer service and like to do things we’re drawn to ourselves,” Sami says. “Things like handwritten thank you cards and taking the time to do it right.” 

Quick appointment turnaround and ease of scheduling

“Our goal is to always get people in within 24 hours of the referral or when it’s most convenient for that patient,” Steve says. “We want to reduce and alleviate their pain as fast as possible.”

Therapist specialties 

Dry needling, or Intramuscular Manual Therapy, uses a dry needle without any medication to release the negative effects of trigger points, thus relieving pain and improving musculoskeletal function. Orthopedic & Spine Therapy was the first group to bring the technique to Northeast Wisconsin, and it remains a well-known specialty among the group.

“When I became certified in dry needling and realized the benefit that I was achieving with my patients, I knew that we needed to bring this course internally so the other therapists could learn it as well,” Steve explains. “It’s a great tool in the toolbox, and patients are now aware of it and recognize that we were the first to adopt the practice. It’s still in its infancy in other practices but all of our locations offer this treatment.”

Pelvic health for both men and women is also amongst the specialties offered at each clinic, and includes focus on bowel or bladder dysfunction, post-pelvic abdominal surgery, pain and care for issues during or after pregnancy. 

A holistic approach, treating the whole body

Orthopedic & Spine Therapy is known for providing “physical therapy from head to toe” and they mean it quite literally. They hold a holistic view of health and recognize that pain expressed in a part of the body may not necessarily originate in the same area. Their goal is to always find the underlying cause of discomfort to accurately treat the problem. So, while you may come in for back pain, and your therapist will take that into account, they’ll consider your whole body to develop a treatment.

“We don’t want to focus on the pain and the area of pain necessarily because that might not be the cause of their issues,” Steve explains. “It’s a matter of evaluating the whole body and finding the areas of greatest restriction and treating those areas.

“For instance, we look for things like asymmetry, range of motion difficulties, texture abnormalities. If we see these restrictions, we’re going to treat them no matter where they are in the body. We want the whole system to be efficient and work functionally.”

The mission and customer service approach to Orthopedic & Spine Therapy encompass many facets, but to Steve, Sami and the team, it truly boils down to a simple truth:

“We have the attitude that we treat others the way we ourselves would want to be treated. It’s a cornerstone of our values,” Steve says. 

“We will be partners with you to provide superior physical therapy solutions to enhance your quality of life.”

A Time for Change Health and Wellness Fair

Coming soon: Saturday, October 14!

Orthopedic & Spine Therapy presents “A Time for Change,” a health and wellness fair for all on Saturday, October 14 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

The fair’s message, that there’s always time for change, whether that involves healthy eating, exercise, mental and emotional well-being, self-care, etc., is brought to life with 35 vendors and field experts offering their advice and knowledge, like free blood pressure monitoring by Fox Valley Technical College.

“We wanted to have a health fair for the public, for people who are at any health level,” Sami explains. “People who are into fitness, people who love yoga and natural products but also people who might be beginners and not know how to begin, or have little knowledge. It’s for everybody. The time for change can be now.” 

  • When: Saturday, October 14 • 10 a.m.-3 p.m.
  • Where: The Early Learning Center, 313 S. State Street, Appleton (Across from St. Mary Church with ample parking available.)
  • Who: Everyone is welcome and admission is free! Monetary donations accepted for St. Joseph’s Food Pantry, and Orthopedic & Spine Therapy will match collections! 

For more information, visit www.ostpt.com/atimeforchange.

The “WOW Philosophy” 

Steve and the team of physical therapists and staff that make up Orthopedic & Spine Therapy are serious about treating their patients the way they would want to be treated, and they do so in a variety of ways. Outrageous customer service, education and results are what drive the “WOW Philosophy” they believe in and adhere to.

Services Offered

  • Physical Therapy: Our physical therapists use a variety of techniques to treat a variety of conditions to help assist in the process of healing and recovering.
  • Pelvic Physical Therapy: A safe, highly effective, discreet, drug-free way to treat a variety of women’s and men’s pelvic health conditions.
  • Workplace Solutions: We provide superior workplace solutions to enhance your quality of business and get our Workers Compensation patients back to work safely and quickly. We are trained and licensed by nationally recognized return-to-work programs.
  • Massage Therapy: A form of holistic therapy, which is a natural way to help your body heal itself with invigorating massage and reflexology.

Convenient locations near you!

Orthopedic & Spine Therapy has 18 clinics throughout Northwest and Northeast Wisconsin — and has recently opened a location in Minnesota! — to treat all musculoskeletal conditions. No matter where you’re located, there are exceptional physical therapists nearby to help with any pain or frustration you may be experiencing. 

Visit www.ostpt.com to find the location and contact information for the clinic nearest you.

I’ve always loved supper clubs. They bring me back to a time that I can only reflect might be what other generations consider “the good old days.” My grandparents loved them, and visiting them as a child felt special. Unfortunately, supper clubs are a dying breed, so finding and holding on to the ones that have lasted the test of time is vital.

Mark’s East Side is one of those places. It has been family owned and operated since 1967, and its longstanding success and secure place in the Appleton community can be attributed to its attention to detail and highest quality ingredients — not to mention delicious food and comfortable atmosphere.

My guest and I visited Mark’s for a late lunch during the week. The staff was friendly and welcoming as we entered the open and naturally lit dining room. We arrived hungry and ready to try the delicacies the restaurant is known for.

We began with two appetizers. The Sauerkraut Balls sounded like the perfect introduction to German food, and they were! Deep-fried but very light and flavorful, the horseradish sauce that accompanied them had a great bite that complemented the sauerkraut. We were also pleasantly surprised that the one order came with 9 morsels, and commented on how a bigger group could enjoy this appetizer as well — although we had no problem finishing them!

We also shared the Crab Cakes that came out the ideal golden brown, crispy on the outside and warm and delicious on the inside. The two cakes came with a remoulade that we both loved: it was the right amount of acidic and creamy.

Very satisfied but eager to try our entrees, we couldn’t wait to continue to our next course. We felt like we were truly living the supper club experience when we perused Mark’s East Side’s Lunch Menu. It is nothing short of jam-packed! It holds everything from hearty salads like the Pecan Encrusted Chicken Salad, Turkey and Spinach Salad and Shrimp Salad with a Pineapple Lime Vinaigrette to specialty sandwiches including a variety of burgers and many land lover and seafood entrees, and dessert.

I ordered the Chicken Ala Oscar, a tender chicken breast grilled and topped with asparagus, real crabmeat and creamy hollandaise sauce. It tasted as great as it sounds! In fact, the remaining portion tasted just as wonderful for lunch the next day as the portions at Mark’s are more than generous. 

My guest ordered a special Mark’s East Side was offering this day: Sesame Seared Ahi Tuna over a Seaweed Salad. We both remarked that it was beautifully presented and looked like a food photographer’s dream. Medium rare ahi tuna was served over seaweed salad topped with a Ginger Soy Vinaigrette and Tobiko Caviar. It was refreshing to see something so unique in our area. And it tasted great!

Mark’s East Side is known for their high quality, perfectly prepared steaks so we knew we would be remiss if we didn’t try their prime rib. We chose Mark’s Prime French Dip — thinly sliced, slow roasted prime rib with mozzarella cheese on French bread with au jus for dipping — to sneak a few (it turned into several!) bites before bringing it home for our friend to enjoy. The three of us agreed that it was exquisite! In fact, our friend exclaimed that it was one of the best he has ever had.

We were completely satiated and feeling satisfied with our meals thus far, but Mark’s East Side’s large dessert menu got our attention. Crème Brulee, Strawberry Shortcake and Banana Schnitzel were all contenders but we decided on the German Chocolate Cheesecake to share. We were very happy with our decision. A sweet coconut topping paired with real German chocolate on a chocolate cookie crust created the perfect cheesecake in both of our minds. 

The three-course meal and our overall experience at Mark’s East Side was a positive one. The delicious food, friendly staff and attention to detail has rightly catapulted the restaurant to the exclusive list I mentioned in the beginning of this Restaurant Spotlight: one of the great supper clubs that will last. 

Mark’s East Side

1405 E Wisconsin Ave, Appleton

920-733-3600

www.markseastside.com

 

Dog owners with fenced-in backyards may think their furry friends are getting all they need during their nightly exercise sessions in the backyard. While such yards provide safe places for dogs to relax and run around, the American Humane Association (www.americanhumane.org) notes that even dogs who run wild in their backyards each day can benefit from daily walks. The following are a handful of ways dogs benefit from daily walks.

Socialization: The Animal Humane Society (www.animalhumanesociety.org) notes that puppies between three weeks and 20 weeks old are generally accepting of other dogs, and nightly walks can provide the perfect opportunity for puppy owners to acquaint their furry friends with their fellow dogs. Continued exposure after 20 weeks can help further the socialization process for young dogs.

Behavior: While puppies can learn to socialize on daily walks, older dogs may or may not reap the same rewards. But daily walks can help dog owners instill better behavior in their dogs. The AHS advises that owners of older dogs use walks as opportunities to teach dogs to behave calmly in public. Bring treats to reward dogs for sitting quietly when encountering other dogs and new people along the walk.

Exercise: Of course, daily walks provide great exercise for dogs. Dogs who are let out in the backyard each night but are not played with may not be getting the exercise their owners think they are. Dogs left alone in a backyard may briefly run around before plopping down in the grass and enjoying the fresh air. That’s not enough exercise for many breeds, and it’s certainly insufficient for dogs who may be overweight or obese. Nightly walks can help dogs lose and/or maintain healthy weights, and the AHA notes that such walks also help dogs build strength and endurance.

Stimulation: According to the American Kennel Club (www.akc.org), dogs need both physical and mental stimulation to stay healthy and happy. Walks obviously provide physical stimulation, but they can also be an opportunity to stimulate dogs mentally. Dogs will often interrupt walks when their curiosity gets the better of them, stopping to observe or investigate something while on walks, and that’s mentally stimulating. Resist the temptation to pull the leash when dogs want to stop and check something out that has caught their interest, affording them a little time to do some mental exploration before continuing the walk. 


Source: MetroCreative Connection.

 

The pomegranate fruit has a leathery rind (or husk) with many little pockets of edible seeds and juice inside.

Since ancient times, the pomegranate has been a symbol of fertility.

Researchers have studied all parts of the pomegranate for their potential health benefits. Those parts include the fruit, seed, seed oil, tannin-rich peel, root, leaf, and flower.

The pomegranate has been used as a dietary supplement for many conditions including wounds, heart conditions, intestinal problems, and as a gargle for a sore throat.

Pomegranate is made into capsules, extracts, teas, powders, and juice products.

How Much Do We Know?

We don’t have a lot of strong scientific evidence on the effects of pomegranate for people’s health.

What Have We Learned?

A 2012 clinical trial of about 100 dialysis patients suggested that pomegranate juice may help ward off infections. In the study, the patients who were given pomegranate juice three times a week for a year had fewer hospitalizations for infections and fewer signs of inflammation, compared with patients who got the placebo.

Pomegranate extract in mouthwash may help control dental plaque, according to a small 2011 clinical trial with 30 healthy participants.

Pomegranate may help improve some signs of heart disease but the research isn’t definitive.

What Do We Know About Safety?

Some people, particularly those with plant allergies, may be allergic to pomegranate.

It’s unclear whether pomegranate interacts with the anticoagulant (blood thinning) medicine warfarin or drugs that work similarly in the body to warfarin.

Federal agencies have taken action against companies selling pomegranate juice and supplements for deceptive advertising and making drug-like claims about the products. For more on this, view the NCCIH Director’s Page entitled Excessive Claims.

Tell all your health care providers about any complementary or integrative health approaches you use. Give them a full picture of what you do to manage your health. This will help ensure coordinated and safe care. 


Source: National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. https://nccih.nih.gov/health/pomegranate/at-a-glance.

 

In the past nine years, we have aerated thousands and thousands of lawns. Unfortunately, we haven’t aerated thousands and thousands more. I hear the same old reasons why not — the little cores don’t break down fast enough, it’s too expensive, the soil is too hard, etc. 

It is essential to aerate your lawn at least every other year. Think of your grass as your kids or pets. Every living thing needs three things to live: water, food and oxygen. Fertilizing your lawn throughout the year is the food. Rain (this year lots of it) will give the lawn that much needed drink. What about oxygen? The small holes made from the aeration allow water and oxygen to enter the soil. You will receive double the length of the grass roots. The roots carry the moisture and nutrients and the longer the root, the longer the grass stays alive and green.

Although some thatch is good for a lawn, extensive root development often occurs in thick thatch layers. Because thatch can heat up and dry out quickly, these root systems are vulnerable to desiccation. In contrast, wet thatch holds excess water during rainy periods, resulting in reduced oxygen to turf roots. Thatch in a lawn is also controlled with annual core aerations. You will see a much thicker, greener and less thatchy lawn within weeks of an aeration.

Why winterize?

Possibly the most crucial step in feeding your lawn is winterizing. Your lawn will start going into, and coming out of, dormancy quite a lot in the next few weeks. Wisconsin weather is fickle, literally changing every day. After the long winter ahead, the lawn will once again start this process. As the lawn comes out of dormancy, a nice slow release of natural fertilizer will be just what the lawn needs to green up in the spring. Winterizing will also lessen the chances of winterkill and cold damage usually associated with frigid winter conditions.

Protect your trees

You’ve invested quite a bit of time and money in the trees and shrubs on your property. Protecting that investment is easy and cheap! First off, never ever use any synthetic forms of fertilizer on your trees. Chemicals and synthetics can speed up the growth of the root system, causing a shortened and unhealthy life of the plant. A simple and affordable spraying of natural fertilizer, neem oil and dormant oil in the spring and again in the fall is all you’ll ever need. This protection will seal up the trees, feed them and treat any disease they may have. It will also suffocate any insect eggs left this summer that could hatch and cause havoc next spring!

Give us a call and we can help with any lawn or tree questions or concerns. Until then, thanks for an amazing season from all of us at Valley Organics! 

 

“The most eloquent prayer is the prayer through hands that heal and bless.” —Billy Graham

After years of feeling pretty well, sticking to a good diet and a semi-consistent exercise program, I started to notice a sense of “blah” — small aches and pains that didn’t seem strong enough or frequent enough to warrant a visit to a doctor but irritating enough to feel that something was off. I shrugged it away for the last couple of years, and chocked it up to getting older. Then I met Lynda Jackson who operates Heavenly Hands Wellness in Green Bay, and realized that there may be a technique meant for what I was experiencing. She described to me a method of healing through energy called Quantum Touch.

Quantum Touch believes that the body has a unique ability to heal itself and that by using the life force energy in all of us we can help the body’s ability to heal itself. Of course, I was skeptical as that is my nature. But after a persistent backache lasted two weeks, I decided to give it a try. 

I scheduled an appointment and when I got to her office, I was immediately struck by the relaxing feeling that came over me when I entered. The aroma of her essential oils — a wild orange and passion blend — gave me a sense of calm along with the soft spa-like music that was playing. 

The first thing we did was go over a brief questionnaire about any issues I was experiencing and where they were located, and what my pain level was at the time. Lynda was very easy to talk to and thorough in her explanations of what she was going to do. She made me aware that different techniques involved different styles of breathing on her part. I found this very interesting.

The first thing she had me do is stand in my normal posture with my hands at my side. She placed her hands on my hip area to check if they were even. Then Lynda had me lie down on my stomach on her table, which was similar to a massage table with a cutout where I rested my head. I really appreciated the fact that she changes a disposable cover between each guest. 

She did a basic breathing technique and gently placed her hands on the area that was uncomfortable. For me it was my lower back. I was surprised to feel so much warmth radiating from her hands. It was very comforting. Most of her breathing was a slow intake of breath followed by a slow exhale of breath. She also did a fire-breath technique when I told her that I still felt slight discomfort and that really helped. It was involved rapid, short bursts of breathing, which Lynda said was to help her generate more energy. 

After concentrating on my lower back area she moved her hands over my spine and up to my shoulder area and strangely enough during that time I continued to feel heat in the area of my lower back. 

My session lasted 30 minutes and was very non-invasive. You do not have to remove your clothing. During my time with Lynda and after learning so much from her, I kept thinking about how nice visiting Heavenly Hands Wellness would be for someone on the frail side as there was nothing stronger than a light touch and radiating warmth that helped heal my pain. 

It was a very positive experience, and by the time it was over I could tell the difference from when I first walked in the door. I didn’t have back pain anymore and I just had an overall sense of well-being. Again, being skeptical, I wondered how long it would last. It has been a week since my Quantum Touch session and time with Lynda, and my lower back pain is still gone. One of the biggest surprises I found was the evening of my session I slept very long and sound. It was one of the best night’s sleep I can remember in a long time! 


Heavenly Hands Wellness

1046 9th Street, Green Bay

920-590-0000

www.heavenlyhandswellness.com

Considering that protein is one of the macronutrients, it makes sense that we understand their benefits.

Proteins are large molecules made up of amino acids, and are essential for human health. Proteins are commonly found in animal products but are also found in other food sources such as nuts and beans. Each gram of protein supplies 4 calories, the same amount of calories as a gram of carbohydrates. Protein is critical for the structure and function of the body. Most people equate protein with muscle tissue but protein is used in all of the body’s cells, tissues and organs.

Amino acids are the small molecules that serve as building blocks for protein. In human health we need 20 different amino acids of which 9 are considered essential in the diet, meaning we don’t make them in our bodies. Most consumers don’t understand the importance of amino acids throughout the body. Muscles, bones, skin and hair, and enzymes are made of amino acids. Amino acids are needed for neurotransmitter processes and nutrient transfer in the body. Amino acids are essential for all of life’s processes.

The recommended dietary allowance (RDA) for protein is 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight, or 0.36 grams of protein per pound of body weight. Once you know your target, you can examine your diet and see how you stack up. The Zone Diet suggests that 30 percent of daily calories come from protein. Athletes will require more.

There are animal sources of protein including meat, milk and eggs from various animals. In the plant world most dietary proteins are found in legumes (beans), nuts and seeds, and to a lesser extent whole grains. Animal proteins are considered complete because they provide all the essential amino acids in a proportion that is most desirable. Vegetable proteins are not as well balanced but are perfectly capable of meeting your protein needs as long as you get an adequate amount of protein. Balancing your protein sources becomes more important if protein intake is low in the diet.

There are differences between animal proteins such as whey and egg white proteins and plant proteins such as soy, rice, and pea. Many other sources of protein such as hemp seed are now available. Not all protein sources are created equal so consider your individual needs. It is fine to experiment with different protein sources and choose those you like best.

What happens if protein is deficient?

  • Sluggish metabolism.
  • Trouble losing weight.
  • Trouble building muscle mass.
  • Low energy levels and fatigue.
  • Poor concentration and trouble learning.
  • Moodiness and mood swings.
  • Muscle, bone and joint pain.
  • Blood sugar changes.

A lot of people have problems digesting and utilizing protein. Note: If you consume amino acids instead of whole proteins, they will be much more easily assimilated. Many people don’t even know when they are protein deficient. There is a test you can get if you suspect that low levels of amino acids may be a part of your health issues. 

Protein digestion begins in the stomach where you need stomach acid and enzymes to digest proteins. If you are on any acid blocking drugs you will have issues. You should also consider that these drugs are not meant for long-term use and search for alternative ways to support your stomach. Some people on these drugs in reality need stomach acid. The symptoms of low stomach acid are often confused with too much stomach acid. At least consider this and confirm it.

A short story: I have a friend who had used every acid blocking drug without long-term success. He was desperate because there were no more drugs to try. It never occurred to him that maybe these drugs were not what he needed. I suggested an enzyme with betaine hydrochloride (HCl is a digestive acid). It solved his problem, unlike the drugs he had used. He never needed medication again and eventually did not even need the supplemental enzymes. His body responded when given the right nutrients. So some people will do well to consider this option and give this approach a try.

If you have trouble digesting protein you should consider a protein digesting enzyme. You can also consider the types of proteins and experiment with different types. Some may digest better for you than others. 

Whatever your sources of dietary protein, be it animal or vegetable foods, protein powders or amino acid supplements, always seek out quality. You can seek economy but don’t be cheap. The best quality supplements will never be the cheapest and the cheapest will never be the best.

You can listen to my interviews on proteins with the experts at www.HealthQuestPodcast.com.

Al and Tessie Micke brought up four children in the Greenleaf-Wrightstown area, immersing themselves deeply in the community. A Wrightstown school board member, Al also was involved in Wrightstown soccer. He and Tessie both have been active members of the Greenleaf/Wrightstown Optimist Club for years.

When they celebrated their 40th wedding anniversary May 27, family members were thankful just to have the two of them. Tessie had suffered a brain aneurysm in July 2012, and four months later, the company Al worked for closed its doors.

He eventually became a city bus driver, a job he loves and hopes to return to. But right now, Al is fighting his own medical battle, with acute myeloid leukemia. A bone marrow transplant planned for May was canceled when a pre-op checkup revealed leukemic cells still in his blood. Al is undergoing more chemo and hoping for a transplant in September.

“We’ve been through more than we’d like to go through in a lifetime,” Al said, “but we feel that God must be challenging us for something.”

That positive attitude is typical of his dad, Brad Micke said. “When things weren’t going well in the hospital,” he said, “Dad would say, ‘We gotta keep pluggin’ away.’” That statement became the theme of an August Celebration of Support organized by the Mickes with help from Community Benefit Tree, Inc. (CBT).

Brad said, “My cousin, Andrea Micke, approached me and my sister about doing a benefit. We invited everybody on my Dad’s side of the family to meet at Andrea’s house one Sunday afternoon to discuss options.”

When one cousin brought a flyer she’d picked up while attending a CBT Celebration of Support, the family briefly considered that and put it on the back burner. “The more we thought about it,” Andrea said, “the more we felt we might need help. Brad and my Mom and I went to CBT to find out more about the process. We got really excited about working with them because it’s such a great organization.”

Once the decision was made, the whole family got involved. “Some people put together baskets for the silent auction,” Andrea said. “Others went out and asked for donations. Everybody pitched in where they were comfortable.” 

The Celebration was successful largely because of the planning that CBT helps a benefit team to do. “They lay everything out,” Brad said. “They know the ins and outs, the things that work and the things that don’t. They brought a sense of organization, a sense of direction and laid it out for us step by step.”

Andrea looks at the benefit as an opportunity for the family and the community to give back to Al and Tessie. “Even with all they’re going through, they’re still involved and active,” she said. “In July they were part of an Optimist project to collect school supplies for children in the community. And Tess has always organized the Optimist Club Easter egg hunt, with Al right by her side.”

Another plus of working with CBT, Andrea said, is “I didn’t want to ask Alan and Tess about their financial situation. Community Benefit Tree handles that and those of us on the committee don’t need to get into it.”

Because CBT is a 501(c)3 nonprofit, donations are tax deductible. And because they never hand out cash, recipients’ income is not affected. Community Benefit Tree pays bills directly for recipients and provides gift cards for groceries, gas and other necessities. 

Al and Tessie’s benefit is over, but readers can still donate to their fund. Find it at www.communitybenefittree.org/calendar. Scroll to the picture of Tessie and Al and click on GIVE. 

What do you think? Is it time to reframe the dynamic between hero and fear? To not only look at what scares us but also at our gifts. Sitting in quiet stillness and listening within, where the dualities of our power and fear reside, is the place of truth and transformation! 

Traditionally, a hero or heroine is seen as courageous and has powers beyond normal that he or she uses to accomplish or defeat something larger than life. Joseph Campbell beautifully frames what a true hero is: “We have only to follow the thread of the hero path... where we had thought to slay another, we shall slay ourselves; where we had thought to travel outwards, we shall come to the center of our own existence; where we had thought to be alone, we shall be with all the world.”

As for fear, it has been minimalized in the portrayal of the fairy-tale hero or heroine. However, in the past 15 years or so there has been a trend for the hero or heroine in movies such as Harry Potter or The Lord and The Rings to show great fear and feel incapable of fulfilling their quest. And they did it anyway! A popular description of fear is, “face everything and rise or forget everything and run.” Granted, there are valuable times when fear tells us to run! But what about all those times during the day when fear whispers its quiet deceptions to us about our worth, failures, limitations, and on and on? Fear is like a double edged sword; one side assists us in safety and protection, the other side is sharpened by all the false messages that come to us through media, people and experiences. It takes courage, the heart of a hero, to face our personal fears and do something to lessen the hold they have on us.

Richard Rohr encourages us to face our shadow side, face the contradictions and unauthentic aspects within us and in life. He states that this actually can lead to full consciousness. Parker Palmer echoes this when he states, “the deeper we go into the heart’s darkness or its light, the closer we get to the ultimate mystery…” Beginning this pilgrimage to discover the hero within calls us to increased awareness; awareness of the fear experienced in our body as physical sensations or symptoms, awareness of our beliefs and the stories we tell ourselves, awareness that the fear we experience may not belong to us. 

This awareness can come through a multitude of approaches, such as yoga, meditation, the willingness to do an honest self-inventory of our shadow side and of our light, listening to and being in nature, and training our mind in compassion. Sylvia Boorstein’s paraphrasing of the Metta Sutta could be used as a daily affirmation: “May all beings be at ease, omitting none. Let none, through anger or ill will, wish harm upon another. … boundlessly open our hearts.” Pema Chödrön offers the following technique: “We can begin to open our hearts by feeling compassion toward ourselves, and then bring to mind others who are in the same situation… it turns out that when we contemplate the suffering of others and open our hearts further, it actually gives us more strength. It gives us purpose and endurance. Opening our hearts awakens our intrinsic courage because our compassion and natural heroism are connected.” This builds empathy for our self and all other beings. 

Heroism is softer, gentler and infinitely stronger than reacting to our fear with opposition. Nurturing the hero in each of us begins during our seemingly small daily encounters with anxiety, doubt and insecurity. Living this way allows our daily experience to be more tolerable and makes space for joy. And when bigger fears arise, our inner hero will calmly, lovingly accompany us through the storm. 

 

Keeping children healthy throughout the school year is a daunting task. Infections spread rapidly at school. Beleaguered parents often feel like their kids come home the first day of school with sniffles and a dry cough that lingers throughout the year. Do not despair! With a little planning, parents can support their children’s immune systems with a high quality, nutrient dense diet, pleasurable exercise and simple routines. Your kids will have the resiliency to fight various infections, and the adults in the household will be healthier and happier too!

The first line of defense against illness is a healthy, nutrient dense diet of whole foods. Emphasize fruits and vegetables at all meals, along with quality protein sources such as meat, fish, beans, nuts, seeds, cheese, yogurt and milk. Include whole grains and quality oils and fats, such as avocados, olive oil, organic butter, nuts, and nut or seed butters. During fall and winter include warming foods in the diet. Plenty of soups, stews, cooked greens, seasoned with healing herbs and spices, will strengthen the body for cold and flu season. Monitor sugar consumption and try to avoid processed junk food or sugary beverages. Make meal preparation a shared family time. Invite kids to help set the table and choose their own fruits and vegetables. Give them simple tasks such as washing and slicing produce or stirring the soup. There are many cookbooks and internet websites parents can turn to for healthy recipes and fun snacks to keep children interested in eating healthy food. For picky eaters, patience is key! Keep exposing kids to new foods multiple times and let them take charge of how much they are willing to try. Eventually, children get on board and learn to enjoy a wide range of healthy foods, especially when their parents model eating in that manner.

Adequate rest is key for everyone in the family. Poor or inadequate sleep patterns inhibit immune response, increase vulnerability to infection, decrease healing, and may lead to more frequent infections and prolonged sickness. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) state that children 3-5 years old need 10-13 hours of sleep per night. Kids 6-12 years of age need 9-12 hours, and adolescents 13-18 years of age need 8-10 or as much as 12-14 hours per night. 

Use of electronics or hunger often interfere with sleep for kids. Establishing a “no electronics rule” at least one hour before bed helps develop healthy sleep patterns. Serving a quality protein and carbohydrate with dinner will keep bellies satisfied and allay any hunger before bed. Chamomile, lavender, lemon balm or catnip tea included in an evening routine, is an excellent way to relieve any stress or anxiety and promote relaxation. All these herbs are safe for children.

Consider the routines you have in place during the school week. Are they working for your family? Children are less stressed and tired when they have a consistent routine with realistic expectations on what they need to accomplish in a day. We live in a fast-paced world with a lot of demands placed on our kids. Plan for how homework will get done and negotiate the number of activities your children will be involved in outside of school. Prioritize family time each evening and include relaxing activities such as reading books together or sharing tales of the day’s adventures. Scheduling free time each evening can be especially helpful in noticing early signs of sickness. Take time to slow down even more to let the body heal.

Finally, exercise plays a vital role in our overall health. With the emphasis on academics, children are getting less physical activity at school than in years past. Ideally, children should spend 1-2 hours per day engaged in fun physical activities. Exercise helps keep the lymph and detoxification systems moving, which is important to prevent chronic health issues. Compelling studies show that sufficient outdoor and activity time is equal to antidepressants! There are plenty of activities to be enjoyed during the fall including walking, hiking, biking or outdoor games like hopscotch and jump rope. When the weather gets cold, turn up the music and have a dance party in the house. This is a super fun way both kids and adults can attain exercise and stress relief benefits! 


References: “How Much Sleep Do I Need?” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/sleep/about_sleep/how_much_sleep.html.

“Healthy All Year.” Romm Enterprises. www.healthiestkids.com. Aviva Romm.

 

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