Archive for the ‘Wellness’ Category

I once saw a short Italian film about a 10 year old boy whose widowed father, a highly- regarded author, was killed by a pig. The father was walking under a balcony in an old Italian village. The balcony crumbled due to  the weight of a huge hog – which spent its life sunning on the balcony and consuming leftovers.

When at boarding school everyone laughed at this boy when they heard how the his father died. The boy was mortified and ashamed.

Fast forward in the story.

A young man- let’s say…. a young teen,  he falls in love with a young woman. He is deeply smitten. So smitten  he invites the young woman to visit with is dour, maiden Aunt, his only living relative.

His  Aunt has deified her late brother, having built an altar-like centerpiece in her living room featuring all the books her late brother wrote, celebratory reviews, photos, etc.  The shrine creates  a haunting, stuffy, and sad  atmosphere.

Prior to  this visit, all the girl knows is that her beau is fatherless. So, upon seeing the altar she is motivated to ask, “Exactly; how did he die?”

You have to remember that this young man has become a withdrawn and hesitant fellow due to the barrage of laughs shot at him whenever he had to recount that his illustrious father was killed by a falling pig.

In the climactic scene, the girl’s innocent, and perfectly reasonable question hangs in the air.

Our hero gazes at her, swallows hard. His  Aunt proceeds to recount the facts.

The young couple remain staring  at one another. Her eyes register some question-but she hesitates, and they remain silent.

After the meal we see the young couple walking, holding hands, glad to be out the tomb-like cage of the Aunt’s flat. Then the young woman turns to him, and with love in her eyes asks, “ Is it true? Is that really how your father died.” He hesitates…. We feel his tension, but, love is at stake. Trembling with newly found, never-before-used  courage  he says,  “Yes, that’s how it happened.”

Their eyes locked;  she laughs…… and so does he(!!) for the first time.

This same sentiment is the theme of the compilation Exit Laughing, How Humor Takes the Sting Out of Death, edited by Victoria Zackheim (North Atlantic Books, 2012).

This comforting book makes the reader feel as if she has been invited to a dinner party to share not only good food, but personal stories about how humor appeared at times of death of a loved one.

Most of the stories are written about the author’s experience of caring for an elderly parent. The stories reveal how humor arises, unplanned and unchoreographed – it just happens in the juxtaposition of dealing with one of the greatest mysteries of living- that of dying.

Through the stories we experience  the power humor has  to dissolve old competitions between siblings, and long-held grudges against parents. Moments of profound tenderness and love make surprise appearances. These are not contrived tales or overly sweetened messages. Each entry is written with clear eyes and an opened-heart.

This “generosity of spirit” can empower and inspire the rest of us to step into the role of caregiver, free of old  and petty arguments, eager to feel the unique sort of love that is only possible when caring for a dying parent.

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We all know the stresses of caregiving. The stresses are so familiar, there is a popular term for them- caregiver burnout.

Wellness tools can help  relieve  caregiver burnout.
Our wellness kit, Seasons of Care™,  helps caregivers strengthen their inner resilience, alleviate the stresses, and  supports better  communication between the caregiver and the person receiving care.

Seasons of Care™ includes a collection of meditations written and produced specifically for caregivers.

You can sample one here,  to help you Catch Your Breath div> .

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And who doesn’t need the simple gift of grace, especially when it comes wrapped in the captivating, heavenly compelling magic of the Tango!??

That simple gift of grace is medicine for more than downed spirits of a lonely heart or the pining over a lost love–it’s also REAL MEDICINE-

Tango is being used therapeutically with people suffering with Parkinson’s Disease.
Studies have shown that the pleasurable effects of tango decreased falls, shuffling, and improved balance and that the experience of dancing with a partner increased desire to exercise and  participate with others.

Look here at Washington University School of Medicine?play=tango

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New article on Transitional Keys appears in GENERATIONS – Journal of American Society on Aging.

This current Fall journal features articles all related to the work of anthropologist, Dr. Barbara Myerhoff – who was the inspirational force for Transitional Keys.

Here’s the article, Generations

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Transitional Keys presents Seasons of Care, a wellness kit for caregivers.

The first element of the kit is a CD of guided meditations written specifically for caregivers.  The symptoms of caretiver burnout are similar to stress and depression. According to the Stress Reduction Clinic at the University Massachuettes Medical School, meditation can provide:

  • Lasting decreases in physical and psychological symptoms of stress
  • An increased ability to relax
  • Reductions in pain levels and an enhanced ability to cope with pain and discomfort that may not go away
  • Greater energy and enthusiasm for life
  • Improved self-esteem
  • An ability to cope more effectively with both short and long-term stressful situations.

CD for $17.00

First 50 requests FREE SHIPPING if inside the United States

CONTACT US:  info@TransitionalKeys.org

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Kaleidoscopes provide moveable mandalas

Check this out:

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An enlightened approach to Alzheimer Care

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In 1970 Joan Dye Gussow began teaching the course, Nutritional Ecology at Columbia Teachers College. It was a course she designed as she was a doctoral student, and newly appointed chair of the Nutrition Department. This course proved to be the beginning of an inquiry that “connected the dots” between the American diet, food advertising, how people spend their food dollars, agricultural systems, the landscape, and the inescapable and glorious interconnected web of life.

She is a seminal voice in support of sustainable agriculture and has influenced and inspired the legions that now strive for a sustainable food system. Locavores, Slow Foodies, dumpster divers, CSA members and more, lean on her scholarship, her insights, her passion, and her example.

Growing, Older was written after the swift death of her husband, the artist Alan Gussow. His passing happened shortly after they downsized their suburban home, to move to a river town on the Hudson River. They moved into a house they chose for the immediate view of the river and sky, and land to have a garden so they could grow their own food.

Her previous book, This Organic Life, was the first volume that chronicled putting her philosophy into action. In Growing, Older Joan shares honest reflections about the loss of her husband, juxtaposed with the work involved with maintaining the house and the garden that is repeatedly flooded by the Hudson River.

She is candid. And, she is lucky. She concludes the book acknowledging that she got what she wanted from life, and that she earned it from hard and rewarding work. Though deeply pragmatic, the book is also speckled with charm and grace.

In the chapter Bees, she quotes a conversation she had with a local beekeeper about  Colony Collapse Disorder – the dramatic  emergency brought about by the tragic disappearance  of bees; “But do you know what’s really killing the bees?…..They’re dying of unrequited love. They love what they do for us. We just don’t love them back enough.”

Her response, “What a theme for the whole planet!”is especially poignant as we strive to figure out what ARE sustainable values, and how do our feelings and attitudes about growing older, aging, and caring for older people  figure into that inquiry.

Again, thank you, Joan.

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Interesting piece in New York Times, A Fighting Spirit Won’t Save Your Life, which reviews the history of popular attitudes and beliefs towards whether or not we can influence our personal health by our thoughts and “spiritual fitness.” This insightful opinion piece helps relieve the patient of the stigma that, due to some moral failing, they are sick.

The conclusion by the author Richard P. Sloan;

“It is difficult enough to be injured or gravely ill. To add to this the burden of guilt over a supposed failure to have the right attitude toward one’s illness is unconscionable. Linking health to personal virtue and vice not only is bad science, it’s bad medicine.”

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Great segment on All Things Considered about the power of breathing  to control stress

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