Creative Inspiration: Challenges as Catalysts, Kim Nixon Hainstock

challenges as catalyst, creative inspiration, U.P. holistic business, U.P. wellness publication

When change happens, many of us become uncomfortable, even if we recognize and accept that the one certainty in life is change. I have worked in the Adult Foster Care industry and managed a group home for those with cognitive and physical disabilities. When a new resident would arrive, they often did not fit the written description given by former caregivers. Often, having arrived at a place never seen before, without familiar faces present, a new resident would demonstrate skills no one thought they had, as if an alarm clock had gone off, and now he or she was awake.

I always suggested to staff we roll with it and see what else might surface. How exciting to do so rather than look at the negative side and blame the people who made those meager introduction notes. Once we were told a person would not walk without guidance and assistance, and one day the person did, standing up, walking across the room, and sitting on the floor in a spot of light coming through the window. I smiled and thought, “Oh, this new resident can self-soothe. The person saw a spot of warmth and moved to it like a cat.” Others in my employ looked on with pity that this person sat on the floor; how sad.

I recognize change can be so sudden and complete that we often feel loss, and just like a special needs individual with no compass to navigate the changes before them, it often comes down to what I need in this moment. Warmth, I need warmth. I will walk across the room and achieve that. Here I now sit in a spot of sun. Magical! Change can be a catalyst for magic, and for fresh new insights on living.

Perceptions of change, as well as our coping abilities, vary and we all have differing skill sets.

Often we do not know how to confront or meet what is happening. In such situations, I like to turn to my creative skills: journaling, vision boards or dream-mapping, or creating mandalas of natural items found on walks.

Let’s look at the process of creating a dream-map or vision-board. I like to gather images and items starting at the New Moon and put them into a cardboard box—clippings from the news, old photos, and items culled from old magazines, bits of scrapbook papers, letters, cards, poems.

Then on the Full Moon, I settle into a space created for the moment. I set the stage. Spread out a blanket upon the floor. Retrieve the box of gathered treasures, scissors, glue sticks, adhesive, scrapbook paper, with an artist pad or cardboard as a base. I set an intention, say a positive affirmation, and begin the sifting process on what is rising up through these items for me. Often I am surprised that something I had clung to or felt strongly about initially does not make it through the gathering phase for my full moon collage.

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Displaying my new vision board is essential, as I do not always recognize the meaning or message in the artwork I created. I like to keep it present and allow for the true messages to come like whispers on the wind, allowing their guidance to become fully realized. I do not need to take action right away. Change is often slow. But having a catalyst to help with the sorting of meaning and story can be extremely enlightening.

Licensed Massage Therapist and Yoga instructor Kim Nixon Hainstock holds a B.S. in English from NMU, has led vision board classes at Ishpeming’s Joy Center, Essentials Massage and Yoga, and with at-risk youth, and is currently navigating change and finding ways to nurture her journey.

Excerpted with permission from the Summer 2020 issue of Health & Happiness U.P. Magazine. Copyright 2020, Empowering Lightworks, LLC.

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Holistic Animal Care: Immune Boosting for Pets, Jenny Magli

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Our furry friends offer us unconditional love and joy on a daily basis. What wonders they are! We try to offer them the same, along with much care and attention. As we go through life together, we learn to co-exist, and eventually get to know each other very well. I really feel they are teachers of sorts in that they show us how to live in the moment, and find simple joy from day to day. But ultimately, they are dependent on our complete care during their lifetimes.

Most pets start their lives pretty strong and resilient. No matter their age, they can always benefit from immune support, especially if their immune systems have been compromised due to aging, or sudden or chronic health issues. With the many pets I have had over the years, I have learned just how beneficial immune support can be, and how it can add to longevity and quality of life. This is a win for the pet parent as well! Keeping your pet’s immune system balanced can help to prevent a variety of health issues such as cancer, diabetes, autoimmune issues, and more.

Additionally, some medications can stress the immune system. Antibiotics come to mind, as they are often over-prescribed by vets. Of course, at times they may be totally necessary! If your pet must go on antibiotics, be sure to support his or her immune system during that process. Also, know there are alternative health options that can strengthen and support the immune system.

Here are some examples of ways to support your pet’s immune system:

First, please be aware that the majority of commercial kibble (for cats and dogs) does not contain the nutrients you’d think. The manufacturing, along with shelf life, storage, and heat, destroys the majority of nutrients that may have been added during processing. So a well-balanced, wholesome and nutritious diet (preferably organic with human grade protein and free of dyes and preservatives) should be your first point of support.

Some basics for a healthy immune system include reducing stress, providing fresh filtered water (clean food and water dishes regularly), moderate and regular daily exercise, quality uninterrupted sleep, maintaining a healthy weight, receiving regular dental care, and enjoying sunshine, fresh air, playtime, love, and attention.

Reducing your pet’s exposure to toxic substances is also protective. Consider using simpler alternative household cleaners such as vinegar and baking soda. Use natural or non-toxic pet shampoos and products for flea and tick control because commercial topical and oral flea and tick preventatives can have an adverse effect on the immune system, and are highly toxic. Do not use chemical cleaners or household air fresheners. Do not use scented laundry soap or chemical dryer sheets on anything your pet lays on. And be sure not to use lawn or garden chemicals in areas your pet frequents.

Here’s a sampling of supplements that can help support the immune system:

– Bovine Colostrum – Preferably from New Zealand grass-fed, non-grain-fed cows that have not been fed antibiotics or hormones.
– Medicinal mushrooms such as Maitake, Turkey Tail, Reishi, Cordyceps, Shiitake, Lions Mane, etc.
– Digestive enzymes and probiotics
– Pre-formulated immune-boosting supplements for dogs and cats

All the above can be purchased already-formulated for pets and can easily be added to their food. Please do your own homework to determine the appropriate serving size for your pet.

*Readers are reminded it is entirely of their own accord, right, and responsibility to make Informed decisions/choices with their pets and health care. Supplementation should always be discussed with your holistic veterinarian. Jenny Magli disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.

Jenny is a Certified Natural Health Consultant for pets and their people, and a Healing Touch for Animals (Level 2) and NES BioEnergetics Practitioner. Consultations are done over the phone and through email. To contact, call or text (906) 235-3524 or email 1healthlink@gmail.com.

Excerpted with permission from the Summer 2020 issue of Health & Happiness U.P. Magazine. Copyright 2020, Empowering Lightworks, LLC.

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Green Living: A New Normal, Steve Waller

green living, sustainability and covid 19, new green normal, U.P. holistic business, U.P. wellness publication

Before rushing to return to normal, we should first rush to define it.

Was the old normal proper, healthy, and right, or should we consider a new, better normal? Mother Nature just pushed “restart” on our society and economy. Should we reboot to the same operating system, or install an upgrade?

While we were social distancing, we were unintentionally forced to recognize what is “critical infrastructure” and what is not. Family, friends, and neighbors are critical. Health care and all that supports it is critical. Food and all that is needed to grow, process, and deliver it is critical. Energy, water and sewer are critical; apparently, so is toilet paper! Schooling is critical but classrooms less so. Workers in these fields all risked personal safety for our good.

Conversely, we were unwillingly forced to recognize non-critical activities, events and entertainments that when prohibited, albeit grudgingly, reduced our travel, cut our expenses and put us back in our homes. Those prohibitions taught us to be more domestic—cooking, pursuing hobbies, music, spending time with family, exercising frugality—and offered the chance to discover what quality time involves. Many workers of non-critical infrastructure became involuntarily unemployed, greatly complicating their lives, adding unwanted stress and complications.

There were unexpected consequences to this global realignment.

Traffic congestion worldwide disappeared. Airplanes stopped flying. Non-critical factories stopped burning fuel and creating waste. Major urban areas, notorious for terrible air quality, quickly became clear. Residents of Punjab India could see the Dhauladhar mountain peaks, over 120 miles away, not sighted from Punjab for almost 30 years. Nitrous dioxide from Chinese factories decreased drastically. Air pollution in Seattle and Los Angeles plummeted.

The 2020 crisis could trigger a 5.5% annual fall in CO2 emissions, the largest ever, more than during any previous economic crisis or period of war, yet still not close to avoiding the global temperature limit. Global emissions need to fall by 7.6% every year this decade to limit warming to less than 1.5 C. 2020 demonstrates only a sample of what needs to be done.

It’s as if Mother Nature finally found a way, after many years of failed subtle hints, to very seriously get our global attention. She got us, at least temporarily, to stop the non-critical things that corrode the air, water, and global temperature. She showed us that supporting critical infrastructure while inhibiting non-critical infrastructure (or substituting something better) actually achieves many of the necessary changes that can resuscitate our long-abused critical and warming biological life support system.

It’s time to re-evaluate “normal.”

We need to shift non-critical jobs to critical-sustainable. We need to re-employ in fields that maintain healthy environments, non-toxic infrastructures that keep our air and water clean, and our globe stable.

The new normal needs to encourage wind power, solar, and the Super Grid, not fight it. Restored jobs need to shift toward sustainable infrastructure, not inefficient and unnecessary excess. Air travel is non-critical. Travel needs to be less and cleaner. We need new rail and to buy more electric passenger vehicles. These create critical jobs, including maintenance, sales, service, communication, planning, material moving, construction, coordination, purchasing, security, all the fields that were lost in the “old normal” non-critical fields. Now is the time to upgrade to better.

If we don’t learn, don’t change, and successfully return to the old corrosive normal, will Mother Nature try again, more drastically yet? I wouldn’t put it past her. Orgel’s second rule states “Evolution is cleverer than you are.” Mother Nature has successfully managed life on earth for over three billion years. People who say “Evolution can’t do this” or “Evolution can’t do that” are simply lacking imagination.

Steve Waller’s family lives in a wind- and solar-powered home. He has been involved with conservation and energy issues since the 1970s and frequently teaches about energy. Steve can be reached at Steve@UPWallers.net.

Excerpted with permission from the Summer 2020 issue of Health & Happiness U.P. Magazine. Copyright 2020, Empowering Lightworks, LLC.

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Healthy Cooking: Feeding the Fires of Summer, Val Wilson

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Summertime, when we are at our most active, is known as Fire Energy Phase according to the Five Transformations of Energy (the ancient study of the energy of food, how it relates to the seasons, and how it feeds and nurtures our bodies). Summer relates to how we feed and nurture our hearts, brain, circulatory system, and small intestines. These are the most active organs in the body, so it makes sense that they are associated with the most active time of the year. The heart provides blood, nutrients, and oxygen to every part of the body and every cell. The small intestines digest the food eaten and transfers digested nutrients to our blood, determining the quality of the blood flowing through our bodies. The heart and small intestines are responsible for the action of the circulatory system. This system helps regulate the temperature of the body. It adapts and makes us comfortable in whatever environment we may find ourselves. When the Fire Energy is balanced, we can feel comfortable in the heat of summer and the cold of winter.

Below is a recipe with ingredients that support our summer needs. Quinoa and corn, the signature whole grains of summer, are small and cook up quickly, giving the body energy to help keep up with summer’s busyness. Cucumber, with its high water content, is cooling to the body for hot summer days. It also contains silicon, an integral part of calcium absorption. Dulse flakes are the dried leaves of sea vegetable dulse that have been chopped very fine. Dulse is known for its high amount of iron, calcium, Vitamin C, E, and B12. Ume plum paste is a traditional Japanese fermented food. It has tremendous flavor and imparts a salty, sour, pungent, bitter, and slightly sweet flavor to the salad, satisfying all five tastes. Ume plum paste also has antibacterial properties and helps alkalinize the body. Ume vinegar is the salty brine created when fermenting ume plums.

Quinoa Cucumber Corn Salad

1 cup quinoa
2 cups water
1 cup corn
1 cup peas
3 scallions (thin rounds)
1 cucumber (seeds removed and diced small)
½ cup grated carrot
½ cup toasted walnuts (chopped)
1/3 cup raisins
¼ cup minced parsley
1 T. dulse flakes

Dressing:
¼ cup olive oil
2 T. brown rice vinegar
2 T. ume plum vinegar
2 tsp. ume plum paste

Put quinoa and water in a pot and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to lowest possible temperature, cover, and simmer for 20 minutes, until all water has been absorbed. Let sit 5 minutes after cooking, then put in a large mixing bowl. Mix in the corn and peas. The hot quinoa will lightly cook the corn and peas. Let sit for 20 minutes until cool. Add the scallions, cucumber, carrots, walnuts, raisins, parsley, and dulse flakes. Whisk the dressing ingredients together, add to the salad, mix all together, refrigerate, and serve cold.

*Recipe is from Chef Val’s fifth cookbook, Summer Season Healthy and Delicious Cooking, to be released in July 2020.

Chef Valerie Wilson, a.k.a, Macro Val, has been teaching cooking classes since 1997. Visit her website to purchase her cookbook Year Round Healthy Holiday Cooking, set up a phone consultation, or listen to her radio show, http://www.macrval.com. Facebook, Macro Val Food.

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Inner Nutrition: 16 Questions for Mining Your Corona-Impacted Time, Roslyn Elena McGrath

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I believe this is a very powerful time. As we each deal in some way or another with the challenges presented to us by the current pandemic and world situation, I think there is a mighty potential for greater clarity, commitment, and action aligned with our deepest values for improving our world.

In keeping with this publication’s mission of supporting your health and happiness, the following questions were put together in hopes of helping to bring your needs, values, strengths, supports, and strongest heart’s desires to the surface, or sharpen the clarity you already have about them, in an actionable way. I invite you to journal on them, perhaps even on just three or four at a time, and also to respond to any additional questions that may come to your mind.

For Essential Workers

– How do you feel about going to work?

– How do you prepare yourself mentally and emotionally for your work time?

– How would you describe the atmosphere where you work?

– How are you contributing, or how could you contribute, to its positive qualities?

– What do you value about the work you do?

– How does your work benefit others directly and indirectly? (Consider at least “three degrees” of others—direct recipients, those they directly impact, and society overall.)

– What has been most challenging for you during COVID restrictions?

– What have you learned about yourself during this time?

– What would you most like the world to learn during this time?

– What desires for yourself and/or society have become clear to you or been reinforced?

– What next baby step might you take to move one of these desires forward?

– What traits, skills, and/or experiences do you have that will help you take this next baby step?

– What, if anything, do you think might hold you back from taking this baby step?

– What are three or more things you could call upon, internally and/or externally, to help you handle these potential obstacles?

– What would the value of achieving the desire you’ve pinpointed be, and how would you feel about that?

– Is it worth it to you to commit to continue taking steps toward this goal? Why or why not?

For Others

– What changes in your day-to-day life have been most significant for you?

– What, if anything, have you found most challenging about these changes?

– What has helped you to handle these challenges?

– What, if anything, have you found most positive about these changes?

– In what ways might you reinforce or expand upon these positives?

– How would you describe the atmosphere in your home?

– How are you contributing, or how could you contribute, to its positive qualities?

– What have you learned about yourself during this time?

– What would you most like the world to learn at this time?

– What, if any, mental, emotional and/or physical changes would you like to bring forward as your “regular” day-to-day life resumes?

– What baby step toward one of these changes could you begin or prepare for now?

– What traits, skills, and/or experiences do you have that will help you take this next baby step?

– What, if anything, do you think might hold you back from taking this action?

– What are three or more things you could call upon, internally and/or externally, to help you handle these potential obstacles?

– What would the value of achieving the desire you’ve pinpointed be, and how would you feel about that?

– Is it worth it to you to commit to continue taking steps toward this goal? Why or why not?

 

I hope you find your reflection time useful. Please feel free to contact hhupmag@charter.net, or Health & Happiness’s Facebook page to share your experiences.

Excerpted with permission from the Summer 2020 issue of Health & Happiness U.P. Magazine. Copyright 2020, Empowering Lightworks, LLC.

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Gifts from Nature: Benefitting from Mother Nature’s Two Sides, Kevin McGrath

 

nature as teacher, U.P. holistic business, U.P. wellness publication, two sides of nature, covid and nature

Lyrics from an old-time favorite tune, Blue Oyster Cult’s Godzilla, about how nature repeatedly reveals man’s follies, ring in my ear as I venture outside for the first time in quite a while to refresh my being. Frigid temperatures had forced me into greater confinement during this time of self-isolation while our pandemic continues its global tour wreaking havoc upon every unfortunate earthling whom isn’t immune to its often-fatal concoction of body invaders.

Time after time, we humans are lulled into believing we have firm control over nature as we as a species advance with technology and improvements to our systems through new ideas, and upgrades to infrastructure and design. Yet, whether it be flooding, tornado, fire, tsunami, earthquake, volcano, avalanche, or virus to name many but not all, we are never as prepared as we would prefer, and many of the shortcomings of our society are highlighted for all who are willing to see them.

All of the cutbacks our current government has made to reduce costs have ended up costing us way more in the long run, as is always the case when you’re not prepared for something.  Every cause has an effect.

I regress.  A silver lining can be found if we choose to keep our focus positive.  Once the crisis ends, our human folly provides an opening for us to collectively begin anew within a clearer, more beneficial path where smarter choices can be made before the tension and pressures of “everyday normalcy” set back into the global economy, choices that still enable cleaner air and water, where distant mountain ranges aren’t blocked from showing their splendor due to smog from fossil fuel emissions, choices where the good of all is held higher than the good of just a few.

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Nature is a great teacher and great teachers are often hard on their students, especially when their pupils are not grasping the main concept. That main concept is simple—take care of nature, or at least take nature into consideration with all decisions.

It’s pretty clear that our natural environment is a central part of the human formula (humanity), even though we try to reduce this fact through “progress.”  We can work with it, or we can continue to work against it, despite witnessing time and time again how the latter doesn’t work.

As destructive and fierce as nature can sometimes be, for the most part, nature is beautiful and healing in its majesty.

Google “healing and nature,” and you’ll get an endless number of studies about improved concentration, decreased anxiety, uplifted mood, improved focus, better sleep and mental health, to helping children with ADD, helping us get exercise, providing us vitamin D, boosting our creative-solving abilities, and assisting us to maintain our weight through better sleep and energy use.  Thank you, sunlight and good old-fashioned fresh air!

For me, and probably for many of you also, I don’t need a study to let me know how beneficial being out in nature truly is, I can just feel it.  It makes me feel happy just to be outside, and I can feel my body sink into a more natural way of being, living as humankind was intended as a part of nature.  Let’s learn the lessons as a people, and stand up for nature for the benefit of all, as we take steps to figure out how to proceed from here as a society.

Kevin McGrath can be found observing nature with respect and reverence in an attempt to learn the lessons it’s teaching.

Excerpted with permission from the Summer 2020 issue of Health & Happiness U.P. Magazine. Copyright 2020, Empowering Lightworks, LLC.

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Spotlight On… Joy Center: Interview with Owner Helen Haskell Remien

Joy Center Ishpeming MI, creative sanctuary, U.P. holistic business, U.P. wellness publication

What is Joy Center?

It’s a charming cottage in the woods in Ishpeming that is so much more than a cottage. It’s a creative sanctuary for people in our area and elsewhere to come and play and dream and expand. People can come and participate in various workshops and yoga and dance and energy sessions, and they also can simply pay a small fee and be on their own, or be with other people, and feel safe to explore their creative dreams.

Joy Center opened twelve years ago and continues to expand what it offers. If there’s yoga, you can come early, peruse the books, create a piece of art…. It’s a beautiful place where you can connect with your biggest, highest part, and also connect with the community.

Why did you start Joy Center?

I had a seed of a dream in me thirty years ago. At that time I was wondering if I wanted to be part of the academic world, in an institution, and teach writing, or part of a place in the community where things such as writing workshops could be held in which everyone could be included.

I wrote in my journals in the early ’90s that there should be a place in the community where we can drum and sing and dance and have writing workshops, and have events like ones I loved when I went to Omega Institute and Kripalu, and that I would love to be a part of something like that.

About twenty years ago, I began encouraging people to find their own creative paths. Then in the spring of 2007, I started to feel a dissatisfaction in me, a sense of something growing, that it was no longer enough to teach writing in my house, and yoga in the basement of my husband’s dental office. And in a flash of two weeks, I spoke with my financial advisor to see if it would be possible to create something like Joy Center. I realized, “Oh my goodness, I have land behind my house, separate land on which we could build a cottage house, and it could be that place in the community.” But even then, I didn’t know that it would be the kind of place it would become.

How did you go about creating it?

It was really about claiming my power because I think my husband was scared of doing it. And I said, “I really need to see if we can do it.” Our financial advisor thought it could work, and be an asset, and he added, “I have a builder for you. He doesn’t know how good he is yet. He’s built a garage for us, and he’s awesome, and he’s never built a house yet.”

It was such a fun process working with this young man who put his heart and soul into it, and brought in his younger cousins and brothers to help. We worked together on the design. I learned so much, step-by-step in that process. It was scary to build something I knew in my soul would really be a big thing for all of us. At every step, I couldn’t settle. Though not extravagant—it’s a cottage—it was important to make the place welcoming. And it’s beautiful.

It was important to me to not settle for less than what felt like the right, soulful thing, and I think also to the builder. “I’ll make the counter tops,” he said, working late into the night. “I think you should have them. And you can collect your own beautiful rocks to put in them.” We really co-created together, him doing the actual work, and me doing the dreaming.

Why do you think Joy Center has expanded in the ways it has?

When I built it, I kept expanding my mind. “This will be a place where I will teach yoga. I will teach writing and creative workshops. And other people can offer other creative things. It will extend our home in some way when our kids come back to visit.” I think both I expanded and it expanded. I realized, “Oh, my gosh! There are so many awesome dreams people are having in the community!” And at that point twelve years ago, there weren’t the places available now offering yoga and energy work and so on.

For example, Amber Edmondson and Raja Howe knew they were poets, but didn’t know they were book binders yet. They sold a book at Out Loud, our open mike night, then began offering book-making workshops at Joy Center. And now they have their own shop in Marquette. Kerry Yost had never sung in public until one night at Out Loud, and she just blew everyone away.

People who have a dream can feel safe offering a workshop, singing a song at Out Loud or playing with something they’ve always wanted to do, and maybe later decide to offer a workshop and expand what’s offered at Joy Center, and what people do in this community, and people would love it. Early on, Joy Center took on its own life to be a safe place where people could take a seed of a dream, like I did, and allow it to blossom. Sometimes their offering stays at Joy Center, and sometimes it flourishes far beyond. And I get to play with people that way, and be the person who holds the space and is a cheerleader for peoples’ dreams.

What do people seem to like most about Joy Center?

I think people feel something when they walk into the physical building because it’s really welcoming and beautiful, and is that creative sanctuary. It was built with a really positive, high vibration. In its twelve years, I can’t think of anything that’s gone on there that isn’t high-vibe, so it just keeps building. So many kinds of things are welcomed there, so that energy just keeps growing. People feel safe to really be brave and find parts of themselves they haven’t felt before, or to love themselves more deeply than they’ve loved themselves before. I feel strongly about keeping the boundaries there safe, to keep it clear in that way.

What do you like most about running it?

Truly, it’s all of it. There is a part of me that loves all the things that are offered, and that I can participate in them. It’s brought community to me. I love being the cheerleader. It’s a soul calling. And I love playing at Joy Center. I get to go play in a playhouse!

What do you find most challenging about running it?

The marketing part is not my thing. I’d rather promote by word-of-mouth. So I found a way that feels easy to me and true to who I am with additional support from others. I spend more of my time cheering people on, encouraging them to maybe do a workshop. I may give my dear friends Stephanie Lake and Stacey Willey at Globe Printing the rough draft of Joy Center’s next brochure, or the idea of a poster, and they’ll lay it out beautifully. Stacey helps to get the word out on Facebook. For a long time, my daughter-in-law did a beautiful job of helping with that. And I love my Health & Happiness ad, and the support I get to help me with it. It’s the only place I advertise–it’s perfect for Joy Center, and goes out all over the Central and Western U.P.

What future plans are in the works?

As we hunker into our homes, and aren’t able to go to the creative sanctuary physically, my curiosity and challenge is “How will this time affect Joy Center since the place itself is such an important part of it? How can I use Zoom to make an Out Loud, and then find some richness that Joy Center does beyond these walls, or a poetry workshop by Zoom like U.P. Poet Laureate Marty Achatz did? How will this propel us into the future? Will there be a time that Zoom comes into Joy Center?

I feel like I’m in the middle of the cocoon, and I am learning. Parallel Play–we all did it at the same time and texted and sent photos of our creations simultaneously afterward. It felt like deep connection. So Joy Center has been continuing. I’ve been working on the space, giving it loving physical care. And I’m learning about technology and connecting that way, and how to still have the feel of Joy Center. It’s a beautiful space, and it’s the people and the energy, and that no walls can hold in.

How can people find out about upcoming events taking place?

They can check Joy Center’s Facebook page, and they also can contact me at helenhaskell@yahoo.com about events or if there’s something they’d like to offer here. And they can join our mailing list to receive a brochure on what’s going on, and a letter I write every two months.

Excerpted with permission from the Summer 2020 issue of Health & Happiness U.P. Magazine. Copyright 2020, Empowering Lightworks, LLC.

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Positive Parenting: How to Turn Sibling Foes into Friends, Anna Kangas

dealing with sibling rivalry, preventing sibling rivalry, U.P. holistic business, U.P. wellness publication

Sibling rivalry. It often starts at birth. I’ve heard the story many times. Baby number two+ comes along and the used-to-be-baby of the family shows those signs of jealousy—sleep regressions, potty accidents when they’d been trained for months already, tantrums over the littlest things. It’s tough on the whole family. Things have changed. They’re feeling insecure. An older child may even voice it.

Fast-forward a few years and instead of the toddler tantrums, you’ll be hearing “Mom! Billy hit me!” and “Dad, Susie won’t stop copying me!” These issues are really obvious right now when our whole world has been changed. Most siblings would just have a couple of hours a day, plus the weekends spent together…. and at the time of this writing, we are in our homes almost 24/7 in a family togetherness experiment like no other. Yes, there are good things coming out of it. For example, maybe this time can help your kids find their friendship again. “Your siblings can be your best friends” my husband reminds our kids often.

So how can we help them accomplish this? Before we can solve the problem, it helps to look at why this may be occurring. What causes this sibling rivalry, this jealousy, competition, and/or fighting. Is it boredom? Too much screen time? Perhaps. But my gut tells me this: I’d be willing to bet that one of the biggest reasons for our kids acting out is that they are craving attention from us, their parents.

Think about how this rivalry may stem from the time the younger sibling is born—

that postpartum time when the new baby takes up so much of our attention. Add in something big, such as the current state of our world, and this huge feeling of insecurity can add another level of stress. So if you’ve been wondering why on earth they keep fighting so much lately, I’d bet these things have a big part in it. If you’re like me, you’ve been spending too much time tuning into the state of the world. My phone is too close to me, and I’ve been draining the battery too often. One of the ways I know it’s too much is when my kids start acting out.

If you’re experiencing this during the postpartum time, I recommend taking some extra time with the older kids who may be feeling neglected. Keep a basket of books near your couch and sit there while you breastfeed. Involve the bigger kids in caring for the baby. Encourage them, “You’re such a wonderful big sister—look at him smiling at you, he loves you so much!”

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Are your children past those baby years? Well. Have you ever heard of The 5 Love Languages? With kids, it’s really easy to find out what they need. Just ask them “How do you know someone loves you?”

They might answer, “When I get a hug.” There’s the physical touch.

“When someone tells me.” Hello, words of affirmation.

“When they play a game with me.” Aha! Quality time.

“When they give me a present!” You guessed it, receiving gifts!

“When they help me with my chore.” And there you have acts of service.

Go ahead; ask your child this simple question. It can go a long way toward knowing how to keep him or her feeling secure, safe, and loved.

I think quality time is extremely important, no matter what your main Love Language is. So start by spending time with your kids, good quality time. Be engaged. Put away the phone, TV, electronics. Take them on one-on-one “date nights.”

Give them the stability, consistency, and love they need. This will build up their confidence, and I’m willing to bet you’ll begin seeing a difference in their attitudes and behavior.

But even with the most stable, loving environment, kids will be kids.

There will be fights. And these stressful times we’ve been living in the past few months are going to show in our kids. They’re feeling the stress, too. So, what can we do for them? How do we help guide them when these fights break out?

As Brian Helminen, a Calumet dad of fifteen and author of How to Raise a Happy Family recommends in his book, “Stay neutral as much as possible and let kids settle their differences.” Stepping in to settle their battles for them every time won’t help them in the long run. As long as they aren’t causing each other major bodily harm (then it’s time to referee), letting them find a solution between themselves is a good lesson. It’s part of growing up—finding the maturity to solve disagreements.

The few times my husband and I had to step in, we chose to referee and bring in the “get-along” shirt.” The two siblings who have been in battle must wear an oversized T-shirt together for a set amount of time. What had started with tears and fighting ends in laughing and smiles as they try to navigate together.

Learning to settle differences is a skill.

And who better to learn it with than the people who love you most, your family members? An unconditional love creates a safe space for kids to be themselves, and grow into responsible adults. Because that’s what we’re striving for, right? As New York Times best-selling author Andy Andrews says, “The goal is not to raise great kids. It’s to raise kids who become great adults.”

I hope these tips help you to find a balance in your family. From learning their love languages and maybe trying a “get-along” shirt, to making an effort to make sure to spend some good quality time with your family, it’s not too late to encourage your children to find the amazing friendship possible between siblings.

Anna Kangas is a full-time homeschooling mom of seven, wife of 10+ years, and owner of Keweenaw Doula Services. She is passionate about supporting families in Houghton and Keweenaw counties during pregnancy, birth, and postpartum.

Excerpted with permission from the Summer 2020 issue of Health & Happiness U.P. Magazine. Copyright 2020, Empowering Lightworks, LLC.

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Bodies in Motion: Embodying Empowerment by Becoming More Active in Life, Crystal Cooper

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We are in a pivotal time for actively reclaiming our power.

At this decisive point in human history, we have the opportunity to change our direction for the benefit of all. As our current circumstances require, we (at the time of this writing) stay inside our homes and are likely pondering the future. Within this time, we may find a new, ironic sense of liberation. By embracing the need to live more self-reliantly and sustainably, we naturally become more active. By becoming more present in our bodies, rather than trapped in our minds, we can empower ourselves to relieve stress, find calm, restore vitality, and regain our sovereignty.

Though our minds may be full of uncertainty and confusion in these changing times, our bodies know very well what we genuinely need—to live in a comfortable and safe place, eat nourishing food, drink clean water, breathe fresh air, exercise regularly, and get adequate deep rest. The possibilities for revolutionizing our lives may be infinite; however, they all have something in common—action. The action required may vary from meditation on emotional health to intense physical training and more, as everyone’s story will be different. Our authority comes through deciding to make beneficial moves in our lives. By focusing on what we can take action on, energy moves and frustrations neutralize.

By merging creativity, mindfulness, and curiosity, adaptations on movement are vast.

Experimenting with different modalities, as well as developing one, are both admirable approaches for getting mobile. One ancient, well-loved physical practice is hatha yoga. This physical branch of yoga unites the mind and breath with the body through a flow of poses. Both restorative and strengthening, it can prevent injury and support longevity. There are many styles of yoga, making it accessible for all. Another traditional system of coordinated body postures is qi gong, which also focuses on the harmony of meditation, breathing, and movement. Its central tenet is the balancing of energy. It is also a basis for martial arts training. Deep healing can be found within these methods, supporting many other areas of life.

When sheltering in place, or maintaining some restrictions, the significance of moving what we can may become more apparent. Deep breathing, getting the blood flowing, and heating up the body cleanses energy and provides grounding. Fast, exciting activities such as running, bouncing on a trampoline, juggling, and dancing can shake up sluggish outlooks. Strength training, working the whole body, and building muscle can help maintain focus when reality appears chaotic. Physical restrictions can inspire us to focus on what we can do and to creatively employ those abilities. Using our bodies for enjoyment, as simply or indulgently as desired, cultivates peace and exercises our freedom.

We can continue to expand our ingenuity to other, more outward necessities of life. For example, reinventing our transportation can be as simple as walking with a backpack, or as inspired as an electric-assisted bicycle equipped with a solar charging battery and storage racks or luggage cart. By returning to more manual forms of labor, we can supersede convenience by reconnecting with quality skill-building. As we reconsider tasks-at-hand during this time, a plethora of creative problem-solving abilities may be unleashed. To regain the impetus to chop wood and carry water, symbolically or literally, is good work. In mastering one’s actions, the lines between training, work, and play may blur.

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Actions such as cultivating our own energy and entertainment, growing our food, and riding bicycles run counter to the practices of the ever-consuming capitalistic economy our society has relied upon, thereby becoming acts of empowerment that resist the old status quo. By focusing inward and nurturing our connection with our bodies, opportunities abound for finding the clarity we need to move forward in harmony and inner sovereignty. Mindful activity is medicinal for our well-being and can also be more sustainable for Earth. And because we are nature and are not separate from it, healing our connection with ourselves simultaneously heals a part of human relationship with Earth.

Regaining control and becoming strong in one area of life can often translate to others.

When you can hold your own on the mat, the trail, or simply within a stressful situation, confidence is built that can be utilized in trying times. By moving through life with a more mindful focus on the body, rather than the mind, toxic stress has less of a chance to build up and create long-term negative effects. This is great for the immune system, and helps foster a more positive mood. Working with this perspective one day at a time can build momentum toward a more instinctual, spirited way of existing.

Each person’s movement will look different; however, the magic is in the sum of the parts, in people coming together. The cornucopia of abilities and resources of a united community creates a powerful, ever-evolving entity. The mightiest feats we can accomplish in the world begin with the work we do individually to dream and create and act from an inspired place. In solidarity with our communities and on massive scales, this intention could help humanity move in a healthier, more harmonious, and unified direction.

Crystal Cooper has called Marquette and the northwoods home for over a decade. An NMU graduate in biology ecology, she enjoys studying plants and writing. Passionate about natural healing modalities as well as personal and global sustainability, Crystal advocates yoga and other resiliency-promoting actions within the community.

Excerpted with permission from the Summer 2020 issue of Health & Happiness U.P. Magazine. Copyright 2020, Empowering Lightworks, LLC.

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Senior Viewpoint: Nutrition Essential to Fighting Infection, Dr. Conway McLean, DABFAS, FAPWHc, FAMIFAS

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The attention devoted to sickness and health is omnipresent these days, and with good reason. The pandemic is filling the airwaves and prompting fear in the hearts of many. What we need is accurate information, smart practices. This is where the knowledge of the physician specializing in infectious disease, one who knows the immune system intimately, can be invaluable.

So what specifically is the immune system? It’s the part of the body devoted to fighting off invading micro-organisms that are a part of our world. The complexity and effectiveness of our immune system is nothing short of staggering.

What are the functions of the immune system? This system is critical for survival. Our immune system is constantly alert, monitoring for signs of an invading organism. The immune system functions to keep us free of infection, be it through the skin, a skin structure, or our intestinal lining. Cells of the immune system must be able to distinguish self from something else, i.e. “non-self.”

By now it is well-recognized the COVID-19 virus is more dangerous in the elderly.

A decline in immune function is consistently observed among older adults. Aging is also associated with increased inflammation in the absence of infection and has been found to predict infirmity. The result is seniors are more susceptible to infections and have more serious complications when they get one.

The term for this decline in immune function is immunosenescence. It reflects the deterioration of both components of the immune system—the acquired and the innate. The innate system is the ‘first responder’ to an alien invasion (of a microbe). The cells of the innate system act quickly, but are not specialized. The innate system is generally less effective than the adaptive immune response. The adaptive response is able to recognize a specific invading organism and remember it later, if exposed again.

Scientists specializing in the role of macronutrients, micronutrients, and the gut microbiome are convinced they all play a critical role in the functioning of our immune system. It turns out to be an incredibly complex system, with a multitude of factors and variables. Up until recently, we knew next to nothing about our gut bacteria and its complex interaction with our health and immunity. We do know one crucial part of gut health, not surprising, is our diet. But there are many ways to optimize the effectiveness of our immunity.

Your nutrition can affect the microbes residing in your guts, directly altering your immune response.

The  microbial community in the mammalian gut is a complex and dynamic system, crucial for the development and maturation of every facet of our immune response. The complex interaction between available nutrients, the microbiota, and the immune system seems to be the most important ‘player’ in the fight against invading pathogens.

What does it take to have a healthy immune system?

We know well many micronutrient deficiencies have been identified as contributors to declining immunity. It is believed these could provide opportunities for directed therapies for potentially restoring immune function, creating better health through improved nutrition.

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Some proffered recommendations: eat yogurt for breakfast! Apparently, the probiotics strengthen the immune system, as revealed by a study on athletes and their colds and GI infections. Yogurt is also rich in vitamin D, which also boosts your immune system.

Vitamin C is well-recognized as an extremely important part of an effective immune system, and a deficit can make you more prone to getting sick. Because your body cannot store it, daily intake is essential for good health. Foods rich in vitamin C include oranges, grapefruits, strawberries, bell peppers, spinach, kale, and broccoli.

Vitamin B6 supports many of the reactions that are integral to immune function. Foods high in B6 include chicken and cold water fish (e.g. salmon and tuna), and green vegetables. Another important vitamin for fighting infection is E, which is a powerful antioxidant. Foods rich in vitamin E include nuts, seeds, and spinach.

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Some people think of tea as something consumed in the movies, yet studies reveal alkylamine, a naturally occurring chemical in tea, strengthens the immune system, again, helping it fight off infection more effectively. Honey has centuries of use because of its medicinal properties. Numerous reviews find honey, an antioxidant, acts as a natural immunity booster. So you might want to add it to your tea for both flavor and health benefits.

Another suggestion made by researchers is to eat more garlic, since it seems to stimulate many different cell types essential to the immune system. Ginger, another powerful antioxidant, has antiviral properties, probably a good idea these days. Consume more lemon. Lemon juice is high in vitamin C, and can be used for its antioxidant properties and to prevent the common cold.

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How about a bowl of chicken soup? Thought by some to simply be a comfort food, the dish has a mild anti-inflammatory effect. Ingredients in the classic recipe (chicken, garlic, onion, celery, etc.) have been found to slow the migration of white blood cells into the upper respiratory tract, helping to relieve the symptoms of a cold. Additionally, a compound found in chicken soup called carnosine seems to prevent colds. How about a nice bowl of curcumin? This is a component in the spice called turmeric. Studies have shown curcumin helps to regulate the immune system.

Zinc is known to be an important micronutrient for the immune system. Even a mild deficiency in zinc has been associated with widespread defects in the immune response. Look to fish, seeds, nuts, and broccoli as good food sources. Selenium is a trace element that also has critical functional, structural, and enzymatic roles. Inadequate selenium is associated with a higher risk for a variety of chronic diseases since it is critical to immune function. Foods containing higher levels of this mineral include spinach, lentils, eggs, and fish.

Some recommendations for immune health are related more to lifestyle modifications.

Make workouts a part of your weekly regimen since regular exercise increases the activity of immune cells. Exercise also seems to flush bacteria out of your lungs, reducing the likelihood of an airborne illness. Experts suggest moderate levels of intensity, performed 4 to 5 times a week for 30-40 minutes.

Staying hydrated is required for immune health. Water helps your body produce lymph, which carries white blood cells and other immune cells. Sun exposure is important (although difficult in certain climes) since it is the most efficient way to stock up on vitamin D, an immune system supercharger. Surprisingly little is needed, just 15 to 20 minutes a day, to get the recommended dosage.

Getting the flu shot can improve your immune profile, and has been approved for all adults. Smoking suppresses the immune system generally, so quitting helps lower the risk of infectious disease. Smoking also damages the lining of our “windpipes,” explaining why smokers are much more likely to catch a cold virus.

Because of their effectiveness, nutritional therapies should be getting prescribed in the typical medical practice, though this has been rarely and inconsistently recommended. This therapeutic approach should be utilized more consistently in those demonstrating poor immune function, as well as healthy populations.

Our understanding of the risk factors for immune system dysregulation is far from complete.

We can say definitively that adopting these and related strategies will optimize your chances of reducing or delaying the onset of immune-mediated acute and chronic diseases. In summary, I would say, you have a road map. Your course of action, a plan for better health, can now be laid. Perhaps it is time for positive changes in your routine, and thereby your health. Though giant steps are hard to take, small ones require only a step, and if taken in the right direction, lead to the larger changes you choose.

Dr. Conway McLean is a physician practicing foot and ankle medicine and surgery in the Upper Peninsula (Marquette and Escanaba). McLean is triple board certified in surgery, wound care, and orthotic therapy. He has lectured internationally on many topics. Dr. McLean welcomes questions at drcmclean@outlook.com.

Excerpted with permission from the Summer 2020 issue of Health & Happiness U.P. Magazine. Copyright 2020, Empowering Lightworks, LLC.

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