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Fall Prevention through the “Matter of Balance” Program, UPCAP (Upper Peninsula Commission on Area Progress)

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Falls are the number one cause of injury, hospital visits due to trauma, and death from an injury among people age 65 and older.  There are many factors that can increase the risk of falling such as past falls, trip hazards, balance problems, improper footwear, poor vision, medications, rushing, memory problems, and so much more. Falls among older adults is a serious issue, but there are many ways to reduce the risk of falling. UPCAP, the U.P.’s Area Agency on Aging, recommends anyone with a fear of falling or who has a history of falling attend a “Matter of Balance” class.

This nationally recognized, evidence-based program was developed at Boston University. The classes are designed to benefit older adults who have sustained a fall in the past, or those who have a fear of falling. People who develop a fear of falling often limit their daily activities which can result in physical weakness, making the risk of falling even greater.

A “Matter of Balance” has been shown to reduce the fear of falling and increase activity levels among older adults.

It includes eight 2-hour sessions (either once a week for eight weeks, or twice a week for 4 weeks) for a small group of 8-12 participants led by two trained coaches. After attending these classes, participants gain confidence by learning to view falls as controllable.

They also set goals to increase physical activity, giving them increased strength and balance. Participants also learn to make changes at home to reduce fall risk. This may be something as simple as the placement of a rug or a cord.

UPCAP and many community partners offer Matter of Balance classes throughout the U.P. You can visit http://www.upcap.org and click on the Events link to see if an upcoming workshop is in your area. If you don’t see one, please dial 2-1-1 to and ask to be put on the waiting list for the “Matter of Balance” workshops.

Once you are on the waiting list, you will be contacted when a workshop is scheduled in your area. If your group or organization is interested in hosting a “Matter of Balance” class, please contact Tonya LaFave at UPCAP at 906-786-4701.

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Medicine Wheels: South Direction, Jude Catallo & Scott Emerson

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Know this. If your healing intention is pure, you can’t make any mistakes.

The use of the Medicine Wheel and its four compass points in the spiritual and healing practice of the indigenous peoples of the western hemisphere of Earth stretches back at least 5000 years(1) – probably much longer. This is actually the traditional and original “Western medicine”—a knowledge and practice almost lost to those of us living today. Although some of the details of different tribes’ medicine wheels differ from North to Central to South America, the major concepts appear similar. For example, among some indigenous North American people, the Bear is the archetype for the West instead of the Jaguar found in South America, but both embody fearlessness as a core attribute.(2)

Each direction is associated with one of the four energetic bodies that make up the human energy field:

the particle or physical world (the body), the realm of emotions and thoughts (the mind), the realm of myth (the soul), and the world of spirit (energy). In North America, the Lakota Sioux also associate each direction with the time of day, the time of year, and the time of life.(2)

For many thousands of years, the shamans of the Americas have used each direction of the Medicine Wheel as an interdependent doorway to unique perceptual levels, or states, in order to recover an individual’s true essence, personal power, energy, and inner wisdom for healing.

The Laika people, isolated in the Peruvian Andes Mountains, seem to have a well-preserved and undistorted record of the use and meaning of their Medicine Wheel.(3) Thus we use their version in our personal energy medicine and integrative medicine practice.

Sun in sq.

The physical world (the body) is associated with the SOUTH direction and is represented by Serpent.(3) In North America, the Lakota Sioux word for the South direction is Iktokaga, and is associated with noon, summer, and adolescence.(2) This is the material level of perception where most of modern medicine resides—in anatomy, physiology, biochemistry, surgery, and pharmacy. It is the realm where reality is 99% matter and only 1% spirit. This perspective is where everything is exactly as it seems or is measured without any judgment or emotions.

Serpent symbolizes knowledge, scientific method, and healing with physical solutions in order to treat diseases and injury. Serpent also sheds its skin and grows a new skin underneath, and so is continually both shedding its past and healing itself. The innate healing intelligence of the body that is gradual, incremental, and pulsed is the domain of the Serpent.

Operating from Serpent level is especially helpful for getting us through immediate trouble. Our reptilian brain is in charge and works from survival instincts, doing without over-analyzing or getting emotionally distraught about it.

snake-48155_1280

The downside of this perspective it is that it is heavily biased toward the physical or particle aspect of reality, which is very comfortable for most of us. It is easy to get stuck here and lose track of the authentic essence of our soul. We can begin to believe that the roles we play in this life—mother, brother, care-giver, etc., are the true self. We can hang on to toxic beliefs and reflex patterns of thoughts that may have been useful to get us through a crisis in the past, but now no longer serve us. They now create suffering and have become destructive for us as well as others.

Each direction is accompanied by four essential teachings.

The Four Teachings of the South are: Non-Judgment, Non-Suffering, Non-Attachment, and The Beauty Way.(3) Look at everything with beginner’s eyes. Avoid indulging or projecting pain. Let go of the labels you have stuck on yourself. Perceive loveliness even in the midst of ugliness. Move upon the Earth in beauty. Bring beauty into every interaction.

Each direction also offers a unique perspective on any aspect of your life that you feel you are ready to change in order to affect personal healing: the South—things with which you strongly identify; West—things from which you are mentally differentiating yourself; North—things you newly integrate into your life; and East—transcendence and full integration into your luminous energy body.

Movement around the directions and perspectives of your Medicine Wheels over time possesses great power for spiritual growth. To have the most power, they should be done by you privately, electronic gadget-free, in a special natural setting, and accepting the Earth’s wild card role in the process. The days of a new or a full moon, or solstices and equinoxes are preferred. It is most important that your ceremony be within a sacred space.

You can create sacred space as a healing bubble around your chosen Medicine Wheel site by “calling” to the four direction master archetypes (S-Serpent, W–Bear, N–Hummingbird, E–Eagle, as well as down—Mother Earth and up—Father Sky). With humility and gratitude, ask for their power and assistance in your personal healing work.

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We have found soft rattling or drumming and offering tobacco gifts to the “spirits of the site” greatly facilitate this “calling.” Use a compass if you’re not certain of directions. The creative and intimate process of constructing your Medicine Wheel in a natural setting, using natural items found at your chosen site, quiets the mind and creates a highly meditative state. In sacred space there is no time, and you can trust your instincts and synchronicity.

Healing work with the Medicine Wheel begins with honoring the South direction and creation of a mandala in the sand, snow, or grass. Find one or two sticks to represent roles with which you currently identify, and that you mentally are ready to let go. Choose two additional objects (stones, acorns, pine cones, etc.) representing two of the “Teachings of the South” that you feel you are ready to mentally accept.

Place these objects in the South portion of your Medicine Wheel and leave them overnight on your mandala. Return the following day. Powerfully blow the mental and emotional attachment of your roles into the chosen sticks, but retain the lessons the role has taught you. Put them into the West space of the mandala. Place one or both of the “South teachings” objects into the West space as you also move these teachings firmly into your awareness. Savor in stillness how this feels.

If you can’t honestly do this, leave one or both in the South space for future Medicine Wheel work.

Leave and return the next day. Feel if any further movement is possible (roles, teachings). Collect your role sticks and teaching objects. Destroy your Medicine Wheel. Leave no trace! Close sacred space by thanking and releasing the four archetypes as well as Mother Earth and Father Sky.

Within the next two weeks, build a fire safely somewhere in open sacred space, and ceremonially throw your role sticks into the fire as you stomp your foot, intending for your mental attachment to them to be destroyed. Retain the objects representing “teachings” as daily reminders, and to be used in the next Medicine Wheel.

Now take the time to see how these mental and emotional changes begin to work in your life until your next Medicine Wheel ceremony, honoring the West direction.

Footnotes:
(1) Scherrer, D., Native American Medicine Wheels; Stanford University, 2015 & Medicine Wheel / Medicine Mountain National Historic Landmark; Wyoming State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO Website) 2017
(2) Oklevueha Native American Church
(3) Four Winds Society, Light Body School, Shamanic Energy Medicine Training

Jude Catallo and Scott Emerson, MD of Timelesshealing.org are both graduates of The Four Winds Society: Shamanic Energy Medicine Intensive Apprenticeship 2017 – ongoing; members of the Oklaweva Native American Church 2016 – ongoing; and Andean Cosmic Vision Apprenticeship, Don Theo Paredes 2003 – ongoing.

Reprinted with permission from the Summer 2019 issue of Health & Happiness U.P. Magazine, copyright 2019. All rights reserved.

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Positive Parenting: Tips for Togetherness at the Table, Erin Ross

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Families are getting busier and busier. It seems like there is constant running to extra activities before and after school. Sports practice, dance, religious programs and such take up so much time that many families rarely sit down to eat together anymore. Yet there are many benefits to eating together as a family regularly. Young children learn more language and social skills. All children benefit from having a routine in the household, as it helps to foster their sense of security and belonging. Meals together give parents the opportunity to monitor children’s moods and notice more quickly if something is amiss. Eating together also grows the bond of the family so all members feel more comfortable talking to one another when there is an issue in their life.

In fact, research indicates youth benefit physically, mentally, and emotionally in many ways from family mealtimes, such as:

Increased self-esteem
Improved academic performance
Greater resilience
Less risk of depression
Less risk of substance abuse
Less risk of teen pregnancy
Less likelihood of developing eating disorders
Decreased obesity rates

So how might you make the most of your mealtime together? Here are some tips:

To start, set a goal to have a family meal together at least three times per week. It doesn’t always have to be dinner. Saturday morning breakfast works too.

Keep conversation light. Don’t approach major issues at the table as stress associated with meals is not healthy for anyone.

Make sure there is something on the table that everyone likes. If someone starts out the meal unhappy with what is on the table, it makes it unpleasant for everyone. We all have likes and dislikes, and that is okay. Encourage everyone to help with the meal plans.

Don’t make a big issue about eating everything on the plate or trying all the foods. When getting children to try new foods, it is much easier if the atmosphere is relaxed and not forced. Some children need to see new foods many times before they may want to try them.

Discourage comments like, “Eww, I don’t like that!” especially when you have younger children at the table. Parents and older siblings need to set a good example and a simple, “No, thank you,” is perfectly acceptable.

Give all family members a job, like setting the table, clearing the table, dishes, etc. These are not chores, but rather everyone playing a role in the family.

Encourage using manners around the table, saying please and thank you, passing food or condiments, sharing, and being kind to one another.

Give all family members a chance to talk about their day. Try to focus on the positive and allow for open family discussion without judgment from others.

Laugh together. Laughter helps release tension and is good for the mind, body, and soul.

Make sure parents are modeling good behavior. If you want kids to do it, you have to show them.

Avoid distractions—no TV, phones, or computers at the table. Use the time to talk and learn more about each other.

So take the time to eat together as a family in an enjoyable way several times each week, then set a goal to increase this number as often as possible. Your family will thank you.

Research source: https://www.glcyd.org/youthconnections/

Erin Ross has been an educator teaching parenting and nutrition at MSU Extension for nearly fifteen years. She currently supervises all the 4-H staff in the U.P. Erin was born and raised in the U.P., and lives in Ironwood with her husband and daughter. 

Reprinted with permission from the Spring 2019 issue of Health & Happiness U.P. Magazine, copyright 2019. All rights reserved.

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Senior Viewpoint: Navigating the New Give-and-Take, John Olesnavage

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We spend a lifetime learning how to be independent and self-sufficient. We are taught to rely on our own wits and resources to take care of ourselves and those we love. Forget Spiderman and Batman, MacGyver is the real American hero! Give him a stick of gum, a can of paint, or a roll of duct tape, and he can conquer any obstacle.

As we mature, we take pride in standing on “our own two feet.” Then time marches us along into the “golden years.” We may start losing our car keys and forget about that doctor’s appointment we needed to keep. A few short years later, we may find ourselves standing on the corner of Main St. and Vine, gripping our cane tightly, not sure we can make it across the street before the light changes. A man stops his car, gets out and stands there like a crossing guard until we safely make it across. Head down, resolute, we shuffle forward, not daring to look up at the light or the traffic. We nod at the man as we shuffle past him, and mumble thank you, but what we feel is diminished and somewhat ashamed. So much for being self-sufficient! We are more likely at the mercy of our own failing body. How do we reconcile or make lemonade out of this lemon?

We have a choice. We can resent growing old and in need of help, or we can see the strength and power in letting others help us. Let’s look at how that works.

It starts with understanding the co-creative nature of a helping relationship. Co-creative means that both parties are stretching beyond what is expected and giving of their time and talent. We know the gift/assistance we have received, but what do we, the receiver of this generosity, give back?

We give the gift of helping someone else feel needed, appreciated, and in a real way, powerful. That is why resenting their help diminishes not only their gift, but they themselves. Doing so is missing a life-affirming connection. Did you ever give someone a gift and see them never even take it out of the box? I did, and felt hurt for a long time.

When we give the gift of letting someone help us, we are also co-creating some new space. That space is quite magical. It has the power to transform a mundane act such as holding a door open into an act of affirmation, maybe even healing. We are receiving while we are also giving. This is “Co-creation 101.” It means letting go of pride, yes, but it also means bestowing some pride on someone else. It calls for some vulnerability, yes, but also a realization that something bigger than a door being opened is going on.

And, while we are making that giver-of help feel powerful and good, who has the greater power? It may well be the person gripping the cane, or, could we call it a wizard’s wand? Eat your heart out MacGyver! But, remember, that wand works best with a light touch. Too much power (or pride in what you can do for the other person) will also diminish the gift.

We are taught to be self-sufficient, but the real strength is in knowing how to form co-created relationships.

John Olesnavage, author of Ask* your Powerful Question, is a psychologist, educator, and author who follows his own Powerful Question “each-and-every-day.” John also wrote Our Boundary, a book describing his ground-breaking, boundary-based approach to counseling.

Reprinted with permission from the Spring 2019 issue of Health & Happiness U.P. Magazine, copyright 2019. All rights reserved.

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Holistic Animal Care: What to Do When Waldo Drives You Wacky, Jenny Magli

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I, for one, am a huge pet lover! I know I will never be without some furry creature in my life. They are wonderful companions, a joy to be around, and their unconditional love is hard to beat! But having pets does not come without challenges from time to time. Those of us with pets know there are times when not every household member is a happy camper. Behavior issues are inevitable at some point during a pet’s lifetime. From puppyhood to seniorhood, behaviors can change to varying degrees. This can be due to health issues, environmental influences, poor nutrition, and household changes such as the arrival of a new baby or departure of a family member. Behavior problems that may arise include barking (vocalization), biting, jumping up, aggression, begging, digging, inappropriate elimination, chasing, chewing, and more.

It’s important to remember that some behaviors are perfectly normal. For instance, chewing is a normal process for dogs. This makes it important to provide chewable toys and/or treats to help satisfy that urge so they don’t chew on inappropriate things (especially for puppies to help deal with teething). Cats need to scratch to sharpen their claws and leave their scent, so providing cat scratch posts throughout the home can help prevent their scratching on furniture. If we don’t accommodate animals with a way to relieve these natural tendencies, we’re contributing to potential problem behaviors.

Below are some examples of things to consider when dealing with behavior issues. Sometimes the remedy is simply look at the circumstances surrounding the issue.

Is your pet bored? Is he or she getting enough affection, exercise/playtime and mental stimulation? Exercise helps to release pent-up energy. A bored or lonely pet will find a way to entertain itself if it has no other outlet to do so. This can lead to destructive or aggressive behavior in the home. Sometimes working with a dog trainer or pet behaviorist can provide relief for both you and the pet. Providing rules and boundaries for your pet are crucial in maintaining a healthy relationship with your pet.

Is your pet exhibiting signs of health issues or pain? Changes in appetite, limping, sleepiness, sudden house soiling in a house-trained pet, hiding in unusual places, or sudden aggression can all be signs of underlying health issues. Out-of-the-norm behaviors may require a consult with a veterinarian.

Is your pet getting up in years? Older pets are more likely than young pets to develop medical and degenerative problems. Cognitive decline (dementia), and a loss of hearing and vision can contribute to changes in behavior. Extra patience is necessary when dealing with these factors, and veterinary monitoring of health is vital.

Is your pet being treated with kindness and compassion, or is he or she being abused, mishandled, or neglected by someone? Negative treatment toward an animal has the potential to cause aggressive and/or destructive behavior.

Reactions to vaccines can occur immediately, days, months, or even years afterwards, and can be a factor in both behavior and health issues such as fever, sluggishness, aggression, depression, loss of appetite, collapse, weakness, etc. Please do your homework here. More does not necessarily mean better! If your pet reacts to a vaccine, report it to your veterinarian, then consider doing only Titers to check for immune status. (Titers are blood tests done at the vet’s office). Note – the Rabies vaccine is the only vaccine required by law for your pet.

I hope you will give your pet the benefit of your love by doing all you can to help resolve any issues that appear during his or her lifetime!

*Readers are reminded it is entirely of their own accord, right, and responsibility to make informed and educated decisions/choices with their pet are health care. Jenny Magli disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.

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

Reprinted with permission from the Spring 2019 issue of Health & Happiness U.P. Magazine, copyright 2019. All rights reserved.

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Gifts from Nature: Pusilli et Magni (Great and Small), Crystal Cooper

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Photo by Crystal Cooper

It’s 4.5 billion years ago—the unstable atmosphere is comprised of noxious gases, and life is yet to begin. Barren rock exists, but most of the Earth is oceanic.  This vast ocean, a cauldron of primordial soup, is where the elements of life originated.  Algae began experimenting.  Through time, random chance, and fungal help, it creeped onto the rock and succeeded.  Our first land ancestors were born, assembling premier leaf and root-like structures to harness energy, making static life possible.  This ancestor is moss, the first land plant. 

Maximizing opportunities between air and earth for the greater good of all, moss began an atmospheric and terrestrial revolution.  Along with algae, it created an oxygenated atmosphere, making this space more habitable.  Through the weathering of rock with their root-like structures, moss cultivated soil. Growing together in tightly bound communities to conserve resources and communicate, moss also provided a physical nursery from which other plant and animal life would spring. This led to the forests and plant-covered earth we now inhabit.  A living affirmation of the fractal nature of existence, each cushion of moss sustains a micro-rainforest, complete with predators, prey, and a thriving food web. 

Today, still a master of microscopic minimalism, moss has survived history with around 22,000 current species worldwide.  Remaining small and simple has been the key to its fundamental efficiency.  To reduce requirements, moss only grows as big as necessary, keeping assimilation of raw materials easy.  Lacking the more evolved structures of higher plants, moss takes in nutrients and water directly through its tissues, which are only one cell-layer thick. This highlights just how sensitive they are, identifying them as indicators of healthy habitats.  

Moss inhabits places considered unfavorable by most plants, utilizing their small size and adaptive ability to become strikingly specialized or remain generalized. One often pictures a lush rainforest of moss flourishing on all available surfaces.  At the same time, it can persist on our barren rock outcrops, the branches of towering frozen pines, in the cracks of a sidewalk, on roofs, and even traveling on the shell of a turtle. Displaying its amphibious demeanor, moss’s main concern on land is water availability.  To sustain life in the variety of environments it does, moss exhibits the skill of desiccating, or drying up.  Halting photosynthesis, it patiently awaits the return of water and favorable conditions. 

The ancient and intimate relationship between moss, water, and the atmosphere still evolves.  This is prominently observed in the health and functioning of bogs and peatlands.  Here, Sphagnum mosses begin growing at the edge of a nearly stagnant body of water.  Many distinct properties enable the Sphagnum to create an ecosystem of its own.  The water-holding capacity of its leaves and production of humic acid result in water-logged, oxygen depleted, acidic, and nutrient-poor conditions that inhibit most plants from surviving. Over thousands of years, creeping inward on the water, the moss creates a floating mat—growing, accumulating, compressing, and storing plant matter.  This also inhibits bacterial function and decomposition.  The world’s peatlands and bogs sequester twice as much carbon as trees on the planet.  

Considering the earth’s greenhouse gas and climate crisis, the function and health of bogs and peatlands are imperative for our future.  Humans use peatlands and bogs for fuel and convert them to agricultural land.  This, along with other environmental threats, inhibits or destroys the function of these critical habitats.  When healthy, these places act as crucial carbon sink, storing carbon in the form of plant matter.  However, when function ceases they become an immense carbon source, releasing greenhouse gases back into the atmosphere.  One hectare (about 2.5 acres) of peatland can hold approximately 1,500 metric tons of carbon—and millions of hectares have been damaged. Raising awareness of our social and environmental responsibility as stewards of the earth, perhaps we can look to moss for lessons in surviving. 

A myriad of symbolic treasures can be gleaned from the life and ways of moss.  Returning to a small, simple, sensitive, and adaptable life, we might begin to heal our relationship with ourselves and nature. Moving forward in the face of our changing climate, living this way would be beneficial for all.

Humbly holding on to the rocks, fallen trees, and humic earth of our north woods, moss lives in the shade of the showy, flowering plants of spring and summer.  As those plants grow fast and tall, moss pales in their wake, remaining small, whispering the virtues of simplicity. As autumn falls across the land, leaves and tall plants browning as they perish, the small and mighty plants once again begin to shine.  Moving into winter, the enduring moss can photosynthesize at near-freezing temperatures. Blazing emerald, stark against the white snow, moss offers a colorful solace and the promise of life.

Resources:
Gathering Moss: A Natural and Cultural History of Mosses by Robin Wall Kimmerer – A book I reference in this article and in my life.  A beautiful balance of science and Native American wisdom, the author paints a living awareness and importance of moss.  

https://www.nationalgeographic.org/encyclopedia/bog/ 
Great general information on bogs/peatlands and other resources.

https://www.bogology.org – A fun, informational platform of bogs and an enthusiast’s goings-on.

Biello, David. (2009, December 08). Peat and Repeat: Can Major Carbon Sinks Be Restored by Rewetting the World’s Drained Bogs? Retrieved from https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/peat-and-repeat-rewetting-carbon-sinks/- A good article, though dated, for getting a general picture of the significance of bogs and peatlands around the world.

Crystal Cooper has called Marquette, MI home for a decade. She received a degree in Biology Ecology, emphasizing Botany at Northern Michigan University. Passionate about traditional ecological knowledge and sustainable, minimalistic lifestyle, Crystal’s focus is community resilience in the future of our changing climate. Reach her at crystal.coocooper@gmail.com.

Reprinted with permission from the Spring 2019 issue of Health & Happiness U.P. Magazine, copyright 2019. All rights reserved.

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New for Spring 2019

HH 47 Cover

Yup, we’re holding a space for spring, and bringing you a great new issue full of revitalizing ideas and information! Click here for a Central or Western U.P. location to pick up your copy!

This issue is dedicated to Barb Schmitt Mc-Bride, in honor of her strong, humanitarian spirit. During the fifteen years after her diagnosis of Stage IV breast cancer, she not only confounded the medical community with the resiliency of her health and times of total remission, she also helped inform her medical team on integrative health options, focused her altruism on creating the Breathe in Hope Retreat for cancer patients and their caregivers, and helped form the group Five Alive with other cancer patients to write a book about their experiences.

Throughout her life, Barb was an active champion of many causes. Despite the many challenges she encountered from the time of her diagnosis, Barb stayed interested and involved in the lives of many friends and family members, and fed her heart in travels with loved ones, photography, knitting, drumming, reading, art, and poetry. Barb stayed true to herself in choosing the course of health action she carefully arrived at as best for her. Her bright smile, lively interests, and caring heart have touched many and continue to inspire.

Reprinted with permission from the Spring 2019 issue of Health & Happiness U.P. Magazine, copyright 2019. All rights reserved.

 

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