“Finding Your Path to Fitness,” Dr. Conway McLean, DABFAS, FAPWHc, FAMIFAS

physical fitness, U.P. wellness publication, U.P. holistic business

Everyone knows of the many benefits of exercise. The news is all around us, from health segments on your evening news to the covers of glamour magazines. Exercise is health, and great expense is directed toward achieving it. From the latest elliptical machine to some ab-crunching gadget, diet books to weight-watching meal delivery service, fitness sells.

Anyone living in the modern world has heard of the benefits of exercise, from improved heart function to more stamina on the square dance, from clearer cognition to better weight maintenance. Then why don’t more people exercise? Many believe they are unable to exercise because they cannot jog or lift weights. Some common conditions that make it challenging to pursue physical fitness can include arthritic or damaged joints, neuro-degenerative disorders (such as Muscular Dystrophy), even limb loss.

What is exercise? If you truly study the concept, it means to physically exert oneself, the contracture of various muscle groups. But the muscles crossing any joint don’t actually have to move the joint. An exercise that involves no motion is termed an isometric one, in which you are tensing a muscle group, without any motion. As you can tighten your stomach muscles, you can also tense your biceps without bending your elbow.

Many alternative forms of exercise are available.

For example, tai chi is practiced by millions across the globe. Studies to date demonstrate its health benefits in both physical and spiritual directions. Originally a form of martial arts, it is now practiced also for its meditative aspect, as well as for promoting improved heart health. Gardening and walking are simple activities that many enjoy. They are also good alternatives to traditional exercise. Do not overlook them just because they are easy, or because you enjoy them. If you do any of these gentle exercises regularly, you will improve your overall health.

You can find yoga in most every Y and community center in the U.S. Yoga practice may build strength, fitness, flexibility, and even enhance self-awareness and your mind-body connection. Hundreds of different “schools” of yoga exist, with most typically including some breathing exercises, meditation, and assuming certain postures, also known as asanas, or poses. These are intended to stretch and flex various muscle groups. Many appreciate yoga’s benefits in disease prevention, i.e. health maintenance. Yoga is a great tool for staying healthy.

When it comes to being physically active, sometimes you need to think outside the box. Seek out activities requiring movement in some form, even if it might not typically be considered exercise. The activity must simply raise one’s heart rate or require physical exertion. For healthy adults, the Department of Health and Human Services recommends 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity per week. If someone is participating in more vigorous activity, DHHS recommends 75 minutes a week. A combination is best.

Being physically inactive is not only abnormal, it is also pathological because the old adage “use it or lose it” is really true.

Our bodies evolved to require the stresses inherent in physical activity to grow and function properly. Our bodies never evolved to cope with persistent inactivity. In prehistoric times, it was essential for survival to be physically active. It would be fair to say it is part of our evolutionary tree, our deepest roots. Our ancestors were hunter-gatherer types who walked miles every day, along with all the climbing and digging. Even farmers had to toil long and hard, although agriculture certainly transformed our diets.

Exercise, in some way, shape, or form, is vital for developing a strong and healthy circulatory system, durable bones safe from osteoporosis, a vigorous immune system, and a properly functioning brain. Almost every organ and body system benefits from regular exercise and is compromised by its absence. Physical inactivity is a significant risk factor for type 2 diabetes. It is now obvious our lack of motion, in a very real sense, has contributed to the increasing prevalence of high blood sugar levels and pre-diabetes.
Modern times have transformed our activities tremendously. Few residents of modern society perform physical activity, and more rare is the job requiring physical labor. Many have little interest in exercising in their off hours. Yet the benefits are real. Men who are unfit but then improve their fitness lower their risk of a heart attack by about 50%.

Obviously, I feel required to issue a warning. If you have any severe health problems, you would do well to consult with your doctor. Describe your plans. Unless you have an extremely serious medical condition, your health care provider should laud your efforts. Exercise is good medicine, and for just about everything. A pertinent question, of course, is how much? And what kind? There is some form of exercise for everyone; it’s just a matter of finding out what works for you.

What really determines which of us attains fitness as an adult?

Or becomes obese, and develops diabetes? How much control over your fitness do you have? With such immutable ingredients as one’s own genetic constitution, over which we clearly have no control, we all have inherited strengths and limitations. But, for the time being, you have whatever genes were passed on to you. Make the best of them and make the best you possible.

We know fixing our health care system will be difficult. Yet, there is an inexpensive, readily available answer, and one highly effective in prevention. Utilizing this method will even help rein in our skyrocketing health care costs. Start exercising. As a culture, we need to, certainly more than at current levels. It is what we have evolved to do. So get fit by getting active!

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 Spring 2020 issue of Health & Happiness U.P. Magazine. Copyright 2020, Empowering Lightworks, LLC.

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Are We in “The Sedona of the Midwest”?

Sedona of the Midwest, U.P. as midwestern metaphysical hub, U.P. holistic wellness publication

Perhaps you’ve heard talk of Marquette or the U.P. in general being referred to as “The Sedona of the Midwest.” Over the last four or so decades, Sedona, Arizona has become widely known for the healing power of energy vortexes found in nature there, drawing healers, those seeking healing, and those simply curious about it to the area. Is it just idle talk that something similar is happening here in our northern climes, or is there something more to this idea? We spoke with some U.P. residents and asked them to weigh in on the topic.

Dar Shepherd: I’ve heard that before. Sedona is Sedona, and Marquette is Marquette. Both are so strong in the beauty of the natural elements. When I was living in Sedona, I’d go in the grocery store, and come outside, and take a breath, just because of being in this bowl of the red rocks. It’s gorgeous. It’s stunning. Here, I can see the lake right out my window, and then, of course, there’s walking Presque Isle. For me, they’re equal in the energy of the beauty.

The energy is palpable in both places. The feeling I get in Sedona—it’s wonderful, big energy, and the same is true of my experience here in Marquette. The people who are drawn to that are artists, writers, and people who are drawn to nature. And it might be easier to feel that inner being in places like these.

I spent two-and-a-half years in Sedona, and the majority of the last 40 years here in the U.P. and there are definitely more yoga classes, more healers, more natural medicines, more galleries, more focus on the arts and authors now than before….” As for the vortexes, “The vortex is within you.

Mary Alice Silverthorn: I moved here about two-and-a-half years ago from Eugene, Oregon. I really didn’t know what to expect, coming from the West Coast. When I came and started investigating all the holistic offerings and spiritual offerings in the community, I was beyond surprised! This is a community that has people doing cacao ceremonies, which I had never even heard of before, 5 or 6 acupuncturists, 3 or 4 cranio-sacral therapists, channeling… Per capita, this place has more in terms of holistic, complementary care, and alternative, metaphysical groups. So, I was and am still in awe of what we have here relative to the size of the area. I would compare it to Sedona because of that holistic metaphysical interest in the area.

Some of the deciding factors for my move were this very nice, huge co-op, and picking up Health & Happiness there and seeing all that’s offered here. It’s amazing. It’s a very healing environment. Looking at Health & Happiness’s directory, seeing just the sheer amount of people doing holistic, sacred work—this might be the place with the greatest number of healers per capita. I don’t say it lightly, having lived in over a dozen different places, and traveling as well. You don’t necessarily expect holistic offerings all the time in a smaller city. We have so much here. I didn’t want to go somewhere where I didn’t have access to holistic healing, integrative healing. Even the doctors here—there are Doctors of Osteopathy working with herbs. That’s not common for a place of this size.

The other piece is the land itself.

Coming from the West Coast, where I’d see the ocean about a couple of times a month, there’s something about Lake Superior, especially the southern shore, that I think is very sacred. I think the exposed rock, the Black Rocks, perhaps the oldest exposed rocks in the world? There is something very special and grounding about them. And going and seeing them, but also just being on the shores of Lake Superior. In this area, unlike where I lived in northern Minnesota, you can go, you can swim. There are sand beaches. It’s not only beautiful and wild, it’s also accessible. It’s welcoming. Of course, you have to be respectful of Lake Superior, just as in Sedona you have to be respectful of the mountains. This wild, sacred, grounding energy—every time I leave and come back, I just give this sigh of relief. And Lake Superior is here, and Mother Earth is exposed.

I’ve not been to Sedona yet, but I’ve lived all around—Lower Michigan, South Carolina, Colorado, Oregon, California, Minnesota, and in various locations throughout those states, as well as Moscow, Russia. The people here are the most welcoming and heart-centered that I’ve ever experienced. There’s definitely major heart energy in this area.

I’m in awe of it, and I could see it being the Sedona of the Upper Midwest with the benefits of it not being commercialized, as I hear Sedona is. It’s still very pristine and sacred.

When I visit cities, I always check out the co-op, libraries, thrift stores, holistic businesses, and rock shops. I think we could even compete with some of the bigger, more well-known cities. In Eugene, I couldn’t find a reflexologist. We’ve got three or four here. We should be known not only for our nature, our trails, but also for the healing arts.

I would also say eventually, and maybe sooner than later, this will be a hub for healing where people can come from afar for a week or two for deep spiritual healing from the nature that we have.”

Cindy Engle: I think it’s the draw of the Lake, and being nestled in the kona dolomite (a pinkish local rock), and the rock cuts, and the Black Rocks—it’s all part of why it’s pinpointed here, I believe. I definitely enjoy talking with NMU students who come up here, and get attached to the lake, and can’t leave. I was thirteen when we moved up here. I got out the car, walked into the little cabin we were renting, and said, “I’m home.” I knew immediately that this was my place in the world.

I think we definitely have a huge conglomeration of talent drawn to this area, drawn to the lake…

Jake Hulce: I haven’t been to Sedona, but if you’re looking for a place with a lot of different energies to it, the U.P. is an amazing place. It’s extremely unique. We have a good diversity of minerals that’s kind of unique to the entire world. The copper in the Copper Country is specific to it—there is no other copper in the world that has the same chemical make-up. That’s why you find places like the Keweenaw vortex and stuff like that up there.

The U.P. has a lot of magic spots in the forests…. It’s a very interesting place energetically. You also have the Great Lakes. The entire Lake Superior shoreline is amazing.

The Keweenaw is one of my favorite places. With work, I was able to get to every corner of the Keweenaw. The copper gives the Keweenaw a very unique energy signature. Copper is a conductor—it holds energy, draws energy, transfers energy, moves energy. If you travel up the west side of the Keweenaw on M-26, you’ll hit a few little towns—Eagle River, Eagle Harbor. If you spend some time on that road, go to the roadside parks there, and face out over Lake Superior to the west, you have all the copper in the ground behind you, the energy of the lake in front of you. That whole west side of the Keweenaw is an incredible place.

Then there’s Kitch-iti-kipi near Manistique with underground natural springs that have formed a small lake of pure clean, clear water coming up at 500 gallons/minute. That place holds a lot of significance to it energetically.

Groundwater is purified by Mother Earth. It’s a natural life spring, life well.

Even in the Bible, the living waters are mentioned. Jesus talks about their being energetically clean because they’ve been purified by the earth. A lot of them have been untouched by man.

Menominee County has a huge vein of gold in the ground. Gogebic County has uranium, which only a few places in the world do.

There’s dense forest up here. Many animal spirits reside in these woods, in state forest and county forest land. Communing with nature out there is absolutely amazing. We have thousands and thousands of acres that nobody touches. The footprint of man in some of these places is actually extremely small. If you want to get out, commune with nature, the U.P. is the place to do it.

From a metaphysics standpoint, lots of these county and state parks are the most energetic.

They hold the most spirit to them. That’s why even those who aren’t consciously spiritually in tune are still drawn to them because their spirit knows this.

As for crystal mineralization, the Seaman Mineral Museum at Michigan Tech is open to the public five days a week. It’s all minerals from the U.P.—there’s dozens and dozens and dozens of examples of quartz and fluorite. The U.P. has an immense amount of clear quartz, and white quartz, and some low-grade amethyst.

Then there’s Lake of the Clouds toward Ontonagon. You can go up on some of the big hills we call mountains, and there’s incredible views. The Copper Country has Brockway Mountain. You can see for miles, and miles, and miles. On a clear night in the summer, the stargazing is phenomenal. You can see the whole heavens. Anyone who wants to commune with nature, commune with stars, that’s the place to be. And it’s already a park.

The rivers talk in the U.P. The water spirits up here are amazing. There are so many waterfalls and streams that are so energetically charged.

Roslyn McGrath: Having been fortunate enough to visit Sedona, Arizona, as well as Machu Picchu in Peru, and some other incredible spots in Southern France, I have to say the U.P. definitely has its own magic, with places where the movement of subtle energies is every bit as vital and wonderful in its own way. You know an energy vortex is simply a swirling movement of energy. Our bodies have them (chakras or energy centers) and earth has them, with some definitely more palpable than others. There are places like Craig Lake State Park, spots along the trail at Wetmore Landing, areas in the Keweenaw and Ottawa National Forest, and I’m sure others I haven’t visited yet, that are truly special. And if you make the effort to approach them mindfully, you might just be amazed.

I think this, and the energy of Lake Superior is an important part of it, is a big factor in why so many healers and creatives have been drawn up here, or have lived here all their lives and become sparked to express themselves this way. The amount of artists and healers here has grown substantially since I moved here in 1994. Holistic wellness fairs, such as Marquette’s 21-year-old Spring Annual Holistic Health Fair, the People’s Fair, now held north of Calumet, and newer ones, such as the Keweenaw Summer Celebration in Calumet, Escanaba’s Mind-Body-Spirit Wellness Event, Marquette’s Spirit of the Solstice, and others held at Algomah Acres in Greenland, are blossoming. Holistic complexes are beginning to sprout up, such as Be Well Marquette. And I expect this trend will only continue as part of this nationwide pattern.

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

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Working with Medicine Wheels: East Direction (Part 4 of 4), Jude Catallo & Scott Emerson

Medicine Wheels, U.P. holistic wellness publication

Know this. The actions of the molecules in your body are influenced by the status of your energetic biofield.

If you’ve read the first three parts of this series, and more importantly, if you have begun working with Medicine Wheel ceremonies, you can understand their simple yet timeless quality. They have been used by many generations of indigenous Americans for thousands of years over wide geographic areas.

They have great power to bring healing and spiritual growth to the individual as well as communities at large. When something works, it persists. If you have not yet done so, we advise you now to read these articles about the first three directions on our or Health & Happiness’s website before reading this last one of the series.

The realm of Spirit is associated with the East direction. For most indigenous people of North America, Eagle is recognized as the archetype of the East. The Lakota Sioux word for the East is Iwiyohiyanpata and is associated with morning, spring, and childhood. The Lakota color of the East is yellow like our sun rising into the sky each day. The language of the East is energy resonance.

When we connect with Eagle, we experience the place of becoming, and reality reveals its underlying true energetic essence that is 99% consciousness, and only 1% matter. With their large powerful wings, eagles soar high above the mountains, rivers, forests and lakes, yet with their keen vision can spot fish in the water 2,000 feet below.

The ability of Eagle to see the big picture and the small details simultaneously urges us to rise above the mundane battles occupying our lives, and gain the view from the heavens close to the Great Spirit. When facing any difficulty, the closer we can get to the energy of Spirit, the less energy we need to effect change, and the universe seems to conspire in our behalf.

The four teachings of the East provide a portal to the way of the sage “who transcends to become resonant with Spirit, bringing wisdom, healing, and beauty into our world.”

The four teachings of the East are: Mastering Time, Owning Your Projections, No Mind, and Indigenous Alchemy. Understand what the sages and the scientists know—that beyond cause and effect, coincidence and synchronicity are also qualities of time that operate in a circular and simultaneous fashion from future to present to past and also all at once. This is what quantum physicists call temporal entanglement.

Develop a regular meditation practice to silence your mind, and become familiar with your luminous energy field and its projections. Resonate with Spirit, and see infinite possibilities to bring beauty, balance, and grace into yourself and all our relations. Embark on a sacred journey.

Spirit is a fundamental property of the universe. It is an expansive, infinite, creative, matrix of resonating energy, a consciousness that keeps the cosmos evolving and renewing itself. You can trust in Spirit’s power and wisdom. This is brought into focus by creating your Medicine Wheel and gaining awareness of your energy body within a sacred space.

Open sacred space and create a Medicine Wheel honoring the East and the Eagle archetype, preferably with an eastward vista.

As you create your Medicine Wheel, ask, “Who is making this?” Then ask, “Who is asking this?” Stand on the East side of your Medicine Wheel. Begin the 4/7/8 breath (4-count inhale, 7-count hold, 8-count exhale) for seven cycles, extend your arms, and look at your hands. Now close your eyes, and feel your hands as vibrating energy. Next, with eyes closed, rub your hands together briefly, extend them apart, and slowly bring them together. Note any subtle tingling or vibrational sensation changes as you bring your hands toward each other. Do you feel any repelling or resisting force as they come near each other? Try to sense this same sensation in your shoulders & chest.

Repeat this exercise often to become more aware of your underlying energetic nature. Experiment with something that triggers anger or fear as well as gratitude or love, and feel the different effects on your energy body.

Focus only on the roles or beliefs about yourself and the teachings that you moved from the North into the East quadrant of your Medicine Wheel last time. Have you been successful in relinquishing into the fire the roles that are no longer valid? Have you become those teachings as you walk on the Earth?

If so, find a role stick(s) to hold with the object(s) representing the teaching in your hands, along with your essence stone. Powerfully blow these new energetic patterns into the stone. Place the stone into the center of the Medicine Wheel. If no transcendence is experienced yet, also blow that into the stone. Leave, and return the next day.

Meditation is absolutely essential for work in the East, and is greatly facilitated by opening of the eighth chakra, and heart presence breathing.

Meditation has been found to disrupt the default mode network (DMN) in the brain that creates repetitive thoughts focused on the self or ego. The DMN wastes energy and leads to depressive and anxious states.

The eighth chakra is a glowing sun-like sphere just outside the body above our crown, and is known by ancient medicine women and men as the place where the divine resides within us–our soul. To expand it to form a sacred, healing bubble surrounding you for your personal work, thrust both arms together up over your head, expand this sphere with your hands, and use your arms to slowly pull this energy down over your entire body to your feet. Then slowly return your hands to the mid-chest over your heart.

Feel how this feels and then begin the 4/7/8 heart breath. Stand on the East side of your Medicine Wheel facing east. Close your eyes and inhale with the in-breath feeling to come through the front of your chest wall over your heart. Let the breath expand briefly as a light within your heart as you remember anything of beauty you’ve experienced in your life. Exhale out through the front of your chest over the heart. Repeat several cycles, then stop the counting, and retain only the pattern of breathing for several minutes. Heart breathing has been shown to create strong resonant coherence within your energy body. Also, in our experience, resonance with Spirit is felt through the heart more than the mind.

Now repeat the exercise from yesterday for experiencing the energy body. Retrieve your essence stone from the center of the Medicine Wheel and hold it next to your heart. Call to the Eagle archetype to come and wrap her wings around you, and allow you to experience the world of Spirit. Journey safely with Eagle, and let go. Feel yourself dissolving into the energetic field state, into the place of becoming. This is the world of an infinite, conscious, energetic matrix of wisdom where everything everywhere is intertwined. It is timeless. Resonate with this immensity for a few moments, and then return to your Medicine Wheel with Eagle. Allow this experience to move down into your body. Embody it. This is indigenous alchemy.

Your essence stone now has become a medicine stone storing your new energetic resonance pattern.

It is a power object you can hold and consult at any time to help preserve what you have accomplished, and store future changes and personal course corrections as you complete future cycles around the Medicine Wheel.

Destroy your East Medicine Wheel, close sacred space, leave, and walk upon the Earth in beauty until your next Medicine Wheel ceremony honoring the South direction.

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; & Andean Cosmic Vision Apprenticeship, Don Theo Paredes 2003 – ongoing.

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

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Is AARP® for You? (Part 2), Lucy LaFaive

senior viewpoint, AARP foundation, U.P. holistic wellness publicatioin

Did you know AARP ® has a foundation that helps provide economic opportunity, social connectedness, and legal advocacy for older citizens? AARP is a nonprofit, nonpartisan, social welfare organization focused on empowering older Americans to live their best lives. AARP addresses issues affecting older citizens including poverty, social isolation, loneliness, affordable accessible housing, physical and financial exploitation, and fraud. Its affiliated charity, the AARP Foundation, helps promote this mission through a number of valuable programs.

Economic Opportunity

There are two AARP Foundation programs available in the U.P. promoting economic opportunity—the Senior Community Service Employment Program (SCSEP), and the Tax-Aide Program.

An AARP Foundation SCSEP office in Marquette is responsible for serving the entire U.P. and Michigan’s northern lower peninsula. The SCSEP is a federally funded program administered by the U.S. Department of Labor that trains and helps low-income, unemployed seniors fifty-five and older get jobs. The SCSEP participants receive job training, support services, community service placement, wages, and assistance in finding future employment.

The AARP Foundation operates the SCSEP for the U.S. Department of Labor in twenty-one states, including Michigan and Puerto Rico.

This program benefits not only job seekers, but also non-profit community and government agencies that host individuals. Hosting organizations provide training to participants while getting free staffing because seniors are being paid through the SCSEP.

A few of the one-hundred-and-twenty hosting organizations in the U.P. and northern Lower Peninsula benefitting from this program are Habitat for Humanity, Salvation Army, YMCA, United Way, Aspirus, Yellow Dog Watershed Preserve, Room at the Inn, Trillium House, U.P. Children’s Museum, the Women’s Center in Marquette, and the Caring House in Iron Mountain.

Courtney Hafer, Project Director of AARP Foundation SCSEP in Marquette, says she’s “always enrolling participants, and is here to help as many people as we can.” To apply for this program, your annual income must be less than the federal poverty level ($15,613 for 1 person, $21,138 for 2). Job seekers and non-profit organizations interested in hosting can contact the Marquette office (906-273-2460, chafer@aarp.org) for more information.

From February through April, the AARP Foundation’s Tax-Aide Program provides free tax counseling and preparation, including e-filing for low to moderate income people, with special consideration for those fifty or older.

This program is currently available in the U.P. in Marquette, Gwinn, Negaunee, Iron Mountain, Sault Ste. Marie, Houghton, Menominee, and Escanaba. Well-trained volunteers provide tax preparation at these locations by appointment.

Eight-year volunteer Rich Brich, the Marquette Local Coordinator and the Coordinator of Technology for the U.P., would like to provide the program to more areas of the U.P. Brich and other AARP volunteers are “constantly looking for new folks” to volunteer.

Fifteen-year volunteer Betty Trudell, U.P. District Coordinator, estimates the AARP Foundation Tax-Aide Program helped between 2,000 and 3,000 U.P. residents last year. She also emphasized the constant need for volunteers. She is currently looking for volunteers in Escanaba and Iron Mountain.

To volunteer or get help with your taxes, you can find a location near you by calling 1-888-227-7669, or Googling AARP Tax Aide to be linked to the AARP Foundation Tax-Aide Program site. You can also go to AARP.org and scroll down to the bottom of the page to the list under “Information for You” for the Tax Aide page link.

Social Connectedness

U.P. opportunities for increasing social connectedness include free social events such as those mentioned in my previous article, Is AARP for You? (Part 1)—AARP on Tap, A Taste of AARP, Movies for Grownups, and AARP classes. If you are interested in volunteering to help bring more of the AARP social programs mentioned above to the U.P., contact Sally Bruce, U.P. Michigan AARP Executive Council Member and eighteen-year volunteer, at sallybruce62@gmail.com, or (906) 786-3827.

AARP also increases social connection by providing community service opportunities. Some Foundation programs have a two-fold benefit—they benefit the individuals being helped and also the helpers. Volunteering is good for your physical, mental, and emotional health. It promotes a sense of satisfaction from helping others. Other benefits include lower stress levels, increased brain function, increased dopamine levels, lower risk of depression, a sense of purpose and fulfillment, and a longer life. Volunteering reduces isolation and loneliness, and increases social connectedness.

Many AARP Foundation programs are volunteer-run, so volunteers are essential to the programs. Another AARP Foundation program in the U.P. seeking volunteers to serve more areas is the AARP Driver Safety Program. More U.P. volunteers are sought to teach its Smart Driver course.

Currently, the U.P. has two long-term volunteers from Marquette and Newberry. Chris Earle, the AARP Driver Safety Zone Coordinator and Driver Safety Instructor responsible for the program in the northern Lower Peninsula and the U.P., travels up from Traverse City to teach classes in the U.P. If you are interested in volunteering, please contact him at (586) 707-5836 or dc123mi@charter.net.

Don Balmer of Marquette has been teaching the AARP Driver Safety “Smart Driver” course for over twenty years. The nationwide program is specifically designed for drivers fifty or older. The 8-hour classroom course discusses changes in roads, cars, and the law occurring since the over-50 crowd began driving. The refresher course includes research-based safety strategies, proper use of vehicle technology, and information on age-related changes such as medication and alcohol use, and health issues that affect driving ability. Winter driving is also discussed. Some insurance companies may offer discounts for participation in the driver safety course.

Classes are offered between May and October based on the instructor’s schedule. Earle will be scheduling classes this spring. You can find more information at aarp.org/findacourse or by calling 1-877-846-3299. If no classes are listed, check again as classes may be added.

Legal Advocacy

AARP Foundation Litigation (AFL) is responsible for legal advocacy. AFL attorneys fight elder abuse, discrimination, and other barriers to employment. They also protect investors, employee health and pension benefits, and access to affordable accessible housing, among other things.

AFL was involved in a recent settlement with Senior Citizens Housing of Ann Arbor. The case was settled after Senior Citizens Housing of Ann Arbor removed the “able to live independently” requirement from its lease, and implemented practices to prevent disability discrimination and to make reasonable accommodations for its tenants.

For more information about AARP or the AARP Foundation, go to aarp.org.

Lucy Jeanette La Faive is a stress reduction, relaxation, and empowerment specialist living in Marquette. She loves to share her tools for joyful living in classes, workshops, and presentations. For more information, you can call (906) 225-1059.

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

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Spring 2020 Issue Being Distributed!

Click here for a U.P. distribution point near you!

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Spring 2020 Issue in Process

U.P. holistic health publication, U.P. holistic wellness publication, Upper Peninsula of MI holistic wellness publication

Getting excited for our upcoming Spring 2020 issue, full of great info and approaches to support your total well-being, from Finding Your Path to Fitness to Extraordinary Endurance for parents to Working with Medicine Wheels to Veggies for Spring, How to Support a Pet with Loss in Hearing, Sight or Mobility, and much more!

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Creative Inspiration: I Know You’ll Be Okay, by Gala Malherbe

holistic wellness in MI's Upper Peninsula, empty nest, winter poem, mother's love for son

Cold snow squeaks under tires as we turn into the empty parking lot after dark.
We wonder where everyone could be, think briefly of an entire city choosing other things.
I reach high into roof box, deliver skis and poles to arms smaller than my own.

We stoop to connect boots, fumble to connect mittened hands, breathe the tight cold air of night.
Light poles illuminate white alley through trees. Glistening tracks lure us from brightness to dim
and back again. I follow you, watch you enter and exit each puddle of light, each stretch of darkness.
Our skis swallow reflection, our poles punch rhythm beside us.

Silent, we stride, scale familiar grades, own this space, this secret time. The memories intertwine:
the morning we swished through ankle deep powder, sliced first tracks into palate of freshness,
the time, winter still young, we skirted around dirt, skated across ice, too eager to stay home,
the chocolate chips we pulled from pockets, frozen solid, chewing palmfuls as we rested.

I remember carrying you on my back, your weight pulling me as you bobbed from side to side,
the way you squealed from your perch as we descended, grunted with effort as I climbed,
the way your sister skied ahead as I fiddled with your pack and wasn’t afraid of the darkness,
of the forest, of herself, the way her small song parted colossal hemlocks and pines.

I taught you to mount the hills yourself, legs spread leaning. My hand on your bottom
holding you steady, an awkward pair, we trudged to the top. I held you tight under snowsuit arms,
steered us down, our bellies dropping, your miniature skis floating over snow between mine.

Tonight, we pause at the top of a hill. You step from the edge and let yourself go.
I watch your perfect silhouette glide and shrink into the night, beneath stars and moon,
beneath my giant love for you.

Gala Malherbe lives in Marquette, MI.  She enjoys writing about her children, her connection to nature, and the struggles and resilience of the human condition. 

Reprinted with permission from the Winter 2019-2020 issue of Health & Happiness U.P. Magazine. All rights reserved.

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Holistic Animal Care: Two-Way Gifts of the Human-Pet Bond, by Jenny Magli

human-pet bond, mutual benefits of pet ownership, holistic animal care, holistic wellness in MI's Upper Peninsula, U.P. holistic businesses

I love my animal companions to the moon and back, and I think they feel the same way by the affection, trust, compassion, and unconditional love they show me. Over the years, I have been blessed with many dogs and cats usually living well into their golden years….thankfully. Each one has held a very special place in my heart. They have all been rays of hope, and have helped see me through much of the wonders and heartache that life can bring. The bonds we have shared have truly been remarkable. I truly feel blessed, and firmly believe that my life has been fuller just by being in their presence! They give us a sense of purpose by addressing their needs and care. They’re good for the body, mind and soul!

Pets play a very important part in the lives of many.

Studies have shown that benefits of pet ownership include helping to calm us, improving cardiovascular health (lower blood pressure), improving immunity, and helping us reduce anxiety and stress. Having a pet can help improve self-esteem, and typically causes us to increase our levels of physical activity by engaging in walks and playtime. Socializing becomes a bit easier when we’re out and about with our critters as others tend to enjoy seeing and visiting with animals and their owners.

Pets provide unconditional love, and taking care of them can give us a sense of purpose. Animals’ pack instincts reflect strong social bonds for survival, so it’s no surprise they show concern for all the humans and/or other household pets as part of their family in return. Face-licking, jumping, tail-wagging, lap-sitting, and snuggling are just a few of the ways animal companions show affection to us. Barking at and being alert to strange noises and people coming to the door are a way to show protection for their family. Greeting us (their people) at the door after being away is an especially heartfelt sign of affection.

Given all the many positives of pets, it’s understandable that more and more pets are being trained in pet therapy to attend to the needs of humans and vice versa. These special service animals are being incorporated into nursing homes, hospitals, hospices, and even used in disaster relief! Pet support and assistance animals help those with all sorts of needs, such as PTSD, depression, and loneliness. Some pets can even be specially trained to assist those with disabilities, such as guiding the blind, alerting the deaf, and even pulling wheelchairs! The list goes on and on. They can also be trained to help recognize oncoming seizures, epilepsy and diabetic issues, etc.

And our pets receive more than simply food, shelter, and vet care in return. For example, according to Dr. Brian Hare, a professor of evolutionary anthropology at Duke University and a leading expert on canine cognition, simply staring at your dog, as well as petting and playing with him or her, raises both your oxytocin levels, helping each of you feel good and strengthening the bond between you.

But before you decide to get or add a pet, please make sure you are able to care for it completely.

It’s important to consider the needs of certain breeds as well. Some require lots of exercise (Can you accommodate that?) and others require very little. Keep the temperament of the animal (breed) in mind as well. Do you have the energy, strength, and time to give to an animal? Are you financially able to afford food, grooming, and medical care? Please consider pet ownership carefully before bringing an animal into your home. The overall goal is to offer them a comfortable “forever home” and to find a long-lasting, loving partnership for you both!

*Readers are reminded it is entirely of their own accord, right and responsibility to make informed and educated decisions/choices with their pets’ health care. 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, Healing Touch for Animals (Level 2) and NES Bioenergetics Practitioner. Consultations are done over the phone and via email. To contact, call (906) 235-3524 or email at 1healthlink@gmail.com.

Reprinted with permission from the Winter 2019-2020 issue of Health & Happiness U.P. Magazine. All rights reserved.

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Green Living: Farming the Sun? by Steve Waller

solar benefits, farming the sun, green living, holistic wellness in MI's Upper Peninsula

Farmers have been harvesting sunlight for millennia. The DNA in each plant combines CO2 from air, H2O (water), and energy from sunlight. Harvesting sunlight drives photosynthesis. Every leaf is a solar panel.

Those simple ingredients miraculously assemble into the crops we eat directly or feed to livestock. That green vegetable, golden grain, tuber, bean, or fruit is a convenient bundle of air, water and solar power (with trace elements from soil). We carry that bundled solar energy home for delicious, nutritious meals that energize our bodies and our thoughts. We are what we eat. What else could our bodies be? We are air, water and sunlight. No other energy source is involved. Our body’s energy is solar energy. Thank the farmers.

Today, some Upper Peninsula farmers have a new green crop available, one they never expected.

A way of farming so new and different that they are cautiously uncertain about it. Technology has now enabled U.P. farmers to economically harvest sunlight directly, feeding our other insatiable appetite—that for clean electricity.

Farmers in sunny locations, near power lines, are being invited to lease much of their land to solar producers who plant solar panels and harvest the electricity to feed our green power hunger. Harvesting this new crop is an opportunity for farmers to escape the uncertainty of market prices, water issues, and unpredictable government subsidies.

Solar power enables farmers to gain significant, reliable, year-round income from land leases (much like seasonal leases many farms already have) instead of just summer or autumn harvests. Solar power is a non-toxic, no-till crop that actually improves land and water by essentially eliminating pesticides, herbicides, and chemical fertilizers. Space between rows of panels are often deliberately planted with “pollinator species,” flowers that attract bees and other pollinators, benefiting neighboring farms. Solar panels are silent, reliable, work year-round, aren’t labor intensive, and are friendly to wildlife.

Some farmers (and tourists) are not willing to exchange the classic view of cropland or pasture for solar panels. The change seems too radical, too technical versus biological, too non-traditional. Yet, the “traditional farm,” a biological food factory, is by necessity increasingly industrialized, genetically modified, and chemically enhanced. In winter, much of it is barren and unproductive. In spring, it is a sea of black tilled soil, subject to erosion, runoff, and flooding. Wildlife is discouraged.

Being a successful land steward (farmer) is a demanding and highly refined skill, complicated by many risks, pressured by markets, productivity goals, weather, and the economy.

Many farmers are older, with a lifestyle that younger generations either can’t afford or don’t want. Some owners are concerned that they can no longer work their land profitably. Selling land for a housing development might be their only reasonable alternative, but development ends the farm, the drive-by farm views, and permanently turns farmland into another housing subdivision.

Solar energy can enable veteran farmers to remain productive. Solar can help support them for the rest of their lives and their descendants’ lives for generations to come. A solar farm is one that can be kept in the family, even if the descendants are living a different life.

Willingly exchanging a bucolic landscape for a solarscape moves us toward a sustainable future. Solar panels will produce a yield, even as climate change puts conventional crops and farmers at risk. Solar power prevents greenhouse gases, protecting our rural environment and lifestyle. Solar farmers can provide the needs of the many in new ways, just as farmers have done for centuries. What we find aesthetically pleasing is influenced by our values and priorities. A farm crop of solar panels, working silently, cleanly providing for our needs, is beautiful.

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. He and a partner own a U.P. wind/solar business called Lean Clean Energy. He can be reached at Steve@UPWallers.net.

Reprinted with permission from the Winter 2019-2020 issue of Health & Happiness U.P. Magazine. All rights reserved.

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Senior Viewpoint: Is AARP for You? (Part 1), by Lucy Jeannette LaFaive

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I’ve been a member of AARP for 19 years now. I’ll be honest-the reason my husband and I joined was for the discounts motels and other businesses offer AARP members. Over the years, I have come to really appreciate many of the other benefits of membership.

I have recently become interested in finding out more about AARP. I discovered it offers much more than I realized. AARP (formerly the American Association of Retired Persons) no longer just focuses on retired people. Membership is now open to anyone fifty or older. AARP is a nonprofit, nonpartisan, social welfare organization whose focus is to empower older Americans to live their best life.

Besides the parent organization, AARP has an affiliated charity, AARP Foundation, and a for-profit, taxable subsidiary, AARP Services, Inc. Most of us have seen the ads for insurance and other products endorsed by AARP Services, Inc. Many people incorrectly assume AARP sells insurance and other products. AARP is paid by insurance companies and other businesses for using its name. AARP uses these funds to supplement its membership dues in order to be able to cover the services it offers AARP members. AARP provides members with information, advocacy, and community service opportunities. In this article, I’ll explain the information and legislative advocacy portions of AARP membership.

AARP provides educational information to members in its magazine, bulletin, classes, and online at http://www.aarp.org.

Topics include Social Security, Medicare, health and wellness, member stories, celebrities, fraud, finance, travel, books, movies, entertainment, driver safety, and more.

Personally, I have come to rely on AARP’s help in navigating the world of Medicare and Social Security. I learn a lot about both just from reading AARP’s magazine and bulletin. Its columnists have provided me with very useful information that I didn’t get from talking to Social Security office personnel.

AARP’s in-person classes and events rely on volunteers to organize, plan, and schedule them. Currently, the U.P. has two very dedicated volunteers from Escanaba-Sally and Jimmy Bruce. The Bruces, age seventy-five, have been volunteering with AARP for 18 and 12 years respectively. They are members of the Michigan AARP Executive Counsel, which helps set AARP’s priorities in Michigan. Sally and Jimmy Bruce have each received the Shining Star Award in recognition of their volunteer service to AARP in 2002 and 2005, respectively. Sally Bruce recently received an award from UPCAP, the U.P. Area Agency on Aging, and the Michigan Long Term Care Ombudsman Program (MLTCOP) for her 33 years of service advocating for elders of the Upper Peninsula.

With the help of local volunteers, the Bruces have organized events in the U.P…

such as Movies for Grownups, fraud presentations, and a yearly AARP table at the Upper Peninsula State Fair in Escanaba on Senior Day. They have also organized free social events in Escanaba and Marquette for anyone fifty or older. In May 2017, the Bruces organized A Taste of AARP at the Bonifas Arts Center that included wine tasting, singing, line dancing, hors d’oeuvres, a chef’s demo, and presentations by Michigan AARP state director Paula D. Cunningham and AARP Associate State Director of Government Affairs Melissa Seifert.

Another A Taste of AARP event was held at the Holiday Inn in Marquette during November 2017. This past July, AARP On Tap was held at the Upper Hand Brewery in Escanaba, which included beer, hors d’oeuvres, and AARP presentations. The Bruces are currently looking for another U.P. brewery willing to host AARP On Tap in the future.

The Bruces have also helped the AARP Michigan Office with events such as hosting the Michigan Veterans Affairs Agency to present information about veterans’ benefits in the U.P. Another U.P. Veterans event is being planned for 2020.

Many educational, entertainment, and outreach programs are available similar to the ones the Bruces have organized, and more. To look up activities available in Michigan, go to states.aarp.org, then select Michigan and search for your area. However, to help make such events happen, volunteers are necessary. If you are interested in volunteering to help bring more AARP programs to the U.P., contact Sally Bruce at sallybruce62@gmail.com or 906-786-3827.

AARP also works as an advocate for older Americans both legislatively and within the legal system.

As a non-partisan advocate, AARP lobbies for legislation benefiting older Americans in Washington DC and in each state. Michigan’s state office is in Lansing about two-and-a-half blocks from the Capitol, making it easy for AARP to stay in touch with what’s happening legislatively in Michigan that will affect its older citizens. Currently, the priority is to reduce prescription drug costs, and to make it possible for citizens to get lower-price drugs from Canada. Expanding advance practice nursing and tele-health are also priorities to help make healthcare more widely available, especially in low-income and rural areas like the U.P. AARP has also lobbied for family caregivers, and supported the passage of bills in Michigan in 2016 and 2018 that help family caretakers care for their loved ones more effectively.

Legal advocacy is conducted through AARP’s affiliated charity, the AARP Foundation. To read about AARP’s affiliated charity, the AARP Foundation, and the work it does to promote economic opportunity, social connectedness, community service opportunities, and legal advocacy, see Part 2 in the Spring 2020 issue of Health & Happiness U.P. Magazine.

Lucy Jeanette La Faive is a stress reduction, relaxation, and empowerment specialist living in Marquette. She loves to share her tools for joyful living in classes, workshops and presentations. For more information, call (906) 225-1059.

Reprinted with permission from the Winter 2019-2020 issue of Health & Happiness U.P. Magazine. All rights reserved.

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