Monday, December 12, 2011

Outside Observations

Excerpts from a letter I just received in the mail... 

Dear TMV,

In my eyes, it is always great meeting new people but just as important to maintain in contact especially soon after leaving the land (Gesundheit). From my experience, once you depart from Gesundheit and enter the real world, there are a number of things in life that occupy your time & cause you to slowly forget the memorable experiences you just had. that's why the first few months afterwards are vital if you want to stay in contact with the people you just met. I know I only spent less than a week interacting with your group, but I meant it when I say that it was the best I've experienced there. You all went from being complete strangers from all across the world to shedding tears upon the departure of each person. That emotional swing doesn't happen overnight. It took time to break down the personas of each person and become more comfortable with each other. Simple acts, such as cooking and eating together, helped develop a bond and connection that grew stronger with each passing day. By the time you all started to share stories that caused yourself or others to breakdown, it was then your relationship with each other grew to another level. I saw a real difference in the group between  my two visits and it was a remarkable change. In my opinion, the fact that most of you all were either in medical school, applying, or aspiring to go to medical school, gave an immediate source of connection, which made initial conversation less difficult. For some, such as yourself, you didn't seem to need prompting, as you were ready to interact from the beginning, in my opinion.

I pride myself in being a good judgement of character and took from the interactions with you as being an atypically beautiful individual. In the sense that you were atypical was in how open and honest you were about your life and then was always willing to share your love and energy towards others without question. Beautiful is sometimes taken too literally and not expounded upon properly. There is no argument here that you are attractive physically, but from what I witnessed and experienced around you, your appealing persona exemplified the beauty of your character. You have developed yourself into not just a likable person, but a lovable individual. Maybe you've you've always been this way or you've grown into this person, I don't know; but I do see that you are an individual who has hopes, dreams, aspirations, fears, knows how to have a good time (you traveled halfway across the country by yourself, that is my idea of an adventure!), enjoys the company of children & they love you in return, you know when to share your love & you aren't afraid to admit when you want it in return, and you know when you need time to yourself.

I'm glad you made it back home safely & I know you must have had some awesome adventures along the way. How is the blogging & journal writing? I should send you this book I have that has great quotes. I will end with one from it: "Life is what happens to you while you're making other plans." Keep your spirits high & stay smiling.

Much love,

JG & I 
I think of my time at Gesundheit often, and I still struggle with finding the words to describe the kind of relationships I formed with my peers in West Virginia. This letter came to me last week from a man I met at Gesundheit. He volunteered at Gesundheit in the past & he visited twice during the medical elective. I thought this letter described a lot --- it provides outside observations from someone who was not a part of the medical elective and describes his experiences with the group I was surrounded by. The people I met down there are some of the most amazing, supportive people I have ever encountered. His letter also shines light upon how quickly we all got to know each other in a one month period of time. JG only knew me & the rest of the group briefly, and what he wrote about all of us is very true.

I miss my Gesundheit family every day! I still call upon my friends there for support, advice, encouragement, and of course, a good laugh.

Love & Light,

Saturday, November 12, 2011

All You Need is Love... The Healing Touch

I am officially back to my crazy life.

So much for "transitioning" back into reality, it came all too quickly. As soon as I left West Virginia, I received a phone call from Kit, who I used to nanny for. They asked me to come back to work in Fort Collins as their nanny for their two children, Kai & Quinn, who I have been watching for the past three years. Of course, I said yes! Since I have already packed my life away into boxes for the peace corps, I wasn't willing to move back up to Fort Collins, soooo, guess who is commuting to work? This girl. I am staying with my brother, Tanner, and my cousin, Sarah, while I am up in Fort Collins, and I will stay each Monday night-Thursday night. I'm working three full days a week (TWR) and it has been such a joy. Quinn is 14 months and Kai is now 5 and in kindergarten. I will miss their family SO MUCH!

Little Quinn
Not so little anymore, Kai!
So between working part time, traveling up and down I-25, and visiting friends and family, time is flying by! I only have 52 more days before I leave... eek! So much to do in so little time. :-D

I think I will write stories as I go about Gesundheit!, I still have so many stories in my mind. After talking with a few people, I have been asked countless times, "What was the best part of your experience at Gesundheit?"

Well, folks, here it is.

The best part of my experience at Gesundheit was the amazing amount of healing I was able to witness throughout a four week period of time. I am convinced that loneliness is the world's worst disease and almost everyone could benefit from having a good friend to listen to them. The coolest thing about the healing I was able to be a part of was that it didn't have anything to do with conventional medicine. No one took prescription drugs, no one was sent to see a doctor, and no one was told what to do. All of the healing took place because of the love, compassion, and understanding between a small group of people.

I'll do my best to keep the story at a manageable length to read.

There was a man in our group who was older than the majority of the students and of course, I wanted to talk to him and hear his story about why he was taking classes at Gesundheit. I felt a little uneasy around this man (hmm, maybe 40's?) and quite honestly, he freaked me out a bit. He didn't talk much with the group, he was very closed off, and he even went through a period of silence and wouldn't talk at all. I decided to sit by him at dinner one night because I wanted to get to know the man behind the uncomfortable stares and body language. I plopped down next to him, introduced myself, explained why I was there, and asked him to share the same information. He replied by saying his name, telling me he was disabled, and that was that. We hit a wall in conversation. No more talking about anything. This man was disabled, thank you very much, now leave me alone to eat.

Now, one of our ongoing assignments (which I wrote about before) was to respond to letters Patch received in the mail. People from all over the world, with a wide variety of issues, write to Patch hoping for words to lead them in the right direction. That's a lot of responsibility, wouldn't you say? When Patch came to visit, he asked our group to share our responses to the people who wrote about their pain, suffering, and loneliness. Each of us addressed the situation differently, but there's no right answer to helping people. Patch offered his letter responses to us as well so we could all learn from each other. Nobody responded the same way.

The man I discussed earlier raised his hand when Patch was there to share his letter response. The students all looked at each other in disbelief because he had never really volunteered to contribute much in class before. Listening intently, we heard him read his letter out loud to the group. While most of us wrote with sympathetic suggestions, he wrote about relating to the same situation. His response was based in his understanding of the struggles this person was going through, and his personal life story came pouring out during class. From depression to homelessness to problems with family, this man had been through a lot of crazy things in his life. And he told us he was autistic.

It was a very emotional letter and I think we were all a little unprepared for that personal confession. At that point, Patch said he would like to offer a healing for the man in our group. (we were all looking around, "a healing? that sounds sorta cult-like?") But stick with me. The man laid down on the floor with Patch and all of the students sitting in a circle around him. We all held hands and Patch told us to focus all of our positive energy toward him. We let go of any negative thoughts and focused on healing him of all the pain in his life. We all laid hands upon him while he closed his eyes and we all sent positive healing thoughts. Sounds crazy, but read on.

We didn't do anything you could learn in medical school. All we did was focus our love and attention on his pain for 15 minutes. Patch asked our group, in addition to the normal curriculum, to continue doing one healing a day for the rest of the month for this man. Of course, the group agreed and Patch really felt like this would be an invaluable lesson for the group. The man agreed too, with the stipulation that everyone received a healing and had to lead a healing.

As the month progressed, each person designed their healing in a different way. For example, the healing I lead was for Kaile, and after everything I had learned about her, I knew that it would be helpful for her to have some words of encouragement to walk away with. Kaile's healing was quite simple, we all took turns laying hands upon her while listening to soft, instrumental music (from the Listen to Your Heart soundtrack- it's amazing if you want some good, quiet music!). Each person took a brief moment to write on a 3x5 note card. People shared quotes, song lyrics, poems, and letters of encouragement for Kaile. As the music continued playing, we each read our note card individually to Kaile, and she collected a pile of "love notes." I discovered that most people have some sort of internal struggle, some bigger than others, but if you focus love and attention on those issues, people are often brought to tears. People desire to be loved, listened to, and comforted. And the best part? It's seriously simple & completely free. 

The man who would never hold eye contact, offer his opinions in class, or participate in activities quickly turned into a very loving man who was thrilled to help out. He began coming up to me with open arms for big bear hugs. It's difficult to explain, but he was so afraid of this new group of people, and he has completely transformed and thinks of us all as his friends. I have never seen such a drastic transformation before in my life. And it was all so simple. He used to really make me uncomfortable in the mornings when we were bumbling around in the kitchen, and I quickly became comfortable with his presence while I sipped on my morning coffee and wrote in my journal. He holds a very special place in my heart now, and all because we just gave him a little love and encouragement to face the world around him.

I'm pleased to say that he still emails the group and he seems to be adjusting back in reality. He changed more in four weeks than I even thought possible. I even miss him now! What a truly amazing, life changing experience for him, and also for each of us.

"Healings" sound a little creepy in the beginning, but really, it's just giving love to someone for a few minutes a day. There's nothing medical about it. People need people, and it's really as simple as that. 

I'll leave you with lyrics to one of our favorite songs to sing together at Gesundheit!. I'll keep sharing stories as I find time to write about them.
"People are wasteful, they waste all the food.People are hateful, and people are rude. But God I love some people sometimes, because people are very very special. And people are impatient, they don't know how to wait.And people are selfish, people are prone to hate.But God I love some people sometimes, because people are the greatest thing to happen.I said God I love some people sometimes, because people are the greatest thing to happen.And People are people, regardless of skin.And people are people, regardless of creed.People are people regardless of gender, people are people regardless of anything.I said People are people regardless of gender, people are people regardless of anything.And people are my religion, because I believe in them.People are my enemies and people are my friends.I have faith in all of the world, and I only hope that they have faith in me.I said I have faith in all of the world, and I only hope that they have faith in me."
Love & Light,

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

On the Road Again..

What a crazy week!
My final presentation was great-- I actually had the chance to present my project to Patch and he participated in the workshop Kaile and I put together. There were tearful goodbyes this weekend and I still have lots to say about the medical elective. I will be updating more soon when I get home!

My Puppet, Teshi.
Puppet Practitioners, our final presentation
Kaile & her puppet, Lilly
Puppet workshop
After our final presentation!
The group at our closing ceremony
One of our last meals together.
!!!!!! Hurray!!!!!! 
I am on the road again, making my way back to Colorado. I stayed two nights in Columbus, OH with my friend Natalie. I met Natalie in West Virginia and we thought it would be fun for me to come see her normal life in Ohio. I met her whole family, her boyfriend, and her two adorable pit bulls. :-D I came to Louisville, KY yesterday after catching up with Sarah Huebner in Frankfort, KY. I grabbed a cup of coffee with Sarah and spent the rest of the day with step family after that. I am currently laying on a couch in Louisville, convincing myself to get up, shower, and get on the road. I will drive to Kansas City tonight and stay with a friend there.

one of nat's "puppies" sitting on my lap
Coffee with Sarah!
My cousin, Rachel
Just driving.. it's what I do these days.
I'm not sure I've fully accepted that winter is coming... I'll have to try to embrace the snow waiting for me back home!

Excited to see everyone & share stories.. feel free to call in the next couple of days, I'll be driving a lot.

Love & Light,

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

A Gentle Reminder...

Some would like a better job,
Others, just a job.
Some would like a better meal,
Others, just a meal.
Some would like an easier life,
Others, just the right to live.
Some would like better parents,
Others, just parents.

Some want blue eyes. Others, just eyes.
Some want a prettier voice. Others, just to be to able to talk
Some want silence. Others, to be able to hear.
Some want new shoes. Others, to have feet.
Some want a car. Others, to be able to walk.
Some want the superfluous.
Others just want the necessary.

There are two kinds of wisdom: the superior and inferior.
Inferior wisdom is the one known as how much a person knows.
Superior wisdom is how much a person is aware of what he or she does't know.
Choose the superior wisdom.
Be an eternal apprentice in the school of life.
The superior wisdom tolerates; the inferior, judges.
The superior, relieves; the inferior, blames.
The superior forgives; the inferior condems.

There're some things the heart only speaks for those who know how to listen.
Written by: Chico Xavier
[translated to English]

Love & Light,

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Happies & Crappies

Happies & Crappies is a fun activity we did today in our "transitioning back into reality" workshop this morning. Anyone who has been at Camp Wapiyapi with me before understands the indescribable magic that happens within a one week period. Leaving camp is always a let down because it is truly the best week of the year for the kids, as well as the volunteers.

Try four weeks.

My experience at Gesunheit has been truly magical, almost impossible to explain. All of us are struggling with the idea of leaving all of the love and support we have been surrounded with throughout the past few weeks. The collection of people here right now make you feel like you can do anything you put your mind to, the world is your playground. We did this activity to look into the future to find things we are looking forward to and also to identify areas of difficulty that may require some extra encouragement from the close knit group we have created here.

Here's what I came up with...

*having the ability to share the things I learned at Gesundheit with other people
*carrying the philosophy of Gesundheit in my heart throughout my upcoming life adventures
*holidays at home with my family
*preparing to leave for my adventure in the peace corps
*adding new people to my support system
*seeing my kids at Childrens!!
*visiting friends and family
*whole new perspective on love, life, and friendship

*checking my MCAT score (still haven't! maybe it will end up on my happy list, who knows)
*dealing with my medical school application
*proving myself as a worthy potential doctor
*fighting against time... I never win!
*bittersweet goodbyes ahead...
*leaving this beautiful place & all the beautiful souls here

Transitioning back into my busy, crazy life won't be easy. I can't even imagine what it's going to be like after 27 months in the peace corps. Maybe this is good practice...

group shot w/ tie dye
precious women
a group of women that will forever be in my heart
massage train! :-D 
Sara, Me, Nat, Kaile
Fun times studying at the Coffee Shop
Pure bliss. 
PJ Party
Morning coffee with Matilde
Silly friends! 
Dancing in the kitchen

I do love and miss all of you! I am looking forward to hugging each and every one of you. :-D I have the afternoon off now to work on my project, so I am going to stop procrastinating and start to work on my assignments. My final presentation is on Friday with my friend Kaile. She and I will be leading a workshop on how to incorporate play into health care. My project is about different techniques to use play as a way to collect patient feedback about their treatment & experience with the medical staff-- Kaile's is specifically about using puppets in medicine. You should see my puppet! oh goodness, she is beautiful :-D More to explain about it later, but until then, I must work!

Love & Light,

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Written in our hearts...


Here I don't worry
if I sleep well because the
laughter will wake me

Middle of nowhere
We've found each other and
maybe even ourselves

Remembered myself
somewhere along the way
I guess I wasn't lost.

Joyous memories
face cold, lonely days ahead
keep them safe and warm.


Love & Light,

Monday, October 17, 2011

Laughter is the best medicine

Days fly by here - I can't believe it has been almost 10 days since I wrote on here. Sorry about that! I'll try to write a quick summary...

Last Sunday, I went on an amazing hike. I spent almost 9 hours outside hiking! I went with a guy named Tyler-- he is an architect here on site at Gesundheit, and he lives here part of the year to work here. He has worked with Patch/Gesundheit for a couple years. We went up near the cranberry glades and hiked around back there most of the day-- talk about peaceful! The forest is so thick back there, it was unlike anything I've ever seen. Leaves are changing everywhere and the colors are vibrant. West Virginia has some awesome trails, but unfortunately, they aren't used very often. We didn't see a single person the whole day! The best part of the day was discovering a rock wall/cave system. After removing our backpacks, we were able to crawl through some of the caves. Unbelievable! I was nervous about running into a little critter, but luckily, there were no critters to be found.

Hiking with Tyler
Part of the trail 
Patch came to visit Monday-Wednesday this past week. We had the opportunity to meet him and attend some workshops he led. After spending some time with him, it was easy to see how much he cared about people. I think he has a true gift for recognizing pain- he worked a lot with some people in my program who have had bad experiences growing up. Patch wants to know about what's going on in our lives, and I had the chance to talk to him about my kids at the children's hospital. I told them they all wanted me to tell him hi-- and he blew kisses in every direction for the wind to carry love to the kids. <3 I have never met anyone like Patch. He is so dedicated to his dream of creating a hospital here. When/if I ever have money (yay unemployment), I fully intend to donate to his cause. Everything about his vision is deeply rooted in love, compassion and understanding. The people attracted to this cause are truly inspiring too. Time with Patch was very brief... get this! The amount of time I will spend at Gesundheit (the month of October) is more than twice as long as Patch has ever stayed here at one time. Patch travels 300 days a year to promote his views on humanism and fund raise for his hospital. It was really neat though-- they are building the new "teaching center" here on the land to use for all future education courses. When we came, the crew just finished the first floor of the building-- it was a very emotional moment to see Patch and his brother hugging and shouting with joy at the sight of their dreams coming true. Little by little... it's possible to make anything you dream of come true.

Meet Patch :-D 
Just picking our noses. 
His genuine excitement about the progress he's made!
Talking to Patch about my kids at the hospital.
Hugging his brother... on the construction site. 
Two other men came this week to work with the students-- John Glick and Bowen White. Both men are M.D's... John went on to become an acupuncturist and Bowen became a writer. Bowen wrote a book called "why normal isn't healthy" and he did a lot of work with us about staying true to who we are and what desires we have. I am really excited about his work and I plan on buying his book. Look at his website if you find some extra time! He is such a pleasant man and I enjoyed chatting with him this week.

The group with Bowen White. 
John Glick is quite possibly the most amazing man I have ever met. Besides my family members, I have never met someone so captivating and inspiring before in my life. I know for a fact, I will never forget meeting him. Click on the link to read his bio-- he is incredibly talented. Music, poetry, reading, movement, nature- you name in. Every word that came out of his mouth was dripping with encouragement, love, and determination. Each member of the group was immediately drawn to him-- in a way I can't even fully describe. John has been diagnosed with Parkinson's (Lou Gehrig's disease) and there is nothing in the way of him living life to the fullest. He is one of those people who can walk briefly in your life and leave permanent footsteps in your heart. My life was truly touched by John. We all did a healing for John while he was here too-- everyone was in tears. I've never seen people respond so positively to any individual before in my life. Some people, like John Glick, are just truly remarkable.

John Glick!
John and Bowen came along with the crew this week on our trip to Fayatteville, WV. We went to a nursing home there for our first clown trip! It was so fun... the old people really responded to us being there, and it was such a sweet challenge to learn how to make each person crack a smile. A few people had experience clowning, but the majority of us had no clue. Clowning is really just playing with someone-- talking, goofing around, singing, and dancing. We will go again this week (Wednesday I believe) and I know everyone is really looking forward to it. We will go to the VA hospital this time... I talked with some great people there, and it was rewarding to receive as much from the people as I was giving to them. Clowning really is bidirectional... I benefited so much from my experience of bringing them joy.

Bowen, John & I after our first clown trip!
The weekend was full of adventure as well-- Friday night we went to hang out in Hillsboro at a local party. There was lots of music; banjos, harmonicas, guitars, pots, pans... you name it. These local WV folk sure can play! I really loved spending some time with folks in the community and it was fun to have a rest from class. Saturday I went on another hike, this time with Natalie. We went back on the land to discover some more waterfalls. This weekend felt so different than last-- the trees have already lost a lot of their leaves. I've never spent a fall in a deciduous forest, the change of seasons is much more gradual here. I am not used to trees looking naked! The waterfalls we beautiful-- she and I had a great time chatting along the way as well. Later on, I drove some people into town to go to Catholic mass. Although I'm not Catholic, it was great to be with everyone and experience something a little different. One of our peers, Monica, will be leaving early this week because her next medical rotation starts during the last week of October. We all went out to dinner on Saturday to have dinner for her. It was great to spend some more time in Lewisburg (coolest small town in America... look it up!) Natalie and I stayed to go to an Irish Pub there too... fun, live music for a while. Quite a small bar with all local people. No one recognized us, so we were clearly strangers. :-D

at dinner with Nat
Kaile, Kate & Matilde at dinner
Emma & I at dinner
The girls & I picking some things up in town
Sunday, I went on another hike/walk/adventure down the Greenbriar River Trail. I couldn't focus on my homework, so I went to find some quiet space to think. We ended up finding a great spot and I was able to bust out some of my project in the quiet of nature. Another beautiful day!

We now have a gentleman here by the name of Jeptha, and he is doing some work with us on creative writing. I am so happy- we get to spend more time writing (which I obviously love) and he asked me all about my journaling addiction. I explained to him that my grandparents both journal/write a lot and record their family history-- I want to be able to have a written history of my own life! We did hour long interviews with a peer today-- practicing to really be able to listen and understand another person. I think this week will be a little chaotic too-- working on finishing up my project!

Time here has taught me that laughter truly is the best medicine. Sounds cliche... but I really mean it. I have never laughed this much in my life. Living in a community, like the one I am in here, really creates a sense of love and acceptance. I am so comfortable with all the people around me, and I am grateful to have the opportunity to learn and grow alongside such fantastic people. I am already dreading saying goodbye to them-- we have all become like family. If only the world was full of more people like this...

Well friends and family, I am off to bed. Busy days are ahead! I am sure the days will be full of love, laughter, and more memories. I can't wait to see you all again to share all of this magic with you!

Love & Light,

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Authority = Responsibility

Yes, I am doing homework on a Saturday night. Anyone surprised? My assignment for the weekend is really neat, and I'm really thankful to have the opportunity to complete the work. Patch has requested for all of the students to read letters that were sent to him for advice. Our task is to respond to the letters, as if we were in a position of authority (however we see that), and offer words of encouragement and suggestions to address their concerns.

Patch has, and always will, responded to every letter he has ever received. He hand writes all of his responses and takes the time to address each person individually. I am in awe of his love for his patients. I read an article laying around the house that said he is finally caught up with the bulk of letters-- he has been doing this for over 40 years now.

After I have responded to the set of letters for this week, I will receive another set of letters to respond to next week. This will be an ongoing assignment throughout the month, and at the end of the month, we will have the chance to read Patch's actual response to the same letters. I'm curious to see how they will compare-- we are free to respond however we want to, but we are not allowed to discuss the material with our peers. Patch is interested in what we have to say, individually.

Some of the information in the letters is very heavy-- depression, sexual abuse, insecurity, poor medical attention... and the list goes on. The letters provide a glimpse of the responsibility that comes along with authority. Patch is been admired by many people (myself included), and he continues to provide the same level of compassion for every person, years and years down the road.

Quite the reality check to see what people write to Patch. Interesting to think about what position I will find myself in the future--  I think many people are unaware of how influential they can be, and how incredibly powerful it can be to use that influence in a positive manner.

Love & Light,

Early Good-Byes

One week has already gone by! We had three fabulous women leave us today-- they were only able to stay for a week. I wrote a little about Indrani, our yoga teacher, but I couldn't stress enough how wonderful she is. She is so full of youth, at the age of 58, and I only hope to be as healthy as she is at that age. Indrani works a lot with women's shelters-- to inspire and empower them-- and I wanted to share her website with you. I really enjoyed having a "mother-type" figure to look up to this week-- and I had plenty of heart-to-hearts with her. Very wise woman- we will all miss having our "momma" around. <3 look at her website! Indrani's Light

Miss Indrani! 
Sarah also left today-- she was a pathologist for years, and then she quit her work as an M.D. to open her business on Shamanism. We learned a lot about her views on Shamanism and alternative healing-- very interesting and cool! Whether or not you agree with Shamanism, if you met Sarah, you would agree that she has such a free spirit and her love for life is infectious. We all loved learning from her! She met Indrani at a conference and the two women became great friends after that. Her website has some other wonderful things to look at and think about... check it out! we miss her warm heart and endless laughter already. Follow Your Feel Good

Miss Sarah! 
Cindy is a Nurse Practitioner from Arizona who is also studying Naturopathic medicine on the side. Cindy has a heart of gold- and she provided a wonderful balance to our group. All three of these women have so much spunk and attitude-- such spit fires! Her love of her patients (she deals with chronic pain patients) is very obvious. Alternative medicine is appealing to Cindy- and she taught me a little bit about ETPS (electro-therapeutic point stimulation). I had a headache one night, and she used ETPS on me. My headache was gone within ten minutes! It feels like someone is poking  you with a ball point pen, but after the therapy you feel so much better. Check out Info on ETPS if you're interested. Cindy does training programs about this & she will be in Denver next week.

Saying Good-Bye to Cindy!
It hasn't even been a week- and all of these women have left such an impact on each of the students. All the instructors, students, and volunteers are incredible, I feel very lucky to be a part of it! We have the weekends free of class & workshops, but all of us are still feeling rather tired. I have several assignments to complete this weekend. There is a town near here, called Lewisburg, and I think a group of us will go into town to check out the flea market. There are some very interesting characters here in West Virginia :-D so it should be fun to go into town and play around there for a while.

Patch is going to be here on Monday- and I am SOOOO EXCITED to meet him. He will be teaching us and we will be going on our first "clown trip" to a nursing home nearby. There is a lot going on this next week with new doctors coming in & plenty to keep me busy.

Hope all is well with everyone-- I'm having an incredible time here!

Love & Light,

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Patience & Philosophy

The week is flying by already! Lots to try to remember.. but here are a few quick updates!

My bunkmate- Natalie- is just about as sweet as can be & we have really hit things off this week. We get along really well and her outgoing personality makes up for when I can be a bit more shy. Unfortunately, her friend Ali passed away this week in Italy. Although it is unresolved at this time, they think she was hit by a car & the people panicked and threw her down the sewer. She was living in Italy, with her boyfriend, working as a tour guide. Things like that make me physically sick to my stomach- and it is horrible to realize that events like that can happen in reality - and without any warning. She went missing when she went out for a run... The silver lining to this whole situation is the way everyone here reacted to the bad news. Natalie was far from home, friends & family, and we were all able to help her work through it. We have a yoga instructor here who practices other alternative medicine, named Indrani, and she thought it would be beneficial to do a healing circle for her. The healing circle was unlike anything I've ever seen before--- but incredibly powerful. Everyone went around the circle offering words of healing to Natalie & Indrani explained that tears are not to be seen as weakness- but rather as a sign of strength. Wouldn't it be wonderful for us all to realize that it takes great strength to be able to love someone? The pain of losing a loved one often feels unbearable, but I can only imagine that the pain of never loving someone would be even worse.

Miss Nat! 
Curriculum here is unlike anything I have ever experienced. Nothing is standardized and there is a strong understanding that all people learn in different ways. Daily assignments are given in addition to our month long cumulative project. Everyone's project is tailored toward their personal learning style, so the projects range from papers to poems and writing plays. The sky is the limit with creativity! My project is still a bit up in the air but I will be happy to add more detail about it later. The rough part about all of this is how "right-minded" all of it is. Nothing is in a linear, logical order-- enough to confuse a type-A science student! I'm used to being fed information, but now they are pushing us to take a closer look at art, language, music, and creative expression. Most people know I'm not a huge fan  of philosophy, but couldn't we all benefit from broadening our horizons a bit more? Lots of philosophical readings and ideas... plenty to wrap my brain around.

Calendar of our classes!
Indrani & Sarah (another fabulous M.D. I will try to write more about later) have explained the importance of self care and patience. As one of the youngest people here, I am inspired by all the accomplishments of the people around me & I hope that I can find patience in my own life. Things don't always work out the way we want to, but all things happen for a reason.
 "When I asked God for strength, he gave me difficult situations to face. When I asked God for brains & brawn, he gave me puzzles in life to solve.  When I asked God for happiness, he showed me unhappy people. When I asked God for wealth, he showed me how to work hard. When I asked God for peace, he showed me how to help others. God gave me nothing I wanted, he gave me everything I needed."
          -Swami Vivekananda

Love & Light,

Monday, October 3, 2011

Love & Laughter

UNREAL. I am already completely, 100 % in love with it here.


Best way to describe it here: similar to Camp Wapiyapi (but on steroids and very rural), laid back, hippie, loving, respectful & fun. I am taking pictures of absolutely everything.... everywhere you look, there is something even more colorful & cheerful than the last thing you photographed. I will try to document things to show you all back home... but I know nothing will compare to actually being here. The internet here is too slow to upload photos (or so I'm told), and I'm not willing to test it and become responsible for the internet crashing. Until I can slip away into town, I won't be uploading any photos (truly wish I could though!)

today... we did a bit more orientation stuff, but the staff has living as a community down to an art. These folks have perfected how to live harmoniously with very diverse groups of people and they have a gift of blessing the place with a welcoming presence. We did a walking tour of the land and the buildings-- currently I am staying in the dacha, which is the biggest building of residence here. They have two yurts as well, for a few of the more adventurous people. I offered- but ended up inside anyway. Not complaining- because it has been wicked cold. Multiple layers of clothing under my winter coat, boots, and scarves! Bundling already...

a few laid back lessons today- one in yoga & shamanism, the other a writing exercise. completely different than some things I've seen before, but awesome to learn new approaches to medicine. we have an beautiful, intelligent & outgoing M.D here , named Sarah, and she talked some about how helpful it is to learn techniques in alternative care, even as an M.D. Helpful to be able to provide care--and healing-- on any level comfortable to the patient! She's a pathologist & very interesting to learn from. yoga was fun-- and our lovely instructor makes a very wonderful point-- she stressed the importance of healing as a provider. often times we forget that as a healer, we are most useful when we are cautious of taking the time to heal ourselves. what a concept, right? seems really basic, but some thought and discussion took place for me, centered around healing- what a wonderful thing to remember. be good to yourself before you can be good to others (make time for both!)

we all share chores, cooking, and cleaning-- since they really stress the importance of community health and function. I'm excited to learn from some of their ideas for my experiences in Guatemala in the Peace Corps-- such great concepts. we each have to help cook meals, and tonight I helped with dinner. everything is vegan (wahoo!) and incredibly delicious. I learned to make lemon tahini salad dressing and tofu stir fry tonight.. yum! Emma, our chef, has been vegan for over a decade, lives in Portland, OR, and pours all of her love and compassion into her cooking- you can taste it.

to finish up the evening- we watched clown in Kabul. although I am the crier, I think anyone would be moved by the movie. it showed the clown trips they take to other countries and how the people in distress respond to them. love and laughter are truly universal & sometimes.. the very best medicine.

Being here is a dream come true-- and a perfect reminder that there are good people who want to change health care. their love and compassion is contagious-- so fair warning, I may never shut up about this. after 24 hours, I can already tell this experience will stay in my heart forever. <3

Love & Light,