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,

Sunday, October 2, 2011

HURRAY!!! I made it to Gesundheit !!

Hello all!

My trip has been fabulous!!! I now understand why people like to go on solo road trips. Everything is on your own schedule- and I am so glad I chose to take my time getting here. I never thought I would ever say this- but I even fell in love with parts of Kansas. Who would thought? The roads were awesome- I couldn't have asked for better weather. I started the solo road adventure on Thursday afternoon, maybe 1? My first stop was in Junction City, KS. Can't say that this was my favorite stretch of the drive, but everything after that point was breathtaking. Eastern KS, MO, IL, IN, KY & WV (dont' think I missed any states.. hope I got the abbrevs correct!) all had their own charm. I have never seen colors like I have out here before- the leaves are changing, the air is crisp, and the sun is still shining. Night time is a bit chillier out here than back home, but it hasn't gotten me to complain much yet. :-D

Friday morning, I headed out to Louisville, KY to go visit the sweet, southern step family! I arrived around 9 PM or so (after all the time changes) and had a great time going out in Louisville, KY with my two cousins, Austin & Blake. Once we all decided to go out, I informed them I would be ready to go after I had a few minutes to change out of my sweatpants I'd been wearing on the drive. They each said I didn't need to change, which I thought was odd, but later found out that their comments weren't just polite, they were correct. People going out in KY aren't quite like CO folk... they don't see the need to dress up. Plenty of sweat pants, comfy boots & t-shirts. Turns out I was a little dressed up for the occasion. :-D My favorite part of good ole Tap Room Bar? They had a whole section of the bar for mugs of the locals. I guess this tradition died out a while ago, but it was a really neat idea & they still look really cool! (I was a total tourist... pictures of the said mugs will soon be posted)

I spent Saturday morning with Austin and we went for a run in Lousiville. They have awesome park systems there- and the run was great. They kicked my butt, and I proved to be the least athletic- but I enjoyed getting some exercise after a few days in the car. Blake, Austin and I went to the University of Louisville football game that afternoon to tailgate and soak up some fall football.... it was a little chilly- but super fun. That evening, we all had a nice dinner with the Levines, Quin, Julie & the girls. I haven't seen that part of the family in years and we all had plenty to catch up on. A million thanks to my sweet family with all their southern hospitality!

Today was also eventful- I stopped in Lexington, KY to visit a childhood friend. Sarah Huebner and I went to elementary school together and decided to meet up on my trip. She has always been big into horses, and thanks to great timing, I had the opportunity to stop by Kentucky Horse Farm to see her compete in a show. I brought my nice camera (thanks mom) and took some photos of Sarah during her stadium jumping. Slightly odd to admit, but it was nice to be around horse shows again. It was a nice little detour!

The remainder of my drive to WV was SO. BEAUTIFUL. Words don't even do justice to describe all of the natural beauty. Rivers ran alongside many of the roads, the leaves are bright & cheerful, and wildlife is all around you. I saw a black bear cub on the drive. How cool is that? Sad to say, though, I didn't get my camera out in time. OH. MY. GOODNESS. it is unbelievable. Take a trip out here if you ever get the chance.

Paranoid parents... I have to admit that I did get really lost at one point. No cell service, wrong turn, rural west Virginia... !! Good thing I don't panic easily. I ended up joining up with the road a bit farther north than I thought, so I drove about 10 miles the other directions. Sounds like an easy fix, but let me tell you, these roads wind around everywhere. My twenty mile detour cost me about another hour. But rest assured, my car and I arrived at Gesundheit Institute by 7:00 PM, just in time for dinner and orientation.

It's REAL chilly here. I'm thankful I packed some warmer winter clothes at this point. They say it is supposed to warm up, but it was snowing at points through the mountains on my drive. The land is absolutely gorgeous, and the facilities! So neat. It screams joy, laughter, and acceptance. The people are all so welcoming and kind, I feel at ease already. Must admit I was a bit nervous today, but my jitters have gone away, and I am happy to be around a group of people so excited and energetic about helping people. People traveled from all over- there are doctors- med students- recent college grads- old people- little kids- you name it! I haven't even met them all yet, but I can tell I will love them all.

Everyone is exhausted from traveling- and I am the only crazy one still awake. Sounds like we will be having full days - and I am so lucky not to have other things to study on top of this (so many students do!) I can focus all my love, attention & energy on being here, which I am excited to do. I do have Internet here- it's really slow at times though. I will try to get around to my blogging, updating, and uploading pictures as soon as I figure out when I can have some more free time here!

I am happy, safe, & enthusiastic about the month ahead of me. The energy & passion is outrageous- I'm in for a wild adventure. Thanks for all the love and support, as always, you guys are the best!

LOTS of love!!!

Love & Light,