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,

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