Well, happy new year, everyone!
Health Journeys is embarking on an exciting year, with many profound opportunities and initiatives in place for 2016.
I'll be spelling out many of these new projects in the weeks and months ahead. But for now, I want to tell you about a request we just got from Heather Barahmand, a retired U.S. servicewoman and gutsy humanitarian, who is heading back to Iraq through an organization named Yazda (www.yadza.org), to help traumatized Yazidi women who escaped from ISIS captivity. Yazda gladly accepts donations and welcomes anything you can do to help spread the word about their much needed services.
As you can imagine, the women have faced unspeakable horrors. These are women and girls as young as 9, many of whom were snatched out of their villages and homes to be held captive, abused, beaten, raped, demeaned, and even sold as sex slaves to the highest bidder, often multiple times.
I was delighted to be reminded last week of all the creative ways guided imagery can be combined with other healing techniques to produce extra-potent results.
A note from a licensed massage therapist at a rehab facility for neurological disorders and injuries in New York told of how she played targeted guided imagery during her aromatherapy massages, and how effective it was for most of her clients. She calls her newly minted program "Meditative Massage".
I hate to add to the wheedling, seducing, shouting chorus of retailers claiming your attention with their special holiday discounts, bodacious bundles and promises of whiz-bang delivery... I really do. I'm drowning in the annoying stuff myself.
But, I gotta say it: we do happen to have just the right gifts for holiday stress time, and forever after – self-regulating and healing audio tools that quickly and easily teach people to better manage and maneuver their moods and their lives, during good times and bad.
So, check out our Friends and Family Sale to your right. Everything you need is there. And if you tend to dither, and can't decide what to pick, use our gift card!
Oh, and if you miss the cut-off date for ground shipping (that's Dec 17th, good people), we've got you covered with digital delivery.
Hey, Good People!
At the office the other day, I overheard a call that Maggie took, when a weary, rushed woman started out ordering our Healthy Pregnancy & Successful Childbirth guided imagery for her pregnant daughter-in-law, and wound up 10 minutes later having taken care of her entire list of family and friends.
With Maggie's guidance, she was able to order gift bundles and audios with great specificity, targeting the individual needs of her loved ones. The last item she ordered was for her own tired self, to better manage her holiday stress. She got off the phone relieved and delighted, sending "smooches" to the staff.
I had to smile, because that call validated something all of us think around here: that we really do offer supremely useful, life-enhancing gifts are so much more meaningful, consequential and appreciated than your basic scarf or tie or box of cookies.
Well, I hope everyone had the Thanksgiving they wanted. It's a favorite holiday for many, myself included.
As Elizabeth reminded us last week, one of the great things about this holiday is the reminder to cultivate our feelings of gratitude. The benefits are pretty amazing, including a reduction of even big league depression, as demonstrated by a study of dispirited people who started keeping a gratitude log– gonzo improvement, after only a couple of weeks!
There are some great gratitude journals to be had, too, by the way. One that always gets high marks is Catherine Price's Gratitude: A Journal. But there are scores of them out there now, testifying to the growth and popularity of this practice.
I want to call your attention to this week's question from an oncologist asking for psychologically-oriented advice on what to tell patients undergoing treatment for cancer.
He was more interested in tips for the emotional and social challenges than general integrative medicine advice, because he's a Fellow at the Center of Integrative Medicine at the University of Arizona, and already has plenty of training in that particular wheelhouse. Check it out, if you have the time and interest.
Well, folks, among other things, it's National Caregiver Month. (Yes, I know, too many of these special, topic driven 'days', 'weeks' and 'months' can addle the brain. Who can keep up? Who even wants to?)
But sometimes – like this time, National Caregiver Month - it's a really good idea. I know so many people taking care of a loved one (and even a not-so-loved one, truth be told!) in rough circumstances. It's a mother, a spouse, a child or a friend – who's sick with acute or chronic disease; or who's disabled, demented, or depressed.
And these responsible, unstinting caregivers do the right thing and look after them, day after day, with kindness and care; and a lot of time, effort and energy. It's usually at considerable personal cost.
I recently had to consult the stats on our best-selling guided imagery audios for another retailer. I was really surprised at how much people's preferences had shifted around – from even a few years ago, back when Weight Loss was king!
So, forgive me for sounding like Casey Kasem the American Top 40 Countdown of golden oldies on the radio, but this is kind of fun. See if you can guess, going from Number 10 down to the Number One Top Hit on the HJ charts.
November is National Hospice and Palliative Care Month. As it happens, I just led a retreat for the wonderful staff of Hospice of the Western Reserve a couple weeks ago. The setting was gorgeous, healing in its own right – Penitentiary Glen Reservation in Kirtland, Ohio.
I was asked to speak by Stephen Adams, a gifted, gentle pastor and Reiki practitioner I've known for years. He wanted to make sure everyone knew about the healing power of guided imagery for their patients and families, and also for themselves. The work these professional caregivers do can be incredibly gratifying and uplifting, but it's difficult, too, because, of course, they carry around a lot of their own accrued grief and loss.
I was stunned and saddened to learn that the sweet-natured, kind-hearted and very brilliant health writer and cancer guide, Henry Dreher, died last week.
I so liked knowing he was out there in the world somewhere, even when I couldn't always find him. (I think sometimes he had to hide from all of us, because his oversized generosity and world class empathy would bury him under way too much work and care.)
He helped my husband, my brother and countless friends and clients, not to mention all the people who asked for help on this blog, to sort through all the confusing options of cancer treatment and care. I got scores of thank you's from so many of you for recommending him.