Recently, I spent a few days in Sweden. What an amazing trip. The views were stunning and the city of Stockholm majestic, but it was the people and the human interactions that knocked me over. Not only the experience there, but how the effects of spending a short amount of time with a small group of exceptionally nice people have impacted me.
Recently, we introduced a new column, written by teenagers, called Teen Voices. The idea behind it is to help parents (and other adults) get a glimpse of the world through a teen’s eyes. In raising my own four children, I found striving to better understand their world through their eyes was one of the most powerful tools I could use. This simple approach does help build a foundation of trust; however, building trust with a teenager is a day-to-day business. Some days, you are best friends. The next day, one of us is from another planet. As in most things, it is a process. Listening (when my 15-year-old talks to me) is more important than speaking. No Einstein moment here. The goal is to learn something, not tell something, and keeping that in focus is paramount to building trust. But let’s step back to the beginning, long before the teen years.
May brings sunshine and flowers, and a new energy to the Northeast. It also brings us Mother’s Day. Of course, every day should be Mother’s Day, but that’s another column.
I was pondering what to write here when I thought of my wife, Asta, and her experience in becoming a mother. I remember how she was consumed with fear as her pregnancy progressed toward delivery. As part of her family dynamics, she had had very little, if any, experience with newborns, including holding one. In addition, she was just about to enter her forties, so she had a lot going on. Reading, talking, getting advice, going to classes—everything leading up to delivery was just a fog that covered up her insecurities. Having moved from Lithuania, she had no family around the corner and only a small circle of friends to lean on. I understood just how tough it was for her. I’m sure that, despite my being there, she most likely felt alone at times. I know she was frightened—of child birth, of motherhood, of the future. Everything about taking care of a newborn “scares me to pieces,” she would tell me.
I have been thinking lately about words and how they fit into our world of communication. My 24-year-old son, Sean, tells me I need a college course in texting so he can make sense of what I’m trying to say when I speak with my fingers. On self-examination—and the evidence before me—I have to plead guilty as charged.
I have had numerous people tell me they don’t understand my email. It has been pointed out to me, mostly by my editor, that I have a “Joe Dunne mind speak” when I hastily shoot out emails. Again, guilty.
Thank you for being a reader. I hope you enjoy our March publication of Natural Awakenings.
I find myself wanting to write about the injustice of things—the penal system, gun control, blame, closed-minded people, war, violence, inequality, inappropriate behavior, prejudices and our education system—and then there’s health care and veterans’ rights. Thankfully, our magazine is not part of “the world of what’s wrong.” Seeing the problem is so easy. Want proof? Turn on a TV, a talk radio station, a political cable broadcast, the news… Everyone, it seems, has an opinion on what is wrong. Continue reading
Hello! to anyone reading this letter. My name is Joe Dunne, and my wife, Asta, and I are the new proud owners of Natural Awakenings magazine of Bucks and Montgomery counties of PA.
Before I start on me and my background, I would like to thank Karen for the more than spectacular work she has performed over her three-year ownership. Not only has she grown the magazine, she has also recruited a talented and dedicated support staff in Melanie, Julie, Kevin and Megan (all of whom are staying with us), and together they have made a difference. Karen’s outreach to the community, her dedication to her advertisers and her attention to editorial content so our readers continue to love us, are second to none. I am almost scared to try to fill her shoes. I know you will all join me in applauding her efforts, and wishing her well, as she designs her new life’s path. Making a difference matters in my world. And Karen, you have made a difference; we thank you. (I know she will still be an avid reader of this magazine.)
We are living in a historic moment for natural health and wellness in the United States. More than half the country—29 states—have legalized medical marijuana. Pennsylvania did so in April of 2017. Despite decades of stigmatization and criminalization, polls show that 71 percent of Americans support full legalization, and nearly 90 percent favor marijuana for medicinal use.
The cannabis plant has demonstrated powerful healing effects on the quality of life for thousands of suffering men, women and children. Medical marijuana (MMJ) has been shown to be an effective treatment modality for PTSD, epilepsy, autism, chronic pain, nausea, insomnia, anxiety, Crohn’s disease, arthritis, neuropathy, asthma, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s and other conditions. Continue reading
Root out the violence in your life, and learn to live compassionately and mindfully. Seek peace. When you have peace within, real peace with others is possible.
~Excerpted from Being Peace, by Zen Master, Tibetan Peace activist and Nobel Peace Prize nominee Thich Nhat Hanh
The holidays are a time for reflecting on spirit and peace. Doing so requires that we consider the obstacles to peace—in ourselves, our communities and around the world.
With each news story that breaks, revealing the degree to which violence and aggression occurs in places near and far, it is natural to want to find someone or something to blame. Like something out of a Marvel comic book, it would be so comforting if there were a singular, sinister villain at whom we could shake our finger, and who could hold the culpability for all that ails our society.
“Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass;
it’s about learning to dance in the rain.”
As we approach the season of Thanksgiving, I’m internalizing some hearty lessons about loss, gratitude, resilience and transcendence.
The chasm between the nightly news and my own life closed the night that Hurricane Maria destroyed the town where my colleagues, Natural Awakenings Puerto Rico publishers Luis Mendez and Waleska Sallaberry, have built a vibrant, thriving holistic health community over the past 15 years.
The upcoming year marks a major passage for me. My friends have started asking how I want to celebrate the big “4-0”. And while I concur with the saying “age is just a number,” I’m also aware that marking my years on Earth, in this body and mind, is a valuable tool in the process of self-discovery.
For me and, I imagine, many women, aging becomes evident first in our changing physicality. Crow’s feet around my eyes have emerged recently. They show up when I smile, smirk and laugh, and linger indefinitely. My body is a little rounder and thicker than before. As a woman of a certain age, I wrestle with accepting my visage as it grows further away from media-perpetuated beauty standards, and how far I’m willing to go to meet those standards.
You know by now that it’s hip to be crafty… but did you know it’s healthy, too?
All about our town, and in towns across the country, painting parlors, knitting circles and pottery-making parties are wildly popular, proving the art of crafting is here to stay.
And the habit is a happy one; recent reports and studies attest to the incredible power of crafting—from knitting and jewelry-making to visual arts such as painting, photography and sculpture—to act as a therapeutic, meditative tool that reduces stress and depression and gives people a sense of accomplishment and control.
Summer has arrived, and for so many here in BuxMont, it’s that special time of year when being outside adds enormously to the enjoyment of life. We get to run through the fields, sink our fingers into the earth, lay back on the grass and dip into a cool river or watering hole.
It’s a joy worth preserving; research shows that being in the great outdoors makes us calmer, happier, more grounded and helps to cultivate our appreciation for wonder. It also helps to develop a recognition and respect for the plant and animal life surrounding us, and incentivizes us to learn more about what we can do to conserve and protect it.
Engaging with Mother Nature, though, comes with responsibility, and this year, our attention is on a set of precautions that may be new to some families. In addition to packing our sunglasses, water, sunscreen and first aid kits into our backpacks, we’ll also want to be equipped with the most up-to-date information on Lyme disease and the preventative steps we can take to keep ticks at bay. As Pennsylvania leads the country in new cases of Lyme disease, it’s critical that we are prepared to build new warm-weather habits that keep our families safe this and every summer season.
On pages 16 and 17 of this issue, we learn about organizations like the PA Lyme Resource Network, which has influenced legislative action to support education, prevention and treatment options for Pennsylvanians affected by Lyme disease. Its regional affiliate, Bucks County Lyme, organized by Evelyn Throne and Karen Meyers, holds a monthly support group, which has been an indispensable resource for individuals and families in need of support. We also meet some of the allied healthcare professionals from across the region that are working cooperatively as part of the movement to help boost Lyme literacy.
We are grateful for their excellent efforts to address this important public health challenge, and for sharing their work with the Natural Awakenings community.
Together we are “Making the Awakening” in Bucks and Montgomery counties.
Karen G. Meshkov, Publisher