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Words of Wellness 

A Collection of Wise Gleanings


Collected here are some of the many enriching and insightful comments made by interviewees during my years as contributing editor of the Whole Living section. (The articles from which these were taken, and other articles graced with wise and entertaining input, are available at www.Chronogram.com.) I have recently moved to California, from whence I came, so it is with fondness that I bid adieu to our readers and supporters, and to Chronogram’s inspiring creators and contributors, who charmed my Hudson Valley experience immeasurably.


“Every time we have an elder as a guest, they get the first meal and the best seat. There is a very real reverence for the elderly in the kids who have grown up with this. We are told to respect our elders, but you have to see it modeled or it’s not going to happen.”
—Esperanza Gonzales, in “Sisterhood for the Greater Good: Mentoring Girls into Empowered Women” (3/10)


click to enlarge ANNIE INTERNICOLA
“The danger in this wired-up society is that it’s so easy to reduce everything to academics and your computer, and lose sight of the arts, theater, music, community service—any of those things that give life richness and depth. It’s important not to lose those. More and more that’s something we have to teach, because kids can really lose their way from finding their inner calling, their voice. That voice is a precious guidance system toward a life of personal fulfillment.”
—Jim Handlin, in “Help, I’m Stuck in Overwhelm: Too Much Stuff, Too Little Time” (7/10)

“We’ve forgotten how to take care of ourselves when we’re sick. You can take the painkiller and go to work, but you’re infecting people around you and you get sicker by not redirecting the immune system to the appropriate place. You need to know how to convalesce. Nature conserves its energy. We should bring that message home: when you come home with a scratchy throat, what’s your body saying to you? Lie down, and rest, because the body’s trying to heal itself.”
—Jennifer Costa, in “Flu Shot Frenzy: Life without the Vaccine” (12/04)

“The dads or partners gain a respect for what the mother can do, and it creates a tremendous bond that helps in the parenting role later. Often I’ll have the partner catch the baby. I had a dad who just fell on his knees weeping with the power of that life force coming into his hands.”
—Mary Riley, in “Delivery by Doula: Reclaiming the Empowering Birth Experience” (4/06)

“An oil slick is no better for your face than for the Alaskan coastline.”
—Dina Falconi (referring to petroleum-derived ingredients in mainstream body-care products), in “Body by Nature: All-Natural Personal Care Products” (8/06)
click to enlarge ANNIE INTERNICOLA

“Some how, some way, exercise three to five times per week, for 30 to 60 minutes, minimum. Set specific days and times to do your favorite routine, be it yoga, Pilates, tai chi, running, biking, or going to the gym to work out. Do it on set days for set times. Vary the types of exercise you do to help build a balanced body. Alternate between strength training days and aerobic training days. If you are the type of person who cannot self-motivate, pay someone to motivate you!”
—David Ness, in “Wellness Tips for the New Year” (1/09)
“If our interest in ourselves could be a curiosity, rather than an anxiety, and if we could ask, ‘Who am I right now?’—with love, not with blame—we’d really be on our way.”
—Bill Vanaver, in “Heart Song” (6/07)

“We tend to push away the things we don’t like, or try to transcend our personal issues by getting to a different spiritual mentality about it. If we would stop resisting and invite everything in, something actually happens that brings us into more of a whole state.”
—Irene Humbach, in “Psychotherapy Today: Not Your Grandfather’s Psychoanalysis” (2/11)

“If you believe in physics and energy, then it’s very reasonable to believe that a dose is not a physical/chemical entity but an energetic property, and that in illness a person is struggling with an energetic pattern or vortex they can’t get out of. So all the symptoms are manifestations of a distortion of their energy field. The right treatment would help restore that back to balance.”
—Larry Malerba, in “Classical Homeopathy: Alive and Well” (9/07)
“Mentoring is a recalibration, a recommitting to being a village on this planet. We need to participate in creating the kind of culture that appreciates what we have. I choose nature as the arena, but there are opportunities for mentoring anywhere you listen to one another and ask what gifts we can give to each other—even if it’s simply the gift of kindness. I have mentors, most of them older than me, but some are younger, and I learn from them, too.”
—Amy Little, in “Sisterhood for the Greater Good: Mentoring Girls into Empowered Women” (3/10)

“Pay attention to the stress in your life, and find ways to minimize it. This could include changing your life or just incorporating stress-reduction techniques or acupuncture into your life. Spend more time in the present with joyful activities like art, movement, and music.”
—Sam Schikowitz, in “Wellness Tips for the New Year” (1/09)

“Consider what the body goes through for us—all the things that can happen to our fragile, delicate container. The body gets injured, it gets ill, it ages, goes through surgeries. How many people would go through this for you? What relationship do you have, all life long, that would go through any unspeakable thing the body goes through for you? It loves you that much. Your body never leaves you, until you leave it. When you think about that, it reframes our previous myopic judgment about our bodies.”
—Vaishali, in “Driver’s Manual: Loving and Learning from Your Spiritual Vehicle: Your Body” (6/10)
click to enlarge ANNIE INTERNICOLA

“In a mediation session you begin to understand what the other person is feeling. You may not like it, but you get a picture. If the parties can sit down and understand their feelings and what the concept of negotiation is, they are going to be better people, and it’s going to benefit others. If we can do that in our own backyard, can’t we do that in Iraq or Afghanistan?”
—Arzi McKeown, in “Going for the Win-Win: Resolving Disputes through Mediation” (11/10)

“Say a child is hyperactive. We might have them work with our arctic foxes, because the foxes need people to be calm. Children who normally might not sit still will wait 45 minutes to get to pet and feed a fox. That’s part of modeling a new behavior. Or, for a child who might be aggressive, we could pair them with a donkey. You have to be very gentle to interact with a donkey.”
—Deborah Bernstein, in “Animals as Healers” (6/04)

“I never deny the possibility of miracles, because I think they exist. There are some people at the top end of the survival curve who live many years with whatever cancer or illness we’re talking about. I think it’s terribly unscientific for a physician to tell people how long they have to live, because we don’t know. Why should we terrorize you with the mean lifespan of people with your illness, when you might be one of those who lives a very long time?”
—Lewis Mehl-Madrona, in “Narrative Medicine: The Power of Story in Sickness and Health” (5/09)

“Nobody gets sick suddenly. If there’s a tsunami because of an earthquake, it takes thousands of years for those plates to shift. A man works a job for 40 years, retires, goes down and plays golf six months later, and then drops dead of a heart attack. That heart attack doesn’t happen suddenly. There were signs. Maybe he wasn’t sleeping well; maybe he was depressed; maybe his mouth had been dry for a period of time or he had some mild skin eruptions. Nature never obscures anything. If you can see the signs, then you can treat the disease.”
—David Kramer, in “Classical Homeopathy: Alive and Well” (9/07)

“You can eat all the broccoli in the world and still be unhappy and unhealthy because other aspects of your life aren’t balanced. When you are satisfied with your career, in a loving relationship, have a spiritual practice, and exercise on a regular basis, you will be more likely to make better decisions about the foods you eat.”
—Joshua Rosenthal, in “Cooking Up a Well-Balanced Life: Integrative Nutrition” (4/09)
click to enlarge ANNIE INTERNICOLA

“It’s vitally important that we be sitting together in circles, so that we start to form a community of men relating to each other and supporting each other. We try to be self-sufficient, which can be a flaw in some ways, and it creates the illusion of ‘I’m alone.’ But when we can face our demons and questions in the presence of other men, it destroys the illusion. Just knowing you’re not alone is incredible—it’s like you’ve been holding your breath and can start breathing again.”
—David Brownstein, in “Men’s Wellness: Mind, Heart, Spirit” (7/09)

“I love to grab the harvest basket and go out collecting for a salad. A summer salad might include chickweed, violets, wild lettuces, lambs quarter, garlic mustard, wild sedums, purslane, mallow, and dandelion. It’s your time to be peaceful and directly nurture yourself. It’s your time to go into this very simple, ancient ritual that virtually no one does anymore.”
—Dina Falconi, in “Wisdom of the Weeds” (8/04)

“Consider it a learning experience on the spiritual level and ask yourself: ‘In what direction does this circumstance point me as a new way to grow?’ Approaching it from this point of view offers the opportunity to impart meaning and hope to a task that is otherwise capable of drowning us in a sea of hopelessness and despair.”
—William Colagrande, in “Help for Caregivers: How to Survive the Caretaking Years” (1/08)

“There was an elderly lady who just sat there, looking straight ahead. We asked her if she would like to meet a pet therapy dog. Her face lit up immediately. When the dog was put on her bed, she just opened up and began to tell us the most amazing stories about her life.”
—Trish Harrison, in “Animals as Healers” (6/04)

“From the beginning of playback we were aware that a great deal of what is unfair and unfortunate in society is the result of people not listening or understanding each other. So there was a vision of using this as a community catalyst to develop tolerance and respect and justice. We wanted to create a forum for communication and integration of experience. You tell people what happened to you in the context of community dialog and ritual, and it has a healing function.”
—Jo Salas, in “The Healing Power of Improv: Playback Theatre and Psychodrama” (9/08)

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