Addiction is a physical, psychological, and spiritual disease that is as deadly as cancer, heart disease, or diabetes. Addictions create devastating emotional, spiritual, and physical traumas that can lead to intense suffering and death. Yet, until we are willing to admit that we, as a nation, are addicted to power, greed, and control, our democratic way of life and our children will continue to be threatened. Step One could move us toward recovery if we could just admit that our current ways of approaching things are making life unmanageable. With elections fast approaching, I am hearing some rhetoric about invading Mexico to stop the drug cartels. Wouldn’t it make more sense for us to address such problems as poverty, racism, gun violence, and climate change so that our kids would not feel the need to escape by using drugs? After all, as long as there is demand, someone will move in to supply the product. And we all know the definition of insanity: doing the same thing over and over while expecting different results. I wonder if it will ever be possible for us as a nation to do the hard work involved in healing our ills. Given our human lust for power and our addiction to easy answers, dishonesty, and the growing gap between rich and poor, reasoned suggestions seem impossible. Yet, I feel glimmers of hope. I see evidence that the very ones whom we have written off, held down, and persecuted are the ones with the greatest hope and viable options. That blacks and browns have not given up on America is amazing, considering how we have treated them. I am a naturally optimistic person. Years of practicing gratitude have taught me to seek out signs of hope rather than focusing on doom and gloom. I have learned how to find the hidden gift in hardship even while facing reality head-on. The years our family spent struggling with drug and alcohol addiction were hellish years, yet I would not give them up for all the money in the world. Through heartache and suffering, we were forced to make radical changes in the way we approached life, power, faith, and functioned as a family. Those years taught us that when one door closes, another one opens. As Charles Dicken wrote: “These are the best of times. These are the worst of times.” This is very true. While these are troubling times, they are also times filled with promise and potential. For years we have hidden from our dark side. President Trump has torn the lid off of Pandora’s Box, and we now are forced to see ourselves as we really are. We have pretended to be more open-minded and accepting of others than we really are. We have rewritten history to avoid seeing ourselves as greedy, selfish, and abusive. We delight in seeing America as the great melting pot, but we don’t want newcomers to move into our neighborhood or make any changes. We want to be protected from the negative consequences of our poor choices and don’t want any rules or regulations to stop us from doing what we want, when we want, or to whom we want. But we also want clean air, clean water, higher wages, an end to gun violence, etc. We have been taught America was founded on the idea of freedom and sacrifice. But, the problem with sacrifice is that when making a sacrifice, we have to give up something we value if we are to achieve something of even greater value. Unfortunately, we are finding that the more out of control things seem to become, the harder we cling to our past mistakes, If we truly want to maintain the privileges we’ve experienced as whites, we must be willing to make more room at the table for others. Otherwise, we all lose. Years in the 12-step program have taught me that step one in any problem-solving is admitting that we not only have a problem but what we are currently doing doesn’t work. We have to let go of the past if we are to embrace the future. We may have to give up our right to own so many guns if we don’t want gun violence to keep occurring, for instance. Granted, it is much easier to close our eyes and pretend everything, such as white privilege, is perfectly OK than do the work of dismantling our prejudices and providing room at the table for others. It is as Jesus observed; we have eyes but refuse to see, and ears that refuse to hear. As long as we choose to be blind and deaf, we will be unable to discover the many possibilities that are open to us. God grant me the serenity to accept the people and situations I cannot change, the courage to change what I can, and the wisdom to know any positive change begins with me.
It was one of those mornings when everything I tried to do required an extra step or needed something I didn’t have. Instead of getting overly upset (it was tempting, as an occasional pity party can be satisfying), I went for my gratitude box. The first card I picked up read: “Give thanks for unknown blessings already on their way.” So what happens? My daughter stopped in for an impromptu visit and helped me fix my computer. The second card I pulled out absolutely nailed it: “The more we praise and celebrate about life, the more there is to celebrate.” Intrigued, I kept going. “Think lightly of yourself and deeply of the world.” Thinking lightly of yourself reminded me that most of the direct messages I’ve received from God have all reminded me to get over myself. Which made me laugh, as I have this tendency to take myself much too seriously. The next card read, “Acknowledging the good that you already have in your life is the foundation for all abundance and happiness.” So true! By focusing on being grateful for what I already have, I realized my tension and frustration was lifting. Once again, practicing gratitude helped. So I continued allowing my gratitude box to minister to me. “If the only prayer you say in your life is ‘thank you,’ that would suffice,” Meister Eckhart wrote, which was reaffirmed by Rene Brown’s “What separates privilege from entitlement is gratitude, ” which reminded me of Anne Lamont’s observation that she has three simple prayers: “Help. Thanks. Wow.” By now, the morning was almost over, so instead of feeling obligated to return to my “to-do” list, I decided to go for a walk. As I walked, I reflected on Elizabeth Gilbert’s observation that “In the end, maybe it’s wiser to surrender before the miraculous scope of human generosity and to keep saying thank you, forever and sincerely, or as long as we have voices.” Thank you, God. Thank you, world. Thank you, family. Thank you, friends!
McSherrystown, Pennsylvania — September 7, 2023 — Evision Total Wellness, a local provider in holistic health, functional medicine, and wellness services, is thrilled to announce the grand opening of its new location on September 17, 2023. The event will be marked with a ribbon-cutting ceremony, signifying a new chapter in our journey toward promoting health and well-being in the community. We cordially invite you to join us in celebrating this significant milestone. The day will include a tour of our new state-of-the-art facilities, an opportunity to meet and engage with our professional wellness team, and enjoy light refreshments. Our commitment to empowering individuals to lead healthier lives continues to be the driving force behind our expansion. We’re excited to bring our unique blend of services to more individuals, contributing to healthier, happier communities. The event details are as follows: Date: September 17, 2023 Location: 235 South Street, McSherrystown, PA 17344 Time: 12 p.m. – 4 p.m. We look forward to welcoming you to our new location and working together towards a healthier future. ABOUT ENVISION TOTAL WELLNESS Envision Total Wellness is dedicated to providing comprehensive health and wellness services, tailoring programs to individual needs, and promoting an overall healthier lifestyle.
The following notice was posted today on the Littlestown Police Department’s Savvy Citizen app. Over the past several days there appears to be a batch of illegal drugs that have hit the streets in South Central Pa. Over the past weekend, multiple overdoses have occurred which has also resulted in multiple deaths. Apparently, from what we know so far, the drugs are laced with cocaine and a packaged synthetic that has yet to be identified. Law enforcement and healthcare personnel are working to identify the substance as well as its origin in an attempt to get it off the street before any further deaths occur. That being said, addiction to an illegal substance is a fact and it occurs for a lot of reasons. I am not issuing this notice to judge anyone, our purpose is to warn the public that this stuff is out there and it can cause death or serious injury. If you come in contact with this substance either on purpose or by accident due to a family member or friend who may have overdosed, it is possible you could fall victim if you accidentally breathe it in or get it on your hands. We would anticipate it will have dire consequences if a small child is accidentally exposed. If you suffer from addiction we urge you to seek professional help. Multiple avenues of assistance are available free of charge to get you the help you need. If you have a family member or know someone who is suffering from addiction, please make sure they are aware this stuff is currently on the streets. We are asking for public assistance to help identify this dangerous substance before anyone loses their life. We urge you to contact law enforcement officials if you have any knowledge of the source of this substance. All information provided will remain confidential. Here is a list of phone numbers for Adams County Police Departments:
Step 9 is all about making amends (forgiveness), but before we can make amends (forgive)in a meaningful way, we have to work our way through steps 6,7 and 8. It is rarely appropriate to do something or take a stand without doing our necessary preparatory work. We not only have to become willing to work on ourselves and our own character defects (the log in our own eye), but once recognized, we need to prepare ourselves to change. Step 7 tells us to ask God to remove all our defects of character. The word all is important as that gives God permission to work on our defects, recognized and unrecognized, as needed. Then, only after we have become willing and have asked God for help are we to make a list of people we have hurt or behavior patterns that need to change. Jim Wallis writes: “While reform thyself should be the starting point for any calls for public (and private) reform, it is often passed over completely. How can we ever act upon the truth to change our public life when we deny or ignore the same truth in ourselves or don’t even see it? Humility is always a prerequisite for truth-telling. Otherwise, we become blind to the meaning of the truth we claim to be for.” “My friend Richard Rohr describes the plank in your eye as embracing your shadow. And he shows how much of our lives are lived in the shadow (of denial). Indeed, the shadow becomes the working and living space for too many of our political leaders, but also for some church leaders and, of course, in our own lives, because it is harder to see and recognize the truth in the shadows.” Steps 6,7,8 and 9 are all about taking the plank out of our own eyes. While none of us will deny that there is great evil in the world, we may not agree on what that evil is. Thus it becomes even more important that we work on that log or plank in our own eyes before we criticize or judge anyone else. Just writing this blog reminds me that I carry great anger at the Alt-Right, Trump, and his many followers. Each time I try to watch Fox News or talk to someone who is a Trump supporter, my anger gets in the way of my active listening. Is their fear and anger toward minorities and “socialists” any different than my anger at them? Or my willingness to write them off as hypocrites and less than? A number of years ago, we made a banner for our church that pictured three crosses and all sorts of things representing our materialistic society. The caption read: “No one said it would be easy.” Precisely because self-awareness and humility are so difficult, it behooves us to find a church, 12-step meeting, or group that is willing to be honest and help us grow. That is why I keep going to 12-step meetings and attend our little church. I absolutely need others to help me become a better person. God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can (beginning with myself), and the wisdom to know the difference.
October is nationally known as breast cancer awareness month. In Adams County, we celebrate our breast cancer survivors in many ways throughout October and beyond. Our main goal for women in our community is to assist them in the early detection and understanding of breast health concerns. In our community, the dedicated members of the Adams County Breast Cancer Coalition (ACBCC), an affiliate of Healthy Adams County, work to raise funds to support Pennsylvania breast cancer research, the free mammogram fund, and educational opportunities to improve the understanding of breast health concerns. On Friday, October 13, 2023, ACBCC will host its Annual Dinner of Hope at the Wyndham Hotel in Gettysburg. The event’s keynote speaker, Arlene Karole, a breast cancer survivor, writer, and advocate. Arlene is a national speaker who will be joining the ACBCC to celebrate breast cancer early detection, survivorship, and how to take charge of your health and feel empowered to make healthcare decisions. The cost for the dinner is only $15. An RSVP is required by Monday, October 15. There is no admittance at the door without prior RSVP. For further information on this inspiring event, call 717-339-2657. The sponsoring partner for this dinner is WellSpan Adams Cancer Center. Through the services of WellSpan Gettysburg Hospital, local women are provided cutting edge breast care as a National Accredited Program for Breast Center and a Breast Imaging Center of Excellence. WellSpan offers a variety of breast imaging services such as breast MRI, 3D mammography, and the free screening mammogram fund for individuals who meet the criteria. The WellSpan Adams Cancer Center offers state-of-the-art medical treatments for breast cancer such as clinical trials, medical oncology, radiation oncology, and mind-body health complementary medicine. Toni Fitzgerald, RN, is the oncology nurse navigator at the WellSpan Adams Cancer Center and is chair of the Adams County Breast Cancer Coalition, an affiliate of Healthy Adams County. She can be contacted at (717) 339-2657.
Deep into another WWII novel and Jim Wallis’ Christ in Crisis, I experienced a spontaneous burst of gratitude this morning. With fall in the wings, the nights are cooling down. The daylight hours are growing noticeably shorter, and this morning, there is a nip in the air. Since my friend called to say she couldn’t walk, I set out on my own, heading down our street at the edge of town. Edge of town means houses on one side but open pastureland on the other. The blue cornflowers and white Queen Anne’s lace growing along the fence row sparkled in the sun. The cornfield bordering the alley across the way stood tall and proud, pointing their leaves and tassels toward the sky. Something small inside swelled and grew until it burst into song. ‘It’s a Lovely day today.” But, along with the joy was grief for all who do not have the opportunity to revel in Mother Nature or whose souls are so broken that they cannot appreciate these gifts from Mother Nature. My WWII novel describes situations in one of the Polish ghettoes while Jim Wallis was responding to the lawyer’s question to Jesus, “Who is my neighbor?” Jesus then tells the story of the Good Samaritan, Samaritans being the outcast in Jewish society at that time. Who might Jesus cast in that role today? Blacks? Immigrants? LBGTQ individuals? I can just hear it now. “Now there was a man who was going from Baltimore to Washington when carjackers attacked him, throwing him out of the car and leaving him hurt and wounded in an abandoned junkyard. Even though he managed to crawl to the side of the road, cars whizzed by, refusing to help. Then, a trans stopped to see if he could help. We all know the end of the story. The outcast not only takes the man to the local hospital but also offers to pay his medical bills and find housing and shelter for him. At the end of the story, Jesus asks all of us, “Who was neighbor to the injured man?” This story, along with the account of Jesus telling the rich young ruler to go and sell all he had and give it to the poor and come and follow me, trouble me because they confront my innate selfishness and embedded fears. I am reminded of a banner we had at church, which pictured three crosses with all sorts of images of modern life and the saying, “No one said it would be easy.” My morning walk was another reminder that, of all people, I am much blessed. Listening to the news primarily when I am in the car reminds me that many do not have the safe, secure life that is min. I am constantly reminded that this good life that is mine is not of my making but of the accident of birth and good fortune. Gratitude, I suspect, is a poor substitute for selling all I have and giving it to the poor or stepping out of my comfort zone to radically help someone who is seen as “the other,” but it’s a start. Perhaps if I am grateful enough, God will bring those people to me whom he wants me to help. After all, much as we may try, none of us live in isolation. Opportunities to become our better selves come to us every day. And so, on this absolutely beautiful morning, I find myself praying, “Lord, make me an instrument of your peace. Lord, make me an instrument of your peace: where there is hatred, let me sow love; where there is injury, pardon; where there is doubt, faith; where there is despair, hope; where there is darkness, light; where there is sadness, joy.”
Even though it’s September, plenty of good kayaking days are still ahead this year. Unfortunately, the launch area at Long Pine Reservoir, close by in Michaux State Forest, is closed until next season. But for those determined to enjoy this lovely mountain lake, there are ways to reach the water. The fishing dock offers a quick downhill access, while the bridge farther down the short arm of the lake requires shlepping your boat through the woods. By next summer, we should have a decent parking and launch area there, as well as much-needed bathrooms. Long Arm Reservoir, south of Hanover is especially beautiful in the fall, and its launch area is well equipped with a porta-potty and handicap parking close to the lake. Opossum Lake, west of Carlisle has several launch areas, one with bathrooms, and is great for birding and wild berry picking in summer. York, PA offers two adjacent reservoirs south of the city, Lake Redman and Lake Williams. Redman is more interesting from a birding standpoint, but Williams features a kayak launch, which holds your watercraft steady while you get into it, a feat no matter where you put in. Two nearby State Parks are obvious choices. Codorus, east of Hanover, with large Lake Marburg, can be overrun on weekends with pontoon boats, not to mention motorboats that create unwelcome waves. During the week, however, it’s a great place to explore, using different launch sites. The sailing area, with bathrooms, offers good access to the upper end of the lake, while the Black Rock launch, best for the far end, has no facilities. Gifford Pinchot State Park, east of Dillsburg, boasts a large lake unfortunately clogged with weeds in summer. The chief attraction there is Beaver Creek, accessed from Mooring #1 near Rossville, featuring an inviting shaded paddle a long way up the stream. In the fall, after hunting season begins, Pinchot’s Lake is divided into well-posted Hunting and No Hunting areas, which unfortunately is not the case at Codorus. Creeks and rivers offer additional possibilities, but only if you have two cars and can park one downstream. The Yellow Breeches Water Trail, divided into three sections, begins in South Middleton Park near Boiling Springs and terminates at the Susquehanna. But the middle 10 ½ mile section, from Messiah College to Yellow Breeches Park, is most free of hazards and more likely to have acceptable water levels. In summer, the Conodoquinet, west of Carlisle, is frequently too low to kayak easily. The Monocacy, in Maryland, is another possibility, although it’s difficult to find good access to the water. The Conococheague, south of Chambersburg, offers a pleasant and calm trip in kayak or canoe, once you have found a good access point. Locally, Marsh Creek and Rock Creek frequently suffer from low water levels, but please do not try to navigate them after a storm, as sharp rocks and swift water can make for a treacherous experience. One more waterway is the Susquehanna, with recommended launching south of Columbia off Route 441. Birding there on the Conejohela flats can be rewarding, but no more so than acres of yellow lotuses, calm water, and numerous islands. An avid Adams County kayaker has lots of options for venturing out on the water. Cloudy days and gentle winds are optimum if you want to avoid heatstroke and hard paddling. Autumn days are often ideal, so you shouldn’t even think of putting that kayak away till November.
by Betsy Meyer The Healthy Adams County Physical Fitness Task Force’s fall walking schedule is full of walks, showing off Adams County’s natural beauty at a wonderful time of year for walking. As Albert Camus said, “Autumn is a second spring when every leaf is a flower.” We hope you will find some time this fall to get outside and join us for a relaxing walk to take in nature’s autumn show. We are again offering led group walks at 1:00 with an interesting speaker. The benefit of the group walk is meeting/getting to know other outdoor walkers, not having to worry about staying on the path and learning something new from an interesting speaker. If you can’t make 1:00, all the walks are offered later in the afternoon when you walk the route on your own or with family/friends – we provide a map. We are offering a perfect attendance prize of a $10 gift card to Hollabaugh’s Bros Farm Market at our final walk. We also have two walks, Labor Day and Saturday, September 23rd, that will count as make-up in case you miss up to two of the regular weekday walks. Here’s the schedule: MON. SEP 4, 8:00 AM, Highmark Wholecare Labor Day FREE 5K, Wyndham Hotel, Gateway Complex. Arrive 30 minutes early to register or sign up in advance at runsignup.com/race/PA/Gettysburg/LaborDayFree5k. Race/walk kicks off from the Wyndham Hotel in the Gateway Complex off Rtes 30 and 15. Medals for all children who finish. (3.1 miles, paved roads, some gentle hills) Wed. SEPT 6, 1:00 led walk, 4:00 – 6:00 open, Gettysburg College/Peace Light, 300 W. Lincoln Ave. Walk from the Gettysburg College Musselman Athletic Field parking lot to the Peace Light. At 1:00, there will be a group walk led by Gettysburg College history professor Peter Carmichael. (3 miles, paved road, sidewalk, and a bit on a gravel trail and is a bit hilly with little shade.) Wed. SEPT 13, 1:00 led walk, 2:00 – 4:00 open, ADAMS COUNTY WINERY, 251 Peach Tree Rd, Ortanna. Walk around the vineyards, gardens, and buildings of the winery. (Walk is 2 miles, flat and hilly, with some gravel and some field grass. Wed. SEPT 20, 1:00 led walk, 3:00 – 5:30 open, HUNDRED FOLD FARM, 1400 Evergreen Way, Ortanna. Walk the gravel roads of this quiet cohousing community and around the adjoining Halbrendt vineyards, which are being converted to wildflower meadows. (~ 2 miles, hilly, gravel trail, some shade, very scenic) SAT. SEPT 23, 4:00 led walk. KNORR & SCOTT ROADS. Park at 380 Knorr Rd. Walk on a very quiet rural road with beautiful scenery and mostly preserved land. The walk will also venture onto a short meadow trail that meanders along Marsh Creek and then ends with a lookout pier over the creek. (~2.5 miles, mostly road, short trail section, partial shade, rolling hills). Tues. SEPT 26, 1:00 led walk, 4:00 to 6:00 open, BLUE & GRAY AIRFIELD. 360 Confederate Cavalry Avenue, off Route 30, east of Route 15. (~3 miles, flat road surfaces) Wed. OCT 4, 1:00 led walk, 4:00 – 6:00 open, New Walk – McSherrystown, Park at St. Joseph Academy 69 Main St, McSherrystown, in the Convent Lot, turn into a one-way driveway, at the split goes right. (~2.5 miles, mostly flat, some shade, trail). Wed. OCT 11, 1:00 led walk, 4:00 – 6:00, New Walk LITTLESTOWN FALL FOLIAGE. Park at the high school, 200 E. Myrtle Ave, Littlestown, or along Crouse Ave. Check-in at the Crouse Park Gazebo. Walk the quiet neighborhood streets while enjoying spectacular fall colors. (2 miles, paved, relatively flat) Wed. OCT 18, 1:00 led walk, 2:00 – 4:00, Hollabaugh’s Orchards. 545 Carlisle Rd, Biglerville. Enjoy fall’s colors by walking the orchard lanes of the farm. Sorry, no dogs are allowed. Enjoy apples & cheese at our last walk of the fall season. (Almost 2 miles, gravel trail, a bit hilly) Hope to see you there. For more detailed information, please check the website at adamswellness.org. Betsy Meyer is a member of the Physical Fitness Task Force and an outdoor enthusiast.
RISE Yoga Gettysburg, a new yoga studio coming to the Gettysburg area, opens in one week, hosting its first class on September 6. RISE is located at Phoenix Wellness Center, 2311 Fairfield Road, serving Gettysburg and surrounding areas with yoga and mindfulness programming emphasizing mental health and wellness. RISE offers yoga for every body, every mind, and every season of life. In this welcoming space, there is something for everyone, at any level, offering a variety of class styles that will benefit anyone on a path to improved physical, mental, and/or emotional health. Owner, Alli Crowell believes that in its truest form, yoga is meant to be accessible to all. In addition to their Yoga Alliance certifications, the team of instructors at RISE are trained in trauma-informed and adaptive practices to support chronic pain, management of stress and anxiety, depression, PTSD, and brain injury. Heather Seton will be teaching an energizing Saturday morning flow practice, encouraging students to meet themselves exactly as they are in each moment with compassion and curiosity. “Heather is a wonderful teacher. Her classes help me to not only reset for the week, but due to a subluxation in my shoulder and a fused neck, Heather’s modifications for poses allow me to grow in my practice and find relief from my pain,” says a current student. In the words of RISE instructor and Gettysburg native Judy Redding, who will be teaching on Thursday evenings, “Evening flow invites you to enjoy quiet stillness and breath, gently move your body to release excess energy, and prepare for a deeper state of rest and rejuvenation.” Her instructional style focuses on proper alignment in poses, safe sequencing, balance, core strength, and connection of breath to movement. In addition to all-levels Vinyasa style practices offered, Chris Sampson will be bringing Yin Yoga to RISE on Sunday evenings, a deeply restorative and down-regulating practice to calm body and mind. From a current student- “Chris teaches a super chill Yin Yoga class. His no-rules, no-fuss, mellow style is a great way to ease into Yin. Deep stretches held for a long time with a few well-placed words of encouragement and inspiration have you leaving feeling like you’ve just had a massage. Stress relief. Emotional healing. Increased flexibility and improved range of motion. Yep, you do want to try it!” Melissa Rosenberger, therapist at Phoenix Counseling, received her 200-hour yoga teacher training through Breathe For Change, an organization centered on yoga and mindfulness practices that support social-emotional well-being for educators, students, and their families. Melissa will be teaching a family yoga class once a month this fall geared toward elementary-aged students and their families. Melissa also teaches insurance-based trauma-informed yoga classes to clients of Phoenix Counseling Center. Alli Crowell, owner of RISE, will teach two weekday morning classes- Focused Flow, a Vinyasa-style class focused on building strength, alignment, and balance, and Active Restore, a blend of active standing poses and restful restorative stretching. “Alli’s background as an educator and coach, makes her such a naturally warm, comfortable yoga instructor. Her students are immediately set at ease with her in the lead. Not only that, Alli knows how to keep things interesting and fresh. Class is always fun, challenging, and keeps your interest,” says one of Alli’s current students. Both in lived experience and in professional training, Alli specializes in accessible yoga and mindfulness for the brain injury community and their caretakers, including mild to severe traumatic and acquired brain injury. She is certified through the Love Your Brain Foundation, a leader in research* centered around the impacts of yoga and mindfulness meditation on brain injury recovery and brain health. In her own words, “As someone who lives with persistent post-concussive symptoms as the result of multiple mild TBIs, I have personally experienced the many benefits of the Love Your Brain program model as well as the sense of community it fosters. I look forward to sharing accessible yoga and mindfulness with the local brain injury community of Adams County.” RISE eventually plans to host a free mindfulness support group for brain injury survivors and their caretakers focused on positive mindset and post-traumatic growth. RISE is a space of purposeful inclusion. YOU are welcome regardless of ability, experience, age, gender identity, sexual orientation, racial or cultural identity, neurodiversity, financial means, educational background, religious or spiritual perspective. Alli is fluent in Spanish and can offer bilingual instructional support as needed. Please do not hesitate to contact RISE directly if the cost of a class would prevent you from participating as it is important to us to make this practice accessible to all. Classes can be purchased individually or at a discounted rate by purchasing a studio class pass. Find a full class schedule at www.riseyogagettysburg.com/book-online.Registration is now open to the public! Contact RISE for more information at email@example.com. *https://www.loveyourbrain.com/research
It feels like fall this morning; still pleasantly warm, but there’s a different feel to the air. The seasons are slowly changing. August will soon be over. Kids are back in school. Buses add minutes to morning and afternoon commutes. I’m so grateful Mother Nature is trying to keep us on schedule. I grieve for everyone affected by all the fires, storms, floods, tornadoes, droughts, etc., but that simply means we all need to do more to reduce our carbon footprint. It is truly disconcerting to recognize that it’s been less than 100 years since we’ve managed to turn well-established weather patterns upside down. If we are to moderate the rises in temperature that are causing all these changes, we need to make some radical changes, none of which will be easy. After all, we are creatures of habit. We like our comforts. An article in our local paper talked about ways we can repurpose, reuse, and carefully recycle, reminding us that we need only a fragment of the things advertisers want us to buy, want, or desire. This raises an important question: is convenience really all that convenient in the long run? Making my morning coffee, I found myself singing, “It’s a lovely day today/ For whatever you want to do,/ You’ve got a lovely day to do it in, that’s true/ And I hope whatever you’ve got to do/Is something that can be done by two…..But if you’ve got something that must be done/ And it can only be done by one/There is nothing more to say/ Except it’s a lovely day today.” Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we woke every day feeling positive and singing, “It’s a lovely day today?” To begin the day with a smile and optimism? While that seems unrealistic, I know, is it? Aren’t we responsible for our thoughts and attitudes, our feelings? One of the important things I learned from the 12-step program is no one makes me feel anything. My feelings are the result of my response and my reaction to something. I do well to stop personalizing criticism and negative suggestions and do not need to allow others to determine them for me. Years ago a counselor suggested that instead of feeling personally attacked when criticized, I have the option of listening to others’ criticism as information about themselves instead of an attack on me personally. What I discovered once I began following her advice was that by not personalizing others’ remarks, I freed myself from unnecessary pain and suffering. One of the important lessons life wants to teach us is that we humans are not the center of the universe. What we do, think, and feel is important, of course, but we must balance our needs and wants with the needs of others and the environment. The Apostle Paul reminds us that when we were kids, we thought, felt, and reacted as kids, but when we are grown, we’re to respond as mature adults….which means letting go of past slights, digs, grudges, and resentments. Rather than hanging on to personal attacks, we have the option to detach from the truly toxic individuals in our lives, even if they are old friends or family members. And while difficult, we can all change for the better. So, no matter what time you read this, my friends, I remind you, “As we say in the 12-step program, “Just for today…I can have a lovely day by living one day at a time and enjoying each moment at a time. “
Bishop Curry says in the appendix of Love Is The Way, “So much of what is happening in the world does not look like love. If we go through life letting external forces – our news feeds, our acquaintances, our Google calendar – determine how our days are spent and our contributions measured, we know what we are going to get; more of the same. To live our faith and values, we need to bring intentionality and purpose to everyday life, and that’s where the rule of life comes in to support us. Note my language; It supports us. It’s not there to constrain us or punish us…It is a way to create tangible habits that support our heart’s intentions.” It’s so easy to be lazy, to forgo that morning walk because I’m tired, or eating my vegetables because it feels like too much work to cook them. It’s so easy to ignore those internal whispers about helping this person or taking time to check in on a neighbor. Years ago, a friend told me that he accepted his experiences of speaking in tongues as God’s reminder that He communicates with us in very subtle, ordinary ways. Speaking in tongues was God hitting him over the head to get his attention,” he said, “but everyday communication came as that burst of appreciation upon seeing a beautiful flower, the impulse to call a friend, hearing this little voice say, “go out and thank him,” the nudge to stop and chat with a neighbor. Little things. “Because,” he went on, “it’s the little things that make the real difference. Over time they build up. Of course, there are the big splashy gestures, but it’s living the Golden Rule day in and day out that speaks the loudest. Consequently, I’ve come to recognize those minuscule nudges as The Holy Spirit’s way of telling me what to do and not to do.” White reading Marcus Borg’s The Heart of Christianity, I was struck by his comment that in Greek, both compassion and justice are common synonyms for our English word love. I find that revealing. When Jesus tells us to love our enemies, he was telling us to have compassion for them even while working for justice. It’s so easy to judge another without knowing their story. When visiting inmates for the Pennsylvania Prison Society, I often left the prison overwhelmed by the stories I heard. Stories of being locked in closets as kids. Of being beaten, burned with cigarettes, raped, and forced to work as prostitutes. Given the choice to sell drugs or be killed. I soon learned the true meaning of compassion. Not empathy or sympathy, but compassion. A deep sorrow and caring about them as beautiful but broken human beings. While not condoning what they’d done, I came to see them through the eyes of love. As a result, I ended my 20-plus years as an official visitor recognizing that punishment often compounds problems rather than fixing them. Punishment is way too easy. Compassion and true justice are often very different. Years ago, I went on a Tony Hillerman binge. In one novel, Jim Chee finally finds the individual who was driving drunk and hit and killed a native grandfather. American justice would have incarcerated the man, but Indian justice had the man go to AA and assume responsibility for raising and loving the small boy left behind. Love equals compassion and justice.
Although its name has changed, the goals of the Adams County Coalition for Overdose Awareness and Recovery have not. Formerly the Overdose Awareness Task Force, the coalition’s goal is to increase naloxone availability to save lives, reduce the stigma of addiction, and bring hope to those who suffer from addiction and those close to them. “Any overdose death is a tragedy in Adams County because each of our residents matters–as a family member, community member, and person. At this time, the group has decided that ‘coalition’ is really a better term for where we are headed, but we will continue our strong partnerships with community agencies including law enforcement and county agencies,” said Andrea Dolges, Executive Director, Center for Youth and Community Development. Gettysburg’s fifth annual memorial walk will take place Aug. 31 at 6 p.m., beginning at the Adams County Courthouse and ending at the Gettysburg Rec Park’s Firemans’ Pavilion where local individuals and community representatives will speak to the issue. The event will mark International Overdose Awareness Day which focuses on creating a better understanding of overdose, reducing the stigma of drug-related deaths, and creating change that reduces the risk of harm associated with drug use. While the annual walk is a memorial to those who have lost loved ones to drug addiction, this year’s emphasis will be on those left behind, including grieving family and friends, healthcare and support services employees, and first responders, who are often left alone to bear the burden of the crisis. “We’re saying, ‘we see you’ and we can get through it by being together,” said Lisa Lindsey, Data & Prevention Specialist at the Center for Youth & Community Development. Free Naloxone kits will be available at the event. Naloxone is frequently delivered through a nasal spray and rapidly reverses an opioid overdose by restoring normal breathing in overdoses of opioids including heroin, fentanyl, oxycodone, hydrocodone, codeine, and morphine. The statistics in Adams County for 2022 were five overdose deaths, a dramatic improvement from the prior two years of 17 and 15 deaths respectively. Naloxone has been credited internationally with reducing overall overdose deaths. Dolges believes that Adams County continues to be supportive of its people. “This is really a grassroots effort, supported by leadership, to empower the community to help people struggling with substance use which is a symptom or result of other issues affecting our neighbors. A person isn’t an addiction and people can move on and be productive members of our community.” Dolges emphasized that addiction is a disease or an indicator of something traumatic that has happened in a person’s life. Coordinated by Lindsey, the coalition meets on the third Tuesday of each month through Zoom or at 233 West High St. The group prioritizes: Increased access and utilization of naloxone to save lives. A continuum of care available from early intervention through sustained recovery for every person in Adams County. Reduced supply of available opioids in the county. Information on signs of a substance or opioid use disorder, treatment options, and recovery programs available in the community.
On Saturday, September 23, Healthy Adams Bicycle/Pedestrian, Inc (HABPI) will host its 8th Annual Ride for Trails to raise money for trail development in Adams County. Three different routes are being offered to accommodate riders of all experience levels: 13 miles, 24 miles, and 40 miles. All rides begin at the Gettysburg Rec Park, 545 Long Lane, and travel through the Gettysburg National Military Park and over picturesque Sachs Covered Bridge. The longer rides also wind through the quiet country roads to the south of Gettysburg with a rest stop halfway through to recharge. All rides end at the Rec Park, where a free lunch will be offered to riders beginning at 11 a.m. The 24- and 40-mile rides will be “show and go,” where riders can depart on their own schedule after check-in, which opens at 8 a.m. The 13-mile ride, which departs at 9:45 a.m., will be guided by HABPI members at a leisurely pace. Pre-registration and additional details on the ride are available at bit.ly/RFT2023 or via the link on our website at habpi.org. Pre-registration is just $40 and is open through noon on Sept. 22. Those who register by Aug. 30 will receive a free Ride for Trails t-shirt. Registration on the day of the event is $45. If you are unable to ride with us, please consider making a donation to HABPI via our website above or by check made out to HABPI and mailed to 523 Moritz Rd., Orrtanna, PA 17353 (attn. M. Bramel). Proceeds from the event will support HABPI’s work to develop and maintain trails for biking and walking as well as to promote safe bicycling and walking for the health, recreation, transportation, environment, and economic benefit of the community.
We said goodbye to Ruthie on Saturday. Such a joyous memorial service filled with joyful black music, stories, and laughter! Ruthie joined our family in 1969 as a confused and suicidal teenager, angry at the world and life. Over the years, she entered and reentered our lives, sometimes being affectionate and loving, others angry and disappointed over our racial obtuseness. Like so many, we began our journey as a mixed-race family, assuming that racism was a personal thing. She taught us to see just how systemic cultural racism truly is and how we whites have assimilated white privilege with our mother’s milk. No wonder she was angry! But, oh, she could also give of herself to make us laugh! Not being able to sleep one night, I opened my Kindle. Not being able to read the title and author without my glasses on, I opened a book, not knowing what I was getting. One of my challenges with the Kindle is I often have trouble retrieving the titles and authors when I am done with the book. Even with a magnifying glass, I can’t read the title, but this I know. The author was Mary Taylor. This was a story of a mother and daughter who were dealing with unresolved grief. Taylor was able to tuck all sorts of hints into her story, such as the importance of talking about the loved one and finding very tangible ways to keep their memory alive. She also stressed the importance of allowing ourselves to feel, to ask for help, to be vulnerable and laid out the importance of rituals such as our eating ice cream on my husband’s birthday…or my making a blueberry coffee cake when I heard of Ruthie’s death since blueberry coffee cake was one of her favorites. My Dad used to say that we need to die the way we live, to embrace death with the same joy and enthusiasm with which we embrace life. Ruthie certainly did that. I’ve never been around anyone who accepted their impending death with such lightness of heart, actually seeing her death as the reward for a life filled with struggle and joy. Death tends to be frightening because no one has ever come back to tell us what lies on the other side. Another reason lies with the ways the church has tried to scare us into heaven by stressing punishment and everlasting torment for even the most minor of sins rather than the freedom that comes by emulating and following Jesus. Over the years, I have come to really appreciate II Cor. 5: 16 – 18. “No longer then do we judge anyone by human standards. Even if, at one time, we judged Christ by human standards, we no longer do so. When anyone is joined to Christ, he is a new being; the old is gone, and the new has come. All this is done by God, who through Christ changed us from enemies into his friends and gave us the task of making others his friends also.” While I don’t know what follows death, this I know our task of loving, accepting, forgiving, and affirming lies in the here and now. Like Ruthie, I figure if I do the best I can (at least most of the time), I need not fear what comes after. By loving life, I can also love death, even when it is a total unknown.
In May of this year, the U.S. Surgeon General’s office released an advisory titled “Our Epidemic of Loneliness and Isolation.” This 77-page document sounds the alarm on how social isolation is harmful to our overall health and well-being. The advisory notes that one in two Americans now struggle with a sense of loneliness on a regular basis. It boldly states that “lacking social connection is as dangerous as smoking up to 15 cigarettes a day”. Such stark statements lead the optimistic among us to seek some more positive information to move forward with. In April, I was asked to talk to the Adult Discussion Sunday School class at St. James Lutheran Church about a new book that has been released. That book is The Good Life: Lessons from the World’s Longest Scientific Study of Happiness by Robert Waldinger, MD, and Marc Schulz, Ph.D. They are the director and associate director of the Harvard Study of Adult Development. The study they share in the book and the information they have gleaned from the study offer an antidote to the current loneliness epidemic. In 1938 researchers at Harvard College recruited 268 sophomore men; at the time, Harvard was an all-male college to be subjects in their Study of Adult Development. At about the same time, a second study sought out teenage boys who lived in some of Boston’s poorest neighborhoods. Eventually, these two studies were combined into one study intending to focus on learning about adult development over time. In total, there were originally 724 men in the study. Unbelievably, 85 years later, that study is still ongoing. It is still called the Harvard Study of Adult Development. It is now one of the longest studies of adult health and development ever conducted and is now looking at a second generation of adults. Over the years, the focus of the study has shifted based on the science of the times. For example, early on, study subjects were examined for many physical quantities. Body build and features on the head were thought to predict personality qualities and how successful in life a person would be. This was accepted thought in the early mid-twentieth century. This approach has long been replaced by other methods to collect information about study participants. The study now collects medical information, blood samples, and MRIs, as well as verbal responses to questions. The Harvard Study of Adult Development is unique not just for its longevity but also for how the study has been conducted regarding the collection of information about participants’ lived experiences. Human memory is a quirky thing. One life event overlays a newer event, and eventually, the original memory is no longer clear or accurate. Asking people to remember details about themselves over many years generally produces very unreliable information. Asking people about themselves at frequent intervals about current life situations captures much more reliable information. The Harvard study collects information from its participants every two years. This has been in the form of both responding to questionnaires and recorded interviews. In the early 2000s, the wives of the original study participants were also included in the study. More recently, the children of the original study participants have also been added to the study. In other words, a second generation of participants is now included. There are now well over 1000 study participants. The amount of data collected is nothing short of miraculous. What about the findings of the study? Six factors have been identified by the study that can predict healthy aging. These factors include physical activity, the absence of alcohol abuse and smoking, having healthy skills to cope with life’s challenges, enjoying a healthy weight, and, finally, having a stable marriage. For the men who were recruited from the poor neighborhoods of Boston, education was also found to have a positive effect on aging. Having a stable marriage is considered the most significant finding of the Harvard study and supports the role of relationships, of all kinds, in the health and well-being of people throughout the life span. It seems that close relationships, more than money or some health habits, result in a healthier, more satisfying life. This does not mean healthy diets and exercise can be ignored; see above; those behaviors are important for sound physical health. However, for a life with a healthy sense of positive well-being, relationships are the key. Here’s the advice part of this article. Make friends of all kinds, and particularly attend to close relationships or friendships. Rather than just go exercise alone in the gym, find a partner to work out with you. Better still, join an exercise class. Join a club, go to religious services, and go all the time. Reach out to those friends who you have not seen or spoken to for a while. Reconnect with people you were once close with. If there is a formula for finding and building relationships, it would be show up all the time to the same activities again and again. Remember the children’s song, “Make new friends, but keep the old. One is silver and the other gold”. If you would like to learn more about the Harvard Study of Adult Development, I suggest you read The Good Life: Lessons from the World’s Longest Scientific Study of Happiness by Robert Waldinger, MD, and Marc Schulz, Ph.D. Robert Waldinger also has a very informative TED talk, “What makes a good life? Lessons from the longest study on happiness” (https://www.ted.com/talks/robert_waldinger_what_makes_a_good_life_lessons_from_the_longest_study_on_happiness?language=en) Margaret H. Swartz, PsyD, is a licensed psychologist in private practice. She is an active member of the Healthy Adams County Behavioral Health Task Force.
By C. Lisa Lathrop RN, BSN, IBCLC, Program Manager/Nurse Supervisor Nurse-Family Partnership at Family First Health August is National Breastfeeding Month, 2023 We know there are many health benefits for mom and baby when it comes to breastfeeding. If a mother chooses to do so, it can protect the baby against short and long-term illnesses and diseases. It can also reduce the mother’s risk of certain cancers, help the mom to lose their pregnancy weight more quickly, and has shown a positive impact on rates of postpartum depression when breastfeeding goes well. Breastfeeding is often a natural, beautiful bonding experience for mom and baby, but unfortunately, it can also be stressful and discouraging for others. August is National Breastfeeding Month, so as an International Board-Certified Lactation Consultant, I want to share my knowledge and shed light on the incredible resources available right here in the Gettysburg community for pregnant women who are considering breastfeeding their babies. The breastfeeding journey should begin during pregnancy Expectant moms can and should prepare for breastfeeding before giving birth. There is much to learn and understand about the first few days and months postpartum. At Family First Health, we have the Nurse-Family Partnership (NFP) Program which supports moms to have a healthy pregnancy and healthy baby by partnering the mom with a personal registered nurse. This nurse offers support advice, and information in many areas and is available to the mom until the baby turns two years old. Most nurses in the NFP program have undergone a certified lactation counselor training certificate which means they can support moms prenatally with education and then postpartum through feeding assessments and skilled hands-on assessments. We also have two International Board-Certified Lactation Consultants (IBCLCs) on staff who can help with complicated cases. There can be many barriers to a mom’s success with breastfeeding and we’ve found that educating the mom on those topics before they deliver increases the number of moms who choose to breastfeed and the length of how long they continue that breastfeeding journey. Supply and demand The first hours and days of a baby’s life are crucial to a mom’s milk supply. Early, frequent skin-to-skin can impact breastfeeding and how often the baby eats can also influence it. The frequency of feedings in those first few weeks determines milk supply months down the road. Some will misinterpret the baby’s cluster feedings and assume the baby isn’t getting enough milk during feeding sessions. Sometimes, this results in parents offering a bottle of formula instead of continuing with frequent feedings. If mothers are educated and know what is normal, they are prepared when the time comes. Milk myths Did you know milk supply can be influenced by the mother’s calorie intake or stress level? That moms burn up to 500 calories per day as their body creates milk? Or that a baby’s latch is not supposed to be painful? Lactation consultants and IBCLCs can help moms navigate these topics. Many moms are seen by a lactation consultant while in the hospital, but ongoing education and support are invaluable. While breastfeeding has a longstanding place in history – it isn’t always easy and that is why support exists. Community resources for all parents Even if you’re not part of the NFP program, which requires a woman to be less than 28 weeks pregnant with her first child and meet income requirements, resources like WIC (Women, Infants, and Children) and private or public lactation consultants are available. Breastfeeding education classes, both online and in person, also offer valuable insights for expectant mothers. I encourage every parent to bring up the topic of breastfeeding early and often to their doctor during prenatal visits. Ask for educational materials, support or online classes the physician may recommend. Education Is empowerment If a parent chooses to breastfeed, they should have every resource available to support that experience. It is critical that they understand the changes in their body and how to help meet the needs of the baby. We are working at Family First Health’s Nurse-Family Partnership to bridge the knowledge gap and make breastfeeding a rewarding journey for every parent and every baby, but if someone is not in our program or in our service area, we want them to know they, too, can find resources to support them. So, if you’re newly pregnant and seeking a nurturing community, consider these incredible avenues for guidance and care and know that Family First Health’s NFP community stands ready to uplift and empower you every step of the way. Family First Health Gettysburg Center is located in the Marshall’s Plaza (formerly Peebles Plaza) in Gettysburg. The health center was launched in 2009 following a community needs study and initiation by Healthy Adams County. Phone (717) 337-9400
I came back from Physical Therapy hungry and tired. A cup of coffee and two pieces of toast later, I sat down to blog. Not feeling inspired, I grabbed an Al-Anon meditation book and read five different entries. Interestingly enough, they are all related to assuming responsibility for our own thoughts and actions rather than focusing on trying to control or change others. It took many years before I really grasped how important the concept of self-examination truly is. Even though Step 10 is the daily inventory step, all of the steps, in their own way, are designed to help us take the focus off of others and put it on ourselves, our feelings, our responses, and our actions. It can be so tempting to want to change others so I don’t have to change, but expecting others to make my life easier is simply a form of denial, an invitation for unhappiness.. As Emmanuel Teney once said: “As your faith in the God of your understanding is strengthened, you will find that there is no longer the need to have a sense of control, that things will flow as they will, and you will flow with them to your great delight and benefit.” That’s the whole point, of course. By working to change ourselves rather than others, life really and truly opens up, and happiness becomes a reality. There have been times in my life when people have assured me that God never gives us more than we can handle. I’m not sure I believe that. Some people just never seem to catch a break. And yet, life does have this way of pointing us in new and unfamiliar directions, sometimes even to the breaking point. And yet…when I look back, I can see how specific painful experiences have pushed me into making changes I’d never have made on my own. For instance, our foster daughter had this way of confronting me with my unconscious acceptance and arrogance connected to white privilege. I would be deeply hurt by her confrontation at the time, yet in retrospect, she helped me grow and see racial issues in a completely different light. No one ever said learning life’s lessons would be easy. Instead of being irritated by life’s challenges, we do well to be grateful for the painful experiences that help us grow. As Dale Carnegie once said, “Develop success from your failures. Discouragement and failure are two of the surest stepping stones to success.” Or, as Jackson Brown wrote: “In the confrontation between the stream and the rock, the stream always wins – not through strength, but perseverance.” Looking back on my almost 40 years in the program, I can see that when I was hurting and wanted things to change immediately, it was necessary for God to slowly remove my defects of character over a period of time. In so many ways, we are like rocks. As time goes by, life gently but persistently rubs off our rough edges, teaching us how to let go and let God be in control.
Join Us in Memory of those Lost to Overdose Many hundreds of thousands of people around the world lose their lives to overdose each year. [Nearly 110,000 Americans lost their lives to overdose in 2022, an increase of roughly four percent from 2021 and the second consecutive year of more than 100,000 overdose deaths]. They were our children, parents, siblings, partners, neighbors, colleagues, and friends. There is strong evidence to support practical solutions, such as providing free naloxone and fentanyl testing kits and improving access to opioid substitution treatment. All of these have been shown to reduce deaths and other harms caused by overdose. Local communities, including those in Adams County and around the world, are coming together to remember those who have died or suffered permanent injury due to drug overdose. Observed on the 31st of August every year, International Overdose Awareness Day (IOAD) seeks to create a better understanding of overdose, reduce the stigma of drug-related deaths, and create change that reduces the harms associated with drug use. This year the Adams County Overdose Awareness Taskforce will host the 5th annual Overdose Awareness Walk on Thursday, August 31, 2023, at 6 p.m. The walk will begin at the Adams County Court House on Baltimore Street and will end at the Fireman’s Pavilion at the Gettysburg REC Park at 545 Long Lane in Gettysburg. At the Gettysburg REC Park, we will hear from local individuals and community representatives. Free naloxone will also be available. For more information on this event or the Adams County Overdose Awareness Taskforce, please call Lisa Lindsey at 717-338-0300 x 109. Visit their website at www.overdosefreeadams.org. If you are interested in having a memorial picture of your loved one on display during the event, please contact Lisa at the above information. The AC Overdose Awareness Taskforce is homed at the Center for Youth and Community Development offices located at 233 W High Street in Gettysburg.
I didn’t have enough time to really start something before I went to PT, so I grabbed Bishop Curry’s book Love Is the Way and read: “You can be intentional about the stories you tell as well in the stories you consume. Examine which stories are taking your time and attention. If you’re only getting information and testimony from people who look like you, you’re ultimately getting a less-than-truthful picture of the world. It takes effort to read and hear stories of those who are invisible from our daily life. So much of our lives are still segregated in one way or another, even or especially our faith communities; as Dr. King famously said, “It is appalling that the most segregated hour of Christian America is eleven o’clock on Sunday morning.” I experienced a real “ouch” reading that, as our little congregation is very white. Occasionally one black attends, but that is the extent of any diversity. We also have only one ultra-right attendee. The one black family that had attended for a few years stopped coming and has since moved out of town. While I have been trying to be friends with several Trump supporters, I also try to avoid any conversations that raise prickly issues. My general response is, “Let’s just agree to disagree and not have this conversation.” My intent is to affirm what I can in the other, but perhaps I need to do more listening even when it raises my hackles. This business of being a good neighbor is not necessarily easy. Sometimes it places us in situations that are uncomfortable. One of my favorite parts of any worship service is sharing our peace stories. At first, we thought we had to have a dramatic story to share, but in time we have come to recognize that it’s the little things that really make a difference…like my daughter taking off the earring she was wearing and giving them to a person who had admired them. True, that wasn’t breaking any kind of racial barrier, but it was still a random act of kindness. I’m still processing Marcus Borg’s observation that in Hebrew and Aramaic, compassion is a good synonym for the word love. If love is feeling compassion for someone who jerks my chain, then I have some work to do. This brings us back to Steps 6 and 7. I know from experience that anytime I have prayed to become truly willing for God to remove cumbersome defects of character, he has provided the individuals and experiences that open me to new ways of seeing and being. Bishop Curry begins Chapter 11 of his books with a quote by Vaclav Havel. “Let us teach ourselves and others that politics can be not only the art of the possible, especially if this means the art of speculation, calculation, intrigue, secret deals, and pragmatic maneuvering, but that it can even be the art of the impossible, namely the art of improving ourselves and the world.”
Sunday, sang several songs/hymns that have had a lot of meaning for me, among them “It Only Takes A Spark.” All afternoon, the tune and words ran through my mind, reminding me that it only takes a spark to make a difference in so many areas of life. Kindness, you see, is contagious. So is acceptance, smiles, gratitude, forgiveness, and generosity. We don’t have to accomplish great things in life to make a difference. Just being a good neighbor, not holding grudges, being gracious while standing in line, saying “thank you” to a sales clerk, and putting a quarter in a stranger’s expired meter can transform another’s life. As the song says, “it only takes a spark to get a fire going.” I suspect one of the gifts of aging lies in being able to recognize that most of the things about which we obsess when younger aren’t really important. In the end, all that really matters is being there for each other. Even as I acknowledge the dangers in our current social and political wars, even as I grieve over the decisions made by The Supreme Court, even as I weep that our nation seems to value guns more than human lives, even as our churches tend to split over issues of human sexuality, I remain convinced that the solutions to bridging our differences lie in simple acts of kindness and affirmation. of recognizing that the Ten Commandments, for instance, are not about what we should not do but are reminders of what makes for dynamic human interactions. Being willing to listen without judging. Standing up for the disenfranchised. Calling attention to white privilege without demonizing those who are not so enlightened. Affirming those who are different. While there will always be those who feel threatened by differences of belief, race, and opinion, it is up to the rest of us to nurture the sparks of love, hope, and acceptance. It won’t always be easy, but in the end, being kind of far easier than being judgmental and rejecting. It only takes a spark to get a fire going, And soon, all those around can warm up in its glowing; That’s how it is with God’s love, once you’ve experienced it, You spread his love to everyone; you want to pass it on. What a wondrous time is spring, When all the trees are budding. The birds begin to sing, the flowers start their blooming; That’s how it is with God’s love, once you’ve experienced it. You want to sing It’s fresh like spring, you want to pass it on. I wish for you my friend, this happiness that I’ve found; You can depend on him, it matters not where you’re bound, I’ll shout it from the mountain top I want my world to know; The Lord of love has come to me, I want to pass it on.
We hear a lot about mindfulness these days. I’m not really sure what that means, but it reminds me of the program’s emphasis on living one day at a time, enjoying one moment at a time. I also understand it is finding ways to turn off my monkey brains and becoming aware of what’s around me, of opening myself to the otherness of what is. It’s been hot and dry, not the best weather for a brisk walk, so I got up early to walk in the cool of the morning. All around me was God’s lovely garden. Lush green trees. Corn as high as an elephant’s eye. Daylilies and cone flowers strutting their stuff. Ivy-covered banks. But what took my breath away was the stunning display of Queen Anne’s lace and cornflowers growing alongside the road. The velvet blue of the cornflowers intermingled with the dainty white blossoms of the wild carrots (Queen Anne’s Lace) all my worries and stresses disappeared in the presence of such beauty. Crossing to the other side of the road allowed me to discover trumpet vine and wild clover tucked around the base of the taller flowers, and I found myself pondering Jesus’ words: “Consider the lilies of the field, They neither sow nor reap yet your Father in Heaven cares for them.” And then came the words of the old hymn, In the Garden. I come to the garden alone While the dew is still on the roses, And the voice I hear falling on my ear The Son of God discloses And he walks with me, and he talks with me And he tells me I am his own And the joy we share as we tarry there None other has ever known.
New to this area, I am like a ‘kid in a candy store,’ discovering all the local foods, including yes, candy stores and bakeries. But as a registered dietitian, I am mindful to seek foods we should be eating generously, like fruits and vegetables. Adams and surrounding counties are very ‘fruitful’ this time of year. Farm markets with U-pick farms abound. What a perfect way to add healthy foods to your diet and exercise by picking your own produce. Scientists have discovered that phytochemicals, the natural substances that give color, smells, and flavors to fruits and vegetables, benefit your health. For example, the anthocyanins – blue, red, or purple pigments found in plants – in blueberries can protect against health disease and age-related mental decline. You can prevent those same diseases and conditions with regular exercise, like walking. And while walking through the fields, you can enhance your flexibility by reaching, stooping, and picking. Hidden gems are often buried in all parts of the plants around us. To consume the produce, think simply when in the kitchen. There is no need to make ornate meals in the summer. Keep fresh-picked fruit handy to grab as snacks. Sauté sliced zucchini, onion, and pepper (red to add color) in olive oil and seasonings such as an Italian herb blend or garlic powder; stir until crisp and tender. Jazz up vegetable salads by combining lettuce with your favorite vegetables. Mix in berries, and top with grilled, sliced chicken and a favorite dressing. Make a simple cherry sauce by cooking down fresh, pitted cherries with a little sugar and lemon juice until the cherries are soft and swimming in their own thick syrup. Top a grilled pork chop with the warm sauce or add it to a small scoop of vanilla ice cream. Be sure to check with the farmers for recipes and ideas about preparing their produce. They are a wealth of information and feel honored that their produce will make it to your table. And you can feel proud that you supported a local business to help your community thrive. I also love the conversations I have in the fields while I pick. ‘Expert’ pickers advise us on selecting the ripest fruit or vegetable or what to make with our find. Small children proclaim they picked the ‘best’ berries. Parents and friends discuss coping strategies for issues in their lives. Positivity abounds and no one is usually fighting. In his latest book, Dinner with the President, Alex Prud’homme invites readers into the White House kitchen to reveal the sometimes curious tastes of twenty-six of America’s most influential presidents. Our presidents have recognized the benefits of local food in connecting with people. Bountiful meals could soften even the most adversarial leaders to help settle differences. While you may not be able to solve world problems while picking, you can ease your daily stress just by conversing and then sharing the ‘fruits of your labor.’ So, if you love finding new candy stores and bakeries, venture to local U-pick farms too. That way you can include many more disease-fighting fruits and vegetables in your diet. And you may resolve a conflict in your life too. Check these resources for more information: Myplate.gov Seasonalfoodguide.org VisitCumberlandValley.com Kid in a Blueberry Patch New to this area, I am like a ‘kid in a candy store,’ discovering all the local foods, including yes, candy stores and bakeries. But as a registered dietitian, I am mindful to seek foods we should be eating generously, like fruits and vegetables. Adams and surrounding counties are very ‘fruitful’ this time of year. Farm markets with U-pick farms abound. What a perfect way to add healthy foods to your diet and exercise by picking your own produce. Scientists have discovered that phytochemicals, the natural substances that give color, smells, and flavors to fruits and vegetables and protect plants, benefit your health. For example, the anthocyanins – blue, red, or purple pigments found in plants, especially flowers, fruits, and tubers – in blueberries can protect against health disease and age-related mental decline. You can prevent those same diseases and conditions with regular exercise, like walking. And while walking through the fields, you can enhance your flexibility by reaching and stooping. Hidden gems are often buried in all parts of the plants around us. To consume the produce, think simply when in the kitchen. There is no need to make ornate meals in the summer. Keep fresh-picked fruit handy to grab as snacks. Sauté sliced zucchini, onion, and pepper (red to add color) in olive oil and seasonings such as an Italian herb blend or garlic powder; stir until crisp and tender. Jazz up vegetable salads by combining lettuce with your favorite vegetables. Mix in berries, and top with grilled, sliced chicken and a favorite dressing. Make a simple cherry sauce by cooking down fresh, pitted cherries with a little sugar and lemon juice until the cherries are soft and swimming in their own thick syrup. Top a grilled pork chop with the warm sauce or add it to a small scoop of vanilla ice cream. Be sure to check with the farmers for recipes and ideas about preparing their produce. They are a wealth of information and feel honored that their produce will make it to your table. And you can feel proud that you supported a local business to help your community thrive. I also love the conversations I have in the fields while I pick. ‘Expert’ pickers advise us on selecting the ripest fruit or vegetable or what to make with our find. Small children proclaim they picked the ‘best’ berries. Parents and friends discuss coping strategies for issues in their lives. Positivity abounds and no one is usually fighting. In his latest book, Dinner with the President, Alex Prud’homme invites readers into the White House kitchen to reveal the sometimes curious tastes of twenty-six of America’s most influential presidents. Our presidents have recognized the benefits of local food in connecting with people. Bountiful meals could soften even the most adversarial leaders to help settle differences. While you may not be able to solve world problems while picking, you can ease your daily stress just by conversing and then sharing the ‘fruits of your labor.’ So, if you love finding new candy stores and bakeries, venture to local U-pick farms too. That way you can include many more disease-fighting fruits and vegetables in your diet. And you may resolve a conflict in your life too. Check these resources for more information: Myplate.gov Seasonalfoodguide.org VisitCumberlandValley.com
After months of discussion, the Gettysburg Borough Council approved creating a construction design for a project that would make Racehorse Alley run one-way from Washington St. to Buford Ave. The alley currently allows two-way traffic but requires vehicles to drive on private property in order to pass. The decision was made quickly after the council extensively discussed but then rejected what was the highest rated-option in their prior traffic study, the so-called “Franklin Funnel,” in which the alley would have run one-way from Washington St. to Franklin St. and one-way from Buford Ave. to Franklin St. When councilmembers Judie Butterfield, John Lawver, Chris Berger, and President Wes Heyser voted against the “funnel” option, the councilmembers went back to another option, the “Oneway west with contraflow lane and additional right of way,” which they said had been ranked second in terms of benefits in the traffic study. This option would make Racehorse Alley one-way from Washington St. to Buford Ave. but allow a “contraflow” option for bicycles to go both ways. Still to be determined would be the status of existing parking spaces on Racehorse Alley and some right-of-way that would need to be obtained. The vote for approval was 6 to 1 with Lawver dissenting. Lawver said he voted against the Franklin Funnel plan because he had concerns regarding traffic flow on Chambersburg St. at Franklin St. Gettysburg Police Chief Robert Glenny said he agreed that there would be more backups at that corner if the funnel plan was implemented. Glenny said the police used the alley when Chambersburg St. was busy. Heyser also expressed disapproval of the funnel plan and said it would be difficult, due to state regulations, to easily change the project back to two-way if the project didn’t work out as expected. Noting that Healthy Adams Bicycle Pedestrian Inc. (HABPI) had supported changes to the alley and paid for an initial design, Heyser said he didn’t think changing the alley was going to create a “bicycle-pedestrian oasis.” I really don’t see it,” he said. Heyser also said he did not think the argument that the alley would be safer after the changes held water. “After this is over there are going to be a lot of people who are upset,” said Heyser. “The complete lack of public input has been striking,” he said. Councilmember Chris Berger said he was against the funnel plan and in favor of the approved one-way plan. Council member Chad-Alan Carr said he was in favor of the funnel project and had heard primarily positive feedback from the public. He said he thought the project would beautify the town. “The fact remains that the alley should not be a cut-through. That’s not what they are made for,” he said. The borough said given constraints on the use of grant money, construction on the project would likely begin next year The borough also approved a recycling development and implementation grant in the amount of $306,895 from the PA Dept of Environmental Protection for the development of recycling in the borough.
There are those books that you simply can’t put down until you get to the ending, Louise Penny’s novels, for instance. Then there are those books that are so meaty that you can only digest a few pages at a time. Last evening I sat down with Bishop Curry. If this black man can speak so eloquently about loving “the other ” after his experiences with prejudice and discrimination, surely I can be more accepting of those with whom I disagree. As he spoke of the tension over homosexuality that threatened to divide the Episcopalian Church when Bishop Robinson, a gay priest, was called to be the head of all the American Episcopal churches, he said simply, “I had decided that people matter more than any principle. They are the principle. “ I felt something fall into place as I have been torn on how to respond to the many differences threatening us today. In Fact, it reminded me of a bumper sticker that said, “What is there about loving your enemy you don’t understand?” It’s no secret that I have been very critical of the evangelical and fundamentalist branches of the church. Not only have I been on the receiving end of vicious attacks by those who felt threatened by women in ministry, but I have always felt that words have real meaning when actions back that up. So, when he wrote, “evangelism is a word with a lot of baggage that to me simply means modeling Jesus’ love in our daily lives and finding opportunities as a church to share that love,” I silently agreed. But when he wrote, “contempt is the belief that the person who disagrees with us isn’t just wrong, but worthless,” I had to say, “ouch.” Once again, I am faced with my own character defects and the importance of accepting others rather than judging them. Consequently, when he quotes Verna Dozier from her book The Dream of God, I felt reassured. “We always see through a glass darkly, and that is what faith is about. I will live by the best I can discern today. Tomorrow I may find I was wrong. Since I do not live by being right, I am not destroyed by being wrong.” So we come back to the Serenity Prayer. “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.” this time empathized with his definition of courage. “Courage is being scared to death but saddling up anyway!”
WellSpan Health has been recognized as one of America’s Greatest Workplaces 2023 by Newsweek and Plant-A Insights Group. The ranking recognizes the greatest workplaces overall by state and is based on performance in the following areas: empowerment of women, promotion of veterans, development of entry-level employees and support for LGBTQ team members. “Our approach of collaboration and recognition in the workplace creates a culture for our team members that is unmatched with programs designed to support the career aspirations of each of our 20,000+ healthcare heroes,” said Bob Batory, Senior Vice President and Chief Human Resource Officer, WellSpan Health. “Continued focus on advancing our diverse and inclusive working environment aligns with our mission to Work as One as we provide the highest level of care and greatest patient experience.” Newsweek and Plant-A Insights Group recognized America’s Greatest Workplaces in the United States by conducting a large-scale employer study based on over 389,000 company reviews. Participants were asked to determine the weights assigned to individual statements about their employment experience. “How do you find a great workplace—one that treats employees respectfully, pays them fairly, provides training and advancement opportunities, and supports a healthy work-life balance? Newsweek and market-data research firm Plant-A Insights are proud to introduce ‘America’s Greatest Workplaces 2023,’ highlighting companies that are committed to offering a positive working environment,” said Nancy Cooper, Global Editor in Chief, Newsweek. For more information on WellSpan’s employment opportunities and expansive benefits, visit www.JoinWellSpan.org. About WellSpan Health WellSpan Health’s vision is to reimagine healthcare through the delivery of comprehensive, equitable health and wellness solutions throughout our continuum of care. As an integrated delivery system focused on leading in value-based care, we encompass more than 2,000 employed providers, 220 locations, eight award-winning hospitals, home care, and a behavioral health organization serving South Central Pennsylvania and northern Maryland. With a team 20,000 strong, WellSpan experts provide a range of services, from wellness and employer services solutions to advanced care for complex medical and behavioral conditions. Our clinically integrated network of 2,600 aligned physicians and advanced practice providers is dedicated to providing the highest quality and safety, inspiring our patients and communities to be their healthiest.
After hearing from proponents of bicycle and pedestrian safety, the Gettysburg Borough Council moved forward on a project (the “Gettysburg Funnel”) that would make Racehorse Alley one-way running east from Buford Ave. to Franklin St. and one-way west from Chambersburg St. to Franklin St. To leave the alley, all traffic would turn toward Chambersburg St. on Franklin. The councilmembers chose the funnel option over others including making the alley one-way west or one-way east, and doing nothing. The funnel option was ranked as the best choice by borough engineers. The project, which is part of the Gettysburg Inner Loop bicycle-pedestrian trail, and supported by the Healthy Adams Bicycle/Pedestrian, Inc (HABPI), is currently in the design phase and would take at least 2 years to complete. The expressed goal of the council was to encourage biking and walking and reduce the number of cars that use the alley as a shortcut. The council noted that the current situation requiring passing cars to move off the alley onto private property was legally problematic. In public comment, Gettysburg resident Rayna Cooper said the inner loop would increase walking “We know that walking is the easiest way to increase physical activity and it requires no special equipment,” she said. Cooper said the perceived walkability and safety of a neighborhood increased the likelihood people would walk and bicycle. “This project makes our community safer and more vibrant,” she said. Orrtanna resident Michael Bramel also spoke out in favor of the proposed changes to the alley. Bramel said he had conducted informal experiments comparing driving on Chambersburg St. versus Racehorse Alley and found that in most cases taking the alley did not actually save time. Bramel also said bicycle trails can bring financial benefits to communities. HAPBI President Sarah Kipp said she approved of making Racehorse Alley one-way and said it would be a good place to try out methods to help increase walking and bicycling in the borough. HAPBI member Steve Niebler also spoke in favor of the proposed changes. “You all have an opportunity here to create a world-class bicycling destination,” he said. “If you are brave enough and bold enough to pull it off.” Council Vice President Matt Moon, who chaired the meeting in the absence of President Heyser, said the proposed project had “a ton of aspects to it” including stormwater management, repaving, and lighting. Moon noted that the current two-way traffic requires vehicles that are passing to leave the alley and move onto private property. “that is not something we can legally condone,” he said. Moon said the PA vehicle code states that alleys are not intended for through-vehicle traffic and that Gettysburg itself defines alleys the same way. Moon said the question was how to move forward in the safest way. “If we want people to be safe we have to put the infrastructure in place,” he said. Moon noted the multiple funding streams that support the project and said the grants were saving money. “I’m a fan of the funnel,” said Moon. “I think the funnel accomplishes the goal of eliminating the most vehicle traffic and making the safest environment.” Moon said the funnel would reduce car traffic both in the morning and the evening and make it more difficult for cars to use the alley. Councilmember Chad-Alan Carr agreed the funnel was the best option. “Let’s do something to make it best for bicycles and pedestrians. It’s not supposed to be a quick way to get through town,” he said. Carr said he had talked with businesses on the alley who also preferred the funnel as an option, and that he thought the change would make the borough more attractive for tourists interested in outdoor activities. Councilmember Judie Butterfield said she favored the funnel option. Chris Berger said he was most interested in the one-way West option. “This is a big system we’re trying to do here,” he said. “I want to do what’s best for the community; not necessarily what’s safest for pedestrians and bicyclists,” he said. Patti Lawson spoke in favor of walking and bicycling in the borough. “Gettysburg is very much a pedestrian-bicycle friendly community,” she said. “I very much support the funnel; I could get behind a one-way if that’s what we need to do to reach consensus.” Moon said he had talked with John Lawver and Heyser who were in favor of making no changes, but noted the legal issues made that choice a difficult one. Overall the council concluded that changes needed to be made and that the funnel option was preferred. Borough manager Charles Gable said it was important to move forward with the design phase to be “shovel ready” for future grants that might be awarded. The council will prepare a motion to accept the funnel option for consideration at the July meeting. Moon said if there was a problem with the proposed changes in the future it would be easy for the borough to remove the one-way signs.
Today is a day for gratitude. Following morning worship yesterday, we came home and got lunch. When I opened the freezer to get ice cream for dessert, I discovered everything was partially thawed. The fridge had died! What followed was a mad scramble to rescue as much food as possible. Fortunately, I had a partially empty freezer in the garage. Fortunately, I had three coolers to accommodate the salvageable things from the refrigerator side. Fortunately, the gentleman at Lowe’s helped us find a unit that will fit our very limited space and could be delivered and installed as early as tomorrow. Fortunately, our daughter was able to drive me to Lowe’s, and since her dishwasher had died, we were able to order one for her, as well. Fortunately, both appliances come with free installation. And fortunately, later, when I decided to go buy more ice and discovered a flat tire a neighbor came to my rescue! What I am relearning from this experience is that by just taking a tiny step backward to gain a bit of perspective, I was able to recognize just how lucky I was that things unfolded as they did. What if the fridge has died when I was away? What if my daughter had not been with me? What if I’d had to wait a month or so to get a new fridge? What if I could not have afforded to get a new refrigerator? What if friends hadn’t pitched in to help? It can be so easy to blow seemingly negative or inconvenient situations all out of proportion that, once again, I find myself relying on the Serenity Prayer for perspective. “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference!”
A number of my recent blogs have asked the question, “What’s the point of even trying when the whole world seems to be spinning out of control?” Consequently, I should not have been surprised to have Bishop Curry speak to these issues when I sat down to read Love is the Way. Instead of paraphrasing his remarks, here are some of Bishop Curry’s comments that spoke to me. —Change is a long slow march heavenward, with as many twists and turns as there are branches growing on a tree. Accepting that change doesn’t necessarily conform to any human timeline or plan is the first step. The second step is to stop worrying and start moving. —What I’ve Learned over the years is that my job is to sow the seeds. That’s everyone’s job. The error or youth (and old age?) is thinking that you’ve only succeeded when you can see, touch, or taste the fruit. —all human progress and change for the good, whether individual or social, is the result of struggle, often long and laborious. Our task is to do our task, not to do every task needed for progress to happen. When we can accept that, we free ourselves to do what we can with the time and resources that we have. —Faith is taking your best step and leaving the rest to God. The only thing we need to know is this: The nature of progress is a struggle, and if we give up because victory seems so far away or outside our individual grasp that we can’t see it, then we’ve lost already. Our job is to do our job and to let God do God’s job. This idea of doing what we can and letting the rest go is basic to the 12-step program, by the way. None of us can live free until we are willing to accept our limitations which is the essence of the 12 steps, but most markedly, the first 3. Step One: Admitted that we are powerless over others and trying to make people think and do what we want simply makes our lives unmanageable Step 2: Came to believe that a Power Greater than ourselves can restore us to sanity, . (insanity being repeating the same behaviors and feelings over and over while expecting different results.) Step 3: Turned our wills and our lives over to the care and guidance of God as we understood God. (Like any relationship, our relationship with the God of our understanding will grow as we act on whatever insights we have at any point in time. Our faith and trust develop as we behave as if our longed-for change is already coming into being.) God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference. Living one day at a time, enjoying one moment at a time, accepting hardship as the pathway to peace. Taking as He did this sinful world as it is, not as I would have it, trusting that He will make all things right if I surrender to His will, so I may be reasonably happy in this life and supremely happy with Him forever in the next.
Special promotional content provided by Thomas A. Little, MD. Unfortunately, you don’t have to play tennis to develop tennis elbow—sometimes all it takes is a weekend of yardwork! Tennis elbow is a lay term orthopedists use to describe chronic pain on the bony bump on the outside of your elbow joint. The medical term for tennis elbow is lateral epicondylitis, which is a misnomer, because while the suffix -itis implies inflammation, tennis elbow is a case of degeneration. Which leads to another question: Why is the outside of my elbow degenerating? The simple answer is overuse. Let me explain: Any time you squeeze or lift an object (like a tennis racquet … or a rake or a jar of pickles), you activate the muscles on the back side of your forearm (where the hair is). As it happens, gripping an object isn’t just about what you do with your hand. Those gripping muscles actually have their origin in your forearm and elbow. Try making a fist with your wrist extended downward so that your fingers point toward the ground—pretty hard to tighten a fist, isn’t it? To make a strong fist or to grip an object, you need to flex your wrist slightly upward—which is done by the muscles on the back of your forearm. (If you want to feel these muscles in action, place your left hand on your right forearm, then make a fist with your right hand. You’ll feel those forearm muscles tighten. Then try holding that fist while you flex and extend your wrist up and down—you’ll feel the forearm muscles tighten when your wrist flexes upward and lengthen when your wrist extends downward.) The long and short of it is that every time you grip something with your hand, your forearm muscles are active. Those muscles attach to the bony bump on the outside of your elbow (your lateral epicondyle). When those muscles get overworked or too tight, their attachment to the bone can start to degenerate, causing the pain we call tennis elbow. The best way to prevent tennis elbow is to be aware of when you’re doing a lot of gripping or lifting and take plenty of breaks to rest and stretch those forearm muscles. Here’s a good stretching routine for preventing tennis elbow: Straighten your right elbow, then use your left hand to bend your right hand and fingers up toward the sky as far as you can (flexing your wrist upward), then hold for a good 30 seconds. You should feel a gentle stretch on the underside of your forearm. Then use your left hand to bend your right hand and fingers toward the ground (extending your wrist downward), and hold for 30 seconds. You should feel a gentle stretch in the muscles on the top of your forearm. Repeat these stretches with your right elbow bent, then repeat all four stretches on your left arm. If it’s too late to prevent tennis elbow and you’re already in some pain, these stretches can still really help. So can massaging the tight, overworked muscles on the back of your forearm—not the bony spot on your elbow where you actually feel the pain. Physical therapy and sometimes a steroid injection can also help, but as in most cases when it comes to chronic overuse injuries, resting and stretching are usually your best first option.
Gettysburg Borough has issued a borough-wide burn ban which includes outside fire pits. The PA State Dept. of Environmental Protection has also declared today a Code Red Air Quality Action Day throughout the entire Commonwealth for fine particulate matter. The borough said the ban was based on the very dry conditions. The ban will remain in effect until conditions improve with significant rainfall. Residents are encouraged to carefully extinguish smoking materials. Commissioner Marty Qually said Adams County was not currently issuing a burn ban. Qually said both the county as well as individual municipalities can implement burn bans, but only municipalities have any enforcement powers. “As odd as it sounds our county is large enough that putting a ban on the entire county may not work for everyone,” said Qually.
The U.S. Environmental Protection (EPA) has labeled the air quality in Adams County as “unhealthy” as a result of smoke from the many forest fires currently burning in Canada. Recent weather patterns have pushed the smoke from the fires south into the United States. The EPA recommends that everyone keep outdoor activities light and short and go indoors if they have symptoms. The EPA recommends that sensitive (at-risk) groups, including people with heart or lung disease, older adults, children, pregnant people, and people who spend a lot of time outdoors, should consider moving all activities indoors. Featured image caption: Red squares and triangles indicate areas with unhealthy air quality. Source: https://fire.airnow.gov/?lat=39.83118500000006&lng=-77.23334499999999&zoom=8#
The leaders and scouts of Scouts BSA Troop 79, Gettysburg, gathered last week to install new permanent storywalks along the rec park’s walking path. The storywalks were developed along with the board and administration of the Gettysburg Area Recreational Authority and the Adams County Library System. The 20 stations will provide informative stories that change every month. The first story will be available starting on Friday, the day of the library’s annual Funfest celebration. The majority of the stories will be bilingual English/Spanish for the enjoyment of families throughout our communities. The storywalk was made possible through a statewide grant administered by the Pennsylvania Department of Education – Office of Commonwealth Libraries.
My musical friend was talking about the songs she loves, which made me aware of the limits language puts on our reactions and perceptions of life. While English has only one word for love, other languages may have a variety of words to describe a wide range of feelings, reactions, and understandings that we lump together in one word: love. And that, unfortunately, can create a lot of misunderstanding. The Greek Bible, for instance, uses three different words to describe different types of love and human relationships. Eros describes romantic and erotic love. Philia describes family or brotherly love, while agape describes the selfless and sacrificial nature of love as exemplified in Jesus’ life, death, and teachings. Agape love looks outward. It is not a feeling. Agape love is about “we,” not “me.” It’s no wonder we get confused when we lump loving our enemies with loving that new dress! However, when we talk about the love of country or God’s love, we are speaking to something much bigger than ourselves, our needs, our wants, or our joys. When we say, “God so loved the world that he “gave” his only begotten son, we are talking about something much bigger than a warm fuzzy feeling. When a friend died fighting a house, he was exemplifying agape love. That kind of agape love is transformative. It’s the love Paul describes in! Cor. 13 that is challenging, but not beyond us. Agape love completely changes the way we experience life and frees us from the bondage of greed and selfishness. Selfishness, my friends, is so very, very limiting, while selflessness is freeing. Agape is not a sentiment; it is a choice, a way of life. Agape is a gift we first give ourselves and then others. In fact, agape love is the only thing that can save a divided community or world, for it is about we, not me. Brotherly and erotic love involves sentiment and feeling. There is nothing wrong with warm fuzzy feelings, of course. In fact, I am grateful when I am flooded with positive feelings, the joy and warmth I experience when my kids come home or friends gather around the kitchen table. However, when we talk about love of country or God’s love for us and in us, we are talking more about a committed lifestyle than a feeling. Bishop Curry describes agape love as God’s GPS. I like that description. He says,” while faith and hope are necessary for a full life, they are not a guide for life. They don’t tell you what to do. That love’s job. Love tells you how to direct the energy of outrageous faith. If hope and faith are the wind and sails, love is the rudder. It’s God”s GPS.” He goes on to say, “Because we think agape love is removed from real life –business, politics, etc. – we tend to think agape doesn’t apply. Actually, it’s as simple – and as difficult – for all of us to switch on God’s GPS. We simply ask ourselves, ‘Is this about me, or is it about we? Does this decision serve only my unenlightened self-interest, or does it somehow serve the greater good? And if the answer is me, me, me, and only me, you don’t do it. It’s as simple as me or we. Where selfishness excludes, love includes. Where selfishness puts down, love lifts up. Where selfishness hurts, and harms, love helps and heals. Where selfishness enslaves, love sets free and liberates.
Somebody once said there is no difference between stumbling blocks and stepping stones aside from the way we use them. Life has taught me that while one can put a stumbling block in my way, I am the one who decides whether I am going to use those stones to get ahead in life. The older I get, the more I realize the most important thing we can do is recognize that our path in life is actually built out of stepping stones instead of stumbling blocks. What seemed at first to be a terrible barrier has inevitably turned out to be an opportunity. Like Madge, ” the voice of our car’s GPS, I often need to stop and recalculate. Of course, life is filled with uneven patches, bumpy roads, and stony barriers. Sometimes I am confronted with giant boulders that threaten to destroy my faith — as when my husband died. Yet, knowing that even in the face of heartbreak and death, I still am the one who has the opportunity to decide how to respond gives me a sense of hope and serenity. While I can’t control most of what happens, I always have a say in how I will respond. One of the biggest stumbling blocks I’ve encountered over the years has been a tendency toward self-doubt and shame when dealing with the consequences of past mistakes and failures. It can be tempting to run away from reality or to blame others for my own inadequacies, but I am learning to accept what is without judgment. In fact, accepting “this sinful world as it is, not as I would have it” is one of the most helpful tools I’ve gained over the years. After all, I can’t turn my stumbling blocks into stepping stones if I refuse to accept what actually is. Many times I have longed to give up, to hang on to resentment and rejection, but in time what seemed like an incredible barrier turned into an opportunity to move me into God’s open and inviting future. Obstacles need not keep us from experiencing the good in life. Frequently, what starts as an obstacle can point us in new directions. What may seem frightening and overwhelming can become an opportunity if we’re willing to change and adapt. Self-pity never helps anyone, but changing the things we can change (even if it’s just our attitude) has this way of opening doors. After all, our success lies not in never failing or making mistakes but in accepting hardship as the pathway to peace, trusting that He will make all things right if we surrender to His will. In time I learned that instead of being ashamed that alcoholism is part of our family history, I am both grateful and proud that we’ve been able to turn tragedy into triumph, self-hatred into humility, and fear into faith. Rebirth and resurrection is the central theme of our Christian faith; that, in Christ, there is no failure or death. There is only the ongoing process of creation. new beginnings, transformation, resurrection, rebirth. Tennyson said it well when he wrote in his poem In Memoriam,” Men may rise on stepping stones of their dead selves to higher things, ” or as John wrote in the prologue to his Gospel, “the Light-Life blazed out of the darkness, and the darkness could never put it out.”
It’s easy to fall into the habit of simply mouthing the words to familiar Scripture verses, slogans, or prayers such as The Lord’s Prayer or The Serenity Prayer instead of carefully pondering the words. When I really think about what I’m praying, I often find one special phrase jumps out, such as “accept the things I cannot change,” or “thy will, not my will,” or “let go, let God” or “accepting this sinful world as it is, not as I would have it” Somehow Focusing on a phrase helps me gain some insights into myself and what I can actually do to help myself. Acceptance is one of the most important skills we can acquire, not because acceptance allows us to opt out or stop caring, but because acceptance is essential to any meaningful problem-solving. How can we detach, change something, gain insights, or develop new awareness if we refuse to accept the reality of our situation? How can we discern what options we might discover if we insist this is happening instead of that? As one of the Al-Anon readings says, “The Serenity Prayer suggests I ask God ‘for the courage to change the things I can.” The word is things, not people. True, there is much room for improvement in my life, but it can come only from changing my own attitudes and actions for the better. In every problem, great and small, the Serenity Prayer will work for me if I keep aware of its meaning every time I say it.”
Gettysburg, PA – Highmark Wholecare recently contributed $20,000 to support food assistance resources and build staffing capacity at the Adams County Farmers Market. Funds will be used to support the farmers market’s food assistance programs, such as SNAP Double Dollars and the Healthy Options program, while also supporting critical staffing capacity that allows these programs to have the maximum impact on community health and wellness. Highmark Wholecare, a leading managed care organization that cares for the whole person in all communities where the need is greatest, offers Medicaid and Medicare health plans throughout Pennsylvania, including the Lehigh-Capital region. Funding for the Adams County Farmers Market’s food assistance resources will increase access to fresh, locally grown food for lower-income shoppers. “This support from Highmark Wholecare is especially timely in light of the Adams County Farmers Market’s move to a new location at the Gettysburg Rec Park this year,” said Market Manager Reza Djalal. “This is a critical moment for the market, and Highmark Wholecare’s support demonstrates their commitment to our community.” In 2022, 168 SNAP shoppers redeemed a combined total of more than $30,000 in EBT and “double dollars” benefits at the Adams County Farmers Market. An additional $28,000 was redeemed in Farmers Market Nutrition Program benefits by approximately 250 lower-income senior citizens and WIC clients from SCCAP. Highmark Wholecare’s support will help strengthen these programs and ensure that everyone has access to fresh, nutritious foods at the farmers market, regardless of their means to pay. Highmark Wholecare coordinates with a wide range of community partners to help address members’ social determinants of health (SDoH) needs. Social determinants of health are the conditions in which people are born, grow, live, work, and age. Up to 80% of a person’s health is determined by these factors, which can include lack of access to quality food, housing, education, jobs, and transportation. “We pride ourselves on being a community-based health plan, supporting not only our members, but organizations within the communities we serve that provide the types of resources and assistance that our members need,” said Karen Rollins-Fitch, Director, Corporate Social Responsibility, Highmark Wholecare. “We are proud to help local non-profits and businesses like Adams County Farmers Market provide for people in need so they can live healthier lives.” The Adams County Farmers Market partners with many other local organizations, such as Healthy Adams County, The Adams County Office for Aging, the Adams County Food Policy Council, and others, to develop and deliver these critical food programs. Support from Highmark Wholecare and other sponsors helps strengthen local partnerships and ensures the market is an effective mode of delivering food assistance benefits. For more information visit our website: acfarmersmarkets.org. More information about Highmark Wholecare’s healthcare services can be found at: highmarkwholecare.com. “Highmark Wholcare’s support will help us deliver food assistance benefits to well over one thousand Adams County residents this year,” continued Djalal. “We appreciate this support as our community-driven farmers market continues to grow.”
“The point isn’t to make a fortune. The point is to know what’s enough. To be happy.” says one of the characters in Louise Penny’s The Brutal Telling. I suspect we all recognize the wisdom in that statement, but how many of us are willing to really discern when our enough is enough and then act on it? Several of our kids came home for Mother’s Day. Family visits are bittersweet now that their father is gone. As usual, conversation ebbed and flowed, filled with memories and family stories. Several members of our extended family have been sick or are currently facing their impending deaths. None of us know how we will react when we are the ones who, hearing those words, “there is nothing more we can do,” but hopefully, we can be gracious, supportive, and accepting of each other. One thing is clear; death has this way of reminding us of what is truly important. “The point isn’t to make a fortune. The point is to know what’s enough. To be happy.” It’s so easy to believe it’s money and things that make us happy, yet how much do we really need to live a truly fulfilling life once our basic needs are met? We’ve been seduced into believing that the true meaning of life is surrounding ourselves with power, possessions, and prestige. Yet as we spent time with our loved ones this weekend we were reminded that, in the end, the only important things revolve around relationships. Being loved. Being affirmed. Being accepted. Being forgiven. Being grateful. Being with my sisters and husband as they faced their end times, visiting our foster daughter as sheets go of this life and prepare for the next, I am reminded of Thorton Wilder’s observation that we can only be said to be alive in those moments when our hearts are conscious of our treasures. I am becoming more and more aware that one of the most important things we can do is to stop and thank the people who make a difference in our lives. After all, the point isn’t becoming rich and powerful. The point is to know what’s enough, what truly makes us happy.
“We can only be said to be alive in those moments when our hearts are conscious of our treasures.“ (Thorton Wilder) I gaze out the window. The sun is shining after days of pounding rain. I am grateful for days of gloom as our Mother Earth needed a long refreshing drink. Yet I am very grateful for today’s sunshine, its nourishing rays illuminating the beauty that is spring in Adams County. I am thankful gratitude does not require me to shut out my other feelings, some of which are dark and painful. I am thankful gratitude does not banish my brokenness but allows me to better learn the lessons life has to teach. I am thankful that gratitude offers a sturdy container in which to grieve and wrestle with my brokenness and this world’s pain. I am thankful that gratitude provides the context for better accepting and responding to my experiences.. The practice of gratitude will always be a challenge for me as it’s easy to allow the hurts and fears of the moment to take over. As a recovering control freak, I struggle to let go and let God. I find it hard to step back and wait for things to unfold at the right time, not mine. Yet, I also know that even in the worst of times, life is absolutely amazing, I am grateful that I’ve finally come to understand that my life’s work is loving this world, including its disappointments, heartaches, and happiness. In the end, a meaningful life is not so much about obtaining or maintaining power, prestige, and possessions but giving and receiving love and paying it forward. When I am caught up in fears about all the things that could possibly go wrong, and most likely will, I am grateful I can also appreciate the many unanticipated blessings that are also on their way. As Henri Matisse and Claude Monet demonstrated in their wonderful impressionistic paintings, there are beauty and flowers everywhere for those of us who choose to see where they hide in plain sight. Gratitude, after all, is the simple act of acknowledging the good we already have in our lives. In the end, gratitude is the foundation for abundance… physical, emotional, and spiritual. Learning how to not just function, but to live fully following my husband’s death, has been a struggle. Yet I can gratefully say I have come to this place in life where I am able to cherish gratitude as the doorway to wonder. Being able to approach life with an attitude of gratitude is a gift more precious than gold.
Experts stress the importance of maintaining meaningful connections and utilizing resources to combat isolation and the health impacts that come with it. Originally published by The 19th Between the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the high cost of eldercare, and severe staffing shortages in long-term care, loneliness may seem like a comparatively small problem for older adults. However, the “loneliness epidemic,” as it was once described by former U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy, is a serious problem for the approximately 56 million Americans aged 65 and older. What should older adults and caregivers, both disproportionately women, do to help address loneliness and social isolation? What resources are available for older adults? Are some older adults more at risk than others? The 19th spoke with experts about loneliness, social isolation, and what older adults and caregivers can do to increase the amount of meaningful connection in their lives. What is loneliness? Loneliness can be hard to define. There isn’t a blood test or a nose swab to test for it. It is subjective. “You can be isolated and not feel lonely. You can be surrounded by people and feel lonely,” said Preeti Malani, a professor of medicine at the University of Michigan. Malani served as a senior advisor for the National Poll on Healthy Aging, which has tracked loneliness in older adults since 2018. The poll asked about frequency of contact with others, as well as more subjective measures like whether respondents felt a sense of “companionship.” Despite being subjective, the health impacts of loneliness and social isolation are clear. Nina Blachman, director of the geriatrics fellowship program at NYU Langone Health, said that loneliness “can play a role in worsening all of [an older adult’s] conditions. It’s associated with an increased risk of dementia, an increased risk of stroke. And of course, an increased risk of depression.” According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, social isolation is linked with a significant increase in premature death from all causes. It is also linked with a 50 percent increase in dementia and a 29 percent increase in heart disease, as well as increases in depression and anxiety that may result from feeling isolated. How common is loneliness among older adults? In 2018, 27 percent of adults between ages 50 and 80 in the National Poll on Healthy Aging said that they felt isolated from others in the past year. Malani described this as a “pre-pandemic baseline.” Unsurprisingly, loneliness peaked in 2020, during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. “Older adults were sort of taken out of circulation because we were worried about the health effects [of COVID-19]. We knew that if you were older and you got COVID, you were at higher risk of hospitalization and even death,” Malani said. In June 2020, 56 percent of older adults reported feeling socially isolated. That number has gone down with the advent of the COVID-19 vaccine and the return to normalcy, but it has not completely returned to pre-pandemic levels. According to the latest polling from January 2023, 34 percent of older adults reported feeling socially isolated. “A lot of people haven’t gone back to where they were,” Malani said. She stressed the importance of maintaining social connection and using the tools we have available to make doing so safer. “We need to provide reassurance and actual tools. Masks work, vaccines prevent severe disease. It’s a layered approach. Back in 2020, it was all or nothing. But now we can continue to do the things that are important to us in ways that keep COVID risks low,” Malani said. What factors contribute to social isolation? According to the National Poll on Healthy Aging, older adults who are in poor physical or mental health are more likely to report feeling socially isolated, and in higher numbers. “People who had self-reported disabilities were more likely to feel socially isolated. This is a group of people who have more infrequent social contact,” Malani said. Women also reported higher rates of social isolation and lack of companionship in the poll than men. “There’s certainly many more older women, just demographics-wise. Women outlive men, so older women are at more risk of becoming lonely,” said Blachman. What resources are available to help older adults make more meaningful connections in their lives? Opportunities to socialize are local, according to Emily Allen, senior vice president of programs at the AARP Foundation. “We always recommend that individuals start with their local area agency on aging. [They’re] really doing a lot of great work helping people get connected back to each other,” Allen said. AARP’s Connect2Affect tool can help caregivers and older adults find programs in their communities to address their needs – including affordable housing or respite care. “We want to make sure we’re directing people to programs that will address the root causes. Is it because of a health crisis that they’re suddenly not able to go out as much? Or is it a caregiving responsibility? Is it the death of a spouse?” Allen said. Volunteering can also be a great way for older adults to make social connections. Allen highlighted the Experience Corps, which links older adult volunteers with children, with the goal of getting young students to read at grade level. The program suffered a setback from the pandemic while schools were closed, but it currently has about 2,000 volunteers nationwide. “It really has dual outcomes. It engages older adults in volunteerism and it improves reading levels for students,” Allen said. Blachman also stressed the importance of local communities in building social connections for seniors. “It’s about encouraging them to do what they’re interested in doing. Whether it’s exercise classes, religious organizations, whatever that might be,” she said. She highlighted that senior centers will sometimes have specific programs for older adults who are immigrants and who may not speak English as a first language. What about older adults with disabilities? For older adults with physical disabilities or limited mobility, virtual classes may be a good option, according to Blachman. She also recommends looking into what local resources are available to help older adults and adults with disabilities get around. “Some senior centers have accessible transportation,” Blachman said. For older adults who are homebound, Allen recommends friendly call programs, which organize calls between older adults and volunteers on a regular basis, to check in on how people are doing or to just chat. AARP operates its own, but there are also programs at the state and local level, as well as smaller programs operated by individual religious organizations and community centers. Friendly call programs can also be a good option for people with dementia or other cognitive difficulties. “It’s really just about having a conversation with somebody,” Allen said.
A number of you commented on my recent blog about detoxing our brains. Here are some additional concepts and thoughts that may help you detox from negative self-directed messages. They’ve certainly got me thinking about the many ways I create problems for myself. –What they say about me says a lot more about them than it does me. –Guilt is fear turned inward. When you feel guilty, look for what you resent. Guilt makes it hard to set boundaries. –What are you willing to do to be part of the solution? –Recovery does not guarantee me anything, but it does give me options. –A boundary is not about punishment; it’s about purpose – to take care of yourself. –Forgiveness is letting go of the expectation that you can have a better yesterday. –There are no good things and bad things. There are only things I like or dislike. –Life is not an equation. There is a vast difference between acceptance and complacency. –Just remember; the only normal people are the ones you don’t know well! More thoughts to ponder I just finished reading Jodi Picoult’s The StorytellerSome ideas and quotes from Jodi Picoult’s The Storyteller, which deals with the Holocaust. Here are some quotes or ideas that got me thinking. “When a freedom is taken away from you, I suppose you recognize it as a privilege, not a right. ” I find it sad that we have to lose certain freedoms before we recognize that much of what we take for granted are really privileges that we need to value and protect. “When the war ended, this is what it took getting used to. The comfort. I couldn’t sleep on a mattress for a long time. I’d take a blanket and sleep on the floor.” I have been thinking about my response to comfort and suffering…how detached I am from the reality of others’ experiences. What makes me the saddest is that we don’t seem to learn from history; we humans are still dehumanizing our brothers and sisters and killing anyone who gets in our way. “Sometimes words are not big enough to contain all the feelings you are trying to pour into them.” We need words in order to think, yet some of life’s experiences are just too overwhelming to describe, let alone live through. Those of us who have never experienced war, racial and ethnic discrimination, religious bigotry, etc. can only imagine what true suffering is. Yet we need to try! “After what the Germans’ did to you, how could you forgive them? I could never forgive the officer for killing my best friend…because it is not my place to forgive him. That could only be done by Darija, and he made that impossible by killing her.” I’ve never thought of forgiveness in this sense – that we cannot or should not forgive in absentia. If forgiveness is untying the knots that bind us to the past, are there times when we need to remember and relive not to perpetuate a cycle of violence and revenge but to ensure something similar never happens again? “History isn’t about dates and places. It’s about the people.” How would our understanding of The Civil War or our treatment of Native Americans be different if we looked back on slavery as the story of the affected people, not economics, power, wealth, or status? Tragically history tends to be written from the perspective of the winners, not those who are most deeply affected by the decisions made by the rich and powerful. “I don’t believe in God. But sitting here, in a room filled with people who do, I realized that I do believe in people. In their strength to help each other and to thrive despite the odds. I believe the extraordinary trumps the ordinary any day. I believe that having something to hope for– even if it’s just a better tomorrow – is the most powerful drug on the planet.” Amen and amen.
“It’s not the answers you get but the questions you ask, that’s all important,” my dad used to tell me. He was convinced that it’s in framing our questions that we begin to define the various components making up an issue or problem. I thought of Dad this morning when I read one of the essays in Brianna Wiest’s 101 Essays that Will Change the Way You Think. Her topic? “Why We Subconsciously Love to Create Problems for Ourselves.” Here is a brief synopsis of her essay. She starts out by saying, “ We absolutely love to make problems for ourselves. We worry needlessly, we choose immobility, we resist acceptance, we externalize our power, we surrender our ability to choose . . . when really it is up to us to decide how to react when to change, what to entertain our minds with. And we worry because we love it. Whether it is because we feel being enmeshed in problems and having been through something is what gives our lives meaning, but since we are the ones who make them, we are the ones who can overcome them.” “We craft our worries and victories subconsciously, for if we didn’t like worrying so much, we probably wouldn’t do it incessantly, for worry makes us feel alive. It feeds some part of us that modernization has robbed us of. What are we surviving? What’s the point? Why? When everything has an answer, what is there to do? If everything has a solution, what is there to consider to work toward? Why do we need to feel excited about accomplishments rather than settle for what we already have? What exists within us that is so unsettled we cannot be at peace?” She goes on to suggest: “I think we create our own problems in order to address the things we know would otherwise become issues outside of our control. We make them in ways that allow us to heal, cope, and acknowledge whatever we want to get to. . . before some other heartbreaking, external circumstance does it for us. We create our problems knowing we will eventually have solutions and safely deal with them… So really, it’s a matter of being aware enough to understand what our issues are and that we are asking ourselves to heal them.” It’s that last line that grabs me and inspires me. It’s not worrying and creating specific problems that are important, but the awareness and confidence in ourselves that by understanding the problems facing us, we gain the resources we need to actually resolve and heal our problems and become better persons.
The schedule for a series of 10 walks plus one Free 5K is out. Based on the feedback received, we have changed the format a bit. Six of the 10 walks offer a “led” group walk with a special guest speaker/leader. Three of the walks have scavenger hunts for kids of all ages, and one walk is the always favorite, “Silly Walk,” with over eight silly walk activity stations. The Memorial Day Free 5K is back and once again chip-timed, thanks to Highmark Wholecare. And two of the walks are scheduled on Tuesdays with a Rain Date on Wednesday. We tried hard to incorporate as much of the great feedback we received to make the walks more appealing and available to more people. If you complete all ten walks, you will receive a ticket to the August Ice Cream walk worth $10. Please contact Jen Gastley at firstname.lastname@example.org or Betsy Meyer at email@example.com if you have any questions. Wed. APRIL 26, 1:00 led walk, 4:00 – 6:00 open, GNMP Harman Farm by the Day Spa, 730 Chambersburg Rd. Walk the old golf cart paths, by ponds and nature, and with a scavenger hunt for all ages. Join Kathy Gilbert, owner of the Gburg Day Spa, at 1:00 (if not raining) to learn about the day spa and the history of the building. (~2 miles, mostly paved & flat) Tues. May 2, Rain Date Wed. May 3, 1:00 led walk, 4:00 – 6:00 open, OUTLETS, 1863 Gettysburg Village Drive. Check-in at the gazebo. Walk around the Outlets, Mela’s, and down a scenic road to White Run Water facility. (Walk is 2 miles of relatively flat sidewalks and roadways). Join Linda Wellborn, Marketing Director of the Outlets, at 1:00 to learn about what’s happening there. Wed. MAY 10, 1:00 led walk, 4:00 – 6:00 open, OAKSIDE, 2880 Table Rock Road, Biglerville. Park in the gravel lot behind the Chapter House office. Bring your kids for a BINGO scavenger hunt and post a picture of you with one of the items on the Facebook event to be entered to win a FREE ticket to our Ice Cream Walk. Join Drs. Catherine and Robert Mauss at 1:00 to learn about preventing Lyme disease, the health benefits of walking, and more. (~ 2 miles, mostly flat, gravel trail, some paved, very scenic) Wed. MAY 17, 1:00 led walk, 2:00 – 5:00 open. Eisenhower Farm. Park at the Eisenhower Farm parking lot, accessed from Emmitsburg Rd. just south of where it crosses Confederate Avenue. Bring your kids for a fun scavenger hunt! At 1:00, join Ruthmary McIlhenny, an Eisenhower Society Member, at the Eisenhower House to hear the history of the Eisenhowers at this farm as you walk around the house property. At all other times, Ruthmary will be available in front of the house for questions. (~1 mile, paved trails, a little hilly). Tues. May 23, Rain Date Wed MAY 24 1:00 led walk, 1:00 to 6:00 open, Twin Lakes West. Go west from Gettysburg on Fairfield Rd. Park at Clementina’s Pizza, 1685 Fairfield Rd. Make a right out of the parking lot onto Fairplay Rd. then follow the map. A great walk for kids! Throughout the neighborhood, follow the signs for silly and fun activities. The 2-mile walk includes all 3 loops. At 1:00 join Payton Dziemburski, Exercise Specialist with WellSpan Rehab, for the led walk. (two miles, trail is on quiet neighborhood roads, mostly level and sunny.) Wed. MAY 31, 1:00 led walk, 4:00 – 6:00 open, Hoffman Homes, 815 Orphanage Rd, Littlestown. From Gettysburg, take Rt 97 South ~ 5 miles, and turn right on Hoffman Home Rd. Go 2 miles, turn right on Orphanage Rd. Turn left at Entrance 2, “Culinary and Educational Services.” Lovely horse pastures. At 1:00, join Susan Cann, Director of Development, to learn about Hoffman Homes. (~2 miles, mostly paved or gravel trail, relatively flat). MON. MAY 29, 8:00 AM, Highmark Wholecare Memorial Day FREE 5K, Wyndham Hotel, Gateway Complex. Arrive 15 minutes early to register. Race/walk kicks off from the Wyndham Hotel in the Gateway Complex off Rtes 30 and 15. Medals for all children who finish. (3.1 miles, paved roads, some gentle hills) Not needed for perfect attendance, but can be used as a make-up walk toward perfect attendance. Wed. JUNE 7, 4:00 – 6:00, GNMP Visitor’s Center. Soldier’s National Cemetery Parking Lot, Cyclorama Dr., off of Taneytown Rd. Proceed from the lot to Meade’s Headquarters, cross Taneytown Rd., trail through the woods, and parking lot 3 to Pleasanton Ave; cross Taneytown Rd. and use the road to walk past the PA monument, the Angle, and back to the lot. (2 miles, paved, relatively flat, half wooded and half open) Wed. JUNE 14, 1:00 led walk, 4:00 – 6:00, Gettysburg Rec Park to Seminary. Park at the Charlie Sterner Building, 545 Long Lane. Walk across the Rec Park using the Blue Bridge to the Seminary Trail and back via High/West Street. (2.3 miles, paved/gravel, mostly flat, some shaded, some open.) Join Kathy Glahn at 1:00 to learn about the Farmer’s Market
Democracy for America invites the public to a roundtable discussion on the Medicare supplement choices that Medicare patients must make to complete their insurance coverage. The complexity of choices from Medicare Advantage to Medigap and ways to cover prescription drug costs will be hosted by Dr. Dwight Michael. Dr. Michael was a family physician in the Gettysburg area for over thirty years. The speakers include Chuck Pennacchio, Linda Thompson, Nancy Hendricks, and Dwight Michael. The program will occur on Wed. May 3 at 7:00 p.m. at the YWCA community room. The distinguished panel has a wealth of experience. Dr. Pennacchio is Associate Professor of history and politics at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia and is the president of the One Payer States network, a founder of the Justice for All Network, and a former aide to four U.S. Senators. He has been a writer and community organizer for decades. He will address the discrepancies between Medigap and the Medicare Advantage plans. Linda Thompson has been with the Adams County Office of Aging for 29 years and has provided guidance for the agency’s senior centers, Medicare counseling, volunteer coordination, and outreach. She provides expertise in navigating the whole Medicare health insurance system. Nancy Hendricks worked as office manager of a physicians’ practice for twenty years and has provided insurance counseling at Homewood at Plum Creek in Hanover. She has years of experience and expertise in helping Medicare-eligible individuals with their questions on Medicare supplements, Medicare Part D prescription drug plans, and long-term care insurance. Dr. Michael will provide an overview of the costs, advantages, and risks of the choices seniors must face. Please invite your friends to attend this opportunity.
As news cycle follows news cycle, I find special meaning in a line from The Little Prince. “And now here is my secret, a very simple secret. It is only with the heart that one can see rightly. What is essential is invisible to the eye.“ Is that why we humans find working together so difficult? Families alienated? When every decision becomes a competition? When the common good is overlooked for the thrill of one-upmanship? Why is it so easy to ignore the murmurs of our hearts, ignore the whispers of our souls? The more I listen to the news and observe human nature, the more I become aware of the importance of love and kindness as a commitment, not a feeling. It’s one thing to revel in the excitement and joy of passion, touching, hugging, love making, to be on the receiving end of affirmation, affection, and care-taking. It’s another thing, altogether, to willingly set aside one’s own interests and aspirations to enable a loved one or group to flourish. I never doubted our children’s affection for their dad when he was sick, yet recalling the many ways they choose to put their own lives on hold to help care for him, continues to humble me.. At some point in their growing up, they quietly shifted from taking us for granted as their parents and replaced their childhood dependence with their own version of “for better or worse, for richer or poorer, in sickness and in health, till death do us part.” All this brings to mind the familiar image of the praying hands. I recall our pastor using a pair of bookends of the praying hands for the children’s message when I was a kid. He told us of two artist friends who made a pact to support each other in their budding careers. As the creator of the praying hands developed his artistic skills, his friend worked a manual job to bring in enough money for the two of them to live. Before the second artist had his turn to study and create, he injured his hands, making it difficult for him to paint. One evening his friend was so inspired by seeing his friend’s gnarled hands folded in prayer that he created the famous image that inspires us to this day. Love as commitment, not just warm fuzzy feelings. Recently, Burt Bacharach died after sharing his amazing talent with the world. It seems appropriate to honor him by quoting the words to one of his songs, written by lyricist Hal David: “What the world needs now is love, sweet love/ It’s the only thing that there’s just too little of/What the world needs now is love, sweet love/ No not just for some, but for everyone. Lord, we don’t need another mountain/ There are mountains and hillsides enough to climb/There are oceans and rivers enough to cross/Enough to last ’til the end of time. What the world needs now is love, sweet love/It’s the only thing that there’s just too little of/What the world needs now is love, sweet love/No, not just for some, but for everyone. Lord, we don’t need another meadow/There are cornfields and wheat fields enough to grow/There are sunbeams and moonbeams enough to shine/Oh listen, Lord, if you want to know. What the world needs now is love, sweet love/It’s the only thing that there’s just too little of/What the world needs now is love, sweet love/No, not just for some, oh, but just for every, everyone.”
Update: Due to an emergency medical issue, Bhante Sujatha’s visit has been canceled. We received word that he is expected to fully recover but is unable to travel at this time. Of course, we will invite him to come to Gettysburg just as soon as he is able. Our Sunday evening sangha will meet as usual both in person and on Zoom. Bhante Sujatha, a Buddhist monk for over 40 years, will visit Gettysburg on Sunday, April 30, from 6:30 –7:30 p.m. at the Unitarian Universalists Church of Gettysburg, 123 S. Stratton St. Everyone is welcome to attend to hear Bhante give a teaching presentation and lead a thirty-minute meditation. This event is free and open to the public. Reservations are not needed. A free-will offering will be taken to support Bhante’s humanitarian work. The event is sponsored by the Insight Meditation Community of Gettysburg (IMCG). Bhante Sujhata, teaches the ancient Buddhist practice of loving-kindness meditation as a path to peace and happiness. He has students and practitioners around the globe at the Blue Lotus Temple in Illinoiswhere he resides. ICMG is a twenty-year-old organization, dedicated to bringing together anyone interested in mindfulness meditation practices rooted in ancient Buddhist teachings.IMCG meets on Sundays from 6:30 to 7:30 at 123 S. Stratton St., Gettysburg, the Church of the Universal Unitarians Unitarian Universalists of Gettysburg. Find more information visit us at www.facebook.com/IMCGettysburg
With Spring in the air, it is becoming easier to focus on gratitude. Spring in Adams County is something to behold! Gratitude, you see, is good for my mental health. It’s good for my shattered soul, and it’s keeping me physically healthy. The Psalms, one of the most popular books of all time, is filled with anthems and hymns of praise. Even when the Psalmist begins with words of complaint, suffering, and woe, words of praise inevitably reshape the psalmist’s mood. There’s a reason for that. If we focus on what’s wrong, that’s all we will see. If we practice gratitude, life opens like a flower. The book of Hebrews speaks of making the sacrifice of praise, for when we make a sacrifice, we give up something we value for something of even greater value. When we praise God, we see God in everything we do. When we forgive, sacrificing our right to feel resentful and holding a grudge, we are freed from the burden of hate and resentment. Scientists have been studying the efficacy of gratitude using controlled studies in both inpatient and outpatient settings. Each study finds that the consistent and intentional practice of gratitude actually changes brain chemistry as effectively as medication, if not more so. So why don’t more mental health practitioners advocate the practice of gratitude? Well, for one thing, prescribing medication is easier and less time-consuming. Drugs allow us to be lazy and not do the challenging mental work of changing our thinking. Besides, drugs generate big profits. Gratitude, while free, requires effort. Lots of effort. It is not as easy as taking a pill. It takes longer to experience relief. In addition, it can require an almost superhuman effort when one is clinically depressed and deeply discouraged. Fortunately, some clinicians are now combining medication with the practice of gratitude, as the rewards for being grateful are manifold. Besides, there are no known negative side effects. Gratitude won’t make one fat, sluggish, or flatten their emotions. In the end, gratitude, if continually practiced, helps one make better decisions, work through problems, and contribute to overall feelings of well-being. Scientific studies suggest the quickest and most effective way to practice gratitude is by keeping a gratitude journal. In several studies, participants were asked to write at least three things every morning and every evening for which they are grateful. After writing their gratitude list, they were to read the words out loud, listening carefully to what they were saying, preferably repeating them several times. The reason for this is that the process of writing, speaking, listening, and seeing involves multiple senses, thus making a greater imprint on the brain. Those being treated with gratitude were cautioned not to feel discouraged if they didn’t feel any difference for weeks. Negativity is a habit that alters one’s brain chemistry, but the same is true for gratitude.. Consequently, it takes time to develop the habit of being grateful. It’s only since I’ve begun practicing gratitude that I’ve come to understand the importance of praising God in all things. After all, what is praising God but being grateful? What I’ve been learning since my husband’s death and our nation has become so divided is that I can be both grateful and sad at the same time, but what a joy to feel rather than being numbed by grief. To paraphrase the Apostle Paul, “These three things remain, sadness, loneliness, and gratitude, but the greatest of these is gratitude.”
I was reminded last week that I am a grateful creature of habit. I have some fairly fixed routines that help me enjoy each day. I sleep until about 7:30 each morning, get up, have my coffee, walk with my friend, eat breakfast, blog and do what household chores there are to do. Then and only then do I give myself permission to sew or read or run errands, etc. One of the gifts of aging, I find, lies in recognizing the many ways my daily routine keeps me feeling safe and sane. Doing the “same old, same old” most days actually tends to reduce my stress and keeps me from worrying about what comes next. Last week I sat down to blog. Instead of the desired program coming up on the screen, I got a message that I needed to verify to Google who I was, and until I answered all their questions satisfactorily, I was locked out. Unfortunately, part of the verifying information was linked to an old cell phone that my deceased husband had used to set up my Google accounts three years ago and was long gone. However, the more I tried to fix the problem, the more complicated it seemed to get. My daughter eventually got things fixed for me, but there were four days when I couldn’t use my computer. Change can definitely be disorienting! If I’m honest, I don’t really like surprises. If I have a general idea of what is happening, I can hang fairly loose, but when there are too many unknowns, my anxiety level rises. For instance, when my daughter and I got off the turnpike at the wrong place, and our GPS took us on a roundabout way to compensate for our mistake, I was able to enjoy our prolonged trip since I knew we weren’t really lost, just going to be late. But, if we’d been lost…… It’s not that I have to have everything planned. In fact, I like to leave space for serendipity, though it is also nice to know what lies ahead. I can enjoy the unexpected more if I have paid my bills and finished the laundry on schedule, for instance. That’s why I keep a date book which I call my portable brain, but it only helps me if I write things down and remember to check each day’s schedule. Psychologist Robert Thayer says that our moods are created not so much by our thoughts and stressors or even those things that crop up and throw us for a loop, but our moods have more to do with the consistency of our daily patterns and routines and the resulting feeling of security that brings. Being able to rely on daily patterns helps us anticipate much of what lies ahead and helps us relax and enjoy being in the moment. He suggests that by respecting our daily routines, we reduce our stress levels by deactivating our flight or fight instincts. In the end, happiness is not experiencing something new; but that deep sense of contentment lies in continually experiencing what we already have in new and different ways. Unfortunately, we’ve been brainwashed into thinking we’ll be happier if we just do more, buy more, and accumulate more when the constant need to adjust to something different or demanding makes us feel insecure. It is learning how to be content with what already is that opens the way to true contentment. Which brings us back to the serenity prayer. “God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”
Fifteen years ago, when I was writing a paper on mindfulness for the graduate program I was in, it was difficult to track down much information about it. Since that time mindfulness has moved from the wings to center stage in psychology and psychotherapy in particular. I think it would be helpful to explore how this happened and what benefit we can take from developing some simple mindful practices in our daily lives. The term “Mindfulness” seems to have originated with T.W. Rhys Davids, an Englishman who worked to translate Buddhist writings into English for publication in 1910. This is according to Tim Lomas in a HuffPost article in 2016. Mindfulness is defined as being fully aware of the present moment (Jon Kabat-Zinn). The history of mindfulness meditation practice has its roots in Hindu and Buddhist practices. In the 1960’s a variety of meditation practices began to be of interest to many Americans. There was a strong interest in exploring altered states of mind without the use of drugs. People began to explore various forms of meditation, and many settled on Mindfulness meditation because it was easy to do without affecting other religious beliefs. Many people contributed to the development of Mindfulness practice in psychology. For this article, three individuals who have played important roles in adapting mindfulness practices into the psychology world will be the focus. These three are Jack Kornfield, John Kabat-Zinn, and Marsha Linehan. Jack Kornfield is noted for his work in helping to establish the Insight Meditation Society with locations in Barre, Massachusetts, and Spirit Rock Medical Center in Woodacre, California. He trained as a Buddhist monk and later studied clinical psychology. He has worked to bring the ideas of Buddhism to Westerners and into psychological practices in particular. Cognitive therapy is a form of therapy that focuses on learning to increase your awareness of your thoughts and then change the thoughts that are not helpful. For example, thinking that you will fail at a task before you even try is likely to result in not even trying the task in the first place. An important job in this style of therapy is learning to observe thoughts as phenomena that simply come and go in our minds. Jack Kornfield had a role in adapting the practice of mindful observation of thoughts for this purpose. Once the thought has been observed and identified as unhelpful, then it can be challenged, reframed, or a new focus can be developed. Jon Kabat-Zinn further adapted Buddhist practices into Western psychological practices by distilling down techniques that are helpful in Buddhist meditation practices and, through scientific research, developing a training program to teach people how to utilize these practices to find relief from a variety of stress-related problems. He adopted T. W. Rhys Davids’ term, “mindfulness”, to this training program and called it Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR). It is Kabat-Zinn who defined Mindfulness as noted above. The full MBSR program consists of 8 weeks of learning mindfulness meditation practices. Some of the sessions incorporate yoga into the training. Yoga is viewed by some as being moving mindful meditation. What made Kabat-Zinn’s work unique is that he studied the MBSR program he developed to see if it was effective. The now classic study he carried out focused on patients with a skin condition called psoriasis. Patients were divided into two groups. One group received treatment as usual with medications. The other group participated in MBSR for an eight-week training. This consisted of eight once a week sessions with participants practicing the meditations they were taught between sessions. At the end of the study, patients’ skin was observed by medical staff who did not know who was in which group. The participants in the MBSR training had improved skin when compared to treatment as usual. The study was carried out several times to be sure that the results were sound. Kabat-Zinn conducted similar studies that focused on other chronic conditions such as pain and the results were also promising for patients who participated in the MBSR training. Another psychologist who has brought Mindfulness practice into therapy is Marsha Linehan. Linehan developed a behavioral therapy for individuals diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder known as Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT). A simple way to think of behavioral therapy is learning to change actions. Individuals who have been diagnosed with borderline personality disorder have a pattern of impulsive emotional overreaction to daily life events, often with self-harming behaviors of a wide variety. Although DBT is a therapy that teaches patients a wide variety of coping skills, the core of the program is centered on Mindfulness skills. Linehan broke down Mindfulness skills into “What” (what is mindfulness) and “How” (how to be mindful) skills. Clients learn to slow down and observe what is happening, describe it, and participate in the moment with awareness. They also work to develop a non-judgmental view while attending to one thing at a time. This in turn leads to being more effective in determining how they might cope with the daily challenges of life in a healthier way. Much like Kabat-Zinn, Linehan’s work has been subject to a great deal of research to determine its effectiveness. Although it was developed to help one group of individuals, those diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder, it has also been found to be an effective treatment for individuals diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder and Drug and Alcohol Dependence. Maybe you would like to explore Mindfulness further on your own. Here are some possibilities. First, a book that can guide you through developing your own mindfulness practice: Real Happiness: The Power of Meditation by Sharon Salzburg. Another helpful book is Wherever You Go There You Are: Mindfulness Meditation in Everyday Life by Jon Kabat-Zinn. If you are more of a “do it to learn it” kind of person, then check out local resident Julie Falk’s mindfulness training on Zoom. She has developed a four-session approach that covers Kabat-Zinn’s Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction program. To find out more about this opportunity call Healthy Adams County at (717) 337-4137.
What are we to do when we become world-weary? Overwhelmed by bad news? Discouraged that the bad guys just keep avoiding any serious consequences? Feel everything is too much trouble that nothing seems to make any difference? When such feelings take over, I am reminded of a story we Mennonites like to tell about Orrie Miller, one of the founders of our church’s relief and material aid organization called The Mennonite Central Committee. MCC was formed back in the 1920s in response to the famine and revolution in Russia. Orrie Miller served as the director of MCC during the Great Depression, WWI, and its aftermath. When asked how he could keep going given the heartbreaking nature of his work with refugee relocation, providing food and clothing essentials in war-ravaged areas, etc. Orrie is to have responded, “It’s like this. I say a bedtime prayer when I go to bed each night. Most often, it goes something like this: “Dear Lord, thank you for today and today’s work. I did what I could today, but there is so much left undone. I’m tired and giving the rest back to you as I need to get some rest now. If I awaken in the morning, you can load me up again, but for now, the worries and responsibilities are all yours. Goodnight,” Orrie Miller was able to work in some of the most depressing situations and did what he could to make life a wee bit better for people caught up in horrendous situations because he knew how to let go and let God be in control. Orrie knew God did not expect him to save the world. God has already done that by sending Jesus to show us how to live and die. Orrie saw himself as one set of God’s hands and feet and voice and did his best to share God’s love and resources with those most needing hope and healing. The thing that separates most of us from Orrie Miller is that when Orrie got tired, he didn’t worry and stew. He went to bed confident that God is in control and that he, Orrie, could only do what he could do. The rest is up to God. Step Two reads: Came to believe that a power greater than ourselves can restore us to sanity,” while Step Three adds: “turned our will and our lives over to the care and guidance of the God of our understanding.”
Positive thinking goes nowhere unless it is followed by action. That’s precisely why we say the road to hell is paved by good intentions. Meaning to do something and actually doing it are two very different things. Most of us are procrastinators, one of those character flaws many of us humbly ask God to remove when we work on Steps 6 and 7. Most of us mean to do well but somehow never get around to it. Other things just seem to soak up our time. That’s why it’s our self-talk that empowers change in us. The words we speak to ourselves shapes our perception and actions. If I tell myself that I am worthless and a failure, I will unconsciously ensure that I fail. If I tell myself I am a victim, I will unconsciously place myself in situations that confirm that self-image. On the other hand, if I tell myself, “I can do this,” chances are I will succeed. Since self-talk is such an important aspect of being healthy or unhealthy, it helps to adopt several affirmations to help change our self-talk. It is amazing what positive self-talk can do. My friend Sister Tammy is a wise woman. She has encountered many challenges in her life, including life-threatening illnesses, personal losses, and work challenges, yet she just keeps on keeping on. Even being wheelchair-bound doesn’t slow her down. Along with her strong faith, she draws on her sense of humor. Her approach to aging is, “Do something you never did before. Change means growth. To grow, you need to evolve instead of revolve or devolve! I began painting on canvas when I was 85. Some guy asked me to be a stand-up comic. I’d consider it, except I can’t stand up.” When someone asked her what she did, she said, “ I am both a psychologist and a spiritual director, but I am offended when someone calls me a ‘shrink.” I prefer to think of myself as a ‘stretch.’” Sister Tammy insists it’s the language, self-talk, we choose that empowers our responses and reactions to life and faith, including phrases such as “I am…..I want to…..I am willing….I choose to…..I’m grateful for….Thank you for….Could you help me, please….” She is quick to remind us messages such as “I can’t….I should….I have to….I’ll try…”I always fail, so…” are self-limiting and feed into a sense of victimhood. “Be positive,” she says. “Have faith. We are here now, so be grateful. It’s up to us to decide what we hold on to, what we let go of, and what we reach for. Be daring. Get a kick out of life. Be happy.”
Long-time Healthy Adams Bicycle/Pedestrian Inc. (HABPI) board of directors member Tom Jolin was honored today with a plaque placed near the Susan Naugle Bridge off W. Middle St. In introducing Jolin, HAPBI board member Steve Niebler said Jolin’s name was “synonymous with HABPI.” Niebler said Jolin was a founding member of HABPI and one of the originators of the idea for the Gettysburg Inner Loop (GIL) bike trail that is providing a safe place to ride throughout the Borough of Gettysburg. “He spent countless hours working with the Gettysburg Borough Council and staff, HABPI Board members, staff at the Adams County Planning Office, the staff of the National Park Service, property owners, and others on ideas for the trail’s location, funding opportunities, and logistics,” said Niebler. Jolin thanked the board and members of HAPBI as well as Gettysburg Borough before he unveiled the plaque, saying “It’s been a good working relationship. It’s a community effort.” The plaque sums up Tom’s contributions to biking in Adams County as follows: In Appreciation Tom Jolin was the force behind development of the Gettysburg trail system and Healthy Adams Bicycle/Pedestrian, Inc. (HABPI). His dedication and persistence brought together many community organizations and leaders to create the trail and this mini-park, benefiting residents and visitors. His vision continues to inspire others for continued action. During his time on the Board, HABPI developed the GIL and the North Gettysburg Trail. He was the founder of the annual Kid’s Bike Parade at the Adams County Heritage Festival. He was very dedicated to the idea of using bicycles as an alternate form of transportation. He took his family on bike-only vacations when his children were younger. The biking infrastructure of Gettysburg and Adams County has benefited immensely from Tom’s 20+ years of work. He continues to be available to HABPI on an as-needed basis to continue promoting safe bicycling throughout our community. He is looking forward to continuing to play his music publicly, traveling, spending, time with his family, and riding his bike.
Self-acceptance and care are much easier to talk about than to practice. It’s so easy to push our basic physical and emotional needs to the side because most of us grew up being told it is important to put others first; that pride in self and self-confidence is somehow sinful. Yet self-negation, self-pity and viewing oneself as inferior and unlovable is not just giving in to our dark side, but it is an insult to God who created us. You know the old sayings, “God don’t make no junk,” and “Be gentle with yourself. God’s not finished with you yet.” In the end, self-hatred is simply a backhanded way of putting ourselves front and center. Selfishness grows out of a sense of being inadequate and lacking, not fulfillment. It grows out of buying into old messages we heard as kids, messages such as “you’re so stupid. You never do anything right. You’re fat, ” “I wish you’d never been born.” Consequently, we grow up believing that we don’t measure up. Much as I’ve longed for lovely spiritual experiences to reassure me that I’m among the saved, to use church language, the only clear messages I’ve ever received from my Higher Power are various forms of “get over yourself” which I then interpreted as my needing to work harder to please God and others…instead of letting go of the unrealistic expectations I apply to myself and others. I saw acceptance and humility as denying what made me happy since others’ needs were always more important. Then along comes my husband’s terminal illness, and Hospice and self-care takes on an entirely different meaning…valuing and caring for myself, so I could be there for him. Jesus often referred to the Great Commandment, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, and mind, and your neighbor as yourself,” as well as the Golden Rule, “do unto others as you would have them do unto you” neither of which tells us to see ourselves as being less than but seeing ourselves as equally important as everyone else. In fact, both are clear statements about the importance of balance and equality in human relationships. They point out and reaffirm the fact that we are incapable of truly loving God or others until we can love and accept ourselves, warts and all. As I age, my ‘get up and go gets up and goes’ much earlier each day. I tend to view my lagging energy as an inherent flaw, a personal failure rather than being perfectly normal for a woman of 86. Not only have I been kidding myself about my ability to do more than I am able, “Get over yourself” has taken on a whole new meaning. Even if I once functioned well with 3 to 4 hours of sleep each night and still had inexhaustible energy, that’s no longer true…which brings me back to my new understanding of self-care; getting over my unrealistic expectations and having the humility to say “I’m sorry. I was wrong. I need help. I don’t know. I’m OK. You’re OK just the way we are.” Our eldest sent me a picture of a woman at a rally holding up a sign reading:” I am no longer accepting the things I cannot change; I am changing the things I cannot accept.” When I got done laughing, I realized the power of that message lies in self-acceptance. Unless I can accept myself as I am, I will continue to set myself up for disappointment and experiences that make me feel bad about myself. Last night I dreamed about self-care and going for a massage. My brother-in-law was recently discharged from the hospital with a warning that he needed to make several radical lifestyle changes; a humbling and difficult message for him, I’m sure. I find it hard to accept my limitations because limitations make me doubt myself. Yet radical change is a normal aspect of life, not a sign we are somehow less than we were if we need to change in some way. In fact, dramatic events and radical change often open the way to greater contentment and happiness precisely because it allows us to stop demanding as much from ourselves and those around us. Life gets easier once we can accept that it is our unrealistic expectations that tend to get in our way. I have begun looking at self-care as the permission I’ve needed to accept the things I cannot change and change the things I can. Self-care invites me to accept hardship as the pathway to peace rather than a sign of failure. Taking this world as it is, not as I would have it, allows me to stop beating myself up when I or others don’t conform to my wishes. Looking back over this past year, I realize that much of my stress, grief, and anxiety was related to blaming myself for not somehow helping my husband live longer while also denying my own aging and mortality. Given this is the only life I will ever live, I am grateful that in my waning years, I have come to know myself as loved and valued, not because I have been successful or whatever, but simply because I am a beloved child of God…just like you. In the end, what more could we ever want?
An archway of purple and black balloons created a solemn memorial for victims of opioid overdose deaths as part of National Black Balloon Day Monday afternoon in Gettysburg’s Lincoln Square. About 50 visitors stopped by, and 25 Naloxone kits and spray applications were distributed to help prevent some of those deaths. Naloxone, a prescription drug found in a nasal spray or injectible form, can reverse the effects of an opioid overdose and has been shown to save lives. The Adams County Overdose Awareness Taskforce has noted a recent reduction in the number of deaths in the county due to opioids and fentanyl, a synthetic form of the drug. “In fact, we have zero deaths so far this year,” said Lisa Lindsey, data and prevention specialist for the Center for Youth and Community Development. There were five deaths in 2022, marking a decrease from the 14 deaths the previous year. Adams County Commissioner James Martin, who attended the event, called it “A very successful evening connecting with the community. Thanks to Collaborating for Youth staff and Overdose Awareness Taskforce for a great project,” he said. Commissioner Marty Qually also attended, saying “I’m proud that our community has embraced the ideas that prevention and recovery are key parts to tackling the opioid epidemic. Simply punishing and stigmatizing those who use illegal drugs will never solve the problem.” National drug overdose deaths are up about 30 percent each year, according to the National Center for Drug Abuse Statistics. Nearly 4,500 were recorded in Pennsylvania in 2021, about 72 percent higher than the national average. Although many overdose deaths are attributed to illegal drugs, 20 percent of those deaths result from taking prescription opioid medications. Headed by Matthew Moon, the Overdose Awareness Task Force, in association with the Center for Youth and Community Services, provides education and information to raise awareness of the local problem. The priorities of the task force are to increase access and utilization of naloxone to save lives, ensure a continuum of care for county residents, reduce the supply of opioids in the county, and provide education regarding the signs of substance abuse, opioid use, treatment options, and recovery programs. Featured image caption: Nearly 50 people attended Black Balloon Day to remember those who have died from opioid overdose deaths. From left, James Martin, Adams County Commissioner; Matthew Moon, Chairperson of the county’s Overdose Taskforce; Marty Qually, Adams County Commissioner; Odila Marimba, Respective Solutions; Meghan Riordan, Community Impact Coordinator, Center for Youth; Andrea Dolges, Executive Director, Center for Youth; and Chad-Alan Carr, Gettysburg Councilmember At-Large [Judi Seniura]
Over the years, I have read many definitions of codependency. All relate in some way to discounting our own needs and feelings and looking to others to validate and make us happy. After all, we live our lives in relationship to others, our environment, our culture, and our jobs, so why wouldn’t we look to others for validation and approval? However, there is a vast difference between discounting our own needs and feelings and becoming utterly dependent on others’ validation, in knowing when to work with others and when to branch out on our own, when to hold the line and when to step back, and in assisting others because they have requested our help or taking over when unasked and forcing others to meet our expectations because the only way we feel secure is when others conform to our neurotic control needs and wishes. Those of us who have found our way to 12-step meetings such as Families Anonymous, AL-Anon, CoDa, Adult Children of Alcoholics, etc. did so because we found that our excessive need to be needed, loved, and approved of, and to maintain control was making us unhappy and crazy. The more stressed we got, the more we found ourselves nagging, criticizing, obsessing, doing more, and repeating off-putting behaviors that drove people away. Just as with any other addiction, it often takes a number of crises to make us recognize our need for help, for the harder we codependents try to maintain control and avoid criticism, the more we fall into insane behaviors such as trying to force others to comply with our needs, wishes, and ways of doing things. Unfortunately, the more we lash out in our attempts to maintain a sense of control, the more miserable and stressed we become. Looking back over my own journey with codependency, I see letting go of my unhealthy need for acceptance and approval as critical. I was the middle child and grew up playing the role of family mediator. Thinking I had to be perfect to simply be good enough, I would constantly compare myself to others and would find approval when acting as a buffer between my mother and sisters. Even so, nothing I ever did seemed good enough. Convinced that I was inherently unworthy of being loved for myself, I sought to earn the love and approval of my friends, husband, children, family, and church by doing, being and trying to have a cleaner house, perfect children, following the rules, overextending myself, etc. Thanks to both the program and my family, which refused to fit into my rigid expectations, I discovered that I could achieve more by letting go of my perfectionism and affirming the good in others and myself. When I stopped focusing on our inadequacies and began looking for positives, life began to unfold like a flower. In time, the program’s “attitude of gratitude” made sense. I learned to tell my kids that I had confidence in their ability to know what was right for them instead of telling them what to do. I learned to let go of my need to see them achieve my dreams for them – such as graduating from college – and instead not just allow them to find meaning in their own lives and choices but to value and appreciate their journey, including their mistakes and failures. Gratitude, I’ve found, has been my doorway to peace of mind. By valuing and focusing on what is, rather than what isn’t, like the Apostle Paul, I’m learning to be content in and for all things. I’m grateful that my struggles with codependency have taught me about letting go and letting God, or putting it another way, relinquishing control and embracing what is. God, grant me the gratitude to accept the things I cannot change, the gratitude to change the things I can, and the gratitude to know the difference. Amen
I locked myself out of my house the other day. I wanted to give my new neighbor a key since we were going away for a week, so I grabbed a fistful of keys, stepped outside to make sure I had the right key, and…. You guessed it! I locked myself out! Fortunately, it wasn’t that cold (it is February), and the rain had stopped. Laughing at my own stupidity, I walked to the neighbor and called my daughter to bail me out. The amazing thing about this experience is that I didn’t freak out. Not even a little bit, even though I have a great capacity to do a number on myself. I’ve rarely needed anyone to criticize me for doing thoughtless things, as I’ve been good at doing that myself. Years ago, a friend suggested I use a crude but descriptive mantra when I start beating myself up… like the time I left the car in neutral, and it rolled down the hill and into our neighbor’s barn. This time, however, I didn’t swear, put myself down, or even repeat over and over, “I am not a s*#! I am just a fallible human being.” I just laughed at myself and apologized for inconveniencing our daughter. Our little Coda group often discusses self-care and affirmations, as it seems to be human nature to be hard on ourselves. In spite of the many negative messages we receive as youngsters and adults, we are allowed to make mistakes and be fallible human beings. It’s no crime to goof up. In fact, failure is one of our most effective teaching tools. Nor is it proof of our being stupid when we repeat mistakes before learning the lesson. For instance, this was not the first time I locked myself out of my house, but this was the first time I didn’t do a number on myself. I consider that a real victory.
I’m a great one for shoveling clutter into drawers and closets, but that just means going through every paper and envelope when I’m looking for something specific. I didn’t find the address I’d been looking for this morning, but I did discover a scrap of paper with a scribbled quote. “Resentment must give way to possibility, grief to compassion, and disdain to respect.” How sad that we tend to be more bent on obsessing over and punishing wrongdoing than affirming the positives. It’s as if we assume good deeds are not worth noting, but the bad deserves attention. It’s so easy to slip into the mindset that affirming positives is not important because doing our jobs and being helpful is the expected norm. I am saddened by our current focus on obstructionism and negativity. Even though most of us were taught that a carrot is a stronger incentive than a stick when it comes to motivation, we still operate under the illusion that we can grump and bully our way into creating desired change. I have broken ranks with many of my Republican brothers and sisters, not because I disagree with many of their concerns but because I disagree with their methods and approach. In the end, the medium is the message Condemnation, criticism, hypocrisy, and obstructionism are no substitute for affirming effort and achievement and working together to accomplish a common goal. Jesus was the supreme psychologist when he suggested we’d do well to love rather than hate our enemies. After all, isn’t “love your enemies” simply another way of agreeing that “resentment must give way to possibility, grief to compassion, and disdain to respect.” Oftentimes the best way to inspire good behavior is by overlooking the negative and focusing on the positive. We humans are communal beings. We thrive on affirmation and encouragement. However, when all we hear is blaming and shaming, negative attention is better than no attention. Yes, positive reinforcement may take longer to bring about desired change, but those changes are long lasting and more effective. That’s why love is stronger than hate; gratitude is more effective than criticism; please and thank you are considered magic words. One thing seems clear to me this sunny winter morning; I am too old to spend my time brooding over past hurts and plotting revenge for real and imagined slights. Anger simply doesn’t feel good. Besides, it depletes what little energy I tend to have these days. It’s not that I excuse or condone much of what happens; it’s just that I don’t have the time or energy to waste on nursing hurt and anger. Besides, why give the other the satisfaction of knowing they have made me unhappy? I find refusing to be miserable a much better form of revenge. “Resentment must give way to possibility, grief to compassion, and disdain to respect.” That seems a pretty good mantra for today, Valentine’s Day.
Today Is a day for gratitude. In fact, every day is a day for gratitude. Since now is all I’ll ever have, this moment is the only moment I have for which to be grateful. And I am grateful. Extremely grateful. Just having returned from sharing breakfast with a friend, I am very aware that friendships top my list of things that make life worth living. After my husband died last spring, a friend decided I needed some extra TLC, so she started taking me out for breakfast. This has been so special we are still having breakfast together twice a month. Just as my walks with another friend are special for the time we spend together, for the ways we’ve learned to know each other better. Just as playing dominoes once a week with another group of women is special. Just as my Sunday morning phone visits with our oldest daughter are special. The list goes on and on. Nor does the fact that the more I practice gratitude and the longer my list becomes decreases the specialness of each and every experience. The amazing thing about practicing gratitude is that the more I recognize things for which to be grateful, the more I find. I am grateful for the birds at the feeders. I can’t begin to share how much joy I’ve gleaned from bird watching since placing bird feeders outside our sunroom windows. I am grateful for the spring bulbs that have started pushing leaf tips through the ground, for the amaryllis that are blooming, for today’s sunshine and blue skies, for running water, my sewing machine, books to read, and sewing projects that inspire my creative juices. Another friend recently shared a book with me, John Kralik’s 365 Thank Yous, The Year a Simple Act of Daily Gratitude Changed My life. Keeping a gratitude journal has been life-changing, yet I am already anticipating how writing a thank you note to someone each and every day will open me to seeing more possibilities and hope everywhere I look. It’s one thing to keep a gratitude journal, but to go the next step by mailing thank you notes makes me even more aware of just how much my life is interconnected with others. Focusing on the things that are going well has certainly changed the way I see life’s disappointments, challenges, hurts, struggles, and griefs. While it is unrealistic to think that any of us should live happily ever after without suffering setbacks and disappointments, it is equally unrealistic to ignore all the good things that keep happening day after day. For instance, having the power go off last week reminded me of just how grateful I am for electricity and the many ways it improves my life. There are many challenges to this aging business, but so far, the positives outweigh the negatives. One of the greatest positives I’ve found has been casting off the many shoulds and oughts that I once thought necessary if I was to earn the love and approval I sought. I am profoundly grateful to have finally outgrown my need to earn approval and love by trying to meet others’ expectations, and that includes God. It’s enough now to know that gratitude is its own reward. After all, what greater gift can any of us give our Maker than appreciating this gift of life and our beautiful planet?
By Anthony Hennen | The Center Square Two Philadelphia Transit Policemen are seen by a Philadelphia Fire Department Emergency Medical Services ambulance. By Alan Budman The Center Square (The Center Square) – Pennsylvania’s hyperlocal emergency medical services system teeters on the brink of collapse and, officials say, it’s up to legislators to intervene before it’s too late. “If they do nothing, this will collapse — there’s no ifs, ands, or buts about it —this system will collapse if nothing changes,” said Eric Henry, a Crawford County Commissioner and owner of the Meadville Area Ambulance Service. For years, Pennsylvania has struggled with funding emergency medical services. Those problems have grown as the rural population shrinks, inflationary pressures raise costs, and the system itself becomes more and more fractured. “Frankly, to be honest, we’ve been sounding this alarm for 10, 11, 12 years that this was coming,” Henry said. “All COVID did was push us over the cliff and because we had to increase our wages to compete with Sheetz or McDonalds or Burger King — at one point, paramedics were making less money than places like Sheetz.” State funding has increased in recent years after what Henry called “a lot of kicking and screaming from ambulance services.” Former Gov. Tom Wolf’s last budget provided an $85 million increase for EMS and raised reimbursement rates, as The Center Square previously reported. But operators view the policy as little more than a “band-aid” incapable of fixing decades of problems. Legislators have also discussed loosening requirements concerning ambulance crews and allowing townships to increase taxes to fund ambulance services. While those reforms could help, financial issues remain the top concern, Henry said. “Medicaid and Medicare both provide reimbursement at less than the cost to actually run the call,” he said. “Medicaid at 40% less, Medicare at 30% less.” Ambulances are legally required to handle calls, even when the health concerns are not life threatening. Giving more flexibility to ambulance services to deny some transport demands could make EMS more financially stable, Henry said. “As an example, if someone calls us for toe pain or finger pain, if they are persistent about wanting transport by ambulance, we have to take them, and we’re not going to get paid for that trip most likely,” he said. “Frankly, you’re taking an ambulance available out of service for something that doesn’t need an ambulance.” Changes that make day-to-day operations easier could matter, and so could restructuring EMS operations. Rather than a local approach, Henry argued for a regional one. He said creating multi-municipal authorities to run EMS would be the “most important” reform legislators could adopt. When townships, boroughs, and small towns combine EMS services, it can spread out the cost borne by taxpayers and improve coordination. Nearby states, such as Maryland, take a county-level approach rather than the hyper-local approach that dominates Pennsylvania. Changing that status quo, however, will take a lot of work, Henry said. “Legislators have put this on the back burner and, frankly, I’m pretty disappointed in them,” he said. The House Republican Policy Committee has scheduled a hearing Wednesday in Harrisburg to discuss policy regarding first responders and public safety ahead of the chamber’s Feb. 21 return to session. The Senate will likewise reconvene on Feb. 27, after an unexpected one-month hiatus. Anthony Hennen Staff Reporter Anthony Hennen is a reporter for The Center Square. Previously, he worked for Philadelphia Weekly and the James G. Martin Center for Academic Renewal. He is managing editor of Expatalachians, a journalism project focused on the Appalachian region.
On the 2023 Black Balloon Day, March 6, the Adams County Overdose Awareness Taskforce (OATF) will be on Lincoln Square in Gettysburg from 4:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. to honor those lost to overdose. The event will draw attention to the tens of thousands of annual deaths related to opioid abuse and addiction in the U.S. “Virtual” black balloons will be available that community members may release to honor their loved ones. OATF will also be distributing free naloxone with a short training. Naloxone is a medication approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) designed to rapidly reverse opioid overdose. It can and will save lives and can be a staple in any home’s first aid kit. The lights in Gettysburg Lincoln Square and New Oxford Square will be shaded in purple to designate this special day. Members of the community are also encouraged to hang a black balloon outside of their house. Black Balloon Day, started in Massachusetts in 2016, was the inspiration of family members to honor lost loved ones due to overdose. The event has grown from a local remembrance birthed out of a family’s loss to an internationally-celebrated day that shines a light on the opioid fight and honors those who have died — human beings who had families: parents, spouses, children and others who loved them and whom they loved. Overdose is a real problem, but by educating ourselves about it and working together, we can reduce overdoses and save lives. For more information on this event or the Adams County Overdose Awareness Taskforce, please call Lisa Lindsey at 717-338-0300 x 109. Visit their website at www.overdosefreeadams.org.
Tori Horn, University of Memphis As a therapist who treats people with gambling problems, I’ve noticed a shift over the past few years – not only in the profile of the typical clients I treat, but also in the way their gambling problems develop. In 2018, the U.S. Supreme Court made the landmark decision to allow states to legalize sports wagering. Tennessee, where I am studying clinical psychology, took advantage of this ruling, and in late 2020, the state legalized online and mobile sports betting. With most sportsbooks offering betting apps, my clients are finding it more difficult to quit gambling than ever before. Unlike other forms of gambling, such as playing roulette or slots at a casino, these apps are on their phones and in their pockets, accompanying them wherever they go. This availability makes it that much harder to resist any urges that might arise – and presents unique challenges for helping clients reduce their gambling. A new type of client emerges When I first started treating people for gambling disorder in 2019, my clients were usually older and gambled in casinos, with slot machines and card games among their favorite forms of gambling. They also tended to be poorer and often talked about how they began gambling to make some side money, viewing it as a second job. Many of them had retired and would say things like, “Going to the casino gets me out of the house” or “The casino is like my ‘Cheers’” – a nod to the popular watering hole in the eponymous sitcom. That all changed when sports betting was legalized in Tennessee in November 2020. Since then, I’ve noticed that my average client has started to look different. I’m now providing therapy to younger men, mostly in their 20s, who are seeking treatment for problems with sports betting. These clients tend to earn more money and be wealthier than my previous clients – a pattern that sports betting researchers have observed. Several of them reported being avid sports fans or having a competitive streak. And they thought they could “beat the system” due to their extensive sports knowledge. Many of them started betting on sports after hearing promotions for various betting companies. Even if you’re a casual sports fan with no interest in betting, you can’t miss these ads, which regularly air during televised sporting events. For example, some ads for FanDuel, one of the more popular sports betting apps, highlight a “No Sweat First Bet,” with new users eligible for a risk-free bet of up to $1,000. There’s also a social element to sports betting. One client talked about betting on sports as a way to bond with relatives who also gambled. Similarly, a few college students I have treated told me that they started betting because they wanted to fit in with their fraternity brothers. The apps don’t make it easy to set limits But once gambling issues begin, it can be hard for these clients to stop. Most of them started by placing smaller bets on a single outcome. Over time, they start to bet more to recoup their losses. Before they knew it, their bets had increased, with many not realizing how this change even happened. Betting apps are available on any smartphone and are connected to clients’ bank accounts, making it quick and easy to deposit more funds. This often leads clients to lose track of how much money they have lost. As one client told me, “It’s easier to spend money on these apps because you never really see it. The transactions are all done electronically.” These apps do not make it easy for those with gambling problems to sign up for cool-off periods or self-exclusion. Cool-off periods allow the user to set a time frame – from a few hours to several months – where they will be unable to log into their betting account. Self-exclusion allows the user to ban themselves from the app for longer periods of time. Specific exclusion lengths differ by state. In Tennessee, there are one-year, five-year and lifetime ban options. While many apps have these features, my clients often have to search online for this information, and even when they do find it, they can’t figure out how to put these guardrails in place. If they wish to set a cool-off period or ban themselves from all sports betting apps, they must do so from each app, one at a time, which can be tedious. Here is a sports betting glossary. It’s impossible to avoid sports and smartphones Sports betting presents unique challenges for treating gambling problems. In addiction treatment, therapists, like me, often encourage clients to fill their time with activities that aren’t connected to gambling or to avoid situations where they may be likely to gamble. But when gambling is available at the touch of a button, it becomes harder to determine what situations may lead to gambling, which makes it harder to figure out what to avoid. Before the apps, clients had to make plans for how and when to gamble. Now, all they have to do is pick up their phone and open an app. It is also incredibly difficult, if not impossible, to ask a client to stop using their smartphone or stop watching sports. This is why I often tailor treatment to each client’s needs and circumstances. Some may wish to quit altogether, while others may simply want to cut back on their gambling. This has forced me to consider other possible alternatives, such as showing them how to set screen time limits for sportsbook apps or talking about strategies to watch less sports. Most people who bet on sports don’t develop gambling problems. But with so few regulations in place – advertising or otherwise – those who are the most at risk are especially vulnerable to developing problems. Tori Horn, PhD Student in Clinical Psychology, University of Memphis This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.
Sometimes we gut react to a situation, impulsively decide to take a risk, to speak out, take a stand. I think of my quiet, introverted, shy husband who decided after 9/11 that declaring war on Iraq was not the appropriate way to respond to those horrendous events. Crippled with rheumatoid arthritis, in constant pain, he stood or sat, Friday after Friday, year after year, holding up his signs “honk for peace” and “War is not the Answer.” When anyone challenged him, he’d say, “I’m not doing this to change your mind. I do this to be true to what I believe is right and good.” Did his silent protest change anything? Who knows, but I do know he convinced several others to join him in his silent vigils. I was with him when folks stopped and talked to him, gave him the finger, or cussed him out. After George Floyd was killed, my quiet spouse challenged us to do a weekly “Geriatrics For Justice” vigil in front of our little church. There was the black man who stopped and thanked us. There was the KKK leader who argued with us, even threatened to come back and shoot us. There were several who stopped their cars and joined us. There were those who shouted obscenities as they drove by. This winter, someone sent a contribution to our church asking us to use his check to help a man whose business had burned down. When asked why he sent the money to our church instead of GoFundMe, he said he remembered the way we stood in front of the church insisting that black lives matter and trusted we’d make sure the fire victims got what they needed. The older I get, the more I am convinced that even though our individual choices and actions seem to fade into obscurity, they still matter. Who knows when a memory of a past event triggers someone to defend a stranger, give up their place in line, speak out against an injustice? I recently received an email from one of my neighbors. She is a lovely caring person, and I value her friendship, so I’m tempted to ignore her email. Yet, I feel compelled to respond. I don’t want her to think I support Trump and his Jan 6 lies and conspiracies. Perhaps something in the vein of “please don’t forward things like that to me. I value your friendship too much to lose it by talking politics” would be appropriate. That approach has so far worked with another friend. When he gets going on a rant, I hold up my hand and say, “ Let’s just agree to disagree and talk about something else. “ At first, he resisted, but now he just grins and shuts up. It’s reassuring to know we can violently disagree on some things and still get along.
The Gettysburg Adams Kiwanis monthly speaker’s series will resume on Monday, Feb. 13, with a program by John Noullet and Jayne Miller, both mental health care professionals at WellSpan Philhaven. The program will focus on the de-stigmatization of mental health issues, specifically suicide prevention. Noullet has worked for WellSpan Philhaven since 2003. He worked as a clinician in the admissions department prior to becoming the director of Lebanon County Crisis Intervention. Since 2016, he has worked as a mental health care educator and is a certified instructor for Mental Health First Aid and also Question Persuade, Refer (QPR), which is a suicide prevention class. Noullet has both his bachelor of art and master of science degrees from West Virginia University. Miller, a graduate of Alvernia University, has worked for WellSpan Philhaven since 2003. In her most recent role with WellSpan Philhaven, Jayne is serving as the Community Mental Health Education coordinator, scheduling and overseeing the numerous educational trainings delivered by WellSpan Philhaven staff. Prior to that, she worked as a Lebanon County crisis intervention counselor. With this first-hand knowledge and experience, Miller has a unique understanding of the need for the de-stigmatization of mental health concerns as well as a keen sense of the need for early prevention/intervention. Bringing a strong sense of personal commitment to the community, she believes that as community members and leaders become more versed in the dynamics of mental health, we can, together, encourage hope, healing, and wholeness by building a stronger, more productive society as we encourage each other to live our lives with meaning and purpose. The Gettysburg Adams Kiwanis Club, a part of Kiwanis International, is a service organization dedicated to building strong communities one child at a time and has been serving Adams County since 1954. The July 25 meeting will take place at Destination Gettysburg (1560 Fairfield Road) at 6 p.m. Local residents interested in finding out more about the club and it’s service to the community can contact Myra Reichart at firstname.lastname@example.org or 717-398-2684.
YORK, PA (Jan. 24, 2023) – WellSpan Gettysburg Hospital has launched a robotic surgery program to offer minimally invasive surgical procedures to patients. Robotic-assisted surgery offers several benefits to patients, including less pain, shorter hospital stays, quicker recovery, smaller scars, and improved patient satisfaction. While WellSpan patients have had access to this innovative technology at other locations across the region, the addition of robotic-assisted surgery at WellSpan Gettysburg Hospital provides residents of Adams County with the ability to access this service close to home. “We are excited to bring robotic surgery to WellSpan Gettysburg Hospital and offer residents of Adams County the benefits of minimally invasive procedures using the da Vinci® robotic surgery system,” said Michael Cogliano, vice president of WellSpan Health and president of WellSpan Gettysburg Hospital. Among the surgical procedures that will be performed with the da Vinci system are hernia repairs, gallbladder surgery, prostate surgery, and urological and gynecological surgery, including hysterectomies. During robotic-assisted surgery, the surgeon sits at a specially designed console in the operating room near the patient and performs the surgery by moving robotic instruments. One instrument holds a lighted endoscopic camera that provides the surgeon with a three-dimensional, high-definition image of the surgical field inside the patient’s body. The entire surgical team can see the field via a large viewing monitor. The other robotic arms hold instruments, which the surgeon moves at the console. These incisions made for robotic-assisted surgery are about the size of a dime and usually can be covered with a small dressing about the size of a bandage after the procedure. “I have been performing surgeries with the da Vinci system at WellSpan Chambersburg Hospital for years and am looking forward to offering this to patients in Gettysburg now,” said Ashish Behari, MD, of WellSpan Urology, “Using robotic-assisted surgery helps patients recover more quickly so they can get back to doing what they enjoy.” In addition to Dr. Behari, other surgeons who will use the da Vinci system include Nyarai Mushonga, MD, of WellSpan Urogynecology & Pelvic Reconstructive Surgery, and Asif Quyyum, DO, and Rajesh Makkenchery, MD, of WellSpan Surgical Specialists. To learn more about robotic-assisted surgery at WellSpan Health, visithttps://www.wellspan.org/programs/surgery/davinci-robotic-surgery/. About WellSpan Health
Herpreet Thind, UMass Lowell The popularity of yoga has grown tremendously in the past decade. More than 10% of U.S. adults have practiced yoga at some point in their lives. Yoga practitioners spend on average US$90 a month, and the yoga industry is worth more than $80 billion worldwide. Yoga mixes physical exercise with meditation and breathing techniques. 10,000 Hours/Digital Vision via Getty Images Yoga is now a mainstream activity in the U.S. and is commonly portrayed as a healthy lifestyle choice. I am a behavioral scientist who researches how physical activity – and specifically yoga – can prevent and help manage chronic diseases. Many people attribute improvements in their physical and mental health to their yoga practice. But until recently, research had been sparse on the health benefits of yoga. As the body of rigorous research on yoga grows, more and more work is showing the many health benefits of a yoga practice. What is yoga? The name “yoga” is derived from the Sanskrit word “Yuj” meaning to unite, join or connect the mind, body and soul. The first text on yoga was written by the sage Patanjali over 2,000 years ago in India. Patanjali described yoga as “citta-vrtti-nirodhah,” or “stilling the mind.” This was achieved through a mix of breath work, meditation, physical movement and body purification practices, as well as ethical and moral codes for living a healthy and purposeful life. Over the years, various yoga teachers have modified the original Patanjali yoga, resulting in different styles that vary in their intensity and focus. For example, some yoga styles such as Vinyasa focus more on intense movements similar to an aerobic workout. Restorative yoga includes more relaxation poses. Iyengar yoga uses props and emphasizes precision and proper alignment of body. These different styles provide options for individuals with different physical abilities. Generally speaking, yoga instructors in the U.S. today teach styles that incorporate postures, breathing exercises and sometimes meditation. https://www.youtube.com/embed/zbG9LQst6EA?wmode=transparent&start=0 Modern Western yoga often uses poses like downward dog that focus on flexibility and strength. What does the research show? As yoga has grown in popularity in recent years, researchers have begun to study its effects and are finding that it has great benefit for mental and physical health. Yoga involves physical movement, so it is no surprise that most types of yoga can help to improve a person’s strength and flexibility. In one study with healthy untrained volunteers, researchers found that eight weeks of yoga improved muscular strength at the elbow and knee by 10%-30%. Flexibility at the ankle, shoulder and hip joints also increased by 13%-188%. There are a number of less obvious but meaningful benefits from yoga as well. Research has shown that yoga practice can reduce risk factors for heart disease such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol and abdominal obesity. Studies on older adults have shown significant improvements in balance, mobility, cognitive function and overall quality of life. Yoga seems to be effective at managing pain, too. Research has found that yoga can improve symptoms of headaches, osteoarthritis, neck pain and low-back pain. In fact, the American College of Physicians recommends yoga as one of the options for initial nonpharmaceutical treatment for chronic low-back pain. Yoga also provides many benefits for mental health. Researchers have found that a regular practice over eight to 12 weeks can lead to moderate reductions in anxiety and depressive symptoms as well as help with stress management. More than physical exercise Yoga is a type of exercise in that it is a form of physical exertion that helps build fitness. A lot of the benefits researchers have found are due to the physical activity component and are similar to benefits from other forms of exercise like running, weightlifting or calisthenics. But unlike these other activities, yoga practice incorporates mindfulness as a key aspect. With its focus on controlling breath, holding postures and meditation, yoga increases how much a person pays attention to the sensations of their body and the present moment. This mindfulness leads to many benefits not found from other forms of exercise. Studies have shown that mindfulness training on its own can increase a person’s self-awareness, along with the ability to recognize and skillfully respond to emotional stress. It can even give a person greater control over long-term behavior. One study found that increased mindfulness from yoga can help people better recognize and respond to feelings of being full when eating, decrease binge eating and alleviate concerns over how their body looks. My colleagues and I observed a similar effect in a pilot study on the benefits of yoga for individuals with Type 2 diabetes. After doing yoga twice a week for three months, several participants reported paying more attention to their diet, snacking less and eating healthier, even without any nutrition intervention. Our patients also reported less stress and an increased willingness to engage in other types of physical activities. Yoga is clearly different from Western exercise in how it approaches mental health. With more research, it may be possible to understand the biological mechanisms as well. Things to know if you want to start doing yoga Yoga may not be helpful for all medical conditions or right for every person, but people of all age groups, body types and physical abilities can practice yoga. It can be a form of mental and physical exercise for people who do not enjoy sweating during strenuous forms of exercise or for individuals with medical or physical conditions who find working out in the gym challenging. It is important to consider that although yoga is generally safe, just as with any other form of exercise, there is some risk of getting injured. Individuals with medical conditions who are new to yoga should practice it initially under the supervision of a trained instructor. If you do decide to give yoga a try, talk to the yoga instructor first to assess whether the style they offer meets your preference and fitness levels. Remember, you may need to practice a couple of weeks to feel the benefits, physically and mentally. Herpreet Thind, Associate Professor of Public Health, UMass Lowell This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.
It’s one of those dark rainy winter days for which I am profoundly thankful. With so many areas of the world suffering from drought, we here in south central Pennsylvania are much blessed. So far, we’ve been spared many of the extremes in rainfall, temperature, and storms that have been devastating others. The effects of climate change are downright scary, so I was gratified to recently learn that the ozone hole in the atmosphere is closing as a result of outlawing the use of freon gas and other noxious chemicals. What we do matters. Since my early morning walk got rained out, I spent more time with the morning newspaper. One article discussed the many ways we can each do our part in healing our beautiful planet. It’s so easy to assume the little things you and I can do are irrelevant. What we forget is my tiny contribution added to yours, and yours and yours add up. Once again, we come back to” the truism that it takes a village. Working together. Joining forces. Linking our fate to the common good. As the author of the article noted, we can’t eat sunlight or produce our own oxygen. We need plants and insects to do that. The domino effect begins each time we lose a single species, be that plant, tree, insect, bird, animal. Everything is connected. “We are in the sixth great extinction event,” the author wrote. “Now one-third of the planet’s bird population is gone. Overall, one million species may be lost in the next ten years! Setting aside one-half of the Earth for nature would save at least 80 to 85% of existing species, but that’s not likely to happen.” He goes on to say that while living with nature is an option, doing so will be a challenge, as it will require changing our mindset. To achieve a better relationship with Mother Nature, we will need to change several basic assumptions upon which we have built our modern civilization. 1. Thinking of nature as optional, not essential. 2. Thinking that humans and nature must be separate and can’t co-exist. 3. Leaving stewardship of the land to a few professionals, scientists, and big corporations. 4. Stop making decisions based on short-term needs and profits instead of the long-term. You and I have more power than we think. For instance, we can have an influence by:: Choosing native species for our flower beds. Planting more trees. Composting our weeds, food wastes, leaves. Recycling more items. Mowing fewer areas and planting our lawns and roadsides with wildflowers. Eating less meat. Being less passive when trash carriers stop recycling glass and plastic “because there isn’t enough profit in it.” Paying attention as new scientific information surfaces. Getting rid of our gas appliances, such as our kitchen stoves and gas logs, as an example, for they are constantly emitting methane into our atmosphere. It may be soothing to have someone else to blame for the mess the world is in, but blaming and shaming have never solved anything. If we want a future for our children and grandchildren, you and I can’t wait for the other guy to go first. After all, the little things we do actually mean a lot.
Mary Davis has a simple formula for happiness. “Shine brightly. See beauty. Speak kindly. Create joyfully. Live thankfully.” If there was ever a time for adopting her formula it is now. I’m no Pollyanna, but I discovered long ago that negative thinking sets me up for unhappiness and failure. In fact, viewing everything through a distrustful and jaundiced eye just makes matters seem so much worse. I understand the need for criticism, but please, let’s focus on constructive criticisms. What’s The point of being obstructionist just for the sake of being obstructionist? See beauty, Mary Davis tells us. That’s a good place to start, as beauty is everywhere. Our world is filled with so many beautiful things, sounds, images, feelings, opportunities; that all we have to do is take time to look. Even on the darkest of days, we are still surrounded by beauty. Frequently, for instance, winter’s foggy atmosphere or dusk makes our little housing development look like an impressionist painting. Even the plainest bird is stunningly beautiful when examined closely. Hearty weeds push their green shoots through darkened soil promising a greening spring. Our resident squirrel flaunts his amazing tail. A giant pine stands tall against a grey sky. I see beauty everywhere I look. Speak kindly. The tiny book of James, which is tucked into the back of the New Testament, has a lot to say about speaking kindly and/or thoughtlessly. What’s important is that it takes no more effort to be kind and thoughtful than it does to be cruel and demeaning, but the end results are radically different. One builds relationships and community while the other tears them down. Several articles in today’s paper were about the connection of friendly relationships with happiness and improved health. Why save our good moods and manners for social occasions but feel free to dump our bad moods and cutting remarks on family and close friends? Why not ”I love you” or “thank you?” instead of “you never…” or “you always…” We humans may be resilient, but we are also fragile. Some of our deepest wounds are the result of thoughtless remarks, while a compliment or “good job” can transform another’s life. Create joyfully. Writing these blogs gives me a sense of satisfaction, of contributing something in a small way. I have no illusions that my ramblings will change the world, but I find pleasure in writing. I get delight in feedback. Determined to find positivity reminds me to practice what I preach. Creating quilts from scraps and leftover fabric not only gives me a chance to create something beautiful, but it reminds me that we live in a world of abundance and it’s a matter of sharing and distribution, not scarcity, that’s the problem. Live thankfully. One of the first things I do each morning before I get up is lie in bed and tell God all of the things for which I am grateful. My bed. My sheets and blankets, A warm house. Clean clothing. Shoes and socks. Soap and water. Focusing on gratitude rather than on my fears and concerns helps to set the tone for my day. When I feel down, I remind myself that gratitude is a choice. I choose to be grateful because it helps me stay healthy and happy. Shine brightly. That is: see beauty. Speak kindly. Create joyfully. Live gratefully. Shining brightly is so much easier on everyone than being grumpy and negative. After all, it all depends on what we choose to see and hear, where we put our emphasis, how we choose to react, and whether we want to be friendly and happy. As Henri Nouwen once wrote, “the discipline of gratitude is the explicit effort to acknowledge that all I am and all I have is given to me as a gift of love, a gift to be celebrated with joy.” And it’s meant to be passed on!
“Modern American culture is fairly empty of any suggestions that one’s relationship with the land, to consumption and food, is a religious matter. But it’s true; the decision to attend to the health of one’s habitat and food chain is a spiritual choice. It’s also a political choice, a scientific one, a personal and a convivial one. It’s not a choice between living in the country or town. It is about understanding that every one of us, at the level of our cells and respiration lives in the country and is thus obliged to be mindful of the distance between ourselves and our sustenance.” Barbara Kingsolver It’s easy to get detached from the land, to be oblivious to the intimate connection we have with our environment, especially if we live in areas devoid of trees, plants, animals, and green zones. It’s far too easy to operate as if our food, clothing, and life necessities come from factories and stores, overlooking the fact that everything we have and use has its source in the land; that our very existence is totally dependent on our environment. One of the underlying principles of the 12-step program is self-care; learning how to nurture ourselves, adopting healthy practices such as eating better and exercising, along with developing conscious contacts with the God of our understanding. What better way to care for ourselves and our loved ones than to care for our precious planet, the source of all goodness and opportunity? What makes us think we can flourish when our water, land, and air are poisoned and polluted? Having had the good fortune to grow up in a country village and then move into an old stone farmhouse surrounded by apple orchards and wooded areas, I’ve always felt a deep connection to the land. My dad took us birding and wild flowering when I was a kid. One of my earliest chores was helping in the garden. What excitement when tiny seedlings pushed their noses up through the ground. And, oh, the joy of going out to the garden and picking enough beans or corn or tomatoes for our evening meal! I spent long hot summer hours canning and freezing our garden’s abundance, knowing there would be food for the winter. In time, I resolved my discomfort with eating meat by adopting the Native American approach to killing an animal for food; humbly thanking the animal for giving up its life that we may live. How sad when we simply take our daily bread for granted. One of the things I appreciate about Barbara Kingsolver’s books is that she doesn’t approach religious experiences as being rooted in a church, doctrines, or liturgy, but in our connection to the land, air, water, food, and each other as the ground of our being. So how can we be environmentally friendly when preparing and eating our meals? Here are several suggestions. Serve simple meals. Buy locally-produced food. Observe the seasons of the year. Be creative with leftovers. As my mother used to say, “waste not, want not.”
Looking to fulfill that “get more exercise” resolution? The Physical Fitness Task Force of Healthy Adams County has announced two fully-guided hikes for January. The first is Thursday morning, January 12th, at 9:30 A.M. at Camp Nawakwa, 1033 Nawakwa Rd, Biglerville, located northwest of Arendtsville. “This three-mile hike will be a bit more exploratory than usual. “We have not walked these trails before,” says hike organizer Betsy Meyer. “So there may be a bit of “trail finding.” Also, the camp does not remove downed trees in the winter, “so we will bring our clippers just in case. But, the scenery is beautiful, and the air will be crisp and fresh.” Further details on this hike and the next hike, planned for January 15, can be found at the Connection’s Events Calendar. Looking for an event? Got one you’d like to share? Find it or share it in the Events Calendar.
Christina Mair, University of Pittsburgh This month, millions of Americans are taking part in “Dry January” in an effort to forgo alcohol for a month and cleanse themselves of the excesses of the holiday season. Alcohol is the most widely used drug in the world, including in the U.S. In 2020, nearly 70% of people ages 18 and older in the U.S. said they had consumed an alcoholic drink in the previous year, according to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health. Additionally, 24% of people reported binge drinking – defined for women as four or more drinks per occasion and five or more drinks per occasion for men – in the previous month. The COVID-19 pandemic brought with it important changes in alcohol consumption. One nationally representative sample found that while the number of people who reported drinking in the past year remained consistent from 2019 to 2021, the number of people consuming alcohol every day increased from 6.3% to 9.6%. Partially because alcohol is such a commonly used substance, heavily marketed and glamorized in pop culture, Americans’ comfort with and acceptance of its use in everyday life is remarkably high. But should it be? I research alcohol use and the associations between drinking and a wide range of problems. While the rising opioid epidemic has received a lot of attention in recent years, the number of deaths attributable to alcohol each year is on par with the overall number of annual deaths from drug overdose, with both increasing rapidly in the past few years. https://www.youtube.com/embed/2v7W64rmtqQ?wmode=transparent&start=0 Having even one drink a day can have a negative effect on your health. What about moderate drinking? In the past two decades, the idea that moderate drinking may actually confer health benefits has taken hold, backed up by some preliminary and limited evidence. This led to the broad notion in the popular media that a glass of red wine a day reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease and diabetes. But there was one major flaw in many of the studies used to back up the claim that a glass of red wine is good for health. They compared those who drink at moderate levels to people who consume no alcohol whatsoever, rather than comparing those who drink heavily versus at lower levels. There are many reasons why people who drink at moderate levels may be fundamentally different – and healthier – than those who do not drink at all. For example, many people who develop new illnesses unrelated to their alcohol use quit drinking, making the group of alcohol abstainers appear less healthy than those who consume alcohol at low or moderate levels. In 2018, the National Institutes of Health initiated a large randomized control trial – the gold standard for understanding causal relationships – to look into the benefits of moderate drinking. That trial was designed to pick up the heart benefits of consuming one drink a day, but was not going to be able to detect the negative consequences of moderate alcohol use, such as increases in breast cancer. Because of its inability to pick up on known alcohol-related harms and concerns that the study was co-funded by the alcohol industry, the trial was halted after a few months https://www.youtube.com/embed/GySPkogSYLg?wmode=transparent&start=0 A landmark 2022 study found that even low levels of alcohol consumption can be dangerous. Alcohol’s link to cancer and other harms Thanks to lobbying by the powerful alcohol industry, alcohol’s dangers may be underplayed and its benefits exaggerated. There are many well-established problems with drinking even at moderate levels that likely outweigh any potential benefits. Alcohol is the third-leading cause of premature death in the U.S. and one of the leading modifiable causes of death worldwide, while receiving some of the least media and policy attention. Worryingly, the number of deaths attributed to alcohol increased by 25% between 2019 and 2020 – a faster rate of increase than for the percentage increase in all deaths – 17% – in the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic. These rates increased most rapidly among people ages 25 to 44. The lifetime prevalence of alcohol use disorder – defined as an impaired ability to stop or control alcohol use despite adverse social, occupational or health consequences – is nearly 30%. In other words, nearly a third of the population has been severely impacted by their drinking at some point in their lifetime. Alcohol use, even at low levels, is linked to a number of cancers, including breast, colorectal, liver and esophagus. Alcohol contributes to approximately 75,000 cancer cases and 19,000 cancer deaths per year. Furthermore, a recent study found that more than 50% of adults in the U.S. are unaware of the cancer-related risks of alcohol consumption. Alcohol also causes a number of serious harms to others, many of them violence-related. These include increased risk of child maltreatment, physical abuse, intimate partner violence, sexual assaults and gun violence. Alcohol-involved traffic fatalities in the U.S. – after several decades of decreasing – ticked up by 14% to 11,654 in 2020. Disparities in alcohol-related consequences The effects of alcohol are not felt equally by all: The most vulnerable among us suffer the greatest consequences. In the U.S., Black and Latino people who drink experience a greater number of social consequences from drinking than white people who drink, particularly among groups who consume alcohol at low levels. These consequences include arguments or fights, accidents and workplace, legal and health problems. In addition, studies show that adolescents who report minority sexual orientation tend to start drinking at younger ages and continue to binge drink more frequently as adults. These differences in alcohol-related problems at the same level of alcohol consumption contribute to disparities in many other health outcomes for these populations. Raising taxes and drinking age could offset harms There are a number of things the U.S. could do to reduce the burden of alcohol consumption through public policy. One proven effective policy includes increasing alcohol excise taxes, which are selective sales taxes on the purchase of alcohol. Other policies that have been shown to be effective include restrictions on the number of stores that sell alcohol, restrictions on hours of sale and increases in the minimum legal drinking age from 18 to 21. While the current minimum drinking age in the U.S. is 21, prior to 1984 the minimum drinking age varied from state to state, with some states allowing drinking as early as age 18. While the alcohol industry often stands against many of these policies and regulations, they are relatively easy to implement. Despite this, in the U.S., alcohol control policies have been in decline over the past several decades, with many states moving to privatize alcohol sales – in direct opposition to what experts know can reduce alcohol-related harms. Privitization, which removes state monopolies on alcohol sales, greatly increases per capita alcohol sales and consumption. Although alcohol plays a pivotal role in American culture, in my view the undisputed consequences of drinking make it unwise to recommend alcohol as a path to better health and well-being. As I see it, the small reductions in cardiovascular disease that are questionably linked to low levels of consumption are hardly offset by the sizable harms of alcohol on individual and population health. This is an updated version of an article originally published on July 9, 2018. Christina Mair, Associate Professor of Behavioral and Community Health Sciences, University of Pittsburgh This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.
Somehow a year has flashed by, reminding me of a story in which a great king challenged his subjects to create works of art depicting their ideas of peace. Paintings flowed into the castle. Beautiful pastoral scenes. Pictures of smiling babies, children playing. Grazing animals, flowing streams, fields of flowers. Yet the picture that spoke of peace to the King was a painting of a raging storm dumping torrents of wind and rain on a rushing waterfall and boiling rapids. In one corner of the painting there was a fragile tree branch almost hidden behind some rocks, On the branch was a bird nest and in the nest a rain soaked mother bird sat protecting her eggs. Peace is not the absence of conflict, the King told his people. Peace comes from within, from daring to accept life on it’s own terms, then letting go of fear and facing what is with quiet confidence and gratitude. Instead of making New Year’s resolutions I invite you to join me in praying The Serenity Prayer at least once a day, for the next year. The Serenity Prayer covers anything we need to be happy and content, I find. By praying it over and over again, day after day, it will slowly move from your head into your heart where it will transform your way of thinking and being. I know, for that prayer has helped me embrace some of life’s most difficult challenges and find a way to face life’s challenges with greater peace of mind. The Serenity Prayer is the best summation of Jesus’ teachings I’ve ever found. It starts out with “ God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, The courage to change the things I can, And the wisdom to know the difference.” Fortunately it doesn’t end there. Instead it is followed by a beautiful summary of the Sermon on the Mount and Jesus’ how to live and thrive in this world: Living one day at a time Enjoying one moment at a time Accepting hardship as the pathway to peace Taking as he did, this sinful world as it is, not as I would have it Trusting that he will make all things right if I surrender to His will So that I may be reasonably happy in this life And supremely happy with him forever in the next #Serenity Prayer
With winter’s dark stay-inside days, I’ve been reading feel-good books and watching Christmas movies. There is absolutely nothing wrong with escaping into once-upon-a-time and what-if moments. That’s part of self-care. Besides, it’s the rare book or movie that doesn’t have some insight tucked inside the story. That happened with Richard Paul Evans’ Finding Noel when several quotes caught my attention. “Oftentimes the greatest hurts of our lives come from running from the smaller ones.” and “Usually life’s greatest gifts come wrapped in adversity.” How true. Most of us are really good at avoiding something we don’t want to face. That’s called denial. We can hang on to a well-entrenched resentment in spite of the fact that everyone would profit from addressing the issue before it has a chance to balloon. Many of us grew up in families that avoided difficult subjects and rarely talked about feelings. If there was anger and abuse, we learned to avoid conflict, even when avoidance just made matters worse. Besides, when we find ourselves enmeshed in difficult situations and family drama, avoiding further complications by bringing up past hurts seems to make sense in that moment. However, assumptions make an ass out of you and me, while expectations become resentments waiting to happen. It’s so easy to assume we have inadequate information when we may have only heard a fragment of what was said. And what about the times when a comment or incident triggers a negative response causing us to stop listening or interpret the other’s action or remark in a specific way? Or we act on incomplete information setting a whole spiral of miscommunication into being? Sometimes the greatest hurts come from avoiding the smaller ones. I agree that “usually, life’s greatest gifts come wrapped in adversity.” It wasn’t until my father died that I developed a warm, loving relationship with my mother. Our family addictions motivated us to seek help from the12 step program. Health concerns motivated us to eat better and exercise more. Having family caught up in the justice system not only made us less judgmental and more accepting, but it also taught us to look for the best in others, recognizing that we are all more than the worst thing we’ve ever done. All of this brings us back to gratitude. We all have far more choices in how to respond to situations than we realize. Yes, life is what happens when we aren’t paying attention, but once we get jarred awake, we get to choose how to respond. We can choose to be grateful for the ways life challenges help us grow. We can choose to look for the positives that are hidden in the negatives. We can choose to be thankful for the many ways adversity brings us closer to others. As we move into the new year, let’s try to remember that “Often times the greatest hurts of our lives come from running from the smaller ones.” and “Usually life’s greatest gifts come wrapped in adversity.” The Apostle Paul put it this way, “In all things, give thanks.” Joyce Shutt is the author of Steps to Hope and is a veteran 12 stepper
Attitudes, it’s been said, are simply deeply entrenched habits of thought. The good news is: we can change our habits and thoughts, The downside of recognizing that attitudes and feelings are no more than habits is that changing our habits and thought patterns is hard work and takes time. A long time. As Paul Myer said, “ An action repeated becomes an attitude realized.” We unconsciously adapt our attitudes to complement our behavior. In seminary, one of my professors kept reminding us that as pastors what we do will be far more important than what we say, or, as my husband would tell our children, “your actions speak so loudly I can’t hear your words.” Recognizing our thoughts as simply mental habits is both positive and negative. The good news is: we need not remain trapped in our dysfunctional habits and thought patterns. We can change. The bad news is: changing our thoughts and habitual responses requires a long-term commitment. Like a lifetime! But there is help, such as affirmations and sentence prayers, what Henri Nouwen called “prayers of the heart.” He wrote at length about the efficacy of simply repeating a short affirmation or prayer until it moves from your head into your heart. You don’t really have to think about what you’re saying or try to feel differently, he wrote. You just have to repeat the same words, such as “thy will, not my will” over and over and over. As we repeat those words, “thy will, not my will” as we mow the yard, wait for the light to change, commute to work, load the dishwasher, etc., we are reprogramming our brains. There are many positive affirmations that we can use to help us think healthy thoughts. .Our pastor says her favorite affirmation when she faces difficult people and situations is “bless them, change me. Several rehab centers tell their clients to repeat out loud “I am a beautiful, worthwhile person” each time they go through a doorway. Another effective way to avoid saying the wrong thing at inappropriate times is by counting to ten before blowing your top or spewing a volley of cuss words. I’ve blogged in the past about power being the absence of obstacles. That’s why knowledge can be so powerful. The more we know about something, the more choices and options we have. Over the years I have found that working the 12 steps has removed many obstacles for me. The more I focus on changing myself and my responses, the better I feel, not just about myself, but others and the world. Joyce Shutt is the author of Steps to Hope and is a veteran 12 stepper #habits
Adams County Physical Task Force suggests you take a hike I love the New Year. A clean calendar, cards, and notes from people you only hear from once a year, protein shakes go on sale, and of course, resolutions. There is no need to fret about a GET HEALTHY resolution; the Adams County Physical Fitness Task Force has it all planned for you. So fill up your calendar with our schedule. Get out, experience comradery, and start your year with a hike. Hike your way to better health with Winter Fitness Hikes! These fully guided hikes are open to beginner and seasoned hikers; we will take breaks as necessary and maintain a moderate group pace. Wear sturdy hiking shoes and bring water. Walks are held rain or shine. In case of severe weather, please check www.facebook.com/healthyadamscounty . Winter Hikes, 2023 SATURDAY, Dec 17th 1:30 PM, 2 to 3.5 miles each. Elizabeth DiNunzio Trail at Mount St Mary’s with an optional walk to the Grotto. Meet at the intersection of Parking Lots A and B by the Athletic Center, 16300 Emmitsburg Rd, Emmitsburg, MD. The trail is relatively flat and is constructed of either gravel or sidewalk. Add on an optional walk to the Grotto, Easy. SUNDAY, Jan 15th, 1:45 PM, Indian Lookout, St Mary’s Cemetery, Emmitsburg, MD 2.5 miles. Start from the parking lot for the Grotto and cemetery. This is a more challenging hike due to some steep hills at the start and rocky terrain. An alternative is to do the walk through the Grotto, which is very lovely. SATURDAY, Feb 4th 1:30 PM. Caledonia State Park Ramble Trail 2.3 miles. Park in Lot 2. Ramble trail follows the millrace of an old rolling mill. It passes through one of the oldest white pine plantations in PA and is a great place to see woodland birds and easy hiking. OR opt to climb up the AT – moderate/hard. There will be a leader for both hikes. SUNDAY, Feb 19th, 1:30 PM. Gettysburg Nat’l Military Park Amphitheater, 2 miles. Park at the GNMP amphitheater on W. Confederate Avenue. Walk/hike on both the equestrian trail and Confederate Ave. Rated easy and can be extended if desired. SUNDAY, Mar 26, 1:30 PM Heritage Trail/AT to Chimney Rocks – starting from Old Forge Picnic Grounds, 5 miles. Park in the picnic area, 8006 Old Forge Rd, Waynesboro, PA. The hike is on the Appalachian Trail& the Heritage Trail, which is uphill to Chimney Rocks. The views are great, including a lot of Michaux State Forest and the Waynesboro Reservoir. The hike returns to the parking lot via the AT. This is a moderately strenuous hike with 1000 feet of elevation gain over the first 2 miles; we will take breaks but do expect to be challenged. Ruthmary McIlhenny is a member of the Healthy Adams County Physical Fitness Task Force that meets on the second Friday of each month at 11:45 via zoom. For information, call 717-337-4137. See the event posts on Facebook (www.facebook.com/healthyadamscounty) for more information.
I’ve had an excellent companion these past few nights when sleep eluded me. Lousie Penny’s latest novel, The World of Curiosities. I am so grateful I am still able to read, as books have been my companion since first learning to read. When I am down, a feel-good book can help me rediscover the beauty in life. When I am confused, books often help me find answers, however incomplete. When I am sad, books provide comfort. When I am lonely, I can get lost in a good read. Books educate, inspire, nudge, provide escape…. I am always amazed at the way some authors are able to come up with complex plots, fascinating characters, flowing dialogue, and amazing descriptions. Many books are silly and merely scratch the surface, but the truly “good” book digs deep into the human psyche and unveils our hidden questions and traumas. This is not the kind of writing I do. Mine tends to be prosaic and to the point. There are educational and theological books, meditational books, and gratitude journals that help us struggle with ourselves and issues difficult to understand. But there are those exceptional books that address the most complex issues of human experience by telling a riveting story that forces us to dig deep inside, to confront the best and worst of human experience, giving us much-needed insights into ourselves and others. I revel in such books. Louise Penny has yet to disappoint me, given she deals with such dark issues, diabolic characters, in stories where the presence of evil is revealed in everyday settings among everyday people. Yet she manages to do so in a way that not only makes us confront the worst in humanity, but also the best. In the midst of pain and suffering, she shines the light of hope and goodness without being cloying or unrealistic. In this latest book, The Book of Curiosities, she has Inspector Gamache quote a poem by the mad poet Ruth. “Evil is unspectacular, and always human and shares our bed and eats at our table. And we are introduced to goodness every day Even in drawing rooms among a crowd of Faults.” How very true. We are all such a blending of good and bad, clarity and confusion, selfishness and generosity. We can go an entire liftetime without being exposed to evil as in the holocaust, but it is there in everyday insensitivities and selfishness. Evil generally is unspectacular and commonplace, numbing us to horrific wrongs, such as racism, sexism, and the other isms that hurt and demean people. Those kinds of evils are so, so much a part of life we simply stop seeing what is happening. We can slide into negative behaviors without noticing, just as we can just as unthinkingly touch another’s broken heart and perform acts of kindness and great love because that is also who we are. We are hosts to both angels and demons as we struggle to understand and forgive our brokenness. In the end, the issue isn’t denying the truth of our ambivalence but deciding which aspect of our complex stories, challenges, and personalities we daily choose to develop. As Joshua says at one point (I think in the book of Judges) “as for me and my house, we choose to serve the Lord.” Joyce Shutt is the author of Steps to Hope and is a veteran 12 stepper
Perhaps it’s because we are approaching the shortest day of the year, but the evenings seem excessively long and lonely. While I am discovering many advantages to living alone, the house sometimes feels achingly empty. I miss him. God, but I miss him. However, instead of focusing on what’s no more, I am determined to meet the challenge of this new life I’ve been given, praying only for the serenity to accept the things I can’t change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference. It’s been said that “Beautiful light is born of darkness, so the faith that is born from conflict is often the strongest and best.” That sums up these past months. I, at least, learn best from dealing with conflict and stressful situations. Those of us who have lived long enough have discovered for ourselves that a truly nurturing faith doesn’t come from gaining power, prestige, or possessions. A faith born of suffering and challenge is a faith rooted from accepting the divine paradox: it is by losing that we win and by letting go that we receive. It took my husband’s dying to make me appreciate the truly good life we had. It is so easy to take something, someone for granted, It was the tough times, rubbing against his stubbornness, his all too frequent “no’s,” our family addictions and illness, that helped me develop a greater sense of self, the determination to pursue my path while respecting our family’s needs, that I was able to gain the awareness of what was truly important: loving and being loved. Looking back, the times of greatest friction and struggle were also the times of greatest growth and insight. Those were the times our combined determination to honor our marriage vows and each other motivated us to find ways to honor our differences and find better ways to meet our individual differences and needs. Ours was definitely not a fairy tale marriage. There were times of togetherness and times of anger and aching separateness. We were like two jagged stones having a mountain stream smooth away our rough edges. Looking back, I wouldn’t have it any other way. We learned so much from each other. We helped each other grow and face times of darkness. We discovered that love is more than romance. Beautiful light was born of our times of conflict, and the faith that helped him embrace his death and continues to sustain me, was the gift of our shared conflicts and challenges. Joyce Shutt is the author of Steps to Hope and is a veteran 12 stepper.
The new facilities for the Adams County Historical Society (ACHS) are approximately two-tenths of a mile north of the Borough of Gettysburg, and sidewalks along Carlisle Street end at the borough line. It is anticipated that many students from Gettysburg College and local residents will want to walk or ride a bicycle to the new facilities. Residents and visitors throughout Gettysburg may want to ride a bicycle to the facilities. However, there is no safe way to do this, and walking on the shoulder where the speed limit is 40 mph is not a viable option. Consequently, Healthy Adams Bicycle/Pedestrian, Inc. (HABPI) has taken the lead in an effort to create a safe, multiuse biking and walking path from the Borough of Gettysburg to the new ACHS facilities on Route 34 (Biglerville Road). Andrew Dalton from the ACHS is working with HABPI on this effort. A feasibility study for the best location and design of the trail is being conducted by C.S. Davidson, Inc., the borough engineering firm. The study is underway, and numerous meetings with stakeholders and major landowners nearby have been conducted. The trail study is being funded by grants from the Robert C. Hoffman Endowment Trust and the South Mountain Partnership, along with funds from HABPI, which is a nonprofit organization based in Adams County whose mission is to develop safe, accessible walking and bicycling trails and paths in Adams County. Once the feasibility study is completed, C.S. Davidson, Inc. will create a Trail Master Plan. This plan will analyze costs and considerations for at least two possible routes. The Master Plan will provide data that is needed to apply for grants to design and construct the trail. A public meeting will be conducted on Wednesday, December 7, starting at 5:30 p.m. in the Charlie Sterner Building at the Gettysburg Recreation park. The purpose of the meeting is to present the results of the feasibility study, discuss recommendations, and get public comment on the study and recommendations, especially from residents who live near the area for the proposed trail. Questions about the study and meeting can be emailed to – email@example.com.
Rachel Diamond, Adler University Preventable failures in U.S. maternal health care result in far too many pregnancy-related deaths. Each year, approximately 700 parents die from pregnancy and childbirth complications. As such, the U.S. maternal mortality rate is more than double that of most other developed countries. The Department of Health and Human Services declared maternal deaths a public health crisis in December 2020. Such calls to action by the U.S. Surgeon General are reserved for only the most serious of public health crises. In October 2022, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released new data gathered between 2017 and 2019 that further paints an alarming picture of maternal health in the U.S. The report concluded that a staggering 84% of pregnancy-related deaths are preventable. However, these numbers don’t even reflect how widespread this problem could be. At present, only 39 states have dedicated committees in place to review maternal deaths and determine whether they were preventable; of those, 36 states were included in the latest CDC data. I am a therapist and scholar specializing in mental health during the perinatal period, the time during pregnancy and postpartum. Research has long demonstrated significant mental health risks associated with pregnancy, childbirth and the year following childbirth. The CDC’s report now makes it clear that mental health conditions are an important factor in many of these preventable deaths. A closer look at the numbers The staggering number of preventable maternal deaths – 84% – from the CDC’s most recent report represents a 27% increase from the agency’s previous report, from 2008 to 2017. Of these pregnancy-related deaths, 22% occur during pregnancy, 13% during childbirth and 65% during the year following childbirth. This raises the obvious question: Why are so many preventable pregnancy-related deaths occurring in the U.S., and why is the number rising? For a pregnancy-related death to be categorized as preventable, a maternal mortality review committee must conclude there was some chance the death could have been avoided by at least one reasonable change related to the patient, community, provider, facility or systems of care. The most commonly identified factors in these preventable deaths have been those directly related to the patient or their support networks, followed next by providers and systems of care. While patient factors may be most frequently identified, they are often dependent on providers and systems of care. Take, for instance, the example of a new mother dying by suicide from a mental health condition, such as depression. Patient factors could include her lack of awareness about the warning signs of clinical depression, which she may have mistaken for difficulties with the transition to parenthood and perceived personal failures as a new parent. As is often the case, these factors would have directly related to the inaction of health care providers, such as a failure to screen for mental health concerns, delays in diagnosis and ineffective treatment. This type of breakdown – which is common – would have been made worse by poor coordination of care between providers across the health care system. This example illustrates the complexities of the failures and preventable outcomes in the maternal health care system. https://www.youtube.com/embed/ARNKVrWFDvc?wmode=transparent&start=0 The U.S. has a far higher rate of pregnancy-related deaths than other developed nations. The role of mental health In the CDC’s latest report, mental health conditions are the overall most frequent cause of pregnancy-related death. Approximately 23% of deaths are attributed to suicide, substance use disorder or are otherwise associated with a mental health condition. The next two leading causes are hemorrhage and cardiac conditions, which combined contribute to only slightly more deaths than mental health conditions, at about 14 and 13%, respectively. Research has long shown that 1 in 5 women suffer from mental health conditions during pregnancy and the postpartum period, and that this is also a time of increased risk for suicide. Yet, mental illness – namely, depression – is the most underdiagnosed obstetric complication in America. Despite some promising reductions in U.S. suicide rates in the general population over the last decade, maternal suicide has tripled during this same time period. As it relates to maternal substance use, this issue is also worsening. In recent years, almost all deaths from drug overdose during pregnancy and the postpartum period involved opioids. A review from 2007 to 2016 found that pregnancy-related deaths involving opioids more than doubled. Many of these issues stem from the fact that up to 80% of women with maternal mental health concerns are undiagnosed or untreated. Barriers to care In 2021, the first national data set of its kind showed that less than 20% of prenatal and postpartum patients were screened for depression. Only half of those who screened positive received follow-up care. Research has long demonstrated widespread barriers and gaps in maternal mental health care. Many health care providers do not screen for mental health concerns because they do not know where to refer a patient or how to treat the condition. In addition, only about 40% of new mothers even attend their postpartum visit to have the opportunity for detection. Non-attendance is more common among higher-risk populations of postpartum women, such as those who are socially and economically vulnerable and whose births are covered by Medicaid. Medicaid covers around 4 in 10 births. Through Medicaid benefits, pregnant women are covered for care related to pregnancy, birth and associated complications, but only up to 60 days postpartum. Not until 2021 did the American Rescue Plan Act begin extending Medicaid coverage up to one year postpartum. But as of November 2022, only 27 states have adopted the Medicaid extension. In the other states, new mothers lose postpartum coverage after just 60 days. This matters a great deal because low-income mothers are at a greater risk for postpartum depression, with reported rates as high as 40% to 60%. In addition, the recent CDC report showed that 30% of preventable pregnancy-related deaths happened between 43 and 365 days postpartum – which is also the time frame suicide most commonly occurs. Continued Medicaid expansion would reduce the number of uninsured new parents and rates of maternal mortality. Another challenging barrier to addressing maternal mental health is the criminalization of substance use during pregnancy. If seeking care exposes a pregnant person to the possibility of criminal or civil pentalties – including incarceration, involvement with child protective services and the prospect of separation from their baby – it will naturally dissuade them from seeking treatment. At this time, 24 states consider substance use during pregnancy to be child abuse, and 25 states require health care professionals to report suspected prenatal drug use. Likewise, there are also tremendous barriers in the postpartum period for mothers seeking substance use treatment, due in part to the lack of family-centered options. With all these barriers, many pregnant and new mothers may make the difficult decision to not engage in treatment during a critical window for intervention. Looking ahead While the information described above already paints a dire picture, the CDC data was collected prior to two major events: the COVID-19 pandemic and the fall of Roe v. Wade, which overturned nearly 50 years of abortion rights. Both of these events have exacerbated existing cracks in the health care system and, subsequently, worsened the maternal health in the U.S. In my view, without radical changes to maternal health care in the U.S., starting with how mental health is treated throughout pregnancy and postpartum, it’s likely parents will continue to die from causes that could otherwise be prevented. Rachel Diamond, Clinical Training DIrector and Assistant Professor of Couple and Family Therapy, Adler University This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.
According to the National Weather Service, the winter solstice, or the shortest day of the year, will be on Wednesday, December 21st. Other meteorologists will cite the first day of December as the first day of meteorologic winter. Either way, individuals who experience a seasonal pattern of depression already know that the days have become much shorter, and they are well into a bout of recurring depression popularly referred to as “Seasonal Affective Disorder” or SAD. Their symptoms of depression most likely began to increase in late September or early October, with the shortening of the days moving into autumn. What is depression affected by seasonal changes exactly, and what can be done to reduce its effect is important to know this time of year. Here is a deeper dive into this kind of depression. First, let’s be clear about what is clinical depression or Major Depressive Disorder. According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders 5 (DSM-5), the guide published by the American Psychiatric Association that therapists use to make a diagnosis, depression may be diagnosed if at least five symptoms have been present for a period of two consecutive weeks. Symptoms may include a down, depressed mood, a decrease of interest in previously enjoyable activities, feelings of worthlessness and guilt, along with problems sleeping that could be either too much sleep or an inability to sleep. Sometimes a depressed person may experience weight gain or weight loss as well. A very troubling symptom is recurrent thoughts of death. This last symptom is of great concern and highlights the seriousness of depression in general. The bottom line is that when major depression is present, there is significant impairment or distress. The second set of criteria to consider in determining if someone might be experiencing major depression begins with the lack of a medical condition or lack of substance abuse. Additionally, if the person has had a recent significant loss, such as the loss of a job or the death of a loved one. This would include seasonal loss of employment. It is also important to note the absence as well of ever having a period of very high energy, also called a manic episode. Some health conditions can mimic depression, so it is important to see your primary care provider to get a clear diagnosis. The final diagnostic feature for differentiating a seasonal depression pattern from clinical depression, therapists do not actually use the term “Seasonal Affective Disorder”, is that the depression has occurred over a period of two years with the symptoms subsiding or going away when the seasons change. Most often, the season pattern is over the winter months, with symptoms of depression going away when spring and summer arrive. However, sometimes it can also appear in summer for some individuals, and the depression is reduced with the beginning of autumn. To fully observe if there is a seasonal pattern to a person’s depression may require looking at a person’s whole life and not just the past year or two. Once it is certain that the diagnosis is major depression with a seasonal pattern, there are steps that can be taken to help reduce or manage the depression. Going to see the doctor is an important first step. Medications can help reduce the effects of depression for many people. Increasing exposure to light can also help. Light bulbs or a “lightbox” that mimics outdoor light used for a period of time daily throughout the winter months may cause changes in the brain that can assist in elevating the depressed mood. Of course, just getting outside when the weather permits and being physically active can also help. Seeking out a therapist who can assist in managing depression is also advised. Although it may be difficult, it is important to seek out activities that are positive and enjoyable. Working to build a positive lifestyle, including spending time with people you enjoy and getting routine exercise, are also basics to managing depression in general. Finally, once it is clear there is a reoccurring seasonal pattern to the depression, then plans can be made for how to cope with future bouts of depression by noting what does help and having a way to implement the plans when needed in future years. Whenever someone is depressed, the risk of suicide may increase. Help can be reached by going to any hospital emergency department or by calling the 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline. Margaret H. Swartz, PsyD is a Licensed Psychologist in private practice at Yorlan Psychological Associates. She is also an active member of the Healthy Adams County Behavioral Health Taskforce.
Sun streaming through the bedroom window called me awake this morning. Not ready to get up, I snuggled deeper into my bed and began listing all the little things welcoming me into this new day. The feel of crisp clean sheets. Sunshine. A warm bedroom. Being able to wiggle my toes. The luxury of rolling over in my bed. Comfortable clothes. Being able to walk to the bathroom. An indoor bathroom. Looking forward to my morning coffee. Life, I find, is made up of a myriad of little things. Over time, I’ve found that giving attention to minute details helps me focus on the bigger things, just as it’s the details that point to the central focus in a great painting. Coming in from my walk I brewed another cup of coffee and reached into the refrigerator for some left-overs for my breakfast. My living alone menu and routine has certainly shifted since he died. My breakfast is often left-overs while my evening meal may be two pieces of toast and an apple. Who says we have to eat certain things at certain times? The importance, I find, lies in appreciating my amazing luck in having any food at all. It’s been two days since we celebrated Thanksgiving. Cleaning up after the meal, we divided up the left-overs. What a blessing to have enough for several more meals. Perhaps it was feeling his loss so acutely on Thanksgiving evening, but I’ve become aware of all the little things that fill each day, just as they did when he was alive; those not so little little things that reassure me that life is still worth living, .such as being blessed with family, friends, adequate resources, my church community, activities and hobbies I enjoy doing, responsibilities that tie me to the larger community. Years of practicing gratitude are paying off now that I don’t have my partner to fill empty moments. It’s a rare day that I find the details of daily living meaningless. Heating water for a cup of tea, a few minutes ago, I found myself remembering Kitty Kallen’s once popular: “Blow me a kiss from across the room Say I look nice when I’m not Touch my hair as you pass my chair Little things mean a lot Give me your arm as we cross the street Call me at six on the dot A line a day when you’re far away Little things mean a lot Don’t have to buy me diamonds and pearls Champagne, sables and such I never cared much for diamonds and pearls But honestly honey, they just cost money Give me your hand when I’ve lost the way Give me your shoulder to cry on Whether the day is bright or gray give me your heart to rely on Send me the warmth of a secret smile To show me you haven’t forgot Now and forever, that always and ever Little things mean a lot.” Joyce Shutt is the author of Steps to Hope and is a veteran 12 stepper
I’ve been reading Erica Bauermeister’s delightful book, The Lost Art of Mixing. It’s not the greatest piece of literature ever written. The storyline is simple and uncomplicated, but her use of language and word pictures are heartwarming and vivid. The Lost Art of Mixing is one of those books that leaves you feeling hopeful about the future and people in general. It reminds us we can live happily within the confines of our brokenness as we come to know and love ourselves and others by sharing and listening to each other’s stories. I’m sure it doesn’t come as a surprise that I love words. Nothing brings me more pleasure than a well-written book. I can get lost in the dance of words, discussions in which big words shoot across my mind like stars lighting up the sky. I can get lost in descriptions so vivid I paint pictures in my mind. Words will sneak past my defenses, touching something so deep I find tears streaming down my cheeks. No matter how commonplace or exciting, everyone’s life is filled with unique and amazing stories. Nothing makes us feel more loved than having another welcome and affirm our stories. Far too often, life has made us feel as if our lives are not as exciting or interesting as others … which then causes us to negate our experiences and feelings. Yesterday’s birthday party was such a high for me primarily because we found ourselves telling stories about how we met our husbands, how we host family gatherings, how we feel about growing old. Just by sharing our stories, invisible walls crumbled, and we experienced a new closeness. It no longer mattered that we didn’t go to the same church, voted for the same political candidates, or had the same life experiences. We were joined by common threads in our stories. My sister-in-law said her children gave her a long list of questions related to her growing up, family history, world events, etc. They asked her to write down her responses to one question each week. She is finding joy in remembering and sharing her stories with her children and grandchildren. She is finding comfort in, knowing they will better understand who she is and was through her stories which will not just give them a historical and emotional record of their family history but it is helping her know and better understand herself. Joyce Shutt is the author of Steps to Hope and is a veteran 12 stepper.
Healthy Adams Bicycle/Pedestrian, Inc. (HABPI) has taken the lead in an effort to create a safe, multiuse biking and walking path from the Borough of Gettysburg to the new Adams County Historical Society Facilities on Route 34 (Biglerville Road). A feasibility study for the best location and design of the trail is being conducted by C.S. Davidson, Inc., the borough engineering firm. The study is underway with numerous meetings with major landowners. Once the possible route locations have been narrowed, a public meeting will be held to get public input, especially from nearby homeowners. The trail study is being funded by a grant from the Robert C. Hoffman Endowment Trust. Once the study is completed, C.S. Davidson, Inc. will create a Trail Master Plan. This plan will analyze costs and considerations for at least two possible routes. The Master Plan will provide data that is needed to apply for grants to design and construct the trail. The cost of the Master Plan is being paid by HABPI and a matching grant from the South Mountain Partnership (SMP). HABPI is a nonprofit organization based in Adams County whose mission is to develop safe, accessible walking and bicycling trails and paths in Adams County. The photo below shows the awarding of the SMP grant. L to R: Julia Chain, South Mountain Partnership Program Manager; Sarah Kipp, HABPI VP; Tom Jolin, HABPI Board Member; Cindy Adams Dunn, Secretary of PA DCNR.
The older I get, the more grateful I become. The other night our little CoDa group worked on the 11th step. “Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood God, praying only for God’s will for our lives and the courage to carry that out.” When I was younger, my prayers were mostly gimme prayers. I thought that Jesus’ “whatever you ask for in my name,” meant I was supposed to tell God what I wanted and needed to be happy and fulfilled. World peace, for instance, or being accepted in the college of my choice or making the kids be more obedient. With the passage of time and years in the program, I’ve come to understand that praying for God’s will for my life means letting go of the kite strings. Nor does “God’s will” imply I will live happily ever or that bad things won’t happen to me. God’s will for our lives, I believe, means that we will find the inner resources we need to deal with what is happening, be that good or challenging. It is experiencing gratitude and joy in the midst of pain and suffering. It’s learning how to love rather than hate. Life happens. My husband died. My friend’s house burned down. We both were battered and broken by our traumas, but it’s precisely because my husband died and her house burned down that we discovered each other as walking partners. And, because we walk together each morning, we’re able to appreciate and share the beauty of our village and rural surroundings. We’ve learned to encourage each other and experience the joy of a deepening friendship. It’s stepping back so that someone else can flourish. It is being grateful in and for all things. At this stage of my life, I see gratitude and resurrection as Siamese twins. I don’t understand resurrection as so much about life after death, though it may be. Resurrection, for me, is the assurance that in spite of how it feels, there are no real endings, only beginnings; that pain is the prelude to joy; that death and rebirth is the essence of life. Yes, I still find letting go to be a struggle. My letting go is never a once-and-done, I find, but when I can finally let go of this or that piece, I always discover something new and beautiful taking its place. I would give anything to have my husband back. I miss him and the life we shared. His absence leaves a big hole, but as I am able to say, “thy will be done” each day brings me something new and beautiful…not to replace him, but to enhance this new stage of my journey. Yesterday, for example, I noticed a budding cyclamen peeping out from under a frost-killed plant. I quickly repotted it and brought it inside. Today, an exceptionally dark and dreary November day, that little plant is smiling at me, filling me with gratitude’s sunshine.
After trotting on their own for two years, Spirit Trust Lutheran – The Village At Gettysburg – is opening its Turkey Trot to the community again this year. On Saturday, November 19th, they will host a 5k “race” at 8:30 a.m, followed by a “waddle” at 9:00 am for those who just want to get out for a walk that morning. Please bring shelf-stable food to be donated to local pantries as your entry fee. Strollers and dogs on a leash are fine. Spirit Trust residents and team members, please sign up at the receptionist; community members, please email your name, phone number, and preferred email address in case of cancellation. Prized will be awarded to the first-place male and female runners, and door prizes will be awarded from all entries and posted prior to the beginning of the “waddle.”
I’m still pondering the who or whose “I am” question. Descartes said, “I think, therefore, I am.” I have no idea what that means. To be truthful, I can drive myself nuts asking questions such as, “who am I?” There are many ways to describe myself. I am female. I am a widow. I am the mother of four amazing kids. I am a retired pastor. I am white. I am American. I am Mennonite. I am the writer of this blog. I am, I am, I am, all of which tell me things about myself but not who I am or whose I am. Politicians tend to define people by political affiliation, race, educational level, urban, rural, white or blue collar, conservative or liberal, ethnicity, religion, legal or illegal, etc.. Businesses see us as consumers whose value lies in our ability to buy their products. But again, consuming is something we do, not who we are. It is also our consumer society that defines individuals as successes or failures, determined by our buying power, prestige, and possessions. One of my seminary professors challenged us to know ourselves by looking at the people with whom we associate, love, and share our values. The key to discovering who we are, he said, comes as we fill in the blanks to the statement: “I am the one who is loved by…..” “I am the one who is loved by…..” I do know I have this tendency to overthink everything. I can take something fairly simple and turn it into something complicated instead of accepting what is and going from there. In the end, the closest I can come to an answer that satisfies me is; “ I am a beloved child of God.” But then I have no idea what that means as I have no idea who or what God is, if God even is. But then, maybe I don’t have to know who I am or who or what God is. Perhaps it’s enough to accept that I am, that there are Powers so much greater than we can envision or comprehend. Maybe it’s enough to accept that life is complicated and mysterious and being able to love and be loved is an amazing gift. I look out the window. White clouds drift lazily across a brilliant blue skyscape. Red and yellow leaves drift lazily to the ground, their dying beauty so intense I find myself holding my breath in awe. Does it even matter who I think I am or who I understand myself being connected to? What if it’s enough to simply be aware in this present moment, able to drink in the miracle and majesty of what is, grateful for this amazing thing we call life. Joyce Shutt is the author of Steps to Hope and is a veteran 12 stepper.
Mary Davis has a simple formula for dynamic living. “Shine brightly. See beauty. Speak kindly. Create joyfully. Live thankfully.” If there ever was a time when there are good reasons for unhappiness and despair, it is now. Yet, precisely because these are challenging times, it is vitally important we implement Mary Davis’s suggestions. Negative thinking just makes whatever is wrong seem that much worse. Looking for the hidden strengths and opportunities in difficult times helps restore clarity and reveals better ways to respond. As I’ve often shared, living thankfully is a choice. It doesn’t just fall from the skies. We have to be very deliberate in developing the habit of gratitude. See beauty, Mary Davis tells us. The sun is shining. Birds gobble bread crumbs at the feeder. A fat squirrel runs across the driveway. A painting by Leslie Varella graces the wall across from my blogging chair. Sun shines through several stained glass art pieces created by our daughter. House plants cluster in front of the windows. I see beauty everywhere I look. Speak kindly. We too often save our good manners for friends and strangers and thoughtlessly dump our bad moods, criticism, and cutting remarks on family. It is easy to take our loved ones for granted and assume they know we love them, while rarely telling them ”I love you” or saying “thank you” for doing the dishes or taking out the garbage. We humans are fragile beings and easily wounded. A thoughtless remark can fester for years. But, we can change. We can do better. It takes time and a lot of starting over, but we can do it. Create joyfully. Writing these blogs gives me a sense of satisfaction, of contributing to the betterment of the world in a small way. My blogs become prayers for me, reminding me to do justice, love mercy and walk humbly. Making quilts and comforters for Project Linus, the homeless, friends, and strangers is also deeply satisfying. The process of creating something lovely has this way of opening me to life. Live thankfully. One of the first things I do each morning is write three things for which I am grateful in my gratitude journal. Focusing on gratitude, rather than my fears and concerns, helps to set the tone for my day. When I tire of being positive, I remind myself that scientists claim a consistent practice of gratitude can be just as effective in treating depression as medication. I’m not sure why Mary Davis started her list with “shine brightly.” To me shining brightly is the end result of seeing beauty, speaking kindly, creating joyfully, and living thankfully. For me, shining brightly means treating others with respect and dignity, refraining from judging, looking for ways to bring out the best in myself and others. As Henri Nouwen once wrote, “the discipline of gratitude is the explicit effort to acknowledge that all I am and have is given to me as a gift of love, a gift to be celebrated with joy.” Joyce Shutt isthe author of STeps to Hope and is a veteran 12 stepper #gratitude
John 1 opens with, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. Through him were all things made that were made, and the Word was the source of life, and this source brought light to all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has never put it out.” As I sat with my open Bible, I hope filled those few words. No matter what we humans do, and we do some terrible things, we will never be able to snuff out the light that shines in the darkness. That’s when I noticed a scribbled note I had written along the margin ….a note from years ago when I was in Seminary. “The Greek word ‘logos’ can be translated as ‘World Soul.’ Vast. Mysterious. Comprehensive. There it is, the Word I need to hear, The Light shining through my emotional and spiritual darkness, my fears about where our world is heading. In all and of all. World Soul. I turned back to my Bible and reread those familiar lines while substituting those two words that change everything; World Soul for Word. I often wonder what nuances of meaning we have lost over the years. Times change. Word meanings alter. New technologies and information transform our understanding. Lifestyles and cultures are vastly different. We read Scripture through 21st-century eyes, not through the eyes of days long past. There is no way we can begin to comprehend what the Scriptures meant to folks over 2,000 years ago. Now, with the advent of the scientific age, we have become more literal, less able to think metaphorically, allegorically. Reflecting on what all might be encompassed in the concept of World Soul, I felt hope spreading throughout my body. I reread John 1 through a blur of tears, “In the beginning was World Soul, and World Soul was with God and World Soul was God. Through World Soul were all things made that were made. World Soul was the source of life and World Soul brought light to all mankind. World Soul shines in the darkness and the darkness has never put World soul out.” Oh, how I need to believe there is something as profound as World Soul. With so much partisanship, , and rancor tearing our precious world apart, we need to find that something that draws us together. One of the reasons I appreciate The Chronicles of Narnia and many other fantasy books is the way authors give trees and plants and animals souls, life-influencing souls…something many of us sense in our pets. World Soul. We are World Soul, not part of World Soul. Perhaps that is the underlying message of the concept of Trinity. No separation. No divisions. Everything is a part of everything. One and the same. No better or worse. No privileged races. No national boundaries. World Soul as the vast Cosmos. World Soul as Creation. World Soul as Life. World Soul; Light in the darkness, Light the darkness can never put out. Amen and amen. Joyce Shutt is the author of Steps to Hope and is a veteran 12 stepper
At our CoDa meeting, last night, we talked about the 10th step. That’s the step in which we take time each day to review our successes and our failures. Unfortunately, most of us have been programmed to focus on our failures rather than our successes. We’ve learned how to blame and shame ourselves when we stumble while downplaying our successes. That’s why keeping a gratitude journal is so important for many of us. There is something about writing things down that makes them more real. No matter how bad things may get, there will always be something for which we can be grateful, even if it is being inside on a rainy day or having a drink of water. Gratitude, like anything else, increases the more we practice being grateful. I’ve often thought that Jesus’s “they who have eyes but cannot see” is referring to our lack of gratitude. We don’t have to wait to win the lottery before we practice gratitude! Becoming grateful for the little stuff is the whole point of practicing gratitude. That’s the underlying meaning behind “Give us this day our daily bread.” Jesus didn’t tell us to pray for unlimited riches and bread for our entire lifetime. He told us to be grateful for having just enough today. He encourages us to become ever more aware of just how many little things make up the tenor of our days. When we obsess on our problems, that’s all we see. When we practice gratitude, we become more and more aware of all the resources that are ours while, at the same time, no longer assuming life owes us anything. Everything, after all, is a gift. When we talk about living in the moment, we are talking about acknowledging all of the people and details that shape the foundation and backdrop of our lives. I simply can’t conceive of life without my family and friends.. Now that my husband is gone, I regret not having thanked him more often for the steady support he gave me. Every day, I thank both him and God that I am able to flourish today because of his faithfulness in the past. I haven’t turned on the heat yet, I am using less water, doing without new clothing, and eating simply, not because I am worried about money or feeling a need to sacrifice. I’ve decided to fast in this new way for me: by doing with less in many areas of my life. I find it too easy to ignore all of the seemingly little things that fill my days and make life comfortable. Getting up in a chilly house reminds me there are people without warm homes. Not letting the water run until it gets warm reminds me there are people who have no water at all. When I find myself grumbling because I don’t have the right outfit, I remind myself there are people who are lucky to have one change of clothing. Then instead of feeling deprived and unhappy, I feel blessed and grateful. The older I get, the more I understand The Apostle Paul’s injunction to be grateful in and for all things. Without gratitude, life is empty. We can be as pious as possible, attending prayer meetings and worship services, doing acts of penitence, and constantly depriving ourselves, but without gratitude, they fall flat and leave us empty and unsatisfied. Gratitude is the door to happiness. Gratitude is the root of contentment. Gratitude is serenity’s sister. When we are grateful, there is little room for self-pity or grumbling, for it’s gratitude that enables us to move into the pain that is so much a part of life to find God’s courage and grace awaiting us. It is gratitude that helps us learn the lessons life has to teach us. It is gratitude that transforms our failures into opportunities. It is gratitude that turns fear into faith, and hopelessness into hope. It is gratitude that transforms the finality of death into new life and new beginnings. And for that, I am deeply and profoundly grateful. Joyce Shutt is the author of Steps to Hope and is a veteran 12 stepper
Please join Healthy Adams County and Collaborating for Youth for a FREE screening of ‘The Upstanders’ created by indieflix/impactful films. The film can be streamed for free and there will also be a free showing followed by a panel discussion at the Gettysburg Majestic Theater on Nov. 11 at 7:00 p.m. The Upstanders’ explores cyber-bullying, bullying among friends, families, co-workers and the brain science behind it all. The film highlights new laws and programs already reducing bullying in schools and shows us how we can learn to make a difference together to create systemic change. Admission is free, but tickets are required. Ticket reservations available by phone at (717) 337-8200 or in person at the Majestic Theater Box Office, 25 Carlisle St., Gettysburg. You can also view the film virtually anytime between November 2nd to November 9th by going to the following link: https://watch.eventive.org/…/play/6318f23c8ca9be00b45d4b06 For questions please call 717-337-4137 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
There’s a phrase in the familiar version of the Lord’s Prayer that troubles me: “And lead us not into temptation.” How or why would a loving God deliberately lead us into temptation? It simply doesn’t make sense. In fact, the more I delve into theology and religious literature and the answers we humans have used to shape life and society, the less religious I become. I simply can’t give my allegiance to a God who plays favorites, picks and chooses winners and losers, is downright tyrannical, and a child abuser. The God of my understanding has given us everything we need to flourish and succeed. To quote Michah, “What does God require of you, O Man, but to do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly with your God.” We are the ones who create our own living hell by the selfish choices we make. Having said that, I still pray, though most often prayers of gratitude. The older I get, the deeper my faith, though, I no longer call myself a Christian. The church has become too legalistic, rigid, nationalistic, power hungry for me. Instead, I long to be a Jesus follower. Consequently, I am careful about how I pray and for what I pray. Something fell into place years ago when I began attending 12 step meetings, as I immediately resonated to the 11th step. “Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God, as we understand God, seeking only God’s will for our lives and the courage to carry that out.” I’ve never been able to accept the almost universal understanding of the cross as God demanding a human sacrifice to serve as punishment for man’s sin. The Cross makes more sense as the inevitable consequence of following Jesus’ example of non-violent problem solving and loving our enemies. As one of our banners at church reads, “Nobody said it would be easy.” Jim Lawson, one of the leaders of the Civil Rights Movement, phrased it well. “At the cross, Jesus spread out his arms and said, ‘Violence stops here.’ “ In the end refuting violence is what saves and transforms us as individuals and a society. That ‘s some of why I struggle with “lead us not into temptation.” God doesn’t need to place temptation in front of any of us. Life does a very good job of that all by itself. There are few moments in a day that we are not being pulled in a hundred different directions; self interest, power and control, hoarding resources and money, fear of suffering and pain, loving comfort and luxury, judging others, etc. These forces constantly pull us away from what we intuitively know is right and good…sharing with others, visiting the sick, caring for the prisoner, opening our homes, living with less, turning the other cheek… That’s why, when I pray the Lord’s Prayer, I say, “When we are tempted, deliver us from evil.” Years ago I discovered a translation and/or a paraphrase of the Sermon on the Mount which included the author’s version of the Lord’s Prayer: “O Birther! Father-Mother of the Cosmos, focus your light within us – make it useful. Create your reign of unity now – Your one desire then acts with ours, as in all light, so in all forms. Grant what we need each day in bread and insight. Loose the cords of mistakes binding us, as we release the strands we hold of others’ guilt. Don’t let surface things delude us, but free us from what holds us back. From you is born all ruling will, the power and the life to do, the song that beautifies all, from age to age it renews. Truly – power to these statements – may they be the ground from which all my actions grow. Amen “Don’t let surface things delude us, but free us from what holds Us back. Now that is a prayer I can pray easily and often. Joyce Shutt is the author of Steps to Hope and is a veteran 12 stepper #Step 11 #prayer
I have this intense urge to go upstairs and hide in my sewing room. It’s a dreary day, following a series of dreary days, and my get up and go never got up with me this morning. I’ve been feeling this way since our discussion on crime and punishment at church yesterday. I’m bothered by how easy it is to agree that we don’t have the right to judge others, when we all are making judgments about others all of the time. Like so much in life, it is so much easier to express lofty ideas than to act on them. Truth be told, I’m not sure how we avoid being judgmental as it is an almost automatic response, given we are limited by our own experiences and perceptions. I’ve been rereading C.S. Lewis’s The Chronicles of Narnia, great escape literature for anyone with a whimsical frame of mind. There’s a short vignette in Prince Caspian that snags me every time I read it. The children are lost in a dense forest and only Lucy, the youngest one, sees a glimpse of Aslan, the great lion and Christ figure, who beckons her to follow him up and over a cliff. When she tells the others she saw Aslan they don’t believe her and put her down. Afraid to strike out on her own she follows them even when it doesn’t feel good to her. Consequently, they not only lose a lot of precious time, they come to a dead end and have to backtrack. Of course, stories being stories, Aslan eventually appears to all of the children and Narnia is saved, but not before many are hurt and other painful things happen. Life could be so much easier for everyone, I suspect, if we learned to trust our gut instincts rather than giving in to our fears, or doing what’s expected or makes us more comfortable in the short run. Later when Lucy talks to Aslan, she wonders why might have happened if she’d followed him even if the others did not. Aslan’s responds with, “You can never know what might have been, my child. You can only learn what will be.” It’s our fears of what might be, of wanting guarantees, wanting to conform that keep us trapped in dysfunctional patterns and behaviors . We’re afraid to let go of the familiar, of losing what little sense of control we might have, even when it is painful and does not achieve desired results. It’s so much easier to blame others than to assume responsibility for our own choices and actions. We want what we want without taking any risks or experiencing any negative consequences. The older I get, the more convinced I become that following Jesus has little to do with holding correct beliefs, but, like Lucy, following Him into the scary unknown…the Serenity Prayer’s “hardship is the pathway to peace.”
A new cycle repair station has been installed in the Gettysburg rec park. The station allows cyclists to make minor repairs on their bikes and to pump up their tires. The station is located on the Biser trail near the parking area on S. Howard Ave. Funds for the station were raised by Healthy Adams Bicycle/Pedestrian, Inc. (HAPBI). HABPI board member Tom Jolin said the organization had successfully applied for funds to install the station from Saris Infrastructure, a corporation with offices in Madison WI, Ontario Canada, and the Netherlands. Saris kindly donated the complete system, which is valued at about $1,500. Jolin said HABPI donated little over $400 to the project, mainly for the concrete used in the installation. GARA and Gettysburg Borough donated the labor for the installation. “It was a nice community cooperative effort,” said Jolin.
The PA Health Dept. has opened at 225 S. Franklin St., Suite 2, in Gettysburg. For more information call 1-877-PAHEALTH (1-877-724-3258) or visit the website at www.health.pa.gov. The Pennsylvania Department of Health offers the following services: Immunizations for uninsured and underinsured adults Immunizations for children birth through 18 years of age who are: uninsured or underinsured; American Indian or Alaska Native; or enrolled in Medicaid COVID-19 vaccinations for all individuals 12 years of age and older Tuberculosis testing, treatment, and contact investigations Confidential testing and counseling for the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) Confidential testing, counseling, and treatment for sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) STD and HIV partner notification, referral, and treatment Communicable and vaccine-preventable disease investigations Reportable disease and outbreak investigations Animal bite and rabid animal investigations Case management of infants and children with elevated blood lead levels Case management of pregnant women who are positive for the hepatitis B virus and their babies Family education and blood testing of infants and children who have phenylketonuria (PKU) Educational presentations on: communicable and vaccine-preventable diseases, chronic diseases, Lyme disease, STD/HIV, immunizations, environmental health, public health preparedness, and a variety of other public health topics Educational presentations for pharmacists, healthcare providers, and the community on the opioid epidemic and naloxone standing order Technical support for school nurses Client referral to other state and local resources depending on need For more information call 1-877-PAHEALTH (1-877-724-3258) or visit the website at www.health.pa.gov
The 2022 Gettysburg Heritage Festival on to be held on Sep. 18 in the Gettysburg rec park will host both a kid’s bicycle parade and a community walk along the Biser Trail. The entire day is loaded with great entertainment and wonderful food, making it a terrific community unity event. Bike decorating starts at 12:30 behind the stage, or you may decorate at home. Helmets are required—and you get a free can of Lucky Leaf Apple Juice, courtesy of Knouse Foods, just for wearing one! Kids 12 & Under: Register to Win a $350 gift card to Gettysburg Bicycle & Fitness! When your child registers at the Festival near the stage and rides their bike at the parade, they will automatically receive 5 entries for a raffle to win a $350 gift certificate from Gettysburg Bicycle and Fitness. If you ride your bike before the event and report to HABPI@ email@example.com with thechild’s name, age, adult contact email/phone and date of ride, you’ll earn one additional entry to win! If weather cancels the event on September 18, the $350 prize will still be given, chosen from those that registered by email. Limit one email entry per child
Updated COVID-19 booster vaccines are now available in Adams County at the Adams-Cumberland pharmacy in Biglerville. The updated shots, which were authorized by the Food and Drug Administration and recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, are designed to target the two most common Covid omicron subvariants – BA.4 and BA.5 — as well as the original version of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. Vaccines can be administered to people who last received their primary vaccines or boosters at least two months prior. The updated vaccines are expected to help boost immunity to the variants that are now in wide circulation and prevent severe symptoms. Please see our report from The Conversation for more information on the new vaccines. Appointments to receive a vaccine at the Adams-Cumberland pharmacy may be made at https://acpharmacy.net/.
Prakash Nagarkatti, University of South Carolina and Mitzi Nagarkatti, University of South Carolina On Sept. 1, 2022, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention endorsed the use of updated COVID-19 booster shots that are specifically tailored to combat the two most prevalent omicron subvariants, BA.4 and BA.5. The decision comes just a day after the Food and Drug Administration’s emergency use authorization of the shots. The CDC’s backing will enable a full roll-out of the reformulated vaccines to begin within days. The new booster shots – one by Moderna and another from Pfizer-BioNTech – come as more than 450 people are still dying of COVID-19 every day in the U.S. As of Aug. 31, 2022, only 48.5% of booster-eligible people in the U.S. have received their first booster shot, and just under 34% of those eligible have received their second. These low numbers may in part be influenced by people waiting for the newer versions of the vaccines to provide better protection. But booster shots have proven to be an essential layer of protection against COVID-19. Prakash Nagarkatti and Mitzi Nagarkatti are immunologists who study infectious disorders and how vaccines trigger different aspects of the immune system to fight infection. They weigh in on how the updated booster shots train the immune system and how protective they might be against COVID-19. 1. What is different about the updated booster shots? The newly authorized shots are the first updates to the original COVID-19 vaccines that were introduced in late 2020. They use the same mRNA technology as the original vaccines. The key difference between the original COVID-19 shots and the new “bivalent” version is that the latter consists of a mixture of mRNA that encodes the spike proteins of both the original SARS-CoV-2 virus and the more recent omicron subvariants, BA.4 and BA.5. As of late August 2022, the BA.4 and BA.5 omicron subvariants are dominant worldwide. In the U.S., currently 89% of COVID-19 infections are caused by BA.5 and 11% are caused by BA.4. The inability of the original vaccine strains to prevent reinfection and to trigger long-term protective immunity prompted the need for the reformulated vaccines. The booster shots target the BA.4 and BA.5 subvariants of the omicron variant, as well as the original version of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. 2. How does a bivalent vaccine trigger an immune response? In an actual COVID-19 infection, the SARS-CoV-2 virus uses its protruding spike protein to latch onto human cells and gain entry into cells. The spike protein triggers the production of so-called neutralizing antibodies, which bind to the spike protein and prevent the virus from invading other cells. But when the virus mutates, as we know that it does, the antibodies that were previously produced in response to the virus can no longer effectively bind to the newly mutated spike protein. In this respect, the SARS-CoV-2 virus acts like a chameleon – a master of disguise – by changing its body configuration and escaping recognition by the immune system. The ongoing viral mutations are why antibodies produced in response to the original vaccine strains have over time become less effective at fending off infections by new variants. The concept of bivalent vaccines aimed at protecting against two different strains of a virus is not new. For instance, Cervarix is an FDA-approved bivalent vaccine that provides protection against two different types of human papillomaviruses that cause cancer. 3. How protective will the new shots be against infection? There are as of yet no human studies on the efficacy of the new bivalent vaccine at preventing reinfections and providing long-term immune protection. However, in human clinical trials and laboratory studies, both Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna found that their initial version of the bivalent vaccine, which was directed against the original SARS-CoV-2 virus and an earlier omicron strain, BA.1, induced a strong immune response and longer protection against both the original strain and the BA.1 variant. In addition, the companies reported that the same early combination generated a significant antibody response against the newest omicron subvariants, BA.4 and BA.5, though this antibody response was lower than that seen against subvariant BA.1. Based on those results, in spring 2022 the FDA rejected the BA.1 bivalent boosters because the agency felt the boosters may fall short of providing sufficient protection against the newest strains, BA.4 and BA.5, which were by then spreading quickly throughout the U.S. and the world. So the FDA asked Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna to develop bivalent vaccines specifically targeting BA.4 and BA.5, instead of BA.1. Because clinical trials are time-consuming, the FDA was willing to consider animal studies and other laboratory findings, such as the ability of antibodies to neutralize the virus, to decide whether to authorize the bivalent boosters. This decision has stirred up controversy over whether it is appropriate for the FDA to approve a booster without direct human data to support it. However, the FDA has stated that millions of people have safely received the mRNA vaccines – which were originally tested in humans – and that the changes in the mRNA sequences in the vaccines do not affect vaccine safety. Thus, it concluded that the bivalent vaccines are safe and that there is no need to wait for human clinical trials. It is also noteworthy that influenza vaccines are introduced each year based on prediction of the strain that is likely to be dominant, and such formulations do not undergo new clinical trials. Based on available evidence from the previous COVID-19 vaccines, we believe it is very likely that the new boosters will continue to offer strong protection from severe COVID-19 leading to hospitalization and death. But whether they will protect against reinfection and breakthrough infections remains to be seen. 4. Will it only be a booster shot? The bivalent vaccines can only be used as a booster shot at least two months after the completion of the primary series – or initial required shots – or following a previous booster shot. The Moderna bivalent vaccine is authorized for use in people 18 years of age, while the Pfizer bivalent vaccine is authorized for those 12 years of age and older. Because of the superiority of the bivalent vaccines, the FDA has also removed the use authorization for the original monovalent Moderna and Pfizer COVID-19 vaccines for booster purposes in individuals 18 years of age and older and 12 years of age and older, respectively. The new bivalent vaccines contain a lower dose of mRNA, and as such are meant to be used only as boosters and not in people who have never received a COVID-19 vaccination. 5. Will the new shots protect against future variants? How well the bivalent vaccines will perform in the face of new variants that might arise will depend on the nature of future spike protein mutations. If it is a minor mutation or set of mutations when compared to the original strain or to omicron variants BA.4 and BA.5, the new shots will provide good protection. However, if a hypothetical new strain were to possess highly unique mutations in its spike protein, then it’s likely that it could once again dodge immune protection. On the flip side, the successful development of the updated vaccines demonstrates that the mRNA vaccine technology is nimble and innovative enough that – within a couple of months of the emergence of a new variant – it is now likely possible to develop and distribute new vaccines that are tailor-made to fight an emerging variant. This article has been updated to reflect the CDC’s endorsement of the reformulated shots. Prakash Nagarkatti, Professor of Pathology, Microbiology and Immunology, University of South Carolina and Mitzi Nagarkatti, Professor of Pathology, Microbiology and Immunology, University of South Carolina This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article. Featured image caption: In a matter of days, eligible people will be lining up to receive the newly formulated booster shot.
In our Western culture, we often think of the body’s health and the mind’s health as two distinct things. Back in 1975, Dr. Herbert Benson began to challenge that in The Relaxation Response. Around the same time, Dr. Jon Kabat-Zinn began helping patients with chronic pain and illness to cultivate mindfulness as a method of finding well-being, even in the presence of distress. We know now, through experience and science, that body and mind are seamlessly connected. We could easily call them bodymind or mindbody. When we’re upset, it has an impact on the body; and when the body is unwell, it affects our mood, thoughts and feelings, and other mental factors. The bodymind together forms our tool for interacting with the world and being able to cope with the difficulties we encounter in life. That said, we’re often not aware of mind and body at once. It’s probably fair to say that we spend a lot of our days “in our heads,” moving from one experience to the next without consciously realizing how each thing is impacting the body. When something in our experience is distressing (or even just annoying), we may not pick up on the instant increase in blood pressure and heart rate, or the contraction of our breathing and digestion. Or perhaps we’re aware of a pain in our backs or shoulders, but not conscious of the contribution it makes to depression and anxiety. Just as the mind and body can cause each other distress or dysfunction, an awareness of their interaction can be used as a tool for healing. This is really the basis for the international success of the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction course developed by Kabat-Zinn, who played a big role in bringing the healing power of mindfulness and meditation to the western world. The Gettysburg Hospital Foundation has sponsored mindfulness training in our community for several years now. During the pandemic, the training continued in an online format. Now, for the first time in two years, we are able to offer in-person training, thanks to the Foundation and to the YWCA for providing meeting space. Mindfulness and Stress Reduction will be offered in a series of three workshops. The workshops will cover the skills needed to cultivate a mindfulness practice, with each workshop building on the skills learned in the previous training—with a month between classes to rehearse and hone the practices at home. The workshops will be held at the YWCA on Sunday afternoons from 1:00 to 4:00 p.m. on October 2, November 6, and December 4. You can register through Healthy Adams County by calling (717) 337-4137 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Flu vaccinations will once again be offered at WellSpan Health primary care practices and pharmacies beginning on Tuesday, September 6. Patients can begin scheduling appointments today using MyWellSpan or calling their office or pharmacy. You do not need to be an existing WellSpan patient to schedule a flu vaccine appointment. “As we head into fall, now is the time to get your shot and protect yourself from the upcoming flu season,” said Dr. Mark Goedecker, WellSpan Health vice president and chief medical officer for primary care. “The flu is a very serious illness that can pose real risks, especially to the very young, the elderly and those with underlying conditions. Getting vaccinated is the first step to preventing not only getting the flu yourself, but also spreading it to those you love.” The U.S. Centers for Disease Control estimates that, while relatively mild, the last flu season caused between 8 million to 13 million illnesses. It resulted in as many as 6 million medical visits, 170,000 hospitalizations, and 14,000 deaths in the U.S. An annual flu vaccine is the best way to protect against flu and its potentially serious complications. Vaccination has been shown to have many benefits, including reducing the risk of flu illnesses, hospitalizations and the risk of flu-related death in children. It also helps to prevent the spread of flu to family and friends, including babies younger than 6 months who are too young to get a flu vaccine. The CDC recommends an annual flu vaccine for everyone ages 6 months and older. Pregnant women should get a vaccine to protect mom and baby. In addition to getting the vaccine, doctors recommend following other practices to protect yourself. “We can take a very valuable lesson from the recent past,” Goedecker says. “During the pandemic, the health practices most of us were following – washing our hands, covering our mouths when we cough, keeping our distance when we are ill, wearing a mask when we were sick or around others who were – helped to tamp down the flu season. Those practices are still very applicable to the upcoming cold weather months when we spend more time indoors and seasonal illnesses can spread rapidly. Protect yourself by getting the shot and following good hygiene practices for a safe winter and spring. It’s not too early to get your shot.” If you are interested in receiving a flu vaccine, you can schedule an appointment via MyWellSpan today. About WellSpan Health WellSpan Health’s vision is to reimagine healthcare through the delivery of comprehensive, equitable health and wellness solutions throughout our continuum of care. As an integrated delivery system focused on leading in value-based care, we encompass nearly 1,900 employed providers, 220 locations, eight award-winning hospitals, home care and a behavioral health organization serving South Central Pennsylvania and northern Maryland. With a team 20,000 strong, WellSpan experts provide a range of services, from wellness and employer services solutions to advanced care for complex medical and behavioral conditions. Our clinically integrated network of 2,600 aligned physicians and advanced practice providers is dedicated to providing the highest quality and safety, inspiring our patients and communities to be their healthiest. For more information, visit www.wellspan.org.
Suicide is one of the most taboo topics in our society and yet talking about it is one of the most important things we can do to prevent it. September is Suicide Prevention Awareness Month, and many initiatives are occurring in Adams County to bring awareness of ways to prevent suicide. Suicides have been increasing in Pennsylvania over the past several decades. However, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the last two years have seen a slight decrease. In Adams County, for example, there were 16 deaths in 2020 and 12 deaths in 2021. This year seems to be on par with last year’s numbers. The majority of suicide deaths both nationally and in our county are among men over 45 with a gun in rural locations. Alcohol has often been consumed prior to the suicide. Suicide a preventable death. Asking if a friend or loved one is considering killing themselves is very uncomfortable, but learning to be able to ask our friends and family and listen to them about suicide is important. People who have tried to kill themselves and survived tell researchers that if someone had asked them what they were thinking about, it would have allowed them to share that they were having suicidal thoughts and they would have accepted help. It is important to note that asking a person about their suicidal thoughts does not give them the idea. That is quite frankly a misinformed myth. The Adams County Suicide Prevention Taskforce is taking several steps to increase local awareness of the problem and spread information about where to turn for help. On July 16, the federally mandated Crisis Lifeline 988 was launched. Individuals may use the 988 number to call, text, or chat at any time 24 hours a day. The area code of the phone used connects those reaching out to a local crisis line. Someone will be available on the other end of the line to respond to calls. This lifeline is not just available to those who are considering killing themselves, but to those who are seeking help for their family and friends. To spread awareness of this new 988 number, for the first time Healthy Adams County is partnering with Prevent Suicide PA to provide posters to many locations where people gather. The taskforce has shared information in the past during September by providing bars and restaurants with drink coasters that had the longer Suicide Prevention phone number. Local coffee shops, such as the Ragged Edge, has had cup sleeves with the previous helpline number in the past as well. The new posters will again be offered to bars and restaurants as well as churches to post in discreet locations. Because guns are often used in suicides, the taskforce also asks local gun shops to place posters in easily accessed locations. Most often the posters are placed in bathrooms where individuals can read the information without having to feel self-conscious. An important new element of the posters that will be used this year is a QR code that will connect the information needed directly to a person’s phone. Users may directly call for help from the website. There is also a chat option that allows individuals to connect directly with a counselor. Cards containing the same information as the posters will also be distributed. A feature of the 988 Crisis Lifeline site is the potential for special populations to connect to assistance specific to their needs. For example, Spanish resources are available from the top of the front page via the QR code. Likewise, the Veterans Suicide Prevention Lifeline can be accessed as well from the site or the 988 phone number. Some county businesses have already agreed to incorporate digital ads into their closed-circuit TV programing. The ads are then worked into the TV loop to be viewed in offices and business locations. A variety of other businesses are currently being approached to include the video ad in their programing. Schools have also been contacted to place posters. Gettysburg Area School District and the Littlestown School District have already expressed their desire to have posters available in their buildings. In October a film on bullying sponsored by Healthy Adams County will be presented at the Majestic Theater. The film has a segment that brings focus to suicide. The date for this event is not yet set. Finally, the county commissioners will be issuing a Suicide Prevention Proclamation on September 7 to proclaim September 2022 as “Suicide Awareness and Prevention Month.” The hope is that this will bring attention to county residents of the importance of prevention to reduce deaths from suicide. Crisis Resources: 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline; call or text 988; or to talk with someone over the computer visit 988lifeline.org/chat Veterans Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 988, press 1 Spanish Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 988, press 2
West Point Retreats is hosting a Murder Mystery Masquerade Gala to aid in the completion of the Hanover YWCA recreational center that will provide a space for a community health, a wellness studio, as well as an arts and craft studio. The event, to be held Sep. 3 from 6:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. at The Ballroom On Broadway, 1649 Broadway, Hanover, will include a silent auction, wine pull, and dinner theater. For reservations or donations please email West Point Retreats at email@example.com or call Amanda Serrano at 610-223-2934. West Point Retreats is a local 501(C)(3) nonprofit that supports women and their families. Since 2018 their mission has been to provide a safe, fun, engaging God-driven environment for women and their families in the community, encouraging and cultivating healthy relationships by providing discipleship, support, and inspiration. The organization provides free and low-cost activities to the community as well as food, clothing, and household items.