Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Brain Health: Workshops and Storytelling

Since I’ve been working with neuroplasticity over the past few years, I have become increasingly aware of how important it is to keep growing and developing, in many ways, as part of keeping the brain healthy. Yesterday I attended a moving demonstration of this principle at a storytelling competition, involving themes of aging, for adults in San Francisco. I admit that I went because my husband was one of the six storytelling workshop participants chosen to continue in this event (and he was great!). 

It was hosted by San Francisco sports anchor Mike Shumann and featured award-winning storyteller Olga Loya. Part of the Laugh Lines event series, it was sponsored by “What Is Brain Health?,” a national campaign sponsored by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Administration for Community Living. The campaign helps raise awareness about brain health while empowering older adults to make the most of their brains as they age. Visit http://www.brainhealth.gov to learn more.

The stories that were told were inspiring, as were the storytellers. Storytelling is one of the Tools that I use in my groups “A Change of Mind: Neuroplastic Tools for Healing.” When we’re telling or listening to stories, our brains are actively engaged and making new connections. Not only does this improve the health of our brains, but it is part of a strategy, which I use and teach, that helps us decrease and eliminate symptoms like pain, anxiety, depression, and symptoms of chronic illness.   

As part of my own professional (and brain!) growth, I have been developing workshops to teach these methods in a variety of settings. Here are 2 workshops which will take place in May and June 2016.

In May:
Frank Wildman, GCFT, PhD and Danielle Rosenman, MD are teaching a new workshop:

Saturday and Sunday, May 14-15, 2016

Dr. Rosenman uses materials developed by Michael Moskowitz, MD, who some of you might have read about in the first chapter of Norman Doidge's book, “The Brain's Way of Healing,” and Marla Golden, DO.  Dr. Wildman will discuss some very specific ways of using neuroplastic principles to greatly empower both Awareness through Movement® lessons, as well as Functional Integration®. This workshop will also be of interest to therapists-- psychological and physical-- and coaches, as well as anyone interested in the topic.

For more information, see this page.

In June:
I’m doing a workshop, "A Change of Mind: Neuroplastic Tools for Healing," at the Northern California Group Psychotherapy Society annual meeting at Asilomar June 3-5. This conference has a variety of very interesting workshops for psychotherapists.

There are many ways that each of us can continue to grow and change, become healthier and feel better. Sometimes we need the experience of others to help us do that. Telling and listening to stories is one way we share our experience. Teaching and learning is another way. You are welcome to contact me through my Web site, and I will be happy to talk with you about your own process of becoming healthier and feeling better!

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Beginnings 2015

There are many traditional times for beginnings. Mine has come at the New Year, 2015, coincident with moving into my new office.

It came about because my old office was on the second floor with no elevator. When I began to offer groups, A Change of Mind: Neuroplastic Tools for Healing (formerly Tools for Healing), I was able to use ground-level disability-accessible rooms, but only through 2014.

Skipping over the trials of finding a new office, I can report that my new office is a wonderful place. It is large enough for groups. I was able to choose new paint and new carpet, it has a lovely large window which looks out on trees, and I am enjoying the pleasure of full artistic control.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

The Power of Community

I was thinking about healing on Yom Kippur, a holy day of reflection that comes every year in the fall, a time for evaluation of our experience and actions in the past year and redirection, hope and personal dedication for the coming year.  We do this as a community during services, in which we collectively take responsibility for the past and the future.  It is an acknowledgement that we do not really live alone, isolated from others, and that our actions affect more than just ourselves. 

When we live with illness, pain, anxiety and depression, the struggle feels personal, isolating, and sometimes overwhelming and without hope.  We each do the best we can to care for ourselves, sometimes supported by a medical team and, if we are fortunate, a partner and family.  We might feel or have been told that there is “nothing that can be done.”  Some of us may know a few techniques (“tools”) which can help us to feel better, but it is often not enough.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

An Invitation to Our “Tools for Healing” Groups September 2013

I am very excited about the “Tools for Healing” groups that my associate, Dr. Jan Chambers, and I have created to help people who live with illness, pain, anxiety, or medical conditions. Our new sessions begin next week, and we are offering Monday evening and Tuesday morning groups to accommodate different needs.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

A Question of Value

The killing of Trayvon Martin was not an isolated incident of violence.

On the 8th day of January, my daughter told me that a seventeen year old boy, known by most of her friends, had been shot and killed a few days before in Oakland. She said that this was the second death in her peer group since the beginning of the New Year just 8 days earlier.

Two months ago my daughter’s friend called her at 3 a.m. to tell her that there had been a shooting at a house party after the prom. My daughter reassured me that she and her friend would never have gone to a house party in that section of Oakland because there are so many shootings.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Independence Day

Last night I sat with my family around the table, already hearing sounds of firecrackers.  The conversation wound its way to focus on who lives here, in the United States, and in what conditions.  My daughter pointed out that there is a huge immigrant population, and many are living in poverty. Both my son and daughter went on to talk about poverty, in the United States and in the world, with the statistic that 80% of people in the world are living on $10 or less each day, many on less than $2 a day. There is significant poverty in this country, generally not to that level, largely because of minimum wage laws for people who are able to find jobs.  However, in this country, homelessness is increasing.  We went on to talk about different levels of poverty, and that in this country, most people do have sanitation and clean water, whereas that is an enormous problem in other parts of the world, making a big difference in complications of illness and death.  Per UNICEF, 22,000 children die every day because of poverty.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Generations of Mothers — Mother’s Day 2013

This week my youngest brother and his son arrived from Florida.  They were here primarily to visit my 86 year old mother, who recently declared “I’m not getting any younger” and demanded that my brother and, separately, my sister, come visit and spend time alone with her.  Steven picked up Jono and his son Charlie from the airport and brought them to our house, and my mother arrived about an hour later via her helper.  As she carefully descended the few stairs inside the front gate, she kept looking up to see her son’s face as he waited for her.  Her eyes were shining.  She is very little, even shorter with age, and my brother is tall.  He carefully bent over to hug and kiss her, his son standing just behind him, and I could feel her overwhelming joy in the moment of reunion, mother and son.

Last year, at the end of June, my son returned after spending 10 months in Israel (The Summer of Impending Loss, He’s Gone). The day of his return, my husband, our daughter, and I went to the airport and waited in the baggage area. I kept looking for him… and then I spotted him. The first to reach him, I was the first to encircle him with my arms and be held by his stronger ones. During that long hug, I surprised myself crying for joy, for the breathtaking feeling of a mother reunited with her son.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Growing Life

I have had a “dry spell” in my writing – a time when my metaphoric pen ran out of ink, and I couldn’t replenish it.  My ideas were all focused on family needs and transitions, my counseling practice, and more recently, learning the personally and professionally exciting field of neuroplasticity, how the brain changes itself, and how that can be applied to eliminating persistent pain. 

Now my thoughts and desires turn, again, to the traditional preoccupations of spring.  I am planting my garden, choosing plant starts and seeds, following the sun through the day to see where it lingers most, and planning where each plant will (hopefully!) be able to grow and produce its vegetables, fruit, or flowers.