Learning and accepting Chronic Illness…

Learning to Be Sick  {plus a prayer about able-ism}

by Rabbi Elliot Kukla

I became disabled overnight in a car accident. The car accident was a dream, but the disability was real.

I dreamed I was driving through the ravaged streets of Oakland at the end of the world. I turned the corner and careened inescapably into a white chemical blaze. I woke with a start, the white flash still burning behind my eyes, the worst headache of my life piercing my left temporal lobe.  I remembered my mother having a brain aneurysm years before, and knew the “worst headache of my life” was not to be ignored. My wife and I hurried to the hospital, expecting life to change forever. Once at the ER, things moved quickly: CT scans were ordered, crystal clear spinal fluid was drawn from my back. Eight hours later, I was told I was perfectly healthy.

What they meant, but wouldn’t say, was that they didn’t know what was wrong. Over the next weeks and months, it became obvious that I was far from well. The terrible headaches continued, I developed burning nerve pain all over my torso, I was wrapped in a thick brain fog, I sprouted constant mouth ulcers, I was crushed with exhaustion. I would open my mouth and be unable to speak. I could get lost in my own house between bedroom and bathroom, and forget my wife’s name.  I started having seizures.

By then, I had discovered that I was no longer trusted by my doctors about my own body or experiences.  I reported odd, terrifying, and sudden physical changes; they recommended Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and Weight Watchers.  I felt exiled from the world of the well, isolated by thick walls of suspicion.  I’m used to feeling like an outsider; I’m the first openly transgender rabbi ordained by a mainstream movement (Reform Judaism). I am used to being rejected and told I should not exist. But nothing prepared me for the outsider status of being chronically ill. Think about that for a moment: approximately 0.6% of US adults identify as transgender, just under 0.2% of the world population is Jewish, and 100% of us will get sick, but it is being chronically sick that makes me feel like an outsider. That’s how much our society fears and rejects the core human experience of being ill, of having a body that gets sick, that ages, that is not controllable.

I went from doctor to doctor looking for answers, but overnight, I had gone from being a trusted rabbi and chaplain (who myself works with seriously ill and dying people on hospital medical teams) to a “hysterical” chronically ill person.  Though I had seen it happen to my clients, I now understood firsthand that being disbelieved is nearly universal for people with chronic illnesses, especially ones that are largely invisible and/or hard to diagnose. I had believed that as a healthcare professional, equipped with skills and advocates to navigate the system, I would be treated differently. I soon learned how hubristic that was.

Eventually, due to the tireless advocacy of my wife, I was diagnosed with Central Nervous System Lupus (an autoimmune disease which attacks the brain and central nervous system), as well as fibromyalgia, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and complex migraines. My Lupus diagnosis would later be taken away and then given back countless times as suited the needs of health insurance and disability insurance companies in order to sort and manage me and decide how much care I was entitled to. The needs  of my body were virtually irrelevant in this process as my diagnosis become a monetized affair where I had to jump through increasingly difficult hoops to “prove” it.

Like most of us, I had been raised to see Illness as something temporary:  a stopover on the way to recovery or to death, not a place to live. But weeks, months, and then years passed, and I did not get better. My doctors, and even some friends and family, suggested that I could get better if only I tried harder, relaxed more deeply, thought more positively. I became a lightning rod for others’ fears of disability, dependence, and fragility. In a political moment where healthcare is treated as a luxury, and hurricane victims are blamed for their own disasters, an ethic of personal responsibility reigns. But sometimes, sick people just stay sick.  And there’s no meditation, medication, positive outlook, exercise, or smoothie that can magically fix it.

Eventually, I stopped hoping to be well, or even pretending that I lived in that future-heavy land of hope anymore. I stopped trying to “overcome” my body, and started living a present tense life in chronic illness. As the pace of my life slowed, I could appreciate sensual pleasures in a new and heightened way: sunlight out my bedroom window, my dog’s velvety fur, a cool breeze in my garden, richly colored flowers. On days when my brain was too fogged to do anything, I let myself float in and out of a rich, infinitely layered dream world.

With great difficulty, I learned how to accept care.  A child of neglectful and absent parents, I had been fiercely independent for most of my life; now, as fatigue gripped my body, I needed help preparing food, showering, doing laundry, managing my medications. This demanded a difficult, profoundly spiritual vulnerability.  I realized that if I were truly to see myself as equal to my seriously ill clients, and not performing a kind of “charity” in my work, I had to come to terms with the necessity of interdependence.

We are born needing care and die needing care, and I am no exception.  At brief moments in the middle of life, we hold the illusion of independence, but we are always driving on roads we did not build, eating foods we did not pick or raise. Allowing the illusion of my own independence to drop away unmasked a fundamental truth of being human.

Like many people, I had once measured my worth by my capacity to produce things and experiences: to be productive at work, share responsibilities at home, “show up” equally in my friendships, and rack up achievements. Being sick has been a long, slow detox from capitalist culture and its mandate that we never rest. Slowly, I found a deeper value in relationship beyond reciprocity: an unconditional love and care based in justice, and a belief that all humans deserve relationship, regardless of whether we can offer anything measurable back. In these discoveries, I’ve been led by other sick and disabled people, whose value had always been apparent to me.  Amidst the brilliant diversity of power wheelchairs, service dogs, canes, and ice packs it’s easy to see that we matter just as we are.

Eventually, my body did change. I am now able to stay awake longer, and my pain has receded to a dull throb. I can leave the house more; I can visit my clients and mentor my hospice volunteers, for which I am grateful. But I don’t see myself as cured, nor do I imagine a cure will come. This is merely another chapter in the life of my body. If I’m lucky enough to get old, my body will change again. Due to my illnesses and family history, I’m more likely to develop dementia. As I age, my body and mind will surely become more disabled. I will lose cognitive and sensory capacities. My skin and muscles will sag and disintegrate. I will depend more and more on other people. I will not be able to control my bowels or my surroundings as tightly. I will lose teeth, hair, and precious memories. This is not a tragedy. This is what it means to be human. 

Mi Sh’berach for Ableism

Rabbi Elliot Kukla

Creative Valentine’s Day Gifts Denver

March 1, 2018 will mark The Wellness Center’s 17th birthday!  It is hard to believe how far alternative health and massage has come.  17 years ago, massage was relatively new and considered a luxury treatment only for the wealthy, or a massage “parlor” that um…maybe wasn’t the most professional place to get a massage.  Today, there is a massage center or spa on almost every corner, much like coffee shops. Previous to 2008, anyone could hang a shingle out and call themselves a massage therapist, now massage therapists are now required to get a license in the State of Colorado before they can practice.

The industry has come a LONG way and it much more affordable to the average American. Massage is really a perfect gift this Valentine’s Day, or any special occasion.  Here is why:

Massage relieves stress and boosts your mood: 

Massage calms the nervous system and assists the release of feel-good chemicals and hormones. A Valentine’s Day session might include energy work such as reiki or polarity therapy, which will add a level of deep relaxation to your time on the table.   Massage has been shown to aid the release of oxytocin, a feel-good hormone, which leads to feelings of social bonding. It also increases production of serotonin and dopamine.

Massage Reduces Pain and Induces Relaxation:

Massage alleviates pain. Massage makes a body feel better by increasing circulation, improving flexibility and releasing those knots and crinkles that can seem rooted in muscles. Massage has been shown to reduce low- and upper-back pain, neck pain and headache, and to be effective for chronic conditions such as fibromyalgia and arthritis. When combined with aromatherapy, the pain-relieving effects of massage can be even more profound and long-lasting.  Massage therapy is a gift to the emotional heart, as it has been shown to reduce anxiety and increase feelings of well-being. According to an article published by the American Psychological Association, the relaxation response is “a physical state of deep rest that changes a person’s physical and emotional responses to stress”—and massage therapy is one practice that induces this response.

Massage increases connection: 

Massage fosters self-connection. Even those that are single, should treat themselves on Valentine’s Day. Booking a massage session reinforces that you love yourself and allows you to become fully present and blissed-out while receiving care and nurturance. A massage session offers a deep respite from everyday stress, and sends the body the message, “I am taking care of you.”

This year give the gift of massage to yourself or the one you love! You are worth it.

Happy Valentine’s Day!



Living an abundant life full of “Wealth”

The other day as I was winding down for the evening, I was struck with a feeling of gratitude, a feeling that I truly live a “wealthy” and “rich” life. 

As I was reflecting on why I felt this way, I came up with the following reasons:

1) I felt great over the weekend, I had a lot of energy, which made the busy weekend flow much smoother. We take for granted how feeling good can make a huge difference on our experience and outlook on life.

2) I spent time in community with others. This past weekend was exceptionally social, as we marched on Saturday with 150,000 other people, then I hosted a surprise birthday party for my husband Ross, who turned 40! We got to hang out with wonderful friends and we took some time to Facetime with our families since they all live out of state.  My cup felt “full” of joy by the end of the weekend, amazingly I did not feel exhausted.

3) Spent time giving back to others and helping when I could. Something as simple as helping to watch my friend’s son for the weekend, or buying coffee for all the volunteers who helped out at the Women’s March.

It is interesting how money and material possessions was not on the top of my list for why I felt so “rich” by the end of the weekend. I am not naïve, I certainly understand how if you are struggling to pay your bills, that certainly affects your life in a BIG way and money is the #1 stressor for families. Often times, as Americans we live beyond our means.  We buy a house, where the mortgage was a bit of a stretch for our monthly income, we own nice cars (typically 2 or more), we go shopping for expensive clothes, furniture and the latest tech gadget.  There are an abundance of ways to spend money in our culture.  We end of racking up credit card debt.

Awhile back, I read the Millionaire Next Door, I was struck by how simply many Millionaires live, now I am not talking about actors, Hollywood stars, the Oprah’s of the world, but your everyday American working class families, that have made conscious choices in how they live and spend their money.

Here is a quick overview of the book: When Authors Tom Stanley and William Danko went to investigate on how people get wealthy, they found something odd. Many of the people who live in upscale neighborhoods and drive luxurious cars do not have extreme wealth. Many people who have great wealth do not even live in upscale neighborhoods, they do not drive luxury cars, typically do not buy new cars and hang onto their cars for many years.
During the author’s investigation, they discovered seven common denominators among the people who become wealthy

  1. They live well below their means
  2. They allocate their time and money efficiently, in ways conducive to building wealth.
  3. They believe that financial independence is more important than displaying high social status.
  4. Their parents did not provide economic outpatient care.
  5. Their adult children are economically self-sufficient.
  6. They are proficient in targeting market opportunities.
  7. They chose the right occupation.

I think the biggest thing on this list is living well below your means and valuing financial independence more than going out to expensive dinners, driving fancy cars, taking luxury vacations or buying designer clothes and jewelry.  These items are nice, but if it straps you financially it only creates more stress in the long run.  When you live within your means, you know what is most important to you and your spending reflects that.  Things can be taken to the opposite extreme, where a family  or person never spends any money because they are so afraid they are spending too much.  There is a happy balance between these 2 spectrums.  When I realized how peaceful I felt when I finally paid off my last credit card (after being in debt for 10 years), I knew I never wanted to go back to that life.  So when I feel like “over” spending or feel like buying something expensive that I don’t need, I remind myself the gift I am giving myself in exchange for not spending money is peace, and a “wealthy” life not based on material items but based on what I value most, time, health, freedom and community.

There is a lot of self-love that comes from making good choices for yourself.

In Health,

Accepting What IS

Recently, Kris our Director of The Wellness Center, said that she is “accepting what IS” in her life right now.  I really appreciated this sentiment.

This is a powerful mantra for life, Accepting What IS.  Sometimes in life, we may want something TODAY, but in reality the timing isn’t right, or we just can’t afford it yet.

This reminds me when I was in my 30s and was ready to settle down and get married, but for one reason or another the men I was dating just were not the right ones for me.  Finally, when I turned 36 I had to come to terms with “accepting what IS” and for me it was the possibility that I could be single well into my 40s.  I had to be OK with that.  This letting go was one of the best things for me personally.  It took the pressure off and allowed me to totally accept who I was and where I was in life.  I also embraced the mantra that I would rather be happy and single, than unhappily married to the wrong person.

Accepting What IS, this mantra has guided me in many other areas of my life.   Currently, I am being attacked by a former massage therapist.  She has falsely accused me of forging her signature and breaking the law.  Of which I have done neither.  I have put up a good fight defending my position, but there is a certain point where I have had to be ok with the final decision that a Judge will make.

This year, we wanted to make some improvements to our home, but the reality is that it may not be in the cards, since I am paying a hefty sum in legal fees and depending upon how the judge rules in the case that has been brought against The Wellness Center by this former therapist, there could be expensive changes that need to be implemented.  Accepting What IS, which being more fiscally conservative is the best thing to do.

What in your life do you need to, Accept What IS?  I know accepting reality is hard for our human brains, but it is so liberating to Accept What IS, rather than feel bad about what you don’t or can’t have.  Instead, Accept What IS and be grateful for all that you have today.  Because life is a spectrum, there is always someone with more than us, and there is always someone with less than us.  Being grateful for ALL THAT IS.

Happy New Year!

In Health,

Conquering Cultural Stress

I recently heard Dr. Murad speak at a conference about conquering cultural stress and he also gave away his book. Conquering Cultural Stress, The Ultimate Guide to Anti-Aging and Happiness. I thought the book was a great reminder of how to stay sane in this high paced, never ending “to do” society.
Cultural stress is man-made, meaning it comes from the evolution of our environment and our reaction to it. Cultural stress is a collection of the daily events ingrained within people’s habits because of the perception that these rituals are needed for everyday subsistence. They include daily long commutes to work, watching the news, the pressures of work, managing health issues, being “on time” and over scheduled, technostress, social media, emails, texts etc. Internally cultural stress can cause sleep issues, hormonal imbalances and accelerate aging. The good news is, is we can manage and control cultural stress.

The things I found most valuable in the book: 3 pillars of the Fountain of Youth:

#1) Give yourself permission to live a more imperfect, playful life, in the pursuit of happiness and total well-being. As we get older we tend to lose that joyful inner zest, that we had when we were children. It becomes hard to keep a positive attitude given life’s trials and our exceedingly high expectations of ourselves. The irony is that we expect more and more from ourselves and strive to be perfect, we simultaneously fail to put ourselves first and really take care of our bodies from the inside out.

#2) Watch what you put in your body. Adopt a water eating plan, which means eating more water-rich foods. We absorb water in food more slowly because it is trapped in the structure of the food. That slow absorption means that water in food stays in our bodies longer, with a multitude of additional benefits. A cucumber is a great example of this. Because cucumbers are 96% water, eating a three-ounce cucumber is almost the same as drinking three ounces of water, but better.
#3) Take time to be mindful every day, which could mean mediating a little each day, or just taking time to be quiet in nature or at home. Get outside and go for a quiet walk or take a yoga class. Don’t have time for any of that? Just remember to take deep breathe, when you are in the car, before you have a meal or a drink of water. Take a moment to take a few deep breaths, it will calm your system and bring you into the present moment.

Click here to

In Health,

12 Months of Wellness | Month 12 Community & Connection

12 Months of Wellness | Community & Connection

The holidays, to stress or connect? Although it can be a stressful time of year, it’s also a wonderful time to spend with your loved ones. This month we remind you how important community and connection is to your wellbeing. Humans are social creatures whose health and happiness depends on connecting with others.

People have basic emotional needs to feel safe, loved and accepted. Studies have shown that people are happier when they have a community they connect with. Community allows you to feel loved and supported while also giving you the sense of being part of something larger. Having a supportive community gives you the safety to try new things knowing that your basic survival needs are taken care of.

Research also shows that people are physically healthier when they have a strong social network. Loving connections boost our immune systems by reducing stress, and quicker recovery times are reported when we do get sick.

What’s so interesting is your sense of community and connection is directly related to your own inner sense of connection, not the number of people you have in your life. Through having a positive mindset in social situations and setting an intention of building strong social bonds you can nurture and build your internal sense of connection.

Here are a few suggestions for building a strong internal sense of connection:

  • Plan a date with someone you haven’t spoken to in a while.
  • Start up a conversation with someone new at a social gathering.
  • Play an icebreaker game at a family holiday celebration.
  • Find an accountability partner to talk with regularly and support each other in following through with goals.
  • Give out compliments freely to all the people in your life.

Here are my intentions for the month to build my sense of community:

Your sense of connection depends on you. What will you do to build and strengthen your community? Download this month’s Intention Setting Guide to get started.





Are you, or someone you know trying to conceive and experiencing fertility issues?

Almost everyone I know, knows of someone who has struggled to get pregnant.  About 10% of women (6.1 million) in the US ages 15-44 have difficulty getting pregnant or staying pregnant, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).  Which based on my personal experience, I feel like this number is probably much higher than 10%.  Our world is changing, many of us are getting married in our 30s rather than our 20s which lowers our chances of getting pregnant. 

I had my daughter when I was almost 38 years old.  I was extremely lucky to have conceived, but when I finally decided to try for a second child, the journey was not as easy.  All of us have a story, and when you ask and dive deeper into a women’s story you will find that many struggle to conceive either their first or subsequent children.   The stories you hear of couples trying IVF, are heart breaking.  IVF is complex and expensive and only has a 20-25% success rate, and the older you are, your success rate drops.

Which is why I am so excited to announce and introduce Mercier Therapy, a Natural Fertility Program, with an 80% effectiveness rate!  I was introduced to Mercier Therapy through watching this documentary: Fertility – The Shared Journey with Mercier Therapy.  http://www.merciermovie.com/, which you can watch on Itunes or www.FMTV.com.   I was blown away and completely inspired by the movie and encouraged our Naturopath, Dr. Paris Stevens to watch the movie.  She also was touched and inspired and immediately called to find out when their next certified practitioner training was going to be held at.   She was excited to find out that their next training was in October, but unfortunately there was a waitlist for the class.

Well fate stepped in, Dr. Stevens got a call that they had a last minute cancellation and she could come and take the certification class!  Dr. Stevens re-arranged her teaching and client schedule to fly to Chicago to complete the course.  Now, we are proud to say that she is the only Certified Mercier Practitioner in the State of Colorado! 

Mercier Therapy is not just limited to helping women conceive, but it is also good for a myriad of other issues.  http://www.wellnessdenver.com/merciertherapy/

To celebrate Dr. Steven’s Mercier Therapy certification we are offering $200 off the total Shared Journey Package for anyone that signs up before December 31st, 2017!

Please share this with all of your friends that you know that are struggling with infertility.  Not only will this program inspire them, but it will also give them confidence in their own bodies to conceive naturally and Dr. Stevens will be there, the whole way as they move through their journeys.  Come on and jump in on this shared journey, you are not alone!

Celebrating you!


Meet Dr. Jennifer Mercier Founder of Mercier Therapy a Natural Fertility Program

by Dr. Jennifer Mercier

You’ve probably heard of complementary and alternative approaches to helping aid in infertility. Yoga and acupuncture chief among the most popular. If you’ve tried either of these modalities than you’ve probably realized at least one thing and that is that they promote relaxation.  In my practice I’ve noticed that most women that I care for are in a state of anxiety. Relaxation is crucial to managing infertility stress and if acupuncture or Yoga are the entry into meditative deeper breathing then so-be-it.  We, as Americans, tend to be higher strung when dealing with infertility and will do whatever means necessary to become pregnant. I was one of those women but knew that getting pregnant was going to be a slow process due to my diagnosis of stage 4 endometriosis.

My Personal Fertility Struggles

At age 35 and never having been pregnant I had done multiple rounds of acupuncture, meditation classes, yoga for fertility, tried numerous supplements, ate a clean diet and got plenty of gentle exercise. All of which helped me relax and feel a part of helping myself to become pregnant and deliver a healthy baby. Yet, I still wasn’t pregnant.
Knowing that my past had included 3 laparoscopies I knew that there had to be a great deal of scar tissue in my pelvis. Moving forward I was told by my reproductive endocrinologist that I needed IVF and in my heart I felt otherwise. He told me that my organs were in poor condition and that we’d have a 19% chance of conceiving on our own. We felt most comfortable with trying a drug called Follistim along with intrauterine insemination in which we did 3 cycles and I did not get pregnant.
Finally after a group of my professional Mercier Therapy students worked on me we conceived without drugs or insemination the very next cycle. I did go on to miscarry that pregnancy and the second one too. The fact was that I was getting pregnant and this was a very good sign. My third pregnancy was the charm! I was cared for by my midwife, Hillary Keiser, CNM, and delivered a healthy baby girl in October 2011.
I fully believe that if I hadn’t had some of my own medicine than we wouldn’t have our beautiful daughter today.

You may be wondering what Mercier Therapy is? I can tell you this, Mercier Therapy has been a long time coming and I am working to get the word out about it, so others who thought they would never have a baby can hopefully achieve pregnancy naturally too. Before I get to exactly what this therapy is, I think it is important to hear how I came to create this unique therapy for women with infertility…

The Path that Lead Me to Create Mercier Therapy

The field of massage therapy is changing and evolving to allow a more clinical application for very specific consumer needs for areas such as woman’s health, cancer care, and elder therapy. I went to massage therapy school in 1994 and at that time our profession was very sports therapy oriented. Most of the elective classes were whole body focused and rehabilitative or for relaxation. Once I finished with school I started to notice some variations for more bodywork modalities that seemed of interest to me because of the clinical aspect being addressed.

The Next Step

Over time I took an interest in women’s health so Bodywork for the Childbearing Year with Kate Jordan seemed to be the best next step for me. I loved the work which slowly lead me to training as a midwife, and for 2 years during my undergrad I worked in my own private practice and simultaneously as a fertility clinician at a large Reproductive Endocrinology practice, where I learned so much. I learned how to monitor a woman through a medically assisted reproductive cycle such as in vitro fertilization and perform intrauterine insemination. It was fascinating to me and puzzling at the same time. I would notice on an ultrasound or through insemination the fixation of the uterus. The uterus was literally fixed in place without good movement. Little did I know at that point my path was set.

I proceeded to learn as much as I could about women’s pelvic pathology and anatomy. My path lead me to traditional osteopathic manipulation and Gynecology. My undergrad training had prepared me for medical school, so naturally I set out to seek the next best step for my upcoming career. A friend of mine, Richard Demir, MD who is an Ob/Gyn allowed me to follow him to observe many gynecologic surgical cases where I’d watch him perform hysterectomies, laparotomies, and laparoscopies. I learned so much during this time, concerning how a surgeon thinks and operates with regard to dissecting scar tissue from prior pelvic surgery or damage from a reproductive health issue. I observed how important the length of time in which to finish the surgical procedure was to the health of the patient. Surgeons work to employ very careful techniques during surgery, so as not to cause damage to the female organs and surrounding structures.
It was eye opening and confirming to me that scar tissue is one of the main culprits concerning lack of organ mobility. The time that it took to clear the area of this tissue needed to be kept to a minimum so the patient was not unnecessarily under anesthesia longer than needed. Once the scope was placed into the abdomen it was clear to me the organs weren’t moving effortlessly against one another for proper blood flow and optimal function. I now felt I had the building blocks to create a truly revolutionary way to improve women’s reproductive health.

The Birth of a New Way to Help Women Struggling to Conceive

In creating my practice I knew that I wanted to specialize in women’s health but couldn’t really find the right course of study that was appropriate for my scope of licensure. Pregnancy massage was wonderful but what about women that were trying to conceive? Was there a good training solution for us therapists that wanted to help in this capacity? I found none. At the time, most courses geared toward physical therapists who wanted to help women conceive focused on female hormones and pathologies, medical fertility cycles, gynecological surgical procedures and vaginal (pelvic floor) work.

So I ventured on a course of discovery of how I could come up with a training program suitable and easily implemented for all licensed health professionals. My journey took me to France, Mexico, Jamaica, Switzerland, Holland, Austria and Italy and along the way I learned that I had a pretty staunch case of endometriosis. At that time I was in my early 20’s, and my own reproductive health circumstances only fueled my desire to hone Mercier Therapy techniques even more.

Taken from: http://natural-fertility-info.com/mercier-therapy.html

Read an interview with Jennifer Mercier.  

Dr. Paris Stevens is a Certified Mercier Therapist 

For more information please call: 303-357-9355 to book a consultation with Dr. Stevens.

For more information on Mercier Therapy: http://www.expectamiracle.life/



Musing on Parenting in the 20th Century

Now that I am a parent, I am reading a bunch of parenting books.  My most recent reads have been, Hold Onto Your Kids, by Gordon Neufeld and Gabor Mate and How to Raise an Adult, Break Free of the Overparenting Trap and Prepare your Kid for Success, by Julie Lythcott-Haims .  Did you notice?  The titles on these 2 books sound contradictory. 

Hold Onto Your Kids is all about losing your authority and influence over your children, and in replace of you, children instead look towards their peers.  While peer interaction is very important, it is more important that your children still look to you for guidance.  Advice between peers, more often than not can be the worst advice for your children.  Children are wired to want to follow someone, typically their parents, but when peers become the center of your child’s life then it is something to take note of, to take time to “reclaim or hold onto” your children.  It seems like a simple concept, but in reality we can unassumingly push our kids towards their peers and lose our connection to them.

 As I read this book, I reflected on my childhood.  I remember distinctly through my tween and teen years, that my parents did not allow me to go out with Friends on the weekends.  I was allowed to go out if I was involved with a school event, extracurricular activity or working in the family business.  I was not allowed to just go and “hang” out with my friends.  During the time, I felt this rule was very unfair.  I would be frustrated/angry with my father that he did not allow me to go out.  One day, I blurted out to my father, “why do I have to just hang out here at home?  I mean we are not even doing anything together.”  My father’s response, “that is exactly the point.”

His point was the weekends were time to be home and spend time with the family, even if it was doing our own independent activities in different parts of the house.  The key was that we were together and we would have our meals together and just “be”.  Having weekday dinners together was also a high priority for my parents.  Even if my mom and I would be working in our family business until 8pm at night, my father and typically my siblings always waited and we had dinner together. 

These 2 things while simple, I think really influenced me to become a successful adult.

1)      I always saw my parents as the authority, and was never strongly influenced by my peers.  Even when my peers were sneaking out, drinking and experimenting with drugs.  I had no desire to participate even with peer pressure. In college I opted to live on the substance free floor, where residents commit to not drinking or doing drugs in their dorm rooms. 

2)      Working in the family business really boosted my self-esteem and my belief in my own abilities.  At age 18 I was pretty much the co-manager for the business with my mom.  I certainly gave me the confidence to start The Wellness Center 16 years ago. 

Now onto the current book I am reading, How to Raise an Adult.  This book is about helicopter parenting and the negative effects it can have on your child/children.  It is very very eye opening.  A majority of parents today are helicopter parenting to some degree.  I fit this category also.  We naturally want to do things for our children to make their lives easier, but when we do too much we end up stunting their ability to learn to do things on their own.  If we never let them fail, when they actually become adults and experience failure it can be a lot more devastating.  The author asserts that we need to start at a young age, teaching our children to do things on their own.  It is not only good for them to develop independence, but it is also key to helping them develop their self-esteem and confidence levels.  When we trust that kids are capable of doing certain things independently, it gives them confidence in their own abilities.  Also, if a child has small set-backs or failures, they can learn how to cope with disappointment under the safety of your watch.  If your child has set-backs and can bounce back it is giving them the powerful characteristic of “grit” that has been deemed as a key characteristic of successful adults.    

Here are some things you can do to combat overparenting:

1)      STOP doing everything for your child, starting in pre-school.  Give them age appropriate chores, that become routine (and do not give them allowance for this).  These are habits for living independently, and they will not be paid for them when they are on their own. 

2)      Try not to over-direct and schedule your child’s life.   Today’s children are overscheduled, and have little free time to play or do chores for that matter.  Create space in your week for household duties and down time. 

3)      Your child doesn’t need to be perfect and get straight As, and be the highest in their class.  All of us want the best for our child, but we can put too much pressure on our children to become something that we want them to be, not necessarily what they want.

4)      Don’t hover, give your kids some independence.  If you have a project you would like them to do, explain it to them and then walk away, don’t jump in when they express frustration. 

While the book can be a little redundant, I would still recommend for all parents.  If you have tendencies to overparent like I do.  Just start where you are, and make small changes.  I have already moved all of my daughters cups, bowls and breakfast items to a drawer she can reach.  Now she can make her own breakfast in the morning, and she can also pack her own snack for school.  I will also be implementing a “fun” short list of chores for her to do on a daily and weekly basis.  My husband and I say we should have Maya pick up her toys… more often than not we end up doing it. 

Parenting certainly is not easy, but at the end of the day we want to create thriving young adults.  We don’t want kids always having to look to us for support and help.  We want them to develop resiliency.  When things get hard or they experience failure, we want them to under our watch.  When they are off on their own, we will know that they will be able handle the inevitable tough times and setbacks that life brings.

Onwards and Upwards,

Protecting you and your family from the flu this season!

Dr. Binder, Naturopathic Physician is now offering a homeopathic flu vaccination called Influenzium.

Influenzium is the only homeopathic flu product that that is updated each year based on the flu strains predicted by the World Health Organization. Influenzium is specially formulated to stimulate the body’s own defense system to resist the onset of the season’s flu strains. Research has shown this protocol year after year to be effective at preventing the flu and supporting the immune system. This formula can be a great alternative for people who have chosen not to have the flu shot, although it can helpful to anyone whether they have had the flu shot or not. Please follow your doctor’s advice about whether the flu shot is right for you.

Dosing recommendations are to be taken for several weeks and is most effective if started early November. Protocol details will be given with each order.

Already feeling under the weather? The Wellness Center also offers a homeopathic medicine called Ossocillinum that is used for treatment of the flu. This is to be taken at the first signs of the flu…sore throat, achy body, fever or run down feeling etc. and taken 3 times per day until symptoms are better. We have vials for individuals as well as family packs. This is great to have on the shelf just in case! And of course, if you experience flu symptoms it is wise to contact your doctor for support.

Wondering if you should get the flu shot?  Click here to watch this video by fellow Naturopathic Physician Mary Shackelton in Boulder, CO.

For orders or inquiries, please call the front desk (303)-357-9355 or stop by our Center, located inside the Whole Foods Market off, S. Colorado Blvd., Glendale, CO 80246.  

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