Tag - wellness

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 The Shallowness of Sanity
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The Wellness Garden at Lamoille Home Health & Hospice
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Which ‘P’ Do You Choose to Be?

 The Shallowness of Sanity

By: Mary L. Collins

From the frontispiece of Joan Didion’s book, “The Year of Magical Thinking,” the writer chronicles the devastating illness and near death of her only child and of the loss of her husband of 40 years, the writer John Gregory Dunne, that same year. Didion speaks of the unspeakable; the “shallowness of sanity.”  She references that moment when we recognize we may be losing our grip on all that we know to be “normal.”  The balance we keep with what we consider our sanity is, Didion recognized, at best, tenuous.

So, what do we do when we feel at the edge of our capability to cope – as all of us do to some degree at various points in our lives?

This past weekend, I had the honor of spending time with a talented and dear artist who manages to maintain a sense of the magic and mystery of life just by the way he extracts himself from its noise. As a fine jeweler and photographer, Peter’s work takes him out of normal “seeing” every day. This is a person whose talent leaps outside the bounds of the normal. His work is extraordinary, indeed, magical. Within the work, Peter embodies a knowing that comes from wisdom, observation, patience, compassion, and humility. He lives these practices; and so, his knowledge grows as does his expression and artistry. I believe his sanity is derived from his dedication to expression. His method of expression, however, takes him to the edges of “normal” experience all the time.

I’ll attempt to explain.

Peter shared a story of a dream. In this dream he was given a vision of an object. That object was a deer toe rattle. As a fine jeweler, he understands the knowledge that is in his hands and translates that knowing into whatever piece he is making – be it a necklace with gemstones, or a deer toe rattle. He explained that the dream was extremely vivid, compelling, and insistent. He didn’t know why he was obliged to make the rattle. He just knew he was supposed to make it.

He told me, “I have come to trust that the reason for the rattle and me dreaming it would reveal itself in time.” And it did.

He explained further, “There was a young man I met at a Native American gathering who suffers from a form of muscular debility. Dancing at Pow Wows is part of this young man’s tradition; and so, he dances. He is amazingly powerful. Focused. Intense. Dedicated.” When you watch the young man dancing, which I, too, have witnessed; he is the ONLY person in the circle. His devotion to his craft is evident. His body contorts. He struggles to do all the steps. His balance is shaky. Still, he dances. And he is beautiful in his struggle and perseverance.

Peter said, “When I saw this young man dance, I knew it was he who I was to gift the deer toe rattle to.”

If you were ever given the opportunity to see Peter’s work, I am sure you would agree that it is breathtaking, museum quality art. If it were for sale, it would be extremely expensive to purchase. This was no superficial message or gift. To recognize the young dancer in this way, spoke volumes about both person’s dedication and understanding of what matters and what is truly of value. For the boy, it is dancing despite a debilitating handicap; for the artist, it is to listen to the messages, do the work, and honor the dream, even if the purpose is not always, at first, clear.

How does this relate to the quote from Didion’s book or to our understanding of wellness?

I believe the connections we make and honor keep us from “the shallowness of sanity.” When we separate from others, we risk becoming lost. It’s that simple. Connection can be anything from slowing down to watch birds fly south for the winter on your drive home from work. It can be to visit an elder in a nursing home or spend time with someone who is homebound and bring them the gift of your attention. It can be to walk barefoot and feel the earth under your feet. It can be to choose a different place to sit in the cafeteria with a student or co-worker whom you don’t normally socialize with – older, younger, shy, gregarious, popular, or not. It can be to listen without defense or pretense; or, to speak with confidence and courage. Or it can be the dream of a deer toe rattle designed, crafted, and gifted to a person you’ve never met.

The point is, find a way to connect. Our sanity is sometimes held securely with the deepening and meaningfulness of our connections to each other and to the many gifts freely provided to us – as long as we recognize them in our midst.

September was suicide awareness and prevention month. For more information about how you can advocate for those who may have become lost in some way, contact NAMI (National Alliance for the Mentally Ill), Lamoille County Mental Health or your own physician, counselor, family or friends.  There are many ways to find help and support.


Mary L. Collins is the Marketing Director at Lamoille Home Health & Hospice. A 2014 Home Care Elite Top Agency, LHH&H is one of eleven VNAs of Vermont home health and hospice agencies serving Vermont. She also serves as Marketing Director at The Manor, a 4 star nursing home and short term rehabilitation facility in Morrisville, VT, and she chairs the Lamoille Region Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors. 

The Wellness Garden at Lamoille Home Health & Hospice

By: Mary L. Collins

It’s no secret that wellness among those who provide care to others can often suffer from neglect. While it may be benign neglect, the fact is, nurses, LNAs, PCAs, homemakers, therapists and others in the direct care field can often place themselves last on the list of health and wellness.

The American Nurses Association defines a healthy caregiver as:

“one who actively focuses on creating and maintaining a balance and synergy of physical, intellectual, emotional, social, spiritual, personal and professional wellbeing. A healthy caregiver lives life to the fullest capacity, across the wellness/illness continuum, as they become stronger role models, advocates, and educators, personally, for their families, their communities and work environments, and ultimately for their patients.”

So, how do our caregivers manage their own needs?

By choosing nutritious foods and an active lifestyle, managing stress, living tobacco-free, getting preventive immunizations and screenings, and choosing protective measures such as wearing sunscreen and bicycle helmets, health care professionals and providers can set an example of how to be, themselves, healthy.

Lamoille Home Health & Hospice is dedicated to supporting its staff’s wellness by encouraging physical activity. Office staff are often seen walking the few miles each day around the health care campus on Washington Hwy that includes Copley Hospital, The Manor nursing home and short term rehabilitation facility, Copley Terrace, Morrisville Family Practice, and LHH&H’s offices. Staff can easily complete a two mile walk just by circling the campus. Many have invested in Fitbits to track their steps and activity. Most have dropped a few pounds in the process.

It is not only a physical benefit; the mental health benefits are also noted. According to Director of Nursing, Jennifer Beebe, “Nurses and caregivers are fully dedicated to their work, so much so, that we sometimes neglect our own health and wellness as we care for others. Lamoille Home Health is dedicated to providing the tools and resources our staff needs in order to stay physically and mentally healthy. It’s essential that we do in order to be examples to ourselves and to our patients.”


LHH&H has also received a grant from the Vermont Department of Health to launch our first Wellness Garden to benefit staff and families. If you agree with the adage, “Your body is your temple,” it starts with what we ingest, or don’t. LHH&H sees the wellness garden as a collective benefit and example for its staff and volunteers. All are invited to participate in the maintenance and harvest.

How does the wellness garden work?

Four years ago, the Vermont Department of Health, Vermont Community Garden Network, Gardener’s Supply Company, and Master Gardener, Charlie Nardozzi, started working together to create a way for small employers (under 100 people) to initiate a garden at their worksite. From that, the Green Thumbs at Work Program was born. Through it, cash grants are awarded to companies and nonprofit organizations through a competitive application process. The grants must be matched by the employer. Grantees also receive a gift certificate from Gardener’s Supply Company and technical assistance from the Vermont Community Garden Network and Nardozzi. Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Vermont provided more grant money to expand the program. To date, 26 employers in the state have started Green Thumbs at Work gardens. Eight more organizations were chosen to launch gardens in 2017. LHH&H is among those eight.

The LHH&H Garden will benefit staff, volunteers, and our clients. The support of the grant and donations from local organizations and businesses including the HA Manosh Corp., many community volunteers, and staff, including PCA, Peggy Sprague, who is donating ALL the starter plants from her own extensive home gardens, will help LHH&H to complete the garden and encourage good health habits among our employees.  A bimonthly newsletter will be shared among staff, volunteers and patients and will include gardening tips, healthy recipes, and the benefits of eating certain vegetables and herbs.

The LHH&H Wellness Garden will provide much needed physical activity as well as the bounty of fresh produce harvested throughout the growing season. For more information, contact, Mary L. Collins, Marketing Director, Lamoille Home Health & Hospice at (802) 888-4651 or, email her at mcollins@lhha.org


Mary L. Collins is the Marketing Director at Lamoille Home Health & Hospice. A 2014 Home Care Elite Top Agency, LHH&H is one of eleven VNAs of Vermont home health and hospice agencies serving Vermont. She also serves as Marketing Director at The Manor, a 4 star nursing home and short term rehabilitation facility in Morrisville, VT, and she chairs the Lamoille Region Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors. 

Which ‘P’ Do You Choose to Be?

By: Michele Whitmore

I am a positive person. In fact, people often ask me how I stay so positive. My response is that I choose to be. There are days when it would be much easier to choose the other ‘P’ (pessimism), but as I have learned from many others, the easy way is not always the right way or the best way when making a decision. Here are a few tips that I have used to help me stay on the positive path.

  • Whether your day will be a positive one or not is a choice we all make before getting out of bed. So, first thing in the morning, make the decision to have a positive day. Sure, some things may go south, but try not to let that impact the rest of your day.
  • Live life simply. Don’t try to keep up with anyone but yourself.
  • If your life is feeling a bit dysfunctional, remember: we all have our own challenges or dysfunctions. It’s kinda normal. And it’s ok.
  • Find time for self-reflection or self-improvement. Our lives are busy; we often over–schedule ourselves. It’s important to take time each day to “meet with ourselves” – check in, breathe deep, shut off your mind for a few minutes, and just be.

We all have this choice to make every day. Choose wisely and own it.


Michele Whitmore is the Associate Dean of Students at Johnson State College. She works closely with Student Service Departments within the College to provide purposeful events to students that will strengthen their professional leadership, personal growth, life skills development and social engagement. Thus far, the College has provided educational programs that cover LGBTQ issues, alcohol and drug use, sexual assault prevention, socio-economic struggles, and healthy choices related to eating well and being fit, to name a few.

Michele writes about the outreach and program opportunities that enhance the wellness of a campus community.