Tag Archives: Health

Chin Up

See The Blue Beyond The Trees We've all heard them before - "Stop & smell the roses." "Slow and steady win the race." "Chin up," etc. But what about, "See the blue beyond the trees?" I went for a mini hike with my family this past weekend. Things have been mighty crazy lately, so the…
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Quote of the Day

"Acceptance doesn't mean resignation; it means understanding that something is what it is and there's got to be a way through it." -Michael J. Fox
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National Dance Day

It's that time of year again! Every year on the last Saturday in July, the country celebrates National Dance Day. This Saturday, July 27th marks the day of fun this year, with dance events going on around the country. EVERYONE is encouraged to do some sort of movement to celebrate the day - dancer or…
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Bailey’s Corner: Sometimes You Just Have to Rip a Toy

Do you ever get that crazy pent up energy feeling?  Either the super happy, feelin' great, life's good feeling where you want to just zoom around and around the house, barking the entire time? Or, the super frustrated, I can't take it anymore, about to claw my way up the wall, not-so-good feeling? Either way…
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Dreaded RSV

It was one of every parents' nightmares - my little girl was in the hospital, looking so tiny and helpless in that huge bed, hooked up to an IV and oxygen. How did we go from my crazy, nonstop kid to this in just a matter of days?? After a week of being sick, 2…
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Think Your Kid is Drinking Milk? Think Again….

A friend of mine shared a link to this article on Facebook this morning, and I was instantly appalled. (Although, sadly, not surprised.) Aspartame in milk? Seriously?!? Why is it that our country is making it harder and harder to eat wholesome, natural foods? Is it any wonder that there has been a huge spike…
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To Dance Like a Child

Have you ever watched a child? Every move they make is instinctual and pure. Most of the time, they're not even conscious of what they are doing. They just move when it seems right. Sometimes it may get them into trouble, but usually, it's just what the body is meant to do. Stand back and…
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Warming Up to Workplace Wellness

EVERYONE WITH A JOB OR WITH AN EMPLOYEE - IT'S TIME TO PAY ATTENTION! At least 68% of adults and 17% of children in the US are obese or overweight.* Physical inactivity and poor diet cause more than 400,000 deaths each year.** Health care costs are reaching peak numbers in US history, and employers are…
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New York Live Arts (NYLA), the movement arts group led by renowned choreographer Bill T. Jones, recently announced that it would begin hosting an annual festival dedicated to exploring the interplay of art and ideas. Dubbed “Live Arts,” the festival will explore a different sub-theme each year. The first annual festival, which will run from April 17-21 in New York City, is tentatively titled “The World of Oliver Sacks” and will commemorate the great body of work Sacks has contributed to the world of neurology and, more specifically, the understanding of the connection between creative expression and the body. Outside of the medical world, Sacks is best known for his memoir Awakenings, which inspired the 1990 film starring Robert DeNiro and Robin Williams.

The schedule for the five-day festival has already been released, and for anyone interested in the world of artistic expression, or the world of science, there’s much to be excited about. Highlights include:

  • Jones and Sacks will participate in a keynote conversation about the overlaps in the world of neurology and the world of choreography
  • Bill Morrison will premiere his new film, RE:Awakenings, which is based on original footage shot by Sacks
  • Many of the neurologist’s former patients will sit on panels to discuss the impact of Sack’s creative inclinations on their healing and coping processes
  • Philosophers, writers, and doctors will host discussions dedicated to the doctor’s many critically-acclaimed books

Though not all the events are free, ticket prices are low enough to make them accessible to the general community. Overall, the new festival promises to be engaging, enlightening, and educational.

In perusing the events schedule, however, I’ve found what seems to me a disappointing oversight in the content. As the festival is hosted by NYLA, the emphasis on music and dance-related material makes sense and I’d happily attend any of the advertised panels, performances, or discussions. But I can’t help but yearn for an event—just one—dedicated to the exploring the relationship between writing and health. Sacks is a prolific writer who, if my experience is any benchmark, has had a profound influence on writers everywhere. Through his many medically inclined but exceptionally readable books, Sacks has proven that reflective personal narrative and detailed, informative scientific prose are not mutually exclusive.

Yet, based on the information made available so far, only one of the festival’s events will deal directly with Sacks the writer, but not from the perspective of the mind-body connection. The moderated panel “Sacks the Writer: Process and Influence,” will feature two of the doctor’s editors and two fellow writers discussing the lasting impact of Sacks’ twelve books and countless articles on the writing world. But Sacks himself, it seems, will not speak and the connection between the writing process and mental and physical health won’t necessarily be explored.

As someone who began writing at a very young age, I believe quite strongly in the cathartic power of the written word, of journaling, of crafting a pro-con list before making a difficult decision. Research has confirmed the positive effects of writing (both creative writing like poetry and autobiographical writing) on patients in both mental and physical distress, and therapeutic writing workshops are interestingly beginning to gain popularity even as talk therapy is on the decline.

If the first Live Arts festival is going to explore Sacks’ contribution to our understanding of the connection between art and health, I think it would be incredibly enlightening to hear the doctor speak about the impact writing has had on his well-being. I imagine Sacks’ day-to-day life must often be excessively stressful. A large portion of his medical career has been spent working with patients in the direst circumstances—patients with debilitating disabilities and little will to live. Sacks chronicles these interactions beautifully in his essays and books but rarely directly confronts his own emotional state, and this reader can’t help but wonder if the doctor turner author has ever reflected on the role writing has played in his ability to sustain himself in such an emotionally and mentally straining field of work.

In a recent interview with The Daily Beast, Sacks told a reporter, “It infuriates me not to be able to write something that has popped into my mind.” To me, this indicates that Sacks does see writing as a calming activity, as I like to think most writers do. Adding a conversation about this connection, about the role of writing in the pursuance of greater overall well-being, to the Live Arts lineup could encourage continued conversation and awareness around the phenomenal impact writing can have on a person’s emotional, mental and physical health. Like dancing, playing an instrument, or composing a song, writing is an inherently creative and active process that can offer emotional relief and foster greater self-awareness. Taking a little time out of each day to reflect, in writing, on your emotional state can help you heal after a traumatic event, serve as an outlet for working out minor frustrations without falling victim to needless stressors, or allow you to celebrate and preserve positive experiences. And while I’m sure Oliver Sacks would agree, I nevertheless think the greater Live Arts audience could benefit from hearing the doctor’s experiences with writing as a form of catharsis.

Just a thought.

- Jean-Ann Kubler

Superbugs, Superstorms, SuperFrustrated!

This year has been whacked out. Well, if I'm to be honest, the last few years have been a little whacky. But this past year seems to really outdo them all so far. I'm not one of those people who think the world is going to end any time soon - I think we still…
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