Trust Your Baby and Your Body: HypnoBirthing® Can Provide a ‘More Beautiful Birthing Experience’
By Tracie Bettenhausen │ Photography: Photos by Jacy For the past three months, for about an hour a day, sometimes more, Allison Lindstrom has been putting her mind into a place of relaxation, trust, and calm. It’s a practice that involves her husband, Ryan, and her unborn baby girl. For about 25 minutes, Allison focuses on daily affirmations, gaining confidence, and losing fear. The daily affirmations help Allison develop a trust in her body, and in the baby. “Trust the baby knows what it’s doing,” she says. For another 25 minutes, Allison and Ryan together go through rainbow relaxation. “It’s called ‘rainbow’ because we go through the colors of the rainbow, imagining the colors surrounding our body, relaxing us,” Allison says. “We do it together so that I get used to his voice relaxing me, and he gets used to helping me relax.” The process is called HypnoBirthing®. Colette Rudolph, Registered Nurse, is a certified consulting hypnotist authorized to teach the Mongan Method of the practice. “We teach couples about the myths we learn, that birthing has to be so painful. That cycle of fear creates tension and pain in the body. We teach what hypnosis is, and what it’s not, and then we get into how giving birth can be calm and gentle if you want it to be,” Colette says. “Hypnosis is not something that’s done to you, it’s something you allow yourself to experience. I wonder, where was this method when I was having my three children?” Colette says with some seriousness that women love to tell birthing horror stories that scare expectant women. “I give out a button that says, ‘PLEASE! Only happy birth stories. My baby is listening,'” Colette laughs. Colette got into HypnoBirthing at the prompting of a colleague she met at a hypnotherapy conference. “I had been helping people with pain management, anxiety, depression, weight loss, and smoking cessation. Most of my career in nursing had been with hospice and end-of-life care, 25 years,” she says. “There was so much focus on grave situations, and I wanted to start helping people in the here-and-now. Life and death are very similar in many ways. Bringing new life into this world can bring such joy and energy back into your life.” A mother does not have to forgo an epidural or other drugs to use HypnoBirthing during delivery, Colette says, but that is one of the reasons many women choose the method. “When you drug the mom, you drug the baby, and that interferes with that critical timing of bonding with the baby,” Colette says. In addition to relaxation and focus, HypnoBirthing employs three types of breathing: calm breathing, to be done between contractions; surge breathing, to be done while experiencing contractions; and birth breathing, to be done in place of the time when many women hold their breath and push. “We are encouraged not to push, but to do more visualization and breathing,” Allison says. “Imagine a flower opening up, like your muscles unfolding.” Allison says a natural birth is her goal. She says they’ve submitted their birth plan with the doctor, and expect to go through with it unless there in an emergency. She says the daily meditations have also been a bonding experience with her baby, and she feels what she calls a “deeper love” for the baby. They’re in this together. “I just never wanted to need to rely on drugs and medication for this. Women have given birth for years without that, so why would I introduce it if I don’t have to. It’s just a way to bring my baby into the world that I can feel good about,” Allison says. “I think if she’s brought into the world gently, it could affect her for the rest of her life.” To see more photos, click here for a gallery taken by Photos by Jacy.
Tana Johnson: Angel 37 Kitchen, Good for the Body and the Soul
By Jody Kerzman│Photography: Photos by Jacy 37. It’s a number that speaks to Dickinson’s Tana Johnson. It’s also a number that appears to her in the most unexpected places and ways. “My dad, Jim Bosch, was born in 1937. He retired from the North Dakota National Guard after 37 years of service. When he passed away, his hospital room number ended with 37. He’s buried at the Veteran’s Cemetery in Mandan, and his grave marker includes the number 37,” explains Tana. “My dad passed away in January 2012. In the years since then, the number 37 has popped out at me all over the place. It comes to me literally on a daily basis. I live in District 37. The year he passed, it was a very mild January and every morning when I got into my car, the thermometer said 37-degrees. Randomly, on a taxi ride with a co-worker in Arizona, I looked out the window and saw a brick building with the numbers 3737 on it.” Tana is sure it’s no coincidence. “I grew up Catholic and I’ve always considered myself a spiritual person, but it wasn’t until after my dad passed and I started my job as a homeless case manager at Badlands Human Services that I really became spiritually guided. “I’ve always looked for ways to help and empower people,” she explains. “I knew there was one soup kitchen every Thursday in Dickinson, but I wanted to do something more than just feed the hungry. Food of course is one of the essential elements we need to live, but I wanted to incorporate the soul part of it and bring the community together.” Enter Angel 37 Kitchen. “After thinking about this for two years, I started writing a mission statement in July and on November 8, we served our first meal.” Angel 37 Kitchen serves a free meal every Tuesday at Queen of Peace Church, a place that is near and dear to Tana’s heart. “I wanted to honor my dad in a way that was meaningful,” says Tana. “I grew up in Queen of Peace. Mom and Dad have been parish members since the church was built in the 1970s. My parents instilled in me a willingness to open yourself to other people. I feel I am called to do this. I feel like this is my legacy.” Tana has worked hard to make her soup kitchen more than just a place where people go to eat. She wants Angel 37 Kitchen to be a place where people from all walks of life go to nourish their body and their soul. “Yes there are people who need food who can’t afford it or those who just want a good home-cooked meal. There are also those who seclude themselves because of depression, anxiety, or mental health illness. We want them to come to Angel 37. We also want the mom who has had a rough day to bring her family to Angel 37 for supper. We want to take the stress off for one meal. We want them to meet new people, to network, to have fellowship. I make sure my Angel 37 playlist of music is ready to go. That helps set the mood and helps people relax and enjoy themselves. “I’ve had people tell me they’d love to come, but they don’t feel like they should because they can afford groceries, or they can afford to go out to a restaurant. I tell them to come anyway. I want people from all walks of life to be at Angel 37. They could offer a job to someone, or give the gift of conversation. I tell them that by being there they might be the gift that someone else needs at that moment in life, or vice versa.” The response to Angel 37 Kitchen has been greater than Tana ever imagined. “When I first put it on Facebook what I was doing, people came out of the woodwork wanting to know how they could help. People I didn’t even know were messaging me. Businesses emailed me asking how they could help. It’s been overwhelming and so cool.” Tana started asking for sponsorships and volunteers. She’s got a list of people who want to help. “Families are volunteering together. Parents have told me they’re craving something like this. They want their children to volunteer and to be involved in the community.” Even Tana’s 13-year-old daughter, Jenna, has gotten involved. Jenna leads the Angel Kid Korner where children can play while their parents enjoy their meal. But perhaps the most surprising group of volunteers, was a group of five people in recovery from addiction. “I always introduce the sponsors and the cooks before each meal. When I asked this group how they wanted to be introduced, they wanted to be called recovering addicts. There was no shame. So I did. And everyone clapped when I introduced them as recovering addicts. That says a lot about our community. There was no judgement. “Angel 37 Kitchen is magical. Every week something magical happens. You never know who is going to show up, but it is always a blessing.” Tana says she hopes her dad is proud of what she’s doing. She feels his presence, and each week, when she decorates the space, she includes a picture of her dad, her very own Angel 37. Tana is always looking for volunteers and sponsors. Contact her via Angel 37 on Facebook, email her at email@example.com, or call or text her at 701-290-7559. To see more photos of Tana, click here for a gallery by Photos by Jacy.
Community Contributor: BisMan Stiletto
By Marci Narum Melissa Hill Hammond is the founder and president of BisMan Stiletto. She shares about the group: What is BisMan Stiletto? We are professional women committed to completing service projects that are impactful to Bismarck Mandan. Give us a little history about your group. In 2012 I was starting an insurance agency and was involved in every networking group that would allow me to participate. I had the realization that all of that was only benefiting me. It didn’t feel good. Earlier in the year my agency had hosted a Stiletto Race to raise funds for March of Dimes. I reached out to those women that participated and asked if they would be interested in forming an official group focused on giving back. Together with seven other business women we began to develop BisMan Stiletto. We functioned with a small group for a few years. In 2015 we received our 501(c)3 status. Today we have over 50 members, have completed over 1,500 service hours, and donated over $15,000 to other local organizations. What services or benefits do you offer? I am proud to announce we just added our first sister Stiletto Group, Minot Stiletto. Each Stiletto Group has the flexibility to work with any other organization in their community to complete a service project. Our mission is to do a lot of good with a little effort from everyone involved. How are you different from other organizations like yours? We only fundraise one time per year with the Stiletto Race. The monies raised from that event allow us to do the work we want to do. The community has been very generous with their sponsorships. The race is their unique way to give back. The other special feature of Stiletto is that we have a service requirement of 12 service hours per year to maintain active membership. Who do you help? We work with other nonprofits to help make the community better. One of the responsibilities of our members is to find projects. If a nonprofit has a need that we can come in and resolve, those are the types of projects we enjoy doing. We recently helped Tracy’s Sanctuary House by hosting the White Party for Purpose. Other groups we have helped are Designer Genes, Hope Manor, Welcome House, Ruth Meiers, and several others. How can people participate or join? There are a few ways people can participate. We are always looking to expand membership. We ask prospective members to visit our website online at bismanstiletto.com to fill out the “Become a Member” section. Our Membership Chair, Stacy Sturm, will reach out and go over our group in further detail to make sure they are aligned with what we are doing. Race sponsorship is key to furthering our group. We would be thrilled to add new sponsorships to our upcoming race held on July 4, 2017.
Bridges, Alleys, And The Million Mile Smile
By Patrick Atkinson This letter is to say thanks… and you know why. When I left working in the battlefields of Central America to work United Nations human trafficking issues in Southeast Asia, I wrote everyone I knew and asked for their prayers. “Whatever’s ahead is going to be big,” I said. “I’m scared,” is what I meant. During these past 38 years of working in the darkest shadows of society, I have been frightened more times than you can imagine. Sometimes the reasons are obvious, like when a bullet struck my car window, or when a bomb shattered my hotel window at night. Illness brings us a special fear since it affects us on very intimate levels. The time my weight dropped from 160 lbs. down to 107, it took every ounce of energy I had just to breathe. “Take one more,” I would whisper while lying alone. In specific moments like these we know why we are afraid. Most of the time though, it’s because there is something out there that we just don’t know. At 12, Jordan was one of the smartest boys I have ever known. He certainly had the quickest sense of humor and, with his smile and natural ability, could have been an actor anywhere in the world. Instead he wanted to be a doctor and help the poor. When he was 14, Jordan was at the top his class. “I’ll make it,” he said to me. “Don’t worry.” But I did worry because I knew how scared he was. You see, Jordan was running from a past where he had never known his father and where his mother still worked the streets. He hid under the bed when some men hurt his sisters, and still had scars from when those same men found him hiding. Two days after he turned 15, Jordan ran away for some silly reason and traded school (and everything else) for dark and dirty alleyways and even dirtier, darker rooms. He was smart enough, though, to call me and to stay in touch. I often looked for Jordan and when we met, it was like old times as we talked and laughed and I tried like the devil (or worked hard against him) to get that boy back. God finally gave me the chance one night in December when Jordan became angry, drugged, and dangerous. He was sick and infected, and in this altered state, chose the wrong street gang and picked the wrong fight. I later found Jordan sitting on the ledge of a 180-foot high bridge with swollen and bloodied eyes. He saw nothing ahead. We ended up talking for hours. That night I told Jordan some very simple truths—that he was loved and that people liked him. That he was sick and could get better. And, yes, he could even go back to school and start to hope… to dream… again. Maybe it was the cold of the steel or the wind of the night, but Jordan eventually breathed deeply and said we should leave that bridge. Helen Keller once wrote that our struggles in life become our greatest blessings; that they make us patient and sensitive, and teach us that although the world is full of suffering, it is equally full of overcoming it. When we believe we have a small chance of beating back something that shouldn’t be happening, that chance gives us hope. In this hope we find… we create… strength. With that strength we take one step forward and then another, and soon we are moving ahead. For years I wondered what people meant when they chided me to count my blessings. What? I thought. Don’t they know about the violence and poverty, bloodshed, and threats we work with every day? No, they don’t, because these dynamics of my international work are mine, not theirs. They have their own unique situations from which to learn. “Why is this happening? What can I do now, or learn from this?” In every situation laid before us we can choose to discover that which makes us stronger; in every moment learn what it is that will bless us and make us stronger forever. Jordan went on to college, and in his second year moved home to live with his mother. The last time I saw him, for old time sake we walked the alleyways and backstreets that were once his, and we sat on his ledge. His road back wasn’t easy, but he made it. His smile can still be seen a million miles away. The bridge where Patrick found Jordan sitting that night The bridge where Patrick found Jordan sitting that night The bridge where Patrick found Jordan sitting that night The bridge where Patrick found Jordan sitting that night Jordan Bismarck native Patrick Atkinson is the founder of The GOD’S CHILD Project international charity that cares for and educates 13,700 people worldwide each day. He is considered one of the nation’s foremost experts in human trafficking and street gang violence, and is a published author with books in worldwide distribution.
Doubly Blessed by Twins: One Miracle, One Angel
By Jody Kerzman Sara Murray and Isla The road to motherhood was a long, bumpy one for Sara Murray. She and her husband, Jeff, struggled with infertility for years. After several extensive infertility treatments and procedures, Sara finally got pregnant. They soon learned they were expecting twins, a boy and a girl. “We were ecstatic. When you try for so long to get pregnant and then get two for the price of one, you feel like you hit the lottery,” says Sara. While twin pregnancies often come with complications, Sara’s pregnancy was pretty uneventful. “I had severe morning sickness at the beginning, but I didn’t care. We were pregnant with twins and that was all that mattered.” The babies were due April 21, 2015. On January 10, Sara had a routine checkup. “Everything looked wonderful,” Sara recalls. “Five days later, my water broke. I was 26 weeks along. We raced to the hospital and prayed they could stop labor.” Despite their best efforts, doctors were not able to stop Sara’s labor. She delivered her baby boy, Beckett, first. Two hours later, her daughter, Isla was born. “I didn’t get to see them when they were born, not even a glimpse. They were taken to the NICU immediately.” Five hours later, Sara finally got to see her babies. Born 14 weeks early, Beckett weighed just one pound, eight ounces. Isla was two pounds, one ounce. “Seeing them was emotional and shocking. They had tubes coming out from everywhere but I was immediately in love with them, tubes and all,” says Sara. Sara spent a few days in the hospital and spent most of that time in the NICU with her babies. When she was discharged, she and Jeff continued to spend much of their time at the hospital. “Beckett was doing much better than Isla. He was smaller, but his lungs were much more developed,” Sara remembers. “Five days after they were born, the doctor told us he was going to take out Beckett’s breathing tube. He said he had been showing signs he was ready. We decided to leave while they took the tubes out. We didn’t want to see that.” But that’s when Sara’s road to motherhood suddenly got even bumpier. “We got a call from the hospital, telling us something wasn’t right with Beckett. They weren’t sure what was wrong, but his blood labs were off.” Doctors suspected a brain bleed, but a scan of Beckett’s brain was clear. Doctors concluded Beckett had an infection. Then, the phone rang again. “The nurse said ‘we need you here right now,’” recalls Sara. “It was a terrible call. They said Beckett’s infection had gotten into his blood and he had gone into septic shock. The doctor told me he’s very, very sick and to just keep thinking positive, but he told me Beckett might not make it. A huge team of people was working on him, but he got worse. They cut his chest open and put a chest tube in. We just had to stand there. We were screaming, bawling, yelling at him to stay with us. “It got to the point where there was nothing else they could do for him. I remember a nurse saying ‘call it.’ They pulled the tubes from him and I held him. He took his last breath in my arms. It was absolutely terrible. It was the worst day of our lives.” But the couple knew they had to persevere. They spent their time at the same hospital where they had lost one baby, caring for their other baby. “The first week I cried all day every day. I cried at the hospital. I cried at home. I’d wake up crying and go to bed crying. We were so scared. We thought we’d lose Isla too. Beckett had been doing better than her, and he was gone.” But Isla beat the odds. On May 1, 2015, after 106 days in the hospital, she went home. “She’s a miracle baby.” Still, Sara says it feels like something is missing. “We talk about Beckett every day. It’s very complicated having a twinless twin. Every milestone Isla meets is bittersweet. We know there should be two babies doing what she’s doing. As much as we love her and need her, it’s difficult having a surviving twin. She is a constant reminder of the baby we lost.” Sara struggled with guilt, especially at the beginning. “I just could not wrap my head around how badly my body had failed the babies.” Needing answers, Sara saw several specialists. None could give her a reason for what had happened. They simply said it could have happened to anyone. While not an answer, it has given Sara a purpose. She wants others to hear her story, and to talk about infant loss and stillbirths. “I connected with some great people on Facebook who have also lost a baby. Talking and connecting with other people who have been there helps. When you lose a baby, you feel isolated. No one gets it, no one understands. I hope my story can help someone in a similar situation to know they’re not alone.” And while Sara is helping others, Isla is helping her. “She’s a miracle. She saved our lives. When Beckett died, Jeff and I had a feeling that we didn’t want to be here. But we had to keep going for her.” A miracle and a blessing, whose smile and joy for life has helped Sara find joy again, despite the bumps in the road. Isla in her early NICU days Isla today Beckett in the NICU Sara Murray and Isla
Oh Man: Because Guys Inspire Too – Andrew Hershey: Comfort my People
Andrew Hershey By Marci Narum At 22, Andrew Hershey is comfortable with the idea of being uncomfortable. He is preparing himself to live for 11 months without all the comforts of home—most notably, a warm bed, good food, and modern plumbing. And then there are those things every 20-something needs at any given moment: coffee and free Wi-Fi. These comforts will be scarce when backpacking through the mountains of Kazakhstan or traveling through the deserts of Morocco, just a couple of the countries he will see on the World Race. The World Race is a mission trip that will take Andrew to 11 countries in 11 months. “The mission of the World Race is to do whatever we can to bring God’s kingdom to Earth,” Andrew says. “So whether that’s service projects, leading Vacation Bible School, street ministry, door-to-door ministry, praying for people, or sharing our personal testimonies, that’s what we will do. If we can shine the light in a dark place, that’s what we want to do. We’ll be sent out in groups of four or six in a ministry team. But I will be part of a squad of 30. And we will be together for 11 months.” Andrew has been on mission trips before, but nothing like the World Race. He says this one challenges a person’s endurance and abilities, especially the ability to live simply, without the comforts of life most of us enjoy in the United States. “I think they call it a race because it requires endurance, perseverance, faith, and commitment. The days are long and a lot of things are uncomfortable, whether that’s toilets in the ground that you have to squat over or eating food that is not necessarily good, or good for you. Or just doing what you need to do to be part of the culture.” Kicking off in Mexico 11 years ago, the World Race is described as “a raw adventure in faith.” It takes people out of their comfort zones to places where there are others needing to be comforted, fed, and loved through the word of God. Some have never heard it. The route Andrew’s squad will take, for example, is called “Expedition 10/40”—from Spain to East Asia. “We are going to parts of the world that have the most people who have never heard the word of God. We will start in Spain, hike around south Spain, and then go to Morocco, and over to Egypt and up into Israel, Jordan, and Cyprus. Then we’ll go to Turkey, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Mongolia, and China. “Each country, month to month, will be different. We’ll have everything on us in a backpack as well as a tent. We may stay in a hut, hostel, barn, or other shelter. “I never thought I would be able to do the World Race. I went on a couple of mission trips and trainings and it was through those experiences I saw the purpose of it. I saw there is more fulfillment and joy in giving versus receiving, taking, or holding onto what we have.” And that is coming from a young man who firmly describes himself as being formerly selfish. “I never really had a desire to do missions work or travel overseas. I just wanted to stay comfortable. My dream was to work, make a lot of money, and get a house on a lake. My perception of that dream started to change when I realized there is more purpose in life than to live it just for myself.” Andrew says the transformation started to happen while he was in college, as he started to understand his faith and what God was leading him into. “What is given to me should only be used to bless someone else,” Andrew explains. “I realized how big the picture is. The story in the Bible is how Jesus came and died for us. And people overseas are not hearing it.” Andrew is a native of Rugby. And like many college students today, he graduated with significant debt: $32,000. But after attending the University of Northwestern-St. Paul, transferring and graduating from Mayville State University, Andrew came up with a plan to pay it off quickly. “I decided that if I can live like a college student for one more year I’ll put away as much as I can toward my student loan debt. It took me one year and one month and I finished paying off my debt. That’s when I decided this is the opportunity to do the World Race. There’s no better time in life to go. I’m not married, I have no debt, and it’s a way to experience God and make Him known in this world.” Andrew needs to raise $18,617 to cover his trip costs, plus another $3,000 for his own expenses. Andrew is a youth leader at Charity Lutheran Church in Bismarck, and his World Race adventure starts in August this year. He says raising the money doesn’t worry him; he is comfortable trusting God to provide. “I leave August ‘17 and I want you on my team. It’s my little slogan. Because the more people that are involved in this mission and pray about it, the more lives get touched. It’s definitely a team atmosphere, through prayer or through financial support. In college I heard once that if we’re not called to go, we are called to send.” Follow and support Andrew at andrewhershey.theworldrace.org or call him at 701-681-0116. Andrew on a mission trip in the Dominican Republic Andrew on a mission trip in the Dominican Republic Andrew on a mission trip in the Dominican Republic Andrew on a mission trip in the Dominican Republic Andrew on a mission trip in East Asia Andrew Hershey hiking in South Dakota, preparing for the World Race
Anne Chambers At Home. In Tune. Making History.
Anne Chambers by Audrey Wentz | Submitted Photos Drum roll, please… History is being made in the band room at St. Mary’s Central High School. Anne (Jundt) Chambers is the first woman to serve as a high school band director in the Bismarck-Mandan area. She started in August and is right at home in the school; adding a little more pep while she is there. A native of Bismarck, Chambers graduated in 2007 with honors from SMCHS. While in high school, Anne earned the honor of first chair in the SMCHS Wind Orchestra under the direction of Mr. William J. Schmidt. As a clarinetist, she was principal player for four consecutive years in the North Dakota High School All-State Band and Orchestra. In her senior year, she received the John Philip Sousa Award in recognition of her musical talent and leadership. Anne received her Bachelors of Music Education and Bachelors of Science in Elementary Education degrees from Northern State University in Aberdeen, South Dakota. While in college at NSU, she had the opportunity to perform with the band “Kansas.” She was selected by audition to Anne Chambers, marching in a parade be one of 18 students to participate in conducting workshops sponsored by the University of Minnesota for two consecutive years. Before making her way back to St. Mary’s, Anne served as the assistant director of bands at the Brandon Valley Public Schools in Brandon, South Dakota. Last fall, Anne and her husband, Ben, accepted the positions to direct the high school and junior high bands within the Light of Christ Catholic Schools. Ben conducts the junior high band and Anne is living her dream. She says she has always dreamed of being a teacher, so to pursue her dream at her alma mater with her husband has been a huge blessing to her and to the students. “I’ve always looked up to my band directors, in particular Bill Schmidt, who taught at SMCHS for over 30 years and it is my goal to continue on the legacy of excellence within the music program,” says Anne. This is a goal she has already begun to accomplish in the short amount of time she has been at St. Mary’s. Anne has already added new pep band tunes, taken the pep band to Fargo to play for the Class AA state football championship, and has the bands sounding great. And that’s just in the first half of the school year. She is happy to be back at SMCHS and is excited about the future of the band. It’s a future her students are excited about as well. Anne says it has been a joy to be able to teach and pursue her career in a Catholic education system. She says she is exactly where she is supposed to be. “God had a plan for me and when you follow the pieces, it all works out.” Audrey Wentz is a junior at St. Mary’s Central High School. She writes for her school’s newspaper and is an active participant in student council, speech, band, and various other activities. She loves spending time with friends and family, and loves to travel.
An Interview with my Unhealthy Mother, About Health
Amber Rae and her mom, Lana. By Amber Rae Bernhardt Hi. I’m new here. Long time reader, first time writer for this lovely publication. A few weeks ago, much to my extreme honor, a very inspirational woman asked me to contribute to this edition. Much to my horror, she asked me to write an article about health. I spend nine hours a day in a fitness center…yet I’ve never taken advantage of its amenities. My job is to promote the health of others and I quite literally talk the talk but don’t walk the walk. In fact I’m embarrassingly below average in my wellness endeavors. I eat terribly, have poor sleeping habits and don’t get any activity outside of chasing around my two small children. With my access and proximity I have more opportunity than most and still here I sit, eating cheese and caramel corn (it’s so good you guys,) drinking way too much soda and having an anxiety attack about telling others how to be healthier. When I got the call the compose this piece, after breathing into a paper bag for a while, taking a nap and hitting a drive through for some carb confidence, I tried to clear my addled brain and think about what I could possible write for you that would be worthy of this magazine, as well as of your time and kind attention, fair reader. So I determined to forget about health for a minute and started thinking about YOU. Women. Real, every day women, who work too much and play too little and spend more time focusing on your homes and your families and your responsibilities than you do yourselves. And I started to feel better, because that’s me, too. I know this stuff. Then I thought more, about the women I know personally, how they inspire me and how they find ways to be healthy, without a personal trainer or a nutritionist or extra income or free time. And then it hit me. I could talk about the most inspired woman I know. My mom. I recognize that to say your mother inspires you is a cliché. And don’t get me wrong, she’s no Judy Garland or Elton John, but then that’s the point. She’s a regular person with a job and a family and bills to pay and a home to maintain. Yet my mother is anything but average, and her quiet determination and perseverance to not only survive but thrive have been the example that has kept me moving forward and climbing upward, even when things are at their most difficult. Thus I have decided the best way for me to share with you a story about health and wellness is to talk about my true hero. Here goes. When my mother was 17 years old she was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. In 1967 in rural North Dakota, there was no treatment and no cure. It was a death sentence. There was a radiologist in the area who was working on an experimental procedure and new therapies, and her family doctor recommended she try them for lack of anything to Lana Bernhardt lose. For the next twelve weeks my mother received radiation treatments on an open table to her entire torso, neck and head. Lymphangiograms were conducted with radioactive materials administered into the tops of her feet through thick syringes anchored to a wooden block, heated by a light bulb and distributed by a slow press with small weights. Five days per week, three to five hours per day, the then teenager laid on her back, unable to move, while copious amounts of poisons passed through her body. In a matter of days, her skin was so burned and sensitive that discomfort had turned to pain and pain to agony and soon the alternative to her death had become torture. “Did you think you were going to die?” I asked her as we prepared for this article. “Most definitely,” was her definitive reply. “I was always sure the next appointment was going to be the one where they said, ‘I didn’t work. It’s over.’” “So how did you get through that? What did you do to cope?” I inquired. “I stopped looking ahead,” she told me. “I made short, small, attainable goals. Get through this minute. Now this one. Eat a few bites of food. Take a few steps. Just keep going. I also learned to compartmentalize myself,” she continued. “I would breathe, clear my head, isolate parts of my body and focus. I’d tell myself, ‘Be still, be calm, it doesn’t hurt. Count the ceiling tiles. Count the letters on the chart. Breathe.” “What made you keep going? Why didn’t you give up?” was my next question. “When they marked me for radiation, they drew a line from my sternum to my navel, and another from shoulder to shoulder. I bore the cross, which started my journey of faith,” she said. “And I had a life to live. Small goals. I wanted to go to prom. I wanted to be in the senior recital. I wanted to graduate from high school. So I took those short steps, and I did it. After that, and I didn’t die, I just kept moving.” She got married that summer and time passed and more steps were taken, though it wasn’t until ten years later that she finally heard the words ‘cancer free.’ My mother told me, “They never really declared me in remission because they were never really looking for that. We were just done with the experiment then I got out of school and your dad and I moved and traveled. After many years, during a follow up procedure, they told me they saw no more signs of the Hodgkin’s. The incision from that surgery made a ‘V’ from my abdomen to my back. It was my victory scar.” “After you were born,” mom said, “I set more small goals. Get you enough food. Enough clothes. A roof over your head. Get you an education. My faith grew stronger. I prayed and prayed every day ‘God please just let me get my children through high school.’” With a new lease on life…my mother went on to do all the wrong things. She drank too much and smoked too much and ran as hard as she could toward something meaningful because in the back of her mind she knew it wouldn’t last. She had grown accustomed to a short sighted way of thinking and her practice became her purpose to live in the moment. I assure you it was a great deal of excitement and adventure growing up that way, but I digress. Fast forward nearly thirty years to the turn of the century. My little brother was graduating from high school, I was getting married and my mother was diagnosed with breast cancer. “After the appointment I got in my car and drove to the church and just broke down,” mom told me. “I cried because God had given me exactly what I’d asked for and now my free ride had ended.” It was then she realized that making a change and her continued survival was in her own hands; she was now in the driver’s seat. She owed it to God to no longer take her life for granted and her penance would be paid. None of those doctors in 1967 expected her to experience the new millennium, and the effects of the excessive radiation and rudimentary therapies they delivered out of desperation would continue to take their toll over the next decade and a half. After the mastectomy came a surge of surgical procedures to remove or repair organs and tissue that were no longer functioning: her uterus, part of her colon, a portion of her kidney, her spleen, thyroid gallbladder and appendix. She was placed on permanent oxygen and underwent several bone fusions in her spine for fractures due to severe osteoporosis. She even received an open heart valve replacement. 14 major surgeries and countless minor twilight procedures later, she was diagnosed with CLL Leukemia. That was nearly five years ago. “Now the only steps I can take are small ones!” my mother laughed as we neared the end of our informal interview for this article. “I’m still not ready to go and I’m not leaving any time soon,” she told me, proudly. To the purpose of this story, there were things I wanted to know from my mother the fighter, the survivor, that I could share with all of you. What can a non-Judy Garland/Elton John type person do to maintain their own health and wellness? What can someone who is not in naturally good health, or who doesn’t have the means or the resources to acquire every day activity or nutrition support, do to achieve personal wellness? “Do as I say, not as I do,” mom began, which has ever been her mantra, much to my constant irritation and conversely, my inspiration. “Just keep moving. Don’t focus on something so far away that it seems unreachable. If it feels impossible you’ll set yourself up for failure and disappointment. Set attainable goals, take small steps. Start by walking to the end of the driveway and back every day, until you can walk to the end of the block then do that every day. Then walk around the block, then keep going, just don’t stop moving. Lift a two pound weight a few times, then try a four pound weight. Do leg lifts. Start with three, then five, then seven. Get up out of your chair without using your hands. Stretch. Just. Keep. Moving.” “Similarly,” she continued, “Don’t tell yourself ‘I can’t ever eat chocolate or chips.’ Don’t go on crash diets. Remember, impossibility is failure and disappointment. Make good choices. Limit sugar and salt. Eat lots of green vegetables and get enough protein and calcium. Small steps, attainable goals. In moderation, occasionally allow yourself a couple of chips or a piece of chocolate. Enjoy the things you like, but don’t think of it as a reward. Just make good daily choices, always. Soon you’ll feel better and your body will prefer the good things. And always eat breakfast and drink a lot of water. You won’t be as hungry during the day and you’ll find yourself snacking less.” “Most importantly,” my mother said, “don’t wait until you’re diagnosed to live a healthy life. I waited until after the breast cancer diagnosis to stop smoking and drinking and start eating better. What saved me was the fact that I was always active. I spent my post Hodgkin’s years biking and hiking and swimming and dancing like no one was watching. Because of that I was physically strong enough to get through it. And once I started getting sicker I knew I had to stay active so I could continue to be strong. It wasn’t too late for me, it isn’t too late for anyone else. If you set small, attainable goals you can get through it.” “I do wish they had support groups for survivors when I was young. I might have lived smarter sooner if I hadn’t felt alone. It’s so important to have a support system who knows what you’re going through and can relate to how you’re feeling and what you’re thinking. They have them now, so I encourage everyone who is facing an illness like this to join a group and discuss their journey. Family and friends are wonderful caretakers but until you’ve looked at yourself in a mirror after a mastectomy, or tried on a new shirt, or gone on a date, you really can’t comprehend the physical and emotional transformation that happens. So find someone who knows and talk with them about it. It helps so much to realize you’re not alone and have someone else to rely on.”*** “Finally, please remember this: You only have one life, and only one body to live it in. Treat it well, with kindness and respect. You’re going to live longer than you think you will so start looking forward now. Be grateful for what you have, work hard for the things you want and take care of yourself, for your family and for you. And never, ever stop moving.” Last week, some good news. The CCL has not progressed and my mother needs no further treatment at this time. She has had several years of relatively good health, is enjoying her retirement, assists her elderly mother and spends quality time with her long awaited grandchildren. And while I have lived alongside her various illnesses for my entire life, it wasn’t until I had the opportunity to work with her on writing this article that I really understood all she has accomplished. How much of a superstar she really is. I think part of me was always afraid to look too closely at the details of my mother’s life for fear of seeing myself reflected in her image. But now that the mirror has been turned toward me, I am apprehensive but appreciative about the next small steps as I hope to start my journey to health and wellness. I am nearly the same age my mother was when she was diagnosed with breast cancer. I have been far more fortunate than she has in regard to my health, but I have not been any more kind or respectful to my body. I owe it to myself, and to her, to start. It’s not too late. First, an attainable goal. Tomorrow, I will take a short break at work and walk once around the track that is literally fifteen feet from my office. The next day, I’ll take two laps. Next week…well…that’s too far ahead for me. I am my mother’s daughter, after all. But for now, in this moment, I’m inspired to take a short walk. Won’t you join me? Free cancer support programs in Bismarck Mandan: Livestrong at the YMCA Missouri Valley Family Y Next session January 17-April 6 Tuesdays and Thursdays Breast Cancer Support Group Bismarck Cancer Center 2nd Thursday of each month Sanford Health Cancer Support Group Peace Lutheran Church 1st Monday of each month, every Wednesday Mid Dakota Oncology Support Group Mid Dakota Cancer Center 2nd Tuesday of each month Amber Rae Bernhardt Amber Rae is an adult theatre kid, a career promoter, and a proud mama. She loves Elton John, stand-up comedy, well-written television, and spontaneous travel. Amber is the YMCA marketing director in Bismarck and lives in Mandan with her rock ‘n’ roll partner, their two beautiful boys, and their bulldog.
No Shortage of Blessings
By Betty Mills One of the childhood memories that sticks in my head happened in 1936, the dismal pit of the drought and depression in western North Dakota where I grew up. I had gone with my parents to an auction sale at a neighboring farm, and on the way home my mother asked my father, “Didn’t you see the hole in that kettle you bought?” “Of course I did,” my father replied, “but I don’t think Henry has enough money to get to the west coast as he plans, and he’s too proud to accept charity, so it was the only way I could figure out to help.” It was a lesson in neighborliness I never forgot, and at the same time for perhaps the first time in my young life, I counted my blessings. We were not leaving our home and going to some strange new place, we didn’t need to sell our belongings; we always had enough money from my point of view as a child. And it was reassuring to discover I had a father with a kind heart, in addition to being the go-to guy if anything in our lives developed a glitch. Sometimes it can be a real mood changer to consider the blessings in one’s life. There is, of course, no shortage of glitches in this world ranging from monumental to annoying, but making a list of them is hardly going to turn on the sunshine. Actually, too much mental mucking around in the negative side can add to one’s woes. I am reminded of a poem from way-back-when by Ella Wheeler Wilcox entitled “Solitude.” Laugh and the world laughs with you; Weep, and you weep alone. For the sad old earth must borrow its mirth, But has trouble enough of its own. There’s an additional punch later in the poem which says, “There are none to decline your nectared wine, but alone you must drink life’s gall.” Drinking gall strikes me as a non-starter so I try to follow her original advice. As an antidote to gall, it is revealing to make a list of life’s blessings, and I’d start with community. This really is a great place to live including the fact that if there is something really bugging you, there’s an official within reach of your phone. Try that in New York City. There’s no shortage of things to do depending on your inclination. Last month there were concerts, plays, ball games, even political controversy complete with national coverage, if you were looking for a real-life scenario. And for free you could have gone to my great-granddaughter’s school program complete with music, a stage full of well-behaved children in their Sunday best, and an occasional unrehearsed outbreak of laughter. Add to that the possibility of sliding through an intersection or getting stuck in a snow bank for that extra dollop of excitement. Then there’s family and friends. Who could ask for anything more? Although it helps to have your car start in the morning. The list should also include the opportunity to give someone else a lift. A recent article I read about mental health stated that helping others can be a mood changer, and there are numerous activities always in need of a helping hand. But the bigger world out there is inescapable. Time magazine recently put out an issue headlined “The Most Influential Photos of All Time.” Included was the horrifying picture of a small boy’s drowned body face down on a Turkish beach. The family had been attempting to escape to Greece, but the boat capsized and the mother and her two little boys perished. The picture was titled: “The photograph that opened borders” because it brought home the plight of the migrants trying to bring their families to a safer place. It reminded me of a 1937 photograph in Life magazine of an infant splattered with blood, alone and crying in the middle of a rubble-strewn street in Shanghai, victim of the Japanese invasion of China. Those pictures put a human face on the suffering which goes on in our world and as that ancient English poet John Donne put it, “I am involved in mankind and therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.” They also remind me to count my blessings every day for the good life that is mine. Betty Mills Betty Mills was a weekly political columnist for The Bismarck Tribune for 25 years. Among the many blessings in her life, Betty has four children, seven grandchildren, and one great-grandchild.
So Many Blessings: Organize Them All in 2017
By Paula Redmann Sarah Murphy believes every single one of us deserves to be organized and happy. That’s her mantra and Sarah Murphy, Owner of Organized and Happy that’s why her professional organizing business, Organized and Happy, guides both individuals and businesses along the sometimes messy path of decluttering, tossing, and keeping. Spoiler alert: yes, you get to keep some things, but only if it’s organized. Here are quick, inexpensive, and not-so-painful ways for you to organize your life in 2017. Give Everything a Home Where are your keys? Do you spend 30 minutes looking for your keys, your purse, or that shopping list? By the time you find said item, you’re frustrated and sweaty. Every item needs a “home” in your house. Why are there stacks of stuff on your kitchen counter? Because they are orphans. They don’t have a home. Put items in the spaces and places they are used. Your bedroom shouldn’t store kid’s school supplies. The kitchen shouldn’t look like the bathroom. Clear the Clutter What’s eating up your kitchen space? Sarah says cookbooks are the guilty party. You’re saving that hardcover beast because you like the banana bread recipe? Traditional option: write the recipe on a card and put it in a recipe box. Newer option: take a picture of it and store it on your favorite digital device. Containers cure clutter, right? You just buy containers and get organized. Boom! Hold off. Declutter first so you discover your clutter hot spots. Clearing out cluttered space opens up space. Bins, boxes, and baskets are not the answer. Do you need 16 coffee cups or seven same-size spatulas? Throwing out duplicates is the easiest way to calm the clutter and clear some space. If you have one gadget that you use once a year–that turkey baster or special birthday cake plate—get it out of the cupboard or drawer and put it wayyyyyy up on the top shelf in the kitchen or in the garage. That way you create more efficient use of the kitchen space you have. Wait a minute, back up. The garage? Yes, that’s because you have cupboards in the garage. Do NOT start stacking boxes and bins in the garage. Everything has a home, remember. The garage is for vehicles, not stacks of baby clothes. Do Your Kids a Favor Baby clothes! Know this: your children do not want 18 years of their clothing when they move out. And Sarah says no one wants to buy clothes that are 18 years old at your next garage sale. Yes, please, keep that adorable blanket, the First Communion dress, the t-ball hat. Get one container for special pieces. Write that child’s name on it and gloriously present it to them when they are ready. Try not to cry. Make Your Bathroom Peaceful How about that bathroom? Do you need 15 bottles of shampoo? Probably not. Sarah says our homes are places of love and comfort; they are not warehouses for products. Her other organizing tips for the bathroom include putting pony tail holders on a shower curtain ring and using silverware holders to keep toothpaste, Q-tips, and other bathroom necessities in their place. Big news: towels do not belong on the bedroom or bathroom floor. Seriously. Sarah says over the door hooks in the bathroom do the trick. Real Simple magazine says multiple rows of hooks make way for more towels, and accommodate both big and little people in your home. Weed out That Wardrobe Sarah says we wear 20 percent of our clothing 80 percent of the time. One tried and true test is after wearing an item, turn the top of the hanger toward you when hanging it back in the closet. That’s your signal that you’ve worn that item. At the end of a season, save what you’ve worn and donate or sell those lonely pieces of clothing. Don’t save them for someday, or for when they’ll fit again. One step to organizing is getting rid of things, not simply moving them to another closet. Tidying is not the same as organizing. One of the most difficult parts of organizing is the emotion tied to our “stuff.” “But, it’s Grandma’s tablecloth. It’s Aunt Mary’s clock.” Sarah says if it’s truly a treasure, then display it and love it, don’t pack it away. She understands the memories attached to objects, but warns that our homes should not be museums. “The rule of thumb, quite simply, is to keep items that bring you joy. Your home should be your castle and should scream who you are and what you love when someone walks in the door,” Sarah says. Ready. Set. Go get organized in 2017. Paula Redmann Paula Redmann is the Community Relations Manager for Bismarck Parks and Recreation District. She likes torun, walk, play, sing, putter in her yard, laugh with family and friends, and count her blessings. She married her high school sweetheart, Tom. They have two grown sons, Alex and Max.
Nine Prairie Churches to Lift Your Spirits
Photo Courtesy ND Tourism By ND Tourism North Dakota has a rich legacy of ethnically and architecturally diverse historic churches. Here are nine you’ll find on the North Dakota prairie. HALLSON ICELANDIC CHURCH Located in Cavalier, ND. The church was built in 1897 and represents the Icelandic community in worship. The museum tells the unique story about the life and achievement of this area’s first settlers. Special events like the Rendezvous Festival and Pioneer Machine Show are held during the summer months. CAVALIER COUNTY MUSEUM Located in Dresden, its exhibits include a historic church made of native rock. 1906 VANG LUTHERAN CHURCH Vang Lutheran Church in Manfred was built in 1906 and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. In addition to regular services, the church is also part of the Manfred Heritage Museum and hosts exhibit space and community gatherings. ST. MARY’S CATHOLIC CHURCH-ASSUMPTION ABBEY Located in Richardton, the Abbey was built in 1909. It features Bavarian Romanesque structure, vaulted ceilings, original paintings and 50 large stained-glass windows. STS. PETER & PAUL CATHOLIC CHURCH This church in Strasburg features an 85-foot steeple and is the embodiment of the Germans from Russia descent. BASILICA OF ST. JAMES CATHOLIC CHURCH The Basilica of St. James Catholic Church in Jamestown was elevated to minor basilica in 1989 because of its unique architecture and the location of the first cathedral in North Dakota (1889). OLD STONE CHURCH Located in Buffalo, this Calvary Episcopal Chapel includes a traveling museum, library, and store. It was built in 1885. GARDEN LUTHERAN CHURCH Garden Church was built in 1914 and the first service was held on August 23, 1914. In 1933 Garden and Farland Churches joined Banks Church to form the Banks Parish. The Banks Parish joined the Watford City Parish in 1990 and became the Watford City Area Lutheran Parish. SWEDISH ZION LUTHERAN CHURCH The Swedish Church, constructed of granite stone which dates back millions of years to the Pleistocene era, is a Gothic revival-style church that has stood the test of time for over a century on the northwestern prairies of Bottineau County just one mile short of the U.S. and Canadian border in Souris. Check out www.ndtourism.com for more places to visit.
Look What She Did: Mary Jo Irmen
Are you wealthy? Mary Jo Irmen says your answer depends on your understanding of wealth. “Some people think, ‘I’m wealthy because I’m debt-free,’” Mary Jo says. “That doesn’t mean you’re wealthy. Wealth is creating money and never having to worry about running out when you retire.” Mary Jo is the owner of FiscalBridge in Bismarck and the author of “Wealth Without the Bank or Wall Street.” She says the book, published last November, presents a new way of thinking about how to use your money now and have plenty for retirement too. “The book explains where people can put money that is not in the market, but where they can have access to it and liquidity of it. Still use it to live, go on vacation, buy cars, buy investments, do whatever you need to do with it today, and have the guaranteed growth, without the risks of the ups and downs of the market.” This is Mary Jo’s second book. She published “Farming Without the Bank” in October 2014. She had so many requests from people—who were not farmers—to share similar information for their kids or themselves, that she wrote the second book. She says it’s basic and understandable. “I put everything in very simple terminology. No big fancy finance terms. “Some calls I’ve gotten about the book are from women who are concerned about their retirement but know they need access to money today for themselves and their family. What I am seeing is women in their early to mid-50s who are concerned about having enough money to retire.” The book is available online at: maryjoirmen.com or by calling Mary Jo at 701-751-3917.