Archive for October, 2015

Get Healthier, Wealthier and Happier with Gratitude Journaling


by Christine Smith Sanchez Peterson and Nancy Dahlbom Libersky

Although Thanksgiving is the time of year most people give thanks for what they have, writing about gratitude daily could make your next Thanksgiving really GREAT!

Keeping a gratitude journal is a simple process. Daily, write down five things for which you are grateful. The benefits of this simple process are transforming and often immediate. It’s true. Be grateful for what you have and you will have more. What’s interesting about this phenomenon is that research now supports it.

Dr. Robert Emmons, a leading expert in gratitude research, believes that stress is responsible for up to 90 percent of all doctor visits. Dr. Emmons’ research measured the level of the stress hormone cortisol in participants at the start of the study. Split into three groups, one group journaled gratitude daily for six weeks. One group journaled negatively and the third group was neutral. After six weeks, cortisol in the gratitude journaling group measured 23 percent less than the other groups. The gratitude group showed improved self-care, regular exercise, healthier diet and regular physical exams. They also reported better sleep patterns and increased energy levels. Overall health improved because practicing gratitude today reduces worry and anxiety about tomorrow.

Becoming healthier was not the only finding. Vanessa Buote, Ph.D. Psychology, studied workplace satisfaction, engagement and performance at Plasticity Labs. Of those who journaled gratitude, 88 percent were happier and more satisfied than those who didn’t. Also, a longitudinal study found that happiness levels in college students could predict income 16 years later. Cheerful students earned $25,000 more per year than their gloomy classmates. As an indication of wealth, consider Oprah Winfrey, one of the first public pioneers of the discipline. She often said that journaling gratitude was the most powerful process that she practiced and that it transformed her life.

Over the span of 15 years, Gratitude in the Moments has seen similar results with small groups and individuals. Christine Smith Sanchez Peterson and Nancy Dahlbom Libersky are gratitude coaches at Pathways Minneapolis and co-founders of Gratitude in the Moments. Contact them on Facebook at Gratitude in the Moments.

Slow Cooker Millet and Miso Stuffed Acorn Squash with Sriracha Dressing


Yields: 4 servings

Prep Time: 15 minutes


  • Coconut or organic olive oil
  • 2 acorn squash, halved and de-seeded
  • 1 cup millet or quinoa
  • 1/2 can garbanzo beans
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 3 Tbsp fresh chives, snipped
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 2 Tbsp white miso paste
  • Olive oil
  • 4 Tbsp pine nuts, toasted


  • 2 tsp Sriracha sauce
  • 1 Tbsp lime juice
  • 1/4 cup plain or coconut milk yogurt

Oil the insert of the slow cooker with coconut oil or olive oil. On a chopping board, halve the acorn squash and scoop out the seeds.

In a separate bowl, add the millet, garbanzo beans, raisins, garlic powder, black pepper and 2 tablespoons of the chives. Mix the lemon juice, miso and 2/3 cup water in a cup and pour over the milet mixture. Stir well. Spoon the millet filling into the acorn squash. Cover and cook on low setting for 6 hours or high for 3 hours. Mix the ingredients for the Sriracha dressing in a small bowl.

Once cooked, remove from the slow cooker and sprinkle with the remaining snipped chives and toasted pine nuts. Serve with the Sriracha dressing alongside.

Recipe adapted from by Meg Barnhart and Jane McKay. 

Learning Comes Naturally at New CA Frost Preschool

Blandford Nature Center

A new collaboration between the Blandford Nature Center and Grand Rapids Public Schools will give young learners an early start, in a place where learning comes naturally.  As part of the new CA Frost Environmental Academy preschool, young children will spend a portion of their day exploring, discovering and learning at Blandford Nature Center.

Blandford has long served as a natural source of learning in Grand Rapids. The animals, plants, water, and other aspects of the natural world delight children and draw them in as learners. Vickie den Dulk, CA Frost Environmental Science Academy Preschool teacher, is quick to mention that “CA Frost Preschool students are fortunate that they can step into nature just by walking out the door. At the end of the day, when we talk about what we enjoyed most, students almost always mention their time outside at Blandford.”

“It’s thrilling to work with CA Frost Preschool. In an age when children are spending more time inside,  Blandford serves as a powerful resource to get more children learning outside,” shared Janet Staal, Blandford Nature Center’s Environmental Education Consultant. “As a result of the collaboration, Blandford provides the outdoor classroom and additional resources for these young learners to discover more about the world in which they live.”

Grand Rapids Public School’s Director of Early Childhood, Matthew Beresford was instrumental in the start-up of this new preschool. “I can’t think of a more exciting and engaging learning environment for children than the nature that surrounds us here at Frost Environmental Science Academy.  You can now begin by laughing and learning in preschool and continue exploring the world’s wonders through high school graduation!”

Together Blandford Nature Center and CA Frost Environmental Academy will give these young people a great start to learning more about their world, creating tomorrow’s conservation leaders today.

About Blandford Nature Center: Blandford Nature Center’s mission is to educate, engage, and empower our community to become stewards of the natural world that sustains us. This is accomplished through: an active outdoor environmental lab, a team of passionate, knowledgeable people and a strong link from past to future promoting sustainability. Blandford offers a wide variety of educational and community programs to support this mission. For more information, please visit Blandford Nature Center is a 501(c)3 nonprofit.

Aging with Grace and Mindfulness

skeleton white isolated on black and black isolated on white

Healthy Choices Slow the Process

by Peter Braglia

“Aging is not just the number of years you’ve inhabited planet Earth, but rather the degree of wear and tear your body, brain, and vital organs are expressing at a given point in time.” – Ronesh Sinha, MD

Whether we like it or not, Americans are living longer than ever before. For example, an American male born in 2008 can expect to live to the age of 75, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. For girls, it’s 80. Back in 1960, it was 67 for boys and 73 for girls, on average.

Unfortunately, many of today’s generation of seniors and “superseniors” are not experiencing health or joy during their extended years. Too many of them are in nursing homes unable to capitalize on their golden years. Their plight has skewed views of aging, giving many trepidation and fear about the reality of an extended life span. The Pew Research Center recently asked more than 2000 Americans how they feel about this situation. Only 4 percent responded that they would like to live from 101 to 120 years or 121 years or longer. Most seemed content to contemplate a life that is as long as or longer than the current average; sixty-nine percent say living to be from 79 to 100 years old would be just fine.

The quality of your later years will largely be dictated by the choices you make in the preceding ones, choices which will stave off or hasten the aging process. Your generation must live differently by nurturing “innate intelligence” through healthy choices rather than relying solely on drugs and surgery after you become sick or injured.

Since every bodily function and human experience you have is processed through your nerves, a healthy structure and spine is vital to living an active, healthy life. Your brain and spinal cord act like a computer chip which requires proper information and power supplies to work properly. Movement of the spine dictates how information is received in the brain through nerve endings called mechanoreceptors. The spine also houses critical nerves, arteries and veins that carry food and waste in and out of the brain and spinal cord.

A spine with too much, too little or improper movement directly affects the wiring and firing of nerves that come from your brain and travel down your spinal cord. By restoring motion to the spine via a chiropractic adjustment, changes begin to occur including a decrease in stress signals and stress hormones, inflammation and pain (if present). Most importantly, chiropractic care can result in healthy body-brain neurological communication, which is essential for overall health.

Quality nutrition is another key to longevity. Modern eating habits are polluting your body, making you more susceptible to many preventable illnesses and diseases. You are no longer getting the nutrients from food that are necessary to function at optimal level. The water you drink and food you eat can include toxins.

Here is the good news; even if you wait until you’re in your forties or fifties to start, you still have time to turn your health around for your future. Every choice you make from the present moment forward can have a positive impact on your lifespan and enjoyment of the time you have.

Peter Braglia, DC, is medical director of True Health Family Chiropractic at 7365 Main St,  Stratford. Call 203-923-8633 or visit for more information. 

A Tribute to Dr. Wayne Dyer

Dr. Wayne Pic

Wayne W. Dyer, Ph.D. was an internationally renowned author and speaker in the field of self-development and spiritual growth. Over the span of his four-decade career, he wrote 42 books, 21 of which became New York Times bestsellers, and this wide readership earned him the affectionate nickname of “the father of motivation” among his fans. Dr. Dyer’s message reached across all markets, generations and cultures. Even though the self-help industry has seen many new thought leaders emerge in recent years, Dr. Dyer continued to be a pioneer in this ever-expanding field up until his passing.

Born and raised in Detroit, Michigan, Dr. Dyer earned his doctorate in educational counseling from Wayne State University before serving as a professor at St. John’s University in New York. Despite a childhood spent in orphanages and foster homes, Dr. Dyer made his dreams come true.

He lived to teach others to overcome their perceived limits and engage in their “Highest Self.” “I realize I was this little kid that was just born into the situation that I was born into,” Dr. Dyer said while reflecting on the publication of his 2014 book I Can See Clearly Now. “But as I look back on all of these things and all of these books that have come out of it and the movies that we’ve done and the millions of millions of people who’ve been touched all over the world, I look back and I see that I was in some kind of training since I was a little boy. It’s like these experiences are all gifts, and that’s how you have to look at it.”

For more information on Dr. Dyer, visit

 Photo credit: Whipps Photography