Archive | HEALTH AND WELLNESS

Church adapts

Posted on 26 May 2020 by Tesha Christensen

In touch through video calls, telephone, email, and postal mail

By IRIC NATHANSON

Joy and Randy Nelson keep in touch online with their fellow members at Holy Trinity Church. (Photo by Terry Faust)

Randy Nelson participated in a recent congregation-wide meeting, along with nearly 100 members of his church, Holy Trinity Lutheran (2730 E. 31st St.), but Nelson could only see 30 fellow congregants at a time. Those 30 were on his computer screen in his apartment.
At a time when church buildings in Minnesota are closed and gatherings with more than 10 people are banned,* Holy Trinity and religious groups all over the state are using computer technology to bring their congregations together. By necessity, church members like Nelson, a retired Lutheran pastor, are becoming computer savvy.
“Before the pandemic, I had never heard of Zoom,” he said. “Now I seem to be using it almost every day.”
At Holy Trinity, church meetings are conducted on Zoom, but the Longfellow Lutheran congregation uses a different technology known as Vimeo for video broadcasts of its weekly church service.
“The service is recorded so we can watch it anytime,” Nelson said. “The videos do help to bring the church into our home but they are no substitute for being there in the pews with our fellow congregation members. For me, at least, videos make the services seem like a spectator sport.”
While they can watch the Holy Trinity service anytime during the week, Nelson and his wife Joy have decided to watch it at 11 a.m. on Sunday morning. “That is a traditional worship time for us, so when we watch the service at 11 it does feel like we are part of a larger group, even though there are only two of us in our apartment,” Nelson noted.

Maintaining connection virtually
At St. Albert’s Catholic Church (2836 33rd Ave. S.), the 9:30 a.m. mass on Sunday is livestreamed on Facebook. “We can see there are at least 110 households present for that service,” said Mike Vitt, a longtime member of St. Albert’s parish. “We are together virtually, so that way we can maintain some connections. We can feel each other’s presence even if we are not together physically.”
Greta Gantriis, a member at St. Peder’s Lutheran Church (4600 E. 42nd St.), said she misses being with long-time friends on Sunday morning. “The online service does keep us connected, but it is not the same as being together in person. So many of us are part of a long-standing community of people with a Danish heritage. St. Peder’s has done so much to maintain that sense of community.”
Like Gantriis, Rita Juhl, another St. Peder’s member, wishes she could be together with fellow congregants on Sunday morning. “But that is not possible now. We have to adapt to this new reality,” Juhl said.

Volunteering in the community
At a time when so many people are finding themselves quarantined at home, churches in Longfellow and Nokomis have made a special effort to stay connected with the members of their congregation.
“With the shutdown in place, many of our members have rediscovered the telephone,“ said Holy Trinity’s senior pastor, Ingrid Rasmussen. “When the shutdown occurred, we contacted everyone in the congregation by phone. We continue to keep in touch that way – particularly for the small group of people who don’t have access to reliable computer communications. We also have a newsletter that goes out every week, by email and by postal mail.“
Rasmussen said that Holy Trinity has maintained its connections with people in the neighborhood who may not be church members. “We know that many neighbors are suffering financially as a result of the pandemic. They may have lost their jobs or been furloughed. We have an emergency fund that can help in special situations.”
Even with the shelter in place orders in effect, Holy Trinity members continued their community outreach efforts. “A number of us are involved as volunteers at Longfellow School, the education center for mothers with children and pregnant mothers,” Joy Nelson explained. “Earlier this month, we were able to participate in an event at the school. We brought gifts over for the graduates. They came outside one at a time.
“With proper social distancing, we stood in the school yard with bells and signs congratulating them. We volunteers were able to see each other in person and even talk to each other through our masks.”

Joint church food shelf busy
At Minnehaha Methodist Church (3701 E. 50th St.), a group of four area congregations jointly sponsor the Minnehaha Food Shelf. The four include Minnehaha Methodist, Nokomis Lutheran, St. James Episcopal and Living Table. George Gallagher, the food shelf’s director, said he has seen an upswing in food shelf use as the pandemic has taken hold in Minnesota.
“Our demand surged in April when we served 880 client, a 22% increase over the previous month,” Gallagher said. “Right now, we are able to keep up with the demand. But our biggest concern is whether we will be able to keep doing that as more people are laid off and furloughed. People in the community have been very generous. Our contributions are up. That is a good sign that we will be able to meet the need in the months ahead.”
“Our church buildings may be closed, but that doesn’t mean that our churches are closed,” noted Minnehaha United Methodist Pastor Becky Seachrist. “We continue to fulfill our mission. Now, we have to do it in new ways.”

* 25% of capacity
*Gov. Tim Walz has issued a new executive order enabling places of worship to hold indoor services, starting on May 27, at 25% of their capacity, as long as they follow public health guidelines. Churches and other places of worship must provide six feet of separation between attendees. Indoor and outdoor events are limited to a maximum of 250 participants.

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Hope for the Heartbroken

Posted on 04 May 2020 by Tesha Christensen

An inspired journey

Angela Woosley of Inspired Journeys

By Angela Woosley,
651-300-0119
www.inspiredjourneysmn.com

Over the past month, the Coronavirus pandemic has upended our lives, and many of us are struggling to adjust to the new normal. Unemployment, job insecurity, health scares, and general anxiety are common features of life during this topsy-turvy time. But for many of us, this pandemic comes at the absolute worst time – at a time of grief.
If someone you love has died, whether due to COVID-19 or not, it may feel like the world is spinning out of control. It’s common to feel out of sorts when we are grieving under normal circumstances, but with everything else we are experiencing, death of a loved one right now may feel like too much to handle. I want to offer some words of advice and comfort for those who need it most.

Take a deep breath
It’s okay to slow down and take a moment to gather your thoughts. Death is not an emergency, so if you are having trouble sorting through your jumbled ideas, press pause. Think about your wishes for a service and what you know about the deceased’s wishes for a service. Do you want burial or cremation? What kind of service do you want? Write your wishes down; sort through your thoughts over time. You can honor and remember your loved one the way you want, but it may look a little different. Be flexible with timing; don’t let anyone rush you.

Hang onto these moments
There’s a fair chance you were unable to be with the person who died just before their death. Most facilities aren’t allowing visitors in order to keep patient populations healthy. You are not alone in this heartbreak. Perhaps you can ask staff to take pictures of your loved one – a picture of their face, a picture of staff holding their hand – either before or after death. If you are able to be with the person you love, take pictures together. Times like this can be a blur; pictures can help us freeze these moments to help us remember and work through our grief later.

Be present with your grief
When you hurt with grief, it can hurt so much you may wish you could feel anything else. Grief is a healthy, natural reaction to losing someone we love, and it’s okay to sit with these feelings and experience them. Remember to eat and hydrate, then do what feels right. Light a candle, say a prayer, write a letter to them, draw for them, walk in nature, cry your eyes out, laugh your heart out, remember the best moments you shared. Share your grief with others and let them know what you need. Grief is not the time to be Minnesotan about it – ask people directly. They likely want to help but have no idea what to say or do. You’re doing them a favor to ask for their help.

Adapt your funeral
Due to limitations on gatherings, you may be planning a simple service with only a few people present. Don’t forget to include people remotely! With a Zoom meeting, Tribucast service, FaceBook Live, or other webcast/livestream service, you can include people from far and wide at the funeral. For folks who can’t participate online, let them know when the service will be and ask them to light a candle or say a prayer at that time. Look at your list of wishes and see what you can include in a service now.

Plan for the future
Next, think ahead to the coming months. Eventually, guidelines about social distancing will relax, allowing you to hold a celebration of life that incorporates the elements you can’t include now. To help you focus some of your energy (and possibly your feelings of grief), work on plans for that larger celebration of life now. Gather together their most treasured belongings, enlist friends to make handmade crafts, sort through photos for a video or picture board, make a playlist of songs, and find the perfect readings.

Advice you can ignore
One last note about planning: If your loved one “didn’t want you to make a fuss” about their death and asked you to keep it simple, you are allowed to take that advice with a grain of salt. We come together to honor, remember, and grieve for the person we loved, but more than anything, grief rituals are for US, the living. Rabbi Earl Grollman might have said it best: Grief shared is grief diminished. Find those points of connection and share your grief with rituals that speak to your love and your loss. The person you have lost is worth it.
Angela Woosley is a trained mortician, educator, end-of-life doula and celebrant who recently started Inspired Journeys in the Twin Cities, the first of its kind natural deathcare provider.

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Go ahead: Let some things go and break a few house rules

Posted on 04 May 2020 by Tesha Christensen

Have a little grace

Amy Pass

By AMY PASS

I don’t really know what to tell you. Every person is so different, and what you need right now, in this time of pandemic, is different from what someone else might need. And some of your needs will change from day to day. Some of you will find solace in a new yoga practice, learning to play the ukulele, and doing virtual museum tours. Others need to take a nap, and snuggle on the couch watching movies.
You might need a good cry from time to time. Or a good run. Some of us need to read poetry and listen to the daily briefings every day at 2 p.m. All of us need to keep getting things done, despite the fact that we’re at home much more of the time and the dishes are piling up in the sink because we’re always home and we’re doing all the cooking and the projects are strewn from one end of the house to the other.
I don’t know what you should do. But I can tell you this one thing. We all need a little kindness right now. When you’re irritated with the way everyone else in your house is doing things and your child is melting down for the umpteenth time today, remember that everything has changed in the last few weeks. Even the grocery stores are different. Your family is feeling it, too. It’s ok to not keep it all together right now.
Now is the time to give in to things. You know how there’s some things that you never, ever do with your kids…not bad things, just conventional rules that you don’t break? But every once in a while you let it go just this one time? Like during the holidays or on birthdays? I don’t know what those rules are for you, but if you find that you’re falling apart or everyone else in your house is falling apart, it might be time to break one of those rules. As a treat.
If you feel like running away, chances are good that others in your house feel the same way. Is there a way to run away together? Can you pull together rather than pulling apart? What might running away look like in this time of pandemic? Maybe you look at each other and say, “I’m tired of this, too. Let’s have a picnic.” And maybe your picnic is in the yard or at the park or maybe it’s on the living room floor. Perhaps, running away is ordering ice cream from one of the local small businesses. Or watching the comedians on YouTube while drinking orange juice out of fancy glasses. Maybe it’s a video call with family or friends…while you’re all watching the same movie?
If you’re a couple without kids, these things still apply. Be kind. To yourself and each other. Let go of something that doesn’t matter. If you’re a single person, living alone, it’s even more important. When you’re tired of everything, it’s time to walk away from the shoulds and the oughts. Break out the fancy glasses and the phone calls or video chat.
Yes, of course, it’s important to find the new routine in daily life now, to eat nutritious food, get some exercise, sleep regularly, and get the work done. To be grateful for one thing every day. To do something for someone outside your family every day. I, personally, have been watching for the routines my family is settling into so that I can reinforce them, keep coming back to the same things. Developing a rhythm helps our brains to rest and eases some of the constant background stress. But it’s also important to let some things go. Maybe even one thing every day. Be kind to yourself. Be kind to each other. We are all fighting a hard battle.
Amy Pass earned her master’s degree in marriage and family therapy from Bethel Theological Seminary. But perhaps her greatest lessons have come from raising two children and maintaining a 21-year marriage.

 

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Isuroon: A portal to better health

Posted on 29 December 2019 by Tesha Christensen

By MARGIE O’LOUGHLIN

Executive Director Fartun Weli said, “There are things I’m not good at, but I am good at is busting down doors. There is power in keeping people dependent on the system. What I’m trying to do with Isuroon is make sure Somali women and girls are not becoming dependent.” (Photo by Margie O’Loughlin)

Isuroon is a robust word in the Somali language.
According to Isuroon Executive Director Fartun Weli, it can be used as a verb, a noun, or an adjective. It is also the name of the organization she leads.
She said, “Somali words are conceptual. While the short translation of Isuroon is ‘a woman who cares for herself,’ the long translation is ‘a woman who has gotten everything she needs to be strong, healthy, independent, empowered, beautiful, vivacious, and confident.’ The mission of our organization is to be a space where every Somali woman can be all of those things.”
Isuroon was founded in 2010 to address the unmet health care needs of Somali women and girls in this community. Through group meetings, one-on-one counseling, and carefully designed teaching sessions, staff offer education on issues including self-care and social connectedness, healthy eating, pre-natal health, the impact of female genital cutting/mutilation, mental health, sexual and reproductive health, domestic and sexual violence, pregnancy prevention, child abuse, understanding HIV/AIDS, and navigating a complex health care system.
Weli and her 11 employees have a lot on their plates. Their resources are available to any Somali woman who wants to improve her health and wellness, and that of her family – to give her the tools so that she can thrive in Minnesota and beyond. Through education and coaching, women and girls learn to manage their health care preventatively, strengthen their economic self-sufficiency, and develop their innate leadership skills.
Isuroon serves a population that likely came to Minnesota from refugee camps. To be a stable presence rooted in the Somali community, they purchased a building at 1600 East Lake Street last year. Weli explained, “One of the ways we are different as an organization is that we don’t just operate within our 55407 zip code. Our women come from everywhere. Now we are easy to find.”
The barriers to health and wellness for immigrants and refugees are significant. Food insecurity can be a problem for Somali families, especially new arrivals. Weli explained why a disproportionate number of Somali families have female heads-of-household (54% nation-wide.) She said, “After 911, it got much harder for Muslim men to enter the US. While the typical Somali family consists of mom, dad, and children, it’s common for males 18+ to arrive 3-5 years after the rest of their family.”
These separations cause alot of stress. Weli believes the burden is made worse for Muslim women because of cultural stereotypes. She said, “Many Americans (especially white women) think that because we’re covered, we are insecure, oppressed, and in need of rescue. This is not true! We need to diffuse these stereotypes, which are also perpetuated by the media. Who are Muslim women in general, and Somali women in particular? We are intuitive, alert, and sociable; we didn’t grow up feeling inferior to anyone. We are unique.”
To address food insecurity, Isuroon opened a food shelf six years ago. Weli explained, “I didn’t think it was part of our mission, but our elders started asking for one. We went to Governor Dayton’s Office, and they tried to be helpful. They connected us with the big, established food distribution networks in the Twin Cities but, ultimately, it didn’t work. Understand that when you’ve lived in a refugee camp, you are given food handouts all the time. Then, when you finally come to this country and find out how hard it is to be self-sufficient, you are still given strange, unfamiliar food. It can be very demoralizing. We needed a new model for an ethnic food shelf, and we created one. ”
The Seward Co-op is an annual donor to the Isuroon Food Shelf through their SEED Project, where shoppers can round up to the nearest dollar in support of a different local non-profit organization each month. Isuroon typically receives $20,000 + from one month’s donations. Weli said, “The Seward Co-op is great. They don’t pressure us to buy foods that aren’t culturally appropriate. We were able to serve 1,100 families with their donations last year, and the size of an average Somali family is seven.”
Isuroon staff members are trained to interact with clients in a way that reflect the agency’s core values of trust, transparency, and empathy. Weli said, “We work relationally, which means that listening is at the heart of everything. What we are trying to do here is replicate what our moms did back home. In the Somali culture, we have our own definition of what makes someone strong. When I meet a Somali woman who can’t read or write, I worship her. Do you know how hard life is when you can’t read or write? We value women for the strengths that they have, rather than judge them for what they lack.”
As an organization, consider requesting an Isuroon speaker to help your group connect with the experiences of Somali women, or to obtain culturally competent consulting and training for health care providers, policymakers and other leaders. As an individual, consider attending a workshop to learn about the Somali community here in the Twin Cities. Weli said, “Our organization has so much to offer. What can we do for you? We’re here to engage communities. Connect with us!”
For more information, go to www.isuroon.org.

“We’re grateful and excited to announce that Isuroon has received a Community Innovation Grant of more than $200,000 from The Bush Foundation. The grant will empower our work to reduce disparities in reproductive health care for African immigrant women in Minnesota with female genital cutting. The voices and needs of women who have experienced female genital cutting will drive this grassroots effort,” said Fartun Weli, Executive Director. “We express gratitude on their behalf.”

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Use Enneagram as tool for self-discovery this year

Posted on 29 December 2019 by Tesha Christensen

HEALTH AND WELLNESS

Workshop host Holly Johnson shares why she values it and how it is helpful

Holly Johnson teaches workshops locally on the Enneagram.

By TESHA M. CHRISTENSEN
Holly Johnson is committed to helping people better understand themselves and others through the Enneagram. She offers regular workshops on this tool. The next is slated for Feb. 11, 2020 from 6-9 p.m. at Squirrel Haus Arts. Go to spiritgarage.org to find out more info and register.
Johnson is also pastor at Spirit Garage, which meets at the Hook and Ladder Theater and Lounge. She paused while writing two holiday sermons in December to share a bit more about the Enneagram with the Messenger.
Just what is the Enneagram?
The Enneagram is a tool to help us understand how we live, move, see and respond in the world. It lays out nine basic styles of people, though there are an infinite number of expressions of each of the nine numbers.
What drew you to the Enneagram and how have you found it valuable in your own life?
When I was in seminary out in Berkeley, Calif., everyone was talking about it. I was drawn to it because I like tools for self discovery, and also tools for understanding other people.
Some people think its funny to have a pastor do this kind of work; certain kinds of Christianity think that anything that doesn’t come out of the Bible comes from the Devil. I’m not that kind of a pastor. I believe in studying all kinds of things, and self-awareness helps us understand our styles of spirituality better, as well.
What is your Enneagram number?
I understand myself to be a “social two with a three wing, and a super well-traveled 8 line.” And if that doesn’t make sense to you but you’re intrigued, come to a workshop!

Courtesy of the Enneagram Institute

How can people use the Enneagram as a tool for self-discovery?
The Enneagram helps us understand that we see and experience the world in a particular way, like a lens. Understanding that we have a lens, and that it is different from other people’s, helps us see what motivates us, and how that shapes our lives. Sometimes this lens sees things accurately, and sometimes it is distorting things. Bringing an awareness to this helps us see where our way of being is helpful, and where it might be hurting us or others. Once we have that awareness, maybe we can think about a different way to see things or respond.
In what ways can the Enneagram help people live in harmony with others?
Similarly, when we figure out that other people see the world in different ways, and have different motivations, hopefully we can bring some grace into our relationships and quit trying to make everyone believe, act, behave and respond the way we do. For example, one of the types (sixes) is going to plan for all possible problems that might arise before you go on vacation. That’s okay – just let them do that. They’ll be prepared for things you never thought of. Another type (eights) has a tendency to have a pretty large presence in a room, and can be quite intimidating to people. Another type (nines) doesn’t like making decisions, particularly if it means siding with one person and not another. So, if they never have an opinion about where you should go to dinner, that’s probably why.
How can the Enneagram help people achieve better health and wellness?
The Enneagram is a tool for emotional intelligence, so as a tool, it helps us bring awareness (and hopefully grace) to our own way of being, and also helps in relation to one another. Emotional intelligence is an important indicator in job success, and helpful in relationships of all kinds.
What resources do you recommend people use to learn more about the Enneagram?
I’m enjoying “The Road Back To You: An Enneagram Journey to Self Discovery” by Ian Morgan Cron and Suzanne Stabile. That’s a book and a podcast.

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