Books+Friends=Book Club

Books+Friends=Book Club

When I was growing up, my mother often took us to the public library. She was an energetic reader and encouraged us to borrow lots of books. We would haul them to the check-out desk, creating a huge pile. I couldn’t wait to get home and start reading.

When visiting my grandparents, there was a bookshop across the street from their house. My grandmother would sometimes allow us to choose a brand new book as a special treat. One time I remember selecting a book of short stories and poems for children. It was a favorite for years.

Bookclubs are a valuable way for readers to get more involved and explore their love of books. I’ve been in three bookclubs and have found that the experience is enriching for many reasons including:

  1. Reading books that you might not have otherwise chosen.
  2. Creating friendships with other readers.
  3. Finding and sharing favorite authors.
  4. Discovering the opportunity to talk about books and exchange ideas.
  5. Being part of the book selection process.
  6. Discussion often leads to interesting topics beyond the book itself.

Wellness House has a thriving monthly bookclub that has been in operation for five years. It’s open to all members, including survivors, caregivers, family members, and volunteers. Books are chosen by members and include both fiction and nonfiction. It’s a friendly group, and everyone has a chance to participate in the conversation.

Even during these challenging months while the House has been closed, the book club has not missed a beat. Meetings, which are held regularly on the third Monday of each month at 6pm, have been happening successfully on Zoom. Logging in from home is easy and we are still able to enjoy and experience the bond of being together and talking about books.

Wellness House Announces Generous Memorial Donation from Michael Kurtz, in Honor of Cherie Loustaunau

Wellness House Announces Generous Memorial Donation from Michael Kurtz, in Honor of Cherie Loustaunau

Wellness House Announces Generous Memorial Donation from Michael Kurtz, in Honor of Cherie Loustaunau

With gratitude, Wellness House of Annapolis is pleased to announce a Memorial Donation from Michael Kurtz in memory of his wife, Cherie Loustaunau, and in honor of her commitment to the Anne Arundel Women Giving Together (AAWGT) and its mission.

In partnership with AAWGT, Michael Kurtz has awarded the $20,000 Cherie Loustaunau Memorial Donation to Wellness House of Annapolis to support our ongoing work in providing support, education, and services to help individuals and families who have been touched by cancer. A passionate and active member of AAWGT, Cherie was known for her love and support of nature and our environment, music, and our Annapolis community.

We are incredibly grateful for this gift making it possible for us to continue to serve our community free of charge, especially during these times.

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All About Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) Seminar

All About Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) Seminar

All About Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) Seminar

We had the honor of hosting Phebe Duff, certified MBSR instructor, who shared with our community an introduction to Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR). MBSR is a person-centered educational approach which uses training in mindfulness, meditation, and yoga as the core of a program to teach people how to take better care of themselves and live healthier and more adaptive lives.

We are excited to announce that MBSR will be offered to our community-at-large as an 8-week series starting on Thursday, February 18th – April 8th 2021!

Click here for more information.

See the 1-hour Facebook Live-streamed recording below, and experience this transformative practice today.

 

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A Virtual Tour While We’re Away

A Virtual Tour While We’re Away

A Virtual Tour While We’re Away

When we open again, I will look forward to the pleasure of giving tours of the picturesque, historic house that is home to the Wellness House of Annapolis.  Janet Richardson-Pearson and Bill Pearson have graciously donated the use of this lovely structure since 2009, located on a portion of their horse farm property on Mas Que Farm Road.

This two-story white frame farm house has a front door but the actual entrance is from the parking area through an attractive garden or by ramp to a covered porch with pink cushioned wicker rocking chairs and inviting decor. Once inside, noticeable warmth emerges from the welcoming staff and members, original deep hardwood floors, comfortable seating, country kitchen, as well as a delightful screened-in porch for relaxing and savoring the views, like this:

On the second floor there are several rooms. One serves as an office for staff, and two others provide private space for practitioners who volunteer their skills with Reiki, healing touch, reflexology, and general massage. The largest room is used for support group meetings and all types of activities including yoga, art, music, jewelry making classes, and game time. This rectangular space is brightened by large windows bringing in the sun and showing magnificent vistas of the property. 

A remarkable feature on two of the walls is a hand-painted mural by local artist, Sharon Hayes. Her mural brings the outdoors inside. It’s the actual view from the window recreated in rich colors. It reflects rolling green pastures with horses grazing and bright white rail fences snaking around the site and along the gravel road. Butterflies, turtles, and birds come alive. There is a cherry blossom tree that Sharon kept perfecting, even when others thought she had finished. As a talented medical illustrator, she certainly paid attention to detail. She had lost her father to cancer and I was told that working on this mural project was therapeutic for her. Sharon spent many hours creating this work of art, while feeling the heartbeat of Wellness House.

Speaking of art, Paul (my husband) and I have enjoyed our first two sessions of Zentangle® Meditative Art on Zoom with Dawn Schulman. If you haven’t heard of this type of meditative art, be assured that you don’t have to be an artist to feel the joy of creating dazzling designs. With only a pen,  pencil, and a square of paper, it’s an amazing outlet for when you’re stressed – or just to take time to quiet your thoughts and regain your inner peace after a long day. Try it with our Wellness House community some time, the next online class will be held in a few weeks (see the Wellness House calendar here). And if you’re interested in getting started before then, see below a recorded guided Zentangle practice for whenever suits you best.

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Lois Villemaire

Lois Villemaire

Lois Villemaire is a dear friend of Wellness House of Annapolis. She came to know our community first as a caregiver for her sister who fought and sadly lost her battle with cancer, then as a caregiver for her husband who is a cancer survivor. She has graciously given her time as a House Hostess since, always glad to help us welcome members old and new into our community. When she is not volunteering at the Wellness House, Lois can be found writing for the Annapolis Discovered blog, discovering new and intriguing books, and critiquing the latest movies with her husband Paul.

Finding Silver Linings Amidst Our Unexpected Clouds

Finding Silver Linings Amidst Our Unexpected Clouds

Finding Silver Linings Amidst Our Unexpected Clouds

I’ve been volunteering at the Wellness House of Annapolis for over four years. Living nearby, I was aware of this wonderful community resource and drove by the picturesque entrance daily. There’s something remarkable about the rural horse farm setting. Maybe it’s the long curving gravel driveway on the other side of an alluring gate leading to a white clapboard farmhouse at a slightly higher elevation in the distance.

Initially, the advertisement of a Yoga-Thon fundraiser event caught my eye for two reasons: yoga is one of my favorite things to do and more importantly, my 10-year younger sister had been diagnosed with lung cancer. She was a life-long nonsmoker and a runner. So, I signed up to attend the event with her in mind. It was there that I met Kay Hunter, the member services manager. I asked about volunteer opportunities at the House.

“Why don’t you stop by on Friday.” she said.

And after that, it was history.

What does a house hostess do? Think of it as what needs to be done around any home. Throw in some laundry, empty the dishwasher, or fluff up the pillows in the living room. It’s the same at Wellness House. Additionally, we set up for classes, put out snacks, answer the phone, and whatever else is needed.

What I enjoy most is greeting members as they sign in for activities like a yoga, jewelry-making or art class, counseling session, or special time with our dedicated volunteers who share their expertise in Reiki, Healing Touch and general massage.

Welcoming new members and their caregivers to the House for the first time is especially gratifying. I’m given the opportunity to make them feel at home and to describe the many support services available to them at no charge. Providing a tour of the House is my favorite thing to do, but I will save those details for my next blog.

Though the House is currently physically closed for visits, new members are still encouraged and welcomed to join in the online programs and groups. If you or someone you know could benefit from this warm community, click here to apply and our Member Services Manager, Kay, will be in touch with you directly.

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Lois Villemaire

Lois Villemaire

Lois Villemaire is a dear friend of Wellness House of Annapolis. She came to know our community first as a caregiver for her sister who fought and sadly lost her battle with cancer, then as a caregiver for her husband who is a cancer survivor. She has graciously given her time as a House Hostess since, always glad to help us welcome members old and new into our community. When she is not volunteering at the Wellness House, Lois can be found writing for the Annapolis Discovered blog, discovering new and intriguing books, and critiquing the latest movies with her husband Paul.

More Than Just a Word

More Than Just a Word

More Than Just a Word

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In the beginning of 2019, my manager instructed our team to pick a “word.” It would serve as an intention, a personal guide for each of us. Mine was “transformation.” With the selection of that word, I realized I was contemplating a change without knowing what I wanted.

There was so much I loved about leading the volunteer department at Hospice of the Chesapeake (HOC). While it was not necessarily the next logical step from my previous role at a local financial services firm, I found that it was exactly where I was meant to be at the time. I gave a lot and I received much more. I felt the same as the many volunteers do when they say, “it was a gift for me.” Yet – there was something tugging at me. And after much contemplation, there was still no epiphany in the way I had hoped. However, what I came to realize is that I didn’t need to have the answer at that time. All I needed to know was that I was ready for transformation.

What happened within the next several months paradoxically made no sense and all the sense. It started with a meeting that I had in HOC’s Wellness Space – a space that was created as a gift for the hospice staff and volunteers, and turned into much more than a project as a graduate from Leadership Anne Arundel. I sat in the space, along with a few of the healing arts practitioners, and we imagined big dreams. We spoke of wellness in a variety of settings — a wellness that soothes the soul and that heals beyond what seems attainable.

Jokingly I offered, maybe I will move on to lead something else, but Wellness House is already taken. LOL. Immediately after this discussion, I returned to my office and checked my email, and a new email popped up with a question: “Do you know anyone who is interested? – Executive Director, Wellness House.” As many know, synchronicity sometimes works in unexpected ways.

While I have been the Executive Director at Wellness House for less than a year, it has been over a year since I declared my word to be transformation. And it continues. The significant change that is implied by the word is the very thing our team is working through here and now. Through my work, I have transitioned through several major career shifts, and I am at Wellness House now to lead through these uncertain times. I know it is exactly where I am meant to be.

I encourage you to reflect on a personal intention and with it the potential to grow in a positive way throughout this spring and the remainder of the year. Here are some resources to help you get started:

 

Mary Jermann

Mary Jermann

Mary Jermann joined Wellness House of Annapolis as Executive Director in the summer of 2019. Prior to Wellness House, Mary was Director of Volunteer Services at Hospice of the Chesapeake. This important work, similar to ours, diligently served the needs of hospice patients, caregivers, families, and friends. Mary’s background also includes decades of experience in corporate and non-profit organizational leadership. She has a wealth of knowledge when it comes to team leadership, business administration and management, fundraising, and creative direction. As Executive Director, Mary’s depth of compassion and experience serves as a powerful connection to the heart of our mission at Wellness House.

Understanding the Difference Between Supportive (Palliative) and Hospice Care with Hospice of the Chesapeake

Understanding the Difference Between Supportive (Palliative) and Hospice Care with Hospice of the Chesapeake

Understanding the Difference Between Supportive (Palliative) and Hospice Care with Hospice of the Chesapeake

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This spring, we had the honor of welcoming Patti McMillan, Director of Medical Practice Management at Hospice of the Chesapeake to discuss the difference between Supportive Care and Hospice Care. A recording of this presentation can be viewed below:

Often recommended at the time a serious illness is first diagnosed, supportive care, also known as palliative care, helps you manage not just your medical condition but physical, emotional, spiritual and practical matters before, during and after treatment. Unfortunately, often those who could benefit the most from this field of medicine are put off because of confusion between palliative and hospice care. This seminar helps to provide clarity on palliative medicine and can help you determine if it is right for you.

Patti shares that Hospice of the Chesapeake (HOC) is a valuable resource for both palliative care and hospice care. Supportive (palliative) care with Chesapeake Supportive Care affirms life amidst conditions like chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), cancer, or anything that puts a barrier or limitation on one’s life but you still have hope for the future. Hospice care is focused on the dignity of dying for patients with a life expectancy of 6 months or less if the illness runs its usual course. All medical providers at HOC are board certified, and they work in conjunction with your primary care physician.

Symptom management from Chesapeake Supportive Care aims to help provide relief from pain, shortness of breath, fatigue, constipation, loss of appetite, trouble sleeping, and other side effects that can accompany cancer. The providers at Chesapeake Supportive Care can help you continue to live your life and do the things you like to do. This supportive care can be executed in hospitals, assisted living facilities, nursing homes, outpatient at the Hussman Supportive Care Center in Pasadena, and in your own home – if you are homebound, they come to your home.

Chesapeake Supportive Care providers can also assist with advanced care planning including explaining the MOLST (Medical Orders for Life Sustaining Treatment) form, which is helpful for you and your loved ones to have in case of emergency.

Molst-FAQ-flyer-final

For a full list of helpful resources, click here to visit their website.

Making New Traditions from Old During COVID-19

Making New Traditions from Old During COVID-19

Making New Traditions from Old During COVID-19

One Monday during my afternoon as a House Hostess, I slipped into the kitchen to plug in the electric kettle. Even though I didn’t normally drink hot tea, the idea was appealing on that chilly day. When I looked over the boxes of tea selections, there were plenty of flavors that sounded inviting. Peach, strawberry, or apple spice. Cinnamon, green, black, or herbal. The choice was getting difficult. Then my eyes came to rest on a very captivating option – vanilla caramel. That was it! I tore open the foil pouch which contained an individual tea bag and dunked it up and down into the steaming hot water in my cup. The rich aroma smelled delicious and tasted smooth and yummy. It was delightful to inhale the fragrance as I sipped. 

When Covid-19 changed our lives and staying safe at home began in mid-March, my husband Paul and I set out to create ways to organize our time under quarantine. One afternoon he mentioned having a cup of tea, which triggered memories of my vanilla caramel discovery at Wellness House of Annapolis. We didn’t have that flavor on hand, so Country Peach Passion had to do. I ordered a couple of boxes on Amazon and two days later, we were well stocked with vanilla caramel.

That was the start of our tradition of tea time each afternoon, reminding us of the Wellness House. Of course, this new custom includes a little something on the side, like banana bread, cookies, or Paul’s favorite – fig newtons.

We have enjoyed adopting a Wellness House practice and making it our own. If you haven’t already done so, consider meeting up with old and new friends at the virtual Tea Time. It’s happening on Zoom on Thursdays at 2 pm and you’ll feel like you’re sitting and chatting around the living room.

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Lois Villemaire

Lois Villemaire

Lois Villemaire is a dear friend of Wellness House of Annapolis. She came to know our community first as a caregiver for her sister who fought and sadly lost her battle with cancer, then as a caregiver for her husband who is a cancer survivor. She has graciously given her time as a House Hostess since, always glad to help us welcome members old and new into our community. When she is not volunteering at the Wellness House, Lois can be found writing for the Annapolis Discovered blog, discovering new and intriguing books, and critiquing the latest movies with her husband Paul.

Wellness House Closed 3/16 – 3/27 Due to COVID-19 Virus Precautions

Wellness House Closed 3/16 – 3/27 Due to COVID-19 Virus Precautions

Wellness House Closed 3/16 – 3/27
Due to CoVID-19 Virus Precautions

Dear Wellness House Community,

Out of consideration for public health and safety and that of our members, volunteers and staff, Wellness House of Annapolis will be closed for programs and services from Monday, March 16 – Friday, March 27. This plan follows the advisement of Governor Hogan and is consistent with the closings of our local public school systems.

While we understand this can be disconcerting, we’d like to affirm that your health and well-being is a priority for us. At the Wellness House we regularly take precautions against spreading germs, and are being particularly mindful of this given that a large percentage of our members have compromised immune systems.

Please look out for email and website updates from our team during the next two weeks, as any updates or new developments will be shared online.

Please also feel free to contact us at (410) 990-0941 or admin@annapoliswellnesshouse.org if you have any questions.

Keep an eye on your email! We still hope to stay connected with you over the next 2 weeks.

Though the House will be closed, we look forward to sharing online resources for your wellness, education, and connection with cancer-related support information starting next week.
We hope you remain safe and well, and please remember the following recommendations from the CDC and World Health Organization.

Sincerely,

The Wellness House Team