Some Days I Need the Music and Some Days I Need the Lyrics

Some Days I Need the Music and Some Days I Need the Lyrics


“Some days I need the music and some days I need the lyrics.” – Unknown

Do you have a favorite lyric? Are there words you wait for with bright, almost childlike anticipation when you listen to your favorite song? I’ve got one, it comes from a little-known Elton John song with lyrics written by the great Bernie Taupin, John’s longtime lyricist. The song is called “Blues for Baby and Me”. It’s a simple song, with a clear message, at least for me. Listening to it, I imagine waking up early on a clear, but cool, summer morning. I pack a bag, and leave everything behind…to begin again, alone, to the west.

The lyric is this:

It’s all over now, don’t you worry no more
We’re gonna go west to the sea
The Greyhound is waiting, and the radio is playing
Some blues for baby and me

And the highway looks like she never did
Lord it looks so sweet and so free
And I can’t forget that trip to the west
Singing blues for baby and me

Now, I can’t tell you why those words move me so much, but they do. When I hear them, I remember myself. I dissolve into a world of one. A world of peace and surrender that resonates within my body. In my mind I am on a bus, alone with the window open. I’m breathing fresh air from the high desert, clean and warm. The sun is setting in the sky.

I am free.

We all know that words are powerful. If you’ve ever been on the receiving end of harsh words from someone you love, you know what I mean. Words stick. Some words will even live in our minds, maybe even our hearts and souls, forever. Lyrics are simply words that are linked to another powerful form of communication: music. So… lyrics are not just words. Lyrics are poetry bound to sound, and they are changed by the unique way they intertwine with musical energy. They are designed to move you in an emotional, physical and spiritual level. Therefore, simple words on a paper, when met with the right music, can change the world. Indeed, it has. Don’t believe me? Here are a few examples of how lyrics influenced history:

Star Spangled Banner – Francis Scott Key wrote a poem after he witnessed the Maryland fort being bombarded by the British during the War of 1812. Later it was set to music and in 1931 became America’s national anthem.

We Shall Overcome – This song, with roots in the African American church, became synonymous with the civil rights movement. When Bob Seeger and other famous folksingers in the early 1960s, such as Joan Baez, sang the song at rallies, folk festivals, and concerts in the north, they helped promote the song to a national level. Since its rise to prominence, the song, and songs based on it, have been used in a variety of protests worldwide.

Feed the World / Band Aid This song has become synonymous with the plight of millions of starving African children. The song so captured people’s attention that the response to subsequent disasters has been different and millions of have benefitted because of it.

I’d Like to Teach the World to Sing / Coke Song – This jingle was so popular that it was rewritten into a full-length song and now everyone knows the difference between Coca-Cola and Pepsi. I prefer Coke, just saying.

The point is… words have power. Words, mingled with music, have magical powers. This magic can cross the boundaries of fear, loss, pain, sadness, and loneliness. Allow yourself to be moved by the magic. Open yourself up, to being moved and changed by lyrics. You can access it anytime you want and become a part of it.

Music and lyrics can change your heart, which in turn can change your mind. And when you change your mind, you change your world. As the song Imagine goes:

You may say I’m a dreamer
But I’m not the only one
I hope one day you’ll join me
And the world will be as one

John Lennon, there’s a guy who knew the power of a good lyric. Now go find the magic.

Terri Fevang joined the Wellness House of Annapolis team as Program & Development Director in the summer of 2020 to support the enhancement and development of our adult, child, and family support programs. Terri is also a music composer and certified music practitioner (CMP)/therapeutic musician, and a graduate of The Music for Healing and Transition Program (MHTP), a certification program that trains musicians in the art and science of using the transformative healing power of music at the bedside of the sick and dying.

Wellness House and MBSR

Wellness House and MBSR

 

The benefits of meditation have been well documented in many studies and something that most of you already know. Meditation reduces stress, it helps control anxiety, and lengthens your attention span. One of its best features is boosting meditators’ emotional and mental health, something that is paramount for anyone dealing with a cancer diagnosis.

Phebe Duff is a Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) facilitator and meditation practitioner based in Annapolis, MD. MBSR is an eight-week educational course based on mindfulness techniques. This course allows individuals a viewpoint that is separate from their thoughts about the stressful event. In these courses, people learn to examine their emotions without judgment to see them instead as mental events. Wellness House of Annapolis saw the potential benefits of MBSR and invited Phebe to pilot the course with its members.

Phebe taught MBSR for more than fifteen years and until three years ago, she was never involved in leading a group of people diagnosed with cancer. She noticed the stress of these individuals was more acute than any she experienced before as a practitioner.

“Wellness House was a unique experience for me at that time. These are people who have looked death and trauma in the face.”

What started out as an exercise became one of the programs offered at Wellness House of Annapolis. MBSR is an 8-week program, and the beauty of it is witnessing the change that occurs in members both physically and mentally. With any type of meditation, giving in and being able to let go of control is the key. This is challenging for almost anyone but can be especially difficult for those facing a cancer diagnosis and subsequent treatment. However, the difficulty individuals undergo during this time is precisely why this program is so vital.

“Members come out the other end of MBSR as transformed people. What meditation and mindfulness bring to them is a way to feel more in control of their life. To be able to say, ‘Yes, this terrible thing has happened to me, but I do not have to let it define me. I can now relate to it in a completely different way.’”

One of the most exciting things for Phebe is watching the change in members as they progress through the program. “The first thing you notice is they begin to sleep better. The wrinkles lessen. All of a sudden, about halfway through, there becomes a joy, a release. They begin to see the results of this class. It becomes very clear and prominent.”

The result of MBSR is an understanding that while someone may be afflicted with a cancer diagnosis, they do not have to give in to their fear, they can still control their lives. As Phebe explains it, “You see it in their faces. Members go from being totally overwhelmed by their diagnosis, treatment and their future, to deciding this diagnosis would not define them or their lives. A philosophy takes over of: Ok. This is my life right now. I’m going to live the best life that I can.”

Through the process of the first MBSR program at Wellness House of Annapolis, and in subsequent programs, Phebe saw something she never experienced in other MBSR classes. She saw that even though these people went through different cancer diagnoses and procedures, they all experienced cancer together. It created a bond.

“I began to see people caring for others in the group. Not like a support group, but something more long term. A thought process of ‘We are going to support each other after this class ends.’” Friendships and bonds form and extend far past the end of the class and continue to be sources of intimate connection and support for members that participate.

Over the years, the MBSR program at Wellness House of Annapolis not only transformed the members, it transformed Phebe. “These people are amazing. They are so open to exploring every facet of their life. They are not the people they were before their cancer diagnosis. Through the class, Wellness House members go to a lot of places mentally and emotionally. I never experienced that with other meditation groups.”

Phebe Duff is a certified MBSR instructor with over 10 years of experience teaching this method and researching its benefits. She is a long-time meditator who has led sitting groups and meditation classes for 20 years. Currently, Phebe instructs online classes for the Wellness House of Annapolis every Monday.

The Silver Lining

The Silver Lining

Artwork by Liz Carren, Member, Wellness House of Annapolis

“I am a big believer in mind and body. I knew I had to have a good attitude. No one was more freaked out about my cancer diagnosis and with a worse attitude than me. I was so demolished by the news.”

Liz Carren has always been a creative person, a positive person, an artist and illustrator living in Annapolis, MD. She has produced artwork for years involving the space where unique stories and joyful art come together, celebrating wellness and the earth. In between the time spent working at Apple and her artwork, Liz developed a pet project that would become her passion called, “Botanical Beauties and Beasties.”

The project began out of environmental concern, and morphed to include many other characters, 35 now in total. It is a mystical world where the mantra is kindness, and it is something Liz has worked on for the last 10 years until her world changed in the fall of 2020.

Liz was diagnosed with stage III endometrial cancer. The cancer diagnosis was enough to distract her focus from Botanical Beauties and Beasties as Liz entered the uncharted waters of a cancer diagnosis.

“My way of coping with any issue has always been to create art. So, when this cancer happened, I knew I wanted to make some kind of art around it to document it.” The problem was that Liz needed a clear mind to create her art, and now it was anything but clear.

“I really didn’t have any idea what I wanted to do or how to do it.”

Liz’s cousin Claudia, a cancer survivor herself, suggested Liz use artwork to describe her experience and as a way to gain greater control over her emotions.

“It’s the silver lining of me having cancer. Cancer changed my artwork significantly. It allowed me to begin abstract work.”

“My first thought was one of a healing light. I could see it in my mind’s eye. It was a white light, kind of cycling, that’s the only way I can describe it and what started the whole process. I kept seeing it, and finally said ‘This is something I need to draw.’” She used high-resolution digital illustrations to create the first piece and has used this method ever since.

“That’s what started the whole thing and then all the tests and machines, everything started happening, and all the fear came with it.”

After the diagnosis, Liz spoke with her acupuncturist, Peter, and they discussed how visualization aids those undergoing a cancer diagnosis. She further described her next art project, “My 2nd project was a visualization of acupuncture. How it feels and how it’s supposed to be helping me, it’s still one of my favorites. From there, I opened up and began to process all of this visually.”

“CAT Scans, MRI’s, PET Scans, all the fear and drugs, the chemotherapy, and my having to deal with it all. I decided to draw the machines, but not draw the machine as what it looked like, instead to draw what it looked like and what it felt like, my own reaction to what the machine was doing to me. “

“And somewhere, somehow, I flipped from being a hundred thousand percent miserable and scared out of my mind, to an incredibly positive person with a positive attitude. Honestly, I have no idea how that manifested itself. I wish I could bottle it and sell it because it’s gold. I do know the artwork and creative process dug me out of so many of the holes I was in.”

As the artwork evolved, she saw it not just as her therapy, but another way to describe to others what she was going through. “I wanted people to understand, see, and feel what I was going through. And it was not just for cancer patients. I wanted my friends to understand a little bit better.”

These days, Liz is continuing her treatment and hopeful to get back to work at Apple, and on her Beasties as soon as she can. You can view her breathtaking work on the Botanical BB Instagram page (@botanicalbb).

Just One More Test

Just One More Test

Pictured above: Schmitt Family

“Just one more test.”

It was June 24th, 2015, and Emily Karcher Schmitt saw her doctor for what was supposed to be a routine appointment. Emily was being monitored for another non-cancer-related health issue, a benign lump in her breast, and was having some testing done.

“So much of my story is divine intervention. It was the monitoring of that benign lump that led to the discovery of my cancer. Decisions were made to not remove that lump. We discussed removing it. For some reason, we decided not to.”

And if it were not for that decision, to NOT remove that benign fatty lump, Emily’s cancer might not have been discovered until it was too late.

On that June date, Emily’s doctor, after performing all the routine tests, for reasons even she does not understand, still was not convinced. The scans and ultrasounds all looked normal, but something was not right. She suggested getting one more test, a high-resolution ultrasound.
“You are fine. All is good. Let’s do one more test, and you can go live your life…”

And there it was:
It was bad.
It was large.
And completely hidden.

“It looked like an octopus. No matter how many times I got a scan, no matter how many times I got an ultrasound, it didn’t matter. It was hiding.”

Everything went incredibly fast after that.

“Our choice was simple. In fact, there was no choice. To survive, you must begin this treatment immediately.”

At the time, Emily’s children were 2, 4, and 6 years old. She was about to celebrate her 10th wedding anniversary and now, they were all about to go through cancer together. Emily and her husband not only had to deal with this life-threatening situation, but their three young children were about to see their mom in quite a different light. “We were very concerned about what to say to the kids. How would they deal with this? How would WE deal with this?”

Emily begins her treatment:
Breast cancer.
Double mastectomy.
Chemo.

“Fast forward; I am in a wig shop in Annapolis. This is where I would first hear about Wellness House. It was the program they had called, ‘Look Good, Feel Better,’ and I remember wanting so much to be that, and to be a part of that program.”

Emily had a close friend, Tara, whose mother had gone through cancer. Tara’s mother was also a Wellness House member. As the conversation shifted to their children, Emily fell back to how concerned she and her husband were about the kids, and how they were handling what she was going through.

Tara told Emily about the Wellness House of Annapolis, specifically their Paint Your Rainbow Summer Camp. Tara had just signed her kids up to participate in the camp to help them deal with their grandmother’s cancer diagnosis.

Emily thought about this opportunity after speaking to Tara and about sending her children to the summer camp. “I am the kind of person who isn’t the first to do anything. Even though this was all so new to me, I felt my kids could benefit from this.”

The response, and result of the Wellness House kids’ camp, was immediate for the entire family. “It took one day for us to realize what an amazing experience the Wellness House provides. My kids were, and still are, so excited to be a part of everything they have to offer. It continues to be a feeling of, ‘This is too good to be true. How on earth is this free? How can it be this all-encompassing good feeling, with no strings attached?’”

Programs like Paint Your Rainbow Summer Camp and Kidz Coping helped her children connect with other kids who were going through or had gone through exactly what they were going through. As the Schmitt family went through this process, it opened a brand-new world up to them, one of selflessness and giving. The Wellness House of Annapolis is an organization explicitly designed to help people like the Schmitt family – one that lets those dealing with a cancer diagnosis know that they are not alone in their struggle.

“Going through cancer, you realize there are these groups where you feel like YOU are the lucky ones. You don’t wish cancer on your worst enemy. As unlucky as you are to be going through the fear and trauma of the cancer experience, you wish everyone could have access to groups like this. The fact is that they are not just fun, encouraging, and backed by therapy, they’re also amazing.”

“Everyone talks of 2020 being the worst year, and it certainly was, but 2015 was our 2020. Everything that could go wrong went wrong and I felt my kids needed something like this. To be surrounded by other kids, to be supported by an organization like this. They made an immediate bond with the other kids in the program. I remember seeing the counselors giving my kids piggyback rides, and my response was to call my husband and tell him, ‘You will never believe this place. It was exactly what they needed.’”

Emily Karcher Schmitt is a Crofton-based photographer and owner of Picture the Good: Studio & Workshop. She is the proud mother of three kids, now 7, 9, and 11 years old respectively, and she has been married for 15 years and counting.

You Are Stronger Than You Think

You Are Stronger Than You Think

A cancer diagnosis is one of the most shocking things to hear and share. As an 11-year-old, I was not prepared to hear “Your dad has cancer.” Ten years later, as a 21-year-old, I still have not forgotten the feeling that I had after my mother shared the diagnosis.

My dad was diagnosed with Multiple Myeloma, which had invaded his spine’s bone marrow through multiple tumors. When my dad was first given his cancer diagnosis, he was told that if he lived, he would likely never walk again or do the things he loved, like golfing or boating. My parents tried to protect my brother and I from the scary reality that my dad was facing.

During the summer that my dad was diagnosed and treated, my brother and I spent the majority of time at the houses of friends and family, so my mom could be with my dad and protect us from seeing his battle with cancer. Telling people that he had cancer didn’t feel real, and I couldn’t accept the possibility of losing him to cancer.

The reality was that in the months following his diagnosis, my dad would go on to receive chemotherapy, radiation, and a stem cell transplant. My brother and I didn’t see my dad much during these treatments and procedures, but we visited whenever we could. It was hard not having my dad home, and when he finally came home after he finished treatment and rehab, I was so excited. I created a giant poster for him and couldn’t stop hugging him once he got home. My dad coming home from treatment was a blessing, but it was just the start of his healing. The thing that is so scary about cancer is that there is the possibility that it can come back.

No two people have the same experience with cancer. Although cancer can do a lot of things, there are also a lot of things cancer can’t do. It can never take away love, someone’s determination, or spirit. Throughout the whole process, my dad never stopped fighting to beat cancer and he told us that our family and having more time with us is what kept him focused. My dad beat the odds by going into remission, walking again, and playing golf.

His fight didn’t stop there, after he survived cancer, he began doing research, donating to cancer organizations, and talking to people in the community about his journey. When my dad heard about anyone he knew being diagnosed with cancer, he reached out and gave advice about doctors and treatment facilities he had used. His journey inspired me, and it is just one of many examples of the strength of the cancer community.

No matter how lonely a cancer diagnosis can feel, no one is alone in their battle. The doctors, nurses, and organizations dedicated to helping those touched by cancer and their families are there every step of the way. Additionally, outside of the medical field, the community of cancer survivors is unparalleled in strength.

Throughout the process of a cancer diagnosis, it is important to find comfort and support from friends, family, neighbors, and teachers. Looking back on this experience, I was blessed to have such a strong support system help me to get through the coping process. Everyone will go through their own journey, but everyone should remain hopeful because one day there will be a cure.

Throughout his battle with cancer, my dad showed me that the values of strength, determination, and hope can go a lot further than you think. He was the strongest person I have ever known and beat cancer after being in remission for five years.

When he was diagnosed with cancer, I was in seventh grade, and after he beat cancer, I was lucky enough for him to live on to see me graduate high school, as well as attend my freshman year of college. My dad lived every day after his cancer diagnosis to the fullest until the day he died in 2018 following a sudden heart attack. Losing my dad was the hardest experience, but it was a gift to still have that time to spend with him after his cancer diagnosis.

My dad always told me, “you are stronger than you think.” I want people to know from reading this blog that although there are things we can and cannot control, it is important to have hope and never give up. Now more than ever, health and wellness are not guaranteed, but we must always fight on for ourselves and the loved ones we have lost because there is still so much to live and hope for.

Today and every day, I am choosing to fight on for my dad, and I know if he were here, he would be joining me to help with my work at the Wellness House of Annapolis.

Clare Costa circle

Article by Clare Costa, Social Media Intern at Wellness House of Annapolis 

Clare Costa is a senior majoring in Integrated Marketing Communication at Pepperdine University. As an Annapolis native, Clare is excited to give back to the community through her marketing internship with the Wellness House of Annapolis. When asked why she chose to intern for the Wellness House of Annapolis, Clare said, “As soon as I found out about the opportunity, I couldn’t wait to start. As someone who has seen my loved ones battle cancer, I feel connected to the mission of the organization, and I value the work the Wellness House does to support the cancer community.”

Voices from the House – Why Volunteer?

Voices from the House – Why Volunteer?

The new year is a popular time to make resolutions or intentions. You may be looking for a new approach to being happier, healthier, more productive, or finding a way to show gratitude. I can offer from experience that volunteering is a satisfying resolution to explore.

Check out this article on how important volunteering can be to health and well-being. There seems to be a magical elixir which connects helping others to helping yourself.

On a personal level, my initial connection with Wellness House began with my husband, Paul’s diagnosis of prostate cancer in 2012. His treatment consisted of external radiation and was very successful. He’s doing great.

Then in 2013, my 10-year younger sister began an arduous 3.5 year battle with lung cancer. She lived in another state, and couldn’t take advantage of the services of Wellness House. During certain times of treatment, I became her caregiver. She was fiercely independent, so by her choice my stays were limited.

In 2015, I volunteered as a house hostess because I felt the need to absorb the strength and support of the House and hoped to find ideas for my sister to explore. I attended the Caregiver Support Group and met others in similar situations. Sadly, she passed away on June 20, 2016. My bond with Wellness House was set.

Volunteering means so much to me. Everyone is different and brings unique skills and interests to the table. The Wellness House has many needs and volunteers can find a satisfying place. For me, it has been organizing the book club, occasionally writing blogs, and working on research. When the time is right, I plan to return to being a house hostess.

Due to the challenges of Covid, all events are online and as we have seen, the excellent programs being offered are bringing members, volunteers, and staff together – face to face on Zoom. If you would like to volunteer in any way, please contact the Wellness House team at admin@annapoliswellnesshouse.org

Currently Recruiting for:
  • Administrative Support                                                                                                                                                          Data entry, scanning, electronic filing, follow-up phone calls… If you love supporting an administrative role, we have it all! Of course some of these tasks will need to wait until we can safely return to the house… but much can be done from afar. We would really appreciate someone or a couple of people  who are computer savvy and would like to help with scheduling, and various ongoing projects, which can be done from home with internet access and a computer. 
  • Prayer Chain Support                                                                                                                                                      Wellness House understands the need for connection and positivity. That type of support comes in many forms and we want to embrace them all! If you are interested in participating in a Wellness Prayer Chain (on either end of the chain) offering positive energy or receiving positive energy in a way that suits your spiritual practice.
  • Wellness House Well-Wisher                                                                                                                                      Sometimes you just need someone to talk to, someone to listen… and those people who are there for you are so important! We are looking for well-wishers to connect with members who need that kindness and compassion.
  • ZOOM Meeting Support                                                                                                                                                Recurring support starting meetings, and recording member attendance.

If you would like to help support any of these roles, please send us an email at admin@annapoliswellnesshouse.org (specifying what you are interested in helping with) and we will give you a call to discuss all of the details.                      We can’t wait to speak with you!

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.

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.