Touch Points – A Spark of Light with Dana

Hello Friends,

I hope you and your family are well. I am thinking of you and sending my positive thoughts and prayers. We are missing everyone, and hope to bridge the distance through this electronic connection.

With Thanksgiving just around the corner, I am trying to approach each day with a grateful heart. Did you know that social science research outlines how giving thanks and practicing gratitude can benefit us? Gratitude can increase our sense of balance and calm, enhance optimism, help us cope with stress, and improve our physical well-being. It is incredible that simple, appreciative thoughts can make a huge impact!

Sometimes, feeling a sense of gratitude is easy, and in more challenging times, like now, we may need to search for this optimistic outlook. However, all of us have something to be thankful for.  So, let’s get inspired, and start living life with a grateful heart. This “Touch Points” focuses on the importance of cultivating gratitude, how gratitude has the ability to make us happier and healthier, and a variety of ways to incorporate this practice into our lives.  For my friends caring for a loved-one with memory loss, most of the suggestions can be easily adapted. I hope you will find ways to personalize the techniques and make them work for your family. This is not one size fits all, so read the suggestions below and see what resonates. Commit to one or two techniques, and notice how your outlooks feels lighter and brighter!

“Be thankful for what you have; you’ll end up having more.  If you concentrate on what you don’t have, you will never, ever have enough.” -Oprah Winfrey

     1.Ways to Cultivate the Habit of Grateful Thinking

  • Start by paying attention and being mindful of your daily blessings. Be aware of little things each day that you are grateful for. There are simple things that might come to mind, so challenge yourself to find one new appreciation each day. There is nothing too small to be grateful for. For example, I was grateful that we had oatmeal and brown sugar in the house; that is exactly what I wanted to eat!
    • Make the practice of gratitude social– Try to think about another person and why you are grateful. What has that person said or done to enrich your life or make it easier? Then, if you are able, share these warm feelings with the person.  You might talk about your appreciation during a meal, Facetime call, phone call or a letter. This moment can facilitate a beautiful, loving connection.
    • Find gratitude even during the challenging times. I think a pandemic certainly counts as a challenge! Don’t you?! So, even now, try to be aware of what you are grateful for. Daily, I am grateful for snuggles from my tiny, old dog, Maggie. What are you grateful for?
    • Keep a daily gratitude journal or list– Get in the habit of expressing your gratitude daily. In the morning when you wake up, or before you go to bed, write a list of five things you are grateful for. Try this with your loved-one. Once you have a few entries, enjoy spending moments reading them again. I guarantee you will smile.
    • Say grace after meals.- In Judaism, we say “Birkat Hamazon” to give thanks to G-d for our food and for the nourishment. Let us also give thanks to the people making our meals. We are all blessed to have a full belly. AMEN!

If your belly is full, then find a way to help people that are not as fortunate.  Show your gratitude through tzedukah or charity. Many people in Milwaukee are “food insecure” and do not have enough to eat.  The Milwaukee Jewish Pantry, is a Jewish response to hunger in our city. Click here to learn more and to donate to this worthy cause. https://www.jccmilwaukee.org/programs/community/jewish-community-pantry/

    • Take a gratitude stroll– Go for a walk and notice all the things you are grateful for. It is healthy for us to get out of the house, even for a little while. If you can, bundle up and take a walk, and if it’s too difficult, then sit outside. Use all your senses. Feel the sun on your face, feel the wind in your hair, and hear the leaves rustling. What a glorious experience; savor this moment.
    • Try a gratitude breathing exercise– Before we start, think of one or two things you are grateful for and keep them in your mind. Get comfortable in a chair with arms and close your eyes. Put your hand on your heart, and be mindful of the moment. As you breathe in through your nose, think about a moment in your life you are deeply grateful for or something you cherish. Hold it for a few seconds, breathe it in, and feel it. Then breathe out through your mouth. Try this a few times and feel the grace in this moment. (Only do the exercise two times so you don’t feel light-headed.)

“There is a calmness to a life lived in gratitude, a quiet joy.” (-Ralph H. Blum)

     2. Try “Grateful” Brain Health Exercises-

Regular mental fitness can help your cognition. Have fun with these inspirational exercises. Complete by yourself, and then share with a loved-one. Notice how your happiness grows with a grateful perspective.

  • List people in your life you are grateful for, and why? Write what you like about them.
  • Name your favorite experience this past year, and describe why it was so memorable.
  • Describe a favorite smell that always makes you smile. What about a sound, sight, or sensation? For me, my favorite smell is chicken soup. Even though I am vegetarian, I still love the smell of chicken soup. It reminds me of my Yiddishe Grandma Mildred’s giant pot of simmering chicken soup, and family gatherings. It feels like a warm hug, unconditional love and my beautiful, large family. (Picture the movie- My Big Fat Greek Wedding, but everyone is Jewish, eating chicken soup. That’s my family. 😊)
  • Describe something weird or random that brings you joy. (This is my favorite question! I can’t wait to hear what you said!)

“Just to be is a blessing. Just to live is holy.” -Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel

     3. Watch the Jewish Museum Milwaukee’s “Museum Moment”-

In 1790, George Washington wrote a letter to the congregation of Touro Synagogue in Newport, Rhode Island. In this letter, he indicates that Jews and all members of minority religions will be able to practice freely in the new United States. This Museum Moment explores the history of Washington’s letter and its importance to American Jews.  In thinking about gratitude at this time of Thanksgiving, consider the way in which Jewish identity and American identity are connected. Learn more – watch this 26 minute video:  www.youtube.com/watch?v=9XgVSf31HPk

     4. Be Safe- Get a COVID-19 Vaccine Today!-  In the Spirit of Gratitude, I am SO Grateful for the Covid-19 Vaccine!

The COVID-19 Vaccine and the COVID-19 booster shots are available. I strongly urge you to get a Covid-19 vaccine. Are you and everyone you love vaccinated?  If not, please get vaccinated today!  Do it for yourself, your family, and your community.

  • Click here to find a vaccine near you: https://www.vaccines.gov/   Many locations offer same day and walk-in appointments.
  • Who is eligible for a Covid-19 Vaccine booster shot? https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/booster-shot.html
  • In-home vaccinations are available!  Simply call (414) 286-6800 to schedule. Do you have difficulty leaving your home, live in Milwaukee County, and have trouble accessing the support needed to get the COVID-19 Vaccine? No problem! Call for an appointment.
  • Do you have questions or feel hesitant?  There are many ways to find the answers you need. Call and speak to an expert or click on the websites below. Have your questions answered and then make an appointment today.
  1. Click here for more information from the CDC: https://www.cdc.gov/
  2. Check out The City of Milwaukee Health Department website:  https://city.milwaukee.gov/CovidVax
  3. Call the State Hotline:  1-844-684-1064

“If you concentrate on finding whatever is good in every situation, you will discover that your life will suddenly be filled with gratitude, a feeling that nurtures the soul.” -Rabbi Harold Kushner

I would love to hear what you enjoyed, and what practices you are incorporating into your life. Have you felt more optimism and light?  Gratitude is a powerful tool that allows our hearts to link to others in love and in peace. Thank you for adding beauty and meaning in my world. I am grateful for each of you.

As always, if you have a question about memory loss, our programs, community resources or caregiving- I am here for you, and happy to help. Please do not hesitate to contact me. You can find me here: DRubin-Winkelman@ovation.org

Thinking of you and sending all my positive energy and love,

Dana

  • November 16, 2021

Touch Points – A Spark of Light with Dana

 

Hello Friends,

I hope you and your family are well. I am thinking of you and sending my positive thoughts and prayers. We are missing everyone, and hope to bridge the distance through this electronic connection.

Rosh Hashanah (the Jewish New Year) and Yom Kippur (the Day of Atonement) are built-in markers to help us pause and reflect. This year, Yom Kippur begins at sunset on September 15 and ends at sundown on September 16.  During this time, we turn inward. We push ourselves to look back over the past year, ask for forgiveness and open ourselves up to the possibilities in the year to come. For many of us, each year there is a similarity to the approach; we are guided by our teachings. Still, we each are moved by different things. What helps you move toward goodness and peace? My “neshamah” (the Jewish notion of the soul) is sparked when I dig a little deeper to find the symbolism and meaning behind our customs, or I enhance reflection with beautiful music or other meaningful words.  This intentional combination pushes my heart and soul in the right direction as I strive “to do better and be better.”

For many of us, this year will be different. Some individuals may be comfortable attending in-person synagogue-based services (with a mask please), while others prefer a home-based holiday. Whatever you choose is perfectly okay; we can find contemplation and spiritual renewal in either location. Do not allow the physical distance to become a barrier to your introspection.   Reflect and connect with yourself, friends and loved ones, and G-d.  I hope this Touch Points will remind you of the beautiful symbolism behind our traditions, and provide additional ways to augment the holiday with musical links and inspiration.  With a little thought and intention, this time will be sacred and special.

CUSTOMS AND A DEEPER UNDERSTANDING DURING YOM KIPPUR:

  1. Teshuvah– This is one of the central aspects of the Holidays. Teshuvah literally means to return.

Honestly look back over the past year and assess your actions. Find the courage to accept your faults and transgressions, and strive to be better in the coming year.  This can be a transformative journey. Rabbi Sara Sapadin says, “Teshuvah is not about concealing our imperfections, it is about facing them.” Interestingly, there is a Teshuva “formula.” In order to change or “turn back” to your best self, follow these steps: recognize the wrong or error, take responsibility for your action/behavior, feel and express regret, apologize and ask for forgiveness (this could be to yourself, other people, or G-d), and plan on how you will improve and change the behavior in the future. Author Estelle Frankel says, “Through Teshuva we always have the power and freedom to begin anew so that our past need not determine our future.”

One way I enhance my intention when reflecting is by listening to inspiring music. The prayer Avinu Malkeinu is recited on Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. This is an extremely powerful prayer. Click below to hear Barbra Streisand sing this undeniably gorgeous Avinu Malkeinu (4 minutes).  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0YONAP39jVE&app=desktop

“Nobody’s perfect.  We make mistakes. We say wrong things. We do wrong things. We fall. We get up. We learn. We grow. We move on. We live.” -unknown

2. Forgiveness   Rabbi Leah Berkowitz discusses the blessing of a genuine apology- both given and received. What makes a good apology? Rabbi Berkowitz states, “It is important to find the right words to tell people we have hurt, that we are sorry.” Be kind to yourself and to each other- offer amends and accept forgiveness. A sincere apology is a sign of strength. I hope we can all find insight to let go of anger and resentment, and find peace. Only then, we will stand in the light.

“Forgiveness is the best form of love. It takes a strong person to say sorry and an even stronger person to forgive.” -unknown

3. Remember Those we Have Lost– The Yizkor liturgy on Yom Kippur gives us time to reflect and remember our loved ones that are departed. Thinking of their admired qualities and reflecting on their lives brings a sense of closeness and connection. It also elevates our own perspective and meaning for the High Holidays. In my family, following services, we often share the warm memories of a loved one that has passed away. Even though my eyes fill with tears, my heart fills with so much love and gratitude to have had them in my life. May their memories continue to be a blessing.

“How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard.” -Winnie the Pooh

4. Shofar The Shofar is a musical instrument made of a ram’s horn. Traditionally, the shofar is blown throughout the Hebrew month of Elul and during the High Holidays. Rabbi Ilana Schachter says that “Blowing the shofar can shake us from complacency, and can wake us up from a spiritual slumber. The sound of the shofar reminds us of important spiritual work we have yet to do.” I pray the sound of the shofar awakens us personally, and as a society. Let us acknowledge where we fell short, and how we will do more in the coming year to promote love, kindness and compassion. Amen!

5. Prayer- Our synagogues are doing everything possible to stay close and reach us during this atypical time. Each synagogue has its own plan for health and safety. What is your plan for Yom Kippur? If it’s your practice, you might choose a synagogue that offers services virtually. A variety of Milwaukee synagogues offer High Holiday Zoom links.

G-d hears our voices everywhere. If you aren’t able or comfortable praying in person or virtually, find your own way to speak to G-d. Share your mind and heart. Personally, there have been a few years I have been unable to attend services. Instead, I took out our prayer book and read the entire service at home by myself; I focused on pieces that had the most meaning to me. The stillness and the silence in our home added to my kavanah, or intention.  This challenging year may be an wonderful opportunity to reach a new direction of the heart.

  • Consider expanding your prayers this year. Pray for the doctors, nurses, and essential workers that provide care and services to help us all. We cannot forget or underestimate how difficult their jobs are. Pray to keep them safe, bring them comfort and send them additional strength to do their good work.
  • Let us all send heartfelt “Mi Shebeirach” prayers (healing prayers) for those that are sick with Covid or to those that have lost people from this pandemic. Covid-19 is felt all over the world, and many people need our prayers.
  • Click here for Debbie Friedman’s “Mi Shebeirach– A Prayer for Healing”-  Debbie Friedman – Mi Shebeirach (2001) – Bing video

 

“…As You maintain harmony in the heavens, give peace to us, the whole Jewish People, and to all who dwell on earth. Amen.”
Mahzor Lev Shalem

 6. Be Safe- Please Get a COVID-19 Vaccine Today!-  The FDA granted full approval of Pfizer’s COVID-19 Vaccine. I strongly urge you to get a Covid-19 vaccine! The Covid virus has mutated, becoming stronger with the very contagious Delta Variant.  Are you and everyone you love vaccinated?  If not, please get vaccinated today!  Do it for yourself, your family, and your community. Information below:

  • Click here to find a vaccine near you: https://www.vaccines.gov/   Many locations offer same day and walk-in appointments.
  • In-home vaccinations are available!  Simply call (414) 286-6800 to schedule. Do you have difficulty leaving your home, live in Milwaukee County, and have trouble accessing the support needed to get the COVID-19 Vaccine? No problem! Appointments are usually scheduled on Mondays, Wednesdays or Fridays between 9am-2pm.  Please share this important number with those that need it.
  • Do you have questions or feel hesitant?  There are many ways to find the answers you need. Call and speak to an expert or click on the websites below. Have your questions answered and then make an appointment today.
    1. Click here for more information from the CDC: https://www.cdc.gov/
    2. Check out The City of Milwaukee Health Department website:  https://city.milwaukee.gov/CovidVax
    3. Call the State Hotline:  1-844-684-1064.

Wishing everyone a meaningful Yom Kippur. May you be inscribed and sealed in the Book of Life for a good year.

As always, if you have a question, I am here for you, and happy to help. You can find me here: DRubin-Winkelman@ovation.org

Thinking of you and sending all my positive energy and love,

Dana

  • September 13, 2021

Touch Points – A Spark of Light with Dana

Hello Friends,

I hope you and your family are well. I am thinking of you and sending my positive thoughts and prayers. We are missing everyone, and hope to bridge the distance through this electronic connection.

We are in the Hebrew month of Elul; this is a special time of preparation leading up to the Jewish High Holidays. During this month, we begin a thoughtful inner dialogue to help us reflect, repent and prepare for Rosh Hashanah (Jewish New Year) and Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement). Throughout this period, we carefully examine our patterns, looking for cracked or damaged areas that may need healing. In addition, Elul provides a unique opportunity to look at any challenges and dreams.  What did we do well? How can we improve and make the coming year better?

This has been a challenging year!  Find the time and the space to reflect and prepare for the High Holidays. Use the ideas (below) to help guide your intention, prepare mentally, and heal spiritually. I hope the month of Elul brings you many opportunities for spiritual growth and loving connections.

“And above all, remember that the meaning of life is to build a life as if it were a work of art.” -Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel)

IDEAS TO ENHANCE THOUGHTFUL PREPARATION:

1.Getting Started and Setting Intention  A self-inventory is not always easy. So, before you begin to ask yourself questions, focus on quieting your mind. Strive for a peaceful openheartedness. Find the best time and space to encourage introspection. Be very intentional. Use these simple steps to set your intention:

  • Find a Peaceful Physical Space and a Calming Time- Where do you feel balanced and have a sense of shalom (peace)? Everyone is different. Perhaps this is a room in your home or a backyard space? Perhaps, nature promotes healing and wholeness.  If so, a lovely garden, a spot near Lake Michigan or even a park bench may bring you tranquility. What time of day are you at your best? Are you more alert in the morning or at night? Some people feel calm and refreshed in the morning. Personally, I love the stillness in the evening; the quiet night brings me peace and focus. Find your best time of day.
  • Quiet Your Mind and Body, Then Find Your Intention- Try deep breathing to induce relaxation. Quieting your body and mind can help you feel balanced before you begin. Close your eyes. Take in a breath. Let it fill your lungs deeply. Hold the breath, and in this moment, set your intention toward inward reflection. Let out your breath. Unwind, feel your body relaxing. Breathe deeply and let your mind go.
  • Aligned Your Physical and Mental State- Now that you are focused and calm, you may feel more committed and open to the process of introspection.

“When you set an intention, the universe conspires to give you the inspiration to make it happen.” -Trish McKinnley

2. Asking Yourself Questions to Encourage Healthy Reflection Imagine each of us has our own Book of Life; it is filled with all our words and actions. Rabbi Jessica Barolsky (and others) uses this concept. She suggests the High Holidays is a time to pause and look back at our own Book of Life. Rabbi Barolsky asks, “What would you find in your divine notebook?” It is up to us to fill it with the good, rather than the bad. Ask yourself questions to encourage self-reflection and hope. Pick questions that speak to your soul. Here are a few to get you started:

  • During the Past Year, What Would Your Proudest Moments Be?- Perhaps your words or deeds made a difference in someone’s life. Who did you touch in a loving or a meaningful way? What have you done that fills your heart with joy and blessings?
  • What Would You Want to Change?- What habit would you like to break? What do you want to work on during the next year? Begin practicing habits that will make you proud next year (when you look back).
  • Do You Need to Say You Are Sorry?- Think about all the relationships you have. Who do you need to connect with- a partner, spouse, parent, child, or friend? Reach out and seek forgiveness to anyone you have hurt. It is never too late to apologize.
  • What Are You Grateful For?- Blessings and gratitude come in many forms and bring love and peace.  What are the simple pleasures that make you smile? What revitalizes you? Have you noticed daily blessings? Perhaps there have been larger, more monumental, ones?
  • What More Can You do in the Coming Year to Help Tikkun Olam– Repairing the World?- We each have an obligation to continue to mend our imperfect world.  Find a cause that matters to you, and work to bring in more kindness and love. Imagine if we all made a small contribution- how enormous the outcome would be!  Let’s all do our part. Wake up each morning, find a way to be grateful, and use energy helping others.

If you see what needs to be repaired and how to repair it, then you have found a piece of the world that G-d has left for you to complete. But if you only see what is wrong and what is ugly in the world, then it is you yourself that needs repair.”

Menachem Mendel Schneerson

3. Using Traditions and Ideas for Inspiration-  “Rosh Hashanah does not burst in upon us.” (-Arthur Waskow) We can use this time to make ourselves ready. Be fully engaged and present throughout the month of Elul; enhance your experience.

3. Try a Little Brain Health-  Regular mental fitness exercise can boost memory, focus, and mental skills. Give your brain a daily workout!

Try this Elul brain health exercise. Draw an outline of your family home. Describe each room. Add details about colors, scents, and what you feel and hear in your home. What blessings and memories fill your rooms? Recall these details during your reflection.

4. Check out a “Museum Moment”-  Ellie Gettinger, Education Director at Jewish Museum Milwaukee, sat down with Rabbi Moishe Steigmann to discuss how to approach the ten days between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. In thinking about this time of reflection, how do you plan on preparing for a new year? Click here for this (14 minute) video:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H8KF8lzGOBg

5. Find a COVID-19 Vaccine-  I strongly urge you to get a Covid-19 vaccine! The Covid virus has mutated, becoming stronger with the very contagious Delta Variant.  Are you and everyone you love vaccinated?  If not, please get vaccinated today!  Do it for yourself, your family, and your community. Click here to find a vaccine near you: https://www.vaccines.gov/   Many locations offer same day and walk-in appointments. Do you have additional questions? Click here for more information from the CDC: https://www.cdc.gov/

Set a goal so big you can’t achieve it until you grow into the person who can.”unknown

We have been through many challenges this year- in our world, in our community and in our families.  Certainly, there is no shortage of events and feelings to process! So, use this month to prepare, reflect and find additional meaning.  I hope the enclosed creative questions and ideas enhance your experience. Reflect on the past year and set goals and positive intentions for the year to come; recommit to the people, issues and connections that matter most.

As always, if you have a question related to aging, memory loss or caregiving, please do not hesitate to contact me.  I am here for you, and happy to help. You can find me here: DRubin-Winkelman@ovation.org

Thinking of you and sending all my positive energy and love,

Dana

  • August 23, 2021

TOUCH POINTS- A SPARK OF LIGHT WITH DANA

Hello Friends,

I hope you and your family are well. I am thinking of you and sending my positive thoughts and prayers. We are missing everyone, and hope to bridge the distance through this electronic connection.

Thankfully, the weather is warmer, the sun is shining and we are spending more time outside. After a year+ of considerable time spent in our homes, many happy Wisconsinites are stepping outdoors and gardening. Gardening is not only a productive way to enjoy nature, it is also beneficial to our health and wellbeing.

Gardening provides exercise. Since some of us have been more sedentary during the pandemic, committing to even light gardening boosts the metabolism and engages muscles.  The physical movement of digging, raking, weeding, and watering burns calories and may strengthen muscles. (Of course, with any physical activity, please check with your doctor first.)  In addition, regular exercise, like moderate gardening, can help prevent memory loss. According to a study from the Medical Journal of Australia, a daily dose of gardening lowers the risk of dementia.

Gardening is also a mood enhancer and has psychological benefits.  For example, gardening can increase serotonin, a chemical in our brain which helps boost overall mood. Gardening may also lower cortisol, the body’s main stress hormone. News and World Reports states, “Gardening has a wide range of mood benefits, such as reductions in depression, anxiety and anger, as well as increases in happiness.” (-Preventive Medicine Reports study)

While you are receiving the glorious physical and psychological benefits from gardening, it is important to be prepared and stay safe.  While some sun exposure is healthy, obviously, please use care. Even if the sun does not feel hot, the damaging ultraviolent rays are still at work. Wear a wide-brim hat, slather on the sunscreen, drink fluids, and take breaks as needed. In addition, if someone has challenges with dexterity, please make modifications. Lightweight gardening tools may help.

Of course, everyone does not have a yard or is able to plant a garden. However, you can still enjoy the pleasures of gardening through windowsill/container gardening, amusing garden inspired activities and/or tasty garden-fresh recipes. The possibilities are endless!

So, what are you waiting for? Put on your schelppy (Yiddish for run-down) clothes and let’s experience the joys of gardening! It is easier than you think!

“The earth has music for those who listen.” (-William Shakespeare) 

 

Enjoy the Benefits of Digging in the Dirt:

1. Therapeutic Benefits of Gardening and Caring for Plants There are magical and abundant lessons in gardening.

  • Gardening gives us time to meditate and think. Try to relax and get into the “zone” while you garden. Use this time to quietly reflect. Allow yourself to drift off as you work, finding a magical state of mindfulness.
  • Our world needs many things right now, but we all need to stay positive, continue growing and moving forward. Audrey Hepburn said, “To plant a garden is to believe in tomorrow.”  How wise!  Keep an optimistic mindset and look forward to your beautiful flowering stalks and new growth. Gardening shows us, first-hand, there is always something to hope for.
  • Gardens remind us that investing time and energy can bring amazing returns. After we plant a seed, we lovingly tend to it by regularly watering and weeding. With a little luck, and a lot of patience and consistent care, ultimately, we will reap remarkable gifts.  Isn’t this true of almost everything in life? For example, with love, patience, and consistent attention and care, children and relationships thrive. William Wordsworth said, “Let nature be your teacher.”
  • Gardens remind us of the beauty in nature. Enjoy the moment, and experience nature’s gifts. Soak in the feeling of gratitude and abundance. A garden is a little slice of heaven.
  • For our friends caring for a loved-one with memory loss, gardening can provide a social activity, and may enhance your love-one’s sense of purpose. Gardening can be a productive, bright, joy-filled activity.

“Gardening is cheaper than therapy, and you get tomatoes.” -author unknown

2. Container Gardening and Tips- Not everyone is able to garden outside, but everyone has a windowsill or a container!   If you are intimidated, start small with just a few houseplants or a pot. Personally, I have tried container gardening many times. When I was first married, we lived in downtown Chicago. Instead of a yard, we only had a small patio/deck. Still, we were able to successfully plant cucumbers in a pot. In addition, I am currently growing two herb plants.  For easy access when I cook, I found a sunny spot for them inside my home. I am happy to report that my basil and mint plants are flourishing!  I hope you will be encouraged by the ideas below:

“Play in the dirt. Because life is too short to always have clean fingernails.” -gardentherapy.ca

3. Grow Veggies From Scraps! –  Did you know that you can regrow some common veggies from scraps?  I think this is slightly incredible! Foods like: potatoes, sweet potatoes, onions, garlic, leeks, shallots, celery, bulb fennel, carrots, beets, lettuce, cabbages, basil, mint, and cilantro can all be grown in this way. Expand your harvest with this fun and easy way to grow your veggies. Click here for instructions and pictures; read this article by Elizabeth Waddington: www.ruralsprout.com/regrow-vegetables

4. Fresh Produce Recipe Ideas- This pescatarian gets very excited by fresh summer veggies and fruit. There are many delightful, and often easy ways to enjoy produce. Below are a few anecdotes and recipes.

  • A quick story… When I was 19 years old and a student in Madison, I was blessed to have had a summer internship with a creative, fun, interesting, funky, and kind woman, Jill M. She opened my young eyes to things I still love today: National Public Radio, Concerts on the Square (in Madison), and my beloved Moosewood Cookbook by Mollie Katzen. Oh Mollie, I love you so! While Mollie Katzen offers many extraordinary recipes, sometimes her simple ones are my favorites. So, when you harvest your tomatoes, make sure you try this recipe. Mollie Katzen suggests impressing your lunch guests with a broiled open-faced sandwich like this, “ On rye or pumpernickel or herb bread:  Some fancy Dijon-type mustard, some home-made mayonnaise, a very thin slice of onion, a very thin slice of tomato, some thin rings of sweet red or green pepper, and a slice of the finest cheese in the room.  Broil till cheese begins to turn brown.”  (By the way, I use store-bought mayo. I am not so fancy.)
  • I am so glad you decided to grow cucumbers! They have always been my favorite veggie in our garden. Perhaps that is because I grew up watching my Grandmother Mildred, my Mom and all my incredible aunts make dill pickles.  I remember bushels of cucumbers, gigantic bunches of fresh dill, pickling spices and people… so many relatives- all smashed into my Grandparent’s west-side kitchen. The women buzzed around, washing mounds of pickles, and talking loudly while they carefully canned the pickles. Throughout the year, it was a huge delicacy to eat the pickles that had been brewing for months!  Yum- a true Kosher dill pickle treat. We couldn’t wait! Do you have a family pickle recipe?

If you are looking for other ways to enjoy your cucumbers, click here to read “36 Cucumber Recipes to Make This Summer” (-Taste of Home). https://www.tasteofhome.com/collection/cucumber-recipes-to-make-this-summer/

5. Garden Inspired Activities and Inspiration!  Enjoy gardening in a variety of ways:  appreciate gardens close to home, enjoy a famous garden from around the world, or try a few inspired activities.  All the activities below can be easily adapted for our loved ones with memory loss or enjoy as intergenerational activities.

  • The Keukenhof– Located in South Holland in the town of Lisse, the Keukenhof is the largest flower garden on earth! This garden is home to seven million tulips! This relaxing and beautiful virtual tour is sure to inspire you. Click here for this 7 minute video:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pLg3YuPBps8
  • Visit Boerner Botanical Gardens- Stroll the grounds in this beautiful local garden (located in Whitnall Park). Enjoy dozens of blooming gardens throughout the year. Click here for more information:    https://county.milwaukee.gov/EN/Parks/Explore/Boerner-Botanical-Gardens
  • Make the World’s Cutest Garden Markers- Honestly, the ideas are ridiculously charming. Click here: https://www.thekitchn.com/cute-and-easy-garden-markers-you-can-diy-with-supplies-you-already-have-245089?amp=1
  • Vote for Your Favorite Flowers– Grab a loved one or a dear friend, and take a walk in your neighborhood, or drive to a deluxe neighborhood, and vote for your favorite garden or flowers.
  • Take Pictures of Your Favorites!– While you are admiring your preferred flowers, don’t forget to take a few pictures. If they are gorgeous, consider framing them to enjoy all year long!
  • Buy Fresh Flowers– If you can’t plant, you can still enjoy the beauty of fresh flowers. Visit a floral shop or grocery store and pick up your favorite bouquet. We all need to stop and smell the roses!
  • Enjoy a Coffee Table Gardening Book- Learn more about gardening through words and pictures. Read together and discuss the ideas with your loved one. Consider borrowing a few books from the library. What a treat!

 

6. Try A Little Brain Health-  Regular mental fitness exercise can help your cognition. Print out these creative food related handouts and have fun keeping your brain fit. Enjoy the three attached exercises.

  • Jumbled Fruits and Vegetables Handout- Unscramble the jumbled words.
  • Grocery Store Scavenger Hunt Handout- Test your memory speed and complete the questions as fast as possible. Then, go back and recheck your work. How did you do?
  • Alphabetize the Berries- After you alphabetize the berries, “google” and read about any unfamiliar berries.  I love berries, but haven’t had the pleasure of eating all the berries listed.  Make it a point to buy those berries at the grocery store or farmer’s market. Eating a new berry and learning something new is delicious, and good for your brain health! It’s a win-win!

“We may think we are nurturing our garden, but of course, it’s really our garden that is really nurturing us.”Jenny Uglow

Appreciate the many gifts gardening brings. This joyful, healthy pursuit is good for your body, mind and soul. So, happy digging everyone! I would love to hear what you did to bring more growth and beauty into your life through gardening. As always, if you have a question related to aging, memory loss or caregiving, please do not hesitate to contact me.  I am here for you, and happy to help. You can find me here: DRubin-Winkelman@ovation.org

Thinking of you and sending all my positive energy and love,

Dana

  • June 24, 2021