Herts Holistic Hero - Henrietta Spink

Those of us with children strive every day to be the best parent we can be. Nurturing and caring for our children is a pleasure and a joy, yet it can also be exhausting and worrisome and plagued with insecurity. We watch our children grow, develop physically and mentally, form friendships with others and progress through school. We want them to just be happy and healthy, nothing more, nothing less. Every single day I question "am I being the best parent I can be?"

And then I saw a documentary about Henrietta Spink. She has two disabled sons, 19-year-old Henry and 15-year-old Freddie. In addition to the daily struggle to take care of them, Henrietta and her husband faced increasing debts and feared losing their house, even their marriage.

Henry was born showing no sign of any problems. Even now, brain scans show no abnormalities, yet he is unable to walk or talk. Freddie was born with his organs in the wrong place and half his diaphragm missing. It was assumed that once surgery corrected these problems, he would develop as normal, yet his development was slow and he was eventually diagnosed with autism. The boys require help from carers and need constant supervision, especially Henry, who suffers regular fits. And due to a constriction in Freddie's throat, he is prone to projectile vomiting requiring several operations to resolve this.

Through watching their story, I have marvelled at their loving commitment, courage, strength and determination to give their sons a happy, normal life. Quite drastically, and more to overcome financial ruin, the Spink' decided to sell their London home and buy a boat with a resolve to be free spirits and seek the best care and support for their boys.

Henrietta is amazing. She lives her life. She is not maudlin or emotional about her circumstances. She does not dwell on the past (proving this by burning a series of audio diaries she made). She looks for the next opportunity and takes calculated risks - all for the love of her children.

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In Our Thoughts...

Pilot Jimmy Leeward and all those killed, injured and affected by the crash at the National Championship Air Races in Reno, Nevada

Herts Holistic Heroes: Mattie & Jeni Stepanek

Jeni Stepanek was diagnosed with a rare form of muscular dystrophy shortly after all four of her children were born. Sadly, her daughter and two sons died from the same disease during early childhood. Her remaining son, Mattie, also had dysautonomic mitochondrial myopathy.

Mattie began writing poety at the age of three. He wrote five books all of which made the New York Times bestsellers list. Mattie named his poems 'Heartsongs' describing them as a person's special gift to be shared with others. Amazingly, Mattie also became a motivational speaker and peace advocate, he lobbied on Capitol Hill on behalf of disabled people and children with life-threatening conditions. Mattie developed a national high profile and was given the honor of Goodwill Ambassador for the Muscular Dystrophy Association. He appeared numerous times on Oprah Winfrey, who described Mattie as one of her top three most memorable guests - not bad for a show that spanned 25 years and featured 30,000 guests.

Mattie passed away on 22nd June 2004, just three weeks away from his 14th birthday. His funeral was held six days later in Wheaton, Maryland and was attended by 1,350 people including Oprah. Former president Jimmy Carter, delivered the eulogy:

"We have known kings and queens, and we've known presidents and prime ministers, but the most extraordinary person whom I have ever known in my life is Mattie Stepanek. His life philosophy was 'remember to play after every storm' and his motto was 'Think gently, speak gently, live gently'. He wanted to be remembered as "a poet, a peacemaker, and a philosopher who played".

He leaves behind a huge legacy. In 2008, the Mattie J.T Stepanek Park was opened in Rockville, Maryland, a peace garden is central to the park and features a bronze statue of Mattie and his dog Micah. Quotes are featured throughout the park including the following:

"Peace is possible - it can begin simply over a game of chess and a cup of tea"

Blog: An Inspired Life

I admire bloggers, taking the time to create their own virtual universe and being able to rant, blurb, blub and holler about all the things that get the adrenaline fit to bursting. I created a blog about my son that began when I was in the last stages of pregnancy until he was five years old. I created it for friends and family so they could follow his development and progress and it contains every 'first', every photograph and more. Heaven forbid if it one day disappeared from cyberspace, I need to show it to my son's future girlfriends!

One of my colleagues is Rivka David, a Life Coach and hypnotherapist based in Borehamwood, Hertfordshire. We met today and she told me about her creation 'An Inspired Life'. I particularly liked her blog 'Souvenirs' - check it out and see if it rings any bells.

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Elixir of Life

The aging process gets us all and there are some who risk their natural looks in favour of tighter skin and uplifting eyes. Poor old Jocelyn Wildenstein is the best example of how surgical intervention can go drastically wrong.

The Indian Ayurvedic tradition, bestowed with common sense, favours good nutrition, exercise and regular massage and meditation. Good digestion, proper excretion and plenty of focus on breathing. Eliminate toxins and nourish your cells if you want to increase longevity.

An old remedy of which grandma would be proud is chywanaprash, herbs and spices including cinnamon and cardamom combined with honey to make a rich jam. It is given to boost immunity and aid convalescence.

The herbalist Nicholas Culpeper (1616-1654) advocated the qualities of mint, the aroma of which aided memory, lavender, a cure-all, marjoram oil eased stiff joints and marigolds strengthened the heart.

Live long and naturally.

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In Our Thoughts...

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Event: Chilterns Countryside Festival 2011

The beautiful National Trust Ashridge Estate near Berkhamstead, is the location for the Chilterns Countryside Festival on Sunday 18th September. Everything is linked to your local countryside with traditional woodwork, sheep shearing, ferret racing, archery and bushcraft among the amazing activities. Its £3 for adults, children are free and even dogs are welcome. Herts Holistic will be in attendance with a stall of lovely Aloe Vera goodies.

Come along and say hello and find out about the healing benefits of Aloe Vera.

Special Offer: Herts Holistic Gift Vouchers

Gift vouchers are now available from Herts Holistic - £20 towards a relaxing and soothing therapy of your choice. Choose from Swedish Massage, Deep Tissue Massage, Indian Head Massage, Reflexology or Reiki. Come and visit us at Elstree Film Studios in Borehamwood and receive £10 off your very first treatment. You can also block book six treatments and pay for only five! Contact Sarah-Jane to make an appointment.

Happy Birthday Freddie

FREDDIE MERCURY (5th September 1946 - 24th November 1991)

I grew up listening to Queen. My dad was a huge fan and so I became one too. Dad had 'The Works' album on a cassette and I listened to it all the time, rewinding and fast forwarding my favourite tracks. I'll never forget watching the iconic video for 'Radio Ga Ga' on Top of the Pops with the scenes from the film Metropolis and the famous clapping sequence. Or the poignant end to the video for 'These Are the Days of Our Lives' where Freddie turns to the camera and says "I still love you".

He was a big part of my life; growing up in the 80's and 90's, listening to his voice, watching him take Live Aid by storm, being inspired by his music and feeling emotions every time I heard him sing. Brian May has been paying tribute to Freddie, on what would have been his 65th birthday, on a specially created Google blog:

"Freddie was fully focused, never allowing anything or anyone to get in the way of his vision for the future. He was truly a free spirit. There are not many of these in the world. To achieve his, you have to be, like Freddie, fearless - unafraid of upsetting anyone's apple cart."

"Freddie would have been 65 this year, and even though physically he is not here, his presence seems more potent than ever. Freddie made the last person at the back of the furthest stand in a stadium feel that he was connected. He gave people proof that a man could achieve his dreams - made them feel that through him they were overcoming their own shyness, and becoming the powerful figure of their ambitions. And he lived life to the full. He devoured life. He celebrated every minute. And, like a great comet, he left a luminous trail which will sparkle for many a generation to come."

Event: Migraine Awareness Week (4-10 September)

Poor migraine sufferers everywhere. You have our sympathies. Migraines are a neurological illness that can often be debilitating and accompanied by other symptoms such as light sensitivity, nausea, vomiting and dizziness. There are known to be around 8 million sufferers in the UK.

In Reflexology, due to the presence of nausea and diarrhoea in some cases of severe migraine, it can be assumed that the cause is related to a disturbance in the gastrointestinal tract. That is why migraines are associated with food allergies and why eliminating certain foods from the diet can bring about some relief. Patients may therefore also suffer with eczema or a skin condition.

If you suffer from frequent headaches or migraines, try stimulating the reflex point for the Ileocecal (il-e-o-see-call) valve* on the foot. This is situated on the right foot, just above the heel on the left hand side. Stimulating the big toe, which is the reflex point to the head and brain, may also help relieve some tension.
*Ileocecal Reflex

This week is Migraine Awareness Week and I was very impressed by the website of The Migraine Trust - full of information and facts and a very cool dimmer switch to adjust the glare of the screen if required. It also gives details of events and seminars that you can become involved with as well as access to an online migraine diary to record your triggers and levels of pain.

Best preventative measures: drink loads of water, keep a food diary and fill your head and lungs with fresh air.

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Quote: Green Pastures

"We are so prone to feel that what is wrong in our lives is not ourselves, but in the external setting of our lives.

Dr. Fosdick said in a radio sermon, "Not all the water in the seven seas can sink a ship unless it gets inside."

It is from within, the desire we have to get well in terms of hope, vision and courage, that will influence the functioning of our glands.

We try to fool ourselves and place the blame for our illness on external things, on the pastures where we happen to be feeding. Instead, it is what we cause to happen in the functioning of our glands within the body, through the type of thinking we have done, that will make pastures grow greener; and not something on the outside, barring accident.

Let us then look for the green pastures right where we live, move and have our being. For the green pastures are within ourselves, in our way of thinking, our mode of life. These are the green pastures where David the psalmist said "He maketh me lie down."

That continued success may attend your efforts, both now and in the years to follow, is my sincere desire."

Faithfully yours,

Eunice Ingham (Stopfel)

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Herts Holistic Hero - Eunice D. Ingham

Eunice D. Ingham (1889-1974) developed the science of Reflexology. She was born in South Dakota and worked as a physiotherapist for Dr Joe Shelby Riley. She became interested in the work of Dr William Fitzgerald who was developing zone therapy at that time. She decided to extensively research the subject and mapped the feet in absolute detail, matching reflex points to the corresponding organs in the body. She is considered the real pioneer of modern day reflexology and is the author of the book 'Stories the Feet Can Tell & Stories the Feet Have Told' published in 1938. She was dedicated and committed to the benefits of reflexology for over forty years and was joined by her nephew, Dwight Byers. Together they founded the International Institute of Reflexology of which Mr Byers is the current President. The 'Original Ingham Method' is the system of techniques that, although refined over the years, most practitioners are familiar with today.

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Video: A Practical Guide to Reflexology

Shake Your Shimmy

Zumba is the current exercise trend of the year and although I have not been to a class myself, I have several friends who like to indulge regularly. One even wraps her jingly scarf around her hips and has a four old daughter who loves to do the same. It put me in mind of bellydancing and I recall attending a pamper evening a few years ago where a local dance troup, Imajica, had me captivated with their tribal style of dance, using props like hats and fans.

If you're not entirely sure about Zumba or Salsa, check out bellydancing courses and workshops as an alternative.

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Video: Swimming with Beluga Whales

Natalia Avseenko, a yoga expert and skilled diver from Russia, plunged into -1.5 degrees of water in the Arctic Circle to swim naked with two beluga whales, Matrena and Nilma. The dive took place at the shore of the White Sea near the Utrish Dophinarium where Natalia used meditation techniques to hold her breath for over ten minutes.

Blog: The Special Muscles

Here is my latest article for Being Holistic, my column for At Home magazine online.

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