“Wherever I go – in stores, on the street, in restaurants, in people’s homes – I see repetitious scenes of whining, and tantrums, and – even more unsettling – an increased number of kids who look sullen, unrelated, and unhappy.” – Robert Shaw, M.D.

At a recent gala store opening the freebies were flowing — at least till mid-morning when one nine-year-old’s favorite treat ran out.
Several of us customers watched as the sales rep offered the young customer a substitute.
She took the rep to task — loudly.
“That’s not fair!” she stamped her foot. “Everyone else got the one I want! I deserve to get one too!”
The embarrassed parent intervened with an appeasement bordering on pleading: If the child would just be quiet, she’d take her somewhere else and buy her the unavailable item.
The late child psychiatrist, Robert Shaw, would have called this gift – this opportunity – “a teachable moment” – one in which an active parent might seize the day and demonstrate “an ethical response” to such unacceptable petulance.

But that didn’t happen.

the epidemicIn The Epidemic, Shaw dogmatically reasons why:
Today’s indulgent parents are either absurdly permissive or “checked-out” to their children’s emotional needs. They provide all the bells and whistles of excessive living, but scrimp on the moral input.
Case in point: today’s mutation of self-esteem. Where it was once a normal, healthy by-product of emotional development, according to Shaw, it isn’t any longer. Parents in large part, can thank themselves: “Lavishing excessive praise” on their kids, lobbying teachers “for sugar-coated assessments, even lowering expectations,” have all helped foster the current crop of little “self-worshippers.”

And who are the parents Shaw targets? Certainly not “The Have Nots.” “Primarily,” he stresses, “[it’s] a problem in middle- and upper-class families … comfortable families, where there’s plenty of money but simply not enough parental time…” Shaw also gets on that all-powerful electronic babysitter – television. American preschoolers (he says) spend up to fifty-four hours a week in front of one, absorbing TV’s endless communication of both the simplistic and insidious. Messages like “It’s okay to use weapons to deal with conflict. It’s okay to swear, bully, have sex, drink alcohol, and disrespect the adults in your life” have all contributed to the dearth of empathy and compassion in our children.

Indeed, he goes on: “Kids today demonstrate such a startling lack of character traits that many schools resort to a regularly scheduled moral curriculum.”
Disquieting when you think about the lifeline teachers already provide to both student and parent. Disquieting when you think about the “dissatisfaction of American teachers today. For the record, more than 200,000 will choose to leave their profession this year.1

The Epidemic is a stinging, grim, and discomfiting diatribe. Parents will resent and buck everything Shaw criticizes. But in the end, we all have to take it on the chin.

Every critical moment of your child’s life deserves you in it.

Aimee Zuccarini is an Instructor & Research Specialist at the East Columbia Branch. She facilitates several book discussions and writes the book reviews for The Maryland Women’s Journal.

1(Would Greater Independence for Teachers Result in Higher Student Performance? PBS Newshour, August 18, 2014)


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The Howard County Garden Club has 37 active members, including its president, Laura Warfield, who spent more than 30 years in health care before retiring and focusing on creating gardens. “Gardens help with healing...When I retired, I wanted to continue to provide service in health care, which is near and dear to my heart, only in a different capacity. We were honored to have the opportunity to redesign the entry gardens because the hospital is such an integral part of our community,” she said.

The Howard County Garden Club plants a garden in front of Howard County General Hospital. “Gardens help with healing…When I retired (from health care), I wanted to continue to provide service in health care, only in a different capacity,” said Garden Club President Laura Warfield.

Howard County Garden Club creates a “Circles of Healing Garden” as its gift to HCGH

Gardens are places of nourishment – for both the body and soul. We plant vegetable gardens for the joy and health benefits of growing our own food, and flower gardens for the aesthetic joy they bring to our lives.

But gardens can also have healing properties. Sitting quietly in or by a garden is a form of meditation. In fact, the March 1, 2014 issue of Scientific American noted that, “Studies show that just three to five minutes spent looking at a view dominated by trees, flowers or water can begin to reduce anger, anxiety and pain and to induce relaxation.”

With that in mind, in June, the Howard County Garden Club installed a beautiful new garden at the entrance of HCGH with the theme “Circles of Healing.” The garden includes an array of flowers that bloom throughout the year arranged in a circular design. There are 158 plants of 12 different species designed to provide color and interest throughout the seasons.

The Howard County Garden Club, originally established in 1932, today has 37 active members, including its president, Laura Warfield, who spent more than 30 years in the field of health care before retiring to focus more of her energy on creating gardens. “Gardens help with healing, and this garden will be welcoming to people as they arrive at the hospital at what could be a stressful time. When I retired, I wanted to continue to provide service in health care, which is near and dear to my heart, only in a different capacity. We were honored to have the opportunity to redesign the entry gardens because the hospital is such an integral part of our community,” said Warfield.
There are many kinds of gardens being included in health care settings today, including nursing homes, continuing care communities and hospice facilities. Therapeutic, meditation, restorative and other kinds of gardens have specific elements and definitions. The American Society of Landscape Architects said the following about gardens and their healing properties, “A healing garden is a somewhat vague term lacking precise design implications, but its purpose is to support generalized healing by helping patients become healthful, well and whole. A meditation garden is likely to encourage inwardly-focused attention for the purpose of deepening personal knowledge and attaining peace with oneself. A contemplation garden provides an ambience conducive to examining issues beyond and/or larger than oneself in a thoughtful, deliberate, perhaps religious or mystical way.”

Each year, the Howard County Garden Club raises funds to provide a garden to a local organization. This year, in addition to Howard County General Hospital, the club installed the Enchanted Garden at the Miller Branch of the Howard County Library in Ellicott City—a sustainable, community-based teaching garden with an emphasis on healthy eating. The Enchanted Garden was a natural fit for a partnership between the hospital and the library, and the Well & Wise blog project was created to promote healthy choices for residents of Howard County, with the Well & Wise blog as its first component.

The next time you visit HCGH, stop by our “Circles of Healing” garden at the main entrance and enjoy a few minutes of reflection on the healing gifts of nature.


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2496308570_c4245a2d4b_zI recently had an experience that tested the popular British mantra: “Keep calm and carry on.” What happened? I was trapped in an elevator.

It’s not the first time, I’m afraid. I have a history with elevators. But it has been several years since I was last involuntarily trapped in an elevator.

Ironically, I was returning home from a relaxing massage appointment when the elevator broke down with me inside. Luckily, the emergency call button worked and help was called right away.

The hardest part was waiting in the capsule, feeling the heat and anxiety build. I’m not usually a claustrophobic person. Quiet doesn’t bother me, nor does solitude. But the fact of being in a space I cannot leave started to make me sweat and itch.

I felt the urge to scream. But no, that wouldn’t help and it wouldn’t make me feel better—just more upset about a situation I couldn’t change.

Breathing helped—not too big or quickly. Slow, regular breaths. Take it easy. Be steady.

I called my husband to let him know what happened. (Thank goodness for cell phones!) It made me feel better that he knew I was safe, just waiting for help.
Then, the emergency responder called back and asked me for my information while we waited. Hearing her voice was soothing—the world was still out there and I would soon return. She saw the fire department responders coming and let me know of their arrival.

They called through the door to ask if I was OK. I could see them and was relieved. The outer door was open in moments, but they struggled with the inner door. Finally it popped open like it was meant, and I could roll out in my wheelchair.

It was good to see the faces of strangers. Funny that it had only been about a half hour, but it felt like longer. They asked if I wanted to see the paramedic, if I was OK. I shook my head—I was fine, just wanted to get back home.

“I’m sprung,” I joked with my husband as I headed home. I felt liberated and that I’d won a small battle by keeping the fear demons at bay.
Sometimes we are challenged unexpectedly and have to summon calm and strength in strange places. I was reminded of the power of staying cool in (literally) a tight spot. This is a lesson I hope not to forget and can be applied more widely in daily life.

From stressful work situations to the annoyances of daily commuting, a little calm and breathing can go a long way to finding a way through the moment.

Kelly Mack lives in Washington, DC, and works for a marketing communications firm.

 


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How strong is the biological element in gender? Is it psychologically possible, in infancy, to engineer one’s sexuality? At what point in utero are we wired to be male or female?

In 1966 rural Winnipeg, none of these facts mattered to a teenaged couple whose baby boy had recently suffered a botched circumcision and now faced a life they could not imagine. They would journey all the way to Baltimore to the Johns Hopkins Psychohormonal Research Unit under the auspices of psychologist, John Money. Their son, they were promised, would be successfully reassigned as a girl. What Janet and Ron Reimer may not have been told was that “sexual reassignment had never been done on a normal child with normal genitals and nervous system.”

Journalist John Colapinto delivers a precise and compelling examination of a world-famous case that proved “pre-birth factors set limits on how far culture, learning, and environment can direct gender identity in humans” in As Nature Made Him: The Boy Who Was Raised as a Girl.

Only more compelling is getting to know David Reimer himself. A girl from the age of two until eighteen, his battle with depression and self-loathing is heartbreaking—shocking at times—but you will come away believing he is one of the bravest people you have ever met.

Aimee Zuccarini is an Instructor & Research Specialist at the East Columbia Branch. She facilitates several book discussions and writes the book reviews for The Maryland Women’s Journal.

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driveChoosing to embark on a journey of self-improvement is the best gift you can give yourself. One of the many ways you can do this is by starting a new hobby or craft. Depending on who you are, you might want to create something or maybe you want to learn a new skill. Regardless, you will experience quite the array of emotions throughout the process… but that’s half the fun; isn’t it?

As the leaves change and the air becomes crisp, I tend to get inspired. I find myself looking at the fall foliage and wanting to create something. I’ll breathe in the chilly air and suddenly need to sit down and pick up my out-of-tune guitar. However, staying motivated can be tough in between life chores and scheduled meals. I feel that the excuse, “I’m too busy” is used quite a bit in our hectic world. I know that I am definitely guilty of this.

When making a change in your life, you have to be mentally prepared. When it comes to adding in a new hobby, learning to manage your time and set realistic goals become vital pieces of the motivation puzzle. Letting something you love be the first thing dropped when time is an issue, will only hurt you in the long run. It is important to do things that bring you happiness and joy. Developing time-management skills is one of the best things you can do for yourself. I experienced a crash course on the topic while taking a particular college class. My professor gave us enough work for a lifetime and expected nothing but the best. I was forced to figure out how to complete all of his work to the best of my ability while still passing my other classes. The skills I gained (though at an accelerated speed) have stuck with me and are put into action on a regular basis. Making a desired skill or hobby a part of your schedule is very fulfilling.

beadsSetting realistic goals will save you from a lot of stress. If you want to learn how to make jewelry, don’t try to make an entire set in one week. Instead, try to learn a certain technique and keep building on that foundation in the following weeks. If you want to write a book, don’t try to write a chapter a day, just be sure to write something (one sentence counts). The last thing you want is for your new found interest to become a chore or stressful task. You will feel a great sense of joy upon meeting these goals instead of being disappointed that you won’t have enough pieces for the jewelry show next weekend.

Everyone deserves a fun and rewarding way to relax. Start baking, go buy a saxophone, or take up glass-blowing. Whatever your “I’d love to know how to…” or “I wish I could make…” dream is, turn it into reality. Learn how to best manage your time and set goals that are realistic and achievable. The combination of the two will help you to stay motivated as you witness your progress and gained knowledge over time. Change color with the leaves and add a new dimension to your life.

Laci Radford is an Instructor & Research Specialist at the East Columbia Branch (while her home branch, in Savage, is being renovated). She is a music lover, writer, and an avid reader. She enjoys attending concerts, plays, and other forms of live entertainment. Her favorite activities include scoping out unique items at thrift stores, bonfires with friends, and having tie-dye parties. She is studying Psychology and plans to become a music and art therapist sooner rather than later.

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calendar_2014smMonday, Sept. 8, 10:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. Blood Pressure Screening at Savage Branch. Free, walk-in blood pressure screening and monitoring offered by Howard County General Hospital: a Member of Johns Hopkins Medicine. No registration required.

Monday, Sept. 8, 10:30 a.m. & 11:15 a.m. Tae Kwon Do: Mommy & Me at Miller Branch. Mommy and child participate in a fun-filled activity, led by instructors from Sykesville Tae Kwon Do, while developing movement awareness, motor skills, balance, coordination, flexibility, and agility. Wear athletic shoes, and loose fitting pants or shorts. Ages 2-3 with adult; 30 min. Registration and a signed release form is required.

Sept. 8 10:30 a.m. Registration|Release  Sept. 8 11:15 a.m. Registration|Release

Tuesday, Sept. 9, 1:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m. Blood Pressure Screening at Elkridge Branch. Free, walk-in blood pressure screening and monitoring offered by Howard County General Hospital: a Member of Johns Hopkins Medicine. No registration required.

Tuesday, Sept. 9, 6:30 p.m. I’m Going to Be a Big Brother or Sister at Miller Branch. Prepare for the arrival of a baby in this class for new siblings. Enjoy stories, activities, and bring a favorite doll or stuffed animal to practice holding a baby. Resources for parents, too. Families; 30 – 45 min. Ticket required. Well & Wise event – In partnership with Howard County General Hospital: A Member of Johns Hopkins Medicine.*Limited space; tickets available at Children’s Desk 15 minutes before class.

Saturday, Sept. 13, 2:00 p.m. Declutter Your Life at Glenwood Branch. Ellen Newman, owner of ClutterRx, shows how to make your life easier by clearing the clutter. Register online or by calling 410.313.5577.

Monday, Sept. 15, 3:30 p.m. – 5:30 p.m. Blood Pressure Screening at Glenwood Branch. Free, walk-in blood pressure screening and monitoring offered by Howard County General Hospital: a Member of Johns Hopkins Medicine. No registration required.

Tuesday, Sept. 16, 7:00 p.m. Hands Only CPR & AED at Elkridge Branch. Learn how to start CPR right away and continue doing chest compressions until help arrives. Learn about cardiac arrest, how to recognize it’s happening, and the three simple steps of Hands-only CPR for victims over 8 years old. Receive a basic overview of an automated external defibrillator (AED). Training in Hands-Only CPR gives you the ability to help save a life without using mouth-to-mouth ventilation or obtaining a certification card. Ages 11-17. Register online or by calling 410.313.5088.

Starts Tuesday, Sept. 16, 6:30 – 8 p.m. Healthy Weight Connection. Kick-start lifestyle changes, including diet and exercise, to help you reach a healthier weight. Receive personalized guidance from a certified dietitian. Classes run in Howard County General Hospital’s Wellness Center. Tuesday/Thursday through Nov. 6. Cost is $195.


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