Community Health

Closed doors, wide open spaces…

There are many great teachers in life. Our experiences, nature, the power of observation can all help connect us to our surroundings in a deeper and deeper way. With doors closing on the tensions of the last year, and as the sun comes out a little more each day, the road opens before us offering community and new opportunities and connections. What is the meaning of connection, anyway? I think about mindfulness and connection in the same realm. Back in 2015 I wrote a few pieces on mindfulness; mindfulness of nature, of colors, and of the little experiences that pass us by so quickly every day.

In pregnancy, my strongest memories came from when I was concentrating on the taste of that meal I had been craving. Bagel sandwiches with cream cheese, sprouts, cucumbers, salt and pepper, and turkey breast. YUM! When I had time to sit and feel my baby move inside me, those are the moments that stay with me in my heart. I still have the most vivid dreams of babies rolling around inside me! (Yes, I promise I’m not pregnant). That is just how strong those memories are, and I think it’s because I took the time to imprint them on my soul. That is what mindfulness means to me.

In childbirth, I remember the way each surge washed over me. I was helpless against them and could only find release when I relaxed into them and let them flow through my body. Every time I have the blessing and honor of attending a birth, I feel the way the surges wash over each mother I support. I encourage her to feel them the way I remember, and to find release in accepting each one instead of fighting them. Trust them and trust her body. My empathy often overwhelms me to tears. I think I feel this way because I had the presence of spirit to imprint each surge on my soul. That is what connection means to me.

For the last few years it seems that my connection to the larger community around me has shrunk to the people that I work with and the mothers that I serve. That’s not a bad thing at all! It has just shrunk the feel of my world. On one hand, this is good. There is a focus that drives me and that focus is caring for my family, teaching and raising my children, maintaining our businesses, furthering my education to best support and serve my colleagues and mothers. On the other hand, the community health that I learned about in college is the ecosystem that is and supports the well being and lives of a greater community; the health and well being of my whole community.

As tensions are high coming out of 2016, I propose our mindfulness goals be our community’s health. Where your community is defined is irrelevant to the commitment you can implement in collaborating for the well being of that community. Bozeman Health talks about alliance, partnerships, community participation, and collaboration in order to create our ecosystem in Exploring the Meaning of Community Health (Bozeman Health, 2017). My challenge to us all is to expand those partnerships. Grow your world and stretch out of your immediate community. As a health professional, I don’t want my relationships to remain the same this year, I see expansion and a far reaching influence in my future. If I ‘just do me’ the road is endless! Whether you are a health professional, a mother, a wife, a dog lover, a friend, or all of the above…reach out. Branch out. You can make a difference through the power of observation, through nature, through your experiences, and through connected-ness. You have more influence than you know so reach farther than your immediate surroundings and put aside the tensions and offenses of the past. Learn and then move on to the community that awaits you. Your ecosystem needs your mindfulness and support.


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