Don’t let the Holidays send you to the Junk yard!


By Kim Lowman
Wellness Program Manager

It’s very hard during the busy holidays to keep up a wellness routine. There are a million things going on and for most of us the first thing we give up is our commitment to ourselves. It’s unlikely many of us will be able to meet hefty wellness goals in the month of December but I suggest we should try to maintain as much as we can.

As a young adult, my brother had an ugly old brown Ford Pinto wagon. Not a cool vehicle for a college kid and it was always on its last legs. He drove that car back and forth to the western part of the state where he went to college. My family was amazed how long that car lasted and how many trips he made back and forth. It was the ugliest car I had ever seen. I had a special name for it that I cannot share in print. At that same time, I had a super cool, sleek, sporty gorgeous black Camaro—Sport model with a vinyl roof. It was so cool and it sat in my parent’s backyard abandoned. Two cars. One huge difference. My brother maintained his beloved ugly Pinto. I, on the other hand, was too busy to bother with oil and all that other “stuff.” I blew the engine. He had respect for his piece of junk and I had no respect for my shiny object. It ended up in the junkyard.

So what’s that got to do with wellness? Everything! Our human bodies and minds are sort of like cars. We may be the Ford Pinto with a lot more distance left in us if we maintain! Or… we can be the shiny Camaro in the junkyard with a blown engine due to total neglect. I think we take better care of our cars then we do our own bodies sometimes. It’s interesting to think about how we rationalize what we put in our bodies but we’d never dare do that with our car! Would you put water in your gas tank knowing it will not make your car run and could ruin it? Not in a million years. We over schedule ourselves trying to please everyone and run ourselves ragged while we complain how exhausted we are. Would you let your car sit for hours with the lights on knowing it will drain the battery? Nope! That’s absurd. We neglect our own wellness routine, make excuses for not taking that walk or going to our favorite exercise class for weeks on end until we no longer have a wellness routine at all. Would you let your perfectly fine car sit for months and never turn the engine on or take it for a spin? Not likely. We neglect the mindful and quiet time we all need to recharge ourselves. Would you drive your car to Boston knowing there were no gas stations open and the tank was on “E”? Of course not, are you kidding me? We procrastinate preventative healthcare visits because we are too busy, but would you procrastinate preventative oil changes knowing that the engine could blow? I hope not—that’s just plain crazy! See what I mean? That hunk of metal gets better care than you give yourself.

I propose that during this busy season and the coming year we take some time to maintain our own body and mind. Enjoy the season but don’t put yourself last. Take those breaks you need for your own mental health, eat good foods while enjoying the holiday treats, get out and walk or carry on with your wellness routine as best you can. Follow up with preventative health appointments. Do not use the holidays as an excuse! If you are not already in a wellness routine, perhaps consider it for the upcoming year ahead. Learn from my brother and enjoy the many miles ahead.

I wish you all a happy and HEALTHY season.

Full Mindlessness


By Kim Lowman
Wellness Program Manager

Yes, you read that right. I find myself struggling with mindlessness these days. Less in the moment and more in the future, the past, or just plain distracted. Maybe it’s the changing of seasons and the thought of holidays right around the corner. And I know it’s not just me!

The trend for the times is to seek Mindfulness. Let the drama and chaos of a busy life go. Stay in the moment. Stay focused. Be still. Stay present. Every article and meme says this is how we find a happy and fulfilling life. So, this morning I decided to practice mindfulness on my ride to work. I was going to notice the weather, the turning of the leaves, etc. As I left my house, I noticed pumpkins on doorsteps of houses I never saw before, the trees turning colors, and that the light at the end of my street was taking a long, long time to turn green. “Breathe, it will turn green, breathe….stay present…oh, I like this song…turn up the radio…reminds me of that girl I used to work out with… I hope I am not late to work …what was her name… wonder where she is now…man, this light takes forever…Elaine… her name is Elaine… she moved to Florida… it would be so awesome to be in Florida right now on a beach…beep beep…#%@^…oops- how long has the light been green.”

Ok, maybe the car is not the place to practice mindfulness, but there must be a time and place where it makes sense. Some people can meditate and just sit with themselves and allow the quiet. Some people enjoy a sensory walk where they embrace the colors, sounds and smells. Other people listen to a podcast or audio tape that focuses on being mindful. I tried that but realized at the end of the podcast that I had heard only about one-third of it. The good news is that I did plan my entire holiday shopping list while it was playing. I have a theory that mindlessness is akin to boredom and mindfulness is far easier when we are doing what we love. Have you ever read a chapter in a book and had no clue what you just read? Well, if you liked the story you may have been more mindful and stayed present in the moment to absorb every word. If I was driving along the beach this morning instead of the highway to work, I may have stayed more present. However, every day cannot be filled with doing 100% of what we love to do. That is called a vacation! So, I am challenging myself to find more mindful moments. I challenge you to join in with me. This month we will start at the beginning.

What is this mindfulness and how do we embrace it if it does not come easy to us? I have found a few things that make sense to me as a fellow mindfulness seeker. Mindfulness is not a special added thing we do! We do not need to change! What we do need to do is pay more attention to what is happening right now. Not every second of the day, but maybe just in small doses throughout the day. Initially just devoting 5 minutes of your day to staying present, aware and resisting the wandering mind may be enough. Focus on bringing your full breath in and then allowing it to slowly release. Maybe shut your door, or silence your phone or draw the shades, and create a quiet space. You do not have to stop what you are doing… just do it with more awareness and clarity. Be gentle with yourself if your mind wanders—you can find another 5 minutes later in the day, or the next day. Maybe 5 minutes will turn to 10 and once a day will turn to once an hour. With the busy season around the corner, we have nothing to lose—except our minds!

Beat the Winter Blues


By Kim Lowman
Wellness Program Manager

This month I want to talk about something besides fitness and nutrition. Something that is very real to me—Seasonal Affective Disorder (alleged in my case). Yes, I am SAD! The summer is over and I am not happy! Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy the fall and the holidays and even a good snowstorm, but tell that to my mind. It disagrees. It just doesn’t spark as well as it does in the summer. I have to push harder to stay motivated. That’s key for me… finding a good routine and surrounding myself with happy personalities. Working with the folks we serve is a boost for my alleged Seasonal Affective Disorder, which by the way is self-diagnosed. I am in no way making light of depression and anxiety and I am especially empathetic to those suffering with these conditions. I have had bouts of true depression and had to make some lifestyle changes to get on a better path.

There are some steps I take as a way of coping with my ups and downs as I navigate from summer to the fall. Humor helps me to not sink into that negative place where I can lose sight of all the positive things in my life. Exercise helps! It truly does. When you exercise, your body releases chemicals called endorphins. These chemicals trigger a positive feeling. I’ve dragged myself to take a class or a walk and I have felt much better 100% of the times I let my feet override my negative self-talk. Writing a gratitude journal also helps me keep things in perspective. Oprah suggests writing down three things you are grateful for, but I write down 10. Well, I actually write 9 and leave #10 blank to show my trust and optimism that something good will happen and somehow the next day that #10 becomes my #1. Truth be told, I started this tradition two years ago when I couldn’t think of a tenth thing to be grateful for, so I left the space blank. My point is, do whatever it takes, even if it’s silly to other people.

Pets can help boost moods. My dog Laddie is always on my gratitude list. Sometimes twice if I need to fill a space. Accepting invites and socializing can keep the mind busy and give you those warm fuzzies. We all know that getting a good night’s sleep is important but that can be difficult especially with low moods or depression. I find that guided meditations (free on youtube) not only help me drift off to sleep but they also are great mood boosters if you choose awake meditations that are made specifically to release worry and anxiety. Eat well. Drink water. Be careful about known depressants like alcohol or illegal drugs that may perk you up for a short time, but will ultimately leave you feeling worse.

Finally, don’t self-diagnose like I do! Seek professional help if you find that you cannot manage your sadness or think you may have true depression and not a case of the blues. Yes, we all get the blues and it is a normal part of life, but depression is something that may need clinical intervention and you are worth it. Nobody should suffer alone. So, now you know… I am a drama queen when it comes to my sadness of summer being over until next year. But, I’ll fight it and use all the tricks in my bag because every day something good happens if you allow yourself to see it.

Dispelling Food Myths


By Kim Lowman
Wellness Program Manager

If you are anything like me, you have tried all the short cuts to get to your ideal image of what you want to look like. You drank liters of Diet Pepsi, replaced solid foods with Slimfast, or bought into the Atkins Diet, eating all fats and no carbs. Despite your efforts, none of it seemed to work. Why? Because it’s unreasonable to think that eliminating an entire food group—or worse eating only from a specific food group—would be possible to maintain for life. Unless you are a dedicated vegan or diagnosed with celiac….you can enjoy all foods. But here are the important words….only in moderation. You are what you eat and the massive food industry Continue reading

Getting Started


By Kim Lowman
Wellness Program Manager

The number one question I get asked about wellness is, “how do I get started.” It’s daunting to read all the trends on this top and plow through all the information and options out there–from health clubs to studios to private trainers and outdoor meet-up clubs. My best answer is to this question is, “what is realistic for your lifestyle.” Let’s be real… if you hate to run as much as I do, then don’t choose that exercise regimen because you are not going to stick with it. There must be some activity you did as a kid or teenager that you liked; start there! Continue reading

Down on the Farm

By Mary Stanley, PR and
Marketing Coordinator, Mary Stanley

On the last day of February, as the mercury in the thermometer inched its way up to 60 degrees, we couldn’t help but to think about the upcoming spring season and look forward to seeing the daffodils and crocuses that would soon pop their heads up from the ground. We could certainly feel spring in the air. Continue reading

The Candy Man Comes to NEV


By Mary Stanley, PR and
Marketing Coordinator, 

When the weather is cold and the nights are long, there’s no better—or more productive way—to pass the time than rehearsing for a magical production like Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.

If this show is anything like The Wizard of Oz performance that New England Village put on in March 2016, you had better reserve your tickets now. Continue reading

The Promise of Tomorrow


By Mary Stanley, PR and
Marketing Coordinator, Mary Stanley

As we welcome in the new year, we cannot help but to look back on 2017 and to acknowledge some of the more profound moments that occurred this past year. For instance, we were selected to be a beneficiary of FundFare at Whalburger’s, a fundraising event hosted by the restaurant chain. And what an event it was! New England Village raised the most money that evening of any nonprofit organization that has participated in the restaurant’s Continue reading

“Tis the Season”

By Executive Director Gail T. Brown, CRC, LRC, LCSW

Like Santa’s elves, employees from our facilities department have been hard at work bringing the spirit of the season to New England Village. They have done a stellar job of decorating—putting up all of the lights, ornaments and other decorations—to create a winter wonderland.

Staff throughout NEV kicked off the holiday season with a potluck “friendsgiving” luncheon. Held in the Ray Assembly Hall, many employees, and some participants, stopped by to have turkey with all the fixings as well as lots of desserts and to mingle with one another.  NEV truly is one big family. Continue reading

Weathering the Storm

By Executive Director Gail T. Brown, CRC, LRC, LCSW

October was a busy month for us at NEV, filled with lots of events and parties, but before the month ended, our emergency preparedness plan was tested, adding a bit more to our task list. A storm that packed powerful winds blew in on a Sunday night, leaving most of the South Shore, as well as other parts of the state, without any power on Monday morning.  As is typical of New England Village, our staff—from administrative personnel to the DSPs to the maintenance department, rallied together like a high-performing team to ensure that quality supports and services remained in place and that everyone was safe and comfortable during the power outage. Continue reading