By Kim Lowman

Wellness Program Manager

Depending upon who you are, the word deadhead will likely conjure up an image of the Grateful Dead, an airplane or a garden. For me, it’s a garden. And if you’re wondering how I am going to intertwine deadhead with wellness, hang tight because that is exactly what I am going to do.

I am not a very good gardener and I do not have a green thumb. I bought a house 2 years ago that has nothing but a garden for the front lawn. Someone planted it very thoughtfully and now it is my job to take care of it. I water daily and I deadhead frequently. This deadheading thing I learned is how you keep the plants healthy and allow them to continue to bloom all summer. You cut the old blooms off and that makes way for a fresh new flower. It makes sense. Old blooms are dry, and they try to steal all the nutrients and water from the plant. Plus they make the plant look terrible. Kind of like old unhealthy habits. How can we be our best self if we don’t water and deadhead ourselves? How can a new habit form if the old ones are draining us? Wellness is a deliberate choice to find healthy habits and let go of old unhealthy ways. This can start with something as simple as practicing patience when you are frustrated or as challenging as learning a new physical activity like kayaking. If you have been thinking about a new habit or letting go of an old one… don’t wait—start deadheading now and watch the new blossoms appear.

Have you ever been on a plane and noticed a crew member in full uniform sitting in a seat with all the other passengers? Well, it’s likely they are deadheading! This is how pilots and flight attendants get to their next location to fly their scheduled trip. They are in uniform because they are getting paid but they are not working. They get to sit in a seat and be a passenger for a change. It’s a “time out” of sorts. I think we all need to do that more often. Take a time-out. What if we took a step back and really observed our lifestyles, our jobs, our recreation, our talents, our challenges? What if we “deadheaded” and got to our next scheduled location with a fresh view on what we wanted for ourselves. What can we improve? What skills can we learn so that we can meet personal goals? What assistance should we ask for and what can we do ourselves? For an airline crew, the responsibility is heavy when they are working so the time deadheading is a re-set. I like to think that this mirrors wellness. When we are “doing life,” we are working hard, so taking a “time out” can get us back on track and set us up for better choices and attainable goals. We may not be getting paid to take that “time out” deadheading, but we are paying ourselves back in a different currency – optimal wellbeing, and that is priceless.

In the early 70’s, the progressive rock band “The Grateful Dead” had a group of followers that went from concert to concert. These fans became known as Deadheads and you’d be surprised at some of the well-known Deadheads that are in high places in the USA, even right here at NEV! These fans formed a community and had a philosophy to come together and be as one.  If you had a need, another Deadhead would fill that void whether it was a car part or the shirt off their back. “Here I belong” was the comfort mantra these Deadheads shared as well as their love for the music. This is all about wellness. A sense of belonging, a community, sharing a love of something beyond yourself. If you have no idea where to start on a wellness journey, then this is where you start. You find a community of people that share what you enjoy. You find your own Deadheads. Deadhead hikers, Deadhead Knitters, Deadhead Drum Circle, Deadhead Yogi’s, Deadhead Cyclers, Deadhead Birdwatchers… you get it… find your people!

Wellbeing comes in so many forms and like a garden, it’s never the same for two people. You can start by deadheading old habits, taking a time out while you deadhead to your next location or find your own Deadhead community.  It’s up to you—   that path is for your steps alone. – Jerry Garcia