An invitation to Aikido: The Art of Peace

Aikido is a Japanese self-defense art that is built on principles of conflict transformation. It may look like a martial art, but its founder called it the ‘art of peace’. The aim is to resolve conflict in a way that harms neither the ‘attacked’ nor the ‘attacker’. Continue reading “An invitation to Aikido: The Art of Peace” »

This post was submitted by Phil Easley.

Will malpractice reform really lower healthcare costs?

Doctors, do you really think getting the attorneys off of our backs will lessen healthcare costs? Think again.

I’ve used the argument dozens of times myself and it goes something like this: Tonight in the USA at least a thousand people will visit America’s ERs with complaints of a headache. Doctors will order a thousand CT scans to the tune of nearly a thousand dollars a piece to diagnose the one patient who has a rare aneurismal bleed. They say the million dollars of expense is necessary because of the threat of a malpractice suit if the one patient who needs the CT scan didn’t get it. We call this scenario “defensive medicine.”

But I’m not buying my argument anymore. It just doesn’t pan out.  Republicans are crying for repeal. Let’s scrap this healthcare bill and start over. Doctors have been crying for a long time: Tort reform is the answer. “Get us out from under the threat of malpractice!”

Is tort reform the answer? Continue reading “Will malpractice reform really lower healthcare costs?” »

This post was submitted by Harry Kraus, MD.

Alternative Health: Pain Relief – Part 2 (My Massage)

After bending down the wrong way, I had been having low back pain. But let me be honest: 20 years ago, there was no wrong way to bend. But now, after about three days on Ibuprofen, I had decided to put my money where my mouth, (or I should say my writing is) and get a deep tissue massage.

I work at the Beauty Spa and have experienced the quality of bodywork (massage, facials, reflexology, etc.) you can receive there. I scheduled my appointment, the day before, with Chris Dashnaw, massage therapist and esthetician. Fortunately for me, she had an hour available. Continue reading “Alternative Health: Pain Relief – Part 2 (My Massage)” »

This post was submitted by Tracey Brown.

Alternative Health: Pain Relief

For most of us, a massage (commonly described as kneading or rolling muscles and connective tissue for health and relaxation) is part of a vacation. It is a unique experience on a cruise ship or Caribbean island, it is relaxing, and it creates a memory… but we often don’t consider its benefits as medicinal or healing.

Recently NPR reported on the healing potential of massage therapy: “Julie Treible had functional dysphonia, a condition that caused the muscles that control the vocal cords to tighten and lock. A careful throat massage by Dr. Claudio Milstein restored the voice of Treible in just seven minutes.”

Like Dr. Milstein, many in the healthcare profession are recognizing the benefits of massage therapy.  Continue reading “Alternative Health: Pain Relief” »

This post was submitted by Tracey Brown.

Harrisonburg Hosts Bike Virginia

Press Release from Harrisonburg Tourism

Bike Virginia the Shenandoah Expedition starts its journey in Staunton on Friday June 25, 2010, arriving in Harrisonburg on Monday June 28th. This five day tour takes cyclists through the magnificent country sides of Augusta, Rockingham and Shenandoah Counties.

The economic impact of Bike Virginia in 2005 calculated at 3.1 million dollars for a five day tour. Bike Virginia travels the Commonwealth in cycles (no pun intended).  “Their last ride through Harrisonburg and Rockingham County was in 2004,” reports Tourism Operations Manager, Brenda Black.

The 2,000 Bike Virginia cyclists come in all sizes, shapes, and ages. This is a fun ride, not a race. The tour is designed for recreational touring, not fast pace-line riding. The average age on the tour Continue reading “Harrisonburg Hosts Bike Virginia” »

Alternative Health: Home Birth

Many women want choices for safe and affordable healthcare during pregnancy, and yet the options seem to be decreasing as the rate of birth by Caesarean section increases across the United States. Here in the Valley, Stonewall Jackson Hospital in Lexington, and also Bedford Memorial Hospital, will close their birthing centers. Yet, The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report a rise in the number of home births, with a 5% increase between 2005 and 2006. Women who want to give birth at home are turning to midwives for assistance. In the Shenandoah Valley, some are turning to Misty Ward, a certified professional midwife.

Ward is the director of the Harrisonburg chapter of Birth Matters, a supportive community for women who want to give birth at home. She is also the founder and Continue reading “Alternative Health: Home Birth” »

This post was submitted by Tracey Brown.

Coop Reaches Goal! Celebration on Friday



May 19, 2010

HARRISONBURG, VA – The Friendly City Food Cooperative announced that it has reached a major milestone in its effort to open a community-owned grocery store in downtown Harrisonburg. On Tuesday, May 17, members of the food co-op passed their goal to raise $600,000 by May 20. This significant accomplishment keeps the co-op on track to begin design and build out of the store.

Owners and supporters of the food co-op invite everyone to celebrate with them this Friday, May 21, from 7:30-9:30 p.m. at the Blue Nile. The final amount raised by the loan campaign will be announced at 8:30 p.m.

The loan campaign had raised only $370,000 when the co-op signed a lease for the building last month. The lease carried a contingency that required the co-op to raise sufficient capital by May 20 to move ahead. With the successful completion of the member-loan campaign, the food co-op now plans to move ahead with final store design and renovations. In addition, candidates for general manager are already being interviewed.

Over the last year, more than 160 member-households loaned the co-op startup money to open and operate the store. The average loan amount was $3,750. As of Tuesday, the food co-op has sold 960 membership shares. “This is a great indicator of our potential for success,” said Ben Sandel, president of the food co-op’s board of directors. “Getting this far shows the community really wants the co-op to come into existence.”

While the Friendly City Food Co-op met its $600,000 loan-campaign goal on Tuesday, additional loans continue to come in from members. “More loans are needed to offset future cash needs,” said Sam Nickels, chair of the member-loan campaign. “The more we raise now, the stronger position we’ll be in as the store builds a foothold in the community.”
The entire community is invited to the Loan Campaign Celebration to share in the excitement, enjoy live music, food, and celebrate the four years of planning, the countless volunteer hours and the many generous loans that made this announcement possible.


Alternative Health: One Mother Balances Through Belly Dance

Healing is the tendency of any system to return to equilibrium when equilibrium is disturbed. — Andrew Weil

In 2005, Rose Shenk was a happy, fulfilled stay-at-home mother of four boys living in Charlottesville. But her equilibrium was about to be disturbed. That spring, her husband was diagnosed with bi-polar disorder. Soon after, he was killed in a head-on car collision. Her father, whom she also relied on, died a week later from injuries sustained after being hit by a truck in Kenya. Shenk attended two funerals in two consecutive weekends: One for her husband and the next for her father.

“It was so painful,” she said. “I had to do what was best for my sons. I had to remain grounded.”

Shenk began to heal her grief using the traditional methods of journaling and talking to a therapist. But she needed another method. “I became super self aware of the extraordinary circumstances that were happening to me. I needed to get out of my head and find a physical outlet.”

While in a Charlottesville pizzeria, Shenk found a flyer for a belly dancing class held on Monday nights when the children were visiting with their paternal family. She was afraid to attend and considered not going. “When I went, I found that it was lots of single moms and women in their 40’s and 50’s. I wasn’t the the only widow,” she said. “I was stepping out of what I was comfortable with and realized that I can do it. It was feminine, beautiful, strengthening — and you didn’t need a partner.”

“My first teacher taught belly dance from a New Age, mystical point of view, stressing the sacred energy of the feminine. It was foreign to me but it stretched me,” she said. “Emotions, the body and sexuality are all part of the dance and those are part of a whole and balanced person. It didn’t fully connect with my Christian faith, but I could understand the attempt to balance yourself. Also, at this time, I did not have a sexual partnership. Belly dance was a sensual experience that was not damaging for me or anyone else.”

Shenk said that the basic belly dance stance is a lot like the martial art “horse stance”: feet apart, knees bent. “There is a lot of balance in that position. You are flexible. To be flexible and balanced allows you to do a lot in life that you did not know you were capable of. I am surprised at my own resilience.”

Shenk has been studying belly dancing for four years and teaching for a year and a half. “It took me about three years to get back my equilibrium,” she said.

Author Tracey Brown is a Harrisonburg resident and a Massage Therapist at the Beauty Spa, Harrisonburg, VA.

“There is a student in my class experiencing the slow death of her husband from cancer. We performed a dance at church on Good Friday. We used the imagery of healing in the dance. This was expressed through candles that showed light in darkness. We also used veils in the dance to express the things within death that are hidden from us. For me it was a prayer and an expression of sisterhood and community.”

Shenk now lives in Harrisonburg, and recently re-married. “It’s amazing how much we can bear,” she says of her experience. “You can get hit so hard like I was that summer. And you can still be okay, happy, survive–and sometimes even help carry other people.”

Shenk will be teaching a five-week fitness belly dance class at EMU beginning Tuesday, May 11. For more information contact the Fitness Center at (540) 432-4341, or email

This post was submitted by Tracey Brown.

All In: Friendly City Food Coop Seeks Last Loans to Open

It sounded ambitious (to an optimist), or crazy (to a lot of others): after four years of planning, fundraising and outreach, the Friendly City Food Coop committed itself to collecting more than $200,000 in member loans and adding a few hundred more member-owners, all within a month.

The coop – a member-owned grocery store that will carry local, natural, organic and fair trade goods – took its biggest step toward reality in mid-April by signing a lease for the old Mick-or-Mack building on East Wolfe Street, between Dollar General and the Post Office.

That lease, however, carried a significant contingency. It required the coop to Continue reading “All In: Friendly City Food Coop Seeks Last Loans to Open” »

This post was submitted by Andrew Jenner.

US Healthcare: A little gratefulness would be nice.

Visit any US hospital doctor’s or surgeon’s lounge and you’ll hear the low, continuous rumble of complaints. Reimbursements are down, Medicare is cutting back, Obamacare is going to be the end of us, patients are waiting longer, Malpractice costs are skyrocketing. As a surgeon who has divided his time between Africa and America, I’ll be honest with you: it’s easy to lose patience with all the complaints.

We’ve forgotten how good we have it. Yes there are problems. Yes, some reform is needed (why don’t we start with tort reform..but don’t get me started, as I’ll soon sound like the ones I’m trying to encourage here). But we have the best system in the world. I’ve been in so many hospitals in East Africa and I can tell you: your worst nightmare would be waking up to find out you are in a Kenyan District hospital.
In the US, I use a “disposable” clip applier during laparoscopic surgery. It likely cost the patient one hundred and fifty dollars. In Kenya, I’d use the same “disposable” instrument a dozen times. (And guess what, it worked!). Overall, because there is no money, we were forced to make do. Patients endure “wards” with dozens of cots lining the walls. There is one sink at the end of the room, a pharmacy with the basics, and a housekeeping service that can’t seem to keep up….so I just learned to overlook the trash.

In Kenya, we didn’t have a CT scanner or MRI scanner at my hospital. We had an ultrasound, but no radiologist. We didn’t have many subspecialists. The medicine was provided by a generalist and if you come in with a head injury, you’ll get me (a general surgeon) instead of a neurosurgeon to drain the blood pressing on your brain.

But in Kenya, if you listen to the buzz around the doctors, there is a funny absence: no complaints. They’ve never known anything better and they’ve learned to make do.
I’m not saying there aren’t room for improvements. I’m just saying that mixed in with all of our negative comments, we should whisper a “thank you,” for the best health system in the world.

Harry Kraus, MD, FACS
Best-selling author of “The Six-Liter Club”

This post was submitted by Harry Kraus, MD.

Alternative Health: Help For Allergy Season

My son was wheezing as he ran across the soccer field last fall. The increase of Singulair and Claritin did not help to control his allergy symptoms. For him, like many people, spring, summer and fall brought the same old battle against pollen and ragweed. Thankfully, I met Jennifer Parker, M.S., R.D., a registered dietician who gave me great advice to help him find relief.

Parker works at DaVita Dialysis Center and takes a very holistic approach to overall health and to fighting allergies. Parker and her two daughters had allergy related symptoms for many years when she came across a magazine article about Vitamin B12. “Rock stars and movie stars were taking it to increase energy, when they started to realize that it was helping their allergies, too ” she said. “B12 improves your immune system. It retunes your system so that it can work effectively. You can take it sublingually (tablet under the tongue), there is no dangerous dosage and it is more effective than over-the-counter medication.”

Parker also fought back against allergens in her home. She took out any carpet that was not wall to wall. She also vacuums high traffic areas every other day. Her vacuum has a HEPA air filter attached. (HEPA filters capture smaller particles than regular vacuum filters.) She washes bedsheets very regularly and keeps pets out of the sleeping areas.

“I got rid of things that harbor dust mites,” she said. “I limit the amount of stuffed animals in my children’s room and encourage them to give some to charity.”

Recently on NPR’s Morning Edition, Dr. Phillip Gallagher of Allergy and Asthma Associates of Northwestern Pennsylvania gave this advice for allergy sufferers:

It’s very difficult to avoid pollen. You can keep your windows shut and, if you have to, run your air conditioning. If you’re spending time outdoors, you can rinse your nose with a little saline when you come in and take a shower. If there are tasks outside that seem to bother you, you can try wearing a mask to see if that will help, because the pollens are relatively large particles and so usually, mechanical masks will hold them back. It’s just a regular dust mask you might find at a hardware store.

The author, Tracey Brown, is a massage therapist in Harrisonburg, VA.

And as for my son? Although the B12 can be taken anytime, Parker suggested that I start him on a regimen three weeks before allergy season begins. I started him on 5,000 mg daily in February. And we have seen no allergy symptoms this spring.

So what’s your allergy story? Please share in the comments section below.

This post was submitted by Tracey Brown.

Fish Kills in Shenandoah Begin (Again)

The lesion mainly impact young small mouth bass and red-breasted sunfish.

Since 2004, the spring season has marked the beginning of fish dying in the Shenandoah River.  The Virginia Department of Environmental Quality and the Department of Game and Inland Fisheries released yesterday a press release indicating they are receiving early and isolated reports of fish kills.

The public is being urged to help the investigation by reporting fishkills with location, date, any unusual water conditions, types and numbers of fish, and photographs.  According to yesterday’s release,

The impacts appear to be most severe among smallmouth bass and sunfish, although other types of fish also have been affected. Outbreaks often are accompanied by open sores, or skin lesions, in many of the diseased fish. Typically these events have begun in the spring when water temperatures rise into the 50s and have continued until water temperatures reach the mid-70s, generally running from early April until mid-May.

While the Shenandoah River Fish Kill Task Force has been studying the issues for years, no “smoking gun” has been found as cause for the fishkills.


Full release from the DEQ:

When the water temperature is right, sunfish in the Shenandoah River and beyond have been impacted by bacterial lesions.

April 19, 2010

Contact: Bill Hayden, DEQ
(804) 698-4447

RICHMOND, VA. — The Department of Environmental Quality and the Department of Game and Inland Fisheries continue to track and investigate springtime fish disease and mortality events that have occurred in several rivers in the western part of Virginia in recent years. Only a few isolated problems have been reported to date this spring, but as the period begins when these events have occurred in past years, the state agencies are enhancing their investigation by seeking input from the public.

Since 2004, fish disease outbreaks and mortality have occurred in the Shenandoah River basin. In spring 2007 similar events began in the upper James and Cowpasture rivers. The impacts appear to be most severe among smallmouth bass and sunfish, although other types of fish also have been affected. Outbreaks often are accompanied by open sores, or skin lesions, in many of the diseased fish. Typically these events have begun in the spring when water temperatures rise into the 50s and have continued until water temperatures reach the mid-70s, generally running from early April until mid-May.

In 2005, DEQ and DGIF formed the Shenandoah River Fish Kill Task Force, a group of stakeholders, including university and government scientists, environmental groups, fishing guides, and volunteer monitors – all with the goal of finding the cause of the annual spring die-off events. This coordinated approach helped state agencies set priorities, identify, conduct and evaluate research into causes of the springtime outbreaks.

Studies by state and federal scientists and several university researchers have focused on water chemistry, general health of fish and other aquatic life, and fish diseases. Water quality studies to date have not identified any individual chemicals at levels that would be expected to cause fish disease or mortality. Fish health studies indicate that fish are subjected to multiple stresses, with evidence of damaged skin, gills and internal organs. Fish appear to have a high number of internal parasites, and a high prevalence of a condition called fish intersex also has been observed in some species.

Biological pathogens, especially bacterial fish diseases, have come under greater focus during the past two years. Initial findings suggest links between certain bacteria and the disease outbreaks. Ongoing studies involving DEQ, DGIF and the U.S. Geological Survey’s Leetown, W. Va., Science Center, continue to explore the role of bacterial communities, along with environmental and contaminant factors that may cause immune suppression.

The public has made a significant difference in this investigation. State officials and environmental leaders have learned of many of these outbreaks from reports provided by fishermen, land owners and other river users. Knowing the timing and distribution of these events will help scientists focus on the areas where incidents are active, and will help generate the most meaningful data. This information also allows DEQ and DGIF to post current information on locations and severity of fish disease and mortality and share this information with the public through updates on the agency websites.

The public is encouraged to continue to provide reports on observations of diseased, dying or dead fish. Helpful information includes location, date, unusual water conditions, types and numbers of fish, and photographs. Anyone with information on dead or dying fish is encouraged to contact the DEQ regional office in Harrisonburg at (540) 574-7800, or toll-free in Virginia at 1-800-592-5482. Information also can be emailed to


Art Exhibit: Heart To Heart

Sam Hunter's art exhibit is inspried by a heart attack. See her exhibit at Sawhill Gallery through April 21, 2010.

That art makes manifest an artist’s inner dialog with their personal demons is a well accepted notion. The exhibit by Sam Hunter, now on display at James Madison University’s Sawhill Gallery, is a prime example of just such a revealing dialog, this time between an artist and their body.

Ms. Hunter, a recent transplant to Virginia by way of Southern California and originally England, presents us with an array of thoughtfully arranged and interestingly displayed fiber and mixed-media works that explore her response to a recent heart attack, and more importantly, her subsequent struggle to recover.

How Do You Mend a Broken Heart by Sam Hunter

As Ms. Hunter put it, the “heart attack robbed, but it also gifted me something in return.” What the heart attack gifted appears to have been a new and conceptually powerful outlet for her art. Coping with the sudden shock of dealing with a heart that was no longer trustworthy, and the ongoing medical concerns of how best to move forward in life, Ms. Hunter shares “art has always saved me” and the work on display bears witness to that salvation.

Titles of work such as Apical Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy and Median Sternotomy might seem strange and medically remote, but the sensitive handling of the collected two and three-dimensional images and forms invite us to empathize and reflect on our own physical fragility. As the late, great Robert Arneson once shared “all works of art are a self-portrait.”

The self-portrait Ms. Hunter presents us with is a brave and interesting new vista to which we can all relate. Just listen to your heart beat. “Wearing My Heart on My Sleeve” Trough April 21. (Sawhill Gallery, Duke Hall, James Madison University, 800 S. Main St., Harrisonburg, VA., 540-568-6918.)

Written by Cole H. Welter

This post was submitted by Cole Welter.

Alternative Health: Reiki

A few years ago, I was in massage therapy school. During a snack break I noticed a teacher about five feet away, showing a student hand positions for a different kind of therapy. The student didn’t feel a thing. But I suddenly felt a sensation of springtime, although it was a dark winter of my life.

During this time, I had just lost a job, my health insurance, and my mother to cancer. But as the teacher administered this touch, I started to feel relaxed and warm. I started to cry. Even though she wasn’t touching me, I came to understand that healing from this kind of touch, known as Reiki (RAY-key), can be done at a distance. I wanted to know more.

Reiki, developed by a Japanese Doctor after World War II, means universal-life energy, according to “Reiki: The Healing Touch,” by William Lee Rand. Reiki is not a religion, but a relaxation technique. The theory of Reiki is that we are alive because of life energy flowing through us. When this energy is blocked, we become out of balance, or we may become ill. The ability to use Reiki healing is transferred from the hands of a licensed Reiki Master to the hands of a student during training (or attunement). The healing is in turn transferred to the client.

Lynn Boggess, a licensed senior Reiki master, teacher, and practitioner.

I spoke to Lynn Boggess, a licensed senior Reiki master, teacher, and practitioner. She has been a full time Reiki practitioner since 1997, and is the founder of the Virginia Center for Reiki Training. I asked Lynn if she has seen Reiki energy heal in her practice.

Lynn: I have seen miracles. There was a gentleman who had toxic glue poisining. He was unable to walk. Migraines all the time, nausea, horrible symptoms. Reiki detoxed the glue from his body and his symptoms disappeared.

Tracey: How has the use of Reiki grown in the U.S.?

Lynn: The public wants to take more responsibility for their health. We are learning that we need to heal body, mind and spirit. Reiki is part of the holistic healing community and so I am now being asked to donate time for Reiki by oncologists. I am also teaching people with diabetes on the benefits of Reiki.

T: What do you say to people who have doubts about the validity of Reiki?

L: The Reiki is still going to do its job. I work with people who are really sick and they are ready to participate in their healing. If people want to know more they can go to the website for the International Center for Reiki Training ( It has links for research on Reiki and explains Reiki to Christians.

The Virginia Center for Reiki Training is located on a hillside on 18 forested acres of land, in Blue Ridge, VA. I attended a class filled with people from all walks of life: a teacher, nurses and a civil engineer. There were mostly women but a few men too, from all over the United States. Reiki felt like meditating with a friend. It gave me space to be calm and quiet. Since the class, I have given Reiki sessions to my husband and myself. He has his doubts.

If you have doubts about Reiki or you would like to experience it, find a practitioner in your area. You can find out about the Virginia Center for Reiki Training and Lynn

Author Tracey Brown is a Harrisonburg resident and a Massage Therapist at the Beauty Spa, Harrisonburg, VA.

Boggess on her website,

This content was submitted by the author, and does not necessarily reflect the opinions of the Harrisonburg Times.

This post was submitted by Tracey Brown.