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Book Review – Gone Tomorrow

21 Apr Audiobook Review (sxc.hu -169419 Rene Cerney Vyolett)

This will be my first post on my blog for a book review. This particular book is an audio book. I have become addicted to them. Depending on the author and the performer, an audio book can be as good as watching a movie! The difference is that you are seeing the “movie” in your mind instead of on your computer screen or TV. It saves fatigue on your eyes!

 You can do other things while listening to an audio book like ironing, sewing hole-y socks, (or hole-y anything) knit, paint a picture, cook dinner, eat a meal, or just about anything that doesn’t involve heavy thinking while you are listening! Some people listen while they are driving. I don’t recommend that. You’ll either miss a turn or worse, or you’ll miss parts of the story and have to go back. Sometimes I miss parts of the story and I’m not doing anything! If you are a passenger in a car and you have a personal CD player, that would be fine. I’ve even thought about bringing it with me when I’m in a doctor or dentist’s waiting room.

Now that summer is just around the corner, you can bring an audio book with you to the beach, or the pool, or the lake. You get the picture! I find that an audio book helps me fall asleep. It’s like listening to a bedtime story. That is my introduction to this new recurring post on my blog for book reviews. I will only publish posts on books and audio-books that I have enjoyed and can recommend. I hope you enjoy these posts and I hope they encourage you to read or listen to my audio book and/or book selections.

Today’s review discusses Gone Tomorrow authored by Lee Child and performed by Dick Hill which is on 12 audio discs (14 hr., 30 min.)

I will also rate these books and audio books on a 1 – 5 star rating. Gone Tomorrow rates 5 Stars

Continue reading here.

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A Followup to my Talk on Blogtalkradio

7 Apr sxc.hu/Cieleke - Juggling

Although we had some technical issues connecting, I was able to give my talk today about humor and health on The Wellness Coaches show on blogtalkradio. 

Any thoughts I had about having lost my New York accent years ago were dashed after I listened to the broadcast later on.  It’s like I never left! How can that be possible? You can take the girl out of Queens, but you can’t take Queens out of the girl!

Because I got started on the show a little late, I was unable to finish my last anecdote about humor and its relation to stress so I’d like to finish it here.

When I worked at IUPUI (Indiana University, Purdue University at Indianapolis) they often offered free workshops during the lunch hour that included special guest speakers. One guest speaker was Dr. Steve Allen, Jr. who specialized in Family Practice medicine and to me, he was a very special guest.

As it turned out Dr. Allen is the son of the famous comedian, Steve Allen who was the first host of the Tonight Show. Many comedians have copied his shtick! Leno copied Allen’s Man On The Street routine. Carson’s Carnack the Magnificent routine, was also copied. But you know what they say: Imitation is the greatest form of flattery! Comedians revere Steve Allen.

For those who are unfamiliar with Steve Allen’s work, Allen was not only a comedian, he was also a composer, lyricist, conductor, singer, and pianist. He wrote over 50 books. He also wrote over 8,500 songs, at least two of which you will be familiar: “This Could Be The Start Of Something Big” and “Impossible” recorded by Perry Como. There was just no end to his talent, he was brilliant. My family would tune into his show weekly and join him and his audience in hysterical laughter.

So, here was his son before me talking about humor and stress. I wondered how a son of such a famous father (and mother too, Jayne Meadows)

Steve Allen and wife Jayne Meadows at the 39th...

Steve Allen and wife Jayne Meadows at the 39th Emmy Awards – Sept. 1987 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

could manage under such a big shadow! It turns out he manages very well! He asked his audience, which included a fairly large group of well-dressed, well-mannered, educated, and reserved employees to take the three scarves that he passed out to each of us, and juggle them up in the air.

We all stood up and tried to juggle these wisps of fabric. They were so thin and fragile, there was no way we could keep them up in the air. Soon, most of us were bending over picking them up or retrieving them from the seat in front of us. Lots of laughter ensued. Dr. Allen managed to turn this group into a bunch of rowdy pre-schoolers! He says that juggling brings the creative use of silliness and that he gets the same result when giving his talk to Nobel Prize winners or janitors!! Laughter = release of tension.

sxc.hu/Cieleke - Juggling

Juggling with Dr. Allen, Jr.      sxc.hu/Cieleke -

Now, just because we were being silly, doesn’t mean that something positive wasn’t happening or that he wasn’t being serious in his talk! This was a fun way for employees to spend their lunch time and I was happy to be a participant, especially because I have always been a big fan of Steve Allen, the comedian.

Dr. Allen won several professional awards for his work in stress management. By the way, I still have the scarves.

Since I consider myself more of a student of humor and laughter rather than an expert, I searched for information online about humor from a more technical point of view that was from the experts. One site was from Harvard that discusses how the brain processes humor: http://www.hms.harvard.edu/hmni/On_The_Brain/Volume16/HMS_OTB_Spring10_Vol16_No2.pdf

Another site was from howstuffworks.com http://science.howstuffworks.com/life/laughter1.htm

Both these sites are educational and funny! I encourage you to take a look!

So how does humor fit in when developing healthy living habits is such a struggle sometimes?

One example  of how it fits in is that if you are at work and you’re under a lot of stress and can’t exercise to relieve or reduce your stress, you can use humor in the form of reading a funny book on your break (I recommend a Far Side book) or watch something silly on YouTube.

Less planning is involved with using humor for good health. You don’t need to change clothes or hire a personal trainer or go to a class. You don’t need to follow a certain recipe or prepare a meal as you do when you are following the Mediterranean diet. You can just turn on the TV or computer and look for a comedy!

So, the bottom line is: humor is more accessible in the arsenal of healthy habits.

Laughing relaxes us. It relaxes our muscles. It puts us in a positive frame of mind. It stimulates our brain and makes us happy. It lowers our blood pressure. It increases creativity. It reinforces group cohesiveness, improves problem-solving ability, and increases endorphins and dopamine.

Last but not least, laughter is contagious like a cold and can spread!

I would love to hear your comments about what you thought of the show and/or your thoughts about humor and laughing. Any funny stories would be welcome too!

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New Food Friday – Chestnuts

11 Jan Chestnut Burr
American Chestnut

American Chestnut                     flickr: hickmanwoods

You’ve all heard the song, “Chestnuts roasting on an open fire…”  But have you tasted a chestnut? Better yet, have you tasted a roasted chestnut? It’s time to investigate chestnuts on New Food Friday.

Whereas most nuts are hard, chestnuts are relatively soft and moist.  They’re firm and they’re also a bit sweet! Does that sound like a nut to you? Well, it might interest you to know that the botanical definition of a nut is a dry fruit!

Roasted chestnuts are a common street food. You can find them in many countries. I remember them fondly on the streets of New York City many years ago. You could smell them roasting for blocks. They’re great to eat in the wintertime because they are hot and if you wear your mittens, you can hold a few in your hands, warming your cold fingers while you wait for the chestnuts to cool off.

Chestnuts Hot!

Chestnuts Hot!

Chestnuts are low in fat and calories compared to a walnut which has 3 times the amount of calories. I bought a container of chestnuts at Meijer and they were originally $4.49 reduced to $1.49.  The package stated “Italian Chestnuts” so I’m assuming they were imported from Italy. I’m lucky I found them reduced. They were the best chestnuts I’ve ever eaten! At least to my memory. 

Almost all fresh chestnuts sold in your local markets are imported. These imported chestnuts come from all over the world–Italy, Spain, Korea, China, and sometimes even Portugal, according to http://www.buychestnuts.com/

Chestnut Unshelled with Bowl

Chestnut Unshelled with Bowl

When you roast them, you want to be sure to puncture them with the point of a sharp knife. In fact, make an “x” because just one puncture might not do. I had one explode in my toaster oven when I only gave it one puncture. They are like baking potatoes in that sense. If you don’t puncture a potato well and bake it in the oven, it will explode! I have experience with both unfortunately! They are a mess to clean up. 

Speaking of messes, when I work with flour, which is often because I like to bake, I manage to get flour everywhere. Although I’ve never used Chestnut flour, I imagine it wouldn’t be any different. Chestnut flour is favored in many Tuscany recipes. Chestnuts are found in some recipes in America on Thanksgiving. Some folks like to make their turkey stuffing with chestnuts. I would love to try that. It sounds delicious!

I used to see many of these chestnut burrs 

Chestnut Burr

Chestnut Burr sxc.hu – mordoc-(France)

on the ground on my way home from school when I was growing up. Whether they were the true American Chestnuts, I don’t know but I’m inclined to think so. The trees on this one particular block were very old and not just Chestnut trees. I remember Oak leaves in the mix. Their roots caused a major upheaval on the sidewalks over the years, causing permanent “ocean waves” that were a challenge to navigate, especially when Fall came and colorful slippery leaves covered the ground. When I went back, six years ago, all the old trees were gone, cut down, and in place of the shady canopy, sunshine and new sidewalks. To me it looked bare and ugly. I preferred the undulating sidewalks!

Chestnut Avenue

                          Chestnut Avenue, reminds me of my walk home from school                                                    sxc.hu – stockcharl(Germany)

When I was in school, I learned the poem, “Under the spreading chestnut tree the village smithy stands.” Some of you might recognize that poem.

sxc.hu - all81-Under the Spreading Chestnut Tree

                                    Under the Spreading Chestnut Tree                                                                            sxc.hu – all81(Netherlands)

The story of the American Chestnut Tree is a sad one. You may have heard it from your parents or grandparents. It’s been said that the East Coast American Chestnut Tree was the equivalent of the West Coast Redwood Tree.  Imagine how devastating it would be if we lost our Redwoods.

“The story is that the chestnut supported from cradle to grave,” says Bill Alexander, landscape curator of the Biltmore Estate in Asheville, North Carolina. “You were rocked to sleep as a baby in a chestnut cradle and you were buried in a chestnut casket.” (Read more: http://www.motherearthnews.com/Nature-Community/1998-08-01/Chestnut-Revival.aspx#ixzz2HEhNgEbe)

Here are excerpts from The American Chestnut Foundation (TACF) website.

“The American chestnut tree reigned over 200 million acres of eastern woodlands from Maine to Florida, and from the Piedmont west to the Ohio Valley, until succumbing to a lethal fungus infestation, known as the chestnut blight, during the first half of the 20th century. An estimated 4 billion American chestnuts, 1/4 of the hardwood tree population, grew within this range.

Scary or Scared Chestnut Trees? sxc.hu algiamil

                                     Scary or Scared Chestnut Trees?                                                                                    sxc.hu algiamil(Italy)

The American chestnut tree was an essential component of the entire eastern US ecosystem. A late-flowering, reliable, and productive tree, unaffected by seasonal frosts, it was the single most important food source for a wide variety of wildlife from bears to birds. Rural communities depended upon the annual nut harvest as a cash crop to feed livestock. The chestnut lumber industry was a major sector of rural economies. Chestnut wood is straight-grained and easily worked, lightweight and highly rot-resistant, making it ideal for fence posts, railroad ties, barn beams and home construction, as well as for fine furniture and musical instruments.

The blight, imported to the US on Asian chestnut trees, is a fungus dispersed via spores in the air, raindrops or animals. It eventually kills the tree.

In 1989 TACF established the Wagner Research Farm, a breeding station in Meadowview, Virginia, to execute the backcross breeding program developed by Philip Rutter, Dr. David French and the late Dr. Charles Burnham, three of TACF’s founding scientists. Two independent reviews of TACF’s scientific mission, methods, and results, were conducted in 1999 and in 2006 by prominent scientists from around the world. They concluded that the vision of The American Chestnut Foundation to restore the American chestnut to its native habitat in the United States is being accomplished through the breeding program & other TACF activities, and that regional adaptability is key to a successful reintroduction of the American chestnut tree.

Today, TACF’s Meadowview Research Farms have over 30,000 trees at various stages of breeding, planted on more than 160 acres of land.”

Chestnut blight. Experimental trials of resist...

Experimental trials of resistant Castanea dentata by the American Chestnut Foundation at Tower Hill Botanic Garden, Boylston, Massachusetts, USA. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The comeback of the American Chestnut tree sounds promising.

For more information, to learn how you can participate,  and to hear Dolly Parton’s new song about the American Chestnut, click here.

In the meantime, while you are waiting for the American Chestnut to make its comeback, try the European chestnut sold in your supermarket. Although it is the end of the season for chestnuts, you might get lucky and still be able to find some at your supermarket. They were out of them at Meijer when I went back for more, but they were still selling them at my local K-Mart. Otherwise, you may find chestnuts sold in Michigan and a few other states where chestnut hybrids are planted.                      ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Horseback Riding: Good for Your Health?

1 Oct Mike riding a pony at a friend's house

 

I think It’s safe to say that most of us realize that riding a horse can be a risky sport. They are large animals and can pack a powerful blow. Plus, we are all familiar with what happened to Christopher Reeves (Superman).

I’ve been horseback riding several times in my life and I have my own terrifying experience to tell. Fortunately, I kept my head about me. Looking back, it all seemed like reflex reaction because I didn’t have time to think.

I was on a date with some of my date’s friends. We decided to go horseback riding at a public park. I don’t recall what park but this was when I was living in New York.

My horse kept lagging behind. The guide kept telling me to kick my horse. I was doing the best I could with those instructions but my horse didn’t seem to care. He was unresponsive. He seemed tired or sick. He wanted to go back to the stalls.  The group had to wait periodically for my horse and me to catch up.

Apparently, one of the  “friends” in our little group was getting tired of my horse lagging behind.This friend positioned his horse behind mine and I just assumed he thought that would help my horse move along. I had no idea he was going to crack my horse on the rear, scaring it half to death not to mention me, leading to the following events.

My horse reared,

Rearing horse

you know, like in the movie Zorro where the horse stands up on its hind legs clawing the air with its front hooves? I was still sitting upright but now my horse’s neck was up against my chest! Call it reflex or call it instinct but it caused me to grab on to his mane. Then, off we were like a shot!

We galloped like the wind as the saying goes and now I was facing down on the horse’s neck, just like a jockey in the Kentucky Derby! I worried that the horse would think I was egging him on in this position but I didn’t know what else to do. I was holding on to this horse for dear life! It could have been an exhilarating experience if the horse stayed on the trail. However, he decided to go down a slope  heading for the trees. In my mind, I can still feel the tree leaves and branches whistling past the top of my head, sometimes hitting their mark. Eventually, he slowly came to a stop. I had been saying, “whoa, whoa,” the whole time. I never pulled on the reins to stop him. Maybe in my subconscious I was remembering what my mother told me about my grandfather’s horse.

They say if you fall off a horse, you should get back on right away. (Probably because if you don’t, you never will again out of fear.) Well, I wasn’t thrown and I didn’t fall off. The trail guide didn’t ask me if I was ok. Clearly, I wasn’t. I was shaking. So, I was still on this horse and we continued lagging behind everyone else until the guide took us back to the stalls when the ride was completed! Truthfully, I don’t remember any more than that. I was probably angry but I was too exhausted for an argument. I didn’t get on another horse until 25 years later, and that experience was much better, with a mare that I really liked.

I have always had a love of horses. When my parents would ask me what I wanted for Christmas when I was a kid, I’d always say, “A pony!” My mother would say, “Where would we put it?” I had a ready answer, “In a stable.” I had no idea about stable costs, or the upkeep of a horse, or even the illnesses that afflicted horses. I didn’t learn those things until I was in my 40’s when I subscribed to a horse magazine. That subscription really opened my eyes.

So, thereafter I was happy to admire them from afar. I watched horse races on TV. I visited The Kentucky Horse Park. It’s a lovely place with a beautiful statue of Secretariat, my favorite race horse. I’m also a fan of dressage and horse jumping.

Kentucky Derby with friends

I went to the Kentucky Derby twice.

I went to the Belmont Race Track many years ago when I lived in New York.                     

And I’ve been to other smaller horse tracks to watch the races.

I went to a rodeo in Indiana. I think the event was held at Market Square Arena which has been imploded since then. 

Rodeo in Indiana

Rodeo in Indiana

 

I had planned to go to a dude ranch where you could work and vacation but my job interfered with those plans and I missed that opportunity.

So, it was a natural step for me to introduce my son to horses. In this photo, you can see that he had no fear. He looks like a natural if you ask me but unfortunately my love for horses didn’t transfer over to him, at least not that I know of. However, he is into many other sports and at one time had been a personal trainer at the local YMCA. Those of you who follow my blog shouldn’t be too surprised at that! My adventure with horses isn’t over yet. I can feel it in my bones! (Which are still intact and I intend for them to stay that way.)

Me and my son at a friend’s home

 

The Rebuilding of Ground Zero

27 Sep By Succu (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (httpcreativecommons.orglicensesby-sa3.0)], Wikimedia Commons

I was watching TV in bed a few weeks ago and was about to turn in when PBS announced a Nova special: Engineering Ground Zero. The program was so interesting that I stayed up to watch it.

 

This program isn’t so much about what happened 9/11, 2001, it is about the rebuilding of this 16-acre site.

THAT WAS THEN…

The film is inspiring, hopeful, with leaders who are full of innovative ideas that will amaze you!

 

Yes, when they first began talking about rebuilding a skyscraper, I admit, I thought they had lost their minds! But after seeing this film, I feel very reassured and that is why I wanted to write this post, to share with you what I learned from this program.

 

There were many bitter disagreements, starts and stops in this rebuilding process, but when momentum took hold, Michael Arad was chosen as the architect and designer of the 9/11 Memorial. It was a design that was chosen out of 5,000 entries.

 

In no particular order, the film mainly covers:

The 9/11 Memorial (the cascading pools)

The MemorialPlaza (includes the 400 trees)

One WorldTradeCenter (the skyscraper)

The underground massive museum

The steel

The concrete

The glass panels

The bronze panels

 

The 9/11 Memorial

The Memorial is a phenomenal structure of two flowing water pools where the twin towers had been. I get goose bumps when I think about it because water has so much significance when you think about it. To me it signifies cleansing, purity, sustenance, life, and healing properties. Each of these pools is 30,000 square feet, almost an acre of void. The design calls for 52,000 gallons of water to cascade over the walls every minute, drop 30 feet, and disappear into a second, inner pool. What Arad created was brilliant, genius!

 

The Bronze Panels

Names of the 2,982 individuals whose lives were lost are not listed alphabetically, but by the locations where individuals died: the South Tower, the North Tower, Flights 11, 93, 77, 175 and the Pentagon. First responders and those who died in the 1993 attacks are also grouped together. One-hundred-fifty-two bronze panels will surround the pools with these names.

For fifty percent of the people that are on the Memorial, no remains were found, so this is going to be, for many families and many loved ones, the place that they will go on those special days: the birthdays, anniversaries. Unfortunately, this is the final resting place of the deceased.

They wanted the memorial part of the site to be completed on the 10-year anniversary of the attack, September 11, 2011. They accomplished that goal and you get to see this beautiful memorial from start to finish in the film. When fully completed, the entire site will include a train station to rival Grand Central, six new towers, and, at its heart, the 9/11 Memorial.

 

The Skyscraper

One World Trade Center skyscraper begins with world-renowned architect David Childs who is striving for a balance of security with beauty. The first 20 stories are like a bunker, built to withstand the force of a truck bomb. As it rises, the tower transforms into eight interlocking triangles, covered in huge panels of clear glass. More than a hundred stories up, a broadcast antenna brings the total height to a symbolic 1776 feet. The cost? More than three billion dollars, Childs’ design will be one of the most expensive skyscrapers ever built and one of the most innovative.


The Concrete

The core of One World Trade Center contains critical safety systems like extra-wide stairwells. It’s made of a material that’s strong like steel, but more fire-resistant: concrete.

 

The cores in the Twin Towers were compromised on 9/11, because they were made of steel wrapped in thin sheetrock. Childs’ design calls for super-strong concrete. So strong that it had to be developed in the lab. In testing this new concrete, they formed a four-inch-diameter cylinder of the concrete. It can accommodate a thousand Americans standing on this one cylinder. Challenges are getting the concrete to the site before it hardens, not to mention pumping it up 40 stories high.

 

When finished, One World Trade Center will contain almost 500,000 tons of this material, much of it in its core, which has walls up to six feet thick. Inside, the core protects a total of 70 elevators, as well as the extra-wide stairwells that are pressurized to keep smoke out. Smoke is the real killer.

Childs has a vision of using prismatic glass at the podium to add to the beauty of the structure. Cutting grooves into glass this thick and this large has never been done before. The only way to do it is to build a new machine from scratch.

The Glass Panels

Each glass panel consists of laminated safety glass on the inside, an insulating air space, and another thick pane of glass on the outside, lined with an energy-saving coating. The coating lets sunshine in while reducing heat, resulting in cost savings in office lighting and air-conditioning.

Installing these panels is a painstaking task: they can weigh up to 5,000 pounds. There are around 13,000 panels. When this wall of glass is complete, it will wrap around the entire building from the 20th floor to the top. I don’t know about you, but that blows my mind!

The Podium

The podium of One World Trade Center is a square about the size of the original towers. But as it rises above its base, at the 20th floor, the corners taper in. A square becomes an octagon. Four sides become eight interlocking triangles. Finally, at the top, it resolves in a square once again. Above the podium, One World Trade Center is going up a floor a week.

 

The “Green” Building

One World Trade Center is designed to be a certified green building. Steel contributes to that, because much of it comes from recycled materials like old refrigerators, cars, even toasters, all melted down into liquid.

 

Some of the largest steel pieces are called nodes. They can be as large as 60 tons and stand three stories high. Nodes are giant joints that hold multiple pieces of steel together. They come in all shapes and sizes and make it possible for the building to shift form, from four sides into eight. And they also help re-distribute the weight as the building rises.

THIS IS NOW…

 

Working with steel this big takes experience. Peter Jacobs is a member of the Mohawk Nation, famed for their work on skyscrapers and bridges for over a century. For more information about the Mohawk Nation, click here.

 

The Museum

A massive underground museum is being built beneath the Memorial plaza. People are going to be looking up at the underside of the plaza above, which is 60-70 feet above. There will be a very large volume of space. People will understand the enormity, and the scale of what was lost.

 

The Trees

Four hundred trees are being prepared to be taken to their new home: Ground Zero. They originally come from the three places where people died: New York, Pennsylvania and the Washington, D.C. area. These trees have their own computer chip in them. They have their own monitoring system for aeration and irrigation. Some weigh 18,000 pounds each.

 

The Conclusion?

The rebuilding of Ground Zero won’t be finished for years. David Childs’ original concept to cover the concrete podium with prismatic glass has been scrapped. Its replacement is yet undecided in this film. Many of this skyscraper’s safety features are likely to make it one of the most influential buildings in America.

 

By the way, you can watch the program online for free at: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/tech/engineering-ground-zero.html Just click on the green bar on the upper right. A DVD is also available for purchase.

Some films help us to move on from an uncomfortable place. This is one of those films.

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Commemorating 9/11

11 Sep 017_17

 

I was listening to the TV eating my lunch when the news anchor announced that there would be a “Healing Field” held at the Crown Cemetery in Fishers, Indiana. It would be hosted by the National Exchange Club. They wanted volunteers. This sounded like something I would be interested in so I took down the phone number and called.

The Reading of the Names

To my surprise, I was the only non-Exchange Club member to call and volunteer. They asked me if I would like to participate in reading some of the names of the people we lost on 9/11. I was touched that they asked me.

Still a New Yorker

I left Queens, New York when I was 29 but decades later, I’m still a New Yorker at heart. I wasn’t in New York when the attack occurred, but I felt the loss as if I was still there. I watched it live on a big screen TV at work. We all did. I might as well have been there. So I needed a tangible expression of mourning and although this particular Healing Field took place in 2004, I didn’t feel that I had progressed much since September 11, 2001.

Healing Fields

Participating in the Healing Fields did much to heal me. It involved many boy scouts hammering re-bars into the ground to hold up the American flags and situate the flags. Volunteers also helped carry and position a flag. I participated with this too. Each flag represented a person who died that day. I still get chills just typing this. The photos of that day can express what occurred better than I ever could.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Official Ceremony With US Fighter Jets

There was an official ceremony and at the close, US Fighter Jets flew overhead. As fast as they were, I still can’t believe that I got two photos of them flying overhead. It was incredibly spectacular!

I’ll Never Forget

The Healing Fields was a day I’ll never forget nor will I ever forget 9/11. Sometimes we need help in recovering from a traumatic event. An event like the Healing Fields goes a long way to restore your good health.

For more information about the Healing Fields, click: Healing Fields

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