Does It Distract or Inspire?

It isn’t necessary to be raised by hoarders to learn organization, survive agitated depression to learn compassion, live with a loved one who gaslights & deflects to master the art of seeking & offering clarification, or experience a restraining order from a mentally unwell young adult to know the pain of “only as happy as your most unhappy child” . . . but having traveled that path, I can attest to my awakening: it softens the heart and sharpens the mind to win the battle for one’s soul in the face of these, along life’s sacred journey.

Some view challenges as obstacles or distractions from balance & wellness; others embrace them as invitations to self-improvement. You are defined by what you do with opportunities along your journey rather than by the ‘opportunities’ themselves.

“Blessings are curses turned inside out. Credit the light for shadows of doubt.      Without the ‘source’ no ‘block’ can be. Behind each cloud the Sun shines free.”

© 2018 by Universe’s Secretary

How Your Hobby May Heal You

Your body is your business and your brain is the CEO. It communications through whispers and shouts.  When the whispers are ignored, ‘shouts’ come in the form of illness. One might ask, “So what’s a whisper and how can I pick up on it?”

Effective listening includes recognizing your own mood (the whisper) and catching it before it impacts major organ systems. Specifically, whispers that are ignored may impact the gut (i.e. constipation, diarrhea, gas), musculoskeletal system (i.e. backache, muscle tension), and so on. The good news is that tapping into what gives you joy provides cures.  Joy brings inner peace; inner peace facilitates balance and wellness. For some people, a hobby is their key to relaxation and/or joy. To read more about that click here.

Holiday Health & Wellness


Holidays represent different things to different people.  For most, a wide variety of emotions unfold. Some greet holiday time with eager excitement; others, with anxiety driven anticipation. Self-reflection may help reveal questions and answers that can lead to greater awareness, appropriate preparation, and a more joyful experience. There are many types of self-reflective questions that help identify and clarify our hopes, dreams, and goals; they may even help guide us so we can have greater control over the reality that follows.

Embarking upon a self-reflective journey may begin by including questions that help us identify strengths and weaknesses, so we can pair whatever gives us ‘stress’ with something that feeds our passion. One may begin by asking:

How do I feel about hosting vs being a guest? Why do I feel that way?

This may lead to clarification regarding self-perception of the tasks / pressures/ pleasures involved with each. For example, you might discover that hosting represents

  1. Sending out invitations
  2. Taking responsibility for all preparations including
    • food (and related preferences/ sensitivities),
    • baby-proofing the house (for guests who bring toddlers),
    • making sure the temperature and lighting around the table is appropriate for elderly guests and those with limited eyesight etc.

One or more of the above listed tasks may be your passion; alternatively, one or more may bring you stress. Being a guest may involve responding to invitations and may include choosing which to accept and which to graciously reject.

How do I feel about the guest list? Do I prefer to make it or be on someone else’s?

Concerns surrounding ‘social obligation’ are difficult for many. Once you clarify these, the next steps become easier. This leads to additional key questions such as:

Am I including people (or accepting an invitation) through social obligation?

. . . the answer to which facilitates clarification, making next steps more logical and somewhat easier.  Each question may help highlight one or more personal passions as well as ‘holiday associated energy blockers’  which may trigger a stress response (including anxiety).

Additional self-reflective questions may include:

Why am I uncomfortable around a particular friend or family member who seems to be easy going and/or the life of other gatherings I’ve attended? (Do I feel jealous or threatened?)

You may be shy and/or easily overpowered by that particular person’s energy. In this case, you might attend the gathering but remain physically apart from that person.  If, however, your distaste for a particular member of the family creates such tremendous anxiety that it keeps other family members from getting together and /or puts a strain on one or more family members who otherwise enjoy holiday time, a professional mental health provider might be able to assist by facilitating the healing necessary to turn holidays into a harmonious experience for all.

Whether or not you or someone you know is a role model for countless admirers, most people find it helpful to use this filter before speaking: “is it kind, necessary and true?” Using this filter may help when trying to decide whether or not to say something. The guide is: choose not to speak if the answer to any of these is “no”. This informal rule may help when in conversation with another – especially when that person is grieving the loss of a dearly adored relative, friend or family pet. For those experiencing loss, holiday time may intensify the grief.

Click here for additional ideas.

Since the “Holiday Season” is filled with so many mixed vibrations – both positive and negative, it helps to have a few handy tools to help keep balanced before, during and after. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to be able to look forward to each gathering with comfort, confidence and the ability to bring wonderful, healing vibrations to the celebration? If you are interested in learning more about how to neutralize anxiety, dissolve guilt, and provide peace and comfort to guests with whom you come into contact, you might enjoy the presentation entitled “Family Healing . . . in time for the holidays” on Tuesday, November 28, 2017 from 7:00 – 8:00 PM at the Pawling Free Library. (Space is limited so call the library in advance)

Cooling Inflammation

Inflammation is a signal that involves pain, stiffness, and oftentimes weakness in the affected area. When we live with ‘chronic inflammation’ of any kind, it behooves us to recognize that this ‘signal’ is a symptom of a greater imbalance.  Taking anti-inflammatory pills ‘as the treatment’ is similar to using masking tape over your car’s ‘check engine light’  . . . which one might do if on the way to the mechanic – but certainly not when we are setting out on a road trip.

Life is the road trip.  Inflammation is the ‘check engine’ light. Your mind/ body/ spirit balance is ‘the engine.’

Functional medicine guides us to get to the source of the problem. When we have pain from inflammation, we ask questions such as:  “Is this a genetic predisposition over which I may have some degree of control through carefully chosen lifestyle choices? If so, which ones? What system is sending the signal? Is it muscular? Neurological?” . . . and so on. Once we are certain there is no life threatening emergency, we set out to reestablish ‘balance’ by listening to the unique communication offered by our body, and addressing each system respectfully, paying careful attention to the engine (mind/body/spirit balance).

Once we decide to implement lifestyle choices in our effort to regain control over physical comfort, the first step is often to become mindful of our present lifestyle and daily habits.  For example, we begin to notice how we sit, stand, and walk. While sitting, do we lean on our elbows?  How is our posture at the computer? Are we hunched over the keyboard? In the living room or den, do we often slouch into the couch? At the dinner table do we rest on our forearms and/or stoop down to the dinner plate?  During the day, while standing, do we lean forward, sideward, or in any way lean against the countertop or post beside which we might be standing? While walking, do we look ahead or down at our feet?  These and other questions begin our journey to healing the imbalance signaled by the inflammation.

The second step often includes keeping a daily journal of dietary habits. If this is beginning to sound overwhelming, you might be more interested in the conventional medical approach to your healthcare.  If, however, this is beginning to sound exciting – feeling as if you are being offered a roadmap towards your continuing adventure through life, read on.  There is much more to come. The journal would begin with what you feel before you eat, what food you choose, and how you feel during and after eating it. No changes need to be made to the foods you eat for two weeks. During that two week period, you observe how your energy, mood, joints, sleep pattern, bowel habits etc., all respond to your choices – and these are recorded by you over that same two weeks.

The third step is to evaluate your journal, answer your body’s signals, and follow the instructions your body continues to offer.  If you need assistance, then share your discoveries with your functional medicine practitioner so that together you can learn how to interpret your body’s unique communication, and craft a plan of action to facilitate the comfort you deserve.

A few resources you might find helpful:;

Relationship Gone Sour – Can It Be Fixed? (Part I)


Wondering where you stand? Here are a few clues: when a family member with whom you once shared unconditional love says:  “Call me only in an emergency” there is a clear self-protective boundary being drawn. This suggests that person doesn’t feel safe with you on some level – be it physical, emotional or spiritual.  That individual may have once been (or may at some time in the future be) interested in working on repairing your relationship; however, right now – time, distance and space may be required.

As you honor that space, giving that person control to reduce ‘exposure’ to you, the comfort and trust you earn over the hours, days, weeks or months that follow hopefully permit time for that person to regain perspective. Once ‘enough’ time has passed, resolution initiated by the one who requested the time/space, may begin. Note: At no time is it appropriate for one person to lean on time and silence as if they erase past events. The trigger for the disagreement may require a third party to moderate – but ignoring the issue serves only to build resentment.

How much time is ‘enough’?

In a love relationship, wherein two people share the same bedroom, it may only take a few hours; two people (friends or a couple) with separate residences or who share a common residence but do not share a bedroom, it may take a few days; two adults – either siblings or parent and adult child, a few weeks or months might be necessary.

The time apart ideally permits a respectful return to work together as a team to tackle the issue.

If, however, the one honoring the request ‘for space’ (made by the other) is somehow ‘faulted for the space and/or time’ offered in deference to the request by the other person, or is otherwise disrespected/ attacked, and/or approached in an abusive way, then larger issues are likely afoot. A professional mental health provider might be required to facilitate reconciliation.  Mentally balanced individuals who request space for self-reflection usually regain enough perspective to bring up the topic of the ‘disconnect’ – with gratitude in recognition for the respectful distance afforded by the other person.

Method of communication. Be mindful that, unless you both offer and accept information in a similar way (both either bottom liners or detailed and wordy) sentence structure, energy brought to the discussion, word choice and number of words, even body posture (subtle vs. drama) might be the source of repeated issues. In this case, as long as values, trust, love and respect are all intact, resolution of the disconnect serves to strengthen the relationship.  Any ‘rift’ distracts – at least initially, from the relationship. Communication style between a wordy, detailed sharer and a ‘bottom-liner’ may be a recipe for disaster – if both people drive each other nuts, feel unheard, get overloaded or don’t feel validated. Patience becomes an important skill to master in order to nourish the relationship.

Trust and respect to the rescue. While rifts caused by issues surrounding styles of communication may feel as wide as those caused by lack of trust and/or respect, they are less complex to heal. People who share mutual trust and respect lean on these strengths as they sort through issues surrounding communication styles. On the other hand, two people lacking mutual trust and/or respect may be at a disadvantage. Without trust and respect, either or both often implement heavy self-protective boundaries which, by definition, distract from sharing ‘unconditional love’; that is, one or both tend to lean on the boundaries rather than the heart of the other to feel safe.

Q: How can you figure out where the rift is and what caused it?

A: Sometimes you know.  Sometimes you don’t.


I know where I went wrong. If you know exactly what you did to cause the rift, it is actually up to you to initiate the repair, especially if there was a close, trusting relationship prior to the request for space. If you have absolutely no idea what is going on or why that request was made, seeking clarification may further aggravate the situation. In most healthy, well balanced relationships, disagreements are inevitable. The key is: willingness to give each other the appropriate space to calm down, then return to the issue at hand. The ‘space’ required is usually no longer than an hour or two before ‘perspective’ kicks in. At that point, both people are often able to lean on their mutual love & respect, feeling safe to approach the topic of disagreement as a team. As noted above, relationships grow in strength when this takes place.

What happens when one feels ready to work on the relationship, but the other does not? If both agree that space apart is needed, and one seems consistently ‘ready’ to work things out before the other – patience needs to be cultivated.  If there is chronic refusal on the part of one partner to return to the issue, and/or if pouting, victimizing, tantrums and/or abusive language or behavior is a predictable part of given scenarios, this may indicate deeper issues unrelated to any small disagreement. Intervention that includes an unbiased, professional mental health provider may be of value.

Repeatedly leaning on a friend or family member, no matter how well educated or well-meaning, may set up a potentially unhealthy dynamic. Of course, minor disagreements that are singular in occurrence, as well as debates about ideas regarding vacationing, interior decorating and the like which may go off track can benefit from a friend or family member lending perspective; however, when there is a familiar issue that continues to inject itself into daily life, becoming more labor intensive as it threatens balance, joy and the relationship itself, professional intervention is often helpful.

When arguing ‘is’ and ‘is not’ healthy. Again, when two people in a loving relationship share a mutual desire to help each other fulfill potential, part of that experience does include disagreements from time to time. Communication during these moments defines the relationship. Over years, patterns emerge. If one’s partner, for example, adopts the attitude, “I just need to not rock the boat” one might wonder: “is this an attempt at self-preservation – because the other person controls by throwing temper tantrums, or is this an illusion indicative of a wounded toddler who was emotionally (or physically) beaten into submission-now an adult lacking in healthy relationship tools?”

Dr. Randi Gunther, a clinical psychologist and marriage counselor suggests that abandonment, power and ownership are often at the root of certain disconnects between couples – and there are particular phrases used to indicate underlying issues. Click on her name to read more about that.

I wish every reader healing of mind, body and spirit – and, with gratitude for your time in reading this very long article, I invite you to disagree with any point made.  May you and those you love be blessed and centered.


Dr. Nancy Iankowitz

(Please click here to continue to Part II)

Children In Second & Third Grade Crave Healthy Interaction

Reading interactively is a wonderful way to open up important conversations, create a safe environment for your children to ask questions that are meaningful to them, and an excellent way to share your ideas about topics you might not otherwise touch on.

“Marcy and Her Friends” (click here for details)  is a book written to answer the concerns of 2nd and 3rd graders and those of their parents and teachers. “Marcy and Her Friends” is filled with stories generated by students, parents and teachers – based on real life situations. Each story demonstrates healthy parenting, and offers coping tools that may be used at home as well as in the classroom. If you are a parent or teacher and wish to help build your students’ or own child’s self esteem, click here. To help your 2nd or 3rd grader deal with a bully, click here for a guide.

To see a demonstration of “interactive reading” click here to watch & listen to the video demonstration.  The title of the story is, “Worries About Friendship”  from the children’s by by N.E.C. Iankowitz “Marcy and Her Friends.”

If you’d like your own copy, click here.

Have a beautiful day of blessings and gratitude.  ~Dr. Nancy Iankowitz

Building Lasting Relationships

Learning how to earn trust & respect from yourself & others, as well as how to recognize when trust &/or respect are lacking in a relationship, helps us not only redefine goals & boundaries, but these lessons go a long way in helping us achieve the mind/ body/ spirit balance we so richly deserve. Here’s to your best health, wellness, inner peace & joy. ~Dr. Iankowitz & Dr. Cohen

Click here to listen to a lively discussion regarding respect and trust.

Protecting Our Children From Our Anxiety

The vibration between parents trickles down to children and animals in the home. This is not news to anyone who lives with other people. So how can parents who are over-burdened with anxiety regarding tight finances and distress over the nation’s politics, compounded by health issues, work (or unemployment) and perhaps even issues surrounding disagreement about parenting decisions neutralize negativity enough to create a loving, supportive, nurturing environment at home?

Click the link (far below) to listen to a lively and heartfelt interview with Dr. Daniel Cohen PhD, Psychologist, Executive Director of the NY Testing and Guidance Center Emeritus, Professor of psychology, licensed marriage and family counselor, (and so many additional credentials – more than are practical to list here).

He shares insights and techniques to assist parents and partners – whether stressed or calm, in their effort to cope effectively with ‘spirited’ children who might attempt to ‘divide and conquer’.  In addition to learning how to help YOUR offspring accept responsibility, self-reflect and fulfill personal and professional potential, you will hear Dr. Cohen offer hints and tips to strengthen the bond between partners, citing early indicators that the couple might be “off-track” – and offering interventions to get you back on the same page.

Click here to enjoy this brief video (allow about 20 minutes to watch the entire conversation).  Please feel free to share with anyone who might benefit from it.  Here’s to you mind/body/spirit balance, successful nurturing of the next generation, and to your joy, inner peace and best health.  ~Dr. Iankowitz

Congestive Heart Failure: A Functional Medicine Approach

[Oversight regarding root causes] leaves aging individuals exposed to the ravages of unchecked heart attack risk factors such as excess homocysteine, insufficient vitamin D, and hormone imbalance & deficiency. This deadly oversight is a fundamental reason cardiovascular disease continues to plague so many Americans (Faloon 2009).1

In contrast to the relatively unimpressive conventional treatment options for heart failure patients, a major breakthrough in heart failure research came in 2013 with the presentation of early results of the Q-SYMBIO coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) trial. This groundbreaking ten-year study provides strong support for a recommendation made by Life Extension many years prior in the context of heart failure. This exciting trial showed that CoQ10 supplementation significantly improves survival even for patients with severe Class III or IV heart failure while dramatically reducing incidence of hospitalization. Specifically, heart failure patients who took 100 mg of CoQ10 three times daily were significantly less likely to have a major cardiovascular event and significantly less likely to die from any cause during the study period compared to control subjects (Mortensen 2013).

Dietary and nutritional interventions have been valuable. “Vitamin B4 is water soluble and is needed in order for the organs and the body to function properly. Vitamin B4 should be included in a healthy daily diet by eating the types of foods that contain this complex vitamin. Bananas, oranges and apples contain vitamin B4, and so do vegetables with green leaves, such as spinach and mustard greens. Herbs that contain vitamin B4 include cloves, hawthorn, jojoba, sage, yucca, ginger and golden seal.”

Clearly, although ‘healing’ is the common goal, western (conventional) and functional (integrative) medicine have two separate approaches.  Conventional addresses symptoms as they present, using pharmaceuticals; functional addresses systems as root causes, and leans towards lifestyle, rather than medications as a first line of treatment.   According to functional medicine, “[m]ost pharmaceutical drugs work by blocking, poisoning, or inhibiting the body’s biochemical pathways.   As an alternative, functional medicine employees the use of nutrients that support the body’s biochemistry to help boost deficiencies that are the cause of the medical condition.  Rather than fighting the symptoms, functional medicine focuses on attacking the cause.”

Chiropractic medicine recognizes there is hope for people suffering from congestive heart failure.  According to Dr. Grisanti, “To be quite honest, when I first started in practice I was like most people thinking that there was no way a disease like congestive heart failure and a host of other diseases (you will learn about) could be reversed. The best I hoped for was at best just to slow down the progressive deterioration of heart failure patients.  To my surprise and the surprise of thousands of people, the more nutrient deficiencies that were identified and fixed, the healthier people became. Of course this is just the beginning of improving the health of people with heart failure.”

Along with common sense lifestyle modifications including diet, exercise, modest alcohol intake etc., Dr. Hyman offers: “. . . supplements can dramatically improve cardiovascular health. Take a good multi-vitamin/mineral along with a purified fish oil supplement that contains 1000 to 2000 milligrams a day of EPA/DHA. (You might need higher doses if you have low HDL and high triglycerides.) I also recommend a fiber supplement such as PGX (Konjac fiber or gluccomanan) to lower cholesterol and balance blood sugar levels.” 5







Lifestyle Tools That Become Lifelong, Lifesaving Gifts

The proper lifestyle tools become lifelong, lifesaving gifts. Caring for young children compels us to create a healthful environment. We begin to put greater thought into balancing sleep/wake schedules, exercise, diet, the air our youngsters breathe and the surfaces they touch. So how can we be sure we are making the right choices? One way is to hear the claims and then weigh the evidence.  It helps to choose educated professionals with whom we share common values.  The following article draws evidence-based data from the perspective of prevention, functional medicine & systems-based approaches to healing.

Why is sleep so important for our children?  Until the age of about 5, the human body generally requires between 12-13 hours of sleep a day; astonishing to some – well known by others.  During sleep, the brain and body develop.  Less than 11 hours of sleep a night during this crucial developmental stage may severely impact the child, with negative life long implications. Throughout the life span, sleep requirements may change.  Click here to read more about recommended upper and lower limits of sleep from birth to 25 years of age.

What are the recommendations regarding exercise for our children?  The 21st century brings with it the recognition that a sedentary lifestyle correlates highly with deterioration of the cardiovascular system. Specifically, the more we sit, the greater our chances of developing blood clots, obesity and poor posture – all of which stress the heart. Fortunately, even if we have fallen into couch potato patterns, or have otherwise become addicted to our laptops, once we begin to work more physical activity into our daily routine, we can reverse the premature aging of our cardiovascular system.  What a blessing to be able to help our children avoid the sedentary habits that can drive them to an early grave.

Two essential questions might pop into one’s mind: (1) How much exercise is really necessary for the human body?  and (2) How much physical activity do children really need in order to define theirs as a heart-healthy lifestyle?  For these answers we turn to the experts. The American Heart Association (AHA) recommends at least an hour (60 minutes – which can be divided into two 30-minute intervals) of exercise a day for children over the age of two. Click here  to see what the AHA concludes regarding health implications for our children.

How can I get my child moving?  Once we define the questions and find the answers, we then need to be able to implement. Easier said than done. If you are interested in encouraging the next generation to form healthy lifestyle habits, you are in the company of a growing number of caregivers on the lookout for creative tips on how to physically engage children and young adults who are otherwise flooded with sedentary technological activities. Click here for ten heart healthy ideas.

While cardiovascular exercises are essential for several systems – including circulatory, skeletal and respiratory, stretching exercises are also important. In fact, stretching may be one of the most important interventions for athletes, when the goal is to keep the body limber. Remember: flexibility is what helps protect against soft tissue injuries (i.e. sprains and strains) during sports activities. This is a huge point to keep in mind for adolescents. Click here for some valuable interventions.

Yoga is another important approach.  When done properly, yoga helps more than just ligaments, tendons and joints. Well appreciated by adults who value balance of mind, body and spirit, yoga is able to be enjoyed by children as young as two years of age. If you think your child might be interested, click here for a few child-friendly poses.

Building a strong mind & body involves physical exercise (noted earlier), and well balanced nutrition.  Most people understand the impact of calcium, Vitamin D and other popularly advertised nutrients on the body; however, few people are aware of the role these play in brain development. In fact, most are unfamiliar with the tremendous impact of nutrition, in general, on such diagnoses as ADHD, IBS and other issues that involve a variety of organ systems. Learn more by clicking here.  Young children require on-target intervention in order to maximize their potential as they grow.

When it comes to the air we breathe, we usually consider air ‘quality’ – and there are several interventions (including plants – click here for a few examples of air filtering plants, and here for additional information) that can help. HEPA air filters are generally considered safe and effective, whereas the ‘ionic air purifier’ technology is becoming less respected by environmental groups. Click here to learn about HEPA filters.

Flu, Humidity and Vitamin D. Low humidity sets the stage for the transmission of airborne viruses, including the ‘flu’ virus (especially in winter months). When the dry air season combines with low levels of Vitamin D, the body’s immunity is low enough to permit the flu to multiply and make us sick. This is why in the north eastern United States, when the air is driest (beginning February, when the body’s Vitamin D stores are lowest after 5 months of sunshine deprivation), we understand ‘this is flu season’ . . . and flu shots become recommended by conventional practitioners, beginning in November. For those who are either unable to take the flu shot (i.e. if you ever had Guillain-Barre Syndrome  ) or if you simply choose not to have it for any other reason, there are ways to boost your immune system to avoid the flu.  Click here for recommendations.  With or without a respiratory illness, in addition to drinking enough water each day, humidification of household air is important  to keep the eyes, nasal passages, lips, mouth and throat hydrated.

How can I humidify my home?  When the winter weather makes the air outside cold and dry, whether you heat your home with electricity, oil, gas or a wood burning stove, the air inside your home is just as dry – and needs to be humidified. Plants can help. Depending on the type of plants you have, watering more often might help. Gardeners usually advise against ‘misting’ leaves – but that also depends on the plant.  Click here  for additional creative ideas on how to humidify your home. Humidifiers are also a popular intervention during winter months.  To learn more about how to choose a humidifier, click here.

How else can I protect my family during the dry winter, flu-season months?  Giving the immune system the proper tools to protect our children is FAR more effective than trying to kill or destroy any/every ‘germ’ (virus, bacteria, fungus) with which they may come into contact. In fact, research shows that children exposed to allergens (including animal dander, mice & even roaches!) in the first year of life have less respiratory issues than those who are raised in a more ‘sterile’ environment. Choosing non-toxic cleaning products for all surfaces – including wood, is a challenge; however, it is well worth the effort if you are interested in preserving our earth for future generations.  Here are some tips on how to keep your home environment earth friendly:  click here.

Ask your child’s pediatrician or pediatric nurse practitioner about how you can boost your child’s immune system using foods, fluids, and dietary supplements. Although these are ‘over-the-counter’ there are important reasons why it is best to consider your child’s unique body, metabolism, growth pattern and genetic make-up before selecting foods, herbs and supplements. Your wellness provider can help.

Here’s to healthful choices for you and your entire family! ~Dr. Iankowitz