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)

Functional Medicine Embraces Prevention and Healing


The essence of Dr. Iankowitz’ approach to wellness is:

Logic, Prevention, Common Sense & Healing

Dr. Iankowitz sees the human body as a complex set of organ systems that are designed to self heal.  In the video below Dr. Iankowitz shares her views and approach to wellness.

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1. We each have an innate ability to heal ourselves and others. Dr. Iankowitz offers a functional medical assessment, is respectful of your views, and works within whatever system and/or cultural background you feel will facilitate your healing.

2. People have unique relationships with whatever disease process they experience. When you request facilitated healing, it is important to determine how you perceive your  ‘illness’ or ‘condition.’  Once this is established,  your healing journey – guided by Dr. Iankowitz, begins.

3. If one has a secretly vested interest in holding on to a condition, this suggests the illness may be viewed by the patient as a friend. The response of the health practitioner must take the patient’s reality into account. Referrals are made to licensed, certified professionals including mental health, physical therapy, massage therapy, holistic optometry, herbal practitioners and more, upon patient request.

4. Patient perception governs the ‘success’ or ‘failure’ of treatment. Dr. Iankowitz embraces and appreciates that success is defined by your comfort with your health status. Your physical and emotional ease, freedom and joy are key factors in determining your personal ‘success’ in facilitated healing.

Each individual embodies a multi-cultural reality, and each encounter is unique and valid. While the conventional medical model works within the central portion of the bell shaped curve (suggesting that ‘the norm’ should apply to ‘all’), the functional medical model permits a ‘patient-centered’ approach (recognizing that each individual is unique). Dr. Iankowitz embraces an eclectic view, in accordance with values supported by the Nurse Practitioner model blended with the evidence-based practice of functional medicine.


“Home” For The Holidays (Part 2): Communication, Reading Signals & Avoiding Traps

Healthy Communication: “Take a Hint” (What Can One Safely Assume?)

  • When one is forced to use the imagination to fill in gaps after honest effort to seek clarification, is it safe to assume the confusion was somehow intentional?
  • When questions are appreciated, is it safe to assume clarification is sought in an effort to deepen a relationship?
  • When questions are regarded as ammunition and attacks, is it safe to assume those who regard them as such are frightened, lack trust, and/or wish to avoid closeness? Can one assume another prefers to avoid responsibility related to the situation at hand?

When a question is put forth, each person has decisions to make based upon the relationship. Without a shared history between two people, there exists no personal experience to draw upon. Even if ‘reputation’ precedes one or both, motives rise quickly to the surface by the ways in which clarification is handled.

Essentially, people who are able to be trusted find it easy to trust others; people who don’t trust others are defensive, often deliberately mislead others and basically hide from themselves by pointing fingers at those around them.

Trust vs. Mistrust: The Trap

When the predisposition (trust vs. mistrust) of each person is evenly matched, communication is usually mutually satisfactory. Two people who are able to trust and be trusted often discover they can build a potentially strong, fulfilling relationship. Two who are equally suspicious are often relieved that the other is well guarded, as this releases each of the responsibility to watch out for/ be sensitive to the feelings of the other.

Difficulties arise when the two people make opposite assumptions; that is, when a trusting person invests heartfelt energy into a discussion with one who (unbeknownst to the trusting person) does not trust or when a well-guarded person begins a conversation, expecting no responsibility, only to be hit with a clarification-seeking, over sharing disaster. On both sides, boundaries are not mutually respected. One feels slighted; the other feels invaded. Neither feels safe.

Trust vs. mistrust becomes the focus. This communication issue is magnified during the holiday season when friends and family members define their relationships in accordance with rules dictated by social obligation. ‘Social obligation’ breeds misery for all involved.

Sincerity vs. Social Obligation

When two people sincerely wish to spend time together, their mutual desire is demonstrated by reaching out, prompt responses, promises kept, and seeking as well as offering clarification to underscore heartfelt interest. Problems arise when either or both believe they ‘should’ meet, based upon social obligation. When people actually want to spend time with each other, the question of trust vs. guarded does not have to surface. Mutual heartfelt desire trumps all.

Success vs. Set Up To Fail

Every family and group of friends has at least one person who

  • May or may not show up at the last minute
  • Offers vague answers, even when specifically asked clear questions
  • Can’t be pinned down for a commitment and, if one is actually made, may or may not be kept
  • Always seems to have an excuse
  • Often states that those who seek clarification are ‘nagging’ or ‘insatiable’
  • Expresses s/he feels burdened by attempts on the part of others to secure a date, time or place to meet
  • Forces others to make assumptions – a dangerous practice for all involved

This individual earns the reputation of ‘untrustworthy’ especially when s/he reserves the right to fault others for any assumptions made. These slippery people offer answers that include, “I’ll make every effort to attend” then, when later asked directly what the plan is, negatively label those who seek a clear answer as they easily pin the ‘lack of meeting’ on anyone else involved.

Be Honest – Avoid ‘Traps’ Especially During the Holiday Season

  • When we extend honest, heartfelt invitations to people with whom we share a mutual feeling of safety – mind, body and spirit, acceptance of that invitation channels positive energy, excitement and joy filled hearts.
  • When we extend ‘social obligation’ invitations to people, they often feel it. Nobody looks forward to the gathering and all attempt to set boundaries to preserve personal safety.
  • When invited by people we really do not feel safe with, as stated above, they generally don’t feel safe with us, either. Our acceptance must include healthy boundary setting in a positive way. Tips: Limit time shared and communicate in advance regarding topics we prefer to not address (i.e. avoiding discussions that flame heat including but not limited to those surrounding sex, religion and politics)

Read the Signals

When inviting guests, watch for these responses so that you can minimize discomfort for all involved:

  • “I’ll have to see. I’ll let you know.” This suggests your invitation is either not a priority or the person has little or no intention of accepting, but can’t find the way to say “No” because of a feeling of social obligation.Your response: If you have thick skin and are very generous of spirit, you may leave the ball in the guest’s court, permitting him/her to later claim “Oh I forgot” or “I tried to reach you but . . .” This guest does not feel safe, for whatever reason, in your presence, so why add pressure? (If the relationship is valuable to you, wait until after the holiday season to pursue, in a neutral location, to see if you can reestablish mutual trust. If not, let it go and move on accepting you are each on separate paths along equally sacred journeys).
  • “My spouse/partner etc. . . . has another obligation. I wish we could accept your invitation but we can’t.” (This response may go either way. It is either a total fabrication – permitting the guest an ‘easy out’ or it is a truthful statement. If it is a fabrication, the guest either fears hurting your feelings, does not trust you enough to tell the truth and/or does not feel safe with you, but feels a degree of social obligation. If it is, in fact, true, then the person will follow-up by reaching out after the holiday to see how the event went. S/he might offer a heartfelt apology and engage in an honest exploration and sharing of thoughts and feelings regarding the holiday, and other items of mutual interest. (Lack of a follow-up call after declining an invitation usually indicates the person is uncomfortable with and/or has no interest in you).

Bottom Line To The Host and Hostess

Knowing how you feel, deeply and honestly, about each guest on your list is an important beginning to a healthy and happy holiday experience. If you have ‘social obligation’ invitations to extend, recognize that those people likely also feel ‘socially obligated’ to accept. Permit them the space, time and distance they require to accept or reject and, if you don’t really want to pursue a deeper relationship with them, just accept their answers, boundaries and excuses without further question.

Bottom Line To the Receiver of Invitations

Knowing how you honestly feel about the host, hostess and/or others on the guest list enhances your positive holiday experience. Accepting invitations to be with those we love is easy. Invitations from people we don’t really know or care about, realizing they feel the same way about us is also met with gracious ease, most of the time.

Difficulties may arise when social obligation further blurs a relationship that is already out of balance – especially when neither person (or only one person) is aware.

If, however, you receive an invitation and believe it is heartfelt, but you prefer not to put time, effort or energy into accepting, and you are not a slave to social obligation, then you might find it natural to decline respectfully offering a sincere plan to get together at a later date (if you so desire). Be prepared to share your reasons for declining the invitation (if you wish to have a deeper than ‘just acquaintance’ relationship).

Thanks for reading this post. I’d love to know if you relate to this and how you assess these points. Are they accurate for you? All comments are welcome. I wish you a healthy, happy, successful holiday season and a wonderful holiday season filled with blessings, healing, rekindling and reawakening.