Category: Featured Authors

Learning How to Walk Again: Barbara’s Story

By Barbara Leonhard | Featured Contributor


[Part 1 – Hope Was Not a Loss: A Story About Measles Encephalitis]

My experience with measles encephalitis taught me a great deal. The greatest realization was that I could change my destiny. I had every reason to remain in the wheelchair because of the attention, sympathy, and love that not only I but also my parents received because of their poor little girl. But the attention from others could not offset the loneliness, the feelings of being diminutive and helpless, and the boredom.

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Hope Was Not a Loss: A Story About Measles Encephalitis

By Barbara Leonhard | Featured Contributor


In this article, I would like to share my story of how an illness I suffered as a child affected me. Particularly with the climate of today, I hope this will help inform people of the consequences that can develop in young children who are at risk of getting certain illnesses.

It was the summer of 1958, and it seemed to have happened all at once, where I turned from an active six-year-old girl to a helpless baby overnight. At that time, my family was living in Lewistown, Montana, where my dad was a Presbyterian minister. Mom was at home with three children, aged seven to four. That summer, all three of us contracted measles. But while my siblings’ illnesses took a more benign course, I developed a life-threatening complication: measles encephalitisa serious and potentially fatal inflammation of the brain that can occur either during the rash phase of measles or following the illness itself.

I have often contemplated my own battle with measles encephalitis…because it did indeed nearly kill me.

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Mind Over Body: Catarina’s Path to Health

By Catarina Rodrigues, Featured Health Story


Three and a half years ago, I was diagnosed with a hiatal hernia. A hiatal hernia is what happens when the upper portion of your stomach slides up into your chest because there is an opening (a “hiatus”) in your diaphragm. This causes the person to experience severe acid reflux and discomfort, among other symptoms. When my doctor explained this to me, as—you may imagine—it all sounded quite frightening. He told me that this was essentially an incurable condition and that surgery was not recommended at my age.

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Hillman’s Demons: A Poem on Depression

By Chris Reed | Featured Contributor


James Hillman told me
the demons will come
at night in old age,
and will settle
on my bed,
on my chest,
in my hair,
in my head,
in my guts,
and prod me awake.

Befriend them he says.
They are your demons.
They are here to help.
And know you are 
enough worn with years
to be not afraid.

Drink tea.
Pay heed.
Converse.

If you look them in the eye,
know you’ll soon be gone,
so don’t care what they think,
they will give you quarter
and disarm.

Then you can hold them close,
like children,
with sharp claws and teeth,
and comfort them.
For their torments are yours;
their shadows are your shadows.

Hand in hand in the night,
no one is afraid of the dark.

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Grief: Healing Through Poetry

By Barbara Leonhard, Featured Contributor


[Part 2 – Alzheimer’s: Grieving the Loss of My Mother]

I processed grief over Mom’s struggle with Alzheimer’s through poetry writing. The fact that caregivers—such as myself and many other poets—can relieve grief through poetry supports my belief that poetry is both the memoir of and the medicine for the soul. Poetry is a means to storytelling, witnessing the human condition in a personal way. What am I thinking, praying, hoping for? How am I hurting? What has happened to me? How can I understand it? How can I share it? Who will witness my pain?

Poetry provides a creative outlet for the release of pain, for healing. It explores the soul. Reading the poems of others who have gone through similar experiences as mine is reassuring because I realize that I am not alone. I could also share my experiences of loss and grief.

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Alzheimer’s: Grieving the Loss of My Mother

By Barbara Leonhard, Featured Contributor


[Part 1 – Fire & Ice: The Faces of Grief]

As a way to examine grief and loss, I will share my story of the loss of my mother to Alzheimer’s, one of the most devastating forms of dementia.

What is Alzheimer’s?

According to the Alzheimer’s Association, Alzheimer’s Disease is a dementia caused by the building up of plaques—deposits of protein fragments that create spaces between neurons (nerve cells)—as well as tau tangles inside the cells of the brain itself.

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