Sunday, March 28, 2021

Healing Hobbies Promote Calm and Peace, Soothe Anxiety and Depression

In the February 2021 issue of CCA E-Network, a piece on healing hobbies appeared to showcase ways you can find some peace in your everyday life. These hobbies can help you focus your mind on the moment, which is a great way to practice for when you will to put these mindfulness skills to the test in a medical environment to combat medical stress and trauma. Please review the article, republished below with images of the newsletter article. Read the entire newsletter on our website.

Forget about the sourdough starter and the puzzles! We can do better than that when it comes to new-found hobbies. COVID-19 has forced us all into our homes and boy, does it get boring! Through this article, I hope to reveal a few hidden wonders that may be hiding in plain sight around your home.

Preserve Family Photos, Slides, and Videos 

First on the list is preserving your family’s photographic memories. You know you have them. Boxes and boxes of photos, slides, and maybe even VHS or reel-to-reel tapes. Wouldn’t you love to share these with the world, or at least, the rest of your family? Well you can. Grab some muscle, a few flexible people to get into the attic crawl space, and start by pulling out all the boxes of pictures. Then, take a deep breath! Allow this process to be enjoyable, not overwhelming. It can be cathartic to take a walk down memory lane … but make sure it’s a leisurely stroll, not a virtual 5K!

Take out the photos, look them over slowly. Really use your senses to experience the colors, people, and format. If you have family around, ask them to identify anyone you don’t know. Be prepared… this could turn into a gab fest with your relatives. Perhaps you even want to record some of your conversations as voice memos on your phone. This can enrich the history you are preserving. 

Now you must decide to group the photos by year or occasion. Then, once organized, scan them or send them out for scanning by a professional digitization service. (Pssst: Hot Tip: There are often Groupons for such services.)  If you have slides, purchase a slide digitizer like this one from Kodak for $150 to create digital images of your slides. Slides are really neat, but hard to view unless you scan them. 

Finally, plan a time to gather the family around to share those awkward teenage years with your teenage kids. This can be done via Zoom or you can save this for a special night when you are able to gather safely in person.

This is a labor of love, for which (most of) your family will be truly grateful. Beware! They will dub you the family historian, but that comes with major brownie points. 

What makes this a healing hobby? 

Looking back on the past can really give you something positive to focus on, even if it is laughing at your relatives in those crazy outfits. The art of organization helps give you a sense of control over something during a time when everything seems so uncertain. Creating order out of chaos in this small way will make you feel as if you accomplished something positive. Sharing the photos with extended family will conjure up old, happy stories. And, finally, it's a way to “time” travel for those of us that are missing seeing different parts of the world. 

Making A Body Scrub 

We all love a good shower, but it might be time to mix it up with something new and different in the tub. Yes, even you, big guy! We know the fellas enjoy using a dollop of that pearly body wash on a poofy sponge. We see you! So instead of baking another batch of cookies, or the dreaded bread again, try this calorie-free recipe for a body scrub made from all natural ingredients brought to us from our friends at Boston University’s Howard Thurman Center. Then, try the recipe for this body oil for after you shed that dead, winter skin. 

Peppermint Body Scrub

Effects and benefits: Peppermint may release tension and increase circulation, which can help soothe congestion, headaches, and stiff muscles.

What you’ll need:

  • Mixing bowl

  • Spoon

  • Jar or container with airtight lid


  • 1 ½ cups sugar

  • ½ cup sea salt

  • 1 ½ cups almond oil (or carrier oil of your preference)

  • 20 drops peppermint essential oil


  • Mix all ingredients in bowl

  • Continue to fold sugar into oil until fully incorporated


Essential oils should never be applied directly to skin. Always dilute with carrier oil of your choice. Before applying essential oils, please patch test to ensure no allergic reactions.

Sweet Orange Coconut Oil

This mix is a mood-lifting alternative to lotions and cremes. In addition to sealing in moisture, coconut oil provides a layer of protection against UV rays, relieves common skin irritations, and has antioxidant properties. The sweet orange included in this recipe may reduce feelings of anxiety and depression, inflammation, and physical pains.


  • Microwave safe jar/container

  • Spoon


  • 1 cup coconut oil (melted)

  • ½ cup jojoba oil (optional)

  • 20 drops sweet orange essential oil


  • Microwave coconut oil for 10 seconds to melt down

  • Combine all ingredients and store in airtight container


Coconut oil will solidify at room temperature.

What makes this a healing hobby: Body Scrubs combined with the scent of your favorite essential oils help to calm the nervous system, rid the body of toxins, and increases circulation. For those allergic to essential oils, dry brushing accomplishes the same goals.  Children and adults that are hyperactive, and or hypersensitive will enjoy how calming this can be. In addition, both will calm anxiety and reduce depression that you may be feeling while our lives are disrupted by the coronavirus. Plus, it is just fun to make things from scratch!

Reading and Writing Poems

I’ve had a huge volume of all of the works ever written by my favorite poet, Robert Lowell, in my book collection since 2003. The book got cracked open from time to time over the last 18 years to turn to favorites, but I never had the time to read the whole book cover to cover. Enter the pandemic. 

Poems are blessedly short, but they require a lot of concentration, or mindfulness. Watch how the words unfold on the page. Look for alliteration (when two words begin with the same letter) or rhyming couplets (when lines rhyme.)  I know, I know, it’s hard, confusing, or sounds like a bore. But give it a try!  

There are all kinds of poetry: poems in the shape of drawings; poems about sports, monuments and love. Poems can be short and inspirational like the work of 20-something author, Rupi Kaur, who’s latest collection, “Home Body” really resonates with our community around acceptance of one’s body and past traumas. If you cannot figure out what you like, go for an anthology to see what your mind gravitates towards. 

Finally, try your hand at your own masterpiece. Even if it starts with “Roses are Red, Violets are blue,”…it may end in some simple brilliance. 

What Makes This a Healing Hobby? 

Refocusing your attention on one thing, the poem in this case, will help your mind from spinning out like a teenage driver on black ice. Poetry is a stepping stone to mindfulness meditation. Reading poetry allows you to focus your mind on one singular word, sentence, or stanza. It is not overwhelming like reading a novel, or nonfiction book, because the margins of the paper offer up open space, a true oasis from our chaotic homes. 

Mindfulness meditation is one of the most accessible forms of meditation because it only requires you think about what is right in front of you. If you don’t love words, that is ok. You can count things in your space, or start with song lyrics you know, to get your head more centered. Mindfulness of the present moment is the destination. How you get there is your own journey. I love words so poems work for me… I’d love to hear what works for you!

There are so many ways to find healing in these challenging, turbulent times. Explore other activities that may bring about the same benefits offered up in this article. I hope this gives you some new hobbies with which to experiment. If you have ideas to share, post them on your social media timelines with the hashtag #CCAHealingHobbies. We can’t wait to see your creative hobbies that heal. 

Friday, March 26, 2021

Combatting Medical Stress and Trauma

On Wednesday, March 24th the CCA community came together to unpack the uncomfortable topic of medical trauma and stress. Many, if not all of us, in the CCA community struggle with some level of anxiety, sadness, and other emotional upheaval before during and after medical appointments and surgeries. 

Together with the guidance of Dr. Cynthia Monheim-Jans of Barrow Neurological Institute, Cleft and Craniofacial Care Center, we shared what happens to us before, during, and after these medical interventions. We talked about the ways our bodies and minds are affected, and some ways we can better manage what feels so unmanageable. Dr. Monheim-Jans shared some additional solutions like talking with a therapist, mindfulness techniques, and even medications to be taken under the supervision of a medical doctor or psychopharmacologist. 

It was a productive hour and fifteen minutes together, where we really only touched the tip of the iceberg of this very important mental health topic. Mental health coping techniques are some of my favorite things to share with friends and family (whether they want to hear about them or not). Please review these older posts filled with information and coping strategies that I believe you will find useful whether stressed at work or in the days before that big surgery. 

Start With Self For Mental Health 

Building Resiliency 

Ask The Therapist: Getting That Guilt Under Control 

Why You Should Write To Improve Your Mental Health 

Reuters: Children With Craniofacial Conditions Experience Increased Rates of Anxiety and Depression 

We hope to have a recording of the presentation that Dr. Monheim-Jans gave up soon in our video library and on our Youtube channel. Stay tuned!

Monday, March 1, 2021

Mabel's Labels Are 40% Off Through March 31st

EDITOR'S NOTE; Our Friends at Mabel's Labels are having a birthday celebration. We all get 40% off our purchases during the month of March. Please take advantage of this wonderful opportunity. Your purchases help CCA, too. A portion of your purchase total will also be donated to CCA to help support all the programs, events, and assistance we provide to our families. 

And now a few words from Mabel's Labels...

During the entire month of March, we’re celebrating our birthday with our biggest sale event of the year!! It’s our special thank you to all our amazing customers.

We know it’s been a hard year for your organizations and this is the best month for promoting your fundraiser and earning back lots of commission. The big savings start on March 1st and will continue until March 31st

Each week, we’ll add a new sale product! Encourage your supporters to keep up with new sale items weekly. This is the best time of the year for them to stock up on all the washable, durable labels they might need at a huge discount.