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Seeking beauty:

Area women enjoy health and wellness day

May 5, 2008
Holli Sunderland
LEWISTOWN — A healthy understanding of a woman’s beauty was the focus of the Friends of Lewistown Hospital’s Women’s Health and Wellness Day on Saturday.

The ‘Renew, Refresh and Reconnect’ included presentations from five guest speakers, health screenings to build a woman’s sense of awareness and numerous exhibitors.

In a book from the National Speaking of Women’s Health Foundation, on display at the event, the opening passage defined beauty as follows:

“There is the obvious beauty — what is visible on the surface ... your appearance. There is the beauty that is unseen, which comes from within and radiates outward.”

In the next to last seminar of the day, Candace Carper, owner of a yoga business in Lewistown, spoke of breathing, stress and the unhealthy aspects of obsessing over beauty.

“Everybody thinks you have to suck in your gut so you feel like you’re really skinny, but that’s not really good to do,” she said, before offering breathing techniques.

“Fill yourself up with air,” she said. “Another big inhalation, then another big exhalation can really help control your stress. You know stress can kill you. If nothing else, you can control your breathing.”

Nancy Laub used her experience as a Juniata Valley Master Gardener to speak to women on Saturday at the seminar ‘Herbs Made Simple.’

She spoke of the perennial, a flower that returns each year; the annual, a flower that lasts one year that isn’t to return; and the tender perennial.

“That’s a perennial that in a common winter isn’t going to last in Mifflin County,” she said.

Laub distributed two information packets in her seminar, and written at the end of one of these were the words “The time and effort are worth it. A real stress reliever.”

The stress reliever for women that Laub was referring to is planting and cooking with herbs. However, Laub’s own definition of beauty had a connection with wellness and relaxation for things beyond her personal, flower-laden ‘labor of love.’

“To me, beauty would be something that makes you happy,” Laub said.

Keria Meals, communications coordinator at Lewistown Hospital, said she feels beauty is closely connected to self-esteem and self-actualization.

“I don’t think you can experience true beauty through the mirror until you feel good on the inside,” she said.

Women’s health expectancy isn’t as long as it used to be, she said, explaining why it was important to raise a woman’s sense of awareness about one’s own sense of well-being.

She also described a new health screening during the event. The device would help people who used it get an idea of sun damage as a risk factor for cancer, said Sherry Sanders, a cancer awareness educator from Hershey Medical Center.

On the table by Sanders and her co-educator, Michelle Moore, were pamphlets on reducing cancer risks, an assessment on cancer risk and a brochure called ‘Less Stress ... 100 Rules For a Great Life.”

A quick read of the brochure revealed some ideas that stood out from the others, such as:

= Number 24 — Don’t waste your time with complainers and whiners. Tell them to leave you alone, go away, get lost, take a hike, get out of town, put a sock in it, you’ll be friends when they stop whining. And if you’re the one who’s whining, please quit — you’re driving the rest of us crazy.

= Number 89 —Try singing out loud a couple of times a day.

= Number 57 — Be generous, don’t be afraid to express your feelings, don’t give up your dreams. Joan Lepley, 51, of Alfarata, came to the event with her own collection of handouts.

Lepley said she listened enthusiastically to the first two speakers of the day, Terry McMinn, a registered nurse at the hospital who has specialization in oncology nursing, and Dr. Virginia M. Wray.

While Lepley said she liked both speakers, she didn’t know that she and Wray would share a common philosophy when it came to defining beauty.

“I think it’s how people act. If you’re kind to people, if you care about people,” that is beauty, Lepley said.

Wray’s thoughts on beauty would unknowingly mingle the ideas of both Lepley and Meals.

“I think appreciating the value of life in you and other people (is beautiful). A smile, kindness and it’s definitely something that comes from the inside out, an appreciation of life that’s contagious,” Wray said. Inside the “Chicken Soup for the Woman’s Soul at Midlife” pamphlet, Sharon M. Stanford touched on the subject of the changing perception of beauty in her narrative.

Stanford shares her story of a time when worries about pimples and being in embarrassing situations could make a female teary-eyed in high school. But in womanhood, her girlhood concerns seem to have changed, she wrote.

“Well, I guess I look at old age differently. Sure, I wish I was twenty pounds lighter, and I have hot flashes and bursitis in my shoulder, but I can live with those things,” Stanford wrote.

“My mother died of cancer when she was forty-eight years old. She never got to experience what I’m experiencing now.

So I welcome old age with all its aches and pains. Old age is a blessing, and that’s just how I’m going to treat it,” she wrote.

Article Photos

Sentinel photo by MATT STRICKER
Pat Meals, right, of Port Royal, looks away as student nurse Rhona Armstrong pricks Meals' finger while performing a blood glucose test during the Women's Health and Wellness Day, held Saturday at the Lewistown Recreation Center. The event was sponsored by Friends of Lewistown Hospital, and the information booth was sponsored by the Lewistown Hospital School of Nursing.



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