The Bless

The Bless

Cancer is an unbelievable, heartbreaking, and trying diagnosis. Experiences and prognoses differ, but overall, it can be perceived as a big mess, wreaking havoc through a “normal” life.

Could there be a “bless” in a mess?

It’s an interesting question and one that has often been written about. I think it’s worth exploring anew as a way to give some meaning, hope, peace, or healing in some way. It can also apply to what the general worldwide population is going through regarding COVID-19.

At Healing Winds Vermont, we try to make a positive difference by offering a therapeutic sailing escape and regularly sharing information that might make things a tad bit lighter for you and your family.

Please nominate someone for one of our relaxing and spirit-lifting sails today.

For this week’s blog post, I specifically reached out to some local cancer patients, survivors, and caregivers.


Here are some of their thoughts:

  • It forced me to ask for help. I always hated asking for help. But, with cancer, I had to. It lightened the load.
  • I stopped sweating the small stuff.
  • I was always go-go-go. I felt I could slow down without being perceived as lazy (mostly by me).
  • Breathe! I realized that I needed to take time to relax and just breathe.
  • I learned how to delegate and how to appreciate it.
  • The love and kindness that others showed to me and my family was incredibly touching and beautiful and sometimes even breathtaking. I don’t know quite how to describe it, but it is something that will stay with me forever.
  • I have gratitude for my partner, friends, and family.
  • I stopped having stress about everything. I just focused on getting better. It was a great gift.
  • LOVE.
  • I finally had time to finish the books on my nightstand.
  • I realized being brave meant I could be stoic AND allow myself to break down in tears.
  • I am learning how to breathe and find calm when anxiety and fear would start to overwhelm me.
  • I found a way to cook broccoli that tasted good.
  • I reconnected with my sister after 14 years. We now talk weekly.
  • I was able to experience what I think I always thought to be correct, but maybe I didn’t KNOW for sure – that there is excellent power in seeking and showing joy and love every day. That was one thing I could control. I found that it helped lift me when I was feeling scared or sad. And I think it deepened my faith knowing that I was never walking alone.
  • I understood that we never really can know what another person is dealing with – appearances are deceitful. Most of us are probably waging some kind of personal battle at any given moment.
  • My dachshund puppy.

Whether you are experiencing cancer or COVID, I invite you to entertain what might be a “bless” right now.

Maybe today your answer is, “nothing.”

Maybe tomorrow offers a different one.

Blessings to all.

Find Your Lighthouse

Find Your Lighthouse



We are in the midst of a storm.

COVID-19 can feel all encompassing, unrelenting, and unpredictable. Waves of stress and anxiety have been moving through all populations, throwing people off balance and resulting in emotional upset and fatigue.

What does one do when personal steadiness is being challenged?

Find your lighthouse.

This beacon has been a historical symbol of goodwill, a navigational guide representing strength, support, and protection. Its light gives information, comfort, and warning.

During this temporary period of difficulty, it’s essential to identify what can give you moments of respite.

At Healing Winds Vermont, we want to be a navigational resource for you and your family before, during, and after your sail. Some things we are thinking about for supporting cancer patients and their families include a podcast, guest bloggers, short informative videos and a resources page on our website.

Here are some simple things you can do that may bring you to calmer waters:


Stop spinning thoughts by dropping into your body and slowing down your breath. When you focus on your breathing, you find a way to be present in the moment. When you are present in the moment, you are not worrying about the future. Slowly inhale, expanding the belly. Hold two to three seconds. Slowly exhale, bringing navel to spine. The longer you exhale, the more calming it is to the nervous system; this is why chanting can feel so relaxing.


Human touch can be very comforting. Since we are unable to benefit from professional massage right now, here is a gentle and self-soothing approach that moves lymph, enhancing immune support. Grab a pillow and place it on your lap. Bend your left arm at the elbow, resting your forearm on the pillow. Bring your right arm across your body and cup your left elbow with your right hand. Gently stroke from your elbow up the left arm to the left shoulder to the left side of the collarbone and drop down to the elbow. Repeat up to 10 times. Move to the other side.


There are many studies about the role of lavender, reducing stress, and promoting relaxation. Try a spray, an oil, or a roll-on and see how it can help. I like to put a drop on a tissue and keep it in my purse to pull out, as needed. (Please be careful with using certain essential oils around your pets, however.)

Remember When

Think about a time when you were anxious and how you transformed/toned down or eliminated that feeling – what makes you feel safe? What makes you feel loved? What is a daily ritual you engage in that grounds you?

We welcome other suggestions on what you might find most helpful and supportive. In the meantime, if you know of someone who could benefit from a beautiful escape on Lake Champlain, please nominate them today. Our plan is to have Gypsy Wind in the water by the end of May. We hope to be sailing later this summer per Governor Scott’s instructions. Stay tuned! 

How Can We Help You?

How Can We Help You?

Nature entertains, inspires, teaches and heals. It relieves stress, lowers cortisol levels and can allow you to enter awe-inspired flow states more readily.

At its very core, Healing Winds Vermont is about offering beautiful escapes in nature through our free three-hour sails on picturesque Lake Champlain. We sincerely hope to offer our sailing excursions this year and encourage you to nominate loved ones that could benefit from this healing experience. To ensure the safety for all, this will likely be later in the season. You can trust that we will keep our eyes on the horizon and be a dependable resource for you, no matter which way the winds may blow.

As a past nominee, I am grateful to have enjoyed the magic of Healing Winds Vermont first-hand and am honored to take on the role of Executive Director during this unprecedented time. I look forward to building upon the inspiring work of Healing Winds Vermont, and serving Vermonters in the highest and best way. I invite you to learn more about my story HERE.

Photo credit: Kathleen Carey, Healing Winds Vermont Volunteer and mask-maker extraordinaire. 

Thinking Differently

During this unique time of collective uncertainty and sadness due to COVID-19, we are looking for creative and alternative ways to be a resource for you and your families. Please like our Healing Winds Vermont Facebook page, and share some of the things you are doing right now for self-care and giving back during this period of difficulty. We want to hear about approaches that are helping you, so that we can share with other past and present nominees, their families and the community.

Having Cancer is Hard Enough

Moving through cancer during the new world of COVID-19 layers on its own additional challenges and stressors. Acknowledging the fear that these drastic changes cause can help. Make a practice of regularly expressing your emotions, be excessively gentle with yourself, and as my wise cancer counselor Kathy McBeth likes to say, “Keep your head over your feet.”

Share What Interests You

As for new and virtual offerings, we want to hear what, if any, you might find of interest:

  • Calming the Mind
  • Stress Relief
  • Enhanced Energy
  • Getting Better Sleep
  • More Online Resources for Nominees and their Families
  • Being More Connected with the Healing Winds Vermont Community
  • Recorded Guided Meditations
  • Participating in Fun Escapes (from the safety of your home)

We’ll soon be sending out a survey via email. If you haven’t yet subscribed to our e-newsletter or email updates, please do so here. You can depend on us to contact you with helpful and interesting news and updates, plus requests for feedback on how we can continue to serve you better.

Some Ways I’ve Been Reducing Stress

While staying home and doing my part in trying to flatten the curve, I’ve been learning all kinds of new tech platforms and setting (and resetting) boundaries in multiple areas of my life. I’m trying to eat more of the foods that nourish me, go on a news diet, and go to bed a little earlier (all easier said than done). Listed below are some things that have been effective in taking the edge off for me:

  • Walking outside on nearby nature trails and around my neighborhood
  • Hugging my two cats (much to their chagrin!) and husband (he’s happier than they are about this)
  • Writing letters (some to send, some to heal); journaling
  • Listening to music – Classical during the day (Baroque Adagio is particularly good for concentration with lots of great choices on YouTube) and fun, mood lifting 80’s music in the evening!
  • Practicing gratitude – Specifically, a “Three Best Things” daily recap with my husband each evening
  • Connecting with loved ones through video-chats, phone calls and emails
  • Quieting “busy mind” with short meditations and gentle movement practices like yoga and qigong

A Rising Tide Lifts All Boats

Finally, we want to thank you for maintaining your past connection with us – whether you have been a nominee, family member, donor, volunteer or community partner. For those of you who are just now learning about Healing Winds Vermont, we invite you to join us during this landmark year of change. We’re all in this together.

All of us at Healing Winds Vermont remain a resource of respite for you and your families.