Music Therapy

I think a lot about the effects music can have on the health of the individual.  With that in mind, I would like to introduce my first guest to post:

Danielle Whitney is a junior at Blackhawk Christian School in Fort Wayne, Indiana.  She is aspiring to a career in Music Therapy after high school.  She recently wrote a paper about music therapy, and I would like to share a few excerpts.  I hope that the information she shares will whet your appetite for learning about the importance of music:

How is it that music therapy calms patients and enables them to civilly interact with people unlike other treatments used by doctors? Music is known for relieving stress and tension because when listening to music, there are chemicals released in the brain that regulate mood, reduce aggression and depression, and improve sleep (Vail). These chemicals (melatonin, norepinephrine, epinephrine, serotonin, and prolactin) are released from separate parts of the brain, and can be measured in blood tests. As mentioned earlier, these blood tests are extremely important in that they are one of the few tangible ways to measure the progress of therapy. There are several factors that weigh in to determine how far patients have developed through therapy, but most of the progress made is not measurable by set standards. This is why blood tests are so crucial.

Research has shown that after experiencing music therapy, immediate results could consist of an increase in the patient’s likelihood to have “reduced muscle tension, improved self-image/increased self-esteem, decreased anxiety/agitation, increased verbalization, enhanced interpersonal relationships, improved group cohesiveness, increased motivation, and successful and safe emotional release” (“Mental Health” n.p.).

Dr. Oliver Sacks is a profound author, neurobiologist, and professor at Columbia University Medical Center in New York City. He has been involved in many research-based projects dealing with music therapy and its effects on patients receiving treatment. In his book, Awakenings, Dr. Sacks reports that, “Patients with neurological disorders who cannot talk or move are often able to sing, and sometimes even dance, to music. Its advocates say music therapy can help ease the trauma of grieving, lessen depression, and provide an outlet for people who are otherwise withdrawn” (“Quotes”). Dr. Sacks was later interviewed by NPR about a case he dealt with where music therapy was used in recovery . He reported that a patient, who had never been exposed to or interested in music, was now being drawn to learning more about music and became so consumed in it that once recovered, his life was so drastically changed that he incorporated musical intervention in areas even outside of treatment (“Role”).

Danielle’s references for the above:

“Music Therapy and Mental Health.” Musictherapy. n.d. American Music Therapy Association Inc.     Web. 04 Mar. 2012.

Vail, Jane. “Music Therapy Helps Alzheimer’s Patients.” Shands Arts in Medicine. Apr. 2000. Web. 01             Mar. 2012.

“Definitions and Quotes about Music Therapy.” Musictherapy. n.d. American Music Therapy             Association. Web. 08 Mar. 2012.

“Alzheimer’s Disease: The Role of Music Therapy in Symptom Palliation.” Serendip’s Exchange. 24             Feb. 2009. Serendip’s Home. Web. 28 Feb. 2012.


Warning Signs of Good Health

12 Warning Signs of Good Health


1.    Persistent presence of supportive friends

2.    Chronic positive expectations—a tendency to frame things in a positive light

3.    Regular signs of joy in living

4.    Sense of spiritual renewal in Christ

5.    Increased sensitivity to others

6.    A tendency to adapt to changing conditions

7.    Increased appetite for physical activity

8.    Tendency to identify and communicate feelings

9.    Repeated episodes of gratitude and generosity

10.   Compulsion to care for other people

11.   Persistent sense of humor.  Known to laugh out loud

12.   A life centered in the forgiveness of Christ

Reposted from Wheat Ridge Ministries

Don’t get old!

It seems almost every day in the clinic someone recites to me that familiar line, “Don’t get old!” I usually respond that there are two choices: grow old, or die young!
I understand. People say that because their bodies aren’t working the way they used to.
They’re in pain, or they are prevented from doing some of the things they love to do. Sometimes they are referring to other events taking place in their lives, like losing their friends to death, or having to take care of an ailing spouse instead of enjoying retirement.
We weren’t meant to grow old and deteriorate. The Bible teaches we were made to live in fellowship with God, but man chose to leave that fellowship. He chose to disobey the One who made him. Man’s disobedience put a stain on the entire world, and cursed creation to be prone to decay and deterioration. No one can escape this cycle while here on earth. We all feel it.
Yet God made a provision for us. He sent His son, Jesus Christ, to erase the stain of disobedience and decay. Jesus died to pay for our disobedience, and is preparing a place for us in heaven where we can live forever without worry of “getting old.” He said, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?” Powerful words, words of hope, and a future.
The deterioration and pain we experience in this world is a reminder that we are not yet in our permanent home, with God, as we were created to be. If this world were perfect, would we long for the next? If we never experienced pain, and if we didn’t get old, would we ever want to leave? Pain now serves purpose. It makes us long for home. It makes sweet the promise of seeing our Savior at the end of this life. It erases the fear of dying, and renews our faith in what life was meant to be. I believe we can live with hope. Hope of our eternal home, which overshadows the physical and emotional pain of this life.
This fact is well expressed in a poem I came across by Dora Johnson.
You tell me I’m getting old, I tell you not so;
The “house” I live in is worn out–and, that, of course, I know,
It’s been in use a long, long while, it’s weathered many a gale;
I’m really not surprised you think it’s getting somewhat frail.
The color’s changing on the roof, the window’s getting dim,
The wall’s a bit transparent, and looking rather trim.
The fountain’s not so steady as once it used to be.
My house is getting shaky, but my house isn’t me!
My few short years can’t make me old–I feel I’m in my youth;
Eternity lies just ahead, a life of joy and truth,
I’m going to live forever there; life will go on–it’s grand!
You tell me I’m getting old? You just don’t understand!
The dweller in my little house is bright and young and gay.
Just starting out on a life to last throughout eternal day.
You only see the outside, which is all that most folks see.
You tell me I’m getting old? You’ve mixed my house with me!


Photo courtesy of Tami Werling

Sunshine on my shoulders makes me happy!

Research the last few years has been proving that Vitamin D, produced in our bodies by sunshine, is an excellent help to our  immune system.  But the benefits of sunshine don’t stop there!  Sunshine is also directly related to how much melatonin and serotonin are present in our brains.  Melatonin affects our sleep, and serotonin affects our mood, so lack of both makes us tired and grumpy! serotonin also helps to decrease inflammation in the brain, keeping it healthy.  The amount of sunshine a person is exposed to during a given day is directly related to a feeling of well-being due to rising serotonin levels.  Sunshine is also known to be an appetite suppressant!

Sunshine carried a bad wrap for many years as people overexposed themselves and caused skin cancers to soar.  Now we are realizing we also need the sun to be healthy.

Everything in moderation, friends!

poem: home

This has nothing to do with my site, really, but I took on a challenge to write about what “Home” means to me, and I wrote my first poem!  Here it is!:


A homemade bouquet of pink simplicity roses

Puppies sniffing with little wet noses

Corn husking, boiling, buttering, eating

Family round the table greeting

The mud ‘tween my toes, the baa in the barn

Dew covered foreheads, the afghan yarn

The clothes on the line, Grandma baking

Hoeing, raking, noodle making

Poppies bursting, salvia springing

Putt, putt, Grandpa’s tractor singing

Sleigh bells clang on the kitchen door

Announce Dad’s return from doing the chores

Hummingbirds buzzing flower to flower

Entertaining us evenings, hour by hour

Thunderclouds form in the western sky

We in our lawn chairs, watch till they’re nigh

Cousins just drop in to visit a spell

Scolding wren playing her part so well

Sunshine that warms my head and my heart

Autumn colors, God’s wonderful art

Observing each tiny bee and each bug

Little arms stretched for an afternoon hug

Bushels of love, and chats on the swing

Bluebirds returning to homes every spring

Playing with kittens, hiking the creek

Sunday afternoon with friends at the lake

Tightrope walking on an old log

Lively days catching turtles and frogs

Sorting potatoes from common field rocks

Tall trees shading, and doors without locks

Long drives with ice cream to look at the crops

Fences with blooms from bottoms to tops

Spring peepers calling their song from the hollow

My Bible with pages that beckon me, “follow”

A stroll in the woods, praises ringing

Enjoy God’s creation, even birds singing

Dutchman’s Britches abloom in the woods

Mom showing off her garden goods

Hayrides, four wheelers, John Deere green

Help to set my favorite scenes

Swingin, bangin, screen doors slammin

Apple picking, campfires cracklin

Carving a pumpkin, and climbing a tree

That’s what “home” means to me!


This site is dedicated to my mother, Marlene Goss Volkert, June 23, 1936-July 12, 2011.  Mom was a learner and a teacher every day of her life, and passed so much love and knowledge on to others.  Everything in her life was an opportunity to learn or to teach.  One of her favorite topics was nature.  I could never count the hours we spent with Mom in the woods or in the fields talking about insects, leaves, wildflowers, and wildlife.  Below are a few pictures of Mom, in her typical fashion, pointing out beautiful things that God has made.  The little girl in the red sweater is Abby, at age 2.