Good Food, Good Cells: How Proper Nutrition Supports A Healthy Body

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by Shannon Roznay

Which of the following scenarios applies to you?

  • You’re feeling fine and you go to your medical doctor for your annual physical. You are shocked to hear that your blood work comes back showing borderline diabetes and your doctor is putting you on medication…


  • Or, your energy is dragging, you haven’t been feeling your best for a while. You feel like something is wrong and you go to your doctor for blood work and she tells you there is nothing wrong with you, you are perfectly healthy. You leave wondering how it is possible. Or, your doctor may even suggest that your symptoms are due to stress, or it’s all in your head, and then recommend antidepressants or antianxiety medications…


  • Or, you are somewhat overweight and no matter how hard you try, no amount of exercise or dieting takes any weight off at all? You are completely frustrated and are ready to give up, even though you really don’t like being overweight…

These are some of the most common complaints I see as a holistic health doctor, but there are many, many more. Joint pain, migraines, digestive problems, infertility, insomnia, high blood pressure, thyroid problems, sugar cravings, you name it! Hundreds of people are walking around experiencing symptoms that are preventing them from fully enjoying their life and reaching their fullest potential.

And I find one thing that everyone suffering from these various symptoms has and it’s this—they are all eating food that isn’t good for them. 
Your whole body is made of cells — you may remember this from biology class — and your cells are always dying. But you are still alive because your body is constantly growing new cells. Have you ever stopped to consider where your body gets the material it needs to grow the new cells? Well, you may have guessed by now, but the material is acquired from the food you eat.

The ramifications of eating “bad” foods is that your body grows “bad” cells. And then one or more of the organs in your body develops dysfunction. And when that happens, you will develop symptoms. And it can be any of the symptoms we mentioned above or many others as well. Major illnesses like Alzheimer’s and cancer have this same root cause. From my 17 years in the holistic health field, I have found most Americans are eating way too much sugar, toxic chemicals, and other products that prevent their bodies from growing healthy cells. And when people are not feeling well, and their energy is flagging, what do they do? They reach for junk food! And thus a vicious cycle is created in which they keep feeling worse and worse and getting sicker and sicker.

Sugar, processed foods (including genetically modified foods), and excess caffeine are not only lacking in nutrition, but actually cause nutritional deficiencies because the body must use vitamins and minerals to try and stay balanced when we consume these things.

Stress is another cause of deficiency, depleting the system of magnesium, B vitamins, and Vitamin C to name a few. With chronic stress often comes chronic health issues like frequent colds, anxiety, insomnia, and hormone imbalance. Our organs take a beating, especially our brain and adrenal glands, which then cause all kinds of symptoms. Are you getting the idea? A lack of proper nutrition will cause organs to malfunction, which leads to symptoms and eventually disease. 

So what is proper nutrition? Most people know they should eat vegetables, but beyond that things get confusing. Many subscribe to a low carbohydrate or ketogenic diet, while others say a vegetarian or vegan diet is best. How do you know what’s right for you?

Its’s true there are variations from person to person on what foods should be eaten and in what quantity. Some people don’t tolerate onions and garlic, although these are certainly very health foods for a lot of folks. Others have major trouble with tomatoes and peppers. These issues are usually identified through trial and error, noticing that you don’t feel well after eating a specific item, but often the real culprits can go unnoticed because sometimes the offending food doesn’t cause symptoms until several days later.

Over so many years helping people improve and recover their health using dietary changes and supplementation I have seen many types of conditions and just as many solutions. My advice for anyone struggling with their health would be to start by eating nourishing foods—minimally processed, whole ingredient, occurring in nature foods. A simple thing to change is the type of fats and oils you consume, ideally sticking with butter, coconut oil, avocadoes, and nuts, plus fat occurring in healthfully raised proteins like eggs, fish, and meat. Another strategy is to buy produce that’s organic, or even better, that’s local and hasn’t been treated with chemicals. And of course, check any labels for sugar because, as we discussed earlier, it’s a major cause of deficiency, inflammation, and ultimately ill health.

If making changes to your diet causes an improvement in how you feel, keep it up! It takes time to heal naturally and symptoms are the first thing to disappear, but full healing takes at least a few months and sometimes a year or more. Know that the body is an amazing machine that can endure and recover from major assaults if given the right tools.

If you think you are stuck in a vicious cycle of bad food and poor health, I have good news for you. There is hope! We have helped thousands of people restore their health, safely and naturally, without the use of drugs or surgery, by simply helping them sort out their diet and recommending specific supplementation to correct deficiencies and help the body heal. I have seen some very sick folks improve from simple dietary changes once they know the exact changes to make. It’s amazing how powerful food can be!


Dr. Shannon Roznay, D.C., is a doctor of chiropractic and specializes in using Nutrition Response Testing to help people improve every area of health. For more information you can visit Dr. Roznay online at thrive-wellness-center.com or give them at call at 734-470-6766. Thrive Wellness Center is located at 6901 State Road, Suite D in Saline.

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Posted on May 1, 2019 and filed under Columns, Food & Nutrition, Health, ISSUE 72.

The Feminine Face of God in Ann Arbor

I posed many similar questions to different spiritual leaders in our community in an effort to educate myself about the Ann Arbor goddess scene. They all recognized the dominant masculine energies which pervade our society and still they were hopeful, funny, erudite, and, most importantly, wise. They helped me see that I wasn’t confused, but that the grander cosmos was unaligned.

Crazy Wisdom Kids in the Community-- Mindfulness with Barbara Newell, Joy Aleccia, and Anique Pegeron

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by Laura Cowan

Of all the to-dos on my mom list, the most upsetting and hilarious has to be self-care through meditation. I do actually have a supportive spouse, I work flexible hours, and I only have one kid. Still, the idea of adding one more to-do in addition to taking care of everyone around me — taking care of myself and forcing myself to calm down — is high in irony and low in fiber. 

Currently I’m launching a tech blog with my husband, writing magazine articles, nursing a sick puppy, keeping up with a kid who is determined to catch every strain of flu this side of the Mississippi, and writing my twelfth novel, while planning all the family vacations… so we can relax. And… I’m one of the privileged moms who gets to choose how she spends her days. I know if you’re a single working parent or doing the stay-at-home thing instead of juggling work, you’re probably dealing with something much harder, like taking care of aging parents while raising babies. 

For a parent to prioritize keeping calm is inevitably required. That’s one of the reasons mindfulness meditation is a growing trend breaking into the mainstream. It is a type of self-care that helps people, moms in particular, stop and smell the roses and refresh themselves. It’s about living in the doing instead of just another to-do.

According to Ann Arbor mindfulness coach Barbara Newell, this world we live in of thinking and improving and doing often leaves no space for feeling. Mindfulness meditation, which teaches ways to be present in daily life, is trending with parents and high-performing professionals. It helps us bridge that tendency in our culture from being carried away by thinking about all the things that need to be done to just acknowledging thoughts as they pass. 

Kids are now getting into the mix as well, learning tools to cope with the stresses of school. Parents know it's harder on kids these days to keep up. Kids are seriously stressed by the load of over-scheduling and high-achieving school standards, especially in a place like Ann Arbor, where my nine-year-old can already opt into advanced math programs or take after-school activities until she drops. If I let her. I did bring her to AAPS in second grade because her smaller district wasn’t challenging her, but there is a down side to every school system as wonderful as Ann Arbor’s. I’ve learned to say no to practically everything to manage the barrage of opportunities we don’t have the energy to balance. Yes, I force self-care and balance down my family’s throats like brussel sprouts. It’s good for them. We will not be stressed out and exhausted, so help me if it’s the last thing I do. Right. Where was I? 

Mindfulness meditation has recently experienced explosive growth in popularity, including in Ann Arbor, because research studies with evidence-based findings keep showing improvements across the board in people’s physical and emotional health using the practice. People are learning that mindfulness is a very simple way of connecting with a self-care routine that doesn’t require a lot of time, spiritual study, or any particular belief system. 

Here’s why it works for parents and kids: mindfulness meditation isn’t a prescribed routine. It's a skill we can learn to check in with ourselves. So instead of worrying that I haven't done enough meditating today, I use this skill to check in and get real about what’s happening. “How am I feeling when the P.T.A. asked me to volunteer even though that lady I’ve never met gives me the side eye and a guy almost just ran me off the road while I was doing carpool?” I’m feeling like it might be a good night to chill out with a movie and the family and push the business accounting to tomorrow. Another burnout moment avoided. When I check in with how I feel more regularly, I don’t have a chance to get so off track trying to force myself to get everything done. My body thanks me. I have more energy. I stay healthier. Can somebody please teach my puppy mindfulness? 

If it helps to get started by joining a group, there are now many sitting groups around Ann Arbor. Online sites like Mindful City Ann Arbor (mindfulcityannarbor.org) list ways to join groups in town. Several local teachers offer classes tailored to parents and kids, like at Barbara Newell’s group Grove Emotional Health Collaborative, where two different coaches work with parents and teens to create healthy routines for daily life. The experience can range from a relaxing way to end the day with a supportive group of friends to coaching that comes to you to teach kids ways to relax and stay present with themselves through stressful moments. 

I sat down with a few of my favorite coaches to discuss the benefits of mindfulness and how it works. There are tons more groups around town. Happy meditating, parents. Moreover, happy saying no to the P.T.A., God bless ’em and the important work that they do. 

Mindfulness for Parents

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Barbara Newell works as a mindfulness coach alongside a group of therapists and one other mindfulness coach, Anique Pegeron. Newell’s study of mindfulness goes all the way back to 1974, when someone handed her Thich Nhat Hanh’s Miracle of Mindfulness. In 1992 she began attending the Zen temple in Ann Arbor and received a copy of Thich Nhat Hanh's book Touching Peace from its resident priest. Her studies would take her to living with Thich Nhat Hanh's monastic community in France for twelve years before returning to the United States.


She has a quiet peaceful way about her and sat with me in an empty room at the Grove offices on Main Street, where we added our own lamp and chairs, like a meditation circle. I could tell right away she was well-suited to this work. She carries herself like a nun who meditates at regular hours (as an Ann Arbor kid raised in Catholic school who’s known a lot of Buddhists, I’ve been around a lot of nuns).

Newell said she works with clients to identify ways they can use mindfulness in their daily lives, not as a meditation practice, but to be used while going through their routines, in order to be more present and enjoy their lives more. 

What are the most common challenges for people in a mindfulness circle or coaching session? “There are a whole world of needs, tasks, and challenges,” Newell said. “We can feel caught up in the doing and lose contact with the spirit of why — the meaning of life and the expression of love for our family.” 

Newell said her class on mindfulness grows out of individual coaching with parents. She said she was surprised to hear how busy parents are these days, even just the sheer amount of driving they do for their kids. There are also a growing number of anxiety disorders among kids presenting in her practice, and she seeks to help families address the stress of daily life in ways that work for them without adding one more to-do item to their list. 

That’s why Newell doesn’t call her class Mindful Parenting, but Mindfulness for Parents. Parents don’t need another stressful standard for perfect parenting. It can be overwhelming enough to fit in all the things parents need to do in a day. What this class and others do is create space for parents to process their lives and reorient. With renewed awareness, they can apply their own values and priorities to their roles as parents and enjoy it. 

“What can seem selfish for a moment [in taking the time for a mindfulness class] pays dividends to everyone around you if you take time for yourself so you can be more present,” she said.


Mindfulness is often taught as a two-part practice here: 

1. As a sitting meditation or formal practice, a time to pause and be present. With practice, this becomes more habitual and easier to integrate into the day. 

2. As an informal practice that weaves a sense of presence into the day, to pause as we do things and enjoy the moment or just be present with ourselves to witness what is going on and stay with ourselves whether we are enjoying it or not. 

When we are present with ourselves, we give ourselves the opportunity to make a fresh choice in the moment of how we want to orient our focus. Do we want to look in our loved ones’ eyes and feel connection? Do we want to stop and smell the fresh air while stopped at a traffic light? Do we want to stay present with how we’re feeling and support ourselves through a difficult moment? Mindfulness is not about forcing yourself to sit on a cushion and think or breathe, Newell emphasized. In fact, one of her favorite practices is to help clients identify where their natural passions and joy in life are, and be mindful in those moments. She asks what their day is like. What do they enjoy? Is it skiing? Is it music? Being present in those moments is not a cookie cutter approach. It’s a selected focus on showing up for what’s meaningful to us personally. 

Finally, Newell said it can be helpful for parents to have a group of like-minded individuals to support them and hear how challenging it can be to parent these days. Her groups are composed of many different kinds of parents, ages, and lifestyles, but her classes are often filled with working parents. 

You can reach Barbara Newell at Grove Emotional Health Collaborative’s office on Main Street at www.groveemotionalhealth.com or by contacting her at barbara@groveemotionalhealth.com and (734) 224-3822 x113.

Some Relief and Go-To Techniques For Kids

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I met Joy Aleccia when our daughters took yoga together for two summers. It’s one positive side effect of being in a town where kids get into the fun of mindful exercise and green living — you meet a lot of like-minded parents. Joy Aleccia co-founded Seek Wellness in Ann Arbor with her business partner Karin Elling-Gardner, a chef and registered dietician. Aleccia is a yoga therapist and Reiki master who works specifically with kids to create a holistic approach to wellness. Her offerings include coaching in mindfulness as well as nutrition, Reiki, and other healing modalities. Aleccia works often with children who are dealing with anxiety or O.C.D., ages 5 to 9, and also with local Brownie troops. What’s unique about her business is that she will come to a parent’s home to work with one or more children in their own space. This is great for families that want support without joining a group class. She said one of her greatest tasks is to blend into their space to make them comfortable while she’s teaching them ways to relax in a stressful moment. 

Aleccia teaches kids simple ways they can stretch, meditate, or play games that help them feel good in the middle of their day. “We’re just strengthening your armor so you can feel better, not perfect,” she said. A veteran yoga teacher, she added, “I always include a few yoga poses because it’s another tool in the toolbox.” She shows kids poses that are designed for relaxation, such as the Rag Doll dangling pose that can calm you when you’re feeling overwhelmed. She also includes a practice of kids putting their feet up a wall while lying down and also helps them learn to breathe deeply for relaxation. 

Several sessions in a row with her young clients are followed later by a refresher. Aleccia can also teach kids how to ground using visualization techniques that are super simple, such as helping them imagine themselves as a tree with roots reaching down into the ground. This helps orient them in the present and stay with themselves during stressful moments. 

Aleccia says that one of the keys to mindfulness she picked up in a TED talk, where the speaker talked about how if you take the stairs instead of the elevator and your legs start burning, your heart rate elevates, you’re not thinking, “Oh no, I’m taking the stairs wrong.” It’s just a new experience of a different way to get upstairs that comes with new sensations, and we know this intuitively. When we meditate, we tend to judge ourselves too soon and think that we are no good at it. People tend to talk themselves out of mindfulness meditation because they think they’re doing it wrong, Aleccia said. Kids don’t have that expectation, so it can be easier to work with them and their willingness to try a new experience. 

Joy Aleccia is reachable for in-home meeting and office visits at her website www.a2seekwellness.com, by phone at (734) 274-5310, and by email at contact@a2seekwellness.com.

Mindfulness for Teens

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Mindfulness coach Anique Pegeron grew up in Ann Arbor, so she knows all about the high expectations and packed schedules we value. When Pegeron was in high school, she was told “calm down” or “pay attention” with very little instruction as to how to do that. Her inspiration came from wanting to create a better method for teens today to learn how to process the pressures of life with a road map for relaxation and self-care. Pegeron started with mindfulness summer camps for kids at County Farm Park, a program she still runs from her website Mindful World (mindful-world.com). It is focused on nature, games, yoga, creating community, and teaching small ways kids can practice mindfulness for their own benefit. 

The next logical step was to extend the programs to teens, Pegeron said, through her Right Now Mindfulness and Yoga for Teens class. She prepared for her coaching with a program in California called Mindful Schools (mindfulschools.org) where mindfulness was already big a few years back, and added that on to her bachelor’s in psychology and master’s in education. She realized that families wanted to learn more about mindfulness as it went mainstream. 

Pegeron also works at Grove Emotional Health Collaborative. She said it’s great to be a coach that works with teens looking for tips to cope with daily life. It allows her to support them with the latest offerings from the mindfulness movement. She also loves helping them learn that in a society that encourages seeking healing externally, mindfulness can help us seek what we need internally. This can be great for building self-esteem and resourcefulness throughout life. 

“It’s not about getting it right or doing it one way,” she said. Pegeron works with teens to find their best way to connect with themselves in the midst of a lot of pressure to succeed or organize their lives, so they stay in touch with what is really important to them and know they have the resources internally to succeed. “The road within is there for all of us but is blocked,” she said. “[This helps] remove the barriers.”

Pegeron said her education in Ann Arbor was great, but it filled her mind with a lot of information instead of giving her instruction about the nature of her mind. She believes that because Ann Arbor is a high-achieving town, mindfulness is having its moment here, and we really need these tools to deal with pressure. 

One of her best tips to understand mindfulness is this: treat yourself like you would treat a friend. She is teaching more these days on mindful self-compassion, she said, because we tend to be so much harder on ourselves than we are on others. Learning to pay attention to how we treat ourselves can make all the difference in creating a balanced life. 

Pegeron seconds the idea that mindfulness suits Ann Arbor because of the scientific research backing it up as more than a spiritual practice. It’s completely nondenominational, which means it works not only for people whose focus and lifestyle orients around scientific process but also for people who are religious but don’t want to practice any kind of meditation that combines their spiritual practices with those of another religion. For some, mindfulness opens up the path to other spiritual practices that might benefit them. For others, it’s a simple tool that excludes spiritual practice, which can be a relief for those who are non-religious or recovering from religious abuse. 

So what happens when you don’t want to be present with discomfort and befriend your own experience? Pegeron said it’s about befriending yourself in whatever situation you find yourself, not numbing out and creating an overwhelm, because, she said, what we resist persists. “Can you learn to befriend your own emotions, knowing they’re part of human experience,” even when they’re not comfortable? Pegeron said this is preferable to avoiding discomfort, because that often leads to situations piling up on us. In fact, she said, mindfulness helps us sharpen our discernment of uncomfortable situations and mind-spinning stories we tell ourselves about our experiences and blame ourselves or blame others. When we train ourselves to be mindful of our experiences, we can help ourselves sift away the narratives to an underlying essence of what feels authentic to us. We can practice an experimental sort of thinking about our experiences, instead of resorting to life and death thinking. 

Pegeron said that cultures who cultivate mindfulness value thinking as much as our society does, but they also value intuition, a deeper subconscious type of thinking that values emotions as signals of what is happening to us and what decisions we feel we need to make. Healing doesn’t just come from understanding what is happening to us, but from listening to and feeling emotion and seeing if it speaks to us. This can build resilience, but it can also be challenging and leave us feeling uncomfortably raw with feeling so much for a while. Groups and classes can help people see the common experience we all have with these things and normalize people’s experience of growth. 

Anique Pegeron works through the Grove Emotional Health Collaborative and can also be reached at her website www.mindful-world.com. She is a certified Mindful Schools instructor at www.mindfulschools.org/resources/certified-instructor/name/anique-pegeron/. 

In Conclusion, Darn It

Truth time: I don’t know a single parent, myself included, who feels they have this balance thing licked. I know one woman dealing with having to find new housing while sorting out her career after a cross-country move, and it’s tearing her up. Another friend found a new job only to have to testify against her new boss. A third friend is helping her teen through mental health challenges while raising younger babies, and it’s wrecked her health. Out sick from school, my daughter’s stress brought her to tears even though she has a supportive teacher who is happy to catch her up. Where did we get this idea that we have to keep going and be perfect even when it’s absurd? I hope I didn't teach her that, though my schedule disagrees.

For myself, I have added mindfulness into a daily routine when I can remember, but I’ve also benefited greatly from moving meditation when I need to work off the stress instead. Walking, swimming, tai chi, and similar exercise has become my go-to. And that supportive family of mine insists I stick to it, because I really do start to fall apart when I don't keep up with self-care. 

Mindfulness meditation is a tool I reach for when life is too much. It won't add another burden to my list of beautiful things I have actually chosen to do. I love my work. I love this family. I love this town. And I love not being burned out. Blessings that you find your balance as well. 

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Welcome to the Conscious Cafe

Many of today’s cohousing communities are designed to be microcosms. Members often get together to share regularly scheduled meals and engage in social activities such as games, movies, and various projects in shared spaces. At Sunward Cohousing in Ann Arbor, gathering for fun or to share meals in the Common House is part of what defines this community.

Posted on May 1, 2019 and filed under Consciousness, Education, ISSUE 72, Local, Programs.

Soul on a Short Leash: Butterflies, Bees, and Technologies

My parents both traveled in Mexico when they were young. They hadn’t yet met and would not for a few years. A flock of butterflies accompanied the bus in which my mother crossed the border from Arizona. She said they were pale in color, not monarchs, like a scatter of flowers, a flock of mariposas on the wind’s breath, and for the Aztecs, a symbol of fire and soul. 

Weekend Getaway: Lial Renewal Center

Heading down US-23 toward Ohio was a familiar experience, but my expectations differed from past trips. Over the years, visits to the Toledo Zoo and the Imagination Station made Ohio synonymous with family playdates and non-stop activity. Driving south of Toledo was new territory, so missing the exit on US-24 near Napoleon led to an unexpected excursion into downtown Whitehouse. Named for a local official in the 1800’s, the village’s rural, relaxed setting was a welcome contrast from earlier visits to Northwest Ohio and complements Lial Renewal Center’s low key, introspective environs.

Posted on May 1, 2019 and filed under Columns, ISSUE 72, Retreats, Weekend Getaways.

The Art of Humanizing Robots: An Interview with Cre Fuller

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By Cashmere Morley

 In the heart of Ypsilanti is an artist’s studio that feels, at times, both rooted in the future and the past. Glass eyes of various colors stare at you from every direction. Dentures riveted into metal figures bare wild grins. There is a nostalgia here; a feeling of things lost and found again. But there is also a sense of creation, of assemblage. It is a peek into a modern-day Dr. Frankenstein’s mind. A human-meets-robot dreamscape brought to life in rivets and metal. This is Cre Fuller’s studio. 

Christopher “Cre” Fuller, 46, didn’t plan on building tin creations for a living. In fact, when he graduated from Mt. Pleasant High School, he went into building chimneys with his father, and later, working at Whole Foods when he moved to Ann Arbor in 1997.

“Like most corporate jobs, it could be frustrating, but I valued my time there,” Fuller said. “From there, I went to Plum Market, in a similar capacity, and tried my hand at the wholesale racket. I’m good at helping people and being honest and genuine. Wholesale was a bit of a smarmy… you kind of have to be greasy. And I wasn’t good at that.”

But he was good with his hands. After saving money and leaving that job to invest in himself and his art, Fuller decided to spend time chasing after a job that would be more fulfilling.

“I think I’d had every creative hobby under the sun. Around 2000, when I bought the house I still currently own, I spent all my money on the house, so I just needed an art. I had seen things around, you know, people making humans and robots out of junk and trash and whatnot, so I just decided to try my hand at it.” The first robot Fuller created was around 2000, 2001. To date, Fuller guesses he’s built around 600 robots. He’s best known as the guy that makes the “Tin Angry Men,” a name he’s trying to distance himself from. His web presence only bares his name, and no mention of the moniker, since Fuller doesn’t feel it fits his creations anymore.

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“At the time, I set up a little spare bedroom for all my glasswork and jewelry making. As I went along, I would make these little robot creations. I never took it too seriously. They were just little gag gifts and things like that.” Fuller said. “But I’ve always liked taking things apart, as a little kid, seeing how the guts work. What does what. So taking things apart wasn’t a stretch for me. And then just kind of reimagining what those parts could be once you have them unassembled, or disassociated from their previous purpose, whatever that purpose was,” Fuller said.

“I tend to gravitate toward vintage aluminum, I can get the look of it that I want, I can either keep it brushed and have it kind of dull and matted, or I can polish it, into a chrome-like shine. It has that mid-century vintage feel already, and a lot of the things I prefer to use, is early century stuff.”

Fuller frequents places like Recycle Ann arbor, and local antique shops to find his goods, though he admits it’s been a bit harder to find pieces as of late since he’s “depleted the local supply.”

The Ann Arbor/Ypsilanti area welcomed him and his creations with open arms. “In Ann Arbor, people value art,” Fuller said. “And in its soul, it’s got people that respect and applaud the art. Ypsi has this humongous heartbeat of art and people who appreciate and applaud it.”

His work can be assembled quickly, if Fuller has the right parts.

“If I have all the stuff just sitting there, I can get a simple piece done in a day,” Fuller said. “Taking the time to let paint dry, and to let glass eyes cool, I can get a small piece done in a day. But sometimes, I’ve searched for those parts for a year. A huge component of this, of any assemblage artist, is their pile of goodies.”

While he does consider a lot of his work as “assemblage,” Fuller also admits that not all of his work falls under that category in art shows, so “found art sculpture” is also an acceptable way to describe what he creates.

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If you look at his work, there’s a sense of past-meets-future. “I think I was just trying to make that ‘50s version of a future robot. You know? Certainly, a departure from the modern take of robots. That’s what I really wanted to do: [embody] the romance of the vision of the future. When I first started doing this, I wanted them to look like vintage robots from the future. Cross between a little bit Star Wars, a little bit Mystery Science Theatre. I was always a fan of MST. The guy just made robots from crap laying around the shop, and that’s exactly what the deal is over here.”

For a vision that personifies parts of the past, Fuller’s work seems to capture the minds of young and old in the present. “I was surprised by how much of the population were into robots: whether they knew they were, or they found out they were from looking at my work,” Fuller said. “Certainly, young kids, boys and girls, all love it. The lamps I make, I try to make them touch sensitive, to turn them on. The kids love that. So do comic book nerds, movie geeks, sci-fi people. I consider myself part of the tribe there.”

But his work doesn’t stop at robots. Fuller considers himself an artist and event-organizer, who describes himself as a “jack of all trades, who can handle just about anything,” with other projects including Dypsi, an indie art far in Ypsilanti, and simple, vintage-looking light up signs for personal use as well as business. Fuller has made signs for Side Tracks and Wurst Bar in Ypsilanti.  

Fuller said, “When I’m working on a piece, I like seeing the personality develop and unfold. Right when I’m done with one piece, I put it on a shelf, and I turn around and start on the next one. I like seeing them come to life. And I like moving on to the next one. And I like learning from the last one. I think it helps the evolutionary chart, if you line them all up, you can see how they all progress.”  

One of Fuller’s muses is H.R. Giger, the Swiss artist most recognized for his work on the film Alien.

“He was just a weirdo and had a dark style, all that biotechnical stuff. It struck a chord with me as a kid.” Fuller said. “When I’m looking to build something, I’m looking for shapes, maybe some texture… just something I can remove from its original purpose and misplace it. Maybe I don’t see it right away, maybe later.”

As of late, his work has taken on a different feel, thanks to the glass eyes and dentures he’s inherited from friends, family, and locals who fell in love with his work.

“I started getting dental molds, plaster casts, usually used, all busted up,” Fuller said. “I think I was discussing this at one of my Dypsi shows, and one of the onlookers said, “Hey, I have some of my father’s old dentures. Would you like those?” and I’m guessing he doesn’t need them anymore… so I was like sure.”

Fuller said he hung onto those dentures for a few years as he gathered the right parts and pieces for the robot he wanted to make. “I waited until I had a couple of cool pieces to go with it because I thought those were special,” Fuller explained. “It helped normalize that person’s life.”

 “People were like ‘what the hell is this guy doing?’” When I completed the piece with the dentures, it turned out really, really good. It was one of my favorite pieces. It was creepy, it was cool, I felt like I had made a complete piece. I was happy with it. I ended up finding her email, sending her a picture of the piece, telling her, ‘I finally got around to using your father’s dentures, I hope you approve, had a lot of fun…’ and she just loved it, her uncle ended up buying it for her. When I talked to her, she ended up sending me a picture of her father, and I swear to god it was so creepy, how much it looked exactly like him. It was an old man, bald, kind of gaunt, and that’s exactly how the piece ended up looking. I was like… get this thing out of here.”

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But the dentures weren’t the beginning of wild part-human, part-machine creations. “The one with my aunt’s glass eyes, that was the precursor to starting to get really weird with it,” Fuller said. “My aunt has a glass eye, apparently you have to get them replaced because your physiology changes, so she has some glass eyes and I was like, “Aunt Sally, you have to give those to me,” because she was talking about throwing them away, I thought that was absolutely crazy, you don’t throw away glass eyes.” Fuller said. So he decided to incorporate them into his work.

“She’s tickled pink about me using it. It was the gateway of getting super weird. Then the teeth… the way the whole thing came together. Kismet-ly looking like him. That was probably the weirdest thing I’ve ever made.”

For Fuller, there’s a humanness to what he creates. “You can go online and buy [glass eyes or dentures] and there’s a million of them out there. But that’s not the point of what I do. I’ll search eBay for some stuff, but things like that I don’t want to buy. It’s not the point,” he said.

“The way I make something personal is like if you have a certain piece of kitchenware that grandma used to use. Something that has her soul in it. His or her soul. A lot of the times, I’ll find an old biscuit cutter where the wood’s all worn away. I just picture someone in the 50’s, 60’s, little old grannie or whoever, cutting biscuits out with love, wanting them for her family or grandchild, so that love, that energy is in that handle. When I look for pieces, I look for stuff like that. Pieces with scuff marks, the handle that has seen so many biscuits cut. It’s hard to make something look like someone, but there are ways to instill their soul in something.”  

To see more of Cre Fuller’s work follow his Instagram @crefuller or visit him online at www.crefuller.com. Contact Fuller at tinangrymen@gmail.com

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Posted on May 1, 2019 and filed under Art & Craft, Interviews, ISSUE 72, Local.

Treat Your Pet! Clean Eats For Our Four-Pawed Friends from the Brown Basset Bakery for Dogs

 With more and more people identifying their dogs as not just a pet, but a very important part of their family, it’s no surprise that the demand for increased quality in dog food and dog treat options has risen. This thought process led me and my team at The Brown Basset, a local bakery for dogs based out of Chelsea, to start digging into our recipe books to create the best dog treats possible using simple,

clean, organic, and all-natural ingredients with no preservatives. Your pups will flip

for these scrumptious treats, and our menu of approximately 20 different cookies,

muffins, and cakes fall into this “clean” category.

Posted on May 1, 2019 and filed under Animals, Columns, ISSUE 72, Pets.

Bringing Mindfulness to Students and Educators: MC4ME – The Michigan Collaborative for Mindfulness in Education Has Been Leading the Charge

Almost three years ago I wrote about the work of transforming schools with mindfulness practices in Michigan for the Crazy Wisdom Journal. So many amazing moments have happened since then! School communities—students, staff, administrators, and parents alike, are beginning to understand how essential mindfulness skills are to the embodiment of social emotional learning (SEL) skills and to facilitating learning.

The Birth of the Doula Agency-- Why Hiring a Doula Agency Might Be the Right Choice for Your Family

A doula is a professional who is trained in childbirth and the norms of the childbearing months. A doula provides emotional, physical, and educational support to a mother who is expecting, is experiencing labor, or has recently given birth. The use of doulas has risen dramatically across the United States as more data becomes public about the rising rates of unnecessary intervention in childbirth, the increasing rate of cesarean section delivery, and how a doula can help lower the rates of both. With so many choices when it comes to hiring a doula, how does one decide?

Posted on May 1, 2019 and filed under Children, Health, ISSUE 72, Parenting.

Crysta Goes Visiting, Spring 2019

In this column, Crysta Coburn writes about crazywisdom-esque people and happenings around Ann Arbor. This issue features local blogger Chrissy Barua, Author Judy Wenzel, and owner of Petals + Butters, , Sri Lankipalli.

Tea Time With Peggy: Stressed? Drink Tea!

Life these days can be stressful. If you don’t believe me spend five minutes driving on I-94 between Ypsilanti and Ann Arbor during rush hour. Stress is not good for the mind, body, or spirit. It can cause inflammation, high blood pressure, and even anxiety. In order to maintain a healthy lifestyle it is recommended that an individual decrease their level of stress—often easier said than done!

Posted on May 1, 2019 and filed under Food & Nutrition, Food Section, ISSUE 72, Columns.

Book Review: Spring is the perfect time for Liver Rescue by Anthony William

“As within so without” is a universal law. What’s going on outside of us is often times identical to what’s going on inside of us. Reflections are everywhere. So it makes perfect sense that, in this time of overflowing landfills and homes bursting with too much stuff, our own internal trash receptacles, that is to say, our livers, are being inundated with an abundance of waste

Rediscovering Recycling

Recently in the United States, the recycling movement is under attack. The federal government is dismantling one major environmental policy after another, and new quality-based restrictions by Chinese scrap buyers have sent the value of many recyclables into a free fall. This is hurting all recyclers, but especially those in Michigan, where landfill overcapacity had already put recycling at a disadvantage. 

Posted on January 8, 2019 and filed under Columns, Green Living, Issue 71, Local.

The Deeper Benefits of a Day of Silent Meditation

At the end of a silent meditation retreat at Triple Crane Monastery, we often hear that people experienced many kinds of benefits such as: increased flexibility, increased energy, a reduction in stress and anxiety, a feeling of being more connected to their own senses, more happiness, a discovery of their innate abilities, more insight, and an increase in wisdom. However, some may say these are only the superficial benefits of meditation. Are there greater benefits from a truly deep meditation? 

An Interview with Billie Wahlen, practitioner of the Sat Nam Rasayan® Healing Technique

Sat Nam Rasayan is the name of a sacred healing technique that has recently become available in Ann Arbor, through Billie Wahlen (also known as Mohinder Singh). Wahlen is a gifted healer and massage therapist, and is well-established and known in Ann Arbor’s healing and bodywork subcultures.

Posted on January 1, 2019 and filed under Healing, Interviews, Issue 71, Local, Wellness, Yoga.

Coffee Buzz — The Art, Science, and Community of Coffee. A Round-Table Discussion with Local Experts.

Coffee has always been this rather predictable dark beverage served upon waking or with a friend while we engaged in deep conversation. I never gave the making of coffee much thought except for finding a roast I like and a brewing method that worked for my taste and lifestyle. These two things have changed over the years—the only consistent being that I like it simple and on the stout side. I recently became more curious about specialty coffee, especially our local artisan scene.

Anne Ormond: A Vessel of Crazy Wisdom. Music, Moving, and Life Lessons from an Octogenarian

When I emailed Anne Ormond to ask if I could interview her for this profile in the Crazy Wisdom Journal she replied, “Sure, why not?  For Crazy Wisdom? That is a pretty good description of me—crazy wisdom.” The answer is typical Anne; brief, perceptive, a little self-deprecating, and witty. In a later conversation I said to her, “A lot of people your age are doing a fraction of what you’re doing,” she shot back with, “A lot of people my age are dead.” Anne is 83, and still busily engaged in a dizzying array of organizations and activities. “Well, I got to be 83, and I am still healthy—through pure luck and heredity, and maybe also thanks to my healthy life-style.  I am constantly doing things; physical, mental, social, and spiritual. Many things that I do fit into more than one category. I choose to do things that I love. I have passions.” And she seems compelled to seize every opportunity to wring as much as possible out of every single moment. 

Mapping Your Purpose Through SUN SHEN One Prayer

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By Joanna Myers

Many of us don’t know what our purpose is. It either seems vague, or worse, we feel like our life is at odds with our purpose. We have competing responsibilities, but many of them don’t line up with what we want to do. Fortunately, these days there are many systems for identifying purpose and areas of strength or opportunities for growth in our careers or personal lives. The SUN SHEN One Prayer is one of these systems. It’s not therapy, but rather a system of journaling and cultivation through contemplation, insights, and growth to help us identify which areas of our life we would like to nurture. 

The SUN SHEN One Prayer is your own “virtual monastery,” where you get the benefits of a life that’s totally catered to your needs as someone seeking personal growth, without requiring you to leave home or family. It’s designed for the challenges and diversity of lay life. Simply put, living in a mountain meditating in a cave is not congruent with most of our circumstances these days, but that does not mean we cannot have access to our own inner riches and resources. One Prayer allows you to go deep within yourself but in a sustainable way. You start with the resources and time you have. 

The One Prayer System was created by my own teacher, Master Sang Kim, a Tai Chi Master and lineage holder in both the Taoist and Christian traditions. Master Kim comes from Korea and has inherited traditional cultivation systems that have been passed down from generation to generation, but he is also a modern person who has lived in the west and trained as an engineer, has a family, and worked in the corporate world. 

Purpose in the One Prayer is something that you discover in the details of life. Purpose is what gives you energy, feeds you emotionally, and inspires you. You identify those areas where you feel that already, even if it’s a small pocket of your life, or a vision of what it could be, and you give it attention, nurturing it like a seed. 

The foundation of the One Prayer System is the concept of cultivation. Cultivation is not fixing what’s wrong with you, but learning how to use how you’re made, as a uniquely designed person, with awareness. Cultivation is not just a concept for a specific discipline like martial arts or a spiritual practice, but how you relate to yourself as a whole person. It is about taking our hard wiring, our patterns and our practices, and embracing the truths they teach as a way of nourishing our whole being. We are always cultivating something, because whatever we do accumulates to a certain outcome. The question is not whether you’re cultivating but, do you like the direction of your cultivation? Are you cultivating in the area of your purpose? If so, you will feel more energy, more fulfillment, and more clarity.

I started studying with Master Kim because I loved how much he loved his life! Since I have known him, he has always had this energy of being genuinely happy and also full of purpose and fun. He works extremely hard, but never seems burdened by it. The kind of attention he has for a person makes you feel really special, because he’s put that kind of attention into himself. He has cultivated deep presence and self-understanding, and that carries over into all of his relationships. I was attracted to his example of how to live with freedom and ease, how he knew where to put his effort and attention in a way that was effective and added up over time. And what’s more, he was having a great time in the process, not sacrificing in order to get there. That’s what I wanted.

The One Prayer is a tool designed to give everyone that freedom. It’s one giant feedback system toward your purpose. It is a system of tools to organize your life around self-mastery. And this whole system updates with you in real time as you grow.

The system starts with a map where you take a full inventory of yourself. Most of us are familiar with ourselves in the parts where we’re developed, and then we have blind spots, or parts we’re not as aware of. Ironically, our blind spots can often be the areas we’re strong in, and are so fundamental to how we operate that we don’t even see what we’re doing. In my case, I didn’t realize how fundamental it was to seek connection.

When you’re triggered by something and it’s bothering you, this is when the One Prayer kicks in. You have a reference list that is a summary of the latest things you are working on. You have a whole inventory of yourself that gives you perspective on who you are. You have a journal where you track your victories and get a reminder of who you’ve been and who you are becoming. You start to understand the problem from the perspective of growth and not as a failure. If none of that works, you have a section where you deep dive into the problem until you understand what perspective you were missing. When you have this way of working deeply with yourself, you feel like your own best friend.

 This process was really eye opening for me. The One Prayer helped me identify how my purpose was hidden in pain. I used to think of myself as a plant person. I’d spend up to 20 hours a week in my garden and I thought that I wanted to design spaces that invited people to have a transformative experience. I was pursuing things like garden design, and I went to a permaculture workshop. I thought I liked sustainability and design, but what I realized through the SUN SHEN One Prayer System was that I was in a tremendous amount of social pain. I was all bent out of shape because I had no idea how to interact socially and I felt like an idiot. My emotions were telling me I lacked some skills I never even knew I needed. I realized I had been hiding behind garden design and behind working with plants because they were safer than people, but what I really wanted was a more direct way to impact and work with people. Because of my lack of skills to relate to people — communication skills, not taking things personally, navigating conflict — I was stunted in that area.

Once I saw this pain clearly, I was able to look at how to develop these skills. What I did externally didn’t change, but how I used what I was doing in my life changed. I ran events at SUN SHEN to see how I could better work with people. I designed to see how I could integrate other people’s ideas into designs. I worked with people individually to understand different perspectives and remove my own blind spots. I continued to work with my Feldenkrais clients and healing clients to improve my interpersonal skills.

Because SUN SHEN is a school of cultivation, everything is seen from a place of growth. The premise is we’re all cultivating something, we’re all doing things every day that add up to a certain result. For instance, if we slouch, then we cultivate having a slouched posture; if we keep standing straight, then we get better and better at having a straighter posture. The question is, do we like what we are cultivating, the direction and the result we’re getting? 

As a disciple, you’re expected to teach what you learn, and you learn by teaching. So I began working with people individually on their One Prayer. While I was cultivating my own growth, I was also cultivating the skills to help others. 

The One Prayer System has three parts: a detailed map of yourself, including your vision for what you want your life to look like, emotions you seek, and how you naturally take action; emotional processing tools; and tracking of daily practices and strategies for how you want to grow into this purpose. When you put the parts together, it becomes a giant feedback loop to help you understand yourself.

Imagine you knew what kind of emotions you like to experience, and could set up your whole life around experiencing them. Imagine you knew what kind of activities give you energy and could distill the elements of those experiences. Imagine your whole life was set up around this awareness, where all day long you’re feeling ease, feeling meaning, feeling purpose — where if you have pain, the pain gives you direct feedback about your purpose and how to hone it further.

Now imagine you had a group of people who are doing this all together, encouraging each other and supporting each other, adding that structure and validation for one another and having a guide to help you all through the process, someone who’s been through it and can relate to the fears and challenges and who has a really good handle on all the tools. It makes for great bonding and really rapid growth.

The ONE PRAYER Journaling System is the branch of the SUN SHEN System that allows a person to understand themselves deeply, so that their life works the way they want it to work. It’s a tool to bring together everything they’re working on under one umbrella, and can be used by anyone. Whatever your path or calling, the One Prayer is a way to make that calling more clear, more doable. When I started my studies with Master Kim he had us journal every day. We started where there was already energy, explored the area of our interests and dreams. It gave me a way to center my life and make sense of the transition I was in. I was a new mom, felt depleted, and had set my career and external role aside. Even though I was developing in the areas of healing and studying the System, I wasn’t very inspired or confident at the time. I was used to having a strong professional identity, used to feeling capable. And here I was, very much a beginner in this new territory.

About three years after meeting Master Kim, I was invited to join a small group of people who were becoming his disciples, to learn the whole SUN SHEN System in a dedicated way. This is a serious undertaking, because it’s a complete Tai Chi lineage, the journaling and self-understanding part of the system, and studying the Scriptures. It is a set of integrated tools based on Christianity, Taoism, and the modern scientific view. All with the goal of maximizing a  life geared toward my purpose. 

I met my fellow disciples before we started our formal discipleship training. My husband had been a student of Master Kim’s for several years and had already learned the Tai Chi forms and was instructing in the class. He was a shy, techy guy from Taiwan, very physically gifted and enthusiastic about Tai Chi. Another close colleague, Alexis Neuhaus, had come to Master Kim with some life-threatening health challenges and was getting support from him. He had come to Ann Arbor to get work from some gifted healers and was gradually turning around. He was extremely bright and intellectual, had gone to Princeton. Soon after he started getting support, Master Kim discovered Alexis had a talent for organizational direction, and he was put in charge of the business aspect. He came from a Buddhist background and was familiar with how to transmit a lineage and the kind of agreements and conditions that are necessary for that. He is actually responsible for us setting up the discipleship in the way it is. The three of us continue to work closely and mentor the newer disciples who joined later (there are now 26).

Because we had such a tight structure, and boundaries on our time together, we had a lot of safety. What that meant practically is we could go really deep and be vulnerable. I remember going through our visions for our lives together and reading them out loud, processing through really tough things. The One Prayer allows you to get to the cutting edge of where you are growing as a person, meaning your identity keeps updating and becoming closer to the real you. We had each other to witness and reinforce each breakthrough. 

My deeper need for connection was too vulnerable for me to access until I started working on the One Prayer. My whole life I’d been skirting around this need, thinking I was an introvert. If I didn’t have the One Prayer System I would have probably done what I’d done half a dozen other times in my adult life, and started off in a different area without addressing the underlying need. My own career has included being a professional musician, teaching movement, and pursuing design. I literally had no idea that the underlying drive, and the thing that ties them all together, is the desire to connect deeply with people. Without this I’d be chasing after empty skill sets, none of which hit my purpose, or hit it so haphazardly that I’d give up. 

I was focusing on performance but I ended up developing skills that made me feel capable. But I was still missing the skills that would help me actually navigate through close relationships: facing conflict, apology, and repair. I learned that we all have these areas, these developmental “holes.” It’s really tricky to be able to hack into them and satisfy the needs hidden inside them, but when you do a whole new world opens up. You transcend the problems you had before. 

When teaching the One Prayer System, I love when people discover a need that they didn’t even know was there, the more fundamental need than what seems apparent on the surface, the need that is hidden from our own awareness because it’s so vulnerable. I love when it becomes safe enough to stumble upon this need, because discovering our real needs is a place of invention and agency.

In my case, with developing social skills, I was able to break it down into small pieces and set up ways to track it, journal about what my subjective experience was, and get the feedback I needed. I get support from my teacher. I get encouragement and examples from other students who were working in their own “holes.” The One Prayer brings together many necessary experiences in the whole vast project and everything else that is happening in my life. As a bonus, I now really like my relationships.

I love bringing people into the place where they can safely explore their purpose from a place of creativity and self-acceptance with this most amazing set of tools. I love seeing them able to do things they’ve never been able to do before, and bringing the kind of attention to their lives in the places that need it the most.


Samo Joanna Myers is a practitioner of the SUN SHEN System, a complete system of physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual transformation, integrating Christianity, Taoism and the modern scientific approach. You can reach her at (734) 395-8486 or samomyers@sunshen.org. More information about SUN SHEN is at www.sunshen.org.

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Posted on January 1, 2019 and filed under Calendar Essays, Issue 71, Purpose.