My Kinda Town

My Kinda Town – Chicago is. . . . 

Chicago has always been divided into the Southside and the Northside. I grew up on the Southside in an Irish – Catholic neighborhood. No Irish blood runs in my veins but the nuns still show up. Introducing myself as a Southsider people comment, “You’re not black.” I look at my white skin, rubbed it, and reply, “No.” In my neighborhood, there was a line distinctly drawn between black neighborhoods and white neighborhoods. Western Avenue was the dividing line in my life. 

Looking back on Chicago’s history, I would say the greatest thing that happened was when Mrs. O’Leary’s cow started the Great Chicago Fire. Although the fire itself was an enormous tragedy, an amazing lakefront formed in Chicago as a result. 

Back in the day, the railroad and stockyard consumed Chicago’s lakefront. From what I have read, parks were always a part of the plan to attract tourists and locals alike, but finances leaned toward animal products back in the day. It took many years, huge revenue, and extraordinary effort to make Chicago’s lakefront one of the most beautiful cities to visit in the USA.

Lake Michigan makes Chicago unique. Although Lake Michigan is a freshwater lake, it is more unpredictable than the ocean. In my sailing years, I learned a great deal about the lake and how quickly things can change on Lake Michigan. The view of Chicago’s skyline from the water is stunning, especially at night. As the sun sets, the skyscrapers light up. One day I walked the lakefront and then my friend Bob picked me up on his boat and I took it all in from the water. It was quite a day in Chicago. 

The city of Chicago is linked together by a walkway that goes along the water, through parks and leading to museums. From the Shedd Aquarium and Planetarium to Millennium Park, you can enjoy the sights. With gardens galore and Buckingham Fountain standing in the midst of it all, it is definitely something to see and experience. Throughout the summer, people from all over the world are drawn to Chicago for sights, sounds, food, and fun. 

Unfortunately, due to violence, people miss out on Chicago. One client told me he would never tour. That saddens me because Chicago is MY KINDA TOWN… friendly people, music, food, beaches, museums, and a lakefront you can walk for miles and miles. One of my favorite places to sit is by Buckingham Fountain. If you haven’t visited, perhaps you will cross the divide and check out ~ Chicago, Chicago, That Toddlin’ Town.

Happy Holidays. May 2020 be dazzling. Be well… Nancy T

A Force Beyond Measure – Game Changer #3

Ronald Michael Turcich arrived on December 20,1954. Named after two kind and influential men, Ronny had a good start. The eldest of eight, Ronny also had challenges. He took to life with a smile and continued to forge his own unique, adventuresome path. Ronny used to tell us (siblings) that he did “everything” so we didn’t have to worry about getting in trouble.

There are eight years and four siblings between Ronny and I. That left him far ahead of me in life. It also left a wake of sibling exploits beyond him. Ronny was my BIG brother and he always treated me kindly. Being a Tom Boy may have helped my cause. 

Without Ronny, my life would have been completely different. Unknowingly, Ronny guided me to my career as a Natural Therapeutic Specialist, aka Massage & Polarity Therapist. By opening his home to me, I was able to attend the New Mexico School of Natural Therapeutics (NMSNT). As I wrote in my last blog, NMSNT was a game-changer. My time in New Mexico also gave me an opportunity to participate in Ronny’s life. It was no surprise that Ronny had many great friends. To me, it seemed like Ronny walked down the street and he came to the end of the road with a handful of new friends.

In August 1989, I returned to NMSNT for the first time since graduation. With three years of having human bodies pass under my hands, it was time to refresh my skills. Once again, my class experience was life-changing. However, my home life was disturbing. From the moment I arrived, Ronny wasn’t Ronny. A shell of himself and a person I didn’t recognize at times, that was the 1989 Ronny. To say Ronny was LOST would be an understatement. I spent my off-hours being with him, listening to him, sharing whatever I could to raise him from his funk. I left New Mexico feeling as though it was the last time with my BIG brother. Unfortunately, on September 22,1989 my thought became a reality. Ronny took his life on that day. From that day forth, my entire life was a game-changer. With extreme pain, I went on with my life without his smile, without his stories, without his sense of adventure, without his generosity. Nothing would prepare me for the loss that followed. At one point, I even debated my own existence. 

Suicide is like no other loss. Each and every moment of each and every day you wonder, “What could I have done?” Family, friends and even acquaintances ask this question. And you also wonder, “WHY?” 

For decades I was stuck in the loop of loss. Even as joy and love entered my life again, I internally chastised myself for even a sliver of happiness. Initially, I stated, “How can I be happy when my brother is DEAD?” As you might imagine, that scared away many friends. But those who stuck around were a real gift. It didn’t matter if I was sad, they were in my life. It didn’t matter if I was angry, they were in my life. 

Journaling came into my life in 1989. Without great communication skills, I turned to paper and pen. Writing became a game-changer. In fact, it saved my life and resulted in two books: “One of Eight – my perspective on our brother’s suicide” & “Finding My Way From Paralysis To A Rich, Full Life.” The foundation of both books rose from my journals. Writing became A Force Beyond Measure. It became a place where I could put all of my dark & scary thoughts. It became a safe house where I found ways through those ugly places. 

Even in his death, Ronny touched my life. He led me to another avenue to explore. Just like the men who came before him, he influenced my life beyond measure. Be well… Nancy T

For more about “One of Eight – my perspective on our brother’s suicide” & “Finding My Way From Paralysis To A Rich, Full Life,” visit http://naturalmassagetherapy.com/books/

NMSNT~ Game-Changer #2

Following a fall from a cliff in 1982, a new professional goal came to mind after my paralyzed body was placed in the hands of modern medicine. Ten days after I was hospitalized, a spinal fusion was performed. To abate muscular atrophy, Physical Therapy (PT) started while I was in the ICU. I spent one long, miserable weekend trying to sit upright without passing out. Once I managed sitting, I was taken to PT to practice standing with the aid of parallel bars. Although I didn’t recognize it at the time, this was a life process. One thing needed doing before the next step could be taken. 

I left the hospital in St. Louis flat on my back. I was loaded into the back of my cousin’s station wagon (thanks Sandy and Bernie) and driven home to Chicago. A PT came to my home to assist my family and I in learning how to move me to an upright position on my feet again. Gordon, my PT, was a gem. In fact, every PT that I had the pleasure of working with impacted my life and my attitude, so much so, I decided to pursue a career in Physical Therapy.

Two years in, changing majors took great effort. While I was still in a body cast, to escape boredom, I attended local college classes. The following summer, I returned to SIU to complete the classes I was taking when I fell. Nothing seemed to work for me in Carbondale. In fact, I injured my other wrist by losing my balance while dancing with a friend who Hee-Hawwed me. Eventually, I landed at NIU, a far cry from SIU. The difference was palpable, not only in the scenery but on all levels. SIU was surrounded by the Shawnee National Forest. NIU was in the middle of cornfields. I wasn’t thrilled to be going on without my SIU friends, but my new purpose drove me to polar opposites in Illinois.

A year later, with all of my prerequisites and volunteer hours under my belt, I should have proceeded to the NIU-PT program. That did not happen. 

Lost, frustrated, and not happy to enter the workforce, I was thankful for my eldest brother Ronny’s offer to live with him and his wife Mel in New Mexico. From there, a whole new world opened up. The world of Natural Therapy would change my life forever. 

On the first day of class, this question was posed: “Who has never had a massage before?” I was one of six people who’s hands went up. Follow-up question: “Why are you here?” I had no idea why I was sitting there. I heard Ronny’s voice: “Maybe this school could help you get into a PT program.” My thought was simple. With all that I had gone through, I would be an amazing Physical Therapist. I know the recovery process from zero feeling (paralysis) to walking and moving through life. 

When I filled out the application for The New Mexico School of Natural Therapeutics ~ NMSNT I had no idea what 3/4 of the modalities meant. They were as foreign to me as another language. But once I have a goal in mind, there is little to stop me. 

On the second day of class, the six virgins had their first massage. Touch, pleasant touch, that was new to me and my strange new body. My instructor, Charlie Brown, not of Snoopy fame, led the charge. Charlie’s hands moved along the body as smoothly as his Kentucky accent filled the air. Charlie also introduced prayer into the mix to help us center and clear the air, to get out of the way of our client’s process. It is a powerful tool that I use to this day. 

At first, my body jumped like a fish out of water by simply lying flat on a massage table. I warned my partners to keep clear of my legs as I had no control of their actions. Several classmates found this intriguing, others ran for the hills. With 33 of us, we had choices in partners. 

Polarity Therapy was one of the modalities that I could not identify. “Energy” was something that I knew passed through electrical wiring, not the human body. Each day I doubted what the instructors shared. Prove it… that was my mantra. My friend Kyle and I would retreat to his home and talk about our days with Polarity Therapy. Mostly, we thought it was all BS. That is until it impacted us; until we experienced energy in our own bodies. It didn’t take long for our thoughts to switch from doubt to intrigue. In fact, we were blown away by our Polarity Therapy segment. Kyle and I traded numerous sessions on our own time trying to get a handle on this new material. 

Polarity Therapy works with the nervous system. Not a surprise that my body responded to this modality after I scattered my pieces all over a boulder at Little Grand Canyon in Southern Illinois. With Polarity Therapy, it felt as though people were reaching into my spinal column and soothing it. It felt like they were stroking my insides and saying, “You’re ok now.” I was coming HOME again, to myself. A sense of peace came over me. 

Lor, my mom, asked, “When are you going back to school (meaning college)?” 

I replied, “I’m done. The NMSNT has changed my life.” 

When I went to New Mexico I was going there to avoid work. It was an opportunity to explore new surroundings, spend time with Ronny and Mel, and help me get closer to my goal of PT. The thing is, with GAME-CHANGERS, you never know. I wasn’t looking for the NMSNT program to instill a new goal, but it did that and more. 

Recently, while on a massage table receiving, I said, “Bodywork (Natural Therapy) saved my life. I don’t know where I’d be without it.” The NMSNT ~ a game-changer to say the least. Be well… Nancy T

For more on my journey, purchase “Finding My Way From Paralysis To A Rich, Full Life,” at http://naturalmassagetherapy.com/books/

* Save $6.95 by contacting me directly, $10.00 + postage.*

NMSNT: https://nmsnt.org

Game-Changer

If you know me or you have followed my blog, you might guess that falling off a cliff and crushing three vertebrae in my upper back at age nineteen was a Game-Changer. The thing is, most people think that I changed immediately. The truth is, I’m still changing and the next several blogs will be examples of the alterations I decided to undergo. 

At the tender age of nineteen, I had few life skills that evoked change. Quite honestly, the first six months were dedicated to reclaiming my body. Even after that time, it wasn’t the body I lived in prior to the 40-foot fall. The game changed the minute I lost my footing, slid down the rock, did a flip, and landed on a boulder. From that moment on, everything in my life changed. In that split second, I would have done anything to get my life back, the life I felt was haunted. Without the superpowers to turn back time, I had to move forward and find a way to play a new game, the recovery game. 

Recovery is a strange word. It sounds like you can go back, gather things up and move on. With paralysis, that was no simple task. Once I recovered my ability to physically function, I was dismissed by the medical establishment as “healed.” Nothing was further from my truth. Countless steps were needed to adjust, cope, and learn new ways of being in the world. Boy did that make me mad! Fortunately, I had plenty of anger in storage and I used it as fuel to charge ahead.

To me, a game-changer is something that makes you look at your life, your very existence, and make the choice to stay; to face the challenges staring back at you or taking over your life. Everything in my life was affected. It was one of the hardest things I had to do, but I decided to stay.  The questions that propelled me: What does life mean to me? How can I go on? Am I willing to move forward?

Game-changers are challenges to meet head-on. Once I made it through my personal storm I realized how much I gained. Falling off a cliff was easy. Recovering from the impact was a real game-changer. Be well… Nancy T

To learn more, purchase “Finding My Way From Paralysis To A Rich, Full Life,” by Nancy M. Turcich, NTS, BCPP at http://naturalmassagetherapy.com/books/

Help or Harm

These two words, opposites of sorts, may apply to many issues and situations in life. As a writer, there are times when I read and reread my words to be sure that they fall on the side of help and not harm. Of course, that is up for interpretation. What may feel helpful to me may come across as harmful to another. It’s a tricky dance. Personally, writing has always landed on the help side from the moment I sat in the woods with my back up against a huge fallen tree to sitting on my porch hiding from a storm writing these words. Writing helps me to revisit times and events as well as giving me a place for dark/scary thoughts and lovely/pleasant ideas. However, when I write to people or address certain situations I have to ask myself, which way will my words fall; help or harm? That was not always the case. In fact, it is a recent practice. I wrote to free myself, my spirit. I didn’t intentionally spew my words on the page with the thought of harm but that did happen. I forgot to ponder were my recipient was in their process or life to receive my words. 

Medically the words, “Do No Harm,” are prominent. Unfortunately, as we “practice” our work there are plenty of people who land at our feet in the harm pile. Continuing to check in with ourselves and to clearly come from our hearts reduces the casualties. Although we can all benefit from the practice of being present, being aware, being kind, being considerate, our actions don’t always come across that way.

I recently attended a class. There was a great deal of love in the room. Most participants had been in practice for several decades. But as we were learning, we were all newbies. Even the instructors were learning something “new” from our group. What I learned was I need to “ask.” To ask for what we need is difficult for all of us but it is helpful to everyone. The rewards are great. 

If you were to look at me, you would never know that paralysis lurked in my past. Although I am proud of that fact, it also causes harm at times. Being “unsure” of what I physically feel

has gotten me into trouble. When I check in with myself on a deeper level, I am very sure. In class, it became very apparent that what was happening, though beneficial, was harmful. It did change old, hard patterns in my body but it also hurt me. The experience flipped an internal switch. Suddenly I related to my paralyzed nineteen-year-old self. Someone was doing something to my body that was unpleasant and there was little I could do to STOP them. However, in class, that was far from the truth. All I had to do was ask and the situation would have changed. Instead, I laid there and wondered, “Is this ok?” There was too much stimulation for me to easily track and absorb. 

Thankfully, I asked questions and my partner asked me to share. It was then the raw feelings came and my story poured forth. 

I continue to learn about my body, mind, emotions, and soul. Of course, my past plays a part, in a way, so does thoughts of my future. But the truth of the matter is in the present moment. In that space and time I need to ask myself, does this help or harm? Then I shall make my move and be true to myself while considering others in my life. Be well… Nancy T

The Fish Are Jumpin’

Fish are jumpin’ ~ salmon that is. This is a great example of POTENCY.* As the water rushes down river, the salmon fight their way UP current. The tactics that each fish uses vary. Some salmon head straight for the bubbling water. Their tails wag at a rapid pace as they propel their bodies into the air, landing in the water and fighting to get further up stream. A large red belly goes off to the far right. The current is forceful there but the salmon slides along the rock, inching its way through the pounding water. Little ones fly though the air, bodies curved like a U as they hit the water only to be thrown downstream again. Off to the far right, in the quiet water, a school of salmon float, seeming to catch their breath. 

Seagulls swarm and call for their territory. One grabs a crab and tears it apart on the bank. Each bird seems to have its own strategy for fishing.

  Pink fireweed rises from the corner of the pointed edge where a seagull plays sentry ~ barking orders at others as they fly by. 

The sound of the Russian River takes away any manmade sounds. It rushes, it pools, it bubbles, it vibrates the shores. 

Ah, this is ALASKA!!! Be well… Nancy T

Note: This is an unedited vision of what I saw, felt and experienced while watching the event play out. 

* POTENCY: a therapy term: To organically build energy to propel you forward.

Traditions

Happy Holidays! Tis’ the season of sharing, coming together and contemplating the past year as we welcome the new year. Countless traditions embrace this season. Whether they have been shared by family or friends, traditions are unique and cherished by many.

Recently, I was invited to a Polish celebration, a Wigilia. Although this celebration is reserved for Christmas Eve, we did it early to accommodate travel. A “roping contest” ensued. Living out west that usually entails an animal, but this roping was done to close the Pierogi (filled dumplings). 

Debby, our hostess, introduced us to her family tradition, which includes a wish for everyone individually. With nineteen in attendance, we did not follow the rules. Instead, Debby chose a wish for each of us, presenting it in a lovely origami box that she made with her mother. Each personalized message brought us all to tears. I heard one of the men say to Debby, “I’ve lived a long time and I have never experienced anything like I did tonight.” That was true for one and all.

With Polish blood running through my veins, I was surprised that I never heard of a Wigilia. Lor, my mom, explained that she followed the tradition in her youth, but her mother didn’t maintain it. What a shame! A Wigilia is a beautiful tradition. 

For the winter solstice, I followed a Buddhist tradition: to write something that I wanted to release from 2018 as well as something I desired in 2019. I shared my thoughts with Beth and she with me. Then we burned them. Another new tradition that I fancy. 

Today a Croation tradition of making Pogacha, a sweet bread, is at hand. I used to get a loaf in the mail. When I opened the package, I sat and just smelled it for the longest time. My childhood would come flooding back; the smell of Pogacha filling every nook and cranny of the house. My paternal grandmother would measure every ingredient. Lily would roll and punch the dough. She’d laugh after slapping our hands when we would pull a small chunk of raw dough from the mound she just kneaded and pop it into our mouths. Cinnamon & sugar, plain or cream cheese filling, it is something I still enjoy and remember with such love. Lor continued the tradition; she became a Croation through osmosis. It’s a long process to make such wonderful, traditional bread, but I’m willing to put forth the effort to bring Lily, Lor, and all of my ancestors to my doorstep. 

From the Wigilia tradition, I will close with my wish. “I wish you a time of wonder as you honor your traditions, new and old. In the spirit of your ancestors, may you enjoy it all.” Be well… Nancy T