Apples, Leaves, and Football

As you may know, my summer vacation this year took me up to the wilds of Alaska. The trip was phenomenal. I’ll never forget panning for gold, whitewater rafting, and exploring some of the most pristine, untouched land I’ve ever had the pleasure of seeing. Even from a train car on the Alaskan railroad, it’s hard not to have to catch your breath. Returning from Alaska felt like a fitting conclusion to a wonderful summer. With the air starting to cool, I feel fall approaching, and that always means a few things for me.

First, it’s apple season. We love to go apple picking. Even though produce at the markets seems to be getting better every year, it still doesn’t compare to the feeling and taste of pulling an apple from a tree and biting into it. The crispness, the combination of sweet and tart … that to me is fall in New England encapsulated into one bite. Of course, some of those exceptional apples end up going into a variety of baked goods. As the temperatures cool off, baking is my favorite way to heat up the house. You can bet that we’ll have plenty of apple crisp, apple pie, and applesauce on hand during the coming months.

Maybe I’ll also try my hand at some apple turnovers. It would be fitting given that the leaves are turning over as well. Not everyone relishes the frigid New England winter, but I’ve never met anyone who isn’t captivated by the beauty of our region during the fall. The leaves transform into a palette of autumnal colors, and the air even begins to smell different. My daily walks with my husband are always a joy, but maybe never more so than when every day brings with it a new shade in nature.

Now, I know you’re probably reading this thinking, what about the Pats? Don’t worry, we’re huge Patriots fans, and fall wouldn’t be the same without watching them every Sunday. It’s been a golden era since we won the Super Bowl after the 2001 season, but I can still remember the days when being a Pats fan wasn’t a never-ending string of glories. The old Foxboro stadium — with its metal bleachers and middling teams — is fun to think about now, but I’m in no rush to get back to those days. Hopefully even after Brady and Belichick ride off into the sunset, we can continue on our winning ways.

Before I sign off this month, I want to wish everyone a happy Halloween and a wonderful start to the holiday season. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that we have a long, mild autumn before the snow comes. If not, I’ll have to save some apples to bake as a reminder of one of my favorite times of year.

Blueberries and Bowling

Summer is winding down, but my husband and I are getting ready to crack open the last reminder of what a great summer it was. I’ve been making bottles of blueberry cordial, and the entire process takes about two months from start to finish. It’s definitely hard to resist the temptation when I’m shaking up the bottles, but it’s always worth the wait. When they’re finally ready to go, the sights and smells of summer are sure to come rushing back.

As you may already know, every day after work, my husband and I go on a walk. From the end of July through the beginning of August, we pick some of the blueberries by our house. Well, “some” is an understatement. We filled up over a dozen gallon-sized freezer bags this year. I wouldn’t want to pick them for a living, as it’s hard work — your back gets sore, and losing one to the ground is always a disappoint — but it’s fun for an after-work hobby.  

With that many blueberries, you can bet I’ve found a few novel ways of using them. I’ve made blueberry pie, crisp, bread, cake, jam, smoothies, and even blueberry ice cream! One particular favorite is a classic Massachusetts blueberry muffin recipe. Those of you who have lived in the Boston area for a while will remember when Jordan Marsh was a prominent department store. They were famous for their blueberry muffins. So famous, in fact, that after they closed down, people were clamoring for the recipe. Eventually it was published, so while Jordan Marsh might be gone, the legendary muffins live on in kitchens all across New England, including mine.

When we get around to opening the cordial, you can bet we’ll be enjoying it while we watch the Patriots, which reminds me of another favorite memory from this summer! In July, the entire Pro PT staff traveled out to Patriot Place for a team-building event at Splitsville Luxury Lanes. We’re normally so busy with work that we don’t get the chance to hang out with each other and have a little fun.

We divided up into teams and tried our hands at tenpins. A few patients even stopped by to enjoy drinks and cheer on their favorite staff members. My team was Team Fox, and I was affectionately known as “the Ringmaster of the S&#@show.” It was so much fun, I’m thinking it will become a Pro PT tradition.

I’m looking forward to packing as many memories into the fall as I did into the summer. As the leaves start turning colors and the holidays approach, I hope you have the chance to enjoy some time with friends and family.

More Adventure Than Vacation

When you think of summer vacation, what comes to mind? If you think back to childhood, you probably remember the days when school felt like a distant memory, when your days were filled with games and your time was yours to spend as you wished. As an adult, you might think of a tropical getaway, complete with white-sand beaches and drinks with umbrellas in them. Or maybe, if you’re anything like me, you think of something a little more adventurous.

This year, my husband and I opted to spend our summer vacation exploring Seattle and Alaska. By the time this letter comes out, we should be there! Now, I know what you might be saying: “Rain and wilderness? What kind of vacation is that?” And I get it. To a lot of people, that doesn’t sound like much of a break. I have no problem with the laidback type of vacation, and there can be times when a chance to get away and recharge is just what’s needed. I love the idea of sitting on the beach for a few days, in theory. The problem comes with the fact that I burn like I’m coated in butter, and it never lives up to my expectation.

We’ve always preferred a trip that lets us investigate a new culture, learn a little bit about history, and do activities we couldn’t do anywhere else in the world. That’s why this trip has us so full of anticipation. After a week in Seattle, we fly into Anchorage. As much as I’m looking forward to spending a week in a city I’ve never been — hiking Olympic National Park, sampling coffees, eating Pacific seafood as opposed to the Atlantic fare I’ve come to know and love — it’s the Alaska portion of the trip that has me most excited. Our schedule is jam-packed, and I’m sure it will be a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

One portion of the Alaska trip that I cannot wait for is the visit to Happy Trails Kennels. Happy Trails is where the pups that will grow up to race in the Iditarod are raised, making it a kennel unlike any other. My husband and I are both dog lovers, so you can bet we’re looking forward to meeting the most amazing sled dogs in the world. If those animals weren’t enough, we’ll also be traveling to the Alaska Chilkat Bald Eagle Preserve.

Of course, Alaska isn’t just known for its wildlife; it’s also known for its breathtaking landscape. Spending a few days in Denali National Park will allow us to take in the full wonder of the wilderness. We’re going to do some white-water rafting while there, which, I have to admit, I’m a little nervous about. Riding the Alaska Train, panning for gold, seeing the glaciers…I’m sure our guides will be experts, though,we are planning to do it all! and it will end up turning into a highlight of our trip.

I’ve always heard about the long summer days up in Alaska, so I’ll be curious to see how 18 hours of sunlight actually feels. I guess no matter where we choose to vacation, spending time in the sun is unavoidable. Hopefully I’ll return with only lifelong memories and leave the sunburn for next summer.

Freedom and Independence

For as long as I can remember, I’ve always relished Fourth of July celebrations. Watching fireworks really brings people together, and it feels like everyone is looking at the sky at once, making it a true community experience. Taking in the festivities is great, but just as important is remembering why we celebrate Independence Day in the first place.

 

Our founding fathers rebelled from a system that offered few benefits to our citizens. They realized the colonies weren’t being served by the British Empire, and fought against this injustice. Winning independence was no easy task, but their intensity of passion and purpose never wavered. Living in Massachusetts, we walk some of the same streets people like Paul Revere and Samuel Adams did, and feel a deep connection to our history and values.

 

When it comes to systems that don’t serve people well in America today, I think the medical establishment would top the list for many people. In the past few decades, medicine has become depersonalized, sterile, and bureaucratic. Getting the care you need requires jumping through all sorts of hoops. I think of this type of care as deli-counter service. Take a number, wait in line, and we’ll help you when we get to you.

 

At Pro PT, we stand in direct opposition to this style of care. Our primary goal is always patient satisfaction, and we pride ourselves on building relationships. We treat patients as people, part of our family, not numbers on a spreadsheet. We offer care that’s independent from the headaches and red tape of hospitals and doctors offices, and we truly listen to your concerns and needs. As we’ve learned from our forefathers, you don’t need to put up with a broken system. Instead, you can create your own. To paraphrase the moving words of Thomas Jefferson penned in The Declaration of Independence, it is your right, it is your duty, to throw off such systems, and to prove new guards for your future security.

 

One the of the many beauties of America is that there’s nothing stopping entrepreneurs from fixing problems through the creation of small businesses. If you want local, personalized care, you can sidestep deli-counter medicine and seek an alternative. Small businesses that improve the lives of citizens are a cornerstone of the American Dream, and it means a lot to be able to take part in it. Providing the best experience for patients has been the mission of Pro PT since day one, and enhancing the quality of life for everyone that steps through our doors is what makes our job rewarding.

This Independence Day, I hope you can relax and spend a little time with your family. As you barbecue, watch your local parade or listen to the Boston Pops, take a moment to remember the values that our great country was built upon. Freedom and independence are powerful ideals that matter as much today as they did in 1776, and that’s definitely something worth celebrating!

 

The Bounty of Summer

After the cold of winter and the unpredictable weather of a New England spring, summer presents all sorts of opportunities to get outside and enjoy the sunshine. If you’re anything like me, you can feel a little caged in during the early months of the year, and are itching to be able to spend as much time as possible outdoors. One thing I try to do every year is establish a routine that takes advantage of our beautiful Massachusetts summers.

 

Throughout the year, I do yoga and meditate every day. We have an outdoor deck at our house, and it will definitely be my meditation station while the weather permits. It will also be a place to do some summer reading, as I’m usually juggling four of five books at a time. It can get a little hectic, but I’m always excited to learn new things. Another part of my routine is daily walks with my husband after we get off work. It’s not only a source of exercise, it’s also a relaxing way to debrief on the day.

 

Another benefit of the arrival of summer is the incredible bounty of fresh, local produce that arrives in our markets and restaurants. These months are a great time to focus on healthy eating, and it’s easier than ever before to get your hands on some beautiful fruits and vegetables. I love fresh summer corn, berries, and heirloom tomatoes in particular. Some of tomatoes grown in the area are just amazing, in shades of purple and yellow and orange — and they taste just as good as they look.

 

Last year, we did a lot of big landscaping projects at the house, so this year I’m looking forward to being able to plant herbs and perennials. I’m an avid salsa maker, so I’ll definitely be planting some cilantro in our garden. I think I might grow a little spearmint as well. It tends to take over the garden, but it means I’ll have no shortage of fresh mojitos this year.

 

My last summer goal this year is to learn how to sail. Whenever we get out on a lake, it’s easy to hop on a Jet Ski or powerboat, but I’ve always wanted to sail. It’ll probably take some convincing to get my husband to join in, but I’m determined to make this summer the one I finally make the commitment. Whether it’s the Charles, Lake Winnipesaukee, or a trip down to the Cape, I hope you get to take advantage of the water this year as well.

 

Here’s wishing everyone a healthy, happy, and fun summer. I hope you make the most of the weather and the harvest. If you happen to grow some vegetables and have a few let over, I definitely won’t be mad if you bring them by the office.

Thank You, Mrs. Cassani

It’s National Teacher Appreciation Month, so I thought I’d share the story of one of the most influential teachers I had growing up — and the profound impact her pedagogy had on my life. Her name was Mrs. Cassani, and she was the anatomy and physiology teacher at my high school. She was known for being incredibly smart, but she was also known for running a tight ship. Her class was notoriously rigorous and difficult to pass, so naturally, I wanted in.

 

Unfortunately, I was a transfer student — and far from what anyone would consider a brainiac in school. This meant I had to petition my way into her class, since I didn’t have any of the prerequisites. “I don’t care if I pass or fail,” I told them. “I really want to take this class.” I ended up getting my way, and boy were people right about it being a tough course. I worked hard, and although I wasn’t the best student in the class, I was one of the best students in the class, and I thrived on the competitive and fast-paced environment of Mrs. Cassani’s classroom.

 

The thing about Mrs. Cassani was that she lived the life she taught. She was passionate and knowledgeable in the talk, and she also walked the walk. She had a sharp sense of humor, and she encouraged me to join the science team. Even though I was a dedicated athlete, I became captain of the science team that year. For our final anatomy and physiology project, we were each assigned a topic, on which we’d create a massive presentation, including a 50-page report, models, and the works. The project was worth a major percentage of our grade, so everyone was compelled to do their very best work. When we were assigned our topics, and I’ll never forget this, I learned I was to research bladder infections. How in the world?

 

What I learned from the intense research process — aside from the correlation of cystisis and diabetes —  was that I really was actually really smart once I became interested in something. Not only could I stay motivated, but I could excel. I became one of Mrs. Cassani’s favorite students (a huge feat in and of itself), but most importantly, I learned that I wanted to go into the health care field. Academically, something had been ignited in me, and I developed a real interest in the medical world.

 

A really good teacher has ability to inspire you and challenge you, but they have to sincerely want you to succeed. Even if they’re really tough and demand a lot from you, at their core, a good teacher is someone who is pulling for you and wants you to improve. To me, that teacher was Mrs. Cassani. She taught me what passion looked like and helped me find my path. It relates to patient care in so many ways, too. We spend so much time trying to challenge our patients and move beyond their barriers, and I’d like to think I show every individual that they’re capable of more.

Clean Eats

There’s really no better time of year for eating fresh, healthy food. I used to have a veggie garden, but since we moved into our new house this past year, I haven’t done much gardening at home. Luckily, our new community has an organic garden nearby, and we bought a share of the space. They mostly grow vegetables, but there’s also fruit and herbs available for everyone who has space there. Each week, we receive a big bag or two of freshly picked food. It’s a luxury we really enjoy and helps keep us eating delicious, nutritious meals.

Kale is off our list (kale chips? yeah … no), but other than that, we love cooking anything and everything. One of my favorite spring and summer sides is fresh tomato salsa with cilantro, lime, onion, and jalapeños. I even like to throw in diced cucumbers when we have them, for a little extra texture. A zucchini addition is also a great way to sneak in some vegetables my husband would otherwise push aside. I make a milder version and a hot version so everyone can enjoy it.

Favorites also include rhubarb and strawberry jam, or anything with blueberries. There’s an area in our neighborhood with what looks like 60 blueberry bushes, so in the evenings my husband and I walk down and pick big bags of delicious berries to freeze for fruit smoothies. There’s really nothing better than freshly picked food, no matter what it is.

I look forward to hearing if you would be interested in a nutrition workshop. It’s so important to learn how to cook healthy, tasty food, and I want to invite our patients to learn more about the maintenance of their overall health in a comfortable, safe place. Our patients know us, trust us, and enjoy sharing with us the areas of their lives that could use some improvement. We want to be even more of a resource for a natural, healthy lifestyle. Nobody wants to take a bunch of medications and get more and more sick. We want you to be as happy and healthy as possible.

Having done this for 30 years, I’ve witnessed the ups and downs of my patients, and the serious medical issues that can arise when we don’t take care of our bodies. We want healthy nutrition to be easy to implement. Ideally, the nutrition we teach is simple, and you can practice it without much fuss. Whether you make a vegetable garden or simply buy more fresh fruits and veggies, take advantage of what nature offers us this season, and get your body back in balance while you’re at it.

Send me an email at DrRaybuck@proptinc.com and let me know if a nutrition workshop would be of interest. If we have enough interest, I’ll get it scheduled!

A Historical Comeback

The excitement may have died down a little since New England’s huge Super Bowl victory over the Falcons, but the game will go down in NFL history. As I watched the game play out, shocked by the amazing comeback at the end of the third quarter, something struck a chord with me. I noticed that these two teams were starkly different in the way they carried themselves through the game.

 

If you watch the Patriots and the Falcons closely, you’ll notice the difference between youthful exuberance and disciplined maturity. When the two teams are lined up, it’s clear that the Falcons are a younger, greener team. It reminds me of a famous Jim Rohn quote, “Success is nothing more than a few simple disciplines practiced every day.” A sign of maturity is welcoming the discipline, knowing what you need to do, and then doing it — and doing it again.

 

Much like Bill Belichick encourages his team to “do your job,” you should encourage yourself to do what’s necessary. You know what you need to do, it’s just a matter of doing it. Don’t worry about anyone else, and always control the inevitable emotional highs and lows. If you noticed, the Patriots players, especially Tom Brady, were level-headed through the emotional stress. They didn’t get too up, and they didn’t’ get too down — even at the most difficult moments. One stat that stood out was the difference in penalty yards. In the end, the Patriots had far fewer penalties against them (4 for 23 yards) than the Falcons (9 for 65 yards). The Patriots clearly kept themselves in check. They kept their cool when they needed it most.

 

The desire to keep marching down field, even when it’s third and long, can mean the difference between success and failure. The same goes for therapy. There will be ups and downs, but you can’t survive off irrational exuberance over the wins, and you can’t let yourself get too depressed over the losses. It’s important to stay focused and use the support systems you have (your therapy team, for one) to charge down the field toward that big win. When it comes down to it, your recovery is about discipline. Do your job through your entire course of care to enjoy the rewards of your success.

 

As we get older, we may not be as fast or feel quite as well, but with maturity comes wisdom. You may not come out of the gate as fast, but you have the level-headedness to pull ahead. We will never forget the amazing comeback that we saw the Patriots make this year against the Falcons. But we can also learn a thing or two from the Patriots as a team, and apply it to healing. No matter how far behind you fall, discipline, maturity, and persistence are the keys to an epic comeback through physical therapy.

Stacey Schatz

What Motivates You Makes You Stronger

You might say I’m a goal-setting junkie. I live for dreaming big and helping others make their goals a reality. In my line of work, I get to coach a lot of people. At this point, I’ve been working diligently to get my goals all set for 2017, which has been sort of a crazy process, but I’m setting huge personal goals, as well as my goals for the clinic.

 

Whatever you set up for your big goals — which I like to refer to as “big hairy audacious goals” or BHAGs — I think the main thing is tying it into a value that you hold near and dear. I love to have people make a list of their top values before they even begin setting goals. When I say values, I don’t mean things like honesty or integrity. If you value personal health, for example, getting in good shape, staying well, and becoming fit, then all of those things should tie into that value. Fitness, not getting sick, and overall health are great, but if you can’t tie those goals into your overall value, you won’t do anything to work on that goal.

 

Another thing I do is ask, “What are your dreams?” If you could do anything, go anywhere, or be anyone, what would you do, where would you go, and who would you be? From there, I think it’s important to make a list and begin turning that list into values and put them in order. This can be extremely challenging, I know, especially as different phases of life give you different priorities. But after doing that list of values, you can go back and begin devising what your overall goals are going to be and separating those into categories.

 

For me, I have separate goals for my personal and professional life, and a whole third set for goals I create for the clinic. For each category, I make one big BHAG, and I crack them down into 12-week increments, outlining steps that lead to different stages of that goal. Journaling my progress as I go, I find myself at the end of the 12 weeks. If I’ve met that BHAG, I give myself a reward. Breaking it down this way makes the process more manageable, and mini rewards help me progress along the way.

 

Want to learn more about how to reach your big goals this year? Tony Robbins does a lot with goal setting, and he’s one of my favorites, but there’s also a Charles Givens, who wrote a great book related to goal setting that was really useful. Another mentor that I work with, named Dave Dee, gave me tricks on goal setting and how to tie goals to values. For breaking it up, there’s a book called “The 12-Week Year,” that I highly recommend. It’s phenomenal for helping take goals and break them down into to 12-week increments.

 

Over last 24 months, I’ve really worked hard at some of my life’s major goals, both personally and professionally, and meeting the biggest of which resulted in booking a trip to Alaska as a reward. Neither my husband nor I have ever been there, and we’re really looking forward to it.

We’re doing an inland tour of Alaska and a cruise. The inland portion will include  going to bald eagle sanctuary and a behind-the-scenes experience where they train iditarod dogs. We are also going to visit Denali National Park, which I’m really looking forward to! Sometimes when you have a good reward, it can motivate you to do something on a day when you just want to stay in bed. For me, having something like this big trip has played a huge part in motivating me to reach my goals.

 

Whatever your goals, I hope you aim high and stay motivated however you can. Anything is possible!
Until next time,

Dr. Stacey Raybuck Schatz

The Power to Transform

I believe in the power of transformation —a person starts physical therapy with a certain outlook, limitation, or pain and then graduates, weeks or months later, transformed. Much of the role of a physical therapist is about empowerment and giving people the courage and the knowledge to change their lives. When I see others learning, achieving progress, and then watch their moment of revelation — there’s nothing more magical.

 

When the pain is gone, and they make it through to the other side and back to normal, they are transformed. For decades, I have worked for that transformation in each patient. And as my practice grew, and I matured (okay, okay- aged) I began to mentor and coach other therapists and I discovered a new kind of transformation to be a part of.

 

Now, the part that I love most about my job is learning to help other people do the job. As it turns out, I found out that the best thing I could do to maximize my impact on the world around me was to dedicate more of my time to coaching our physical therapy staff and other clinicians. If I had all the money in the world, I’d go around and coach colleagues that are just starting their practice and help them learn to treat — and grow their practice so they can maximize the number of people they help.

It boils down to simple math for me (it’s the only kind of math I can handle!). As a direct care clinician, I can only help as many people as I can fit into my daily clinic schedule. I can only help spark that transformation in a very limited number of people. But when I help other therapists, I can see that transformation in the clinicians, and I can also watch as they pass the knowledge, techniques, and skills on — to every single one of their patients. I can exponentially increase my opportunities to help others.

 

I always tell my staff that if I win the lottery tomorrow, I’ll hand the clinic over to them. I’ve watched their transformations. They came to the clinic with passion, desire to help others, know-how, and skill — and one by one, I’ve watched them grow into the kinds of therapists (and people) I’d trust with anything. I am honored to have them on my team.

 

I believe that when you make a difference for someone, it gives you significance in the world. By making a difference in the lives of those people who are making a difference in lives, that guides me and drives me. It also keeps me out of trouble! What guides you? What pushes you forward in this life? Send me an email at drraybuck@proptinc.com and let me know! I’m curious….

— Stacey Raybuck Schatz

 

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