Monthly Archives: July 2013

Understanding Hoarding

It was not until I moved out on my own that I realized my mother was a hoarder.  Each visit home presented with new, unopened boxes of beauty products, vitamins, household appliances, in addition to endless piles of paper and bags of new clothes.  I would stare in awe at the apartment and wonder how it went from being neat and organized to messy and cluttered.  I almost didn’t recognize the apartment I grew up in, let alone understand how my mom could stand to live like this.  Seeing the place like this brought on feelings of anxiety, anger, sadness, yet trying to help my mom clean brought on her own feelings of anxiety.  She could not let go or throw away so many of the things that I deemed useless.  Or she would say I will clean later.  But as one year turned to seven, I realized that she was paralyzed in this state of not being able to clean, to throw, to organize herself.  It was then that I began to understand  that my mom was a compulsive hoarder.  Even this term was new to me but as I learned more about it, I understood where my mom was coming from and what the definition of hoarding really meant.  An overview of this can be found here.

My mom is in a better place now and has learned to throw things that she no longer needs, as well as not buy things unless she needs them.  She still struggles with the pull to save things as I struggle with wanting to just throw things out for her; however, I realized that this is something that she has to deal with on her on, of course with the support and guidance of me and my family.   Although she has come a long way from just a few years ago, she now has a better understanding of how her hoarding affects her and those around her.  If you, or someone you know has dealt with this issue, please let us know how it has impacted you and those around you.

You can also read an excerpt from “Coming Clean: A Memoir” about a child growing up with a father who hoarded.

Categories: Green Room, Mind | Tags: | 3 Comments

SJC Alumni Digital Story – Getting Through Eating Disorders


Growing up is tough nowadays. When my dad talks about growing up in Brooklyn, it seems like things were simpler. I’m already just about 31-years-old, but I remember being a preteen and an early teen like it was just a short time ago …

I’ve wanted to write about my story since the wellness blog came into existence, but I was a little nervous about what my colleagues would think. However, I’m a mom of a beautiful little boy now and, by being his mother, I really feel like I’ve found my true confidence and  I’m not as worried about what other people think of me. The way that I see it, I have a lot to offer and, if you don’t like me because of my past, well, that’s just too darn bad for you!

From as early as I can remember, I compared my body to others. A friend of mine on my block was tall and thin with pretty light brown hair, while I was short and a little chubby, with darker coloring. For some reason, this difference in appearance, even this early in life, made me feel inferior. Little did I realize how cute I was! As I grew up, I developed before the rest of the girls did and I felt embarrassed of my newfound curves. I never really wanted to draw attention to myself, so the fact that I developed so quickly was absolutely appalling. Then, the summer before my eighth grade year, I decided to go on a diet. When I went back to school, some of my classmates commented on how great I looked. I feel like girls that age start to act like little adults. For example, the girls often trade their backpack for a cute little purse and they start paying attention to fashion trends and makeup. I am convinced that even the prettiest of girls are terribly insecure at that age. You couldn’t pay me $1 million to go back to the way that I felt in middle school. Anyway, very quickly, my weight loss got out of control and, without going into too much detail, I was subsisting on less than 300 calories per day. I lost 50 pounds in three-and-a-half months. My hair was falling out, my skin was jaundice (which means my liver wasn’t functioning properly) and I wasn’t getting my period or having bowel movements. My dad brought me to the pediatrician and he caught on to what was happening. I was suffering with anorexia nervosa.

The next several years were challenging to say the least, but, at the same time, I was so very lucky. My pediatrician, my medical doctor from North Shore LIJ (that’s where I was treated as an outpatient), a nutritionist, psychologist and psychiatrist all worked together to help me. But, two other factors were even more important in my recovery: the support of my parents who loved me and encouraged me throughout the entire ordeal and I found God. I know that I might lose some of you at “I found God,” but hear me out. When you suffer with an eating disorder, it’s not just because you went on a diet that went out of control or that you have self-esteem issues. That’s part of it, but it’s not the whole story. There is suffering there that you can really only understand if you go through it yourself. I can’t describe the pain to you because words are not sufficient enough to describe it. At that time, I just didn’t understand how there could be a God if, at such a young age, I was experiencing such pain. One day, my mom gave me a card with the Serenity Prayer on it and told me to just hold onto it. I could always say the prayer in the future. Eventually, that day came and, from then on, my healing process took on a new, brighter path. I know that my doctors played a huge part in that, but so did God.

I relapsed at 24 years old and had to go see my psychologist and a nutritionist again, but I made it a point to be strong. I prayed, I didn’t give in to my demons, and things started to get a lot better. I got my first real job as a counselor and, later that year, I met the man who would later become my husband. All of these wonderful things started to happen because I started to take care of the most important person in my life: ME! I don’t mean that in a materialistic or selfish way. It’s just that what they say is really true: If you don’t take care of yourself, you’re not going to be able to take care of anyone else. Good things will start to happen when you’re good to yourself.

I know that my story may really hit close to home for some of you. I want everyone who is reading this to know that there is a way. You can get healthy. You can move past this. You can and you will be happy again. This actually can make you stronger; you just have to work at it. And, as you work on things, there will be times where it’ll be so tough that you’ll want to give up. Trust me, I know. But, please don’t. There is a better, happier way to live. My mom told me that I had to take my recovery one day at a time and, if necessary, one hour at a time. Her advice really helped me back then (and it still does).

I wish you all love, happiness and health as you embark on whatever path you choose. Be strong and learn how to love yourself. It is the greatest gift that you can give to yourself and to the world.  God bless.

Written By: Catherine Vitucci, SJC Staff Member
Photo By: fotonaut

Categories: Reflections | 3 Comments


Words are known

but not understood

Words are truth

truths unwanted

Words are false

untruths wanted

Words are wind

too weak to fill a sail

Words are thoughts

made into breadth

Breadth is life

expressed as words

An original poem by Sel Baskurt

Categories: Reflections | Leave a comment

Living Tips


  1. Develop a charismatic personality
    You know, the kind of personality that is surrounded by people constantly and is the life of the party. Start visualizing yourself as THAT person. Maybe take a short course on dynamic speaking and learn some jokes. Take the time to learn some party tricks and sleight of hand. Most importantly, believe that you already are charismatic even if you fail at being the center point of the next party. Lie to yourself constantly and tell yourself that you are more warm and gregarious than Ronald Regan. Belief is the first step! Reality will come soon after.
  2. Love is all there is
    If you truly want to be a master of life, let love be in your every action. Love your friends, family and enemies alike. This is the most difficult thing to do out of this entire list, which is why it is listed at #50. But if you accomplish this, you will be seen as a leader among everyone that allows hate, envy, disgust and all other negative emotions into their lives. Think Gandhi. Love is so rare in this world when compared to the massive presence of hate that by exuding love, you will immediately see yourself and the people around you change. Love. Love. Love.
  3. Exaggerate your compliments
    If you’re going to say something nice, why not make it a bit nicer? Only you will know the difference and the target of the compliment will feel that much better.
  4. Forget about insults entirely (even in jest)
    We can all agree that nothing good comes of insults. If they are serious, then someone comes out of the exchange feeling cut down. Even if you insult someone jokingly, their subconscious mind still takes your words in as a serious statement and imprints the insult on the person. This is akin to a commercial: it can seem stupid, but you are still building up respect for the product on a subconscious level. This is why companies pay top dollar just to have their logo visible in public places.
  5. Investigate what is known about death
    What do you know about death? You certainly have beliefs around it, but what do you know about the science of death, or of those who have died and been brought back to life? Death is not as big of a mystery as it is made out to be. Do your research before you fear or misconstrue this most universal human experience.
Categories: Reflections | Leave a comment

Brume & Breath

I exhale.

A fog is forming

And I find the mist

Seeping into my mind.

My thoughts become rapid, erratic and unguided,

Crashing against shrouded stones

Like ships approaching shore without a light’s shine.

I arrive at no answers, so

I breath to clear the brume,

And search for center.

I inhale.

An original poem by Sel Baskurt

Categories: Reflections | Leave a comment


IMG_20130709_162857What is that something within us that operates our drive. Is it our mind? Our heart? Is it our idea of a soul? The glory of our driven self shines brightest in the will of survival. Nothing is more real than the presence of mortality, so we bow to this reality by living to the countinual fullest. Our motivation is not a fear but a respect to the inevitable truth. Rather than running from the storm, we ground our heels, inhale, and sprint head-on into the hail and lightning, the wind, fire and rain.  Our gift is the freedom to decide, our spirit is the driven sprinter.

The colorful birds danced and sung upon lofty hung branches that held the green canopies above the forest floor. Thin streams of filtered light shined through the spaces between the fabric of swaying leaves. Insects drifted amongst the moving stillness. The wind gently blew a dangling leaf from its perch; it coasted from point to point like a pendulum wrapped around the wing of a bat. It felt the ground. At that instantaneous moment, a sprinting foot found the exact spot of ground. With the cadence of a gazelle, two legs, perpetuating as testimate to the intelligence of a thousand years of perfected evolutionary structuring and  discipline, drove the body of a young man dashing through the dense vegetation. Vines hanging from broken branches slashed his chest, arms and face. The beams of light through the trees cut like swords across his dilated glare. His ankles caught roots, his wrists caught the sharp bark of misplaced trees. Each step mirrored the faint blare of his heartbeats, pounding against the shouts of breath. The dense foliage shadowed the sunlight darkening the shifting surroundings. Everything was darkness, a stark gray cold emptiness, the sweat draining to his brow.

The forest broke through to the immediate cliff forcing the man to halt in his mind; forcing his heart to jump in place. Inhale. Pupils contract. His soul broke through as his legs no longer felt Earth, the wind stabbing like a million needles against every pore… and this was his day, this was his victory of life, this was his death and from it – his birth. The blue air met the whipping waves on sharpened rocks spewing salty foam against the side of the cliff. Exhale: this was his freedom.

Who is he? He is me, he is you, he is your brother, your mother your best friend your teacher your son your liberation your awakening, and he is that something within us that operates our drive.

Categories: Green Room, Spirit | Leave a comment

Summer Berries Dessert Recipes

64080481_8decafc3ba_qSummer is in the air, and that means luscious, ripe berries are in season!  Grocery stores, farmers markets and fruit stands are now stocked with fresh blueberries, blackberries, strawberries, raspberries and many more types of berries.  With the abundance of these berries, this is the perfect time to put together delicious desserts that are sure to impress!  From pies, fruit tarts, cakes to bicuits and scones, berries are great baked right in or as a topping.

Whether you are an avid baker or a novice, these easy to follow berry recipes will leave you asking for more!  You can click here for more information on these recipes, but we would also want to hear from you.  If you have a berry recipe that you want to share we would love to know what it is.  Or if you tried one of the recipes via the link, let us know your experience.  In the meantime, fill up on these nutritious, vitamin packed gems!

Photo by: Dano on Flickr             License:  Creative Commons

Categories: Body, Green Room | Tags: | Leave a comment

Stay Hydrated with Naturally Infused Water

8711173199_e7b86616c4_qIt is safe to say that this summer so far has been hot!  Days and weeks of 90 degree plus weather, combined with oppressive humidity, has left many of us grabbing ice cold drinks to stay cool.  However, many of the drinks that you may be consuming may not be as healthy as you think.  Store bought drinks can be filled with sugar, artificial colors, chemicals and other ingredients that are detrimental to the body, and can even leave you more dehydrated, such as with diet and sugar laden coffee drinks.

Of course just drinking water may not be as interesting as the drinks you see on the shelves; however, these 25 fruit and herb inspired water concoctions may actually inspire you to give these healthier options a try!  Furthermore, choosing to drink water can help reduce headaches, mood swings, and even help you lose weight!  To learn more about these delicious recipes, please click here.

If you have created your own delicious water mixture we would love to hear the recipe!  Here’s to your health!

Photo byforayinto35mm on Flickr                License:  Creative Commons

Categories: Alternative Health, Green Room | Leave a comment

Breathing Practice

Finding a quiet space and a comfortable seat, allow yourself to settle and connect with the guided breathing practice while Zen Garden by Kokin Gumi creates the backdrop…

  • Inhale Freely & Exhale Freely (12 x’s)
  • Inhale Freely & Double the length of your Exhales (12 x’s)
  • Inhale Freely & Exhale Freely (12 x’s)
  • Maintaining this connection and awareness with the breath throughout the rest of Zen Garden
Categories: Audio & Visual Clips, Relaxation Space | Leave a comment


Surrounded, trapped,

imprisoned, but free

Intangible incarnations

of consciousness

Handicapped by being

tangible incarnate

The cells are hidden,

but in plain view

Spirits innumerable,


Original poem by Sel Baskurt

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