“Only from the heart, can you touch the sky” ~ Rumi
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You know those people whose spirit lights up an entire room?
Meet Paula Bartholomy, Hawthorn University's Director of Online Events and Registrar. As I interviewed her for the series, I couldn't help but think, “What a beautiful person, who radiates joy.” Her confidence, passion for helping others, and decades-long journey in holistic health were so inspiring.
I hung up the phone, wishing I could take her to lunch, and become lifelong friends.
Last time – she talked about her family's influence, the areas she's studied, and the disease she avoided working with for a very long time
Today, we chat about self-care, her wellness philosophy, seeking health-related truth in a world of misinformation, and the beautiful presence she brings to those at the end of their lives
How have you split your time between private practice and Hawthorn University?
Well, Hawthorn gets most of me, for sure. I balance it with clients and some group activity projects. I'm fortunate because I'm able to select the people I work with; those who have a high commitment and need. Mostly, at this point, they have a chronic illness – Dementia, more and more. Gut issues, always.
Over the years, I've become aligned with Hospice. There is also a death doula training that is very powerful. It's an educational opportunity that's in front of me and will support the work that I'm doing with end of life support and transitioning. The program is aligned with Hospice's palliative care approach, but takes it to another level because it's personalized to what a person wants and needs as they move into this final season of their life.
Volunteering is also really important to me. I was on the NANP board and developed the first iteration of their board certification exam. I remain a consultant, and am also on another board, working on a different exam. I volunteer at the local community level as well.
Oh .. and my big and growing family ..
I was thinking more about Hospice and working with people who are nearing the end of their lives. How do you navigate the challenge of not carrying it with you, emotionally?
I guess it's because I come from a place of love, compassion, and empathy; and I beam that to them. I'm not trying to change anything. I'm not trying to fix anything. I'm simply attempting to be present with what is, and help them to be present with what is.
Certainly, I have lingering images after. Yes, but they're not ghostly images. Birth and death are holy times. They're powerful times of transformation when we can be fully present. As someone is giving birth, to be fully present with the process, and to also be present in their death process, is huge. A gift. A blessing .. always a blessing.
Your job requires giving to everyone else. How do you take care of yourself?
I've learned that in order to tend to others, I must tend to myself first. I model my beliefs, Alison. I've got to walk my talk. Even as a kid, I was tending to wounded critters, and I'd rally the neighborhood kids when a funeral procession was needed for one. It seems I have a high compassion button, and I've learned to extend loving-kindness and compassion to myself too. Self-care is essential. Actually, when I was facing a serious health issue, I had to learn self-care, as well as learn to receive. It was humbling, always the giver, but twas a gift in this too .. I'm more compassionate!
How big of a role have your yoga and meditation practice have played?
Hugely. They afford a grounding and centering in my own healing journeys, and over time, my mindfulness practice has deepened. It's been paramount in my healing, and certainly, I recognize its value for others as well.
What is your wellness philosophy?
Learning to listen to my body at the soul level. Asking, “What am I feeling? Or, not willing to feel! What nourishes me now?” Then addressing what's needed.
Mostly, it's about getting my butt on the cushion! “Meditate. Do my mindfulness practice.” I mean, I'm busy. I can get up in the morning, my mind already moving into the day's activities, and be ready to go, go, go. Instead, it's “Sit down, Paula; let's breathe and open to the gifts of this day.”
Mindfulness practice. Conscious breathing. Moving my body.
I have to move my body because I have a type that pretty much demands it. Gardening has been life-saving. Getting on my knees with hands in the soil; being in nature is essential. I'm fortunate where I live because the Pacific Northwest provides that in abundance. And I take moments to slow .. way .. down. It's necessary for me to be able to hear and see what's needed.
I employ what I call the sacred pause (it's not my term). Sometimes, I'll pause, look up at the sky, and watch a bird for as long as I can see it. Or I'll pause and listen to the sound of the creek during different seasons. How much can I see? How much can I hear? What's right here? Pause brings me to the present. Otherwise, I miss too much that's precious.
It's gifting attention to me, to life .. and really, these practices activate my parasympathetic nervous system and elicit a positive vagus nerve response. I feel the benefit from it immediately. It continues to draw me back because it's effective. I'd be a wreck without it.
There is so much misinformation out there. Do you have any tips for people in search of health-related truths?
It begs the question, What is true? What is the truth? For me, what I allow into my mind is essential to discern and protect.
When it comes to information, it's imperative to know your source. Some questions that I ask or expect from our students: “Is the information referenced? Is it peer-reviewed? Is it factual? Can it be validated?” We also need to be flexible because things change. What one expert said and was true five years ago may be different now.
I've been criticized mightily for reading and listening to all sides and opinions. When somebody walks into my office, and I'm reading the Registered Dietitians Magazine Today, I've been asked, “Why are you reading that?” I say, “To be informed.” So I know what they're thinking, what they're saying, what they're proposing. I'm in this profession, and I don't want to be in a narrow little world. I want to know what's available and what's happening. And be respectful.
Cross-reference everyone and everything. Avoid seeing only one perspective, one point of view. Employ critical thinking and be broadly informed. We tend to do this – have a belief or opinion, and only willing to look for the research that supports it. To prove we are right. But I want to look at the different points of view to say, “Is this true for me? Do I want to believe it as-is? Or is there something about it to question?” Being open matters.
For the people that are ill and have the availability of the internet, I'll ask, “Where did you hear that?” They'll say, “The internet.” I want to know, is it PubMed? Is it a reliable source? Or is it just “somebody” talking about “something” they're selling, marketing, or blogging about.
( .. to be continued .. )
“Hummm … The next time I talk to Paula, I'll have to ask what's growing in her garden this year.”
Not having made an Ottolenghi recipe in a while, I've found myself thumbing through them while I'm waiting in line at the grocery or having lunch at the coffee shop.
Deciding on the sort of soup I crave during these warm summer days; the kind that starts with one all-star, seasonal ingredient like beets. Beyond that, perhaps an onion, some broth or water, some herbs or spices, and boom – you've got what you need to make something magical.
Hearty, substantial, and squarely in the comfort food realm. It's the simplest of veggie soups, topped with rye, walnut, and herb-packed dumplings. A swirl of sour cream. A classic dumpling stew with a green, herby twist. Super delicious and satisfying.
— — —
~ Adapted from Yotam Ottolenghi | The Guardian
Borscht With Rustic Rye and Walnut Studded Dumplings
- 2 Tbsp olive oil
- 2 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
- 1 onion, chopped fine
- 1 tsp fennel seeds
- salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 4 cups beef (or veggie) stock
- 1 ½ lbs beets (~ 4 large), peeled and cut into 1" pieces
- 1 ½ tsp lemon juice
- ½ cup sour cream
- dill leaves, chopped fine
- 3 slices German rye bread, lightly toasted and roughly blitzed (there are also a lot of gluten-free rye breads available)
- zest from one lemon
- dill, finely chopped
- tarragon leaves, finely chopped
- ⅓ cup walnut halves, toasted and roughly chopped
- 1 tsp caraway seeds, lightly toasted and crushed
- 2 eggs, beaten
Prep the Meatballs
- In a medium bowl, add all of the dumpling ingredients, along with a good grind of pepper. Mix to combine
- Form into 12 dumplings weighing about 30 g each, squeezing very firmly as you shape them (it's really important to compress the dumplings, or they won't stay together during cooking)
- Refrigerate for at least an hour, allowing them to firm up.
- In a large saucepan over medium-high heat, warm the olive oil. Saute the garlic, onion, fennel seeds, and a pinch of salt for about five minutes, until the onion is soft.
- Cover with 3 cups of stock, then add the beets, lemon juice, and grind of pepper. Turn the heat to medium-low and simmer gently for 45-50 minutes, or until the beets are very soft
Cook the Dumplings
- After the soup has been cooking for 25 minutes, add the remaining cup of stock to a medium saucepan, along with a strong pinch of salt. Bring to a simmer, before turning the heat to low
- Take the dumplings out of the fridge and compress them again.
- Poach the dumplings in two batches for ~ 3 minutes a batch, turning them halfway, then transfer the cooked dumplings to a plate using a slotted spoon.
- Strain the stock and water into the soup pot and leave to cook until the 50 minutes is up
Finish and Serve
- Divide the soup between four bowls and top each portion with three dumplings
- Spoon the sour cream alongside, drizzle with a little olive oil, sprinkle with dill and serve