A little dose of Buddhist wisdom can help our Western culture

NIAGARA, Wis. — America is part of “Western” culture. Growing up as Americans we were born into that culture and learned a set of principles that have guided our lives. We have been taught that we are individuals — our own person — and deserve happiness. In fact, the freedom to pursue that happiness is guaranteed to us in our country’s Constitution. As Americans we firmly believe that this happiness is our individual responsibility to build. We prize the rugged individual with an extroverted personality who is successful in building that life and claiming that happiness. We strive to be that person who has “made it” — the person who is living his or her dream.

But we also have lived long enough to understand that even when we meet our goals, we may not feel that happiness. We hear so often that there is a mental health crisis within the youth population of our country. We also may know those who, on the surface, appear to have everything they could possibly want yet end up committing suicide. And we are left to wonder why — what more did they need in their lives? Questions regarding our own feelings of sadness and hopelessness are now part of our routine physical exams. Have we had such feelings for longer than two weeks, the surveys ask. How can people living within a society with so much feel such emptiness and sadness?

I have just begun to scratch the surface of a part of “Eastern” culture that may hold some answers. Buddhism is one of the world’s great religions, and its teachings are very different from our Western cultural beliefs. I recently read an article about a Buddhist nun and author, Pema Chodron, who was born in New York City in 1936 and was one of the first Westerners to receive full monastic ordination in the Tibetan Buddhist tradition. She has been a key figure in bringing Buddhism to the West. In this article, she shares five themes common to Buddhist culture.

First, let’s examine the feeling of fear. Chodron points out that the advice we usually get regarding that emotion is to “sweeten it up, smooth it over, take a pill, distract ourselves, but by all means make it go away.” How often while growing up were we chided for being fearful? We were called “chicken” if we did not just jump in and follow everyone else into danger. Boys were “sissy” if they did not climb to the top of the tree. We grew into adulthood avoiding that unpleasant feeling. And if it should rear its ugly head, we pushed it down into our subconscious where it hid itself away only to rise again in unhealthy coping mechanisms such as drugs and alcohol.

Chodron offers healthier ways of viewing fear when she says, “Fear is a natural reaction to moving closer to the truth.” She also assures us that brave people are intimate with the feeling of fear and that “when we are willing to stay even a moment with uncomfortable energy, we gradually learn not to fear it.” It is critical for good mental and emotional health to allow ourselves to swim around in our uncomfortable feelings so we can discover their source. Only then can we deal with the issues that are causing them and honestly manage whatever is throwing our lives out of balance.

Second, it is important to live in the moment. This is the one that was the biggest issue for me. I spent too much time living in either regret of past mistakes and personal history I had no part in making or impatience for the future to arrive “when everything would be better.” This is such a waste of precious time. None of us can undo the past. It is over. The best we can hope for is to learn from it: so, find the lesson in it, and then let it go. When we live in the moment, appreciating each day and taking from it whatever lesson it gives to us, then the future takes care of itself. As Chodron said, “One can appreciate and celebrate each moment — there’s nothing more sacred. There’s nothing more vast or absolute. In fact, there’s nothing more!”

Living in the moment enables the third principle; I will call it the power of relaxation or meditation. Chodron states that the happiness we seek is already in our lives and we need only to slow down long enough to realize it; happiness will be found in the letting go rather than in the struggle. She states, “Clarity and decisiveness come from the willingness to slow down, to listen and look at what’s happening.” When is this approach ever reinforced by our Western culture? More often than not, the hard-driving, success-seeking individuals are those pushing for answers and racing to meet deadlines. When asked for a solution, the boss rarely wants to hear, “Well, let me meditate on that for a while.” Our culture is not one of patience. Generally, we want solutions yesterday.

The practice of meditation is not a weakness. Thinking before we act is a good thing as it prevents a lot of errors. As Chodron states, “We don’t sit in meditation to become good meditators. We sit in meditation so that we’ll become more awake in our lives.” Find some quiet and breathe. Empty your mind, still the beating of your heart, and allow your mind to seek its own destination; you will be amazed at the clarity that emerges.

The fourth principle is the acceptance that life is struggle. No amount of planning or hours spent laboring will eliminate the fact that eventually the proverbial crap will hit the fan. How we perceive these less than stellar events is completely up to us and will determine the quality of our passage through life. Chodron explains, “Whether we experience what happens to us as obstacle and enemy or as teacher and friend depends entirely on our perception of reality … The truth is that things don’t really get solved. They come together and they fall apart. Then they come together again and fall apart again. It’s just like that. The healing comes from letting there be room for all of this to happen: room for grief, for relief, for misery, for joy.”

Suffering comes from our attempt to resist change. But when we can realize and accept that life is full of change and situations that make no sense in the moment, we can relax into it and better tolerate the tumultuous ride. In Eastern culture, this is called enlightenment. And it brings us to the fifth principle: the realization that struggle is a positive thing. Our Western culture has told us that happiness is smooth sailing, and we spend our lives in pursuit of those calm seas. But it is when life gets shaky and nothing is working that we can come to realize we are on the verge of something. It is when life falls apart around us that we are given the biggest opportunity for positive change.

So … close your eyes, sit back, and breathe. Be in the moment. Relinquish the need to control and let life happen. And remember Chodron’s words, “Nothing ever goes away until it has taught us what we need to know.”



Freeman Nursing and Rehabilitation Community



Group activities are ongoing and doors are unlocked for visits. Anyone who would like to entertain residents would be welcome. Volunteers are also needed to help with crafts and other activities.

Sunday: Church on TV /Resident choice, 10 a.m.; what’s the difference?, 6 p.m.

Monday: Rosary, 10 a.m.; trivia, 11:45 a.m.; room visits, 1:30 p.m.; coffee time, 2 p.m.

Tuesday: Decorating, 10 a.m.; trivia, 11:45 a.m.; finish decorating, 1:30 p.m.

Wednesday: Coffee time, 10 a.m.; music, 11:45 a.m.; Yahtzee and ice cream, 1:30 p.m.

Thursday: Reminisce, 10 a.m.; trivia, 10:45 a.m.; crafts-hand painting, 1:30 p.m.

Friday: Hair styling, 10 a.m.; music, 11:45 a.m.; lotto/bingo, 1:30 p.m.

Saturday: Resident choice, 10 a.m.; horse racing with Ann, 2 p.m.

Iron County Medical Care Facility

Crystal Falls


Sunday: Room visits, 9 a.m.; trivia, 10 a.m.; chair exercise, 11 a.m.; room visits, 12:30 p.m.; bingorama, 2 p.m.

Monday: Crafts, 9:15 a.m.; exercise, 10:45 a.m.; room visits, 1 p.m.; Sunshine Club, 2:30 p.m.; bonfire, 5:30 p.m.

Tuesday: Just friends, 9 a.m.; book club, 10 a.m.; travel film, 1:30 p.m.; mystery ride, 2 p.m.; penny ante, 2 p.m.; action movie, 6 p.m.

Wednesday: Coffee social / sunshine club, 9:30 a.m.; Catholic Mass, 10 a.m.; exercise, 10:45 a.m.; room visits, 1 p.m.; Dan’s songs for seniors, 2 p.m.; night bingo, 6 p.m.

Thursday: Puzzler, 9:30 a.m.; bowling, 10 a.m.; wildlife film, 1:30 p.m.; Bible study, 1 p.m.; happy hour, 2 p.m.

Friday: Memory books, 9:30 a.m.; exercise, 10:45 a.m.; room visits, 1 p.m.; garden club/reminisce, 2 p.m.; musical movie, 6 p.m.

Saturday: ICMCF word search/storytelling, 10 a.m.; geri-gym, 11 a.m.; room visits, 12:30 p.m.; social hour, 2 p.m.; classic movie, 6 p.m.

Optalis Healthcare

(formerly ManorCare/ProMedica)



The center is now open for visitation. Visitors no longer need to call in advance.

No activity calendar was available.

Maryhill Manor Nursing Home

Niagara, Wis.


Visitation is allowed as long as all infection control guidelines are followed, including wearing a mask, washing hands and social distancing. Daily scheduled activities continue to be for residents only.

Sunday: Coffee and news, 10 a.m.; delivery of communion, 12:30 p.m.; bingo, 2 p.m.

Monday: Rosary/communion, 9 a.m.; seated exercise, 10 a.m.; baking cupcakes, 2 p.m.

Tuesday: Rosary/communion, 9 a.m.; Bob Larson, 10:15 a.m.; bocce ball, 2 p.m.; Chaplet of Divine Mercy, 3 p.m.

Wednesday: Rosary/communion, 9 a.m.; Parachute, 10 a.m.; courtyard campfire, 2 p.m.; evening prayer, 5 p.m.

Thursday: Rosary/communion, 9 a.m.; Catholic Mass, 9:30 a.m.; pamper and polish, 10 a.m.; jokereno, 2 p.m.; Chaplet of Divine Mercy, 3 p.m.

Friday: Monthly birthday coffee clutch, 10 a.m.; happy hour with Jim D., 2 p.m.

Saturday: Morning mingle, 10 a.m.; courtyard games — bag toss, 2 p.m.

Florence Health Services

Florence, Wis.


Visitation is allowed seven days a week in designated areas only. Each visit is limited to 30 minutes and must be scheduled in advance. All visitors will be subject to health screening before entering the facility. No group activities are planned at this time.

Victorian Pines

Iron Mountain


Sunday: Juice time, 10 a.m.; Bible study, 1:30 p.m.

Monday: Juice time, 10 a.m.; exercise, 11 a.m.; bingo, 1:30 p.m.; refreshments, 2:30 p.m.

Tuesday: Juice time, 10 a.m.; exercise, 11 a.m.; ladder ball, 1:30 p.m.; refreshments, 2:30 p.m.

Wednesday: Juice time, 10 a.m.; exercise, 11 a.m.; music with the Golden K, 2 p.m.; refreshments, 3 p.m.

Thursday: Communion with Deacon Don, 10 a.m.; exercise, 11 a.m.; Lutheran Bible study, 1 p.m.; root beer floats on the porch, 2 p.m.

Friday: Juice time, 10; exercise, 11 a.m.; bingo, 1:30 p.m.; refreshments, 2:30 p.m.

Saturday: Juice time, 10 a.m.

Pinecrest Medical Care Facility



Sunday: Phase 10, 10:30 a.m.; reminiscing, 2 p.m.

Monday: Spa treatments, 10:30 a.m.; movie, 2 p.m.; Yahtzee, 3:30 p.m.; one-to-one visits, 6 p.m.

Tuesday: Baking group, 10:30 a.m.; bingo, 1:45 p.m.; cards, 3:30 p.m.; Scattegories, 6 p.m.

Wednesday: Tea party, 10:30 a.m.; Bunco, 2 p.m.; trivia, 3:30 p.m.; one-to-one visits, 6 p.m.

Thursday: Breakfast outing, 8 a.m.; bingo, 1:45 p.m.; cards, 3:30 p.m.; sensory, 6 p.m.

Friday: Catholic Mass, 10:30 a.m.; “Family Feud,” 2 p.m.; Kings Corners, 3:30 p.m.; one-to-one visits, 6 p.m.

Saturday: Pictionary, 10:30 a.m.; bingo, 2 p.m.


Alpha-Mastodon Center


This center remains open. A new cook has come in who will prepare meals on site.

Tuesday: Grilled turkey and Swiss sandwich, pasta salad, cottage cheese

Wednesday: Egg bake, bacon, hashbrown potatoes

Thursday: Grilled chicken ravioli with alfredo cheese, broccoli salad

Amasa Center


The center’s new cook prepares meals on site.

Breen Center



Now open for dine-in eating Monday through Thursday, serving at noon. Friday and night meals are on hold indefinitely. Carryout meals are available. Soup and salad bar are also available. Menu for the week —

Monday: Liver or hamburger, potatoes, carrots

Tuesday: Chicken salad on a croissant, broccoli and cauliflower with cheese, yams

Wednesday: Swedish meatballs, mashed potatoes, California blend vegetables

Thursday: Sweet and sour pork with vegetables, rice

Note: All meals served with a choice of skim milk or juice and fruit

Crystal Falls Center

Head Cook: Sterling Peryam

Assistant Cook: Bitsy Peryam


The center is now open on Mondays and is serving meals for dine-in or takeout – call the center by 1 p.m. to make reservations or to place an order. All food is purchased from local vendors. All dinners include warm vegetables, salad bar, soup, homemade desserts, coffee, tea or milk. Salad bar begins at 4:30 p.m. and dinner is served at 5 p.m. Pickup for takeout meals is 4 p.m. – call ahead and leave a message with phone number. A volunteer will deliver meals to homebound citizens only. Menu for the week –

Monday: Brats, tater tots, baked beans

Tuesday: Cheeseburger casserole, dinner rolls

Wednesday: Pork chops, mashed potatoes

Home-delivered meals (prepared by the Dickinson-Iron Community Services Agency, or DICSA, independent from above menu) —

Monday: Philly cheese sandwich, steak fries, four-way vegetable

Tuesday: Creamy garlic chicken, noodles, green beans

Wednesday: Biscuits and gravy, hashbrown potatoes, applesauce

Thursday: Pasty, wax beans, tropical fruit

Dickinson-Iron Community Services Agency


Iron Mountain

906-774-2256, ext. 230 or 235.

This is a Meals on Wheels program only. Home-delivered meals only – call to make arrangements. Menu for the week —

Monday: Philly cheese sandwich, steak fries, four-way vegetable

Tuesday: Creamy garlic chicken, noodles, green beans

Wednesday: Biscuits and gravy, hash browns, applesauce

Thursday: Pasty, wax beans, tropical fruit

Friday: Tuna sandwich, bacon-lettuce-tomato pasta salad, Jell-O

Note: All meals include a choice of skim milk, juice, or no beverage.

For more information, call Christine McMahon at 906-774-2256.

Crystal Lake Center

Iron Mountain


Schedule for the week is:

Monday: Spinning Spools quilting, 9 a.m.-2 p.m.; Les Artistes art club, noon to 4 p.m.; woodcarvers, starting at 9 a.m.

Tuesday: Cards – Pinochle and cribbage, noon-4 p.m.

Wednesday: Bingo, 1-3 p.m., cards cost 25 cents with 10 games played; Happy Quilters, 1-3 p.m.

Thursday: No activities at this time.

Friday: Cards – Smear, noon-4 p.m.

Felch Center


Now open for dine-in eating – call for serving times. Carryout meals also available. Menu for the week —

Monday: Pork chop, sauerkraut, mashed potatoes, corn

Tuesday: Cheesy brat stew, carrots, breadsticks

Wednesday: Fried chicken, mashed potatoes, gravy, peas

Note: All meals served with skim milk or juice

Home-delivered meals —

Monday: Philly cheese sandwich, steak fries, four-way vegetable

Tuesday: Creamy garlic chicken, noodles, green beans

Wednesday: Biscuits and gravy, hashbrown potatoes, applesauce

Aging and Disability Resource Center of Florence County, Wis.

Director: Tiffany White


Restrictions have lifted at some centers. Menu for the week —

Monday: Parmesan chicken breasts, rice pilaf with peas and squash, tomato juice, fruit

Tuesday: Chef salad, breadsticks, cottage cheese, watermelon

Wednesday: Swiss steak, mashed potatoes, broccoli, apple pie and ice cream

Thursday: Waikiki meatballs, rice, Oriental vegetables, fruit, birthday cake

Friday: Tater tot casserole, beet salad, fruit

Note: All meals served with whole grain bread, butter and milk.

Fence Center/Town Hall

715-336-2980 — RSVP for meal at 855-528-2372

Same as ADRC menu, served at noon on Wednesdays only.

Florence Community Center/Town Hall

RSVP for meal at 715-528-4261

Same as ADRC menu. Open Monday through Thursday, serving at 11:30 a.m.

Tipler Town Hall

RSVP for meals at 715-674-2320

Same as ADRC menu, served at noon on second Thursday only.

Hillcrest Senior Dining Center, Aurora

RSVP for meals at 715-589-4491

Same as ADRC menu. Now open, served at 11:30 a.m. Monday through Friday.

Hermansville Center

Coordinator: Barb Peters


Center is open 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Friday. Meals are served through the Menominee-Delta-Schoolcraft Community Action Agency in Escanaba. Meals on Wheels program is available for those who are homebound.

Monday: Cheeseburger, bun, potato wedges, cook’s choice vegetable, fruit cup

Tuesday: Pork cutlet, au gratin potatoes, peas and onions, pineapple, whole wheat bread

Wednesday: Beef and bean enchilada, Spanish rice, Mexicorn, fresh fruit

Thursday: Sweet and sour chicken, white rice, Oriental vegetables, Oriental coleslaw, fruit cup

Friday: Beef stroganoff with mushrooms, Brussel sprouts, carrots, fruited Jell-O

Iron River Center


Now open for dine-in eating, serving at 11 a.m. Salad bar is available. Carryout meals are also available. No night meals at this time. Menu for the week –

Monday: Breakfast casserole, tater tots, strawberries

Tuesday: Chicken Caesar salad, egg salad sandwiches

Wednesday: Enchilada casserole, refried beans, corn

Thursday: Roast pork, spaetzle, cabbage

Niagara Senior Center/Cafe


The center is open, with dinner served at noon on Monday through Thursday. Reservations are required one day in advance. Suggested donation is $5 for those older than 60 and $7 for ages 60 and younger. Bingo played on most Wednesdays. Transportation is available.

Monday: Pork cutlet, parsley potatoes, mixed vegetables, brownie

Tuesday: Sub sandwich, cottage cheese, chips, cookie

Wednesday: Baked chicken, dressing, mashed potatoes, fruited Jell-O

Thursday: Early Serve: Egg bake, sausage, hashbrown potatoes, fruit muffin, juice

Come to the center for bingo on Wednesday this week.

Norway Center

Director: Joyce Olesky

Head Cook:  Brian Gutkowski. 


Now open for dine-in eating beginning at 11:15 a.m. Salad bar is available from 10:30 to 11 a.m. Takeout meals will remain

available to be picked up from 11 to 11:30 a.m. Let staff know if planning to dine in or picking up. Menu for the week –

Monday: Shepherd’s pie, biscuit, vegetables

Tuesday: Cranberry chicken wrap, sweet potato fries, vegetables

Wednesday: Porcupine meatballs, mashed potatoes and gravy, vegetables

Thursday: Chicken parmesan over noodles, breadstick, vegetables

All meals include milk, juice, fruit, bread and dessert.

Birthdays and bingo on Thursday.

Feed America truck will be available at 2 p.m. Thursday.

Center activity schedule —

Mondays and Thursdays: Exercise at 10 a.m. and card bingo after the meal.

Monday through Thursday: Card game 101, noon to 3 p.m. — call Joe at 906-563-5587 for information.

Tuesdays: Quilting and sewing.

Wednesdays: Ceramics and crocheting.

Last Monday of each month: Book club at 9 a.m.

Second Thursday of each month: Birthdays and bingo

Sagola Center


Now open for dine-in eating – call for serving times. Carryout meals are also available. Menu for the week —

Tuesday: Ham and scalloped potatoes, carrots

Wednesday: Cheese manicotti, broccoli, dinner roll

Thursday: Tuna melt sandwiches, chips, coleslaw

All meals served with an option of milk, juice or no beverage.

Home-delivered meals –

Monday: Philly cheese sandwich, steak fries, four-way vegetable

Tuesday: Creamy garlic chicken, noodles, green beans

Wednesday: Biscuits and gravy, hash browns, applesauce.


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