The Best Medicine

Sandy Morris, LPN reminds us to treat ourselves to a good belly laugh, tee-hee or guffaw.

Sandy Morris, LPN reminds us to treat ourselves to a good belly-laugh, tee-hee or guffaw.

Laughter has been a part of my life ever since I can remember. It is who I am. When I think of my childhood, the funniest memories revolve around growing up with 6 siblings. It is at family gatherings that we share our favorite memories and laugh all the more. Large families are so skilled at telling funny tales, like the time my brother was locked out of the house  and being chased by a neighbor’s dog – his knees hitting his chin with each step. Or the time my mother and sister crawled under blankets, shrieking and terrified, across the bedroom floor while my father and I tried to remove a bat with brooms…

Laughter was what got me through my personal battle with breast cancer. I could find the funny in almost any situation, from surgery experiences, to chemo, to the stares of children when I lost my hair. Children are so brave with questions. They can ask anything because they are so innocent.

Did you know that children laugh on average 300 times a day compared to adults who only laugh about 15 times a day? Laughing gives our heart and mind a good workout! It increases endorphins, helps decrease stress, burns calories, improves memory and even boosts your immune system. Laughter can even help reduce feelings of depression and create a sense of well-being. With all that, who wouldn’t want to laugh!!??

Laughing is a pretty cool thing and it’s very contagious. If you listen, around campus you can hear big belly-laughs, giggles, tee-hee’s, guffaws, snorts and even some whoops coming from the classrooms, during meal times, out on the front porch of the Lodge, at many sports activities and even during therapy sessions.

All this laughter can motivate a person and release positive energy. Our students need this in their lives…a chance to laugh, be positive and to channel their energy in a positive way. It shows them that life can be fun, full of joy and/or happiness even when their lives have had strife, sadness, loss, anxiety or bad school experiences.

As Woody Allen says, “I am thankful for laughter, except when milk comes out of my nose.”

Reminding you that laughter is real and true…

Cherokee Creek Boys School is a therapeutic boarding school for middle-school boys, ages 11-15, located in Upstate South Carolina.

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The Healing Power of Hugs

Beth congratulates recent graduate, Cole, on his graduation day.

Beth congratulates recent graduate, Cole, with a hug.

I always love the Family Seminars at Cherokee Creek Boys School and the sessions on Love and Healer are my favorite. Spending time with bright, caring adults who are, “paying attention to what has heart and meaning,” is uplifting. One of the many lessons we explore together is the Arms of Love: the power of acknowledgment, recognition, validation and gratitude to demonstrate genuine caring.

Living in Florida, I am not on campus often and truly miss the day to day engagement with the boys, staff and families. Hugs are a “touching” way to share my heart-felt love and appreciation…if you’ll excuse the pun!

Hugs seem to be the full manifestation of the Arms of Love. A hug acknowledges, accepts, recognizes, validates and is appreciated by giver and receiver.

I am aware that there is a hugging etiquette. Not everyone is an instant hugger. At CCBS we follow guidelines like those set forth by the Hugs for Health Foundation ( yes, there is a Hugs for Health Foundation!)

-Always respect another’s space.
-Ask permission before hugging.
-A hug is a compassionate gesture, hug accordingly.
-A hug is a gentle embrace, not the Heimlich maneuver.

There have been scientific studies measuring the benefits of hugging. Sometimes I’m surprised that science needs to validate what seems so obvious.

Hugs are a simple, one size fits all “therapy”. They are good for all ages, environmentally safe and a renewable resource. They are not bound by gender, race, color or creed. Hugs have Heart and Meaning…hugs are Real and True.

Who will you acknowledge, recognize, validate or appreciate with a hug today?

Here is a video hug for you: Free Hugs Campaign video on YouTube

Cherokee Creek Boys School is a therapeutic boarding school for middle-school boys, ages 11-15, located in Upstate South Carolina.

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Eagle’s Wings

In our study of the Medicine Wheel at Cherokee Creek Boys School, we are exploring the qualities of the Healer, the value of Love and the guiding principle of, “Paying attention to what has heart and meaning.” Therapist Jane Barker shares a touching story of healing and love – an experience filled with heart and meaning for her.

CCBS Therapist Jane Barker

CCBS Therapist Jane Barker, LISW

It was not an ordinary camping trip. I was taking my daughter Casey to the state park where I had experienced treasures of childhood joys. In my early adulthood visits to the park had been harshly interrupted by my father’s chronic illness. I was flooded by memories of my father as I sat rocking gently in the hammock the first day, as he had so often done when I was a child. The park magically came alive with voices of laughter from my past summers. I was overwhelmed by the unexpected, simultaneous emotions of grief and joy. 

Later, during that same trip, I caught sight of a majestic Eagle soaring skillfully through the sky. I sat amazed at the splendor of this grand creature soaring through an orange evening sky glistening over the still blue water. Its mantles of feathers were a spectacular sight and its pallid head projected from the wings like a snow capped mountain. This rare sighting of the Eagle in the wild gave me a splendid observation of the Master of the Skies. 

I know my flashbacks to childhood and my encounter with the majestic Eagle were an alignment with grace, soaring like the Eagle, riding the winds to touching healing. I recognized the beauty beyond the harsh and cruel realities of life and death. 

I believe that when an animal shows up to you in an unusual way it is trying to convey a message. On that day I received a message about my own healing journey from the Eagle. My grief was a majestic encounter upon Eagle’s wings.

What magical and spectacular encounters have you had with animals in nature?  In what ways has the beauty of nature inspired healing in your life?


Cherokee Creek Boys School is a therapeutic Boarding School for middle-school boys, ages 11-15, located in Upstate South Carolina.


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Keep On Strong Heart

Strong-Hearted Beth and Adam Dancing at Her Birthday

Strong-Hearted Beth and her son Adam Dancing at Her Birthday

I first learned about the 4-chambered heart when we enrolled our son in a therapeutic boarding school. It had been a 14-year journey trying to find help for my struggling child and I was exhausted. As I was beginning to pick up the pieces of my life I also picked up Angeles Arrien’s book, The Four Fold Way. And there it was–in the chapter on the Healer and love and “Paying attention to what has heart and meaning” — the beginning of real healing.

Angeles, a cultural anthropologist, shares that many indigenous cultures feel the Four Chambered-Heart is the source for sustaining emotional and spiritual health. Your heart must be full, open, clear and strong. Where you are not Full-Hearted, you are Half-Hearted. And where you are not Open-Hearted, you become Closed-Hearted. Confusion is the result when you lack a Clear-Heart.

I acknowledged each of these wounded chambers of my heart, but was most saddened to recognize that I had become Weak-Hearted. I had always prided myself on my Strong Heart…especially in my ability to courageously fight for my children. But it seemed I was in heart-failure and I began to seek ways to mend.

It was a “power song” that touched my heart the most. On those down days when I knew that a good cry would cleanse my weary heart, I would play Keep On Strong Heart by Libby Roderick over and over again until I felt restored.

Over the years, I’ve discovered many things that are real and true about the heart. It is resiliant. It can be broken…shattered into a million pieces and, somehow, if we are open, strong, clear and full the heart will heal. And as with broken bones, it will knit together and be stronger than it was before being broken. Keep on, strong heart!

Beth Black is the Founder of Cherokee Creek Boys School, a therapeutic boarding school for middle-school boys, ages 11-15, located in Upstate South Carolina.

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