Alivation’s Spooktacular Ghost Stories

At Alivation, we love Halloween. We love candy, of course, and there’s also just something fun about indulging in spooks and spirits for one day a year. And as fun as it could be to talk about, our building is simply not haunted. Not a single ghost or specter lurking at all, though many of our team members have volunteered to go ghostbusting for the greater good. As a result, we must rely on the rest of Nebraska for some haunted history and tall ghost tales.

There’s practically an entire industry devoted to tales of Nebraska and Lincoln ghosts[i]. From Nebraska’s official statehood in 1867 through today, many people claim to see all sorts of apparitions and unexplained phenomena. Several decades ago, Duane Hutchinson wrote A Storyteller’s Ghost Stories: Tales from Nebraska and Iowa, which fed into the local haunting craze, followed by A Guide to the Ghosts of Lincoln by Alan Boye.

One of the most famous stories took off in 1963. A woman claimed she saw a ghost in Nebraska Wesleyan University, later considered to be of a former professor named Urania Clara Mills, who had died in her office of a heart attack[ii]. Despite years of paranormal researchers and amateur ghost hunters prowling the premises looking for evidence, none has turned up since, and no one else has ever seen the specter[iii] in the C.C. White building, though many claim you can hear footsteps or sense strange goings-on[iv].

In another part of the state, just outside Alexandria, there’s the legend of the haunted James Conway cabin. In 1878, Conway was killed in a wagon accident, and his wife was said to be found dead shortly after that[v]. Since then, the story has blossomed into a full-blown legend, with tales of Conway haunting the Nebraska countryside like the Headless Horseman from The Legend of Sleepy Hollow. The original James Conway cabin was dismantled and reassembled next to the Big Sandy River, where it remains today as a tourist curio[vi].

Just south of Hastings in the quiet little town of Alma, it is said a ghost walks at night. The “Alma Nightwalker” is described as a woman wearing all black, including a veil covering her face, and moves calmly at night[vii]. Many in the town are said to accept the existence of this spirit, which doesn’t cause harm and isn’t afraid of being seen. But try to touch it or communicate with it, and it vanishes instantly. The locals tell many stories about the possible motive of the spirit, from revenge to a restless nature, yet there are no real theories[viii].

There are many other tall tales and strange ghostly oddities throughout Nebraskan folklore, such as vampires[ix], a cowboy ghost[x], or the Headless Ghost of Redington[xi]. Both Omaha and Lincoln also have historical listings for spiritualist churches in the late 1800s, a result of the spiritualism craze then sweeping larger cities around the world[xii]. Visitors were said to conduct seances and psychic readings to get in touch with the departed, and to allow relatives and loved ones to communicate. They were also a fun pastime for those simply more adventurous.

Nebraska’s local history is alive with such supernatural flavors, and it adds to our unique culture that such things have thrived for so long and are still popular to this day. From the mundane to the preposterous, there is no shortage of spooky tales to tell on Halloween eve, no matter the truth of such claims. And if ghosts and ghouls aren’t your cup of tea, there’s always the great candy.

[i] https://history.nebraska.gov/blog/ghost-abound-nebraska-towns

[ii] https://www.nebrwesleyan.edu/about-nwu/news-center/ghost-story-ghost-clara-mills

[iii] Ibid.

[iv] http://hauntsofamerica.blogspot.com/2007/11/haunting-of-wesleyan-university-of.html

[v] https://history.nebraska.gov/blog/haunted-cabin-james-conway

[vi] Ibid.

[vii] https://history.nebraska.gov/blog/alma-nightwalker

[viii] Ibid.

[ix] https://history.nebraska.gov/blog/vampires-nebraska

[x] https://history.nebraska.gov/blog/haunted-cowboy

[xi] https://history.nebraska.gov/blog/headless-ghost-redington-nebraska

[xii] https://history.nebraska.gov/blog/messages-great-beyond

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Defining Our Core Values

If you’ve ever applied to Alivation Health, or interviewed with us, or were eventually selected, you know we prize our core values above all things. They come up in every single interview, and every single day we try our best to exemplify them. They’re the biggest part of the application process on our website: https://alivation.com/careers/. So if you’re looking for an awesome new career with us, they’re something you’ll encounter.

That’s great, you may be saying. But what do they actually mean?

Let’s unpack the five of them here:

  1. Drive
  2. Passion
  3. Humility
  4. Openness
  5. Discipline

They seem simple, right? That’s good, they’re meant to be. The first one is Drive. This means you’re determined to succeed, and eager to prove yourself the best. You’re committed to making a difference every day, and you’re willing to do whatever it takes to bring the best of yourself to every task. All our best team members have the drive to do their best work, and we’re a better organization as a result.

Next is Passion. You’re compassionate, and you care deeply about our patients and their experiences. You love what you do, and love telling people where you work and the great things you do every day. This goes along with our next value, Humility. No matter what you can do, and all the great things you bring to the table, you stay humble, ask questions, constantly learn, and grow as a professional. You work well as a team member, and work for a common goal. Passion and humility are an excellent combination, and ensure a dynamic, flexible organization.

Next is Openness. You share your opinion, even if it’s unpopular. We’ve always gone against the proverbial grain to do what’s right, and we stand by this for all our team members. This also means you’re honest with fellow team members, and especially with all our patients. You’re willing to share when you need to, and aren’t afraid to hear opinions from the rest of the team about yourself. All four of these values work together, and we find they make the best possible experience for the patient, and allows our team members to achieve their best.

And then we get to the fifth value, the one that underpins the other four: Discipline. Everything you do, you do because you believe in it, and you’re self-motivated. You’re structured to achieve what needs to be done, and display integrity in all your decisions. You handle change well, deal with decisions as they come, and employ flexibility and great responses to the ever-challenging health care field. You have the discipline to drive yourself further, to be passionate yet humble while being open and honest about who you are, what you do, and what we as an organization can do for each other, and more importantly, the world.

If you have these five core values, and you’re ready for a great career with a growing organization dedicated to making the world a better place, apply on our careers page. Even if you don’t fit an exact listing that we’re selecting for, submit a general resume. We read all of them, and are always on the lookout for dynamic new talent to fill roles at our organization. We love having a great team, and we live our values every day. We always welcome new people to join us and help us improve even more. Next Level You starts with you.

***

ADHD (Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder)

It’s normal for our minds to wander. Especially in children, the imagination can be a potent thing. The orders in which we complete tasks and logical decision making based on reasoned judgment might not yet be fully developed in younger people, and so still need some fine-tuning. But for some children, this pattern becomes much more pronounced, and often much more noticeable. Wandering off task, lacking persistence, being hyperactive and impulsive, and otherwise inappropriate fidgeting are all symptoms of ADHD (Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder)[i].

The key behaviors of ADHD are impulsivity and hyperactivity[ii]. While some children with ADHD only have problems with one of these, others have both. The severity of their condition varies from child to child, and often from situation to situation. For a child with ADHD, you’ll often see them squirming, fidgeting, or bouncing when sitting; talking excessively; having trouble playing quietly, and always moving; unable to stay seated, and perhaps daydreaming and not listening. They can also be easily distracted, forget daily activities, lose things, make careless mistakes, and frequently not pay attention, especially in school[iii].

Although ADHD is a well-known condition for children, it can also manifest in adults. Symptoms of ADHD for adults include procrastination, problems at work, low self-esteem, anxiety, chronic lateness, mood swings, problems controlling anger, depression, and problems in relationships[iv]. Often, these things can go undiagnosed for the problem they are, and are treated as just personality issues when really there is an underlying cause at fault.

So what causes ADHD?

It tends to be hereditary, may come from brain chemicals that are out of balance. Brain injuries may also play a role[v]. Some behaviors, like poor nutrition, smoking, substance abuse, and smoking during pregnancy may also be a factor[vi]. ADHD is not caused by too much TV, too much sugar, too many video games, a lack of discipline in the family, or a generally chaotic home life[vii]. Current research suggests it is largely a genetic disorder, with some possible environmental contributors, such as the ones listed above[viii].

There are several treatments for ADHD. The most common is a class of medications called stimulants[ix]. While that seems counterintuitive, the stimulant medication increases dopamine and norepinephrine, brain chemicals that play essential roles in thinking and attention[x]. These medications are considered safe, but there are possible side effects, such as decreased appetite, personality changes, tics, headaches, stomach aches, and anxiety and irritability[xi]. Occasionally, doctors may prescribe a non-stimulant medication for someone with ADHD, especially if the patient has negative side effects from a stimulant[xii]. The most important thing is to work carefully with your doctor to find the best solution.

Behavioral therapy is another solution. It often works in conjunction with medication. It can involve practical assistance, such as having the patient monitor their own behavior, or having a parent or teacher assist in organizing tasks and completing work. Clear rules, chores, calendars of tasks, and structured routines have been known to help kids with ADHD, and therapy to practice good social skills and appropriate behavior is also beneficial[xiii]. For parents, becoming educated in the signs, symptoms, and solutions for ADHD is essential for the child to thrive to their best potential.

While it can be very challenging to overcome ADHD, or to be a parent of a child with the condition, it isn’t hopeless, and many children have an excellent prognosis and can live normal lives. With work and time, the symptoms can often be minimized, and normal learning and social life can continue. At Alivation Health, we offer many excellent treatments for ADHD. If you or your child has ADHD symptoms, give us a call today. We’re happy to help, and have a team of experts to ensure great care.

[i] https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/attention-deficit-hyperactivity-disorder-adhd/index.shtml

[ii] Ibid.

[iii] https://www.webmd.com/add-adhd/childhood-adhd/attention-deficit-hyperactivity-disorder-adhd#1

[iv] Ibid.

[v] https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/attention-deficit-hyperactivity-disorder-adhd/index.shtml

[vi] https://www.webmd.com/add-adhd/childhood-adhd/attention-deficit-hyperactivity-disorder-adhd#1

[vii] https://www.health.com/health/gallery/0,,20441463,00.html?slide=117441#117441

[viii] Ibid.

[ix] https://www.webmd.com/add-adhd/adhd-stimulant-therapy#1

[x] https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/attention-deficit-hyperactivity-disorder-adhd/index.shtml

[xi] Ibid.

[xii] Ibid.

[xiii] https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/attention-deficit-hyperactivity-disorder-adhd/index.shtml

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Play Therapy

One of the simple, anarchic joys of being young is play behavior, and the many toys that come with it. Everything from toy stores to Christmas morning feed a profitable culture of playing and indulging in epic fantasies. Play Therapy theorizes that these activities (games, miniatures, art, music, physical activity, fantasy play, etc.) are mentally beneficial and can even be used for adults to help deal with numerous challenges. With the right therapist guiding the process, it can even work better than conventional therapies of the past.

It seems crazy until you try it.

The Association for Play Therapy (APT) defines Play Therapy this way: “Play Therapists use the therapeutic powers of play to help clients prevent or resolve psychosocial difficulties and achieve optimal growth and development.”[i]

At Alivation Health, Kelly Espenschade, MA, LMHP, is working toward her official certification in Play Therapy. Her office is filled with toys, ranging from fidget spinners and puppets to board games like Candyland. A casual observer might think she’s a toy enthusiast, or maybe a collector decorating her office. Maybe she just uses toys to relieve work stress. But these items are all for work. Kelly sees a few patients a week, but wants to see more to help complete her certification. She wants her patients, especially children, to think of therapy as a positive experience, and maybe even fun.

An example of Play Therapy goes like this: The therapist creates a game or activity with certain rules, and the patient plays it out. An example in Kelly’s office is a miniature foam soccer ball with questions Kelly’s written on each edge. The patient catches the ball, and they answer whatever question their thumb is touching. “What’s your favorite holiday?” “What’s your saddest memory?” “Who do you consider a role model?” Many of the questions are normal, and don’t seem therapeutic. But that’s part of the design. These questions get the patient talking, and help build trust and rapport with the therapist. It builds a valuable personal connection that can be built upon in further sessions.

Play Therapy is all about meeting a patient on their level. Many people think of therapy like the television and film portrayals: stuffy offices, suits, couches, and Freudian analysis. No therapy is done this way at Alivation. We’ve tried hard to revamp the image and give each patient a unique experience that truly helps and hears them. We don’t believe anyone is unreachable. Play Therapy is another variation on that, and works successfully for children as young as three all the way up to the elderly. It’s enormously effective at breaking down the resistance many people have to therapy. It’s noninvasive, and lets the patient arrive at their own conclusions and take their journey their way.

Some take to it quicker than others. In a Candyland board game Play Therapy session, landing on yellow might mean you talk about something simple, like favorite food or movie. Most are okay answering those sorts of questions right off the bat. But landing on red, for example, might mean you talk about something a little deeper, like what frightens you, or what makes you anxious. It can take awhile to build to that type of play scenario, but it’s worth it if it gets the patient to open up about challenges buried within themselves. Kelly enjoys the process and doesn’t rush anyone to get there. It’s first and foremost about helping someone, and finding another way to communicate through their challenges.

Play Therapy has been well-studied over the years and has been conclusively proven to be very beneficial[ii]. It’s a growing field filled with dedicated professionals who are passionate about using new techniques to help all patients, and providing fun, safe experiences where expression is endless and the only goal is personal betterment.

If you’d like to know more about Play Therapy or think it might be beneficial to you or your child, please contact Alivation Health at 402-476-6060, or send an email to info@alivation.com.

[i] https://www.a4pt.org/page/ClarifyingUseofPT

[ii] https://www.a4pt.org/page/Research

***

Sober Curious and Mental Wellness

Those who drink too much, or have their alcohol intake negatively impact their daily life, are called alcoholics. This isn’t anything new, and most people are aware of both the symptoms and the effects of alcoholism. To fix it, one can stop drinking, attend an Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) meeting, seek help and counseling from friends and medical experts, or try to replace the pleasure received from alcohol with something safer and more fulfilling. The culture of helping someone achieve sobriety has been ingrained in our culture for decades.

But what about those who aren’t alcoholics?

There’s a new movement making the social media rounds, and it’s called Sober Curious, named after a 2018 book by Ruby Warrington[i]. In it, Ruby details her experiences of casual social drinking, sometimes drinking too much, but almost always using alcohol as a social crutch or a pastime that goes unquestioned. She notes the drinking culture of both young and old alike: mimosas for brunch, post-work beers, and a general culture of “going out” to bars and clubs, and always brandishing a drink in hand. It’s normal, and often goes unchallenged by the culture at large. Ruby’s idea is to question the mindset of all that[ii].

She was never an alcoholic, but Ruby found greater mental clarity and closeness to things around her when she stopped drinking. She also saved a lot of money. She calls it sober curious because unlike true teetotaling or alcohol abstinence, you can have a drink now and again, if you want one. There’s no prohibition against it; the only real measure is drinking less, and not being afraid to have no alcohol at all. Whereas AA enforces strict no alcohol rules and a rigid spiritual side[iii], Sober Curious is a secular mentality encouraging memorable social experiences and better personal feelings and wellness through sobriety for those looking for it.

Science has shown that problematic drinking can be assessed on a curve, with alcohol dependence on a spectrum from mild to severe[iv]. When you abstain from drinking, you can see if you ever had a problem with alcohol to begin with, in case you’re unsure how to gauge your own dependence level[v]. You can also get more satisfying sleep, be hungover less, and save money (in some cases quite a bit more[vi]) by changing this aspect of your lifestyle.

In Ruby’s estimation, drinking and sobriety are all tied to how we live, and specifically how well we live. In a culture more and more focused on physical and mental wellness, it struck her as strange that we could do yoga and exercise in the day, talk openly about our mental health, drink green juice and eat more vegetables, and then go out at night and drink excessively and tax the liver[vii]. Alcohol is also classified as a Central Nervous System depressant, which means it slows down brain functioning and activity, often leading to depression or anxiety in the right doses[viii]. For those looking to lose weight or be healthier, alcohol remains a crucial impediment to achieving those goals[ix]. In New York City, there are even new sober clubs emerging, such as Club Söda NYC, which also hosts sober events and parties. The aim is to make sobriety, and complete mental and physical wellness, cool. It’s to turn the idea of not drinking from strange or unusual into something more fulfilling, and more engaging than standard drinking culture[x].

The key factor in all of this is personal choice. Sober Curious works as well as you want it too, and is flexible for all types. What’s truly interesting about it is the groundswell of youth support for something once considered boring or uncool. They’re correct when they assert there’s no shame in not drinking by choice. A focus by young people on engagement with their own physical and mental well-being is always encouraged, and lifestyles working towards personal betterment is obviously something we can get behind. With more people engaged in their own health, it might just help others reach their Next Level.

For those looking to do additional work on an alcohol dependence, please contact Alivation at 402-476-6060. Melissa (Missy) Lile is our Licensed Alcohol and Drug Counselor.

[i] https://www.amazon.com/Sober-Curious-Blissful-Limitless-Connection/dp/0062869035/ref=sr_1_2?keywords=sober+curious&qid=1565878801&s=books&sr=1-2

[ii] https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2019/jul/01/sober-curious-alcohol-abuse

[iii] https://www.aa.org/

[iv] https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2019/jul/01/sober-curious-alcohol-abuse

[v] Ibid.

[vi] https://www.policygenius.com/blog/i-stopped-drinking-6-months-ago-heres-how-much-money-ive-saved/

[vii] https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2019/jul/01/sober-curious-alcohol-abuse

[viii] https://www.addictioncenter.com/alcohol/is-alcohol-a-depressant/

[ix] https://www.healthline.com/health/alcohol-and-weight-loss

[x] https://www.clubsoda.nyc/