Infrared saunas: Sweating it out — in a dry heat
Jul20

Infrared saunas: Sweating it out — in a dry heat

It’s warm — very warm. I’m sitting on a wooden bench leaning against an ergonomic backrest. The small room within a room is lined on three sides by cedar paneling with a glass door looking out into a small dim entryway where towels had been provided to wrap myself in. There is a chromotherapy light on the ceiling designed to provide different colored lighting to ease various ailments: blue light to fight inflammation, orange for...

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Western Mass millenials find fitness in the extreme
Jul20

Western Mass millenials find fitness in the extreme

Think of a gym. Muscle-bound men do tricep curls while women in spandex pedal endless miles on exercise bikes. Now forget all that. Those things may still happen, but you’re more likely to see it with people over 50. Those in their 20s and 30s, known as millennials, have something different in mind. Nicole Harvey, the manager and a certified personal trainer at Asylum Fitness in Palmer, said their clients range in age from 12-92,...

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Make your own dog food? Some local pet owners swear by it
Jul19

Make your own dog food? Some local pet owners swear by it

A big yellow lab named Jack laid down on the couch while his black litter-mate, Sophie, slept stretched out on the floor. At 11 years old, both dogs are old for their breed but aside for some arthritis in Jack’s hips and a diagnosis of Lyme disease for Sophie, they are in remarkably good health. Their owner, Amy Ingalls, 45, of Ware, attributes this to their diet, a homemade mixture of pig and cow hearts and livers from the butcher,...

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Free Will Astrology: Advice from Kafka, Kahlo, and bodybuilder Kai Greene
Jul16

Free Will Astrology: Advice from Kafka, Kahlo, and bodybuilder Kai Greene

ARIES (March 21-April 19): “Take a lover who looks at you like maybe you are magic.” Whenever that quote appears on the Internet, it’s falsely attributed to painter Frida Kahlo. In fact, it was originally composed by poet Marty McConnell. In any case, I’ll recommend that you heed it in the coming weeks. You really do need to focus on associating with allies who see the mysterious and lyrical best in you. I will also suggest that you...

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Free Will Astrology: What’s the biggest lie in your life, Sagittarius?
Jul09

Free Will Astrology: What’s the biggest lie in your life, Sagittarius?

ARIES (March 21-April 19): Your key theme right now is growth. Let’s dig in and analyze its nuances. 1.) Not all growth is good for you. It may stretch you too far too fast — beyond your capacity to integrate and use it. 2.) Some growth that is good for you doesn’t feel good to you. It might force you to transcend comforts that are making you stagnant, and that can be painful. 3.) Some growth that’s good for you may...

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Wellness: Harnessing the Power of Communication
Jul05

Wellness: Harnessing the Power of Communication

The goal of speech-language pathology is to give patients back the power of communication, which can be empowering not only for adults, but for children as well. “They’re incredibly empowered,” said Rick Carpenter, a Northampton-based speech-language pathologist who has been treating children ages 2 to 10 years old for the past 26 years. “Contrary to that, when you don’t have that ability it creates anxiety and ultimately a feeling of...

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Free Will Astrology: Listen to your hives, Aquarius
Jul02

Free Will Astrology: Listen to your hives, Aquarius

ARIES (March 21-April 19): Twentieth-century French novelist Marcel Proust described nineteenth-century novelist Gustave Flaubert as a trottoire roulant, or “rolling sidewalk”: plodding, toneless, droning. Meanwhile, critic Roger Shattuck compared Proust’s writing to an “electric generator” from which flows a “powerful current always ready to shock not only our morality but our very sense of humanity.” In the coming weeks, I encourage...

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Free Will Astrology: Even cigarette butts can be useful, Aquarius
Jun25

Free Will Astrology: Even cigarette butts can be useful, Aquarius

ARIES (March 21-April 19): Your best ideas and soundest decisions will materialize as if by magic while you’re lounging around doing nothing in a worry-free environment. So please make sure you have an abundance of relaxed slack and unhurried grace. Treat yourself to record-setting levels of comfort and self-care. Do whatever’s necessary for you to feel as safe as you have ever felt. I realize these prescriptions might...

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Free Will Astrology: Scorpio, Go play outside for a while!
Jun18

Free Will Astrology: Scorpio, Go play outside for a while!

ARIES (March 21-April 19): According to my analysis of the astrological omens, you have cosmic permission to enjoy extra helpings of waffles, crepes, pancakes, and blintzes. Eating additional pastries and doughnuts is also encouraged. Why? Because it’s high time for you to acquire more ballast. You need more gravitas and greater stability. You can’t afford to be top-heavy; you must be hard to knock over. If you would...

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Confronting Childhood Abuse as an Adult Writer
Jun11

Confronting Childhood Abuse as an Adult Writer

When Lisa Zarcone was 11 or 12 years old, she came home to find her home a hot 90 degrees and her mother smoking on the sofa. She turned down the thermostat and her mother attacked her with a meat tenderizer, violently hitting her more than 20 times. She had bruises on her back that lasted for more than a month. Now, Zarcone, a 52-year-old Springfield resident, is the Massachusetts national ambassador for the National Association of...

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Free Will Astrology: Time to visit The Land of Sweet Nonsense, Pisces
Jun11

Free Will Astrology: Time to visit The Land of Sweet Nonsense, Pisces

ARIES (March 21-April 19): My Aries acquaintance Tatiana decided to eliminate sugar from her diet. She drew up a plan to avoid it completely for 30 days, hoping to permanently break its hold over her. I was surprised to learn that she began the project by making a Dessert Altar in her bedroom, where she placed a chocolate cake and five kinds of candy. She testified that it compelled her willpower to work even harder and become even...

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Free Will Astrology: Literally smash time with a hammer, Aries
Jun04

Free Will Astrology: Literally smash time with a hammer, Aries

ARIES (March 21-April 19): According to my analysis of the astrological omens, you would be wise to ruffle and revise your relationship with time. It would be healthy for you to gain more freedom from its relentless demands; to declare at least some independence from its oppressive hold on you; to elude its push to impinge on every move you make. Here’s a ritual you could do to spur your imagination: Smash a timepiece. I mean that...

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Free Will Astrology: Summon old school tenacity as seen in Jurassic Park, Taurus
May25

Free Will Astrology: Summon old school tenacity as seen in Jurassic Park, Taurus

ARIES (March 21-April 19): A critic described Leonardo da Vinci’s painting the Mona Lisa as “the most visited, most written about, most sung about, most parodied work of art in the world.” It hasn’t been sold recently, but is estimated to be worth hundreds of millions of dollars. Today it’s kept in the world-renowned Louvre museum in Paris, where it’s viewed by millions of art-lovers. But for years...

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Free Will Astrology: Tell the world you’re made of gold, Virgo
May21

Free Will Astrology: Tell the world you’re made of gold, Virgo

ARIES (March 21-April 19): The Aries poet Anna Kamienska described the process of writing as akin to “the backbreaking work of hacking a footpath, as in a coal mine; in total darkness, beneath the earth.” Whether or not you’re a writer, I’m guessing that your life might have felt like that recently. Your progress has been slow and the mood has been dense and the light has been dim. That’s the tough news. The good news is that I...

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Podcast: An adult jump rope team! Jennifer Therkelsen talks about adult fitness and practicing in a bar
May14

Podcast: An adult jump rope team! Jennifer Therkelsen talks about adult fitness and practicing in a bar

Jennifer Therkelsen had never jump roped as a kid, but now is one of the core members of the Pioneer Valley Jump Rope team, an all-adult jump rope team that practices weekly at The Taproom in Hadley. In our weekly podcast collaboration with Amherst Media, Therkelson talks fitness, jump ropes, and what it’s like to practice in a bar. The team has made nationals and will be competing in June. Check out their fundraising page...

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Free Will Astrology: Work on that PBJ recipe, Taurus
May11

Free Will Astrology: Work on that PBJ recipe, Taurus

ARIES (March 21-April 19): According to my assessment of the astrological omens, your duty right now is to be a brave observer and fair-minded intermediary and honest storyteller. Your people need you to help them do the right thing. They require your influence in order to make good decisions. So if you encounter lazy communication, dispel it with your clear and concise speech. If you find that foggy thinking has started to infect...

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Free Will Astrology: Be inspired by melting cheese, Aquarius
May07

Free Will Astrology: Be inspired by melting cheese, Aquarius

ARIES (March 21-April 19): The Torah is a primary sacred text of the Jewish religion. It consists of exactly 304,805 letters. When specially trained scribes make handwritten copies for ritual purposes, they must not make a single error in their transcription. The work may take as long as 18 months. Your attention to detail in the coming weeks doesn’t have to be quite so painstaking, Aries, but I hope you’ll make a strenuous effort to...

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Podcast: Cannabis business owner Seth Frappier talks about breaking down stoner myths
Apr30

Podcast: Cannabis business owner Seth Frappier talks about breaking down stoner myths

Seth Frappier started Easthampton-based Chronic Trips as a way to bring cannabis together with wellness and an active lifestyle. So far, the business has hosted hikes as well as a yoga session. Frappier talks about his hopes for opening a studio in Easthampton and the importance of reducing the stigma of the “lazy stoner.” He also talks about the changing laws related to cannabis and what social consumption does for...

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Free Will Astrology: Wreak creative destruction, Libra
Apr30

Free Will Astrology: Wreak creative destruction, Libra

ARIES (March 21-April 19): I hate rampant consumerism almost as much as I hate hatred, so I don’t offer the following advice lightly: Buy an experience that could help liberate you from the suffering you’ve had trouble outgrowing. Or buy a toy that can thaw the frozen joy that’s trapped within your out-of-date sadness. Or buy a connection that might inspire you to express a desire you need help in expressing. Or buy...

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Free Will Astrology: Put down your quills Aries!
Apr20

Free Will Astrology: Put down your quills Aries!

ARIES (March 21-April 19): Imagine you’re one of four porcupines caught in frigid weather. To keep warm, you all have the urge to huddle together and pool your body heat. But whenever you try to get close, you prick each other with your quills. The only solution to that problem is to move away from each other, even though it means you can’t quell your chill as well. This scenario was used by psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud as a parable...

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Free Will Astrology: See you on the dark side of the moon, Leo
Apr16

Free Will Astrology: See you on the dark side of the moon, Leo

ARIES (March 21-April 19): In the early history of the automobile, electric engines were more popular and common than gasoline-powered engines. They were less noisy, dirty, smelly, and difficult to operate. It’s too bad that thereafter the technology for gasoline cars developed at a faster rate than the technology for electric cars. By the end of the first decade of the twentieth century, the petroleum-suckers were in...

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Wellness: PCOS, affecting fertility and appearance, quietly plagues many reproductive-age women
Apr10

Wellness: PCOS, affecting fertility and appearance, quietly plagues many reproductive-age women

“I was the fat girl complaining about back pain,” said Becca Minardi, 24, of Longmeadow about the early symptoms of her polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS). Diagnosed just six months ago, Minardi feels as though doctors didn’t take her seriously before her diagnosis. She believes she fell victim to what she calls “the stigma of women’s health.” PCOS affects between 8 and 20 percent of reproductive-age women but many don’t know that...

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Free Will Astrology: Don’t wait 9 years to publish your poems, Capricorn
Apr06

Free Will Astrology: Don’t wait 9 years to publish your poems, Capricorn

ARIES (March 21-April 19): Aries statesman Thomas Jefferson was the third President of the United States. He wrote one of history’s most famous documents, the Declaration of Independence. He was an architect, violinist, inventor, and linguist who spoke numerous languages, as well as a philosopher who was knowledgeable about mathematics, surveying, and horticulture. But his most laudable success came in 1789, when he procured the...

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Free Will Astrology: Play it safe in new ventures Aries
Apr03

Free Will Astrology: Play it safe in new ventures Aries

ARIES (March 21-April 19): Eighty-three-year-old author Harlan Ellison has had a long and successful career. In the course of publishing hundreds of literary works in seven different genres, he has won numerous awards. But when he was in his thirties, there was an interruption in the upward arc of his career. The film production company Walt Disney Studios hired him as a writer. During his first day on the job, Roy Disney overheard...

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Free Will Astrology: Your April Fool’s Horoscope
Mar26

Free Will Astrology: Your April Fool’s Horoscope

ARIES (March 21-April 19): A few years ago, a New Zealander named Bruce Simpson announced plans to build a cruise missile at his home using parts he bought legally from eBay and other online stores. In accordance with current astrological omens, I suggest you initiate a comparable project. For example, you could arrange a do-it-yourself space flight by tying a thousand helium balloons to your lawn chair. APRIL FOOL! I lied. Please...

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Dr. Schnuffie’s Flu Fighter a Local Solution to Illness
Mar21

Dr. Schnuffie’s Flu Fighter a Local Solution to Illness

Even though it didn’t get a catchy name, this flu season in the United States has been the most severe since the swine flu epidemic in 2009. While influenza season is winding down with the melting snow, there are still a few more risky weeks to get through. Thankfully, one local product that does have a catchy name may be just the hero Western Mass needs to fight off influenza. Dr. Schnuffie’s is not in fact a Winnie the Pooh...

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Free Will Astrology: Cherish and nurture the basics, Gemini
Mar19

Free Will Astrology: Cherish and nurture the basics, Gemini

ARIES (March 21-April 19): The “School of Hard Knocks” is an old-fashioned idiom referring to the unofficial and accidental course of study available via life’s tough experiences. The wisdom one gains through this alternate approach to education may be equal or even superior to the knowledge that comes from a formal university or training program. I mention this, Aries, because in accordance with astrological omens,...

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Free Will Astrology: Surround yourself with Beauty, Libra, Or Else
Mar12

Free Will Astrology: Surround yourself with Beauty, Libra, Or Else

ARIES (March 21-April 19): The British science fiction TV show Dr. Who has appeared on BBC in 40 of the last 54 years. Over that span, the titular character has been played by 13 different actors. From 2005 until 2010, Aries actor David Tennant was the magic, immortal, time-traveling Dr. Who. His ascendance to the role fulfilled a hopeful prophecy he had made about himself when he was 13 years old. Now is an excellent time for you,...

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Free Will Astrology: Have the Patience of Peter Parker, Libra
Mar05

Free Will Astrology: Have the Patience of Peter Parker, Libra

ARIES (March 21-April 19): The men who work on offshore oil rigs perform demanding, dangerous tasks on a regular basis. If they make mistakes, they may get injured or befoul the sea with petroleum. As you might guess, the culture on these rigs has traditionally been macho, stoic, and hard-driving. But in recent years, that has changed at one company. Shell Oil’s workers in the U.S. were trained by Holocaust survivor Claire Nuer...

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Free Will Astrology: Search Out Your Ghost Towns, Sagittarius
Feb26

Free Will Astrology: Search Out Your Ghost Towns, Sagittarius

ARIES (March 21-April 19): On September 1, 1666, a London baker named Thomas Farriner didn’t take proper precautions to douse the fire in his oven before he went to sleep. Consequences were serious. The conflagration that ignited in his little shop burned down large parts of the city. Three hundred twenty years later, a group of bakers gathered at the original site to offer a ritual atonement. “It’s never too late to apologize,” said...

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Puerto Rican Evacuees Receive Trauma Relief Through Acupuncture in Springfield
Feb22

Puerto Rican Evacuees Receive Trauma Relief Through Acupuncture in Springfield

The Springfield Family Resource Center of Gandara  is located in a modest building at 18 Gaucher Street in Springfield’s Pine Point neighborhood, and upon arrival it’s clear that this social service agency is a community lifeline. Inside, the narrow reception area teems with clients seeking services, and the staff are friendly and efficient. There is order in the chaos, however; case managers busily take information in a room directly...

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Free Will Astrology: Aries, It’s Wild Card Season for You
Feb19

Free Will Astrology: Aries, It’s Wild Card Season for You

ARIES (March 21-April 19): When you’re playing poker, a wild card refers to a card that can be used as any card the cardholder wants it to be. If the two of hearts is deemed wild before the game begins, it can be used as an ace of diamonds, jack of clubs, queen of spades, or anything else. That’s always a good thing! In the game of life, a wild card is the arrival of an unforeseen element that affects the flow of events...

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Free Will Astrology: Check your old pants for winning lottery tickets, Virgo
Feb06

Free Will Astrology: Check your old pants for winning lottery tickets, Virgo

ARIES (March 21-April 19): British athlete Liam Collins is an accomplished hurdler. In 2017, he won two medals at the World Masters Athletics Indoor Championships in South Korea. Collins is also a stuntman and street performer who does shows in which he hurtles over barriers made of chainsaws and leaps blindfolded through flaming hoops. For the foreseeable future, you may have a dual capacity with some resemblances to his. You could...

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Pole Fitness: From adult entertainment to an Olympic sport
Jan31

Pole Fitness: From adult entertainment to an Olympic sport

Holly Woods has always loved the art of dance. When she was a young girl in Manhattan, her mother rented an apartment above Alvin Ailey’s studio. “I would go downstairs and hangout and watch the ballet dancers perform,” she recalls. “You would see Debbie Allen and all these people coming and going. It was like Fame; I was fascinated by it.” When her family later moved to Apalachicola, Florida, she did the same thing at the town ballet...

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Free Will Astrology: Hidden Treasure Awaits, Aries
Jan29

Free Will Astrology: Hidden Treasure Awaits, Aries

ARIES (March 21-April 19): In all of history, humans have mined about 182,000 tons of gold. Best estimates suggest there are still 35 billion tons of gold buried in the earth, but the remaining riches will be more difficult to find and collect than what we’ve already gotten. We need better technology. If I had to say who would be the entrepreneurs and inventors best qualified to lead the quest, my choice would be members of the Aries...

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