Category Archives: Last Word

Cheryl’s farewell message is a recipe for our success

Former Buckland selectman reflects
on lessons learned in serving town

CHERYL DUKES LOGODear Buckland and West County residents,

Thank you for helping me to be a Buckland Selectman these past four years. My success (and failure) is reflective of your investment in me. Here’s what I’ve learned:

Responsibility=response able. It’s an ironic reality in life that most of our best learning happens when we are least prepared and hardly “know” anything. Moving through ambiguity and making decisions despite uncertainty is hard to do.

Decide to choose. Sometimes the correct answer is no. Take responsibility for the choice – whatever the outcome.

Give the benefit of the doubt and seek first to understand. Relationships matter and caring about others impacts our collective well-being. The real work comes in caring for and about unlikable people. Usually we know very little about “those people” because we put our own narrative and assumptions upon them. When we listen to their stories we get different perspectives of our collective reality with a broader understanding of our place in the world and impact on one another.

Understanding=curiosity+empathy+critical thinking+deep listening.

Apologize and forgive. When we make a mistake affecting another, take responsibility, remember the lesson, and apologize in order to grow the relationship, forgive the mistake, and have compassion for the other person.

Be brave. In most of life we do the best we can with what we’ve got. We step in and figure it out as we go. If we are fortunate, we will have people who can assist. If we are courageous we will admit we need help, we will ask for help, and we will receive help.

Be generous. Ask if assistance seems to be needed. Sometimes the answer is No, thank you. If the answer is yes, then give cheerfully.
Do the work. Having a seat at the table is OK. If we want to be effective then get in the kitchen. Decide the menu. Cook. Bake.Sweat. Clean up. Serve. The outcome — some people will complain about the cooking. Be grateful and eat.

Transformation requires challenge and time. Cake=butter, sugar, eggs, salt, vanilla, and flour. Cream together butter and sugar. Add eggs; mix until incorporated. Add salt and vanilla. Fold in flour. Put batter into prepared pan. Bake at 325 degrees for 90 minutes. Creating batter requires beating together ingredients. Heat and time transform batter into cake.

Gratitude and humility. Be grateful and give thanks. Sharing the credit matters. Do it often and freely. Trust and respect are earned and are mutual. We choose to learn, grow, and rise to become our best selves.

Community. Our success as individuals depends on our interest in one another succeeding and building our collective capacity to prosper and thrive.

The author declined to seek re-election this year for another three-year term on Buckland’s Selectboard. She gives her new title as Curious Human and Buckland Citizen. We thank her for sharing these views — and welcome your letters, too, at

In Memoriam: Tish Murphy

Photo: Catherine Maletz
Photo: Catherine Maletz

I TAKE THE LIBERTY of speaking for many in our towns in saying how deeply touched I am by the life, gifts, and untimely passing of our friend Lisa Patricia “Tish” Murphy of Charlemont. Tish tended to much. To much. I wish to record here my thanks to her memory, and my heartfelt condolences to her family and friends. We walk together.

There are, of course, memorials to Tish everywhere we look. This is spring, after all. Here are two pieces I encountered in recent weeks that I most wanted to share with our readers.

They are here by permission.


’44. For Tish. Before Ahead Arrives…’ by Janice Sorensen


Installation by Jane Beatrice Wegscheider and friends at Cowell Gymnasium Saturday, April 11, during The Fabulous Hilltown Draw-Around, which raised money for ARTeens, a pay-what-you-can after-school program. Jane tells the Flow these remembrances have since been given to Tish’s family.

Embrace a healthy, lively you this spring — here’s how

Becca logoSPRING SIGNIFIES awakening, cleansing, and purification as well as new life, new directions, and creative energy. Just as in the rhythm of nature, the same occurs in our bodies seasonally.

Winter is a cold, slow time and often our digestion gets sluggish, we may want to sleep more, and our foods are heavier. Our bodies naturally want to cleanse and remove toxins in the springtime.

In traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), the spring season is associated with the liver, our primary detoxification and transformation organ. I’d like to share some ways to foster your body’s innate wisdom toward balance by introducing (or reminding you) of traditional practices for seasonal transitions.

Skin brushing…

Your skin is actually your largest organ and does a bulk of elimination for your body. Skin brushing helps by removing dead skin cells, enhances digestion circulation and moves the lymph (your cleansing system), among other benefits. It requires a soft natural brush with a long handle (check our local natural food stores for one).

Before bathing or showering, use long, sweeping strokes from the bottom of your feet up toward your torso, then from your hands up to your shoulders, and around your torso to your heart. Use the long handle to reach your back. Use a light pressure, and go gently over sensitive areas. It only takes a few minutes and can have long-lasting results!

Eating for spring health…

Cooling and bitter foods help the liver specifically. Here are some examples:

• Greens. OK, I know what you’re thinking: “Yikes, but I don’t like them.” Or maybe you’re like me and think, “Yes, please!” Either way, leafy green vegetables like collards, kale, dandelion greens, mustard greens, and Romaine lettuce can help you feel more energized and lighten your liver’s load.

• Get creative. Make kale chips in the oven. Sprinkle them with some homemade dressing you enjoy, or start mixing them with other foods you do love. I love making a pesto of half basil leaves and half dandelion leaves.

• Lemon juice, raw apple cider vinegar and olive oil. These all strengthen the liver and together make an awesome dressing for your greens or other steamed or raw vegetables. In the winter, I advise more cooked foods, but as we slowly transition into spring, you can incorporate more raw plant foods into your daily routine.

Things to start limiting or avoiding…

  • Overly spicy foods
  • Fried foods
  • Creamy or sweet foods
  • Eating too much at one time.

Get a move-on!

Move your body daily. We flush toxins through our lymph system, which is only stimulated by movement and it helps clear your head and invigorates all systems of your body!

We want to feel vital and energized to do all the creative, fun things we love in the spring. Let’s help that process by paying attention to the little details that make up our health and each day do something small to enhance it.

Becca Sarich is an RN, nurse-midwife, herbalist, and holistic healthcare provider. She is a mom to two children at BSE. Learn more about her healing practice at

‘Grow your happy’: 10 ways to feel better every day

AMANDA LOGOUNDERNEATH ALL THIS SNOW I can feel the Earth buzzing as spring gets closer and closer.

Can you feel it? The sights, and sounds, and smells are all shifting ever so slightly and reminding me why I love New England so much. I love it because it’s always changing, just like we are!

I have spent the past year in a very exciting career shift in which I have been gifted daily exposure to beautifully inspiring words of wisdom. I believe that world peace and a healthy planet all start inside each one of us and our ability to Grow our Happy!

Here are my 10 tips to Grow your Happy:

  1. Create a daily gratitude practice: Choose something that you do every day (driving, brushing your teeth, preparing family dinner) and use that time to think about at least three things you’re grateful for: family, fingers, fudge, flapjacks.
  2. Make someone smile: Tell jokes, share art, sing songs, dance.
  3. Eat healthy food, the kind that grows in gardens and orchards and barnyards, the kind that gets moldly when you forget to take it your of your backpack.
  4. Make a new friend or reach out to one you haven’t spent time with in a while.
  5. Practice mindfulness: Be observant, live in the moment, and honor your feelings.
  6. Get curious: Ask questions, read a book, or listen to a TED Talk. There is more to learn in this world than you can imagine.
  7. Move your body: Smile, give yourself a hug, stand up straight, put your chin up, wiggle your fingers and toes. Simple movements shift your well-being.
  8. Ask someone, “How can I help?” This will ripple goodness in your body and throughout the world.
  9. Breathe fresh air: Go for a walk, open your house windows, and fill your whole body with clean, fresh air.
  10. Find the people who support and encourage you, and support and encourage them back: your religious community, your tribe, your neighborhood, and your co-workers. We are herd animals, don’t try to do it all yourself.

Life is full of challenges, but we are in full control of what we choose to do each moment. Very simple shifts in our perspective and our daily habits can have huge impacts on the bigger vision.

Make this spring your most vibrant yet. Cleanse your lifestyle by choosing to Grow your Happy!

Amanda Kingsley, raised in Colrain, is a mama of three and a passionate spreader of joy. She owns and operates two small businesses from her home, near BSE. Reach her at

What Thanksgiving means now

AMY ROBERTS-CRAWFORDAS WE PREPARE Thanksgiving feasts and gather at tables with family and friends, I encourage each of us to share one thing for which we are thankful. If you find your mind is too occupied with the chaos of kitchen timers and joyous squeals of children and the chatter of family, I’ll make it easy and give you a few words to consider: life, children, family, and the community in which we live.

Long, long ago (four years) in a galaxy far, far away (Shelburne Falls) a BSE family faced crisis when two reckless drivers caused a five-car auto accident on I-91 in Holyoke.

In one of the vehicles involved in the accident was a self-employed, single mom with three kids: me. A sunny Saturday afternoon, driving down the highway, and a car leaped across the median directly in front of me, and it was over: lickety-split, no time to think.
‘The kindness of strangers’

Thank goodness for the kindness of strangers. People stopped to make sure I was OK. They kept me company while we waited for the emergency crews. The EMTs and police were efficient and polite, as were the doctors, nurses and X-ray technicians at the hospital. I don’t wish to do it again, but the emergency personnel were skilled and impressive.

I continue to share my story for many reasons. It emphasizes the importance of wearing your seat belt. We all survived, even the people who were in the cars that flipped across the median, because of the simple fact that we were all wearing our seat belts. I found that pretty amazing.

According to Wikipedia, the seat belt law became an enforceable law in Massachusetts on Feb. 1, 1994. Had this accident happened just 20 years ago the outcome might have been drastically different.

I have a new appreciation for speed limits, turn signals, and courteous drivers, so this story creeps in as I try to teach and reward patient driving. When pain flares up, as it does in the aftermath of that accident, work seems slow. I drive south past the Holyoke Mall or past another accident and I’m reminded that I am a survivor — a survivor for a reason — and to be thankful for my second chance.

I was self-employed, and my injuries left me unable to work for months. Imagine it: a pianist unable to sit at the piano bench without discomfort. When I tried playing, excruciating pain shot up and down my spine, into my head, and out to my fingertips, eventually turning to numbness. It was terrifying.

Between the trauma and pain medications I was unable to drive for months. In any event, my only vehicle was totaled. I’ve played the piano since I was 7 and had been described as the Energizer Bunny. I just kept going and going.

And then… to have life come to a screeching halt, or so it felt, and not be able to make music, or meet my children’s expectations for their birthdays and holidays… the situation felt hopeless.
From hopeless to hopeful

Jackie Walsh, former coordinator of the school’s before- and after-school program, invited the BSE community to step forward and help an anonymous BSE family during the holiday season. We were that family. The outpouring of love and support was unbelievable. In a matter of weeks my outlook went from hopeless to hopeful.

We’ve all heard that it takes a village to raise a child. In this situation, the village helped the entire family, and I want to take this opportunity to thank you, members of the village, for your blind generosity. Many times throughout the year I find myself giving thanks for the friend who offers a ride, a sleepover, an early morning drop-off, a Facebook chat, a brainstorming session, or a hug.

The quiet people who made a huge difference four years ago in their organizing efforts were Jackie Walsh and the BSE community, Danny Eaton and the Majestic Theater in West Springfield, Cathy King and Arena Civic Theater, Margery Heins and the GCC Chorus, and the Choir and Ashfield Congregational Church — and most importantly my parents and family.

Four years later I have two artificial discs in my neck, three fused vertebrae, nerve damage in my left hand, and chronic pain. I understand, yet have not mastered, the value of asking for help. I appreciate vans with automatic sliding doors, and cool auto open/close back doors. Front-load washers and dryers now fascinate me.

I miss directing musical theater, but I really love teaching piano lessons and spreading the joy that music brings to my life, and the time I’ve been given to spend with my children.

Lastly, there’s a reason I survived, and I think I’m getting closer to figuring it out. For now, I’m thankful for the time I have to think, to watch a show or a parade, to listen to a concert, to talk with friends, to eat good food, to share gluten-free recipes, to care for my rose garden, to make music with my kids, to remarry, and the list goes on.

Do you still need things to be thankful for? Be thankful for seat belts, which save lives. Give thanks for our eyesight that we can see the beautiful colors changing with the seasons. Give thanks that we can smell the hay as the farmers mow the fields, and hear the children’s squeals that distract us from our daily grind. Give thanks that we can feel the warmth in a hug or handshake.

Most importantly, know and be grateful that we are gifted to be part of this amazing village.

— Amy Roberts-Crawford is a Buckland-Shelburne Elementary School parent