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51 Dellwood Cove
Dellwood MN 55110
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Glorious Hugs sells personalized care packages with original art

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Artist Bios and Videos

Entering the MN Cup, Social Entrepreneurship Division

Mary MacCarthy

Earlier this month I entered Glorious Hugs into the MN Cup, Social Entrepreneur Division. To learn about the competition, click on the picture above.

The submission form is straightforward asking: what are you doing, how are you doing it, what progress have you made, and what are your plans. While this seems simple enough, getting all your ideas documented in a way that clearly and briefly communicates your strategy, tactics and value proposition requires dozens of hours!

People ask, "Given the time it takes to enter the competition, was it worthwhile given the opportunity cost?" YES for three reasons:

1. Being a solopreneur is a 24x7 operation with a million tasks. Although I'm following a business plan, the discipline of clearly communicating the story and trajectory to an outside audience helped ground me on what's working and what's missing and refresh the plan for the future. 

2. It fulfilled a dream. Ever since I heard of the MN Cup a five years ago I've aspired to develop a concept into a winning brand and business strong enough to enter the competition.  

3. The exposure and connections afforded from just entering the competition are valuable. All entrants will learn on Monday, June 6th whether Glorious Hugs made the semifinals of just ten enterprises. There were around 225 entrants statewide in the social entrepreneur division so Glorious Hugs has a lot of competition! I'd be so honored to just make the semifinals. 

Also, AARP is giving a $5,000 award to the enterprise that most improves the lives of seniors.

Let's hope the judges see the potential and the warmth of Glorious Hugs! #hugsarehealthy

 

Guest Blog: The Role of Geriatric Care Managers

Mary MacCarthy

by Margaret Wallace, LSW

Geriatric Care Managers, also known as Care Consultants, Care Coordinators or Elder Care Managers are professionals who specialize in working with seniors and their families to coordinate their care needs. A Geriatric Care Manager may be a nurse, social worker, counselor, psychologist or gerontologist who has training and experience specifically in working with older people. Geriatric Care Managers help with short-term projects or can be involved in a more on-going relationship. Geriatric Care Managers offer a large variety of services to assist older people and their families in meeting their care needs. 

Geriatric Care Managers can:

  • Assess current strengths and potential needs to determine what, if any, assistance is needed to help the senior live as independently as possible
  • Research and arrange community resources, such as home management or home health care services, transportation or meal services
  • Facilitate family meetings regarding care thereby enabling families to reach consensus on caregiving solutions
  • Review financial and legal issues and offer referrals to specialists in estate planning, asset conservation, elder law and related professions
  • Evaluate current and potential living options, accompany family on tours of facilities and coordinate moving
  • Act as a liaison and the “eyes and ears” for out-of-town/unavailable family members, keeping them up-to-date on the senior's status
  • Advocate with doctors and health care providers to ensure understanding and approval of the treatment and approach provided
  • Attend appointments and ensure information is relayed in a timely manner
  • Assist with organization and submission of health insurance claims, forms and medical bills to ensure maximizing of benefits
  • Act as an advocate for the senior, especially those residing in long-term care facilities
  • Offer counseling and support for both seniors and caregivers

Most Geriatric Care Management services are not covered by long term care, private, or Medicare/Medicaid insurance policies at this time. Fees are negotiated with the company and vary based on services requested. 

Geriatric Care Managers are highly knowledgeable of the issues specifically facing seniors and their caregivers and are experienced in accessing and using resources efficiently. Working with a Geriatric Care Manager can be the key to remaining as independent as possible for as long as possible.  

To learn more go to http://www.aginglifecare.org/. Geriatric Care Managers can also be found by referral through your doctor, financial planner or other professional; through a nursing home or assisted living facility; by word of mouth; or in the phone book/Internet directory. 

One Geriatric Care Management company is Pathfinders and they can be reached at www.pathfindergcm.com/ and 612-729-9096.  

Guest Blog: Organic Essential Oils from Wyndmere Naturals

Mary MacCarthy

Recently Glorious Hugs started including Wyndmere Naturals organic essential oil product samples in every care package. The lovely scent of essential oils wafts out when the care package is opened! Each care package contains Lavender Garden soap, Aches & Pains soap for easing sore muscles and unscented cream.  

Here's a guest blog and video from Wyndmere Naturals about essential oils.

Wyndmere Naturals of Minnetonka, Minnesota has provided 100% pure essential oils for over 20 years! While essential oils are now attracting greater attention, they have been used throughout history for many purposes. Essential oils are the highly concentrated liquids extracted from leaves, flowers, stems, roots, bark or other aromatic plant elements. Due to their concentration, essential oils must be diluted prior to use. Some oils (mostly the expensive ones that are diluted to be more affordable) are diluted and ready to use when purchased.  Most are not diluted though and need to be put into a cream, lotion, distilled water, bath salt or carrier oil prior to use.  

Each essential oil has a range of properties that can have psychological and/or physiological effects on the human body. Lavender, for example, is considered to be adaptogenic and has the ability to react with the body to achieve balance. Therefore, lavender can either be calming or stimulating depending on the concentration used and what the body needs at that time. Wyndmere Naturals also combines complementary oils together to create many unique synergistic blends for a greater range of benefits.  

Essential oils can be integrated into everyday life in many ways. The most effective ways of receiving benefits are through inhalation and/or through skin applications by using lotions, creams, massage oils, bath salts, body scrubs/washes, natural perfumes, air mists, air diffusers and natural cleaners. Essential oils can help with relaxation, mental clarity, odor fighting, mood boosting and so much more! Some great options for starting with essential oils include Lavender, Orange, Peppermint, Grapefruit, Lemon and Tea Tree. We hope your enjoy our products! For more information, visit our website at http://www.wyndmerenaturals.com/

 

 

An educational video covering the basics of 100% pure essential oils from Wyndmere Naturals.

Guest Blog: Depression in Elderly Adults

Mary MacCarthy

Note: This is the first of a series of guest blogs on important topics on art and aging from experts in various fields. We are excited to share this blog by Janet Sterk, MA, Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist. 

Depression is a topic that is often difficult to talk about, no matter the age or situation.  And it is frequently overlooked in elderly adults.

Symptoms of depression include loss of interest or pleasure in activities, isolation and withdrawal, a decrease in energy, difficulty making decisions, feeling hopeless and worthless, feeling like ones’ life doesn’t make a difference, sleep disturbance – either sleeping more or interrupted sleeping, thinking about death, or even wishing one wasn’t alive. These criteria are used in screening for depression, no matter what age the person might be. However, these signs of depression are often overlooked in the elderly because they are too often seen as a normal part of the developmental stage of aging.

As one ages, there are often physical and cognitive limitations that gradually reduce the ability of the older adult to engage and connect with others. Losing significant loved ones often exacerbates the condition and reduces their support network.

The good news is that studies are beginning to show that the depression that often accompanies these inevitable issues as we get older can be reversed or avoided altogether. The answer? Although medication is often helpful, the ultimate answer lies in human connection and touch.

Researchers have identified oxytocin, often associated with the mother-child bonding which is critical in human development, is essential for all ages. Oxytocin is produced through a variety of touch and social connections and triggers the release of serotonin which, through a series of neuro-connectivity processes, activates the reward circuitry in the brain and results in feelings of happiness and contentment.

Studies have shown that elderly adults often experience a lack of one-on-one or even group connections with other humans.  Companionship, touch, conversations, group singing, dancing, group or one on one creative activity, all tend to stimulate the natural production of oxytocin and thus decrease the feelings of isolation and worthlessness. Researchers have long known the essential nature of touch for the development of the infant and toddler and how important it is for all humans, at any stage. And yet, the elderly are often rarely touched. Too often, our aging population is isolated and extremely lonely.

Finding time to connect in meaningful ways with our older friends and relatives is essential for their well being and can be very helpful in our own lives. If you take the time to massage lotion into the feet and/or hands of an older adult, or hold their hands while sitting or walking, you both produce oxytocin, and thus you both increase your levels of connection and happiness.

We humans are not meant to be isolated and alone. We are meant to tend and befriend. When you engage an older adult in telling their stories of their lives, there is often a deep connection, sometimes accompanied by laughter and maybe tears. This is healing to the soul, and relieves feelings of isolation and worthlessness – so often associated with depression. When you bring cookies, go for a walk, talk about current events, cut their nails, brush or curl their hair, bring them flowers, take them to the conservatory, read them poetry or just bring them a box of LOVE items that they can take out and hold over and over, you have helped them increase their levels of oxytocin and have stimulated a sense of connection and happiness.

Bringing attention to the primary care provider when we recognize symptoms of depression in our loved ones is an important step. Many illnesses and some medications can cause or exacerbate symptoms of depression. Often older adults can benefit from antidepressant medication. However, the most important element is the oldest known intervention in the life of humans. Human connection, touch and relationship are healing balms to the head and heart.

by Janet Sterk, MA, LMFT

To learn about Janet and connect with her, visit www.janetsterkhealingjourneys.com. 

 

Planning for the Future

Mary MacCarthy

In looking forward to celebrating one year in business on April 20th, here are a few initiatives in the works to continue growing and improving society :

1. Launching into retail gift shops. Last week the Landmark Center gift shop became the first gift shop to stock a smaller format care package called a "Mini Care Package" and another gift shop is planning to order. The Mini Care Package contains the same Minnesota art and poetry and discussion questions but in a 6" x 6" x 6" vinyl box. It's an adorable ray of light! 

2. Selling to large senior homes and other businesses in the senior care industry. Many organizations have expressed an interest and we're close an agreement with a couple senior homes. 

3.  Mothers Day is on May 8th! Only two months away! A big "First Birthday to Glorious Hugs/Mothers Day Sale" is in the planning stages and will be announced soon. 

4. In the longer term future, perhaps Fall, I'll be looking at transitioning fulfillment to an organization that employs developmentally disabled adults. This has been a company goal since day one. I can't quite do it yet because I keep making small tweaks to the care packages in response to customer feedback. It's Agile development at its best! 

Thank you for your interest and support.

Mary

Refining the care packages

Mary MacCarthy

As Glorious Hugs continues to grow, one frequently asked question is, "How have you changed the care packages since you launched the company?" The answer is, "In oh so many ways!!" Those of you who have been following the company closely are aware of some of these changes, many of which you suggested:

- Introducing new art, poetry and card designs periodically including for holidays
- Added Willow and Max coloring pages
- Added a package of 12 Sargent colored pencils
- Added yellow tissue paper to line the care package so it's more colorful, soft and attractive
- Improved the design of the notecard to make them smaller and sturdier and added an envelope
- Upgraded to heavier paper for the poetry, letter, discussion questions and artist biographies
- Added new personalization options besides the art: cookies, card design, and fun little free toys
- Added other types of cookies, such as a Valentines Day sugar cookie from Grandmas Bakery (coming very soon)
- Added two "Hugger" stickers

These changes were made to  improve the customer experience upon opening their special package and to align more strongly with the brand.  So far, customer feedback has been very favorable! 

 

Welcome to Glorious Hugs!

Mary MacCarthy

Welcome to Glorious Hugs! Motivated by a mission and supported by a strong Board of Advisors and team, our goal is to deliver joy, emotional support and opportunities for connection. For example, consider these statistics on seniors in the US and Minnesota:

  • Half of all women aged 75+ live alone, according to the US Department of HHS, 2008
  • 66% of caregivers are female and half of all caregivers work fulltime, according to the Family Caregiver Alliance, 2015
  • 54,000 seniors in Minnesota live below the poverty line and 32% of all seniors have one or more disabilities, according to Minnesota Compass, 2015

After you send a package, follow up with the recipient to get their reaction to the pottery, hear about the poetry, discuss the questions, share the snack, and view the videos on the artists together.

 

Joy, Comfort and Connected Cards for Handwritten notes

Mary MacCarthy

With so many customers including personal notes to the package recipient, we designed three lovely notecards as a special touch. Each note is handwritten in our best cursive on the most appropriate card based on the personal note. We hope you like them!

The Power of Poetry

Mary MacCarthy

“Rock breaks, weathers, is ground up and carried away

As the smallest particles of sediment. Tiny and slippery,

clay has so little space within that the minerals create

an impermeable layer, a deposit that even repels water.”

- from “Remaking Rock” by Phyllis Ballata, 2015

 

The power and beauty of words in two poems are in each care package. We commission new poems from Phyllis Ballata of White Bear Lake for each type of art and the poems relate to the art and a theme. See the Artist tab for Phyllis' bio.

Poetry offers learning opportunities: thinking critically about a new topic or enhancing one’s ability to concentrate, be patient and pay attention to detail. Poetry allows us to exercise our brains in ways we don’t often have the opportunity to do.

Intellectually, poems allow us to explore figurative language and creativity, enhancing our overall knowledge of language. In addition, some of the metaphors used in poetry will challenge us to think in ways beyond what we’ve always known. Without a doubt, poetry is mentally stimulating in a variety of ways. Poems can be read over and over to find new meaning and can be memorized and recited.

Poetry allows us to reap emotional benefits such as remembering moments from the past or relating to the content, making the reader feel comfortable and connected to the text. Sometimes, with reflections and memories like these being brought to life, we can experience some of the same transformational findings as when reading self-help books or going through a counseling process. Poetry also enhances our ability to be sympathetic because we are able to relate to characters and situations in the writing.

Combining poetry with handmade art is meant to have a synergistic effect so people find deeper meaning in the art and poetry individually as well. Glorious Hugs care packages strive to stimulate conversation and encourage the discussion of memories. Poetry with handmade art provides outstanding academic, intellectual and emotional benefits!

Grandparents Day 2015

Mary MacCarthy

Since Grandparents Day is about celebrating and honoring grandparents, here are a couple memories about my (Mary's) grandparents.

Lorraine Wickenhauser lived to be about 94 years young. She lived most of her life on a farm with Grandpa. He was a prosperous farmer with a strict yet loving style. While he worked the farmland for decades, eventually the farmsteads were handed down to two of my uncles and my Grandparents moved into a smaller home in town to relax.

When I was 2-3 years old my mother and I lived with my grandparents for a while my father served in VietNam. Grandma Lorraine worked so hard her knuckles were swollen yet she laughed abundantly and when she did her eyes twinkled and she'd cover her mouth with her hand. One of my favorite memories was "helping" hang the laundry on the line in the backyard. My very important responsibility was to hand Grandma or my Mom clothespins and then run between the sheets without making them fall to the ground. After hanging the laundry, we'd swing in a covered swing as the sheets swayed softly in the breeze then get a cookie from the kitchen. Since there was only one extra bedroom, I slept with my Mom each night.

Be sure to share memories of your Grandparents with your family and friends on Grandparents Day and every day!

Research on Loneliness

Mary MacCarthy

Glorious Hugs care packages are designed to be shared to alleviate stress and loneliness. Loneliness can be defined as an unpleasant emotional response to social isolation. Yet sometimes people feel lonely in a crowd or in an unfulfilling relationship.

An increasing body of clinical evidence has linked loneliness to a declines in functional ability and even death. According to a 2012 clinical study (discussed in the first article listed below), 43% of US seniors report feeling lonely. To review the latest research on loneliness, here are links to recent, high quality articles that you may find helpful.

If you'd like to find even more research the topic, try searching Google Scholar (scholar.google.com) using the phrase "loneliness AND older persons" or "loneliness AND health."

Super soft pillowcases encourage dreaming

Mary MacCarthy

"Now they tell us that we are too awake
for too long. Exhausted, we are always half asleep:
Red Bull, espresso, energy pills,
contstant fight or flight, 24/7 internet and
a thousand channels with made-up news."

Glorious Hugs is introducing super soft, fun pillowcases sewn by Mary Kay Wayland to encourage sleep and dreaming. The four patterns on the pillowcase cuffs of leaves, spectacular cities, dogs in sweaters and Peanuts characters enjoying the outdoors were each carefully selected to appeal to a wide range of interests. The white cotton is the absolute softest I could find (and good enough for my daughters to sleep on).

Mary Kay's bio: Mary Kay Wyland, Sole Proprietor of Mary Kay's Custom Sewing and Alterations, in White Bear Lake, Minnesota has been sewing her entire life.  Her specialties include pillows, cushions, window treatments, and alterations. She also teaches sewing classes for adults and children in various local venues and privately in your home or her home.  You can reach her at MKWyland@hotmail.com.

"Greeting the dawn with prayer and meditation,
coffee or cocoa or tea in hand, looking out for sunshine,
we rise up refreshed and renewed,
to learn a new thing, read and talk,
sing and play, hug someone and smile.
Last, we relax into the arc of evening, into quiet,
to be well, to heal and prepare to rise."

-poetry from "Balancing" by Phyllis Ballata, 2015 for Glorious Hugs

College Students and Stress

Mary MacCarthy

Many of today's college students are struggling with stress. According to the most recent student health survey at the University of Minnesota, 29.3% of college students report not being able to handle their stress level and 19.3% were diagnosed with depression in the last 12 months. Here's a link to the report: http://www.bhs.umn.edu/surveys/survey-results/2013/UofMTwinCities_CSHSReport_2013.pdf

Developed with input from the Active Minds student group at the University of Minnesota, Glorious Hugs care packages were tweaked to appeal to college students and relieve stress. In addition to the art, poetry, bios, discussion questions and cookies, we added two coloring book pages, 12 colored pencils, blowing bubbles, a toy harmonica or kazoo, and two cute "hugger" stickers.

 

 

The Glorious Hugs brand

Mary MacCarthy

Many people ask, "Where did the name Glorious Hugs come from?" "Glorious" refers to Grandma Gloria and "Hugs" refers to the big hug feeling we hope people get when they receive and open one of our care packages.

In designing the Glorious Hugs brand, we started with the values that fueled the start-up: mission-driven to improve society, respectful, thoughtful and responsive. To guide product development and communications, we listed personality traits to aspire to continuously demonstrate: warm, personal, light-filled, caring, compassionate, graceful, and accepting.

There is meaning to the logo and other visual brand elements. The human figure is reaching out to give or receive a warm embrace. On the box, the figure on the front of the box is reaching out with a lanyard of flowers while the figure on the back of the box is accepting the other end of the lanyard in a hug. The rainbow-like bands are called "hug bands" and reflect the colors of nature: the yellow is the sun, the blue is the sky and dark purple is earth. (Yes, brown would have been more earthy but brown doesn't look as nice as purple next to blue and yellow.) The background is calm and fresh white space symbolizing opportunity.

In art selection that stays faithful to the brand, it's easy to gravitate to artists who have beautiful hearts and minds. The handmade art we buy has specific themes and points of view including community, grace, playfulness and hopefulness. The art has depth that can generate endless discussions to alleviate loneliness and reduce stress.