Empowering Individuals through “A Table for One”

Empowering Individuals Through the Table for One Program

Monica Nagele speaks to a group of people about nutrition and griefMonica Nagele offered QFBW’s May Grief Education Series session “A Table for One” at Fusion54 on May 30. The session introduced individuals accustomed to preparing meals for a family to ways to adapt to cooking for one. The presentation covered essential topics such as basic nutrition guidelines, meal planning, mindful eating strategies, quick and easy meal preparation techniques, recipe reduction, food safety, and the intersections of grief and nutrition. Often, caregivers have spent years caring for others placing the needs of their loved ones above their own, and so it was no surprise that when asked about their own meal preferences, attendees struggled to identify special wants rather than what was already in the refrigerator. Jai helped participants consider the ways they actively experience grief and offered some strategies to support wellbeing as each person heals their grief.

QFBW is grateful for Monica’s dedication and willingness to partner to meaningfully impact the lives of those navigating the challenges of cooking for one. The success of the Table for One program exemplifies the positive outcomes that collaborative efforts and community support can achieve in addressing essential needs and promoting overall well-being. We look forward to partnering with Monica in the future!

Want to learn more? You can learn more about nutrition and grief in this podcast, “Can Comfort Food Comfort Grief?” with Monica and Jai.


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QFBW Run/Walk Group

Run/Walk Group Forming

group of people ready to walkWe had a great first meeting of our group on Saturday, May 11, and we are making plans for additional meetings including securing a permanent meeting location, scheduling yoga, and more. Please let us know what your interests are by completing this short survey. Our next meeting is scheduled for June 8. Watch for updates about meeting time and location.

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May 2024 Newsletter

April was a busy month at the studio. We were fortunate to have a beautiful day to view the solar eclipse. The deck and lawn provided the perfect vantage point for this historic experience. View a gallery of images. On April 13, Artist Katie Wood’s Heirloom Jewelry workshop explored desiging wearable art from special family items. If you were interested, but unable to attend, read more about the event. May is going to be even more busy! Special classes and events include an extra Gentle Yoga class with Laura, Drumming on the Deck, a Walk/Run Group, and our monthly Grief Education event. Read more about all of these opportunties below.

May Calendar
* Friday May 10, 5:30pm – Drumming on the Deck
* Saturday May 11, 8:30a. – Walk Run Group.meets at AWL trailhead
* Monday May 13, 10:00am – Special Gentle Yoga Class with Laura
* Sunday May 19, 2:00pm – Sound Healing with Jai
*Wednesday May 22, 7:00pm – Mindful Living with Jai
* Thursday May 30, 11:00am-1:00pm at Fusion54. “A Table for One” with Monica Nagel

Save the Date
* Reiki: Saturday, June 8, Reiki for Self-Care, 10:30am-1:00pm
* Grief Education: Thursday June 20, 5:30pm. Grief 101 – how to help someone who is hurting

* Monday May 13, 10:00am. Laura will offer a special class focusing on care of the feet. The idea for the class came from an article Laura shared describing the connection between our feet, our body, and our sense of wellness.
* Memorial Day Schedule: Join Jai for Gentle Yoga at 10:00am and stay for a social hour on the deck. If the weather doesn’t cooperate, we can social inside! The 5:30pm class will not be offered.

Grief Care and Education
Thursday May 30, 11:00am-1:00pm at Fusion54. “A Table for One” with Monica Nagele, RD and Jai. This free learning series event explores the impact of grief when we find ourselves alone and helps us identify healthy ways to nourish our body and our sense of loss. Participants will receive a range of delicious recipes and cooking tips that are perfect for one-person portions. Register Now.  These monthly learning series events complement the studio’s ongoing individual and group grief care. If you or someone you know is hurting, please let them know bereavement care is offered at the studio.

Community Wellness
As part of our commitment to promoting community wellness, we are forming a walk/run group. No pressure, no expectation, we just want to meet and move. Read more

Sound Healing and Drumming
* Friday May 10, 5:30pm Drumming on the Deck is back! Relaxing and energizing at the same time, drumming is a great way to end the week. The studio provides the drums and you are welcome to bring your own instrument if you have one. No experience necessary. Save your space.

* Sunday May 19 join us for our monthly Sound Healing.

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Walk/Run Group Forming

Join us for our first Walk/Run group on the Sugar Creek Trail

picture of person running in sunlight

Saturday, May 11, 8:30am. Meet in the parking lot next to AWL.

We are excited to launch a walking/running group as part of our ongoing commitment to supporting wellness in the MoCo community. This is a no-pressure, no-stress gathering to simply move as we want. We are confirming a permanent location for the walk/run followed by yoga starting in June. This month, come out and walk or run and share your feedback about good times to meet, frequency, and other thoughts to help us firm up things. If you are interested but can’t attend, please drop a line to the studio and let us know what works for you!  Our long-term plan is to follow it with yoga, and we are really close to confirming a downtown place for that.  In the meantime, hope to see you on the 11th.



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Modern Heirlooms: Designing Contemporary Jewelry from Family Treasure

This unique workshop came about as a result of a conversation between metalsmith Katie Wood and Jai when Katie asked about the grief that arises when families decide what to do with treasured items. Meaningful pieces can serve as milestones in a family history – Dad got this spoon on a trip overseas or  they can remind us of significant moments honored with a special gift.

person talking to a roomKatie talked about how she came to metalsmithing. She showed “before and after” examples, juxtaposing the original item with the new work of art. Working with metal can be challenging. Many heirloom metal pieces have the precious metal bonded to another metal. This means she can encounter difficulty bending the metal or trying to solder joints together. This is when her creative process honors the meaning over the material and she taps into other ways of presenting the item. For example, rather than welding a piece, she might instead wrap the item in a mount.

She worked individually with each participant, carefully considering the items each person brought with them and suggesting ideas for a new design. One participant had non-metal material, and she was quick to adapt and suggest how the item might be incorporated into a pendant or other hanging decoration.

person reviewing spoons


It was amazing to watch her reimagine each item. She would take a spoon in her hands, for example, and then begin to verbally desconstruct the item for the owner. “Look here at this flower, we might take that and then move it here. . . .” Her vision was boundless, seeing cufflinks here, earrings there, and necklaces and pendants in between; all from the same discrete item.  Perhaps the most meaningful part of the time together was the storytelling. Each person had a special story about what they had brought along and why they chose it. And in those moments, the intersection of art and grief was apparent. We have special things that remind us of our loved ones and incomparable meaning arises when we acknowledge both.

We hope to welcome Katie back to the studio for an encore presentation, let us know if you are interested in attending!



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Meet artist Katie Wood

As part of an emerging workshop series at the studio, we have invited Katie Wood, metalsmith, to offer her workshop on designing heirloom jewelry. You can learn more about the workshop and register on our website. Recently, Jai sat down with Katie to learn more about her and her work.



Jai: Tell us a little bit about yourself

Katie: Raised near Chicago, I was instilled with a spirit of curiosity from a young age, constantly encouraged by my family to explore and learn. My journey into the realm of art began with clay; a passion cultivated since childhood. In 2008, an exciting opportunity led my husband, our three children, and me to England. It was there that I embarked on a new artistic adventure, delving into the world of metalsmithing. Over four years, I honed my skills and let my creativity grow in metalsmithing. Now, settled in Greencastle with my husband and our standard poodle named Windsor, I find myself deeply rooted in both my personal and artistic endeavors. Alongside my artistic pursuits, I am also actively engaged in volunteer work within the Greencastle community, seeking to give back and make a positive impact wherever I can.

J: Working with heirloom pieces is not something everyone does. How were you drawn to this practice?

K: One day, while admiring the intricate design of a casserole dish, inspiration struck me. I envisioned those elegant patterns adorning a beautiful bracelet, transforming an unused item into a cherished piece of jewelry. The challenge was irresistible, and I couldn’t resist the opportunity to bring this vision to life. Simultaneously, my volunteer work at a local thrift store exposed me to a reality: the sight of cherished family heirlooms being donated instead of treasured saddened me. It stirred a desire within me to preserve not just the physical objects, but the memories and legacies they held. Driven by this passion, I set out to find a meaningful solution. I wanted to offer people a way to hold onto their family’s history in a tangible and wearable form. Whether it’s creating earrings, bracelets, bookmarks, or necklaces, my aim is to transform these sentimental treasures into pieces that can be cherished and worn, keeping memories alive and close to the heart.

J: It seems like there might be some intersections between your work and mine as a Grief Coach and Grief Educator. How do you encounter grief when you are working with someone who wants to create a piece from a special family artifact?

K: Often, I find myself listening to the heartfelt stories shared by individuals about their beloved family members. Some stories are filled with laughter, others steeped in history, and some tinged with sorrow. Yet a common thread emerges – the realization of the fleeting nature of memories and the profound need to preserve them before they fade away. However, the joy that fills the room when these individuals open the jewelry box and behold a stunning piece crafted from a cherished family treasure is immeasurable. In that moment, the initial grief is transformed into a beautiful celebration of love, connection, and remembrance.

J: Talk a little about this workshop. I don’t consider myself artistic and so I can’t imagine creating anything beautiful. How will I be a part of the creative process?

K: We will embark on this journey together to find the beauty within your treasured possessions. During our time together, we’ll explore the intricate surface designs of your heirloom, seeking out elements that speak to you on a personal level. Whether it’s a particular section that catches your eye or a specific motif that resonates with your style, our goal is to identify the essence of what makes your heirloom special to you. As we delve into the design process, we’ll talk about your preferences and vision for transforming your heirloom into a timeless piece of modern jewelry. Whether you envision a delicate necklace, a statement bracelet, or a pair of elegant earrings, your input will guide the creation of your unique heirloom jewelry. Following our workshop, I’ll return to my studio to bring your vision to life, crafting a one-of-a-kind piece that reflects the beauty and sentiment of your family heirloom. Please note that the pricing for the finished jewelry starts at $50, and the final cost will depend on the complexity of the design and materials used. It’s important to understand that in the process of creating your jewelry, I’ll need to deconstruct the heirloom piece. While it won’t be returned in its original form, any unused pieces can be returned to you, if desired.

J: Anything else you would like to share?

K: Thank you for entrusting me with the privilege of transforming your cherished heirloom into a modern heirloom that will be cherished for generations to come.

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Winter is not a season

“Winter is not a season, it’s a celebration. It ushers in fresh opportunities for growth.” – Pam Young

The drive back and forth to the studio allows me to mark the seasons. I watch as the leaves turn color before the trees release them to the ground and note how the darkness settles on the road a bit earlier each day. I often think of winter as a wonderful metaphor for what is to come. The barren trees and landscape suggest a blank canvas for creativity and connection, and the slower pace creates space for self-care and renewal. The plants are doing their good work underneath the soil in readiness for the spring.
This is a special winter season at the studio. As the metaphor suggests, there is much happening that is not visible. We are on the eve of the 5th anniversary of Quest for Balance Wellness, and 2024 ushers in fresh opportunities for growth.

Yes, it’s hard to believe it’s been nearly five years since I purchased our beautiful studio and launched Quest for Balance Wellness. It has been such an amazing journey, enriched by your presence and nurtured by your kindness and generosity. It isn’t always easy, but you keep hanging in there with me, and because you do, we continue to thrive and grow.

Just after Thanksgiving I’ll be taking a six-week medical leave. I’m grateful to each of my teachers for their commitment to sustaining the studio in my absence. We have been planning for this time but also planning for the future of the studio. And while it may seem like not much is happening, like the winter season, lots of growth is underway. We’ll begin 2024 by celebrating my fifth year of ownership and the studio’s 11th as a small business in Crawfordsville. We are planning a New Year’s Day celebration to kick off the year and will have other 5th anniversary celebrations throughout the year.

I think you’ll agree we are richly blessed by our teachers, and they too are excited by the fresh opportunities for growth. We will offer a new evening gentle yoga class beginning in February. You’ll be able to take advantage of special yoga classes like our introduction to yoga series or yoga for golfers. New workshops and classes on mindfulness, grief and loss, and self-care will complement those we currently offer. We will continue to explore ways to make the studio more visible in the community, building on ideas you have shared with us.

Five years ago, my first studio newsletter began “In immeasurable ways, the stewardship of Quest for Balance fulfills my lifetime call to support the wellness and wellbeing of others.” I am so grateful that this remains true. Even more, I am grateful for each of you. Your kindness, generosity, friendship, and care make our studio such a special place. Thank you for being part of our story. We can’t wait to see what the next five years bring!


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Death and Dying: how to begin the conversation

Whether or not we want to talk about it, the reality is that at some point, each of us is going to die. Like birth, death is another natural transition among the cycles of life. So why is it so hard to talk about it? We live in a culture in which we eschew the conversation. Perhaps it is because it causes us to face our own mortality. It can be frightening to think about our own death or the death of someone we love. We anticipate the feeling of loss and so it is easier to avoid it than address it. Maybe we feel unprepared, not having thought ahead to funerals or memorials, or understanding the final wishes of the dying, or question our financial stability after the loss. There could be unresolved issues in our life including relationships that need to be repaired or the anticipated grief that comes from acknowledging unfulfilled hopes and dreams. Perhaps the hardest thing is death itself and the fear of wondering what it will feel like, what happens after death, and all the things leading up to it.

But talking about death is an essential conversation that enriches living. As we reflect and talk, we start to look at all parts of our human experience differently. We may realize we are not alone in what we feel. Values and priorities may emerge with more clarity and this newfound awareness gives rise to intention and purpose. When we start the conversation, we give ourselves and others permission to feel deeply and the space to explore all of what is present. Ultimately, talking honestly opens us to the possibility that those things that might keep us from talking about death and dying might instead be embraced with ease and grace.
This is not small talk, and so starting the conversation may not be the easiest one you have ever initiated. Begin with yourself. What is important about your own mortality? What quality of life do you want at the end of life? Consider your relationships. Are there words that need to be said or actions completed before you die? Getting comfortable with the idea of your own death can be the first step in starting the conversation with others.

Consider exploring advanced directives with your loved ones. Advanced directives are documents that outline final wishes and often identify a representative to speak in proxy. This is an opportunity to plan care in advance of when it is needed. It is a perfect opportunity to explore the standard of care you want for yourself and to learn of the same requests your loved ones have for their own end of life. What are your own wishes when you are unable to speak for yourself? This is also a perfect opportunity to share how you want to be remembered. Discussing final wishes with loved ones relieves each person of the burden of making difficult choices and can open the door to fruitful and loving discussions.

If you find talking about all of this challenging at first, contemplate writing a letter to loved ones to be read after you have died. Perhaps there are stories in your life that remain untold or things held inside that need to be shared. Maybe the letter is a joyful celebration of the intersection of your life with theirs. Regardless of what flows from your pen, writing this message can be a wonderfully cathartic and inspiring way to share what you love about each person and what matters most to you.

Death is unavoidable, but talking about it is not. As we begin this new year, we also start a new cycle of life and death. With this comes the fresh opportunity to talk to those you love about what matters most. So while it can be hard, rest assured that the more we talk, the easier it gets.

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An Exercise in Curiosity

question marksIn the training program leading to my certification as a Coactive Coach, we completed numerous practical activities to build and hone our coaching skills. The other day I was reminded of one, that in the moment, seemed incredibly difficult. We were to spend thirty minutes looking under our kitchen sink. Yep. 30. Long. Interminable. Moments. And it wasn’t to be just a stream of observation and criticism, it was an exercise in curiosity. You see, we were specifically instructed to notice everything we could but without judgment. We were asked to get intentionally curious about what was under the cabinet, but not to say if it was good or bad. Thoughts of the disorder or stained cabinet flooring were steadily replaced with “I wonder why the pipes are bent that way”. Or, “what’s the story of the persona that installed this”.

In all the years that have followed, I return again and again to this exercise, both as a practical activity and a metaphor. It leads to the potent understanding of curiosity and how it suspends judgment. My role as a coach is to get curious and ask powerful questions that deepen each client’s understanding of themselves. The benefits are transformational.

  • Curiosity leads to an openness to what is present rather than the closure of judgment
  •  It inspires a willingness to learn rather than assume what is happening
  • Most of all, it suspends judgment, which stifles creativity and growth and puts us at odds with potential learning

Developing the skill of curiosity is a beautiful way to stretch and grow, often with surprising results. As you do, you may find the scope of your questions expanding and deepening into what moves and motivates you. So, try this: open your cabinet, find a spot in nature that captures your attention, notice a meaningful object on your shelf, or anything else that can gain your focus for 30 minutes. If you notice judgment creeping in, simply acknowledge it and return to asking questions.

When you are finished take time to reflect on the experience. What did you learn about the experience? How might you apply this learning to other parts of your life? Drop us a note to let us know!

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A mindful approach to grief

words related to mindfulness under a magnifying glass

Tara Haelle’s interesting post introduces some important ideas about the intersections of grief and loss with the crises of the Covid-19 pandemic. Ambiguous grief is central to our current experience and she offers some good strategies for managing it, including acceptance, setting reasonable expectations, and finding fulfillment in familiar activities.

Another challenge of the pandemic is our need for the “long view” or life after the pandemic. So much of our attention can be directed to the point in time when the pandemic ends, but as Haelle correctly notes, we are nowhere near the end. So how can focusing on the present moment by adopting a mindful approach to grieving be helpful?

  • Mindfulness engages us in the present moment. Cultivating mindful awareness gives us a sense of time and place and amplifies our sense of control over our circumstance
  • Focusing on the present reduces the stress of looking ahead and the “what-if’s” that come along with it
  • Mindful awareness, when coupled with attention to the breath, stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system or the part of our wiring that is responsible for rest and relaxation

Mindfulness as a practice of self-care was pioneered by Jon Kabat-Zinn who defines it as awareness that arises through paying attention, on purpose, in the present moment, non-judgmentally. As I share this concept with my clients, I emphasize the non-judgmental nature of this focus. When we simply notice, rather than appraise what is happening and what we are feeling, we are better able to quiet the nervous chatter of the mind. Free from this distraction, we can then invest our energy in what is available in the present moment. 

Want to learn more? Join us for our Conversation Café on Monday September 21 at 7pm for a lively discussion about mindfulness and learn some practical applications for your daily life.


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