Gathering Together We Heal One Another

Mary Duggan

By: Mary Duggan

It’s time to prep for our upcoming Fall speaking engagements. It’s almost October and that means church halls, school gymnasiums, Adult Ed classes, and every other imaginable venue for those of us in the breast health brigade. Summer fun is behind us and everyone is back to business. This week we resume our “ENOUGH WITH THE PINK, LET’S THINK” campaign at our local Curves and so I am preparing and updating. Fortunately there is so much exciting to discuss that the last thing on my mind is breast cancer.

I begin by visualizing the attendees settling into chairs laced in and out of the circuit of workout equipment. I watch as they juggle their small plate of cheese and gluten-free crackers and their plastic tumbler of cheap wine. I figure someone will have thought to grab some of the Halloween candy on sale at the drug store and small bars will be getting discreetly unwrapped. I try to imagine the primary issues these folks are dealing with and what I can do to shine a little light on the topic. I marvel that they have come out at all. It is 7:30 PM and we would all rather be home with our feet up, unwinding with some television, mostly falling asleep on couches and in wing back chairs, working up the energy to get ready for bed. We’re Americans and we’re tired.

Event_Principe1 long shot

The group at Dr. John Principe’s was turned on and hungry for info even at 8 PM on a dark and stormy night. I couldn’t resist.

The room will hold many shoulders aching from Fibromyalgia. Boat loads of folks with bowel disorders from simple gas and constipation to full-blown IBS and Krohns Disease will shyly fill the chairs. I will see lots of visible patches of Psoriasis wrapped around ears and peeking out of long-sleeved tops. Plenty of good-hearted gals will be slumped in their chairs, barely responsive, pushing really, really hard to be there, their skin a gray pallor that no makeup can cure. I ache for how hard they’ve had to push just to walk in the door. Are those anti-depressants working for you? That is what Dr. Phil would scream at them. Of course, I won’t. But, most likely no one has explained the relationship between depression and an exhausted liver; or the great gift of seasonal liver cleansing – the lifting of depression.

Event_Kohler M + A

It’s always fun to do wellness events at Destination Kohler, Wisconsin. Who doesn’t love gorgeous design and dreams of living large?

There will be the frazzled mothers of kids with autism who moved mountains to be there and school teachers exhausted from just their first week back in the classroom with their Special Ed students. ADHD, violent kids, self-mutilating kids, depressed kids, obese kids, anorexic kids – parents dealing with all of these maladies and more will be in attendance, hoping beyond reason that something will be said that will ease the collective pain of their families. Here at the Breast Wellness rally.

Event_RenAcad_2 long shot

Renaissance Academy at St. Xavier was a room full of curious faces. I know these very hip Grandmothers gathered lots of information to share with their families.

Someone will be rubbing her temples trying to ease the final residue of a three-day migraine. If I ask her, for sure she will not have been told that she is most likely VERY low on Progesterone. Some natural cream from the health food store could alleviate the pain forever – and heal her on so many levels. She will likely have gone to the ER and taken a killer pharmaceutical. And the lights will be too bright and she won’t be able to enjoy any of the refreshments because of the persistent nausea. Or maybe she is being abused. There is always someone in a room filled with women who is actively being abused or working through the long road of recovery. And of course there will always be the persistent demons of grief and heartache and loss and loneliness. And now I have to stop. Let the prayers begin.

That’s right. Before I speak publicly I prepare mostly by praying. First prayers of gratitude that I have recovered from so many of these maladies myself and that I remain forever grateful for all the times I have been pulled back from the edge of complete destruction and despair. Grateful for the brilliant physicians and insightful therapists and gifted siblings and relentlessly kind friends who have always appeared when I needed them most – or that at least appeared eventually. Grateful to God.

Event_RenAcad__1 pat deiters

Talk about answered prayer, there in the class, one of our mother’s dearest friends and a lifelong inspiration to all of us. Hello, Pat Deiters! Thanks for bringing wonderful memories of our Mom to our day.

Next I will pray that my brain will hold out, that the effects of my traumatic brain injury will recede for the evening and that I will be able to remember all, or even most of what I want to share. I work, for the most part, extemporaneously. It seems to allow for the greatest amount of serendipitous exchange. I have years invested in studying the ins and outs of being well. It is my passion and my delight. My strategy at public events is to prepare rigorously and then to set the work aside and see what the evening holds – what the gathered call for most fervently. I leave room for the Holy Spirit to weave among the folding chairs, opening us to one another, to Grace and to Spirit.


There is nothing more restorative than women gathering together to talk and share and sip and laugh and learn.

And I pray that we will laugh. Sickness and disease is a downer. The bowels are embarrassing, breasts bring giggles, some information causes gasps and some actual outrage. That’s right – the dangers of under-wire bras was well and scientifically established more than 25 years ago. Damn, we should have been told. I will share the best I’ve got. I am not afraid to make a fool of myself if it will deter anyone from some of the choices I have made. I will challenge mistaken norms and try my best to inspire change. Being healthy is a birthright, but we have had that taken from us somewhere along the journey. Getting and remaining healthy can be rewarding. And it deserves our best efforts. And the ability to forgive ourselves for all the mistakes we have made along the way. Laughter helps a lot to alleviate destructive judgment and shame. So I pray that we will laugh, a lot.


Does this really need a caption? This teacup is not at Disney. It’s a bathtub and it’s Kohler, of course.

And then I picture everyone leaving. These things always run on longer than expected. If we have done our job correctly, that is. And even though folks will now be up even later than usual, I look to see energy and enthusiasm more akin to mid-day. Because that’s the great gift when souls gather. Just in the being together and swapping stories and accepting the challenge to look at health a bit differently there is already much healing. It seems that the humble circle of folding chairs, snacks and shared wine is a communion of the most real sort. We’ll be preaching the gospel of wellness. Hope the faithful turn out in full force and the healing can begin.

Event_RenAcad__2 marge mugica

You can’t be too careful around some of these retirees. Marge clearly came looking to get hired. Again, Mom Mugica is the dear mother of an old friend. I wonder if she’d work cheap? She fits in great!

Mary Duggan is Co-Founder and President of the Duggan Sisters.

The Duggan Sisters cracked the code and created a natural deodorant that actually works: lifestinks.  And that was just the beginning. We hope you will spend a few minutes exploring to experience their spirited approach to wellness through their natural products and healing stories.

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2 Responses to “Gathering Together We Heal One Another”

  1. Mary Enright-Olson says:

    Who needs PowerPoint?!?!? Simply believe in what you’re doing and be open to the serendipity of the group. Fantastic description of your prepardeness and awareness of who’s in the crowd. Would like to be at one of your gatherings — someday.
    Would you please expand on the liver detox?
    Cheers to a happy and healthy fall.

    • Mary Duggan says:

      Howdy Mary! Okay, truth be told I would still love to get all techie and sophisticated and add PowerPoint into our presentations. In the beginning, we used it a lot for training sessions; but a store owner told me to skip the PP. “You are a powerful speaker, Mary. Don’t bother with it.” Compliment taken; but still, it would be slick.

      I am happy to report that our first presentation of the Fall 2013 season went off REALLY really well. They always take a lot out of us; but they give a lot in return as well. We have just completed an enormous automation process for our little business; so we are worn to a nub and backed up to the hills. But, it was well worth the unceasing work for the last 6 weeks, or so, and we will reap the rewards for a long time to come.

      Now about that liver cleanse…can I just say I see a blog coming on. This is an enormous can of worms to open and I am just the girl for the job. I will say by way of lead in that in all natural healing traditions the cleansing of the liver in the Spring and the Fall are an absolute must. We have most commonly done the Homeopathic Heel Detox cleanse 2X/year and the Helga Clark Naturopathic Cleanse 2x/year as well (find Clark on the Internet.) I think it is high-time we take our blogging friends along for the ride. It is such an important step to take to maintain a healthy and happy psyche, as depression often is a symptom of a liver overloaded with toxins.

      On a daily basis, as well, we “flip our livers” and I will have to complete an Aunt Kitty story to explain that one and we take Sam-e to maintain healthy liver function, as well. But I have lots more to report from the work of Dr. Gabriel Coussens on depression and raw foods to the value of enemas and colonics in lifting the agony of depression. Remember, we are Irish by heritage: members of the tribe of low serotonin levels so we know our way around depression , bi-polar disorders, addictions, anti-depression medication – the works. It greatly inspired the creation of our SmartSoaks – which are a real must-have in the anti-depression toolbox.

      Okay, okay, I will pull a bit of it together into a Fall Liver Cleanse blog, just as soon as we have a long awaited day off and complete a critical task or two (and that is an insider tip to you Ms. Enright Olson 🙂

      I haven’t explored any of these matters since the blog entitled Ding Dong and Flu Shots – so it is high time Sr. Mary Catherine speaks her mind about the liver and its role in depression. Until then, be well, and we MUST get you to one of our “gatherings.” I do believe our next one will be sponsored by our local health food store and it should be a doozy.

      Try a Heel Detox cleanse in the interim – photo in Ding Dong blog. It leaves you feeling so renewed. And they are so easy to do. And just $30 to boot. I think we will be buying 3 boxes in the next few weeks.

      Thanks for reading, Mary. Signed, Mary.

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