The Heart, Mind, Body Connection

February is, of course, Valentine’s Day! With that, comes chocolate, roses, candy, and all sorts of other heart-themed treats! It seems only fitting that February is also American Heart Month; a time when we can focus on heart healthy lifestyle choices and practices. I think we are all familiar with some of the things we can do to promote heart health – eating a well-balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, exercising, and maintaining a healthy weight – but did you know that thankfulness has also been shown to help your heart stay healthy?

The connection between our mind and bodies has been the topic of conversation for quite some time, and many forms of exercise, such as Yoga and Meditation, center around that connection. However, there is also a strong connection between the mind and the heart, and this connection has been the subject of recent studies, showing that a healthy heart may lower the risk of dementia and memory loss. Heart disease and dementia share several risk factors, so protecting the heart can also help protect the brain. Thankfulness and positive reactions can help foster heart health. Furthermore, if we can train our brains to turn negative thought processes around and focus on positive ones, we can have a greater positive impact on our heart and mental health.

So, we know thankfulness and gratitude are good for us, but how can we cultivate those positive thoughts? Just like many things, gratitude is a learned behavior, so we can train ourselves to be thankful!

Here are a few ways to start incorporating thankfulness into your lives:

Make it a Habit 

They say it takes 30 days to turn something into a habit. Say “thank you” whenever possible. From the minute you wake up in the morning until you climb back into bed at night, say “thanks” whenever possible. Take notice of all the opportunities to show your gratitude.

Keep a Journal

Create a “Thankfulness Journal” to keep track of all the things you are thankful for. Keeping a written note not only serves as a great reminder to be positive, but it helps reinforce that positivity! And you can choose to keep your journal in an actual journal, or on your smartphone so you can always keep it with you.

Be Present

It is very easy to get lost in “what’s next” and worry about what’s happening next. Instead, try and focus on the present. Enjoy the “now” and be thankful for the little things. Whether you’re enjoying a delicious meal, spending time with loved ones, or enjoying a lovely conversation, focus on being completely present in the moment and appreciate each experience. 

Try incorporating thankfulness into your lifestyle and help support that healthy mind, body, heart connection!

Brittany Austin, National Director of Health and Wellness, Functional Pathways 

Taking Good Care Of Your Heart

Valentines and Hearts are everywhere this season. February is the American Heart Month reminding us to keep our heart healthy by diet, rest, and exercise. Remember your heart is a muscle and exercising makes it stronger and healthier. Research shows that people who do not exercise have a greater risk of heart disease than active people. Like all exercise programs, check with your physician before beginning any new regimen. So, “What exercise works best for my heart?” Here are a few basic pointers: 

Include Aerobic or Cardio Exercise like walking, swimming, or biking. You should move fast enough to raise your heart rate and breathe a little harder, but not so fast that you cannot catch your breath or be able to carry a conversation. Three to five times a week for 150 minutes per week of moderate exercise is recommended by the CDC. Ten or fifteen minute sessions work just as well as 30 to 60 minutes. Our water aerobics and the Sit and Stand Exercise classes will get your heart rate up without wearing you out. Also the Nustep, treadmill and recumbent bike can raise your heart rate and monitor your heart rate, too. 

Stretching is also important. Be sure to stretch after warming up for a few minutes and after each exercise session to keep your body more flexible. Stretch gently (no pain) and hold your stretch for at least 30 seconds. We offer Yoga Stretch classes to provide full body stretching as well as water aerobics and sit and stand classes that finish with stretching. 

Strength Training uses weights and resistance with stretch bands. The Oasis has weight resistance equipment for upper and lower body work. Do strength exercises 2 or 3 times a week resting a day between sessions. Resistance levels can be increased on the Nustep and the bike. 

It is never too late to begin an exercise habit. Start gradually 10 – 15 minutes at a time and increase slowly… If you experience pain or pressure in your chest or trouble breathing, stop immediately and get medical assistance. A little soreness in the beginning is normal, but if pain lasts more than 2 hours after exercise, it may mean you have overdone it. After a few weeks, you can increase your workouts for longer sessions and add more resistance gradually. Exercise is a key to a healthier heart. Check out the schedule of exercise classes or make an afternoon appointment with Mary Hand if you want to learn more about the equipment in the Oasis. Remember an active life leads to a healthy heart. 

Doing What’s Best for Everyone at Kirby Pines

Once again, the month we so fondly associate with love, because of Valentine’s Day, is upon us. Do you remember how your first love seemed to transform you into a better human being? Or how much time and creativity you put into making a Valentine’s Day card for someone special? This February has a more unique side to it than most, because this is also the Asian year of the Black Water Tiger. Beginning February 1st, the year of the Black Water Tiger ushers in a year of transformation, rapid changes, and adventure. Everyone is fired up, generosity is at an all-time high, and social progress feels possible again. We can expect rapid changes and sudden disruptions. 

In China, the Tiger is honored as a symbol of strength and valued because it is family-oriented. Though extremely driven, the Tiger’s goal is always to do what is best for everyone. Traits of the Black Water Tiger are: agility and eloquence. Water is an extremely powerful natural force – because it can go around any obstacle in its path and not lose its essential nature. 

The Chinese calendar dates back to the Qin Dynasty over 2000 years ago. If you were born in 1926, 1938, 1950 or 1962 you were born during the Year of the Tiger. Famous people born during the Tigers years include Queen Elizabeth II, Stevie Wonder, Martin Short, Leonardo DiCaprio and Lady Gaga. This year is significant because it offers all of us the opportunities to transform or develop our creativity, and social consciousness, as well as say goodbye to petty differences. I guess when you stop and think about it, Valentine’s Day allows us to do some of the same. 

So this Valentine’s Day, embrace not only your true love, but also your neighbors here at Kirby Pines. Let go of any differences or misunderstandings you may have towards someone, and wish everyone a Happy Valentine’s Day. 

Michael Escamilla,
Executive Director,
Kirby Pines

Congratulations to Our Employee of the Month: Shandrikka Jones

Shandrikka Jones

Shandrikka Jones 

Line Server / Team Lead 

Describe your family: Family oriented, loving, caring and very supportive. 

Describe yourself in five words: Silly, Loyal, Sassy, Nice and Hardworking. 

What do you do for fun: Go to the movies, cook, hang out with family and friends.

Do you have any hobbies or interests: Cooking.

What is your favorite food: Anything that’s good. Favorite song: Anything by Michael Jackson. 

What is your favorite thing about your job: Getting to laugh and joke with residents and my coworkers. 

What is something you are proud of:  I have come a long way with my attitude and have learned to relax more and enjoy life. 

What would you like people to know about you:  I’m hardworking, dedicated, easy to get a long with and silly. 

Ms. Jones is the very embodiment of what Kirby Pines represents. She is always first to make sure our Residents are taken care of, first to make sure teammates are lifted up and given credit where credit is due, and first to help pitch in and get tasks done when opportunities may arise. 

Mark Simpson, Director of Culinary Services

Kirby Pines Couple Renews Their Vows

couple renews vows

Larry and Karen Anderson along with their Pastor Ricky Cisowski renewed their vows on their wedding anniversary, October 14, 2021. They have been married for 33 years. Mr. Anderson recently moved to Gallery Manor, while Mrs. Anderson will be moving to the Estates in the near future. As a tribute, Larry wrote this poem to commemorate the special occasion and show their love to Kirby Pines, too. 

A Poem by Larry Anderson

As my wife and I were approaching the retirement age, 
we received a book about “Growing Old”. 
We read every page. 
We highlighted the places we considered, 
both of us must agree so no one would be bitter. 
We were determined to have this task done. 
We did not want to leave it for our sons. 
We spent weeks checking out all the places. 
As we looked at the residents and noticed their faces, 
we saw some smiles and some frowns. 
Most of them were upbeat and some were down. 
We did our homework, our research and we were done. 
We selected Kirby Pines as The One. 
With sixty acres of beautiful landscaped grounds, a place 
for picnics and walking, it’s always safe with security around. 
So come and check out Kirby Pines way, 
ease your mind and be ready for that retirement day. 

wedding rings and rose

Learning to Thrive During the Winter Months

Winter is quickly approaching, and with that comes colder temperatures, the move from outdoor to indoor activities, and the temptation to hibernate until springtime. What if, instead of backsliding on our health and wellness this winter, we THRIVE during these chilly months? Let’s take this opportunity to stay healthy and develop a new habit or two!

Last winter, we were not allowed to do much of anything, thanks to COVID. This winter things are looking a bit more “normal,” but winters still coincide with an increase in other viruses, such as the flu. It’s also a time where we see an increase in depression and a decline in mental health. Let’s look at some ways to keep your health in tip-top shape in the upcoming months. 

1. Wash your hands and sanitize your surroundings.

couple using blender

We have heard this a million times. But sometimes it’s good to have a friendly reminder. Remember to wash your hands frequently, for at least 20 seconds. If you are unable to wash with soap and water, use hand sanitizer.

2. Bulk-up your immune system. 

An important part of staying healthy is keeping your immune system in check. Ways to do this are getting the appropriate vaccinations as needed, eating a balanced diet with lots of fruits and vegetables, getting adequate sleep, and staying active. If you are having a hard time getting enough fruits and vegetables throughout the day, try adding a smoothie! It’s a simple way to pack in a BUNCH of fruits and veggies.

3. Stay Active. 

Staying active will help promote bone and muscle health, improve sleep patterns, and lead to an overall healthier lifestyle. The stronger your body is in general, the stronger it will be to fight off illnesses. You can easily incorporate exercise into your daily routine (if you haven’t done so already) by doing exercises, like chair marches or leg kicks from your chair while you watch your favorite T.V. show.

4. Practice Your Balance! 

It’s important to practice your balance – as they say, “use it or lose it!” Working on your balance daily can help with your ability to catch yourself if you slip on the ice, preventing a potentially serious fall from occurring.

couple reading books

5. Make time to relax. 

This may sound counterintuitive but making time to unwind is just as important as staying active. Being rundown can compromise your immune system and leave you susceptible to viruses and infections. Activities to wind down can include Yoga, meditation, journaling, or reading a book.

6. Make connections. 

This could mean video chatting with your family or having a meal with a loved one. How you spend time and connect with others is up to you, but we are social creatures who NEED those physical connections. In addition, talking to someone else can also help with feelings of loneliness or depression.

three women walking outdoors in autumn

This winter, let’s focus on taking care of ourselves, rather than just “getting by.” Put your mental and physical health first and dive into the colder months head on! 

Brittany Austin, National Director of Health and Wellness, Functional Pathways 

8 Simple Ways to Stay Fit During the Holidays

walking outdoors in the autumn

Don’t wait until January 1. Stay on track during this tempting season with these simple tips. ’Tis the season of staying fit, said no one ever. Busy schedules, holiday parties, and endless culinary temptations combine to make it especially difficult to stick to your fitness routine this time of year. Chances are, you’re going to fall off the workout wagon. That’s okay—we all do. Use these strategies to get right back on. 

Stay-Fit Strategy #1: Remember Why You’re Doing It 

When a client loses his or her motivation, corrective exercise specialist Kendra Fitzgerald prescribes a mental workout. What’s your motivation? To feel better, have more energy, be more productive at work, or age gracefully, it’s easier to commit the time and stick to it once you identify why you are working out.

Stay-Fit Strategy #2: Start Small and Be Realistic 

If your goal is to exercise daily, begin with one or two days a week. Pick days where you can easily fit it in. Add another day as each week goes by. Even if you can’t get to your favorite class or the Oasis, remember that 15 minutes of movement is better than no movement at all. 

Stay-Fit Strategy #3: Picture Your Success 

Write down your goal in a few simple words, and post it where you’ll see it every day. A visual reminder may strengthen your resolve. If you want to get back to your “fighting weight” of five years ago, put up a photo of yourself from that time. 

Stay-Fit Strategy #4: Make It Mandatory 

Time management is important for accomplishing any goal, and fitness is no exception. Even if it’s just 10 minutes, put it on your calendar. Call it your “feel better session,” and make that time nonnegotiable. You’ll boost your mood and health, and it will become a key part of your routine. 

Stay-Fit Strategy #5: Track Your Progress Daily 

Record your achievements daily or weekly: how many steps you walked, number of exercise reps, pounds lost, and so on. A pen and paper and a calendar will work just fine, or you can schedule and log your workouts on a free exercise app Stay-Fit

Strategy #6: Recruit Someone to Hold You Accountable 

Maintaining an ongoing schedule with the same person can help you stay accountable. You’ll want to hold up your part of the bargain. Plus, you can get a great workout while having a great time. Think about it: The more fun your workouts are, the more you’re going to look forward to and be committed to them over the long term. And consistency and longevity are necessary for achieving your goals. 

Stay-Fit Strategy #7: Hold Yourself Accountable Too 

Put your money where your mouth is: Pay a penalty for missing your workouts. Drop a dollar in a money jar, and then donate the dough to a favorite cause. 

Stay-Fit Strategy #8: Savor Every Success 

There’s no better feeling than finishing a challenging workout. Let the feeling of accomplishment wash over you, so that you’ll remember the feeling when it’s time for your next workout. 

And make no mistake: This is a big deal! You’ve just rewarded yourself with better health this winter—and a happier, fuller, and potentially longer life. 

Congratulations to Our Employee of the Month: Alan Hill

Alan Hill

Medical Sous Chef

Describe yourself in five words: Get it done or else.

What is something you are proud of: Being a veteran.

Do you have a pet: A cat, Pantaliamon (Pan).

Do you have any hobbies or interests: Collecting fish for my aquarium.

What is your favorite thing about your job: Preparing the food.

What do you like to do for fun: Watch football.

What is your favorite food: Pizza.

What is your favorite song: Forever Mine by The O’Jays.

Describe your family: Six kids and a wife who has gone to live with the Lord.

What would you like people to know about you: I’m a proud American.

Mr. Alan does not know the word “No”. He has repeatedly changed his schedule to cover for others and goes above and beyond on a daily basis to ensure our residents have what they need. When covering in The Bistro, a resident asked for chicken salad, Alan made it special, and now makes it once a week, knowing that resident will be in to order it. Mr. Hill shows that a positive attitude and willingness to help can go a long way and we appreciate everything he does.

Mark Simpson, Director of Culinary Services


Open 7 days a week, pups can play leash-free with other dogs their size. The dog park is perfectly located on campus with an easy access sidewalk just off Pine Circle. The fencing is vinyl coated for safety and includes separate play areas for small and large dogs. It is also equipped with bench seating, pet waste stations and water spigots for drinking and/or washing a muddy paw when needed. Officially opens this month!