10/29/14

a must-read for writers:

I was thrilled to come across this Q&A today between my friend/author Priscilla Gilman and my former fitness student/author Dani Shapiro. Both women inspire me in countless ways, I love the questions Priscilla asks and the potency of Dani's answers ~ enjoy:
Priscilla writes ~ "I’d heard about Dani Shapiro for years, but didn’t actually read her work until the summer of 2013, when I was sent a copy of her newest book, Still Writing: The Perils and Pleasures of a Creative Life, in galley, and then devoured her other books. I reached out to Dani to let her know how much I loved her writing, and we became email friends. It was such a privilege and joy to do this conversation with her, and I found each of her answers to be a little gem of exquisite writing and profound insight."
Q: Still Writing opens with a bold claim; in its first paragraph, you declare: “everything you need to know about life can be learned from a genuine and ongoing attempt to write.” Give us a few examples of how the practice of writing has taught you important life lessons.
A: When I think of what it mean to face the blank page each day, I think of tenacity, courage, persistence, doggedness, faith, and the willingness to make a leap into the unknown. These are all traits that I’ve cultivated in order to do my work, and at the same time, I think they serve me well in my life. I liken facing the blank page with the feeling – if we really think about it – of getting out of bed every morning. We can’t know what the day holds. Our lives are at the mercy of so much randomness. There is chaos, chance, luck. Unexpected sorrow, unexpected grace. And yet, if we were really to focus on that randomness, we wouldn’t be able to put one foot in front of the other. What writing has taught me (here’s another bold claim) is how to love in the face of all the consequences of love – because after a lifetime of hurling myself into the abyss of the unknown in my work, I also have become more willing to hurl myself into the abyss of the unknown in my life.
Q: At one point in Still Writing, you say that writing is practicing “the art of waiting.” Can you elaborate on that suggestive assertion?
A: When I’m between books, I become a crazy person. Even though I’ve written eight books, I believe, absolutely, fervently, every time, that I will never write another book again, that the muse will not visit me, that I’m stuck forever, done, finished. I’ve learned, however imperfectly, to live with this feeling by cultivating the practice of waiting. Of patience. Or, at least, attempting patience. When I’ve tried to force something –– begin a project that’s only half-baked, or jump at an assignment just to have the deadline, or drive myself forward based only on a flimsy or tenuous idea, I always regret it. And I always end up throwing mountains of pages away. Better to wait. To ponder, mull, to live. To cook, walk, travel, take care of children, or partners, or animals, or whatever. To make the space. It’s only when that inward space is there that we are able to witness our own creative process, and give birth to something new.
Q: As someone who studied piano from age 7 to age 18 and sang, danced, and acted extensively throughout my childhood, I was especially intrigued by your claim that “piano was my training ground- at least as important as any writing workshop.” How did your studying and playing piano influence and shape you as a writer? What are the similarities and the differences between writing and making music? What does your experience have to teach us about the benefits of arts instruction and enrichment for young children and in our schools?
A: Oh, how wonderful! I hadn’t known this aspect of your background. What I meant by piano as my training ground, particularly, is the musicality that those years of study brought to my prose itself. I needed to hear sentences, not just read them. The lines must have a certain rhythm to them, and if they don’t, I work until they do. Though there was an underside to all that musicality –– which was pointed out to me by one of my professors in college, a great writer named Jerome Badanes. Jerry said, “Dani, you know how to write a very beautiful sentence. You’d just better make sure it means something.” I have taken that lesson to heart. Musicality isn’t everything. Beautiful language, on its own, isn’t enough. As for the second part of your question, arts instruction and enrichment is where our children access the power of their own empathic imaginations and their ability to create –– what could be more beneficial than that? Especially in this high-speed, disconnected age we’re living in.
Q: I don’t do yoga because I can’t exercise barefoot due to severely pronated feet, but I have practiced TM since my early 20s and feel it’s essential to both my productivity and my creativity. Tell us about how yoga has influenced your writing life.
A: I’ve practiced yoga since my 20’s as well, and much more recently, have developed a meditation practice. These are my tools of self-knowledge. If, as writers, we are our own instruments, these practices sharpen (and soften!) and hone these instruments. My best work comes from a quiet mind. And that quiet mind does not come naturally to me. I need to unroll my mat. If I remember to unroll my mat, the quiet mind reappears, like a mountain from behind cloud cover.
Q: I see you as a demystifier, and I really admired how Still Writing generously and honestly works to lessen the sense of distance aspiring, young, or less successful writers feel between themselves and established writers. Writers never feel confident or secure, you insist: “It never gets easier” and “there is no magical place of arrival.” I couldn’t agree more! Given that we never arrive, how can we best recover our equanimity and faith in our work as we struggle, labor, doubt? What is your best antidote for writerly anxiety?
A: I like that you see me as a de-mystifier. What a lovely thought. I think it’s important for writers early on in their writing lives to understand that these feelings are normal. Not only are they normal, they’re necessary. Insecurity is part of the process. I would worry if a writer felt too secure. I mean, this thing we’re doing is unbelievably hard. I think that the abject fear we feel when we sit down to work is absolutely appropriate, and keeps us honest and focused on our attempt. Because we mostly spend our time alone in our rooms, we lose sight of the fact that this insecurity and self-doubt is part of the job description. I think it helps to be reminded that writers all over the world are feeling precisely the same thing.
Q: You dispatch unhelpful clich├ęs with peremptory force: no late-night writing jags for you, no writing only when inspiration strikes. For you, good writing is the result of rhythm and routine. You credit your success to sheer plod, and a little shine of “fairy dust.” Can you describe your routine for us, and can you suggest helpful tips for setting up a routine?
A: Well, I’ll describe a good day. A good day would first begin following a good night’s sleep. I’d wake up refreshed, stay offline, have my first cappuccino of the day (one of several from my little machine) and I’d continue to stay offline. No email. No internet. No phone. My teenaged son is away at school, and my husband is also a writer, and he has an office outside of the house, so in this “good day” I’d be alone at home with my dogs. I’d get to work by reading a few paragraphs of beautiful prose. A bit of Virginia Woolf, perhaps. And then I’d begin with the pages I’d written the day before, and which I would have revised by hand. I’d input those revisions, and by doing so, get myself going. I’d get a foothold on the day’s work, and then, at around noon, I’d unroll my yoga mat and do my practice. The afternoon would be spent getting more writing done, and then, after I’d gone as far as I could, taking care of the business of writing, and of the rest of life. By dinnertime, I’d stop for the night. But this is a fantasy of a good day – more like a perfect day. It almost never happens. It’s more likely that I will find myself sidetracked by one thing or another, and have to “begin again” multiple times during the course of the day. The most important advice I can give for establishing a routine is to stay off the internet. The internet is crack cocaine for writers. And to find tools that allow you to bring your mind back to the work. Think of the mind like a puppy you’re training. Say heel to the mind. Gently tugging the leash. Heel.
Q: I love how you let us in on the backstage business of publishing, dismissing the subtitle of your memoir Slow Motion as “marketing-speak,” giving a copy editor credit for discovering infelicitous repetitions in your manuscript. Can you share another telling, funny, or instructive anecdote about the behind-the-scenes goings-on?
A: Oh, lord. How about my author photo from my first novel, in which the publisher spent thousands of dollars on a glamorous photograph of me, rather then send me on book tour? I didn’t know any better. I was just so grateful to be published, and felt that they knew best. I spent years living down that glam shot. And I make it my business to try to steer young writers in good directions, ones that, with any luck, they won’t have to eventually live down.
Q: You tell us that writers should read good writing every day so they can “fill [their] . . . ears with the music of good sentences.” What are some especially good books, poems, or passages that you’ve read recently? and what are some of your favorite sentences, either from recent books or from old favorites?
A: I’ve been reading Louise Gluck’s new collection of poetry, which is magnificent. There is also a beautiful and instructive interview of her in the current issue of Poets & Writers. I’m also reading Anthony Doerr’s magnificent All The Light We Cannot See. Tony and I are going to be teaching together at Sirenland, the writers’ conference I direct in Positano, Italy. Also, Rebecca Solnit’s The Far Away Nearby. And Jenny Offill’s beautiful novel, Dept Of Speculation. And I just read Jane Gardham’s Old Filth. What a novel.
Q: You and I are both passionate quotation collectors, and Still Writing is studded with wise and beautiful quotations from others, including many of my favorite people/writers (anyone who quotes and approvingly cites Ted Solataroff, John Gregory Dunne, and Andy Sean Greer has my undying loyalty). If you had to pick one quotation to summarize your approach to writing, what would it be? your approach to parenting? your approach to life?
A: I can only answer this question by saying that I have so many favorite quotes, and here are a few recent favorites:
For writing: “As the mind is engaged and anxiety suppressed, some imaginative work in some recessed portion of the being is getting done. Not to say that every moment is contributing to a book or a poem, but you can’t know in advance what will. Don’t prejudge your stimuli. Just trust where your attention goes.” — Louise Gluck
Parenting: “We still counted happiness and health and love and luck and beautiful children as ‘ordinary blessings.’” — Joan Didion, Blue Nights
My approach to life: “The health of an eye seems to demand a horizon. We are never tired, so long as we can see far enough.” — Emerson
Q: Still Writing serves as a salutary corrective to the pervasive belief, endemic in the literature of self-help, that success is the result of having a shrewd plan or a well-honed strategy. So much is accidental, so much is luck, so much is outside our control, you remind us, from the twists and turns of plots that unfold in ways we could never have predicted to the surprising disappointments and inexplicable triumphs of our careers. You cannot plan it, “you cannot force it,” you cannot make it happen. Openness to the unexpected and “embracing uncertainty” are crucial, you suggest, if we hope to write, and live, with equanimity and grace. How can we make ourselves more open to the unexpected? How best to embrace uncertainty?
A: This question is quite possibly the central question of my life, and the focus of my memoir Devotion, as well as thematically at the core of most of my fiction. I have no answers to this profound question. Only that if we hew to our own dharma – if we steadfastly force ourselves to work, in the words of the artist Anne Truitt, “along the nerve of (our) most intimate sensitivity,” then we have the chance to be alive to all of it –– to face into the wind –– to understand that life is precious and its very unpredictability is what makes it precious, and that to be born, to be alive at this very moment, is such a rare, extraordinary, unlikely thing. If we have this deep awareness, and if we are able to wear it lightly, I think we have a greater chance to embrace it all –– the whole human catastrophe. Just this morning I was reading a piece in the New York Times about the Siberian tiger that Vladimir Putin set free in the wild, and there was an amazing photograph of the tiger’s face at the moment of his liberation. The tiger doesn’t know that there are potential poachers awaiting him. He doesn’t know that he’s going to cross the border between Russia and China. He’s just moving steadily with such blazing light in his eyes, being everything he’s meant to be. I’m not sure why I’m telling you this story, but there you have it. I want to be that tiger.
Q: In a lovely and generous moment, you gently remind your readers that “to allow ourselves to spend our afternoons watching dancers rehearse, or sit on a stone wall and watch the sunset, or spend the whole weekend re-reading Chekhov stories—to know that we are doing what we are supposed to be doing –is the deepest form of permission in our creative lives”. Why do you think we find it so difficult to find the value in or to justify spending our time in the ways you describe? How can we give ourselves permission both because such wandering, watching, or immersion in art help us with our own creative endeavors and because reading, noticing, and way-finding are valuable in and of themselves? What’s a recent experience like this that was especially restorative for you?
A: To go back to Louise Gluck’s advice to “trust where your attention goes,” I think this is so hard for writers –– hard for all of us. How can we know when we’re creating the space we need within us, and when we’re just procrastinating? Earlier today, I went to the market and got the ingredients for a chicken stew that I planned to make in the slow cooker. The whole exercise took a couple of hours. The marketing, the chopping and dicing, the simmering. I even took a photograph of the dish and posted it on Instagram, with the pithy question: “Chicken with pancetta and peas? Or procrastination?” But in truth, I knew that I was simmering. As I write the answer to this question, I’ve been home alone all day. I’ve cooked. Shelved some books in my library. I’ve taken a bath. I’ve read. This is a day of creating space in my mind, even though it could be argued that I haven’t accomplished much. For me, all I know is that, when I’m between books as I am now, I need a lot of time to meander. When I meander, I discover. Or, as in the epigraph of Still Writing, a quote from David Salle: “I have to get lost so I can invent some way out.”
Q: What is the greatest peril of a creative life? The greatest pleasure?
A: The peril: Failure of nerve.
The pleasure: To quote Thoreau, it is the “fearless living out of your own essential nature that connects you to the divine.”
The Healing Time
Finally on my way to yes
I bump into
All the places
where I said no
to my life
all the untended wounds
the red and purple scars
those hieroglyphs of pain
carved into my skin, my bones,
those coded messages
that send me down
the wrong street
again and again
where I find them
the old wounds
the old misdirections
and I lift them
one by one
close to my heart
and I say holy
holy.
~ Pesha Joyce Gertler

10/27/14

10/19/14

"Like many others who turned into writers, I disappeared into books when I was very young, disappeared into them like someone running into the woods. What surprised and still surprises me is that there was another side to the forest of stories and the solitude, that I came out that other side and met people there. Writers are solitaries by vocation and necessity. I sometimes think the test is not so much talent, which is not as rare as people think, but purpose or vocation, which manifests in part as the ability to endure a lot of solitude and keep working. Before writers are writers they are readers, living in books, through books, in the lives of others that are also the heads of others, in that act that is so intimate and yet so alone." 
~ Rebecca Solnit
do
You
have
a
Loving
relationship
with
Yourself

10/16/14

STAY PRESENT, WITHOUT SECURITY
Instead of asking ourselves, “How can I find security and happiness?” we could ask ourselves, “Can I touch the center of my pain? Can I sit with suffering, both yours and mine, without trying to make it go away? Can I stay present to the ache of loss or disgrace—disappointment in all its many forms—and let it open me?” This is the trick.
~ Pema Chodron

who is marty stuart:

"Although known primarily as a country music star, Marty Stuart (b. 1958) is a master storyteller not only through his songs, but also through his revealing photographs. He has been taking photographs of the people and places surrounding him since he first went on tour with bluegrass performer Lester Flatt at age thirteen. His inspirations include his mother, Hilda Stuart, whom he watched document their family’s everyday life in Mississippi. He also admires bassist Milt Hinton’s photographs of fellow jazz artists and Edward Curtis’s well-known images of Native Americans at the turn of the twentieth century. Stuart’s works range from intimate behind-the-scenes depictions of legendary musicians, to images of eccentric characters from the back roads of America, to dignified portraits of members of the impoverished Lakota tribe in South Dakota, a people he was introduced to by his former father-in-law, Johnny Cash. Whatever the subject, Stuart is able to tease out something unexpected or hidden beneath the surface through a skillful sense of timing and composition, as well as a unique relationship with the sitters often based on years of friendship and trust."

10/13/14

november renewal:

The Power of Your Story
Join Author and Renowned Psychologist
Bonnie Comfort
for a very special afternoon
Learn how to use memoir writing as a therapeutic process. 
Memoir writing offers the writer a way of sorting out truth from lies, it is a style of writing that helps unpack personal family myths.
In this workshop you'll identify the significant milestones and turning points that make up your coherent story, which can lead to life-changing epiphanies. 
~ Uncover the secret stories that are the keys to your self-healing
~ Safely explore the dysfunctional dynamics and roles of your family 
~ Heal old wounds, creating a better, brighter future 
Saturday, 11/1/14
1:00 - 4:00
$55
reservation only
Special Renewal Offer:
Soft Stretch with Laure Redmond
11:30 - 12:30
$65
includes memoir workshop
reservation only
To Reserve:
Laureredmond@mac.com

who is keith haring:

Am I Really Busy or Does It Just Feel This Way?
Most of us judge how busy we are by how much we have to do. When there are too many things to do, we think we're busy, and when there isn't much to do, it feels like we're not busy at all. But in fact, we can feel busy when there isn't that much to do, and we can feel relaxed even when there's a lot going on. The states of "busy" and "not busy" aren't defined by how many things there are to do. Contrary to popular opinion, there is no such thing as multitasking; the brain can tend to only one thing at a time. Being too busy or not being busy is an interpretation of our activity. Busy-ness is a state of mind, not a fact. No matter how much or how little we're doing, we're always just doing what we're doing, simply living this one moment of our lives. 
Norman Fischer
art by Keith Haring

10/10/14

You become writer by writing. It is a yoga. 
~ R.K. Narayan, novelist (1906-2001)

10/9/14

here's the good news ~ you can't fail at meditation:

DAN HARRIS gets the inside story on mindfulness and compassion from Buddhist Master teachers JOSEPH GOLDSTEIN, SHARON SALZBERG, and MARK EPSTEIN.
It was a pretty sweet opportunity, really. The poobahs from the Shambhala Sun Foundation came to me and said: pick your favorite Buddhist teachers, and we’ll set up a public speaking event for you in New York City. So I invited three teachers: 1. Sharon Salzberg, co-founder of the Insight Meditation Society, who is a bestselling author and perhaps America’s premier proponent of loving-kindness meditation; 2. Joseph Goldstein, also a co-founder of the Insight Meditation Society, author, one of the most respected and revered meditation instructors in the US, and my own personal teacher; and 3. Mark Epstein, a psychiatrist who writes brilliant books about the overlap and interplay between psychology and Buddhism.
To be honest, I was a bit nervous, sitting out there alongside three of my beloved teachers in front of a big crowd at Manhattan’s Jewish Community Center. It wasn’t until I read this text that I fully realized what a wonderful evening it was. We discussed everything from the Jewish affinity for Buddhism to the controversy over mindfulness in business to the most skillful ways to handle problems in beginning meditation. Please enjoy. Dan Harris
Dan Harris: Sharon, you’ve written two bestselling books on happiness. So what is real happiness? 
Sharon Salzberg: I define happiness as a kind of resourcefulness. It’s a sense of resiliency and the ability to meet things without being defined by them. It’s a source of profound strength inside ourselves, which we don’t always realize we have. Also, happiness is our connection to one another, so we don’t feel so cut off and alone. 
Joseph Goldstein: The Buddha said that the highest happiness is peace. Different things may make us happy at different times in our lives. But in the long haul, the things Sharon talked about actually manifest when the mind is peaceful. The feeling, the taste of peace, is very sweet.
Dan Harris: People say, “I know meditation is probably good for me, but my mind is too crazy. I could never do it.” How do you respond to that?
Sharon Salzberg: Those are my people, the ones who say they can’t do it. Or, people who say “I tried it once, but failed.” I really love those people, because you can’t fail at it. Meditation isn’t about what’s happening; it’s about how you relate to what’s happening. You can have a torrent of thoughts and difficult emotions, but that’s okay. You can be with them not only with mindfulness, but with compassion. Usually when people start sitting, we say that five minutes is enough. You don’t have to think, “I’ve got to sit here for six hours.” You don’t have to get into some pretzel-like posture and suffer! Just choose an object of awareness—maybe the breath—and rest your mind there. You know that it’s not going to be 9,000 breaths before your mind wanders. It’ll likely be one. Maybe three, maybe just a half a breath! The most important moment in the whole process is the moment after you’ve been distracted, after you’ve been lost or fallen asleep or whatever. That’s when you have the chance to be truly different. Instead of judging and berating yourself, you can practice letting go and beginning again. That’s the core teaching.
Mark Epstein: If meditation is hard, you’re probably doing it right.
Joseph Goldstein: One of the things we learn in meditation is how untrained our minds are. To me, one of the great beauties of the practice is to see the commonality of the experience. While the content, the stories may be a little different, the way we get caught up in our minds—and the way we let go—is exactly the same. So the more we understand ourselves, the more we understand each other. When I started meditating, I didn’t have some amazing degree of concentration or anything. My mind just thought all the time, and it was fun! I was entertaining myself with thinking. So if I could come to some understanding of my mind and taste a little bit of peace, anybody can. And the more you practice the better you get at it.
Mark Epstein: One of the things that I’m grateful for is getting to know my teachers as friends. I have no illusions about their meditation practice or who they were. I can see that they were just like me, and that is so encouraging.
Harris: What’s your advice for getting started? 
Joseph Goldstein: Something quite extraordinary can happen in even five minutes. The first time I sat, I was in the Peace Corps in Thailand and going to these Buddhist discussion groups. I was the guy who was asking a million questions and wouldn’t shut up. People literally stopped attending because I was there. [Laughter.] Finally, one of the monks said, “Why don’t you try meditating?”
So I got all my paraphernalia and I set my alarm clock so I wouldn’t over-sit. Even though it was just five minutes, something extraordinary happened. It’s not that I achieved any great state, but I discovered that there was a way to look into the mind as well as look out through it. It was a revelation to see that there was a methodology for looking inward, regardless of what one found. Up until that point I’d always been looking outward. It set me on the path.
Sharon Salzberg: Practicing meditation is a powerful tool. But that doesn’t mean you’re going to go from sweetness to delight to joy to bliss to ecstasy to peace in a straight shot. It’s not like that.
I’m somewhat famous for having marched up to my first meditation teacher, looking him in the eye, and saying, “I never used to be an angry person before I started meditating” [laughter]. I was laying the blame exactly where I felt it belonged—on him! Of course, I’d been hugely angry before, but I hadn’t really paid much attention to it. So it’s perfectly natural when you start meditating to see a huge array of thoughts and feelings you may have been ignoring. This is one of the reasons why it’s very reassuring to work with a teacher or have a class, a guide, or a community. They can remind you that it’s about being aware of what’s going on, not trying to fight it. Not getting caught up in it. Being able to move your attention somewhere else so you get some relief. Having some compassion for yourself instead of judgment. It’s really useful to be able to tap into that kind of counsel.
Sharon Salzberg: Dan, I’m interested in your relationship to loving-kindness meditation. You’ve used the word “annoying” to describe it.
Dan Harris: I stand by that. It’s really annoying. Basically, the shtick is that you picture a series of people and systematically send them good vibes like, May you be happy, May you live with ease, May you be safe and protected. It’s like a Hallmark card with a machete to your throat. It’s tough stuff, especially when it’s first proposed to you. What I find revolutionary about meditation—straight up mindfulness meditation—is that we assume, consciously or subconsciously, that our happiness is contingent upon external factors: the circumstance of our birth, the quality of our marriage, the quality of our career; whether we’ve hit the lottery, and so on. What has allowed a skeptic like me to embrace meditation is that it’s a skill you can develop. You can practice it just like you can practice building your bicep in a gym. And I find that really exciting. Compassion is a skill we can learn too. As corny as loving-kindness meditation may seem, it’s not going to make you become some dopey, endlessly, mindlessly loving person in the world. It’s that not seeing everything through a veil of suspicion and hatred actually improves your life. It can make you more popular and is a great manipulation tool around the office. [Laughter.]
Question from the audience: I find that when I meditate thoughts pop into my head and a lot of them are very anxiety provoking. Often they elicit a physical response. Should I embrace this or just be aware of it? 
Joseph Goldstein: What you’re describing is not unusual at all. See if you can relax into the sensations of the anxiety, knowing that it’s okay to feel them. When I started meditating the major difficult emotion that was deeply conditioned in my mind was fear. I worked with it for a long time, thinking I was being mindful of it. But finally I realized that even as I was recognizing my fear, I wanted it to go away. Then there was a moment when I was doing walking meditation and something shifted. I thought, “If this fear is here for the rest of my life, it’s okay.” That was my first moment of genuinely accepting my fear. Acceptance doesn’t mean that fear doesn’t arise anymore, but acceptance does change the relationship. It’s the same with anxiety: It’s okay to feel it. So acceptance is the first step. Once you’re okay with the feeling, then you don’t need to be afraid of the thoughts. You see the thoughts come and go. Normally, our thoughts have tremendous power in our lives. They are the dictators of our mind: Go here, go there, do this, do that. We’re the slaves of our thoughts. And yet when we are aware of them, when we are mindful that we’re thinking, we see that a thought as a phenomenon is completely empty and fleeting. It’s little more than nothing! It’s tremendously interesting to learn this about one’s mind. It’s very freeing!

love this!

Pain - Fighting Shopping List
by Vicky Vlachon
Anti-inflammatory foods are nature's most potent pain relievers. While we all plan to make better choices, we sometimes default to filling the shopping cart with old school staples at the market. But anti-inflammatory foods abound on every shelf of the grocery store and bin at the farmer’s market—not only do they often taste better, but they can make a big difference to your body. Here are a few pain-free swaps:

INSTEAD OF...

BALSAMIC VINEGAR
CHOOSE...

RAW APPLE CIDER VINEGAR
Because...
Many brands of balsamic vinegar are actually "condiment balsamic vinegar," which is nothing more than white vinegar with caramel color and extra added sugar—and no beneficial bacteria.
Because...
The fermentation process in raw apple cider vinegar creates beneficial bacteria and enzymes that reduce inflammation. Look for "cold-pressed" brands that have sediment in the bottom. Create an anti-inflammatory daily tonic by adding two tablespoons to eight ounces of water.
SRIRACHA SAUCE
Because...
Tasty though it may be, sriracha contains added sugar and salt, which can cause inflammation and bloating. (If you can't give it up, GP makes a super clean 
version called Lee's Sriracha.)

TURMERIC or FRESH GINGER
Because...
Turmeric and ginger both add a bit of spicy heat while reducing inflammation. Turmeric contains curcumin, an anti-inflammatory agent proven to be as potent as hydrocortisone or ibuprofen. Ginger boasts many antioxidant compounds that reduce muscle pain, inflammation, and swelling.

WHITE SUGAR
Because...
This prime offender rapidly increases blood glucose and stimulates the release of inflammatory cytokines.

RAW MANUKA HONEY
Because...
All honey has small amounts of naturally produced hydrogen peroxide, which help fight inflammation-causing bacteria. Manuka honey is even more powerful, believed to fight up to 80 different varieties of bacteria, including antibiotic-resistant MRSA.

WHITE POTATOES
Because...
While white potatoes do boast vitamin B6 and potassium, their high glycemic index outweighs the benefits. (Glycemic index is a measure of how quickly a given food raises your blood sugar.)

SWEET POTATOES
Because...
Sweet potatoes also have B6 and potassium—along with a dozen other inflammation-lowering vitamins and minerals, including one of the highest concentrations of free-radical-fighting beta-carotene of any food on earth. Steam for two minutes and serve with olive oil (or butter!) to protect beneficial enzymatic reactions and increase absorption of beneficial nutrients.

STRAWBERRIES or ORANGES
Because...
If you suspect strawberries or oranges (or any other common allergen) of triggering a food sensitivity reaction, eliminate that food from your diet for three weeks, then "challenge" your system with reintroduction. If you don’t have any reaction, feel free to keep these both on your shopping list. They contain many inflammation-reducing compounds and can help fight pain—if they don’t cause problems for you.

CHERRIES or LEMONS
Because...
If you do have a reaction, consider "safer," less allergenic substitutions. Tart cherries have a pain-fighting power similar to ibuprofen—eating just 10 a day can cut gout flare-ups by 50 percent. Lemons are among the most concentrated sources of the bioflavonoid quercetin, a powerful antioxidant that helps regulate your body’s histamine response, which can reduce inflammation and make allergies more bearable.

BAGUETTE BREAD
Because...
White baguette bread is among the highest glycemic index foods, setting the bar high at a near-perfect 95.

WHOLE RYE or EZEKIEL BREAD
Because...
At an estimated GI of 35, Ezekiel brand sprouted grain breads have a relatively low glycemic index for processed bread. (Even their sweet raisin bread only has a GI of 43!) Whole rye bread is slightly higher at 58, but is a nice, hearty, nutrient-packed option.

ENGLISH BREAKFAST or EARL GREY TEA
Because...
Earl Grey tea has added bergamot, which can trigger muscle cramps in sensitive individuals. English Breakfast tea does have anti-inflammatory power, but also has high levels of caffeine. Drinking too much can trigger inflammatory stress hormones, neutralizing the beneficial effect.

NETTLE TEA
Because...
I drink nettle tea all day long! A powerful diuretic, nettle tea is naturally caffeine-free and reduces bloating, blood sugar, blood pressure, and inflammation. Nettle has been used in many cultures for centuries to help reduce general musculoskeletal (joint and muscle) pain, arthritis, and gout.

ROASTED/SALTED PEANUTS or PEANUT BUTTER
Because...
As a common allergen, peanuts have the same cautions as oranges or strawberries. Peanuts are also high in omega 6 fatty acids (already in inflammation-raising abundance in our diets) with almost no inflammation-fighting omega 3 fatty acids.

FLAX or CHIA SEEDS, and ALMOND BUTTER
Because...
Flax and chia seeds are two of the only nuts or seeds that have more omega 3 than omega 6s. Almonds mainly have omega 6s, but they have a greater ratio of monounsaturated fats (as in olive oil or avocados) to polyunsaturated fats (as in vegetable oil) than peanuts.

COW'S MILK
Because...
Non-organic milk is horrible, packed with endocrine-disrupting antibiotics and growth hormones as well as inflammatory omega 6s. Even organic milk, with more omega 3s, can trigger some inflammation—especially among the 65 percent of us with lactose intolerance.

ALMOND MILK
Because...
We’re often encouraged to drink cow’s milk for the calcium, but almond milk has 50 per cent more calcium, plus fiber, magnesium, and healthy fats. When you make your own almond milk, you avoid all the added sugars and emulsifiers that can hide in commercial almond milk.

COW'S CHEESE
Because...
While easier on the stomach than cow’s milk because it has less lactase, cow’s cheese has more casein, a protein similar to gluten that can trigger an inflammatory response (especially among those sensitive to gluten).

GOAT CHEESE
Because...
Goat’s milk has less lactase, so any product made with goat’s milk—cheese, yogurt, etc.—will decrease that effect. The type of casein in goat’s milk is less inflammatory than the casein in cow’s milk. Goat’s milk also has a higher concentration of calcium and protein, and even some vitamin C.

CORN OIL
Because...
Corn oil is packed with inflammatory omega 6 fatty acids that stiffen cell walls and clot the blood—bad news.

EXTRA VIRGIN OLIVE OIL
Because...
Extra virgin olive oil (especially cold-pressed Greek oil, such as Geae) is a great source of omega 3s as well as many types of anti-inflammatory polyphenols that can protect our tissues from oxidative stress and heal our blood vessels on a genetic level.

OATMEAL
Because...
While oats are not naturally a gluten-containing grain (like wheat, barley, and rye), many commercial brands of oatmeal contain gluten.

QUINOA or GLUTEN-FREE STEEL CUT OATS
Because...
Protein-packed quinoa tastes and acts like a grain, but in structure is more closely related to beet root or spinach. Prepare quinoa as a hot breakfast cereal or spoon some over goat’s milk yogurt. Or look for a reputable brand for oatmeal, such as Bob's Red Mill Gluten-Free Rolled Oats.

10/7/14

“What advice would you give to your parents?”
(Answers from an Austin, Texas middle school class):
1. Be more spontaneous!
2. Don’t worry. The kids are all right!
3. Give us better lunches
4. Help us with optimistic, sincere advice
5. You’re doing a great job
6. Follow through on threats
7. Take me seriously
8. You were young and stupid like me once, don’t forget
9. Let me fly
10. I want to figure out who I am without you
11. Offer help, don’t force help
12. Explain why you’re angry
13. Ask me if I need to be left alone or if I need help
14. My life isn’t easier than yours!
15. Don’t get caught up in assumptions that aren’t true
16. Tell me what you were like when you were a kid

10/3/14

10/2/14

just breathe:


who is kerri rosenthal:

Failing and Flying
Everyone forgets that Icarus also flew.
It's the same when love comes to an end,
or the marriage fails and people say
they knew it was a mistake, that everybody
said it would never work. That she was
old enough to know better. But anything
worth doing is worth doing badly.
Like being there by that summer ocean
on the other side of the island while
love was fading out of her, the stars
burning so extravagantly those nights
that anyone could tell you they would never last.
Every morning she was asleep in my bed
like a visitation, the gentleness in her
like antelope standing in the dawn mist.
Each afternoon I watched her coming back
through the hot stony field after swimming,
the sea light behind her and the huge sky
on the other side of that. Listened to her
while we ate lunch. How can they say
the marriage failed? Like the people who
came back from Provence (when it was Provence)
and said it was pretty but the food was greasy.
I believe that Icarus was not failing as he fell,
but just coming to the end of his triumph.
~ Jack Gilbert
(painting by Kerri Rosenthal)

10/1/14

Where
Is
Your
Hearts
Home

9/26/14

great read ~ highly recommend:

Who is Gina Sharpe
There is a Path that Frees Us from Suffering
Insight teacher Gina Sharpe is working to create a truly inclusive sangha. The place to start, she says, is facing the truth that even Buddhist communities aren’t free from the suffering caused by racism. A profile by ANDREA MILLER.

9/24/14

Dancing is a Life infusion.
- Sequoia Seaborn

pema pearls:

THE PATH OF PAUSING
"The primary focus of this path of choosing wisely, of this training to de-escalate aggression, is learning to stay present. Pausing very briefly, frequently throughout the day, is an almost effortless way to do this. For just a few seconds we can be right here. Meditation is another way to train in learning to stay, or, as one student put it more accurately, learning to come back, to return to being present over and over again. The truth is, anyone whos ever tried meditation learns really quickly that we are almost never fully present. I remember when I was first given meditation instruction. It sounds so simple: Just sit down, get comfortable, and bring light awareness to your breath. When your mind wanders, gently come back and stay present with your breath. I thought, This will be easy. Then someone hit a gong to begin and I tried it. What I found was that I wasnt present with a single breath until they hit the gong again to end the session. I had spent the whole time lost in thought. 
Back then I believed this was because of some failing of mine, and that if I stuck with meditation, soon Id be perfect at it, attending to each and every breath. Maybe occasionally Id be distracted by something, but mostly I would just stay present. Now its about thirty years later. Sometimes my mind is busy. Sometimes its still. Sometimes the energy is agitated. Sometimes calm. All kinds of things happen when we meditateeverything from thoughts to shortness of breath to visual images, from physical discomfort to mental distress to peak experiences. All of that happens, and the basic attitude is, No big deal. The key point is that, through it all, we train in being open and receptive to whatever arises."
~ Pema Chodron

9/20/14

who is alice neel (thanks dad):

talk
to
someone
who
has 
walked
in
your
shoes

9/18/14

You have no jurisdiction here (a poem for boundary-making) 
  The outline of my being 
shines brighter than 
agreements I made before now 
but thank you for the 
bond 
that bound me 
for now I know how 
my endless expanse 
  my fences are not so much about you 
not being 
welcome 
(although youre not) 
  Its that this is now 
and it is me 
and I am in space 
and that covers it all.
~ Danielle LaPorte
Knowledge and achievements matter little if we do not yet know how to touch the heart of another and be touched.
  ~ Jack Kornfield

9/17/14

october renewal (SOLD OUT) ~ let me know if you want to be wait-listed:

Back by Popular demand ...
YOU are invited to share an afternoon with renowned astrologer:
Carol Ferris
Saturday
October 4, 2014
1:00 - 4:00 pm
Workshop Description:
Traveling Through the Astrological Houses
The language of astrology describes the rhythms of time as the passages of light and dark: the idea that all times are not like all other times, that each time is unique and knowable. Astrology also discusses the nature of place: that all places are not like all other places.
The houses of the horoscope are places of development. This includes deeply personal and private, familial places, as well as shared and even highly public places.
In this workshop, we will discuss the horoscope's public and personal places in your life, this is where your story grows and develops over time.
Those confirmed for the workshop will receive a copy of their personal horoscope and lifetime lunation cycle.
$55
Added Benefit:
Soft Stretch
11:30 - 12:30
$15 

full day of renewal
$65 special
To Reserve:
1. Laureredmond@mac.com
2. 503-780-4964
(text or vm)

9/16/14

who is barbara fredrickson:

This is a fantastic read
and
why
I created community:
"I had rather hear my dog bark at a crow than a man swear he loves me."
Beatrice in Much Ado About Nothing,
by William Shakespeare

9/14/14

A Newlywed, Again
By Joyce Maynard
Last summer, a little shy of my 60th birthday, I made my way through a field on a New Hampshire hill side, where my 61-year-old groom awaited me. I’m a newlywed again.
It’s different, of course. No babies, no in-laws. Where, in my 20s, I barely knew myself, let alone the man I was marrying, the partner Jim gets is a fully formed woman with a long history of friends, work, other relationships, old wounds and hard-earned wisdom. I get a man with the same.
And then there’s the sex part. I know women my age who say they’re all done with that, and others (a few) who hunger for it. I’m in neither place. I’m not even close to feeling ready to give up on the idea of being my partner’s lover. But I can’t pretend, either, that my body chemistry leaves me in the same place I was at 25, or even 45. Tell me about a couple who spend five hours making love and my first reaction will be: That sounds tiring.
In the early days of our time together—when I held in my stomach, naked, and he did pull-ups on the beam over our bed—we showed each other our best selves. Two years later, he knows I get Botox to iron out the lines in my forehead. I ask—when we’re heading out on a trip—did you bring your pills? (Also, the lubricant.)
But if sexual intimacy is, in the end, about showing one’s true self, then we are having the most real sex of our lives. Not the wildest, or the most frequent, or athletic. We are two battle-scarred soldiers, home from the front. I appreciate every small good thing—the way, seeing a drop of pesto on my arm, Jim leans across the table and licks it off my skin; the way, when he plays his bass guitar, I catch a glimpse of the young man he must have been, 40 years ago. Often, when we get into bed, what we want most is sleep. But even then, if I have put on my pajamas (old habit), he tugs at them gently. “What’s this?” he says. (And in truth, I was hoping he’d say that.) Then I pull them off, and we are naked together.

9/12/14

what is kintsukuroi:

"Remembering to pause and take a breath before we react can shift the energy of the outcome.
We have all had the experience of reacting in a way that was less than ideal upon hearing bad news, being unfairly criticized, or being told something we did not want to hear. This happens because when our emotions are triggered, they tend to take center stage, inhibiting our ability to pause before we speak. We may feel compelled to release the tension by expressing ourselves in some way, whether its yelling back at the person yelling at us, or rushing to deliver words of comfort to a friend in trouble. However, there is much to be said for teaching ourselves to remember to pause and take a deep breath before we respond to the shocks and insults that can come our way in life. Our initial response is not always whats best for us, or the other people involved. Reacting to childish rage with childish rage will only escalate the negativity in a situation, further ensnaring us in an undesirable dynamic. Similarly, when we react defensively, or simply thoughtlessly, we often end up feeling regret over our words or actions. In the end, we save ourselves a lot of pain when we take a deep breath and really tune in to ourselves, and the other person, before we respond. This doesnt necessarily mean we dont say anything, although in some cases, that may be the best option. Some situations require a fairly immediate response, but even just a moment of grounding ourselves before we do so can help enormously. The next time you find yourself wanting to react, try to pause, and in that pause, take a deep breath. Feel your feet on the floor, the air on your skin, and listen for a response to arise within you, rather than just going with the first thing that pops into your head. You may find that in that moment, there is the potential to move beyond reaction and into the more subtle and creative realm of response, where something new can happen."
~ Madisyn Taylor

9/10/14

you
can
only
save
your
self

who is jim dine:

Music was my refuge. I could crawl into the space between the notes and curl my back to loneliness.
~ Maya Angelou

9/6/14

Today's Renewal was off-the-charts special! 
Thank You Carol Ferris and each of you who created the magic.