"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


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."


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
reservation only
Special Renewal Offer:
Soft Stretch with Laure Redmond
11:30 - 12:30
includes memoir workshop
reservation only
To Reserve:

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


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


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:



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.
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.
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 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.

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

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.

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 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.

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.

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.

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

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.

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.

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.

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 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.

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.

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.

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’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 is packed with inflammatory omega 6 fatty acids that stiffen cell walls and clot the blood—bad news.

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.

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

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.


“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



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)




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.


Dancing is a Life infusion.
- Sequoia Seaborn

pema pearls:

"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


who is alice neel (thanks dad):



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 
that bound me 
for now I know how 
my endless expanse 
  my fences are not so much about you 
not being 
(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


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
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.
Added Benefit:
Soft Stretch
11:30 - 12:30

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


who is barbara fredrickson:

This is a fantastic read
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


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.


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



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


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



You thought I saved you ~ the truth is ~ you saved me.
Bobbie Sue Angel Redmond
6/11/04 - 9/2/14


schedule info:

NO Stretch Appeal Dance practice this week.
Saturday's Soft practice is full.
Carol's Astrological Renewal Workshop is full.
Please let me know if you wish to be added to the wait-list ...
STARTING TUESDAY, 9/9/14 ~ Stretch Appeal Dance ~ will be offered from:
12:45 - 1:45
Tuesday and Thursday


who is laura munson:

Commencement: A Mother’s Guide to the Extra Stuff
I can never remember if the word “commencement” means beginning or ending. My knee jerk reaction is to think that it means ending, though my writer’s mind quickly corrects it. 
That’s probably because graduation ceremonies are called Commencement, and I think of graduation day as an ending—leaving the known behind:  a good reputation, dear friends at a stone’s throw, families whose refrigerators and bikes and kitchen tables are yours for the sharing… the dismantling of decorated walls soon to betray you for guests, or someone else with new photo collages, new tapestries, new blue ribbons. I have never been good at leaving the familiar, and I usually mark it with a little hidden graffiti—Laura Munson lived here, and the dates.
But it’s not my turn this upcoming Commencement. It’s my daughter’s. Now it’s she who is dismantling her room, coming down to the end of her check list, five more days of school to go, graduation invitations in the mail, college deposit in, orientation dates in stone. There is a new timber in her voice; something dire. “Mom, can you do something with my Breyer horse collection?” 
“Can’t you just leave them on your shelf?” I ask, vignettes reeling by of mock horse races on the lawn and barnyard feedings with tiny plastic apples, and that one coveted palomino paint that became real one Christmas. 
“I need room for my stuff.” 
“What stuff?” 
And then I realize that the stuff that has been strewn all over her room for the last four years of high school actually could have had a home in her bookshelves if we’d been more able (or willing) to pack up her plastic horse collection. I’m not sure whose job this is. Please Lord, not mine.
I look into her eyes. And I see…it’s my job. Some things are just too hard.
Suddenly, I feel a desperate need to give advice in fast forward. “Have I taught you how to make hospital corners?  And to never leave a wet towel on a bed?  Or leave a glass directly on wood?”
“I know. Respect the wood. You’ve told me.” She’s tolerating my Mom-ness much more than usual lately. She’s in the bittersweet of Commencement while I am bursting into tears in pathetic public places, like at the bank drive thru, catching myself in the video screen looking miserable. Will her roommate know that when she needs a hug but is too shy to ask, she makes tea? Will she know that she likes to sing in harmony and that all those eye-ball rolls don’t really mean anything? Will she know that she acts street-tough sometimes, but is deeply sensitive and if she’s playing the ukulele along with Jack Johnson, something pretty rough probably happened at school that day? 
“Mom, why are you crying?” she says, bringing me back to the grim task of packing up her happy childhood. 
“I’m sorry. I’m just going to miss you.”
Last week was when it really hit. I was doing laundry and I heard from her room in that new dire timber, “How do stamps work?”
“Stamps? Like postage stamps?”
“Yeah.” This from a 4.0 student.
I went into her room. She was sitting on her bed addressing graduation party invitations. “Really? You can program a computer, but you don’t know how stamps work???”
“My generation doesn’t really use them.” 
I was sure she was playing a joke on me. Stamps? But she wasn’t. She really had no clue that you use the same stamp for a local letter that you do for one that goes all the way to New York City.
Geez—what other glaring omissions have there been in my mothering? I’ve tried so hard to fill in every blank, taking every single second possible as a teaching moment. “Maybe I should write you a survival handbook for college. Would that be helpful?”
“I know all the basic stuff. But yeah…maybe the extra stuff.”
I wracked my brain, taking inventory. The extra stuff. If stamps are “extra” this could get ugly! I decided to do it room by room, compartmentalizing life in cross-section, like the dollhouse we spent hours decorating and playing in. 
I start with How to boil water, tell if pasta is ready, smell a gas leak, turn off the water main…but suddenly it turns into a different kind of “extra.”
  • If you’re having a bad day, leave the dishes. But do soak them, or you’ll really be in a bad mood when you get around to cleaning them.
  • If you’re having a really bad day, don’t adhere to the utensil slots. Just chuck ‘em all in and let them fall where they may. Actually, if it’s a really bad day, just leave the dishes alone. They can wait.
  • No matter what kind of mood you’re in, make yourself a nice meal, especially if you’re lonely.
  • Always eat some fruit in the morning and some veggies at some point in the day. Keep bananas, carrots, apples, and potatoes around. They do the trick when you’re not feeling inspired.
  • Keep a granola bar in your purse. (Tip:  Use only small purses—lest you end up with a Mary Poppins carpet bag, coat rack and all. Read Nora Ephron’s essay on women’s purses.)
  • Splurge on really good jam and really good bread.
  • Always have a flower or a piece of greenery in a vase on your kitchen windowsill. It really helps.
  • If you see evidence of mice, set traps immediately. This probably will not apply to 99% of the places you’ll live, (we live in Montana), so take it metaphorically: See  s*** for what it is and get rid of the source before it gets out of control.
  • Always smell fish before you buy it. If it smells like fish, it’s no good. Also, look into its eyes.  They should be clear. This also applies to boyfriends.
  • To cut goat cheese, use dental floss. (Unflavored! Duh. Don’t roll your eyes.)
  • Learn how to make homemade chicken broth. (Ask your mother)
Living room:
  • Splurge on nice candles. Light them for yourself daily. Light the not-nice ones for guests. Not the other way around.
  • Lie on the couch and do other things than watch TV. Like read a book or listen to classical music.
  • Watch old movies. You know…back when people used stamps, and women dressed for travel. There’s a lot to learn from the “olden days.”
  • Listen to NPR. Especially opera on NPR. Pretty much everything you need to know about life is in operas.
  • Make sure to have musical instruments and keep them within eye-range so you’ll actually play them. Guitars and pianos welcome group jam sessions.
  • Always have a drum somewhere for that person who claims they “aren’t musical.”
  • Have board games and cards in a drawer or on a shelf. Play them. Especially Scrabble, backgammon, gin rummy, Farkle, and Scattagories.
  • Have guide books and binoculars. It’s good to know your birds and flowers and other critters.  Even in the city, there are hawks.
  • Have nice hand towels and nice soap in your powder room. Your guests should feel special.
  • Use your powder room. You should feel special too! 
  • Always have an extra roll of toilet paper in the bathroom. 
  • And a plunger. (Replace plungers every-so-often, unless you are the type to wash and disinfect toilet plungers. Dirty secret: I’m not. That’s what the second flush is for.)
  • Don’t forget to wash the toilet flusher handle when you wash your toilets. They are dearly overlooked. (Try not to think about that too much in hotel rooms.)
  • Put nice art in your bathrooms. And magazines. You can learn a lot about a person from their bathroom.
  • Supply room spray.
  • Don’t be a slob. Pick up your clothes. If they’re not dirty, put them somewhere to wear again during the week, like in a hamper in your closet. NOT on a chair. And definitely NOT on your treadmill. Like your mother. Who then forgets she has a treadmill.
  • Wash your sheets at least once a month and splurge on nice sheets and feather pillows.
  • If the person/people with whom you are sharing your room snore, make sure you have earplugs by your bed.
  • Supply your nightstand with books that you want to read when you grow up: a book of poetry, a spiritual text of some sort, a classic novel, something on the bestseller list that is not written by a celebrity.
  • If you eat breakfast in bed, use a tray. Crumbs are worse than bedbugs in some cases, especially if you’ve listened to your mother and splurged on good bread.
  • Eat breakfast in bed, but not lunch or dinner. That means you’re depressed.
  • Sleep in every-so-often. Like till eleven. This will get harder and harder the older you get.
  • Virginia Woolf was right—you need a room of your own, even it’s in an eave, or a closet under a stairway, or (if you’re lucky enough) a whole studio over your garage, or an unoccupied bedroom, or a renovated garden shed. Claim space for yourself!
  • Don’t allow people to come and go without knocking.
  • If you have children, always have an available chair in it for them. It’s important to have your own space, but it’s also important that they know that your work does not take away your motherhood.
  • This one is really really important: Whatever it is that you do in that office, whether it’s a vocation or avocation, make sure it’s something you love. NOT something that you are necessarily good at. If you happen to be good at what you love, then that’s a bonus, but not a rule!   
  • Have a communal outdoor space that feels like a room in your house, but isn’t exactly…like: A screened porch, fire escape, hammock, hot tub, front stoop, garden or terrace. It doesn’t have to be big. Just a place where you sit at least once every few days and dream a little.
A few extra extras:
  • Write handwritten notes on nice stationary to people you love. That’s where the stamp comes in…
  • Try not to kill bugs. If they’re inside, put a mason jar over them and take them outside. They do elegant things like lick the wax off the peony buds so that they can bloom  (I’m sure there’s a metaphor in there.) (Mice are a different story. If you’ve had one die in the walls, you’ll know what I mean.)
  • Practice Yes and Possibility instead of No and Not Possible. Positive begets positive and negative begets negative. You don’t want the latter.
  • Have fun, for crying out loud! Life is beautiful and heartbreaking any way you slice it so you might as well enjoy the ride!
  • There is no such thing as cool.
  • Judge not.
  • Don’t mistake a full schedule for a full life. If you find yourself saying, “There’s never a dull moment,” you should probably make it a goal to have at least one “dull moment” every day.
  • Take walks. (especially in the rain)
  • Sing. Dance. Read poetry.
  • Have dogs. Grow a garden.
  • Travel.
  • Create the sacred wherever you are.
  • Be kind to old people and remember they know a lot more than you do. Ask them to tell you their stories.
  • Know that there are saints everywhere. Look for them. They’re often where you least expect it.
  • Call your mother. Texting is a challenge since she can never find her reading glasses.  Plus, she likes to hear your voice. It reminds her of lying in bed with you when you were little, reading books, singing, praying, watching the moon, dreaming. 
And she loves you no matter what, which is hard to find.
~ Laura Munson
How Billy Crystal described Robin Williams as a friend.

pema pearls:

Were encouraged to meditate every day, even for a short time, in order to cultivate steadfastness with ourselves. We sit under all kinds of circumstanceswhether we are feeling healthy or sick, whether were in a good mood or depressed, whether we feel our meditation is going well or is completely falling apart. As we continue to sit we see that meditation isnt about getting it right or attaining some ideal state. Its about being able to stay present with ourselves. It becomes increasingly clear that we wont be free of self-destructive patterns unless we develop a compassionate understanding of what they are. 
~ Pema Chodron


"Striking the right balance between our physical and spiritual beings is one of the most challenging aspects of existence. We are dualistic by nature, spiritual entities bound to earth by physical bodies. In our lifetimes, we are charged with the duty of nurturing and tending both with equal devotion and love. Yet while both aspects of the self are deserving of honor and respect, there is a tendency for people who are more spiritually focused to ignore, avoid, or dismiss their bodies. Similarly, many individuals are entirely ensconced in the carnal realm and pay no attention to the needs of the soul. In both cases, an adjustment is in order. We are whole only to the degree that we embrace both sides of our beings. 
If the soul is the inward manifestation of our consciousness, the body is the living, breathing expression of that consciousness. The physical self provides the home in which the spiritual self takes root and flourishes. Just as we must tend to the seed of the soul to ensure that it grows strong, so, too, must we care for the protective shell that is the body. Though there will no doubt be times in our lives when we feel more comfortable focusing on the spiritual self or the physical self, denying the fundamental importance of one or the other can lead to ill health, emotional distress, and a sense of incompleteness. Both facets of the human experience play a vital role in our well-being. 
The body and the soul are the yin and yang of our current reality. They are, at this point of human evolution, irreparably bound together, and many spiritual teachers agree that the body is one of the greatest vehicles through which to access the soul. In fact, many believe that our spirit has chosen to be embodied as an essential part of our spiritual development. Consequently, it is the responsibility of each person on the planet to forge a marriage between the two, so that these disparate aspects bring out the best in each other, creating a vibrant, dynamic, and workable whole."
~ Madisyn Taylor


september renewal with carol ferris:

YOU are invited to share an afternoon with renowned astrologer:
Carol Ferris
September 6, 2014
1:00 - 4:00 pm
Workshop Description:
Traveling Through the Light and the Dark 
Astrology studies nature's rhythms in time: as it says in Ecclesiastes, there is a time for every purpose under heaven.  
In this workshop, we will look at nature's simplest rhythm: how the journey of the Sun and Moon create light and dark, the cycles of growth and rest.  
In order to better understand these potent seasonal rhythms, we will explore the impact on each individual horoscope.
Those confirmed for the workshop will receive a copy of their personal horoscope and lifetime lunation cycle.
Added Benefit:
Soft Stretch
11:30 - 12:30
$65 special
full day of renewal
reservation only
Filling Fast through word of mouth
To Reserve:
(text or vm)