Sunday, September 20, 2015

sunday grace: things to do with your hands when someone you love is dying

  • hang a bright new string of prayer flags
  • pick up a pencil and write write write
  • place them on your thighs, palm down, in the mudra of calm abiding.  sit.  breathe.  abide.
  • rummage through boxes of ribbons and beads and finally start putting together that dream catcher.  you are a maker because of her.

  • type "grief" and "meditation" into google and discover this.  listen.  listen again.  and again.
  • pet your dogs
  • chop vegetables
  • finger paint
  • cut up a hundred tiny bits of colorful paper and create a collage, the first art she taught you.

  • pick up that box of tissues to take with you in the car.  even though you think you are going to hold it together, you will inevitably lose it at the farmers market, at the stoplight, when an old journey song plays on the radio
  • pack your bag, so that at least one thing is ready when it's time to go
  • let someone hold them
  • when the grief and confusion feel too heavy in your body, shake them vigorously to get it out
  • plant a new tree.  a deep red japanese maple, the color of her birthstone

  • pick up a book and spend the afternoon reading.  be grateful for the love of story that she instilled in you.
  • light a candle
  • wrap them around a warm mug of chai, feel and taste every single mug of cocoa and soup she ever made to comfort you when you were sick or having a bad day
  • sift through the photographs and revisit a life well lived.

  • quietly throw them up in surrender.  

Monday, September 14, 2015


"now she's back in the atmosphere
with drops of jupiter in her hair."

i've returned from this magical little place that is nestled into the nooks and crannies of the world's most ancient mountain range.  bend of ivy lodge, in the blue ridge mountains just north of asheville, was the location of alena hennessy's soul painting retreat.  it was so very luscious.  as i sifted through my photographs, i became aware that i was more present with my eyes and heart than with my camera.

still, i did not neglect to capture some of the magnificence of this week.  they are in no particular order as i have not yet shaken off the rhythm of retreat (i.e. go with the flow, say yes, be present, be open, etc.).  i'm going to hold on to it as long as i can.

everything we did...painting, talking, laughing, eating, sitting in silence...was adorned with the sounds of nature:  the creeks, the crickets, the rustling trees, the birds, the goats, the thunderstorms.

there was so much attention to spirit.

alena's teaching style is gentle and intuitive.  she provides demonstrations and guidance, but the painting process is yours alone.  i love this.

and it was such a delight to have the joyful and profoundly talented mati rose to teach and guide too.

summer's lush was just barely yielding to the crisp nature of autumn.  the grounds were incredible.

the lodge was cozy and you could tell its walls had held much happiness over the years.  we enjoyed yoga, qoya, reiki, journeying, storytelling and meditating here.

and we were nourished with an abundance of organic food sourced from local farms and providers.
all of our meals were made from scratch and with love by dava.  i have never been so well fed on so many levels.  the food was quite simply the most beautiful energy my body has ever had the pleasure to taste and smell and touch and see and hear.

even with all the amazing amenities and activities, it is always the people who make or break a retreat.  these women, who bravely came from near and far and gathered to quickly create a sisterhood out of strangers, they are the heart of this retreat.  they are artists and singers and healers and huggers and dancers.  the mountains will echo their laughter for a long time to come.

thank you life.

bonus list of things to start practicing in real life:
  • wear a bindi every day
  • dance qoya and shake your body like a dog
  • walk in nature
  • put your fingers in some paint and move it around a bit
  • sing to the sun
  • crap food doesn't feed your body or your soul, cook and eat like dava.
  • let people hug you.
  • people that make you laugh until you cry:  find more of them.

Monday, September 7, 2015

today seems like a good day for a journey

one day you finally knew
what you had to do, and began,
though the voices around you
kept shouting
their bad advice--
though the whole house
began to tremble
and you felt the old tug
at your ankles.
"mend my life!"
each voice cried.
but you didn't stop.

you knew what you had to do,
though the wind pried
with its stiff fingers
at the very foundations,
though their melancholy
was terrible.
it was already late
enough, and a wild night,
and the road full of fallen
branches and stones.

but little by little,
as you left their voices behind,
the stars began to burn
through the sheets of clouds,
and there was a new voice
which you slowly
recognized as your own,
that kept you company
as you strode deeper and deeper
into the world,
determined to do
the only thing you could do--
determined to save
the only life you could save.

{the journey, by mary oliver}