Winter Writing Workshop days: January 24 and 25, 2015

Meditative walking, part of the wonderful November weekend at Still Point.

Meditative walking, part of the wonderful November weekend.

On November 1 and 2, folks came together at Still Point and discovered an autumn cornucopia of “still points”–including the smell of a wood stove and simmering soup while we wrote, body and breath awareness in the labyrinth, quiet and bird calls and internal music that fed all the senses.

I managed to finally finish the essay for my tab above: What Is Of-the-Essence? (I hope you take a gander at it, when you get a chance.)

Participants clamored for more, so I’ll be offering Move with Mindfulness, Write with Ease once again the weekend of January 24 and 25, 2015.

This time away could even be a holiday gift for yourself or a loved one. Description below; same offering as before, one day or both, same pricing.

Evidence of filling meals for local critters: oak acorn caps and pine cone pieces. Come be filled yourself!

Evidence of filling meals for local critters: oak acorn caps and pine cone seed scales. Come to Still Point and be filled yourself!

Move with Mindfulness, Write with Ease

Saturday & Sunday January 24 & 25, 2015

One Day or Two Day options available.

10 am to 4 pm each day

Come and experience how movement can assist your writing and self awareness in a relaxed environment, with periods to write built into the day.

This workshop-retreat offers an excellent opportunity for work on a new or ongoing project (e.g. fiction, memoir, poetry, personal journaling), or just give you quiet time away, as we experience the middle of deep winter in gorgeous upstate New York. You can attend Saturday, Sunday, or both days.

Where is it being held? Still Point Retreat Center is a small-scale, homey/comfy retreat center with a spiritual emphasis, in Stillwater NY, very close to the Saratoga Historical Park, 30 miles north of Albany.

You can commute to the workshop or stay at Still Point.

How much will it cost? $59/1 day, $118/2 days, including options to experience a yoga class, labyrinth walk, snowshoe or walk (weather permitting) and other moving meditation, while supplied with noshes throughout the day. Limited income participant $29/ 1 day, $58/ 2 days.

Accommodations are a separate charge and should be arranged directly with Still Point. Visit the Still Point website at http://stillpointretreatcenter.com for pictures and information about the cabins & rooms and to sign up for housing. In conjunction with this retreat, you can opt to stay over Friday, Saturday and/or Sunday nights, depending on what rooms are available at the time you book your accommodation with Still Point.

Included each day in your workshop fee: healthy & tasty breakfast foods in the morning, tea and coffee over the day, home made soup for lunch. If you are staying over, dinner will be shared potluck and the evening will be free time (ideas: write, visit with others, rest, walk on the grounds or read).

How do I sign up for the workshop? We keep this workshop deliberately small so it is advised to sign up as soon as you know you’d like to come. First, let us know you are attending and which days, through the Contact Us page on this website, and second, mail a check to Of-the-Essence Holistic Wellness, P.O. Box 1344, Troy NY 12181 or contact us for cash payment options.

Midnight blue pales to day: dawn through the Welcoming House meditation room window.

Midnight blue pales to day: dawn through the Welcoming House meditation room window.

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Move with Mindfulness, Write with Ease workshop November 1-2, 2014

Where you can write and learn in the beauty of fall, at Still Point Retreat Center.

Where you can write and learn in the beauty of fall, at Still Point Retreat Center.

Move with Mindfulness, Write with Ease

Saturday & Sunday November 1-2, 2014

One Day or Two Day options available.

10 am to 4 pm each day

Come and experience how movement can assist your writing in a relaxed environment, with periods to write built into the day.

This workshop-retreat offers an excellent opportunity for work on a new or ongoing project (e.g. fiction, memoir, poetry, personal journaling), as we experience the fall weekend that includes Dia de los Muertos, All Saints/All Souls, Celtic Samhain (end of harvest) and the beginning of National Novel Writing Month. You can attend Saturday, Sunday, or both days.

Where is it being held?  Still Point Retreat Center is a small-scale, homey/comfy retreat center with a spiritual emphasis, in Stillwater NY, very close to the Saratoga Historical Park, 30 miles north of Albany.

You can commute to the workshop or stay at Still Point.

How much will it cost? $59/1 day, $118/2 days, including options to experience a yoga class, labyrinth walk and other moving meditation, while supplied with noshes throughout the day. Limited income/NANOWRIMO* participant $29/ 1 day, $58/ 2 days.

Accommodations are a separate charge and should be arranged directly with Still Point. Visit the Still Point website at http://stillpointretreatcenter.com  for pictures and information about the cabins & rooms and to sign up for housing. In conjunction with this retreat, you can opt to stay over Friday, Saturday and/or Sunday nights, depending on what rooms are available at the time you book your accommodation with Still Point.

Included each day in your workshop fee: healthy & tasty breakfast foods in the morning, tea and coffee over the day, home made soup for lunch. If you are staying over, dinner will be shared potluck and the evening will be free time (ideas: write, visit with others, rest, walk on the grounds or read).

How do I sign up for the workshop?  This is deliberately a small workshop so it is advised to sign up as soon as you know you’d like to come.  First, let us know you are attending and which days, through the Contact Us page on this website, and second, mail a check to Of-the-Essence Holistic Wellness, P.O. Box 1344, Troy NY 12181 or contact us for cash payment options.

[*This event is not affiliated with National Novel Writing Month though I am participating again this year as a writer, and offering a discount for other participants. Find more information at http://www.nanowrimo.org ]

Evening at Still Point. Can't you see yourself here?

Evening at Still Point. Can’t you see yourself here?

Minneapolis Wellness and Work Flow Workshop: Saturday September 13, 2014

(Please note this workshop is being held in Minneapolis, MN.)   You can register for the workshop here.

Questions? Contact us!

 

2014-09-06 Wellness&Workflow-4

 

**OUR APPROACH TO WELLNESS AND PRODUCTIVITY**

As independent business people and artistic entrepreneurs, we’re exploring new territory every day. We’re both trained in wellness disciplines (massage therapy, yoga, martial arts, theater) with academic background both in STEM (mathematics, computer science, physics) and humanities (English, philosophy, visual arts, theater, creative writing in both fiction and nonfiction). We bring to our coaching practice both direct experience and rigorous training to help community members and students make the most of their role as self-employed creative practitioners.

For those of you who are students, we bring our own experience of graduate and professional school*.  We’re familiar with the stress and the glory, the emotional ups and downs of original research, and the time management challenges.(*as graduate student, students in vocational certificate programs, and as support/partner to friends/family in graduate/professional programs, among them MDs; PhDs in Microbiology, English, Biomedical Engineering, Mathematics, Public Health; Masters in Pastoral Counseling, Theology, Social Work).

Between the two of us, we have over seventy years’ experience learning (including self-teaching), instructing and coaching. We’re here to help you bring your own considerable powers to not just enduring but flourishing, both individually and collectively. We understand the power of cross-disciplinary and cross-cultural collaboration.

 

**ABOUT THE PRESENTERS**

Annette Kavanaugh, Creative & Technical Director at Glass Knife Press (Minneapolis MN), received a Masters in Mathematics from University of Minnesota.  During her academic years and when she worked as a data analyst and project manager, she developed the effective methods for self-teaching she now coaches. An independent artist, performer and writer, she is co-founder and facilitator of the Big World Writing Club, a multicultural, multidisciplinary, multi-genre writing community organized around practice. She most recently worked as Coordinator of the Instructional Center at the Multicultural Center for Academic Excellence, University of Minnesota, where she recruited, trained and supervised a talented multicultural staff of tutors in mathematics, physical sciences, biological sciences, and East Asian, North American, and European languages.

Diane Kavanaugh-Black, owner, Of-the-Essence Holistic Wellness (Troy, NY) is an essayist, memoirist and photographer who ran a thirteen year massage therapy practice in Chicago before training at the Kripalu School of Yoga in Massachusetts. She taught Community Education classes starting at age 16, and has done extensive volunteer and paid academic tutoring ever since, including adult literacy and assisting artists with vision statements. Diane is co-founder and member of multiple writing and editing work-groups and has been chosen to perform her writing at The Arts Center of the Capital Region, the Rensselaerville Festival of Writers and on WAMC public radio.  She has a BA with Honors from University of Chicago, and combines yoga, writing, hiking and healthy cooking in her current business in upstate New York.

 

 


Winter is finally over! Summer yoga-with-hiking to come…

Still Point labyrinth next to the snow covered pond.

Still Point labyrinth next to the snow covered pond.

…though you would not be able to tell from in this photo from our wonderful February 22 Move with Mindfulness, Write with Ease workshop at Still Point. There were hints of spring, however, in the rain that dripped from windows and sunshine that melted the labyrinth path just in time for a meditative walk after lunch, between writing sessions.

Friday evening rain...

Friday evening rain…

...turns into morning sunshine!

…turns into Saturday morning sunshine, just in time!

Due to some health issues which are now resolved–our bodies DO like to surprise us!–March through June have been physical recovery time for me. But now the summer beckons, and a new program will begin at Dyken Pond Environmental Education Center.

Out of the Gym & Into the Woods: Yoga and Hiking at Dyken Pond. 

Did you promise yourself you’d get out into nature more this summer, exercise more regularly? Maybe do some yoga, because you’ve heard it’s so good for you, or you haven’t practiced as often you would like?Want to pay closer attention to your body and breath and deepen your experience in the woods?

You will be guided through at least six to nine yoga stretches and postures (no experience needed!) to warm the body, check in as we hike, and cool off afterwards, bringing awareness and a meditative approach to the gift of hiking various trails at Dyken Pond Environmental Center.

5 to 7 pm on Wednesdays in July and August (except 7/23). Classes are estimated to be $10 apiece with a discount for attending four or more. Yoga experience: Beginner and up. Fitness Level: Able to hike (not just saunter) easy to moderate woods trails for at least an hour. I promise rocks in the paths, tree roots, some up and down walking–and beauty.

Please register through the Education Center:   dykenpond@fairpoint.net or by phone 518-658-2055, and find out more at dykenpond.org or on their Facebook page.

 

Uncurl, stretch and lengthen like this spring fern at Dyken Pond

Uncurl, stretch and lengthen like this spring fern at Dyken Pond

This upcoming weekend–would you like to Move with Mindfulness and Write with Ease?

Overlooking the snowy creek in Finger Lakes National Forest, NY.

Overlooking the snowy creek in Finger Lakes National Forest, NY.

It had been a snowy snowy week, so the hike and nature writing workshop was cancelled at Dyken Pond last Sunday. (One more is scheduled, for March 16.)  There was a mix of disappointment—the snow and trees will be gorgeous!—and relief—I’m so tired of driving in snow and sliding—and questioning Am I a Weather Wimp?

But the wind chills were forecasted to be at about five degrees, an additional few inches (on top of the 12-24 the area received in the previous 24 hours) were on their way the night before, and many local roads were still unplowed.

So really, it’s just winter in upstate New York.

I continue to learn to react to the situation at hand, practicing the spectacularly simple and difficult

Be In the Moment

—as I did near Seneca Lake the other week, when Finger Lakes National Forest beckoned and the roads there were passable.

With snowshoes, I ventured onto an unbroken trail. The path climbed up and up, skirted by the golden cornstalks of a farmer’s field, and beyond that the blue mountain bowl that is filled by Seneca Lake. Leaving behind layers of thoughts and worries, I breathed in the sight of crystal covered branches, the creek that gurgled next to me, invisible under the ice–and the sunlight that broke through.

This upcoming weekend (Saturday February 22) marks a return to Still Point Retreat Center and my Move with Mindfulness, Write with Ease workshop. There are still spots available.  I invite you to come and walk your own trail, physically and in your writing life. Use the Contact Us tab above to reserve a space.

Here's a potential path. Step on in, the snow's delightful!

Here’s a potential path. Step on in, the snow’s delightful!

Paying Attention Among the Trees

The snow fell onto tree limbs and sparkled in the cold sunlight on January 19th at Dyken Pond.

The snow fell onto tree limbs and sparkled in the cold sunlight on January 19th at Dyken Pond.

We stopped at the beginning of the Cherry Trace trail, to feel the quality of our breath, and slow down in order to take in the rich sensory experiences to come. Then we hiked up into the hemlocks, many of which were torn off at the same height by a freak wind storm a few months back.

Into the fairy tale dark woods we crunched, listening and looking and tasting and smelling. Part-way, we broke out into a clearing full of sunlight, with sugar crystal snow dancing and sparkling in swirls of wind; we reacted with laughter and gulps of oxygen-rich air.

Magic in the woods on the Cherry Trace trail.

Magic in the woods on the Cherry Trace trail.

Afterwards we sat by the wood burning stove and warmed with tea and possible ways to write about nature. That led to discussion of how to be present in our lives, how to pay attention to the details. With pen and keyboard, we wrote and wrote about the day spent with beech trees and princess pines, what we each experienced and what it might mean.

So that’s one day, “Paying Attention Among the Trees.” Would you like to join me for the next one?

Spots are still available February 16 and March 16; see the Winter Walks with Nature Writing tab above for registration information. If you desire a whole day experience, look at the Move With Mindfulness, Write with Ease workshop option for Saturday, February 22.

Possible descriptions: like a dead bug, legs to the sky; wild hair-day; resting and snow-covered.

Possible description: dead bug, legs to the sky. Or a wild hair day. What would you jot down in your notebook?

What? Changes Already? Following the Dharma

In re: what is “of-the-essence” lately, I’ve been wrestling with how I feel about leading weekly studio classes.

They’ve been very lightly attended, and in addition, I live in a town with multiple yoga studios already offering a delightful variety of daily classes. I’ve also been reading Stephen Cope’s The Great Work of Your Life, about dharma (simply put, life purpose).

I prepared for each of my scheduled classes, warmed the space with candles and yoga mats, sat in the beautiful silence–and listened.  I watched dawn arrive in downtown Troy, and the hustle-bustle that burst open around 8 a.m. I observed the sun shift through the fall leaves on Monday afternoons.

Because only a small part of yoga is about postures and breathing–yoga also encompasses creating comfort within dis-ease–I asked in the quiet:  What is the meaning of this lack-of-energy, on my part and the part of potential students? And what I am really on fire about?

That’s what I want my life to be:  on fire, lit up, clear on the essence of who I am, what my gifts are, and what I’d like to bring to the world.

In my answers, I kept going to the presuppositions people have about yoga; they think they have to be strong and powerful first, or understand complicated concepts, or be able to wear a bikini or tight-fitting workout clothes to “qualify.”  People WANT to try yoga, but are afraid of injury or embarrassment, being rushed to know something before they are ready, or just not being good enough.

And here I am:  I love listening to people’s individual stories and experiences, having paid attention to the human body and spirit throughout my previous massage career; I know about anatomy and pain patterns, AND how to respond to stress with movement, stretch, aromatherapy, self-care–and now, yoga’s rich variety of tools.  I have used yoga to rehabilitate from surgery and devastating losses; yoga has used me to communicate great and simple truths, to myself.

So I’ve decided–I’ll be guiding people, through a variety of easy-to-attend mini-workshops, to bring themselves as they are and grow from there.  To increase self-compassion, attempt some new experiences (maybe even yoga postures), gently, and then digest them. To pay attention to where their bodies are at this moment,  To slow down. Laugh at the foibles of our busy minds, and humanity.  Feel more deeply. Be a little more present. Learn ways to deal with what life brings, painful or joyous–tools including writing, hiking & walking, breath and meditation practices, and healthful eating.

This is so enthralling! I hope you find something in my on-fire offerings that speaks to you, and I invite suggestions, ideas, dreams, through the Contact Us page here on the website, or in person.

Many of my mini-workshops will continue to be held at my colleague Lesley Kavanaugh’s Troy Healing Arts, where as a studio and healing sanctuary, she is also moving more toward introductory, anatomy- and spirit-based wellness within the approaches of yoga and bodywork.  I am thrilled to be collaborating with her. Look for us at Troy Night Out (Friday, October 25, 5-9 pm) and at Victorian Stroll (Sunday, December 8), at the 270 River Street lobby.