Earth Night Walk Friday, April 21, 2023

Teasel near the pond at Mabee Farm

Please join us for a FREE Earth Night event at Schenectady County Historical Society’s Mabee Farm.

Activities from 4 to 8 pm, including my forest therapy walk from 6 to 7 pm. Enjoy presentations on raptors, aquatic life, herbs, kids’ crafts and farm management, with music by Earth’s Children, and a campfire with stories to finish!

Located at 1100 Main Street, Rotterdam, NY, 12150–with the Mohawk River in sight.

A place of reflections: the pond at sunset, Earth Night 2022.

September 2019 Forest Therapy Guided Walks


Notice the bridges–from where you are to where you want to be. YMCA Camp Chingachgook, Pilot Knob NY

Welcome to the season I call Fading-Summer-Into-Fall, which can be a pretty wonderful time to start or continue a nature practice, to feed your spirit as we move into the more internal times of fall and winter. This year it happens to be when I offer the most forest therapy walks in one month!

I plan to update this website soon with photos and meditations on the walks I did over the past two years and information about any later fall and winter offerings. Thanks for your patience and interest.

Upcoming forest therapy walks:

Saturday, September 7, 2019, 9 am to noon.  Celebrate International Forest Bathing Day with a free walk with Mohawk Hudson Land Conservancy at Strawberry Fields Nature Preserve, Amsterdam NY.  Wander the woods and edges of a working farm in the glow of clover and goldenrod. Only a few spaces left. Sign up here:


To walk a path, slowly, patiently. Strawberry Fields Preserve, Amsterdam NY.

Friday, September 13- Sunday September 15, 2019. Women’s Adventure Weekend at YMCA Camp Chingachgook, Pilot Knob (Lake George) NY. 

I never went to sleep-away camp, so this feeds a whole ‘nother side, allowing the kid in me to truly “play” in a new way. I LOVE this weekend.

I will offer a forest therapy walk on Saturday morning, and there will be a wonderful array of Camp For Grownup Women activities over the weekend. Delicious meals (the chefs are great with dietary modifications), lodging and most activities included in a beautiful historic/rustic camp environment. Starts Friday night through Sunday lunch.

Along with the walk and opportunities to play in the lake (swim, paddle sports), women can do camp activities. In the past they’ve offered wood-burning, tie-dye, beading, ropes course, exercise classes, movie-themed trivia and costuming opportunities (this fall it’s “Mamma Mia”/ABBA), archery, guided hikes, and way way more. Activities are all optional; you could just sit around and read or daydream while looking at the lake. Take a relaxing, invigorating weekend away!

Non-YMCA members $235, YMCA members $225.

Sign up here:


What do you want to reflect on? The wetland path at Camp Chingachgook, Pilot Knob, NY

And finally, Saturday September 28, 2019, I’ll be doing a forest therapy experience at the Kweilyn Taylor Survivor Retreat, “Anchored in Hope,” for women and men survivors of cancer, held at Wiawaka Center for Women in Lake George and sponsored by Saratoga Hospital. The event is free and registrations are currently closed but they do maintain a waiting list, as last-minute cancellations are expected. Information, including the phone number, below.


What new beginnings do you seek? Sunrise over Lake George, NY..

Thank you for your interest in Nature and Forest Therapy. Happy September!

Weedy Woods and Flowers: A Exhibit



Ahh, the joys of a day job. It can keep you from other pursuits and goals, and yet feed you heartily on the way–as well as financially supporting those pursuits and goals.

For the past year and  a half, I have been building my day job life, and with this November, I am returning here to offer regular reports on my business, and on my writing blog to share new essays, poems and photography ( which will be updated soon!  Thank you for your patience, and I look forward to sharing the walks I have been offering on a smaller scale, and exciting plans for the future.

Meantime, here’s what I’ve been up to recently–the reception is today, November 4, and the exhibit will be up all month.

Weedy Woods & Flowers:
valuing the tiny
and overlooked

Photos, Writings, Other Media
Diane Kavanaugh-Black & Carole Fults

For the month of November, 2018

William K. Sanford (Colonie) Town Library
629 Albany Shaker Rd, Loudonville NY

Opening Reception
Sunday, November 4, 2018
2-4 pm
Viewing hours:
Monday – Thursday 9 am to 8 pm,
Friday 9 am to 6 pm
Saturday 9 am to 5 pm
Sunday 1 to 5 pm

Sanford Show Flyer 2

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 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.

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: or by phone 518-658-2055, and find out more at 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!