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.

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!

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.