Friday, December 21, 2012

The end of the world.

Today is perhaps the most auspicious solstice in our lifetime, so auspicious the Mayans considered it the end of the world as we know it.

I observe the transition in Tampa, Florida with my mother and my aunt. We celebrate my cousin Steve's life tomorrow in a memorial service.

Last night I cozied up to the end sleeping in my cousin's old room. We had to move his surprisingly heavy ashes in their sea foam green biodegradable gift-box container to the dresser to make room on the day bed. Tomorrow his motorcycle buddies will spread his ashes on a commemorative ride.

I went to sleep thinking about his life and death, his ashes, and my grandmother Pauline who also died in this house.

I went to sleep thinking about the energy of the living and the dead; of the past and the present. Earlier in the evening I tried to see what relief I could give my mother's aching hips and shared Reiki with her as she lay on the floor, her legs up on the couch.  I put my hands over my cousin's ashes too. There is something still there, I tell you.

This morning we sorted through my mother's papers, trying to decide if she needs both a Living Will and Power of Attorney in Ohio and Kentucky. Her diagnosis matched what we expected: Stage 4 non-small cell lung cancer. They estimate she has 6-9 months to live with a caveat that if she does a round of chemo or two it MIGHT or MIGHT NOT buy her an additional 6 months. She has yet to make the call on that crap shoot.

My aunt made us breakfast and we sat in silence watching the TV bells toll for the victims of the Connecticut mass shooting. We mourned for my cousin too.

But not my mother.

Not yet.

We are too busy filling out the time we have left.

Today we will put together a photo board of Steve's life. And in our search through all the old family photos, I discovered that not only was my mother and my cousin a dancer, but my aunt was an early modern dancer and we found contact sheets with a photo of her dancing in a Life Magazine advertisement.  And as I started combing through my cousin's drawers (boy do I love to go through other people's stuff!) to find a zip drive to get the scanned photo of her dancing to my computer, I found more photos: photos of family, young and beautiful, kicking off their lives without a hint of the wonderful and less-than-wonderful things to come.

So I am off to a Palm Harbor Kundalini and meditation class before I do my Staples' shopping for poster board, guest book, etc. for tomorrow's service.

I will say a prayer for the living and the dead. I will say a prayer for what has passed and what is to come.  I will say a prayer for the dance and the dancer.

My cousin Steve. A dancer and a dreamer.

Aunt Betsy. middle strip, second from bottom, girl #2 (face hidden by dancer #1,  forever her nemesis.)

Sunday, December 16, 2012


I had the luxury of spending eight weeks in the company of some lovely young women from Withrow High School, as part of a Families Forward United Way grant to help with after school and other programs for students who could use some help beyond what the traditional school day has to offer. This True Body Project club was open to all girls.

They came because the wanted to be there to learn and to share and to connect. I can't wait to return next spring, where we will co-conceive a service project. I'm sure we will be inspired by our time at the Freedom Center seeing the UnFreedom exhibit and the Half the Sky traveling exhibition.

We also spent time at the UnMuseum at the Contemporary Arts Center plus a quick spin through Warhol and Green Acres.

I know you all know this. But if you ever hear someone comment about a young person in the manner of "They just don't want to learn." Or, "They just don't care," I can assure you that that is 100% wrong. I have never met an incurious youth. I have met MANY with such severe stress and trauma they can barely see straight, but once safety is reasonably restored and they are reasonably seen and heard .... wow. Under those conditions,  creativity, kindness, genius and light abound.

We are currently booking after school programs, workshops and trainings in 2013. Keep an eye on or "like" us on Facebook or email me at for more information.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

What are you waiting for?

Oh my goodness. There are so many SIGNS.

The auspiciousness of 12/12/12. The Mayan calendar ends on 12/21/12. Not to mention all the shifts happening every where you look, both the planetary and the personal.

In consciousness circles, this is considered the time to either get on board or surrender to whatever that thing is that is keeping you stuck in a less than optimal place.

We live in a tremendous community where there are countless ways and places to change your life. The Yoga Bar, Pendleton Pilates, Studio S, Rhythm & Motion, Pilates for Runners, Shakti Factory, Future Life Now in Northside ... you cannot go wrong if you commit to moving mindfully and joyfully this year.

I would love to be on your team to help you move toward your best self. I work privately with many, many clients of all ages and stages of life. I work to help restore movement post-injury, to help writers find their voice, and to help those who want to change but lack the mind/body, sensory conviction to do so.

Part movement, part meditation, part energy work, part conversation, part journaling, these private sessions are tailored for what you need, when you need it. One hour session is $60 and three sessions are $150. They take place in my small home studio or I can also come to you. I am booking appointments now through January 7th.

NOTE: Friday December 28th is donation private day. For those of you who want to do this but are on a limited budget but want to do this work, email me.

I am also doing the third annual True Body, New Year workshop with Rachel Roberts at The Yoga Bar on Saturday January 5th. Come be restored and renewed with us.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

On processing the impossible.

I could see my mom's face when the doctor opened the door. She looked up at him and I knew what she knew.

This was a week ago Thursday at 4 pm. In the same blue notebook I use to write down the beautiful things the girls say in my True Body classes and take notes about how the inhale actives the autonomic nervous system and the exhale actives the parasympathetic nervous system, I made a list:

- Mass in the lower right lung.
- Left rib (10th?) metastasis
- T8 lesion
- Lesions right lung, ground glass
- Lymph glands enlarged.
- Probably lung cancer. Maybe two (??)
- Small cell v. non-small cell. We don't know.

Since then, we have tried to get our heads around this. My mother, Sheila, is remarkably serene about the very likely Stage 4 cancer situation at hand. Some time this week a pulmonary specialist and/or an oncologist will make it official by giving the list a name. My brother came in, many many lovely people have called, come over, written, sent love. A hundred new lists have been made. 


My mom and I were trying to jump rope double. She laughed so hard she spit on my head. She thought it was hilarious and it made me nervous.


I told my dad and my brother and my aunts and a bunch of other people. I can't even remember who now. I walked into the bathroom and my knees buckled in grief. I thought I might get sick. Then I stood up and looked in the mirror. I thought, "Wow, my hair is so long it actually touches my back." 


My mom volunteered in my grade school library, putting the plastic covers on the new books while I returned books to the shelves. I loved the precision of the Dewey decimal system. I loved how you knew exactly where to find a book just from the numbers. I liked watching my mother make neat creases with the book covers.


I gave my mom Reiki after her needle biopsy. She fell sound asleep and reported she felt better when she got up. "Must be the medication," she said. "Duh! Reiki!" I proclaimed, holding up my hands. We laughed.


She listens to me talk about anything, any time, even during the times that listening required the patience of a saint. I would rattle the ice cubes in my whiskey glass and slur some new obsession or passion. My mother would kindly inquire the next day about whatever the heck I had been talking about the night before. I would act like she was annoying for even asking.


We sat in the cafe at Joseph Beth Booksellers. My brother cried and my mother rubbed his arm.


I was rehearsing to be the "Littlest Angel" in the elementary school play. I had a fever so they called my mom. I remember her walking down the aisle to get me, past the chorus, toward the stage. In my fever dream, she glided like an angel. 


I do not know how to not have my mother. I covered the material in a novel to prep myself emotionally and I could hardly bear it in fiction.

I understand that the species would not survive if we couldn't make it through the loss. But my personal Dewey decimal system, how I know how to find myself, depends on the whereabouts of my parents, my brother and my son. It depends on where you are. All of you. When I lost Kristin, I reorganized my personal navigation system around her family, friends, husband and son.

So if you see me looking lost or making a list or just trying to breathe, you will know why. 

And maybe you can just touch my hand or look into my eyes so I know I am still here, so I can find my way. That's what I am going to do for my mother, as long as I can.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Time To Revisit Addiction. Yes, Mine.

Around this time for the last many years, I have communicated in some fashion about how 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15 years ago, I stood in a cold garage with Tina Katz, cigarette and wine glass in hand, and told her that I needed to quit drinking. She cried. I cried. And a month later, by some miracle and with the help of a 12-Step Program, I did it. 

Since then, I have worked diligently to uncover all the slippery slopes in mind that tell me that what I am doing is normal, no big deal, everyone does it. I believed monstrous lies about myself for years so I am aware that I can be easily cajoled into messed-up thinking by my desirous, sneaky narrative-maker.

I also spend a ton of time analyzing that which keeps us in stuck and unhappy patterns. I study movement, somatics, neuroscience and trauma therapy. I work in real time with people who trust me to see their best self and help them move into it. I am considered an educator in this realm. 

I have been reporting for the last year about the effects of dopamine on the system. Dopamine releases in the body when we seek a reward, something pleasurable. Opiods are released when we get the thing we wanted, the reward itself. Current research shows that we are shifting toward wanting the want; that we are becoming increasingly addicted to merely being in search of pleasure.

Facebook, texting, tweeting, emails all fall into the category of dopamine driving activities. And the more information we seek, the faster we seek it and the tinier the pieces and parts get, the more excited we get. I can feel it in my own system when I am waiting for Facebook messages to load or to see a new text message. My breath stops, my brain goes pleasurably numb and I am no longer in the here and now. I am in the world of "Something Exciting Might Be About To Happen." And while I have loved every little bit of info you have given me in the last year, by text or status update or checking "like," nothing transformative has occurred. In fact, I am pretty sure I am devolving.

Since I live alone and am a writer (meaning I spend a shit ton of time staring at the computer), I have spent the last year justifying an INSANE amount of time clicking around on Facebook. I can barely finish reading an article without thinking about posting it. Truth be told, I can barely finish an article. I went back to re-read a few articles about dopamine and addiction and my eyes blurred out after two paragraphs. TWO PARAGRAPHS.

And while I love looking at your babies and your wedding photos and your hilarious updates (for real, some of you are breathtakingly funny), I know it doesn't mean that I really know anything about you. And vice versa. I like to present a cheery disposition online because, in general, that is the truth. But I can't tell you how many times I've been told, "I know what you are up to from Facebook." And I have felt dispirited by that, lonely even. I am crafting a version of me for you to see but it is a marketing-oriented avatar. It doesn't tell you anything of how I really truly feel. I doesn't speak to the vast spaces of time in which my lonely avatar watches your lonely avatar, sharing what we ate for breakfast rather than what we lost or yearn for. 

More important, I can feel my mind beginning to fragment in frightening ways. Words come out of my mouth that I didn't intend. Names are hard for me to remember. Meditation is helping me to be more present but to what? 

I so badly want to write a few more things that matter and this does not mean status updates. I so badly want to connect deeply and meaningfully with people, to make a difference in the lives of others. And I am as certain today as I was 15 years ago that I have to make a profound and fast shift in my day-to-day habits.

So I gotta gotta gotta get this monkey off my back. I am trying to figure out if I have to go cold turkey for a time or if I can regulate my online time. There is stuff I want you to know - True Body Project events, etc. And when I am in Asia in a month, I will want to look in on what is happening back home and tell you about my work in Cambodia and Indonesia.

(And I just want to report that the idea of posting this and not being able to check back over and over again to see who "liked" it or even read it makes me feel like crying. This is not a good sign.)

But I know the power of saying the words out loud, speaking the truth. So I say them here to you and you and you.

I have a problem. I need to spend more time offline than on. I need to work to preserve the quality of my mind and re-value my time so that I may continue to grow and help others. 

I will let you know how it goes, via these longer form posts. And for now, I'm hoping I don't have to quit the brave new world of social media forever. I just have to get my act together. I'll let you know what that looks like!!

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Heart and Path + Breath and Stillness

Thanks to Louka Leppard for sharing this photo!

Lucky me.

A few months ago, two things happened. I started a year-long study of Reiki with Sundar Kadayam and Baxter Bell turned me on to the spiritual author Mark Nepo.

My homework for Reiki is to meditate. We have specifics about techniques and we have moved from 5 minutes a day to 10 minutes a day to a 30 minute practice. There are some precepts to consider in the meditation. And I have ended each with a reading from Mark Nepo's "The Book of Awakening." Today's reading begins with a quote from Carlos Castenada.

Look at every path closely and deliberately. Try it as many times as you think necessary. Then ask yourself, and yourself alone ... Does this path have a heart? If it does, the path is good. If it doesn't, it is of no use.

Fifteen years ago I cozied up to the discipline of "not being a drunken idiot" and began an immersion in the study of a few simple steps (okay, 12 total) to rethink my universe. I also took on a disciplined practice of restoring myself, limb by limb and joint by joint, via Pilates.

Today, I am so grateful for learning to pick the path with the heart. I am grateful to have discovered what it means to work toward your better self, your future self, rather than to go for the easy fix in the here and now.

So I hope you slow down and breath today. Or move today. Or read something beautiful today. Or reach out to someone in need today. There is some discipline to it. But the path with the heart is right there. Today.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

My Half of the Sky

I am so pleased to report that I have entered the fall of 2012 with so many wonderful True Body Project excursions and immersions on the books. This means I get to do my part as a learner and contributor toward making the world a better place for girls and women.

Here is the update:

True Body Project After School Project for AWL Girls

From an AWL participant's True Body Project Journal, 2012
We have just started a 10 week session with 4th and 5th grade girls at the Academy of World Languages. They have a large refugee population and some of the girls are learning the language, a new culture and about how they fit in. Claire Autran, teen True Body alum, is assisting me.

True Body Project After School Project for Withrow Teen Girls

In two weeks, we pilot an 8 week after school project for Withrow High School Teens. I was visiting the school for a meeting when they went into a full lock down due to a gun man in the neighborhood being perceived by police as a threat to the school. So I learned first hand about some of the new kinds of stressors for teens.
Flyer for True Body Program at Withrow High School
True Body Project and Transitions in Cambodia

Thanks to the generous support of Jeff Syroney and his frequent flyer status, I return to Cambodia in January for the third year to work with Transitions. This year, I will work with the staff and house mothers on staff management and craft a workshop for the girls too.

Here are a few photos from my past experiences with these amazing young women who are working to overcome the trauma of having been sex trafficked from a young age.

True Body girls in Cambodia, 2011

Learning language, emotions and identity.

True Body Visits Yorn Chea!

I will visit Yorn Chea's school in Siem Reap again, bearing donations from area friends, and copies of the True Body Project Journal for his classes to use.

Boys and girls alike love learning to write about who they are.

Some of Yorn Chea's students at his free school.
True Body Workshops in Asia

I return to NataRaj Yoga in Phnom Penh and the Yoga Barn in Ubud, Bali this coming January to lead workshops on how stress and trauma habituate in the body.

Workshop at NataRaj in Phnom Penh
Teaching at the Yoga Barn in Ubud.

True Body Workshop with Balinese Orphans

I borrowed this photo from a wonderful photographer. Check out the work. 

Last year I met Natalia Perry, founder of Sacred Childhoods. So this year, I will do a True Body workshop for orphans in Gianyar while visiting, getting to know the particular challenges of their world better on my first visit to the orphanage. 

True Body Come To Your Senses Retreat in Bali

Want to experience your own half of the sky? Come to Bali in June 2013 and find your best self plus do some service work in Bali.  Check out the details


I you would like to know more about the True Body Project and/or to make a donation toward one of these service projects, contact me at We will also host a leadership training program in Spring 2013 for those who wish to lead workshops and programs. 

It's a big world out there. Let's get to it. And don't forget, local is global so you can make a difference in your own community.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Come To Your Senses, Bali!

In Beautiful Bali
June 23 - 29, 2013
With Stacy Sims

Come to your senses in Bali, a magical island steeped in Hindu spiritualism, for an amazing mind/body retreat. Bali naturally inspires healthy living, yoga and movement, meditation, healing and adventure. We have taken the best of Bali and crafted a multi-sensory experience so we can journey together toward a reawakening of our best selves.

Your movement itinerary includes True Movement, a yoga-inspired somatic practice to rediscover flexibility, balance and strength, plus guest class with local, internationally acclaimed teachers, meditation, and energy work.

Your mind-blowing Balinese experience begins when you are greeted at the Denpasar airport and whisked to serene Ubud, the cultural center of Bali. Your beautiful Ubud bungalow is nestled near the Monkey Forest and awaits you along with two vouchers for Verona Spa. There you can soothe your jet lagged muscles with a massage, herb scrub and flower bath.

Then, you’ll be ready for your 5 day, 6 night Come To Your Senses adventure.


- Airport transfers
- Private bungalow and bath with daily housekeeping
- Delicious daily breakfast
- Indonesian speaking guide & concierge available 24/7
- 2 arrival spa treatments
- Daily movement and meditation: Morning True Movement and an afternoon movement/journaling and/or meditation/healing practice.
- Dinner and holy water blessings at the home of Bapak Ketut, Darna, a Balinese dignitary in the village of Celuk
- Herb walk with Balinese herbalists
- Ecstatic open air dance party on the final night

Optional excursions may include pilgrimages to sacred sites, artist studios, and meeting Ketut and Wayan, two of the beloved characters from Eat, Pray, Love.

Retreat leader Stacy Sims is the founder of the True Body Project and a highly regarded movement educator. She founded (and later sold) Pendleton Pilates, a four-studio Pilates and education system in the midwest. Her True Movement work pulls from the most profoundly simple and elegant movements she has selected from her study of Pilates, yoga and dance. She is currently immersed in a year-long study of Reiki and is a specialist in understanding how stress and trauma habituate in the body. She is also a published novelist and playwright and brings creative techniques to her teaching practice.

Hanoman is a yogi and Bali guide, who lives in Bali full time and speaks the language and knows the country. He has been hosting yoga and wellness retreats since 2002 and his perfected his role as host.

Tuition: $1395 per person. Space is limited to 14 people.
Register with your $300 non-refundable deposit now to hold space.

**Credit Cards and Paypal Accepted with small processing fee.

For more information and to request application, please contact Stacy Sims at or by calling Stacy in the U.S. at 513-470-5548.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

In memory.

A year ago today we lost Kristin. I was writing about it recently. I share it here.


It was early December, 2010 and I was in LA visiting Kristin. I was semi-reclined in my usual spot on the cozy, corner built-in couches in her sunny kitchen with my laptop and coffee. Her husband Jeffrey had just left to take Simon, then 8, to school. Kristin sat at the kitchen table a few feet away and checked in with Perez Hilton on her own computer.  She was on a brief hiatus from cancer treatments, waiting for the bone marrow transplant a month later.

“Interesting,” she observed.  From the high to the low, Kristin thought many things were interesting.

“What?” I asked.

“Apparently Miley Cyrus is a bit of a stoner,” she shared.

“Hmm,” I responded.  

“So what should we do today?” Kristin asked, shutting her computer, satisfied with the online world of celebrity meltdowns. “I’m not sure I’m up for the Getty but we could do the Norton Simon. They have a Raphael from the National Gallery of Art I want to see. And there is the best bakery ever in Pasadena that I haven’t taken you to yet.”

“Wait, look at this.”  I handed over my computer to show her the blog I had set up for a personal project I was working on called THE YEAR I DANCED, where I spent the year focusing on dance rather than focusing on being scared to death about the future.  I had been dancing in an adult-fitness class, sort of a Zumba on steroids, for a couple of years and wanted to see what it would be like to take “real” dance classes for “real” dancers. I wanted to have something hopeful to write about and something specific around which to rally my fast-moving thoughts.

“Interesting,” she said. I watched her click around the new blog site.  “But it would be way better if you were much heavier and still drinking,” she observed.  “You know, you circa 1995.” We had known each other since 1990 so she had seen me through many of my own highs and lows.  “And then, say, you quit and then you relapse and do something horrible and then you quit again. ” Kristin was an extremely bright independent art curator with an addiction to addiction memoirs. “They like that,” she added.

“You like that,” I countered. “But I am broke and alone and almost FIFTY,” I offered. She was a decade younger than me. “That’s pretty good, right?”

We agreed it was pretty good, a reasonable set up for a narrative. We agreed it would be especially good if I fell in love that year. I had been single for the better part of a decade and Kristin was a fan of the idea of me falling for either one of the single “school dads” at Sequoyah, Simon’s hippie school in Pasadena, an artist, or a celebrity someone.  

And we agreed that it would be especially good if during the year I fell in love AND got a deal to write something for TV or film and moved to LA from Ohio. I had sold my Pilates studios in Cincinnati earlier in the year, mainly getting out from the business half of crippling debt and allowing the studios to continue on while I re-righted my sorry financial situation and gave myself some space to find out how to sustain myself over the next many years.

I had published my first novel in 2004 and had my first play produced in LA in 2009 so I was hoping that my first screenplay or pilot would enjoy the same charmed process and a stunning, windfall of a fee to go along with it. Either that, or I could make a reasonable living from stipends from residencies, classes and workshops working on the True Body Project program I had created to help girls and women reconnect mind and body. It was a movement and writing-based curriculum that helped discern truth from lie, past from present, delusion from reasonable hope. But my own truth was that as I stared down 50, I had foreclosed on my condo, was nearly $50,000 in debt, was worried about the IRS, and had no savings, no stocks or bonds, no 401K and no job.

It takes a dreamer to believe that words on a page will add up to something beautiful. It takes a dreamer to believe that spending money you don’t have will allow you to pay your staff and buy time to build the business.  It takes a dreamer to believe that you can become a dancer at 50.  And it takes a dreamer to believe that breast cancer followed by leukemia equals happily ever after.

So that day, Kristin and I agreed that the blog was a good idea, relapse or not. We agreed that the waitress at the bakery who noticed Kristin’s bald cancer head and taped up port and decided to chastise her for drinking Diet Coke had a lot of fucking nerve. We agreed that the small, easy to navigate Norton Simon museum was a better choice than the Getty since Kristin got tired very easily.  Standing in front of Raphael’s “The Small Cowper Madonna,” we agreed that the Renaissance ‘chiaroscuro’ technique, the use of both shadow and light to illuminate an object, created a painful sort of beauty.

“God, I love Simon,” Kristin said, as she stared at the painting of Madonna and child. She said that a lot. I think it surprised her how much motherhood had shaken her. We agreed it was a painful sort of beauty, loving someone so much.

We did not agree that it would be okay for Kristin to die less than a year later at the age of 41 after a six year battle with cancer. We did not agree that Simon would eulogize her in her living room, standing on a step ladder, explaining to her friends how much we meant to her.

In December of that year, we still had the luxury of the lazy hours of friendship. We worshipped the entire spectrum of life from the sublime to the ridiculous and gave special consideration to the mundane and granted bonus points to food prepared with butter. We still had the capacity to reinvent hope.

So we planned our year. Kristin set a course to live and I set a course to dance.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Your Own Personal Periodic Table.

Remember the Periodic Table? The grid of all the elements that make up matter?

The Carbon (C) , Hydrogen (H), Nitrogen (N), and Oxygen (O) business?

My friend Elizabeth's son Graham, 9 1/2 years old, made up his own.  And it is awesome.

The elements that make up boy version "Graham 9.5" include Bacon (Bn), Money (My), Ice Cream (Ic), Harry Potter, (Hp,) Cowboy (Cb), and Angry Birds (Ab).

Summertime, Ninjas and Llamas also make an appearance on Graham's chart.

I will totally use this exercise with my next True Body Project experience.  For now, its fun to think of some of the elements in my own personal chart. (I am going to borrow a few from Graham because then I can use the symbols, colors and illustrations too.)

Coffee (C)
Dance (D)
Summertime (St)
Waffle (W)
Travel (T)
Energy (Chi)
Love (L)
Breath (B)
Parks & Recreation (Pr)
Books (B)
Friends (F)

Thanks Graham! You will inspire many charts over the next few years, I can guarantee you that!

Monday, July 23, 2012

Renew your spirit.

I have been telling anyone who will listen about our newly renovated Washington Park and its eight acres of awesomeness smack dab in the middle of Over-the-Rhine.

If you don't believe me, check out this amazing photo from last night's Over the Rhine concert/love fest.

Not convinced yet?

Look at this beautiful video of the amazing Fonzie Gaspari enjoying the park fountains, filmed by Andrea Sisson and Pete Ohs.

Here's what: in this divisive election year, in this fragile economy, on this formerly sad patch of urban land, we now gather and remember our humanity.

In our now beloved park under the shady trees and around the water that everyone can play in, on the open lawn, or on a bench by the old bandstand, in the dog park or in the children's play area we sit and talk and laugh and breath and smile to each other. We talk about our love for our neighborhood and commitment to the city. Our eyes wander back to the children playing.  Our eyes wander across the park to the SCPA, to the Lord's Gym, to the Emanuel Community Center, to Music and Memorial Hall. This is what summer is supposed to feel like! This is what city living is supposed to feel like! This is how I want to spend my leisure hours!

We have hard lives and we want spaces where we can breath and feel at ease. We want to watch the children of our city play. We want to watch people dance silly. We want to hear music in the night. We want to believe in our selves and believe in our city.

Here we do.

Don't miss it. Don't miss out on your chance to feel something far beyond urban renewal. Renew your sense of faith in those who govern and plan and envision. Renew your sense of faith in your neighbors.

Renew your sense of faith in yourself.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Meet Jake. He Needs Our Help.

That's Jake Sisson in the hat. Pete Ohs, his brother-in-law, is in the white shirt.

I met Jake's sister Andrea outside of the Cincinnati Ballet one day as we walked to our cars. We had taken the same class. I took one look at her and thought, "She is worth knowing. There is something up with this one." And so we began talking. Within minutes, I began to sense why I wanted to meet her. She is a filmmaker. She has lived in Iceland. And she had returned home to spend time with her brother Jake. 

Jake has been institutionalized more often than not over the last many years and vastly medicated for alternating diagnoses of bi-polar disorder and schizophrenia. He has been on medication since he was eight years old. And he hates it.

Granted, you hear this a lot from people who prefer the manic mind. But Pete and Andrea really, really, really listen to Jake and they heard him calling out for a different lifestyle, one with more dignity and more light and love and nature and less medication. This is the path Pete and Andrea are now on with Jake. They are trying to find the best way to give Jake the fullest life possible. One without four white walls and mind-deadening drugs. 

This is Andrea. Jake's sister.

And this is Jake, back when I met him, earlier this year.

I offered to spend some time with Jake to see if some body/energy/hang out sort of time might be good for him. He was recovering from three broken limbs in a nursing home. So I sat on his bed and he told me stories about gods and goddesses and devilish buddhas. I asked him to see if he could get his hands to do the same things. We tried to see if we could feel the energy coming out of our palms. Simple stuff.

I never know exactly what I am going to do with Jake except to be present to him and to try to respect his world and invite him into mine, respectfully.

Today, I went to visit Jake again. When I asked him to try get his hands to do the same things (make fists, open up, turn over, etc.) he said they won't do the same thing but they will rhyme. So we watched him do that for a bit, make his hands rhyme.

I will be going out each week to see Jake. Andrea and Pete, under the guidance of the Windhorse facility in Boulder, CO, are working to create a team of people to do shifts with Jake while they work to find the best long-term community for him to find a life of dignity and purpose.

So if you are a healer or a human or a friend or a teacher or a person with some time and want to be considered to help Jake, please contact me at and I will forward your info to  Andrea and Pete. This is not a small commitment, even if the duties while visiting Jake may be as simple as listening to him and/or tossing a ball back and forth or playing a game or going for a walk.

We will also be raising funds soon. So I will tell you more about that later. And I will also tell you more about Andrea and Pete's film project. Here is a taste of the beautiful films they make.

How many times have you known of a person in need and waited for the system or someone else to take care of them? I do it every day. I am not only taken with Jake but I am especially moved by Andrea and Pete, a young and talented husband and wife team who are in high demand to take part in their 20s as activists and artists. Instead, they are moved to take care of Jake.

Which is why I will help them. Which is why I hope you will help them. Email me for more info and we will find a way for you to help this family.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

The year the dock nearly blew up on the Fourth of July.

I grew up in the Hermitage Club outside of Newtown. There were 20 some homes on nearly 300 wooded acres and only three kids: Alex Fibbe, my brother Dave, and me. It had been a bachelor's hunting and fishing club in the 20s and when the men became of age to marry and settle down, the incorporated the property and built year-round homes.

It was the 1960s so we played all day in the woods, ran home for dinner, then ran back out to play until dark. Keys were left in the ignition of the cars and rarely was the house locked.

Alex, Dave and I created intricate bicycle routines in advance of the annual Fourth of July picnic. I was so unused to company that it would give me a nose bleed; the sheer excitement of all those people playing all those games thrilled me to the bone. At the 'picnic tables,' which was the name we cleverly bestowed on the entire area designed for community gatherings, the adults and kids would play the game where you put a name on someone's back and then try to get them to guess who they are: Mark Twain, Richard Nixon, John Glenn. Mae West. It was so fun. Especially when a man was a woman! We looked especially hard for these gender-hilarious pairings. This was also the site of horseshoes. And firecracker snakes blithering their black entrails out on the sidewalk or the big flat rock you could lift up to find a motherlode of worms.

At the lake, we nearly drowned trying to get the greased watermelon into the inner tube and chilled out,  water logged, by tossing eggs to each other on the shore to see which partners could get furthest apart without breaking their eggs. We played the same game with water balloons.

As the day turned to night, we got ready for the annual fireworks extravaganza thanks to one of the resident's commitment to obtaining fireworks in Tennessee. The dads would build mortar shells and other serious launching devices, waiting until everyone was really liquored up to set them off. A time honored tradition, to be sure.

Sparklers were handed out early, burning down to the stub as you wrote your name in script, over and over again. My brother, Alex and I huddled over near the cottage by the lake, the creepy one that was not inhabited year round. I ran to let my mom know to get everyone organized for our show.  I bossed everyone around even at eight, maybe especially at eight.

With great somberness we walked the folded flag to the flag pole on the hill, overlooking the lake. We unfolded it, as though in every one of the 13 folds was a hidden prize. And we raised it so it could wave to us all. We took rituals very serious back then. We took American Government very serious back then. And we especially loved red, white and blue displays of family and friends and laughing and greased up watermelons and that one drunk guy every year. I had no idea if we were Republican or Democrat. I don't even recall those being words of interest until I was in my late teens and started to think about voting.

Later that night, as our dads stood on the dock ready to launch the fireworks, one of the first ones backfired and set the entire Rozzi-worthy load of them off. It was thrilling and terrifying. Dads running from the dock, others diving into the lake. Luckily, no one was hurt. It was a near tragedy. And that was as close as I got as a kid to anything of real concern. The losses all came later. As they will. As they should.

Wherever you are, whomever you are with, I hope you have a day with friends and family and games and watermelon and a sparkler or two. I hope that you remember community and patriotism sans politics and sans loss. Those, I suspect, will come later.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

On waiting.

I saw this photo this week and immediately posted it and a link to the beautiful blog I found it on my Facebook page with my own provocative caption. 

"What are you waiting for?" I asked.

To be truthful, I gave this photo the same amount of consideration I gave most of the 1000+ other micro bits of information I took in for a nanosecond before moving on. I saw it, clicked to make it larger, clicked to Steve McCurry's site, scrolled down far enough (two, maybe three images) so I could "get it" and think, "Oh, it's about waiting. Cool." And three nanoseconds later I was on a job site for writers, a job site for everything and everyone, Perez Hilton to find out WHAT?!? happened to Tom and Katie then back to Facebook then back to my play then back to Facebook then to my spam in-box to make sure I didn't miss a super important email then to the weather site to make sure it was still hot outside then to my email then to my Facebook then ...

Today I stood on line at my coffee shop after my dance class. The people in front of me were TAKING FOREVER and I had my usual chat in my head about people who clearly have not been in a coffee shop before, the innovations that I could make to the barista system at large, and other pithy, irritable notions. I thought, "I hate waiting."

There I stood with a wad of cash in my hand waiting to pay for a $3.50 hot latte in an air conditioned coffee shop to walk to my air conditioned car to drive to my air conditioned home on a 90 degree day after taking a FREE dance class because people are just that nice and generous to me. 

First. World. Problems.

My friend told me recently that when we had to make the long and arduous journey to seek the wisdom of the old woman in the cave, when we travelled over rough land in inclement weather to seek enlightenment, the journey itself was the hardship. Without the hard physical journey, we create an intense mental journey. We agonize emotionally with the same ferver as if we are clawing our way up a mountain or trying to find shelter from a torrential, freezing rain under a branch. 

This is my way.

This same time last year, I was waiting to go on a trip because I was sure THINGS would happen for me then and there. I was waiting to see how the job situation would work out, waiting to see if I could make enough money as a freelancer. I was waiting to see if he really liked me. I was waiting to see if things would tip for me socially, emotionally, financially, romantically, creatively.

Deja vu.

Here is the big difference. Last year Kristin was alive. Last year, we were waiting to see if the transplant worked. I was waiting to see when I should go back out. 

And she would be so fucking mad to think that a year later, I have learned nothing. Or maybe in her now benevolent spot in the great beyond, she is guiding my spirit and my fingers to type this. She is hanging out with Whitney Houston and Mike Kelley and Adam Yauch and they conjuring up a way to get us unstuck and off our computers and back into loving the life we have each and every minute we have it.

So I am off to construct a day in which I listen and interact and love the people in front of me in the moment they are in front of me.  

Will I have enough money? Will my work become easier? Does he really? Do I really? Is it really?

Yes. No. Maybe. 

It is the questions themselves that can wait. This life of ours cannot.

Friday, June 22, 2012


Remember your childhood family vacations? Did your parents haul you there in a station wagon?

This first chapter of SWIMMING NAKED may appeal to you. If it does, you can read the rest on Kindle or your iDevice.  Order here!

“Fresh, edgy … brutally moving first novel. Sims works toward a stunningly beautiful climax while bringing painful pictures into excruciating focus.”
- Chicago Tribune


Every summer, my family rented the same small house on the same mosquito-covered lake in the same small town in Canada, several hours north of Toronto. The idea was to drive all the way in one day, packing the station wagon the night before so that we could leave at 4:00 a.m.
My older sister, Anna, and I would crawl into the pajamas and our untied gym shoes, which had been put on our feet before we began our zombielike walk to the car. Anna walked a few steps ahead of me, both of us carrying our pillows. The only sound of the start of the journey was the crunch of the gravel in the driveway under our feet as we shuffled to the car. We lay down on top of our sleeping bags, which had been unzipped and spread out one on top of the other; hers Tony-the-tiger striped and mine a jumble of blue and yellow daisies. My parents were completely silent as they loaded a final bag of towels, a cooler, my mother’s purse. They were often silent. It just seemed more noticeable against the quiet of the night.
They were exciting in their own way, the moments that marked the beginning of the trip: the smell of the coffee rising from a thermos in the front seat, the sound of the lighter popping out of its hole, glowing hot to light the first of my parents’ many cigarettes. We fell back asleep almost immediately and woke up a couple of hours later in a different state. Anna and I opened our eyes at the exact same time, blinking hard and taking each other in for a second before looking around to remember where we were: trapped in our parents’ silent, smelly car. We were desperate to go to the bathroom and sat up, suddenly wide-awake, clamoring for my father to stop the car. 1 don’t remember my mother ever driving on vacation.
My father finally stopped, passing, as always, at least one viable exit before giving in. We ran clumsily to the bathroom, trying to avoid stepping on our untied shoelaces. When we finally got there, I went into my own stall, dutifully pushing the rusty bolt into the rusty lock. Anna shouted, “Don’t sit down!” I said, “Okay,” then sat down on the toilet, anticipating the moment when the pee came rushing out, warming my insides and sending a shiver through my body. I wiped and then got another piece of toilet paper to wipe my legs and bottom where they had rested against the porcelain. Anna made me wash my hands. I wiped mine dry on my pajamas and waited an eternity for Anna as she dried her hands under the loud air dryer. Finally, we ran back to the car, our legs flailing out crazylike, exaggerated and goofy, around the flying shoelaces. We climbed into the back again and sat Indian-style, facing front, Anna behind the back of my father’s head and me behind my mother. The backseat created a barrier between them and us and was filled with our luggage, since Anna and I took over the serious storage space for our travel bedroom.
Last year my father had attempted to tie the luggage to the top of the station wagon. It was an unpleasant memory for all of us, Anna in particular. We had been driving along for hours, well into the trip to the lake. The cigarette smoke had commingled for hours with the smell of Dentyne gum and my farts. “I can’t help it!” I would maintain, each and every time. The windows were up because it was raining, keeping every stinky odor trapped inside the car. Anna was teaching me a trick with string, something far more complicated than Cat’s Cradle and likely made up and not a real trick at all.
We heard a scraping noise then a thump on the top of the car. We looked back to see several pieces of luggage flying and a colorful jumble of clothes swirling in the rain. This was seconds before the luggage and the clothes hit the grille of a huge truck behind us. By the time my father pulled the car to the side of the road, the truck was long gone and with it went most of Anna’s favorite summer clothes. She had insisted on packing her things in her own Sleeping Beauty luggage. Two other pieces of luggage had flown off with Anna’s, but my father had rescued them from the highway—beaten but intact and still locked shut. The only thing he had been able to save from the now-missing Sleeping Beauty suitcase was her hot- pink bathing suit.
We watched out of the back of the station wagon as my father stood by the side of the road in the pouring rain, waiting until there was a break in traffic. He darted out one last time and grabbed Anna’s muddy, wet bathing suit. When he got back in the car he handed it to her, torn strap and all. She cried the rest of the way to the lake, clutching the mangled, flimsy fabric in her hand. She wore that bathing suit, with the strap reattached with a safety pin, for the rest of the vacation but never entirely recovered. Her eyes were filled with misery for a whole week.
After that, the suitcases always stayed in the middle seat, along with the food. The suitcases were stacked on the seat; the food was in a cooler on the floor. My mother kept a special bag in the front seat filled with car toys and snacks. The butterscotch Lifesavers, candy cigarettes, and gum would be gone within the first hour or two of the trip. The comic books, crossword puzzles, and secret writing tablets would each seem hugely exciting for about ten minutes. We had to beg for everything.
It was a part of the deal, an attempt to make us feel as though we were a happy little family, with rituals and everything. After having just eaten doughnuts and orange juice, we began to whine for a car toy and a treat. My mother looked to my father, as though she actually wanted his participation in the decision. She said, “Frank, what do you think?” smiling in this sappy, unfamiliar way, then sighing and shaking her head, as though giving in to something seriously against her better judgment. I don’t think my father even realized he had been part of the act. He just drove and smoked cigarettes, occasionally looking into the rearview mirror, saying to us in the mirror’s reflection, always a little too loud but not quite a shout, “We’ll be there in about a week and a half. You girls good with that?”
I knew somehow that these moments were important to my mother. And I worked really hard to play along with the vacation game. Anna totally bought the program. She was lying down on her stomach on her side of the station wagon, with her head toward the tailgate, reading Archie comic books with a concentration that was nearly impenetrable. I swung my body around, so I could lie next to her. I wrote on the secret message pad, scribbling all the worst words I could think of. I wrote “bad” then ripped the gray plastic up so the newly visible black letters disappeared. I did it so Anna couldn’t see what I had written and because it had a built-in, nasty sound.
I wrote another word, “dam,” then ripped up the plastic, schwip. This didn’t get a response, so I scrawled only a line on the pad, just to have something to erase.
“Stop it, Lucy,” Anna said, her head still cocked, perkily, from her own secret attempts to mimic Veronica or Betty. She could read to herself but she always moved her lips and was silently dramatic in doing so, tossing her head or smiling shyly, whatever the character demanded of her.
Schwip went the message pad. “I’m just doing secret messages,” I added quickly, loud enough so my mother could hear.
Schwip, schwip, schwip, I demonstrated, pulling the plastic up repeatedly. “See, it makes this sound,” demonstrating schwip again, “when you erase the words,” adding, “Mom, that’s how it works,” because I knew we were only seconds away from her intervention.
“Mom, she is doing it on purpose,” Anna complained. “I can’t concentrate,” she added, sighing as though she were reading something terribly important.
Schwip. I had written “fat head” and needed to erase it.
“Lucy, stop.” My mother caved in so easily. I knew it had to do with the noise. I could sit and smash bugs, heartlessly squishing ant after ant after ant. Or write in marker all over my body. Or trace my name with the edge of a wet, slimy, halfeaten Lifesaver on the back of the station wagon window. As long as I didn’t make any noise, I could get away with murder.
I tried writing only at the very edge of the secret message pad, so erasing would only make a tiny noise, schw, scliw.
“You aren’t writing anything at all,” Anna reprimanded, her voice raised. “Mom!”
“Stop it, Lucy. Give that to me right now.” My mother unbuckled her seat belt and turned full around, her left arm reaching all the way back into our space now, hand open, palm up to confiscate the secret message pad.
I gave it to her, swinging it down against her palm, swack. I am sure it didn’t hurt. It was the noise that did me in.
“Get up here right now,” my mother warned, as I retreated to the farthest corner of the station wagon, knees against my chest and arms wrapped tighdy around my knees. I looked out the side window, suddenly fascinated with the passing scenery. “Now,” my mother repeated. Her voice had lost all of its vacation charm.
Anna did as she always did. She acted as though she had no part whatsoever in the drama unfolding in front of her; the drama she created by telling on me. She kept reading her comic book, twirling her hair around her right finger, crossing and uncrossing her legs at the ankles. She never once looked at me. She kept reading; mouthing the words, raising her eyebrows, and wriggling her shoulders for Veronicas southern accent.
1 knew it wasn’t the biggest kind of trouble. All I had to do was to go forward and sit, squished, in the middle seat for a while. But 1 wasn’t going to give in to my mother so easily. She had her games, 1 had mine.
“If you smoke, you’ll die,” I said quietly, almost a whisper. It made Anna look up and over at me, startled and concerned.
“What did you say?” my mother asked. “Get up here right now or we’re pulling over.”
“You are going to die,” I said. “You smoke.”
Anna was undone. She covered her ears with her hands and started crying, saying, “Mom, please, make her stop it.”
My mother slammed her hand down on the top of the seat, making my father jump. “Pull over, Frank. Now.” I heard the car move from pavement to crunchy gravel so I crawled quickly toward the middle seat, climbing over and wedging myself between the suitcases and the door on the passenger side of the car. I looked sullenly out the window and whimpered just the tiniest little bit. “Well, you are,” I whispered.
The car moved back from the gravel to the pavement and we drove along, silently. After a few minutes, I felt my mother’s hand on my knee. She had squeezed her arm between her seat and the door, curving it behind her to tap my leg. I ignored her, looking out the window for at least three taps of her vacation-manicured finger against my leg. Then I felt something tickle my leg. I looked down and saw that my mother had a stick of gum, still wrapped, and was running it up and down against my leg—a peace offering. In that moment, I knew I had won a round, but I was too much in love with her to care.