Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Christmas morning. Cleansing, clearing, hoping. Plus fire.

I am prone to hyperbole but it is not an exaggeration to say I have an edge on Christmas this year.

I am on glorious Waiheke Island, off the coast of Auckland, visiting my son Nick and his girlfriend Ellie on the farm they are managing for a year. Since I am in what they call a "sleep out" (aka pretty much the outdoors is indoors) I rise with the sun 18 hours ahead of my Eastern Standard Time friends.

Nick and Ellie are still sleeping and the stormy rain they promised has arrived in bold, pioneering New Zealand style.

I have had several days to slow down and remember the earth and silence and family. I have had time to see beautiful, mind-boggling things and to read inspiring literature.

Two things strike me this Christmas morning, both of which I found in the wondrous "Signature of All Things" by Elizabeth Gilbert.

First, there is a Dutch word "uitwaaien" which means to walk against the wind for pleasure and/or to let the wind cleanse you physically and spiritually. So I like to imagine that this morning storm is doing just that, cleansing and clearing the way for an abundant holiday and new year for all of us.

Second, Gilbert writes an incredible passage where an Italian astronomer orchestrates a model of the universe with human bodies as heavenly bodies on a hot summer night, teaching party-goers their correct celestial path. (Please note that the best phrases here are not mine, they are Gilbert's.)  Alma, the protagonist of the novel, then only a girl, begs to be in it and her father insists "Give the girl a place!"

She is assigned the role of comet and given a torch. Gilbert writes:

She had never before been entrusted with fire. The torch spit sparks and sent chunks of flaming tar spinning into the air behind her as she bolted across the cosmos--the only body in the heavens who was not held to a strict elliptical path.

Nobody stopped her.

She was a comet.

She did not know she was not flying.

This is my inspiration for my year. I want to cleanse and clear what I need to in order to bolt across the cosmos. I want to insist for others that they are given a place!

Here is to your path, elliptical of otherwise. May it bring you great and abiding joy.



Thursday, November 28, 2013

Thankful and hopeful days.


This is the time of year I usually recap my 16-year-ago decision to quit drinking.

In short, best idea I ever had.

Slightly longer version: I moved from profound soul sadness to some sort of first-year bardo state where I hovered between pink cloud giddiness and a complete loss of identity. Each year, I reconstituted myself with more purpose and began to move into a place of joy or its close cousin, acceptance. I became capable of doing what I intended. Believe you me, that is an astonishment for an addict.

I am always so grateful at this time of year when I think back at my bleak, dark, blah, panicked, heavy heart and spirit. Whew!

And this year a new theme emerged for me to consider: loss. My cousin was killed last November and my mother was given a terminal diagnosis in the same month. They told her 6-9 months and she made it four. As most of you know, the shorter duration was a blessing in the end. (And never ever do I forget you, Kristin.)

So what to write this year? I have been reading all my go-to books for clarification, turning to the poets and philosophers and artists for inspiration. It is not that I didn't find a ton of beauty there, it's just that I think you already have your own sources to feed you.

I'll make it simple. I am SO GRATEFUL for this life and for those of you who make me feel loved.  I am thankful for my family (Nick! Ellie! NZ soon!) and to you, yes you, for making this time of year when I consider my place in the universe of things so incredibly joyous and exciting.




Saturday, October 19, 2013

Breathing.

Hmm.

I haven't really been inclined to write here much since my mom died. And now, as I cozy up to this post, I am not sure where I am going with it.

As I walked up into the Boulder red rocks this morning, I was more certain. I was going to be poetic and smell the sun and taste the quiet applause of the leaves and feel the scent of the pine. I was going to do a chakra ascension thingy that aligned body to nature. I was going to speculate that the heart can open in a thousand ways and the mind can make a story around how fucking GREAT it is: whether it be the instantaneous love of a tiny dog or the shocking beauty of nature. I was going to write about Opinion as Religion.
And that was all before 11 a.m.

Then I met a lady because she had a couple of dogs on the trail and now that I am a dog person, we started chatting. Within the time it takes to pet a barking dog to silence, I learned that her place was damaged in the flood the week after her man left her for another woman. It had been a hard month. No, a hard year. No, actually, it had been a hard five years. That is what she said as we moved down the hillside together.

I realized I was lucky. Even in this year of my mother's death, and in the years prior where I was not sure where my next paycheck was coming from, I didn't feel like I was being tested or tortured.

So then I was thinking about writing about my parents and how they both gave me the gift of positivity. Neither are/were inclined to speak or dwell on the negative. Both are quietly thankful and helpful to others.

And then I ate and I shopped and I got blue gel nails that will not chip for several weeks. Plus I ate breakfast for lunch then got new lotion that smells nice. Soon Steph, whom I met in Cambodia, is coming from Denver to take me to a vegetarian restaurant for dinner.

Maybe I will write about that. Maybe I won't.

Maybe there are times that life is meant to be lived not interpreted. Maybe that time is now. Or maybe not.


Monday, July 22, 2013

You can go home again.

Shepard Fairey's Patti Smith
In 1990, I began my first museum job at the Contemporary Arts Center in Marketing and Public Relations, leaving ad agency world to check out the non-profit world. I started one week before the CAC went to trial for showing the work of photographer Robert Mapplethorpe. I can assure you, I was not the one responsible for talking to the national and international press but I learned a lot about strategy and messaging clarity from our crisis communications advisors and everyone else who was involved.

My task was to communicate about all the exhibitions and programs that were on deck. I worked with the most amazing staff including director Dennis Barrie, Carolyn Krause, Mary Magner, Jan Riley, Liz Scheurer, Jennifer Adams, Amy Banister, Bob Swaney, Nancy Glier and many more. The exhibitions that stand out in my mind are the Starn twins, Mechanica, Mel Chin, and Jana Sterbak. (And just this week I met a couple at the CAC who recalled how much they also loved Mechanica!) We brought in Eisenman and Gehry for a lecture and I got to hang out with Toni Morrison for a talk she gave at the Mercantile Library at our request. I created an event the TODT artists referred to as "Whoville" on Fountain Square to celebrate the opening of the Dale Chihuly show. These moments are the tip of the iceberg for a couple of years of awesome.

I went on to work with museums and artists via my work creating traveling art exhibitions. Later, I was director of Public Programs at what is now MOCA in Cleveland. My novel's protagonist is the curator of photography at a midwestern museum. I was the first writer on the International Spy Museum project. My play AS WHITE AS O is set in a museum. I have produced two other theatrical works at the Brooklyn Museum and the Folk Art Museum. Clearly, I love artists and museums.

But it never occurred to me that my new professional home might be exactly where I started. This summer I helped out the CAC in PR and Marketing while they were in transition after a staff reorganization. I had been the artist representative on the Board for a year and it seemed a good part-time fit. Last week, I interviewed for the "real" position and was offered the job on Friday. I gratefully accepted it.

So I am back! Once again I am wowed by the director and staff: Raphaela Platow, Steven Matijcio, Drew Klein, Jaime Thompson, Josh Mattie, Susan Berliant, David Dillion, Joel Armor, Dave Gearding, Marty Karp, Erin Sansalone and more. I am also ecstatic about the upcoming exhibitions, programs and opportunities. JR opens an exciting exhibition season and you will soon fatigue about all the programs I will be boasting about. They are SO GOOD. So you better just join and start hanging out with me.

This year is the 10th anniversary of the building. Next year is the 75th anniversary of the CAC. And the following year is the 25th anniversary of the Mapplethorpe exhibition. It is a truly momentous time to be there.

And not to worry. True Body Project will continue. Stay tuned on programs to come in the next year with my new partners in the work.


JR



Mel Chin

Mike and Doug Starn catalogue


Tuesday, June 4, 2013

The Space Between.

It has been two months since my mother died.

We had a life celebration service for her and it was wonderful. We cleaned out her apartment and it wasn't terrible. Everyone has been so patient and lovely and considerate. Mother's Day was sweet. No problem.

So I was thinking, "Grief ... not so bad."

I  have also been thinking that the language around grief may be insufficient. "How are you feeling?" is the usual question, always asked with the most honorable and kind intentions.

"Fine." "Good." "Okay." is what I usually say.

And it is totally true and not true at all. I think grief should be put in the same sort of category as love. If you exclaim, "I am in love!" you get asked for the details - the who, when, what, where, why of the delirious fall.

Grief is also a delirium. "I am in grief" would be more accurately encompassing. It is easier for me to tell a tale of the strange landscape of my mind than to categorize the "good" or "badness" of my feelings. To understand your feelings is to understand delusion while you are stuck in the messy, compelling middle of it.

So here is a tale. The last several nights my mom has decided to make an appearance in the extraordinary, ephemeral space between awake and sleep. There, for the briefest second, I watch her laugh so hard she almost spits. I watch her place the heels of her hands into her hips and rub the pain out of them. I watch her play card games on her iTouch. I watch her stare out the rear window of her apartment, cigarette in shaky hand, wheelchair in the parked position.

And there I appreciate that I am 100% unprepared to acknowledge the loss of her just yet. I feel the weight of what I am NOT dealing with as though I am wise therapist to my own reluctant psyche. I can see the grief I am not feeling as plain as day. Who would enter that tsunami willingly? Not me.

Usually, my space between is dreamy and forgetful. Short an imagined erotic encounter or two, that which happens in that everyday, split-second thinning-of-the-veil interlude tends not to stick with me for the long night of circus-worthy dreams nor into the next bright day. Notably, that space is where all my genius literary epiphanies occur then vanish.  Poof!

But these glimpses of my mother are not vanishing. My mother is in that space between for a reason and I know I will continue to find her there as long as I need her. Or maybe as long as she needs me.

It really does make perfect sense. My mother loved to sleep as much as -- sometimes more than -- she loved to be awake. When she was alive, her sleep lust bugged me; it represented depression and absence to me. Now it's okay. Now it is more than okay. For now, it is everything I need.











Monday, April 15, 2013

A new perspective.

My mother's recipe for Tagarinies, a South American dish that is a family favorite.


My mom died on April 3, 2013 at 8:30 in the morning. My brother Dave, her sister Betsy and I held her hands and watched her take her last breath.

As my brother said, "The image of that moment is always there but I can't really stand to take it all in yet."

I can't take it all in either. I look at her handwriting and read her recipes and am only partially cognizant that she will never cook for me again. I leave dance class and reach for my phone to call her and remember she won't be there. But it feels more like she is on vacation. She'll be back. Surely she will.

Luckily, in this weird space between losing her and coming to terms with it, my perspective has been shifted profoundly. I was given instant clarity about her specific gifts to me my whole life, those that I refused to see while I was acting feverishly in my role as "daughter." I was also able to understand her forward legacy. I am now held and guided by both mom and Kristin and my other teacher/elders who have their non-linear, ineffable clarity on how grand this life of ours can be.

I have also been gifted MAD LOVE from all of you in the form of earth-shattering, soul rocking healing and food and cards and notes and flowers and plants and smoothies and fellowship and dance and so much more. You gave me a friendship bracelet. You rubbed the side of my arm when I cried because the music made me sad.

I've been inspired in two ways to continue shifting my perspective. Glen Hansard and the rest of the madly talented musicians at this year's Music Now reminded me that passion is not an intellectual, solo pursuit. You gotta go just for it. The big giant beautiful mess of it. You have to tell the truth. So that's thing number one.

Thing number two is to set my eyes on the horizon and see if I can bring it into focus, to literally sketch what I see, to discern foreground from background, to understand scale. I bought a sketch book, oh yes I did. I will finally draw a horse with not too small a head. I tried today to draw what I can see out my back door and call this sweet mess of a thing I did "Buddha says you can leave out the city."

It is a start.

I am a bit of a wayward fledgling again and I don't mind it. Spring arrived in earnest the day my mom left, filling my heart rather than my brain with a perspective of loving hopefulness and gratitude, every single second.

And for those of you who are interested, here is a link to information about the Memorial/Celebration Service of Sheila Sims' beautiful life.  http://www.caringbridge.org/visit/sheilasims1/journal







Monday, April 1, 2013

Support.

I went to see WAR HORSE on Saturday afternoon, helped out by Liz Stites who hung out with Mom so I could see the play.

I had seen it once before in New York, right before I left for LA to spend the last weeks of dear Kristin's life with her.  It was especially moving to me. I sat in the theatre a good long time after the play ended, unable to stop crying.

This time, knowing that Mom was also toward the end of her days, I was especially taken with the puppeteers, the humans who became practically invisible to make the horses move. They are so gracefully integrated they become indistinguishable from Joey and from one another. They are there to support his journey and in turn, ours becomes sublime.

The other night while Mom was sleeping, I was reading the book PROOF OF HEAVEN in which a surgeon recounts his near death experience. He writes about the thinning of the veil and presence of spirits and loved ones who await us. They help make the passage from this realm to that one not only reasonable but downright ecstatic. I have spent enough time with spiritual leaders and healers to come to understand in some way that we are never alone if we allow ourselves to be supported, either by our flesh and blood friends who will lift us up and move us if we need it or by the ethereal others who await to show us just how extraordinary unconditional, eternal love can feel.

Mom is in hospice now. Her mental clarity is gone and her heart beats on a bit longer. The nurse and I lifted her today with way less grace than the War Horse crew and got her where she needed to go, even though she forgot the point when we got there. We will stay here with her until we can pass her off to the rest of you ... to Kristin and Grandma Pauline and Brother Bill and Sandy and Steve and Zane and all those beauties you have lost too who can't wait to take her hand and help her along in heaven.

I don't need proof because I can see it and feel it. She is already talking to you, long lost friends, and reaching out her trembling hand to you. Take it whenever is the best time for her gorgeous lift off.

On the count of three ...




Wednesday, March 27, 2013

She is.

Over the past many weeks, I have thought frequently that I should write something. For a second, I get an inkling of what I want to say about the process of sharing the end of my mother's life with her. That is usually all I need to start a piece of writing: a glimpse of an emotion or an image I want to convey. But before it can take root, whatever sense I have made of things has vanished.

I don't know how long my mother has to live but my guess is that it is weeks not months.

It is a gorgeous, horrendous, serene and sacred time. It is intimate. It is mainly private.

If I tried to describe to you how I feel or how she feels it would be a mirage. Transparent. Shifting. Chimeric. Which does not mean it is anything less than profound.

Here is what I can tell you right this second.

She is beautiful. She is breathing. She is kind. She is funny. She is constant. She is graceful. She is my mother.

Soon I will have to use the past tense on all of those attributes except one.

She is my mother.

That one is forever.


Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Not the end.

Maybe my favorite photo ever and one of the top sweet moments of a lifetime.

I have avoided writing this post because it signifies the end of my adventure in Asia. And while I am completely ready to be here in Cincinnati to enjoy/endure the journey to the end of my sweet mother's life, I am completely unready to let go of JANUARY 2013. That's all caps because it deserves it, every last second of it.

Theoretically, we take healing journeys to understand something about ourselves so we can more fully enjoy the world we live in. Right? So a successful adventure in, say, Cambodia and Bali, is a part of a continuum of juiced up living experiences that we can fall back into whenever we need of dose of lovely inspiration. Right?

So as I take teeny tiny little steps from my car to my house so I don't fall on the ice that has formed on the sidewalk because it is FREEZING outside, rather than succumb to frustration and regret I can skootch my way into my perfectly warm house, sit in my comfy chair, and look at my Dream Catcher that the beautiful mums at Sacred Childhoods made. And that might lead me into ...

Riding from Ubud with Jessie and Sarah and Liz, learning about Sacred Childhood's work with mums in the slums, hearing about how Wayan and her young son Agus were recently diagnosed HIV positive. How they hoped Wayan had contracted it (via her abusive and often missing husband) after her two older daughters were born as they had yet to be tested. 

And how when we arrive the ladies cleared the small space of dream catchers and fairy wings so I could offer them some things to help their bodies feel better and ways for them to share energy with each other. 

And how after I started putting my hands on the women, they went to gather children, Agus in his super hero shirt included, and how the children, the tiny children, surrendered themselves to me in a way I had never experienced and can't really even think about without crying.

And how no matter what, we all have something to give if we just show up.

Or when I slap the cable TV remote control into the palm of my hand for the 800th time rather than replace the stupid thing because I cannot quickly enough get to the re-runs of "my shows" that I  did not miss one bit while on the road for a month sans television, I can instead recall ...

Standing in the courtyard of Transitions' Dream Home, one of the girls shows me her notebook full of lyrics of popular American songs and proceeds to sing to me, sweeter than Celine Dion ever dreamed possible.

Far across the distance
And spaces between us
You have come to show you go on
Near, far, wherever you are
I believe that the heart does go on

There are a hundred more moments.

A Balinese taxi driver cupping a butterfly in the palm of his hands. Talking to a beautiful young woman who lost her mom last April. Staring into a terraced rice mountain/field trying to get a visual handle on the beauty with new friends. Sitting on a bench at the Killing Fields, learning about how a young, educated Cambodian woman processes this staggering human loss. Watching a Transitions' house mom wipe away tears as she reads a thank you note from one of the girls about how important she is. Seeing a day-old baby get his first bath in a free clinic for Balinese moms.

All of this has prepared me to be 100% present to new moments of beauty.

My mom's bald head and gorgeous blue eyes. Enjoying Capoeira with new and old friends. My son, happy. My dad, well.


The only thing I can offer to you is to suggest that the next time you travel, find a way to get off the beach or the mountain and spend a little time volunteering or learning about an NGO or non-profit in a new place. It is amazing how much we can do and how much we get back if we just show up.


Dream catcher materials!

Mums name their workshop space.

You have to understand that hair does weird stuff in hot tropics.

Wow.

Gathering for a True Body workshop.
Agus. My little love.
Sweetest little girl ever.

We learn how GOOD it feels when someone "has your back."

The gang at Sacred Childhoods Mums in Slums program.

Explaining about my hair. No, really, explaining how heavy the skull is. :)











Thursday, January 24, 2013

BAaaahhhhLI.

Deep breath in, deep breath out.

That's what this place is. Over and over and over again. Soul expanding, marrow loving, consciousness spinning, joy dancing lovefest. Bali.

I have to admit that after my not-even-very-long flights here from Cambodia, after clearing customs and sitting in a taxi for what seemed like an eternity in the now-dense Denpasar traffic, I thought, "This isn't worth it."

I thought, "I can't ask people to take a day and a half out of their lives just to get here for a restorative week this summer. It's too hard."I was thinking about my COME TO YOUR SENSES retreat in June. In my mind, it was a done deal. Find another spot. Mexico maybe. What the hell? Why not book it in Ohio? Same difference, really.

And then I got out of my taxi and walked down the lane to the sweet little Ubud Aura, a stone's throw away from the astounding Yoga Barn. Five minutes after I knew for sure I wasn't coming back, I became equally sure I didn't want to leave.

This. Place. Is. Magic.

For the last five days I have settled into a languid pace of living and breathing and connecting. I have had the cleanest more glorious food I have ever had. I have met inspiring new friends and a special tender soul.

The other day, I drank from a young coconut and had the feeling that I might never find the end of the quench. I kept drinking and drinking and drinking from the seemingly endless well of the fruit. A Bali minute later, I was settling deep deep deep into my joints in an open air Yin Yoga class, experiencing the same sense of endless wonder. After that, I sat in candlelight and watched a woman become ready to offer healing with the Tibetan bowls. It seemed an endless ritual and by the time she played the bowls directly above my head, I could see the stars in the deep space of my own consciousness.

Later I walked with a friend and we found a butterfly on the pavement, sprawled out in all its beauty. We took photos. A Balinese man joined us and we admired the beauty together. He held the butterfly and explained how he would place it in his taxi, an offering.

Happy birthday, indeed.

So for those of you who are thinking about joining me, do it. Your best self awaits you here. We will conspire to bring it out together but truth be told, you need only arrive. Bali will do the rest.

And know the journey to get here is just a metaphor for how long you have waited to feel this good.

Yoga studio view.

On the ground floor of the Yoga Barn.

Sweet Ubud Aura. Where I meet new traveling friends poolside over breakfast.

Sign for my weekend workshops!

Even my laptop gets a Frangipani offering.

Just an everyday thing of beauty right off the busy street.

The meditation spot, post massage.

The walkway to the rooms at the Ubud Bungalow - spot for COME TO YOUR SENSE in June.

Imagine. This is YOUR room.

This is your pool.

This is also your pool.
A day-old baby at a Maternal Health Clinic. We will bring supplies for the babies when we come.
Afternoon rain storm? Okay, I'll nap.

We find the butterfly.

A better photo will come soon.

An aside: I think I want a dog.

Random beauty. Just every darn place.

Close up! New baby. Held by healthy mom, thanks to the free clinic.






Monday, January 21, 2013

Yorn Chea's New School or How Travelers Support Travelers

It's a big, small world out there. Yorn Chea with map.

Last weekend, I had the opportunity to squeeze in a visit to Siem Reap (and a return to the serene RiverGarden!) to serve as courier for generous donations from Ohio-based friends to Yorn Chea's new school.

A bit of a background story first.

Many years ago, I went to visit one of my favorite travelers in the world in Columbus, Ohio. The inimitable Bruce French, activist, traveler, chef, was cooking for some rock band or another and I drove up to spend some time with him. We went to dinner with an old chum of his from grade school and his wife, Jamie Rhein. Jamie and I connected instantly. She is a bundle of hilarity and intelligence and goodwill. And she is also a lovely writer.

A couple of months ago, Bruce came back through Columbus while on the road as chef for the band Rush. So I went to visit again and we all had dinner again. I told Jamie of my upcoming trip and she rallied her Peace Corps Alum group in Columbus to donate $400 of their funds plus some cool maps to Yorn Chea in Cambodia. All of this happened with extraordinary ease and very little conversation.

I recounted the tale to Lisa Stegman who accompanied me last year on my Asia service trip. She gave me a sweet donation also to give to our mutual friend, Yorn Chea.

Fast forward to a week ago. I found out my brand new friend Tamara Duarte, whom I met NataRaj Yoga Studio in Phnom Penh, was going to be in Siem Reap. And then a few days later, we were wandering the back streets of Siem Reap with our monk friend to visit his new school. As it was a weekend, no students were there but we could just imagine the 150 children on the wooden benches working to learn English, French, math and computer skills.

I have had the opportunity to take on many different identities over the course of my life, but "traveler" is one that I treasure the most. I write this post from Bali, where I will enjoy a wander-about day with a new photographer friend I met at breakfast. Last night, at an open-air screening of a Spencer Tunick documentary, I ran into Sterling, a woman I met last year. And in a few days, I reconnect with Annie, another traveler and now Bali resident I also meet here last year.

There is an ease to the flow of connecting when you have not much of the familiar to ground you besides human contact. And once you have been out and about, particular in any sort of service capacity in developing countries, you feel compelled to either go back or give back.

So thanks to my fellow travelers and for those who work to make it easier for people like Yorn Chea to do his good work.

(And double special repeated thank you's to Jeff Syroney who made it possible for me to do my good work this year.)

Getting blessing from Yorn Chea!


Yorn Chea tells us about the blessing.

Yorn Chea and Tamara Duarte in one of the classrooms.

Tamara and Yorn.

Better view classroom.


Thursday, January 17, 2013

Dispatch from Phnom Penh

I tried to think of what to call this post to let you know in advance that it was not going to contain a cohesive narrative about my experiences thus far. This trip has been a particularly busy/wonderful/intense/thought-provoking/context-eluding/nurturing/depleting/heart-breaking/heart-warming mash up.

Dispatch implies I am sending this off with great speed, not enough time to process or fact-check the data. I can tell you some of the things I have done and seen and considered, but I sure can't tell you what any of it "means."

I have been in Phnom Penh for over a week now and am coming to the end of my time in this city. Today I spend the afternoon with the house moms and other direct care staff at Transitions, creating a restorative session for them. It is the last of my teaching/sharing encounters with clinical staff, girls, yoga teachers and new friends here this week. I move on to Siem Reap tomorrow and then on to Bali on Sunday. 

Here are some word illustrations of moments I do not want to forget, things I need to think about, and photo evidence of people, places and things. 

---

Sitting on the floor of Transition's Dream House playing a high speed game of Uno with several of the Transitions girls, being instructed several times not to forget to say "You Know!" when I am down to one card or else I will have to pick up another one. One of the sweetest of sweet girls sits next to me and watches our game, all smiles and light. I know from my work before that she was beaten so severely that she has permanent brain injury and struggles mightily in school and with all cognitive concepts.

---

Teaching ballet 101 to the girls (God I hope I got it right, ballet friends) plus a few hip hop show off moves (Gangnam style giddy-up maneuver can earn you major points, fyi) in order to get a return lesson of Khmer traditional dancing with its complicated hand gestures and strange off beat steps.

---

Asking a girl who I know from all three years of my work here to demonstrate with me what happens when we put our palms out to each other, a foot or so apart, and begin to come closer so we can sense the other person's energy. She so badly wants to look at people and can't bear to be looked at so just making eye contact is hard for her. As we got close, the feeling of the energy combined with her hypersensitivity made her literally recoil, as though I had zapped her with my super powers. 

---

Sitting in the Dream House kitchen, eating an incredible meal made specially for me by the house moms, watching the girls eat, while I was being watched by the house moms to make sure I loved the food. I did. 

---

Spending 6 hours with the Cambodian staff of Transitions learning and sharing about how the body holds stress. This was an incredible give and take and one of my most gratifying teaching experiences to date.

---

Working with the NataRaj teachers and junior teachers on a hot morning working on anatomy, posture, and movement concepts related to alignment and restoration related to stress and trauma. Leya's baby is sound asleep on a mat on the floor.


---

So many new friends!! Private sessions with Ayumi and Ruth and Gillian and Caroline, women I met in my first few days of workshops. It is a thrill to learn about how lives meander and conspire to bring us to where we are.

---

The past became present when an old friend messaged me that I should look up "Stony" if I am in Cambodia. I asked where he was. I was told "Equinox" - a club. I look it up. I am, literally, sitting next door to it. I walk over and voila, the 80s come full circle and we swap names and a few memories.

---

Sitting with Caroline and her research assistant at Cheong Elk, also known as the Killing Fields, where Caroline is doing her field research for her PhD on cultural responses to mass grave sites. She is an anthropologist so I got to play as one for the day as we sat, watched and shared thoughts and ideas with her young Khmer assistant. It was a fascinating, tip-of-the-iceberg sort of experience in thinking about how our minds work to make sense of things, including what is and is not inviolable, from our own cultural and narrative perspective and how complex it is to truly understand life and death.

---

Always, always, always: my mother on my mind. Thinking of the sanctity of bones, the in's and out's of life and death. Happy now to know she is with her sister sitting in the sun (well hopefully not IN the sun as it is not good cuz of the cancer treatments).

---

Whew!! Dad's surgery went great and he got more massage this week than I did, I hear!


---

I try to tell Cambodian pharmacist through my Pigeon English and miming movements: "My stomach hurts, need antacid." She hands me a pregnancy test."

---

I sat on a porch swing in the enclosed garden of the Dream House. A girl gave me a bracelet she made and another one braided my hair. The house mother told me I was beautiful and outlined on her own face why she thought so, tracing her eyebrows, cheeks, chin. They tell me 52 is so young!!

---

I share Reiki with so many this week, laying my hands on feet and heads and bellies and backs. I sense the energy of hope, of brokenness, and the broken hopeful. I feel courage and I give back my gratitude and love.


Early morning workshop on anatomy of stress and trauma with NataRaj teachers!

Leya's baby. This is the face you want to be looking at early on a Khmer Monday morning.

My host yoga studio in Phnom Penh.

My new pal Caroline and I at Cheong Elk.

Caroline and her assistant.

Bracelets left by visitors to one of the mass graves at the Killing Fields.

This tree was used for purposes of horror and brutality. Bracelets adorn it now.

Monks in morning on Street 278, Phnom Penh.

Color, symmetry, pretty things all in a row.

Small world story. I learn that "Stony", a  friend from the 80s (in case that nickname didn't give it away) works in Cambodia. I find out his club is a few feet away from where I am staying in Phnom Penh.