alchemy & the new squam…

*photo by bella cirovic

so, i’ve been away awhile…but with good reason. i’ve been studying alchemy!

elusive, magical, the sum greater than the parts…

but what do you call it when you transform gold into something more…? because the truth is, we weren’t starting with base anything. elizabeth had already spun silver, and gold, and crystal, and beauty and light.

but somehow *together* took us beyond-the-beyond of what any one of us might have done alone. and what we created…? wow. just wow. a newly designed site (thanks to an amazing web development team), a new store, a new blog where you can actually comment! (so, a new way to allow our community to connect and share). a place to tell your own story, more pictures, videos…and the raves? peruse those and understand why i might have gushed on and on about squam. it really is that good.

oh and the retreats, my lawd the retreats…we have four this year (yes FOUR!) – two in new hampshire, one here in the outer banks again, and….be still my pasta-lovin’ soul ITALY! (each with a whole lotta amazing teachers, new faces and faves from sessions passed).

it feels so good to be a part of this creative collaboration…i am humbled as i sit with these three women and dream up all the lovely we want to bring to you and watch it manifest due to our own unique strengths and talents. fascinating to watch each stand in the power of their light and discerning opinions and knowledge and offer it to the collective good. powerful stuff…very powerful stuff.

so come on over…we are ready for you!

squam: creativity as a way of life



i love that elizabeth lives in a town called Providence.

the word itself means the protective care of God or of nature as a spiritual power. woah. that’s a lot to live up to…

her new city was founded and named by roger williams, after he was banished from massachusetts bay colony for his religious beliefs. his beliefs? religious freedom and the separation of church and state. providence plantation, as he came to call it, became a refuge for those seeking asylum from religious persecution and the freedom to celebrate their higher power the way that felt best to them.

powerful stuff, no?

the first time i heard the word Providence was in an indigo girls song – prince of darkness. while i felt the powerful anthem aspect of the song and it moved me deeply as i was making my way through a challenging period in my twenties, re-reading the lyrics now i understand so much more the intention of the song. what i hear now is a woman discovering her own inner wisdom, her intuition. her dark night of the soul giving way to a clear understanding that she really does have all the support she needs – family, friends, spiritual beleifs. that she can trust. that she needs to listen to her gut and make those tough decisions – those huge, important, scary changes in her life…that she needs to move toward the light.

at the end of the song, the voice of that recognition and understanding makes a declaration of strength:

“my place is of the sun, and this place is of the dark
(my grace, my sight grows stronger, grows stronger)
i do not feel the romance, i do not catch the spark
(and i will not be a pawn to the prince of darkness any longer)”

all of that to say…Providence is intended to be safe haven for those seeking the light and I am so thankful that the spirit of my dear friend will be fed, nurtured and protected in that city. there is so much goodness to come…

~ lightseekers ~

the physics of expansion…

just a moment that caught my attention…

there have been countless moments lately when i look up at the clock expecting hours to have passed when in reality – it’s only been a few minutes.

when i seem to be able to lose myself to the drifting of clouds…

or the sound of a heavy summer rain…

or a snuggle with eli…

or preparing my dinner…

or a daily chat with elizabeth

or creating a painting…

or reading a book…

see, time expands when you don’t fill it with endless amounts of busy…i had no idea. i had believed that time expands when you fill it with as much as you can and then tick it off on your to-do list or your bucket list…done done done. but i was wrong. so wrong.

earlier this year, when i traveled to indonesia i had such a hard time being on vacation. the downtime was incredibly hard for me with the lack of purpose, and the uprootedness of being away from home and my routines…i knew there was something to look at in all of that and mainly it stemmed from one uncomfortable emotion: guilt

so as i’ve been in transition this summer, having left my day job to take a leap and pursue a life more aligned with my values and dreams, i’ve somewhat slowly given myself permission to take this month “off” and allow my life to become empty…to not fill the white space in order avoid feeling discomfort or boredom and to see what shows up…

and i’ve discovered the ability to see again. really see – it’s as though my eyes had been cloudy and now there is a brightness and sharpness to my vision. greens are more green, the world is just…vivid. and because of that, it makes me want to look more closely, more often, more deeply. to study the contours and patterns of life…

i’m teaching yoga again regularly and stretching my wings leading a level II class which really challenges me. i’m seeking ways to explain skillfully and artfully how to mindfully enter more advanced postures. i’ve realized i haven’t given my students enough credit, and they are ready and wiling to be pushed a bit more than i thought. simultaneously, my own practice has become a fixture again in my routines. one of the things that had been sitting heavily on me while in bali and after was this thought that maybe i was done with yoga? it held no joy for me, i didn’t seek it out, and i rarely rolled out my mat. i think between working so much at my day job and running the studio plus the myriad other projects i had going on, i had just completely burned out. i had so much guilt around my lack of interest in yoga…and i’ve come to acknowledge and accept that we all wax and wane – but the yoga is always there, loyal and waiting for me to rediscover it. which i have and it’s better that ever.

i started painting again. this has been another source of guilt…as a pleasure delayer, the art always comes last after filling every last moment of my day with the things i “should” be doing, as such there was never enough time to be creative. with the space this month i’ve actually planted flowers, built a cool little display for all my earrings out of an old window from india, i’ve started a vision board…and i’ve got all my paints and brushes out and they are being used…i have three canvases leaning against the wall in my home studio and by having all my stuff out it’s really easy to just do something here and there, or spend hours working on something…whichever moves me.

and i’ve been doing a lot of thinking about, shopping for and creating healthy meals…most of the meals the past year have been out. grabbing lunch on the way back from a meeting, or grabbing a lunch meeting, pizza, the local hangouts…literally every day because it was too exhausting to think about planning and cooking. now…i’m in love with salads, and buddha bowls (and kris carr’s crazy sexy diet has been a huge inspiration), healthy smoothies, and loads of water with lemon (and a bit of wine too!). mostly i’m just really enjoying the time spent nourishing my body…

mornings are the sweetest time for me…i teach every morning and wake up a full two hours early (which means 5:30am sometimes!) just so that i can really enjoy the beauty of the quiet mornings…a small cup of coffee, my journal and a front row seat for the light show as the sun rises on the dune that is my front yard.

and i really do know how utterly blessed i am to have this time to allow this space. i am so so grateful…everyday i am grateful…every time i look up at the clock and see i still have the day ahead of me i am grateful…every time i bow to my students at the end of my classes i say…thank you for sharing this with me. thank you for co-creating this experience. every time an osprey flies by overhead carrying a fish i say thank you…and also to the rainbow i saw this morning, and the sunshowers, and to simone who woke me with her purring today, and to eli’s pthalo turquoise tail, to elizabeth‘s bliss in her new apartment, to my girls, to my muse, to time and vision and all of it…thank you.

thank you.

thank you…


oh, and sweet MB (a beautiful, inspiring yoga teacher out in the venice/santa monica area) featured me on her blog recently… check it out…and keep going back, she shares so much loveliness there.

jen gray moves me like an earthquake…

i love the way she sees the world…as though her heart were her eyes…and i count my blessings every day that she is in my life.

*poem by Hafiz
* song by Stephanie Dosen, “By and By,” A Lily for the Spectre


deanna’s waterfall and swimmin’ hole… in fact she’s got two…

i never really knew what this word meant: sublime.

i’ve likely used it. i like the band. i would nod knowingly when someone described something as sublime…but until tonight i think i’ve never really understood the feeling (though sitting here now i can think of a few nights or elephant gray mornings that compare)…

this evening, the sun low in the sky, the smoke from the lighting fire that is still burning the peat in the swamp called alligator on the mainland creating a filter, a haze to the light. dinner was cooking, i was showered, the house was quiet as bryan is away. a chilled glass of wine, the front porch, simone and eli quietly at my feet… and there it was…the sublimeness. the absolute utter peacefulness. the feeling that i’m going to be ok. better — that all is right in the world for that very moment, a stillness, a oneness…

i took a deep breath, i wished i was sharing it with you…and i let it be.

so proud…

my friend christine has been working on a fun book project for the past year. while she simultaneously incubated a baby (little vijay was born in october), she was traveling around new england finding cute little markets to photograph and write about.

amazing… i can barely get off my island at times and here she was with her gorgeous swelling belly on a long road trip. her book is called Markets of New England.

she gave us this sneak peek recently and it is gorgeous. (and yes that’s my beloved squam in the third photo). she is a self-taught photographer and a terrific writer and i just can’t wait to hold her book in my hands. if you have any connection to new england or just want to be inspired by gorgeous writing and photos you can pre-order it on amazon…

now if i can only get her to do one about north carolina so i can tag along as her navigator!

gosh i’m like a proud momma…

p.s. civi – she has CHICKENS!


this island has so many words running around in my head that i can’t think straight

so many questions…of the existential kind

and many beginning with “why?”

and lines of poetry, and the beginnings of chapters in novels

but mostly

…so many questions.

this island has reduced me to a bawling heap of fearful tears…

and induced complete loss of self awareness through laughter with little sea urchins who have absolutely nothing.


nothing but their single dirty and ripped t-shirt with no pants or vice versa

and their wide smiles.

and their hope that i’ll have some treasure for them in my heavier-than-comfortable bag of stuff i think i need.

a pen.

or the barrette in my hair.

an unfair trade for what they gave me.

nomi & inie


HARMONY Deer Art Print

harmony deer by pixie campbell

the original of this piece of pixie’s hangs on my wall. it spoke loudly to me when i saw it in person in september of 09. little did i know the magic it would bring in to my life for 2010. this is the reading that acoompanied it:

Deer bridges the gap between domestic and wild. He lures us to exciting new quests. Because Deer is known for gentleness, he reminds us to be in peaceful communion with ourselves as we embark upon a new aspect of the journey. Growth with Deer is about seeking harmony with ourselves and our environment; about allowing mistakes, as we wander the forest of our inner creative process. Deer medicine suits those who tend toward self-criticism or harshness with others. His is a call to healthy communication and compassion. Deer is a very important ally when fear would keep one from adventure.

last year, my word was awake…it came on the heels of the pain of watching my sweet little duncan fade from view until he stepped over into the invisible.  beyond that, i had been in a fog for a couple of years (she says with the clarity of hindsight). heavy and dense it settled on me tinged with fear, confusion and insecurity about life, love, my path, my gifts, my purpose…an existential crisis, dare i say a mid-life crisis, as in 2010 –  i turned 40. nothing like having that socio-cultural guillotine looming over your head to make you get down to the nitty gritty, no b.s. soul-work, right?

then sometime in january or february, i started some anusara yoga training and it was there that the concept of “unmesha” was introduced to me:

Examine the three energies that comprise our Yoga,
contractive, expansive and equanimous.

These pulsations
inward and outward
lead us to stillness for moments at a time.
This occurs on every level; pose, practice, life.

In Sanskrit, this pulsation is called SPANDA,

and the three energies are called
nimesha, unmesha and sthira, respectively.
“…stability, the point or place at which
there is a calm, strong, stable potential,
where neither and both are fully present– that is sthira
like the eye of a hurricane, the space between the breaths:
still, but alive and moving.” (from elena brower, vira yoga)

i recognized that i had been deep in a place of nimesha, inward, inward, inward focused energy and to find balance i needed to practice unmesha – the outward expansion.

unmesha fit in well with awake and i quietly added that to my intention for 2010…awaken and expand.

and boy did i ever – i started moving out of my cozy little rut, i traveled to brazil, continued with the anusara training, taught at both june and september squam art workshops, volunteered at the mountain photo festival lookbetween in charlottesville virginia, co-hosted bringing ashtangi david williams here to the outer banks, ran workshops for photographer david alan harvey, squam goddess elizabeth and i co-hosted a magical squam by the sea here in nags head, i collaborated with keely at savvy home to offer a seasonal second location for my yoga studio, and the studio grew for the first time in 3 years (even in the recession!), and my working relationship with my major client was fun and fulfilling.

most importantly, i made some rich and honest friendships along the way, deepened my ongoing relationships, and continued on my path of self-inquiry.

i haven’t talked about it here, but i had an awakening, a shift in september sitting alone on the dock at squam lake and in the days that followed at elizabeth’s beautiful healing space on the farm. since the magic of that window of time, for the first time in my life, i have woken up happy every day. in short, i finally got it. i woke up to the reality that abundance and beauty were all around me and in many ways they always were.  i just couldn’t see it.

and the key to it all? gratitude. gratitude is the antidote to fog.

as is often the case, the solution was so, so simple. i have found this place of happiness because the ticker-tape in my head that used to stream endless miseries, has been replaced by a litany of things i am thankful for…that is not to say that the unfortunate realities of a human existence don’t come into play, there have been hardships, emotions, grief and conflict to navigate. but when these things appear, i have a new and different perspective. stable footing. sthira.

so thank you…thank you all for being a part of my journey, thank you for visiting me here, thank you for commenting, thank you for supporting me, the studio, the workshops. thank you for filling my life with laughter and your stories. thank you for your love, your kindness, your creativity. thank you for inspiring me. thank you.

thank you.

thank you.

i’ve yet to settle fully into my word for 2011…but thoughts on that coming soon.