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How to Find your “Peaceful Place” by Trying Something Challenging: Yoga on a Paddleboard

As a creative person with a busy life, where do you go to relax, unwind, and let ideas flow?

Practicing yoga on a paddleboard in the middle of the Long Island Sound is how my friend Michelle does it.  It’s one thing for most of us just not fall off the board into the water, but moving through sun salutations, hanumanasana, and headstands is a whole other story.

Or is it? “Trying something challenging is a way to find your peaceful place,” says Michelle, yoga teacher and owner of Shore Thing Rentals in Glen Cove, Long Island.

It can be difficult to maintain steadiness during balancing poses in a yoga class, but what if there are waves moving you too? There is no wall to hold on to. There is no teacher in the room and no one next to you on your mat. It’s just you and the board. Somehow the flow of the water aligns with the water in your body and before you know it, you are balancing with the wild current.

Michelle on Sea...
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Weather-Eye: Starting Summer with Boats and Two Poems by Peter Vanderberg

Pete Vanderberg knows the sea and he knows his way around the page too. He writes about family, the Long Island beaches, and sailing, but there’s a flavor that comes from his experience serving in the US Navy that makes this book so unique.

Peter Vanderberg and I went to grad school together (disclaimer) and I have always loved these poems. It is wonderful to see them come alive in print.  Weather-Eye is a physically beautiful book. It is a collaboration of paintings by his artist brother, James Vanderberg, and poems by Peter. 

I am grateful that he is allowing me to share two favorites with you.  Take this book with you to the beach this summer. It will change the way you see the tides. 

– Stefanie 

 

Splice

Father with three sons in a sailboat,
minds’ eyes in four directions
until drawn in to a rope turned line
by his word & the bay beneath us.

Difference between a knot & tangle
is the knot will hold & easily...

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If You Can’t Change the World, Change Your Lens [Writing Prompt #256]

I mistakenly thought my friend was taking pictures of her toes. She had her feet up on the front seat’s armrest and her phone held up to her face while she reclined in back. We were on a three hour car trip upstate and I was learning all about Snapchat.

Snapchat (for those of you who have been living under a rock like me) is an app where you can add filters to a photo of someone so that they look like a member of the band KISS or have a jaw that is wider than a face. You can add flowers and face paint.

My friend took this pink floral filter of me (above). I loved the flowers dancing over my head! It made me think of the day before our trip when we sat by the hotel pool at the place where I teach yoga. A guest came up to us and asked if we wanted to try his “color blind” glasses. Of course, we did.

The glasses made the trees greener and the sky bluer. The pale pink flowers were now fuchsia. I didn’t want to give the glasses back. But I did.

Now it is Monday,...

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OFF THE YOGA MAT: A novel excerpt by Cheryl J. Fish

Nathaniel and Gil entered the stark warehouse below Canal Street; sage-scented fumes engulfed them and new age music droned.  A hand-written placard listed all the sample sessions

“I’ll grab a shot of wheatgrass juice and check out Sufi dancing,” Gil said. “You can go  for a chakra consultation.”

“What’s a chakra?” Nate asked.

“They come in many colors,” Gil said, walking away.

Before Nate could decide which session he’d tolerate, a woman with red bangs and toned arms handed him a mat. “Don’t be shy,” she said.  “I’m Lulu.  Welcome to yoga.”

Nathaniel noted her light brown complexion and a curl adhered to her forehead; some kind of green-and-black tattoo shimmied below her shoulder blade.  He decided it was a large frog.

“I’m not a yoga guy,” he said, shrugging.

“Come on in. You’re on the path.” She smiled and held open...

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Steady, My Gaze: Why You Should Read This Book by Marie-Elizabeth Mali

Like the glowing match on its cover, Marie-Elizabeth Mali’s book, Steady, My Gaze, is spiritual chiaroscuro, a quiet conversation between light and darkness. Reading Steady, My Gaze, makes me feel as if I’m on retreat. I’m uplifted one moment, carried away in gorgeous imagery and masterful writing, and then slammed by reality in the next. Although, in these poems, the slamming is beautiful too.

“Silent Retreat,” The final section, is among my favorite. The words of Adyashanti, the retreat leader, are threaded throughout each poem. “The image you have of yourself/ is unworthy because it’s an image,/ unreal. You interpret it to mean/ you are unworthy, but it’s the image/ that’s unworthy, not you.”  The next stanza is in the speaker’s voice, “Resonant body strings, our sitting/ thrums the room./ At the back of the hall, a toilet/ flushes like thunderclap.”  Such is life; the...

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Living the Intention in a Room of Your Own (AROHO): Writing on Georgia O’Keeffe’s Ghost Ranch

intention setting writing Sep 01, 2013

All I wanted was a week to write without getting up to walk the dogs, sit in traffic, clean the kitchen, or answer the phone. I had work to do and it wasn’t getting done. A writer friend told me about AROHO (A Room of Her own). She said it was a writing organization for women and that I should apply for their retreat on Georgia O’Keefe’s “Ghost Ranch” in New Mexico. It sounded fantastic. It was fantastic. I didn’t know that it would change my life.

It has been over one month since I left the desert but I’m still adjusting. It’s a good life here in NY, but I miss sunset colored mountains and breathing in readings and workshops all day long.  I bonded with more women in one week than I had during the past decade. If you met them, you would see how such a thing can be possible. We were in synch.

I took a small group poetry workshop with Evie Shockley.  I’m a fan, so of course it was very...

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“Oh, No, Don’t Work Us Too Hard Now!” Words in Motion: On Teaching Creative Writing and Yoga to Senior Citizens by Melanie Pappadis Faranello

When I arrived at Federation Square, an independent living facility for senior citizens, I went to the dining hall and began arranging the chairs in a circle for our first class. The Connecticut Humanities Council’s Center for the Book approved my proposal for a course combining creative writing with yoga and I was excited to see how it would go.
When the seniors arrived and took their seats, I explained that our regular chair yoga that I had previously taught to many of them would be a little different this time around, that we would also be doing some creative writing together. I was met with blank stares and concerned looks. “Writing?!” one woman exclaimed, “Oh, no, don’t work us too hard now!”
We began with our usual mediation and then I explained we were going to begin warming up our minds with our first creative writing exercise. In the spirit of Yoga, meaning union, we were going to be exercising our bodies and our minds.
After...
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How to Find Your “One True Voice” by Barbara Joy Beatus

In honor of National Novel Writing Month, we have a terrific guest blogger! Enjoy some wisdom from writer and yoga instructor, Barbara Joy Beatus, and good luck to everyone who is writing 50,000 for NaNoWriMo. – S. Lipsey

 
My friend once read a first draft of a novel I wrote and mentioned how it sounded like me. “What do you mean?” I asked her, surprised. But she couldn’t explain it. It was something she just felt. I only understood what she meant after I read a close friend’s novel and felt the same way. There was a texture, a quality, to her writing that sounded like her. Most of the time it was covered up by the voices of the characters, but every so often it would peek out from certain phrases and I’d smile to myself.
 
Literary critics often herald voice as the distinguishing characteristic of writers. They say things like, “her voice was so unique” or “the plot had problems, but his voice was...
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