Happy New Year and Welcome to 2017!

I write this on the first morning of 2017, waking up early and surprisingly optimistic in the face of so many troubling and destructive events that are now present in our country and world.

Entering the sacred space of my meditation seat, I welcomed in the energies that would serve me best in the new year. I welcomed in clarity, strength of heart, the courage of my convictions, gratitude, and the resolve to be truthful on all levels with myself. To not only be flexible and strong in body but also in mind, and to live deeply from Spirit. I resolved to listen to my own compassionate and intelligent wisdom that drowns out the negative sound of critical judgment. My intention is to do my best to stay steady within myself, above the harmful emotional fray in the political arena, and observe the wildness, the craziness from a position of power where it cannot feed on me.

Following my 40 minutes of meditation, I felt strong, centered, open and ready to face whatever challenges 2017 will hold.  In the last few minutes of practice, my orange tabby Molly jumped up in my lap, purring away, reminding me of my intimate and loving connection with the animal world and all they bring to us.

Meditating kitty

Meditating kitty

I continue to live in two wonderful worlds, on the Eastern and Western Shores of MD. Teaching my three classes at Willow Street Yoga in Takoma Park, seeing private yoga and meditation students, and playing with five of our seven grandkids each week is a total joy.  Only an hour and a half away is much more rural Oxford, surrounded by water on three sides, with good friends and a slower and more natural pace of life. I cherish my long walks or bike and kayak rides and watching the occasional eagle and the geese migrate each year. I teach two classes in Oxford as well, and still find my role as a yoga teacher to be creative, fun and rewarding. I know that is a great blessing.

img_3636

Oxford at sunset

Recently we went up to Stowe, VT to celebrate the 70th birthday of one of John’s sisters, which was a total blast. John comes from a close-knit family, the oldest of six siblings who still love to be together for family reunions and special occasions. Both his sisters and I skied for much of the day in soft new fallen snow, and it was indeed a winter wonderland. I had not skied for at least 35 years, and was very pleasantly surprised that I could still, after a bit of practice, go down an intermediate slope without a spill. It was a fantastic combination of exhilaration and natural beauty that will stay in my memory bank for a long time.

IMG_2054

Maria and I

I am excited about my upcoming annual yoga events with dear colleagues and close friends. At the end of this month Maria Hamburger and I will be teaching our second annual Jamaica Yoga Vacation. We just had two unexpected cancellations due to injuries, so we have two rooms available, which I will discount should anyone want to be a last minute sign up!!  The dates are January 28-February 4.  Please click here for brochure and registration form.

Betsey Downing and I will be again be teaching a mini Women’s Retreat at Kripalu in Lenox, MA, from May 18-May 21. We will practice Cultivating Courage and Compassion as our retreat theme. More information on that by clicking here. Spring is fantastic in the Berkshires and it will be in beautiful early bloom at this time.

Betsey & I

Betsey & I

Betsey and I will also be offering our annual Spirited Women’s Retreat at Meadowkirk Retreat Center at Delta Farm, near Middleburg, Virginia from Monday August 7 to Monday August 14th.  It is only about an hour from the Washington DC area.  More details by clicking here.

I am very excited to be leading a Yoga Retreat in October 2017 in Umbria, Italy. The dates are October 18 to 26, though we and many are already planning to tag on some extra days for sight seeing!  You can read all about it and sign up by clicking here.  I am taking 25 participants total, (non-yogis welcome), and already have 18 or 19 signed up, so don’t wait too long!

Retreat spot in Italy!

Retreat spot in Italy!

 

 

 

 

I wish each of you a hopeful, joyful, and peaceful entry into 2017.  May we all have the strength of heart, the steadiness of mind, the clarity of vision and the courage of our convictions to face the challenges that will undoubtedly arise, and indeed are already present. May we each find a way to contribute to a cause for justice, for combating climate change, for more kindness and inclusivity, and to keep our hearts open in the face of resistance and struggle.

 

Let our New Year’s resolution be this: We will be there for one another as fellow members of humanity, in the finest sense of the word.

~Goran Persson

If you asked me for my New Year Resolution, it would be to find out who I am.”

~Cyril Cusack

Year’s end is neither an end nor a beginning but a going on, with all the wisdom that experience can instill in us. Cheers to a new year and another chance for us to get it right.

~Oprah Winfrey

We are not held back by the love we didn’t receive in the past, but by the love we’re not extending in the present.

~Marianne Williamson

 

 

Happy New Year!

 

Warm Summer 2016 greetings!

My two week sojourn on the midcoast of Maine is drawing to a close. As I look out from my cabin porch into the vastness of sea and sky, I am filled with as much awe and gratitude as I was in 1996 when I first started coming to Greenwoods. Though I haven’t returned each and every year, when I walk onto the deck of “my” Mountain Spruce cabin overlooking the Penobscot Bay far below, it’s indeed a coming home – a coming home to my heart above all. (See photos from this beautiful space in the bar to the right!)

It is not only an awesome place of beauty but a haven to reconnect and source Spirit within and without. Settling into the profound quiet of the woods, waking to the pungent smells of pine and spruce, swimming in the chilly Penobscot Bay or resting by a clear lake, hiking the Camden Hills or scrambling over the huge rocks below me, eating the most delicious lobster rolls ever  – these are all experiences that continually open me to Spirit and expand my awareness of the Infinite.

As I head back in a couple of days to the busy-ness of my life which I also love and am ever grateful for, I know I will take much of the stillness and silent Presence that is so profound here. How can I not? That very same silent Presence is who we are under the noise of the mind and the bustle of our lives. As we begin to live and abide more and more in this eternal wakefulness, separation and division begin to drop away. An intimacy with all things, a quiet happiness and sense of peace pervade, even under whatever turmoil may arise. And yes, it still arises!

I look forward to sharing what I’ve gained here with our Spirited Women in our upcoming retreat on Emerald Isle, NC, in the latter part of August. This will be our tenth SWR with my dear friend and political and climate savy colleague Betsey Downing. It is so inspiring for us to be with amazing women each year and learn, love and evolve from our shared strength together. For more information on this, please click here. (and we do have one shared space left!)

Fall will bring yet another change to my schedule at Willow Street, as John and I make our slow transition to Oxford on the Eastern Shore of MD. I gave up my Yoga 3 class last Winter Session and beginning in the Fall Session I will give up my Monday night Silver Spring Yoga 1 class. That will mean I spend 5 nights in Oxford and two in Silver Spring. No plans to give up my remaining three classes in Takoma Park for some time however, as we also get to spend time with the grandkids on Tuesday and Wednesday. I will also be teaching a 6-week special on Core and More in the Fall after my Yoga 1/2 on Tuesday evenings. Please go to www.willowstreetyoga.com for information onlots of great classes and opportunities. And thank you Joe and Natalie for all you continue to do to make Willow Street Yoga a warm and welcoming school of excellent alignment-based yoga.

On the Eastern Shore I will begin 8 week sessions of both Beginning and Intermediate classes on Saturdays at the Oxford Community Center. Oxford continues to bring us peace and joy, both in the wonderful friendships we’ve cultivated, and being in a more natural environment. We still love kayaking and biking everywhere, as well as getting out on the rivers in our old 17’ Boston Whaler Newport. For Oxford class times and dates, please click here!

I will celebrate my 72nd birthday in October, and gratitude overflows for a healthy body and fairly sound mind on most days!! Good genes play a part for sure, but my continued yoga and meditation practice are the key. After almost 40 years of practice, it still holds magic for me. I am still blown away by how even 20 minutes can shift me back from forgetfulness to remembrance. This Presence or Awakefullness, the I Am, Consciousness, the Divine…so many names for our own true nature which can never leave as it is what we are. It is human nature to forget and to let the ego run the show. It is our practice that brings us back again and again.

2017 will bring our annual Jamaican Yoga Vacation. It will be the second year for Maria Hamburger and I to lead a group to the Cliffs of Negril. We will be at Sunset on the Cliffs from January 28 to February 4, where we will do asana, meditate, swim, eat great food, laugh, dance and joyfully celebrate ourselves and each other. Rooms go quickly so register early by clicking here!

Betsey Downing and I will be giving our 2017 Spirited Women’s Retreat in the summer again and are finalizing plans for it now. It looks like it may be very convenient, in Northern Virginia at a wonderfully inviting retreat center. More info on this to come soon!!

And then because, as it turns out, it looks like I have really no retirement plans, I’ve decided to take a group to Italy in October of 2017. This will be an adventure in Food, Wine and Yoga and it may not necessarily be in that order. It can actually be in whatever order you prefer!!! (LOL) We be in the beautiful countryside of Umbria, where one of my former teacher trainees and a long time Willow Street student, now lives. I must say he has made this so easy, I couldn’t refuse!! The day trips will be fabulous and are all included. It is a great price, especially if you’re an early bird. Click here for more info and registration form!

One more thing. It’s an historic political year. More is at stake in whom we support for President than at any other time in our lives. Our children and grandchildren will be most adversely affected by climate disruption, but all our lives will be impacted by the leadership of the next 4 or 8 years. As President Obama so succinctly put it in his amazing speech at the DNC, “Don’t boo, Vote!” But do more than vote – donate, volunteer, knock on doors in PA where it’s needed, make calls, drive people to the polls, help in any way you can to get the vote out.  I know some of you are not overly enamored with Hillary. But hold your nose, do whatever it takes to ensure Donald Trump does not become our next President. Know you’re voting for the greater good, and know that a vote for the Libertarian Party or for Jill Stein (and I do like her platform) is a vote for Trump. They are not viable candidates – it’s that simple.

I will leave you with a poem that I read for my Dad’s eulogy. He was instrumental in my life for showing me by his example how to live from love rather than fear. He died on Thanksgiving Day morning in 1995. I think these words apply more than ever today.

The Choice for Love ~ Emmanuel

“What does the voice of fear
whisper to you?

Fear speaks to you
in logic and reason.
It assumes the language
of love itself.

Fear tells you,
“I want to make you safe.”
“You are safe.”

Fear says,
“Give me symbols.
Give me something
I can rely on.”

Loving truth says,
“Only give me
this moment.”

Fear would walk you
on a narrow path
promising to take you
where you want to go.

Love says,
“Open your arms
and fly with me.”

Every moment of your life
you are offered the opportunity
to choose–
love or fear,
to tread the earth
or to soar the heavens.”

And Love Trumps Fear every time!

 

Happy Holidays in this Winter of 2015

IMG_1999Dear Students and Friends,

I hope this finds you healthy and happy this holiday season, and enjoying your yoga practice which certainly helps us remain healthy and happy as the years pass. I’m seeing that very clearly, as I recently celebrated my 71st birthday, and also welcomed our seventh grandchild into the world!

The holiday season in all spiritual traditions and religions comes back to what Yoga is really about, Love. Love of Self, Love of Other. To open our hearts with more and more compassion, tolerance and understanding in these challenging times is what our practice invites us to do. It’s much easier to close down and ignore or deny the pain and fear in the world, living happily in our own personal little bubble. Yet that is neither honest nor useful.  To take the fearlessness, confidence and acceptance we find on the mat and channel it into a cause that is meaningful and inspiring to each of us is to contribute to making our world a better place.

My colleague and dear friend Betsey Downing and I shared an incredibly meaningful time in Maya Tulum, Mexico with a group of inspirational women who are doing some amazing things in the world, on our annual Spirited Women’s Retreat. It was a time to share and discuss and be inspired by each other in so many wonderful ways.  We will be staying in the U.S. next year, on Emerald Isle on the coast of North Carolina at Trinity Center. The dates will be August 21-August 28, and we are in the midst of doing the brochure now which should be on our websites by January 1.

Coming up in February are not one, but two yoga retreats to Jamaica!  I am excited about doing my first retreat with my friend and awesome Willow Street  yoga teacher extraordinaire, Maria Hamburger.  Maria graduated from one of my earliest Teacher Trainings, in 2002, and has gone on to study and explore the therapeutic aspects of yoga, as well as specialize in yoga for MS and Parkinson’s Disease. Her teaching is direct and precise, as well as creative and exploratory. And fun!  The retreat is January 30-February 6, at Sunset on the Cliffs and you can download the brochure from this site.  And then more fun two weeks later, when Moses Brown and I will be doing our 12th Jamaica Yoga Vacation back at the Negril Escape. The dates are February 13-Feb. 21.  Moses teaches with a wonderful combination of humor and love. You can download both brochures with registration forms from this site. Each retreat will be a great respite  from the February chill, and non-yogi spouses are welcome.

Betsey and I will also be doing our annual 4 day mini-Spirited Women’s Retreat for women 45 and older at Kripalu Holistic Health Center in Lenox, MA.  The dates are April 28-May 1; more information is on this site.  Our intention is to encourage and inspire all of us to step into our greatness as wild, wonderful & wise women!

I continue to enjoy splitting my time between teaching at Willow Street Yoga Center and Oxford, MD on the Eastern Shore. We now have a wonderfully dedicated group of Eastern Shore yogis and yoginis that is growing each year. Wherever did I get the idea that I was even going to “semi-retire?”  But I can’t imagine ever stopping. I also love my Hospice work in Easton, Md that is tremendously rewarding. We are blessed to be close to five of our seven grandchildren who we see in each week on the Western Shore.

I wish you all the happiest of holidays. May you experience the love, compassion and abundance of the season. May you grow closer to the Grace that each day offers and may you offer back that Grace in a meaningful way. My very best to each of you, may you prosper and grow in every way in 2016.

Namaste with Love,

Suzie

 

Summer 2015 is Flying By!

suzie_fbDear Friends and Students,

Well, we seemed to have the Winter that would never end, and tho Spring was late, it was more than welcome, and now the heat and humidity of Summer is upon us.  I’ll happily take it!  I hope this finds you having summer adventures and/or some great relaxing beach time or whatever makes you happy.

Happiness is such a choice isn’t it? My great friend and colleague Betsey Downing is now reading a book entitled ”     “.  I remember when I turned 50, I made a conscious decision to be happy, and to always bring an element of fun into whatever endeavor I embarked on.  Life is too short to do anything else. I believe that the purpose of our life is to awaken, enjoy and learn from our experiences. We’re not helping anyone by being miserable. Events need not determine whether or not you’re going to be happy, they’re just events. You alone determine that! Michael Singer, in The Untethered Soul, says, “if you decide that you’re going to be happy from now on for the rest of your life, you will not only be happy, you will become enlightened. Unconditional happiness is the highest technique there is.”  Yes, of course, we will be challenged, the test of our commitment is exactly what stimulates spiritual growth. Singer goes on to say, “in fact it is the unconditional aspect of your commitment to be happy that makes this the highest path. You get to decide whether or not you will break your vow.”  Simple but not easy, but what in life that is truly meaningful is easy?

And speaking of some great events coming up to help your happiness quotient, the first being Betsey Downing’s and my workshop at Willow Street Yoga on Sunday July 26 for women of all ages, “Honoring the Divine Feminine.” Click on the link here to know more!  Before our workshop Betsey will give a free lecture on Climate Change on Friday night and how we can help, and on Saturday will give two more powerful workshops.

And for all you women over 45 we are about half full for our annual Spirited Women’s Retreat in  Maya Tulum, Mexico this coming October. This is our 8th retreat and second year at the beautiful Maya Tulum Resort. We liked it so much last year, everyone wanted to go back again! Please click here on the link here to download a brochure with all the details and registration form. Don’t wait too long though, as we have to release our extra rooms by the end of August, so please get your deposit in by Aug. 15.

And if you’re not looking forward to another cold snowy wet winter, plan to take a break in February with either a Jamaica vacation with Maria Hamburger and me from January 30 to February 6, or  with Moses and me from February 13-21.  Click on links to learn more here!

My husband John and I will be happily embarking on a Windstar Cruise to the Scandinavian countries in July and then after four years, in August, I will be returning to Northport, Maine for a two week personal retreat in my little rented rustic cabin, Mt. Spruce which overlooks the beautiful Penobscot Bay. Summer is flying by, and we want to make every moment count.

I’m still loving teaching my five classes at Willow Street but also doing some workshops and series of classes in Oxford, Md. where our retirement home is. Our little yoga kula there has grown to about 20 dedicated and wonderful practitioners, some of whom are coming to our Mexico Retreat this year!  Very rewarding and fulfilling for me in many ways as we continue to make dear friends at this stage in our lives. And the four grand girls keep us busy and entertained on our days on the Western Shore!  We celebrated our oldest grandson, Jody’s High School graduation not long ago, and are so proud of him for receiving a full tuitional scholarship to the Berklee School of Music in Boston. And his younger brother Reid, has a beautiful voice, is in Chorus and also plays a mean violin.

So as they say in Jamaica, (and I say often!), “Don’t worry, Be Happy” and have an awesomely wonderful and happy Summer,

In Love,  Suzie

10687106_10203972350961627_9066031462283181895_n

 

 

 

Happy New Year 2015

IMG_5055 Dear Students and Friends,

I hope you and your families had a joyful and meaningful holiday season.  May the beauty and love that is generated from gathering together this time of year hold us as we venture forward into a new year, one that may be full of mystery or dedicated to a specific personal vision.  Or maybe a little of both!  I continue to enjoy my “split time” between the Eastern Shore (Oxford, MD), and Takoma Park, and am now teaching a class on Sat. mornings at the Oxford Community Center which is also a wonderful way of making new friends with common interests. I don’t know what 2015 holds for me as yet, but I remain open and eager for new discoveries.  One of the most exciting things I did in October of 2014 was to jump out of an airplane for my 70th!  It was definitely thrilling, and helped me overcome my fear of heights that was getting stronger as I was getting older!!  Very glad to still be able to take risks and step into my fears!!

Moses Brown and I will soon be celebrating our 11th year of teaching together on the cliffs of Negril in Jamaica. It is one of the most fun and financially viable yoga vacations ever, and we still have just one more space for a yogi or yogini!  Not a bad getaway from the February winter chill!  The dates are Jan. 31-Feb. 8, and non-yogi spouses are welcome. You can download a brochure with registration form from this site.

Betsey Downing and I had a total blast with 26 of the most inspirational Spirited Women on our sixth annual Spirited Women’s Retreat near Tulum, Mexico. The highlights were wonderful discussions, renewing and making new friendships, some great trips, and of course the unforgettable Mayan Belly Massages!  O, and the yoga wasn’t half bad either!  Next years dates are October 24-31 so mark your calendars.  We will be at the beautiful Maya Tulum Resort on the same incredible beach we were this year. We will hold the numbers to 36  and registration will open March 24 and first come, first served. The brochure should be available to download by early February.

Betsey and I will also be doing our annual 4 day mini-Spirited Women’s Retreat for women 45 and older at Kripalu Holistic Health Center in Lenox, MA.  The dates are April 2-5 over Easter weekend; more information is on this site.  Our intention is to encourage and inspire all of us to step into our greatness as wild, wonderful & wise women!

We are also ruminating about giving an online meditation course. Both of us have had committed meditation practices for over 35 years, and think we might have a little to share in this direction as well.  We are both being drawn to teaching more meditation in all of our workshops and we feel the time is now, because we are at such a delicate balance with world and planetary issues. Not that we can meditate or transcend them away, or even want to, but from a deep and committed meditation practice, we can be more effective activists as we make a more and more healthy engagement in the world.

And then there is The Kindred Spirits Reunion on February 20-22 of 2015 in Austin, Texas  that was an incredible brainstorm by my good friend and yogini extraordinaire, Desiree Rumbaugh.  This will be for all Anusara” teachers, both present, and for those who left the system last year, as well as for those who were in the process of certification. Betsey and I are helping Desire organize this, and it promises to bring us all back together in a beautiful way.

And for all my dedicated and devoted yoga students at Willow Street and elsewhere, I want you to know that being your yoga teacher is an honor, and a never-ending process of growth and service. We have seen, again and again, how yoga changes lives, and being part of that is a great  privilege. Without your presence in my classes and workshops, I would not be able to continue in what I consider to be one of the most sacred and honorable professions one can do.   

I urge you to stay in the deepest connection to the Divine in however you experience It.  May you know that the Divine longs for you as much as you long for the Divine, and all will unfold as it should as we enter the sacred mystery of 2015.

Fly High and Trust,

IMG_5020_2Blessings and Love, Suzie

 

suzie_fb