Sunday, November 4, 2018

Rally to Get Out and Vote for All of Our Safety

Two groups in Winona, Winona Youth Actions for Gun Sense in America and Mom's Demand Action for Gun Sense in American brought the community together in a peaceful dialogue about creating a safe Winona. 

Heart felt students spoke on the need to feel safe in our schools and our community.  High School students spoke of their fear for going to school and not coming home to see loved ones.  Several talked of having escape plans and making plans with younger siblings to get out, if a violent intruder comes to their school.

Mary Hoffman and McCarthy Leaf lead the Youth Action group.  High School students with a mission to make schools and our community safe.  They invited the community to get out and vote for leaders who would help.  These students are not anti-guns. They are a non-partisan group. They invited the community to share their thoughts.

This official encouraged anyone who hears about someone threatening violence to speak up.  He said that students and staff in our school may hear things before police are ever notified.  It could mean saving lives.

Students shared their fears and concerns asking for adults help through making educated choices in their choice to vote.

Youth Action are desiring gun sense in legislation. For example having background checks for anyone wanting to purchase a weapon.

They want legislators to support Red Flag Laws.  This law would give a judge the right to issue an order for law enforcement to remove weapons from someone who was reported as dangerous or pose as a risk to themselves or others.

A quote from article in Mother Jones, "Red flag laws, sometimes called extreme risk protection order laws, allow a judge to issue an order that enables law enforcement to confiscate guns from individuals deemed a risk to themselves or others. Since the Parkland shooting, at least two dozen states have considered enacting similar laws in their states. In Vermont, a red flag law has already passed the both the Senate and House."

 Julie Chiassen talks about her group, Mom's Demand Action for Gun Sense.  

At the rally, they shared how to register to vote.  And who supports gun sense.  If you'd like to learn more,  please go to

Also to see how your legislators feel about gun sense go to:

They shared hot drinks and pizza for all who came out to the rally.  To see and hear young people speaking up is a refreshing and hopeful look at the future of our community and country.

Voting day is Tuesday, November 6, 2018.

Friday, October 19, 2018

Autumn in Southeast Minnesota

The colors on the deciduous trees are changing in Southeastern Minnesota.  Lots of rain has forced the leaves to the ground very quickly.  It's not been the dry clear sky autumn of times past.  But we're enjoying the days as we can.

The monarch butterflies love the New England Aster in my yard.

The Mississippi River a few blocks from my house.  I walk to see it as often as I can.

A bald eagle outside my window from my Art classroom at Ridgeway Community School stops by on the day that my 4th and 5th grade students are creating eagles. 

Welcome to the neighborhood, national bird.

How's the view from your neighborhood?

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Bringing Peace to Healing Pain

Mind Fog, and Growing Stronger No Matter What

 Brown eyed Susans

Today, I’m awakening with numbness is my right forearm and an ache through my body.  Lots of mornings lately, I’ve been moving slowly with some sort of pain.  At times the pain was so debilitating that I just wanted to lie down and try to escape.  At other times, I learned that when I got moving, the pain would reduce. Some of the huge challenge with the pain is the mind fog that comes with it.  When the body is screaming about pain, it is very challenging to focus on other topics.  

Here are a few things that I’ve been working with to manage pain this summer.  I’ve used soothing music to listen to in the night when I would awaken and could not sleep due to pain.  The music softly and gently floated me back into sleep.  I would plug in my ear buds to keep the music helping me and let my sweetheart still have his sweet repose.

Last night, I felt a deep numbness and pain in my upper arm nerves.  I would have reacted to this in the past with anger and a feeling of “Why do I have so much pain all the time?”  Last night instead, I was able to image being wrapped up tight in a blanket—and the blanket was physical and had the energy of love.  Those thoughts soothed me back into sleep.

I have used healing meditations from Kris Carr.  Her positive voice and energy along with being calm and reassuring that my body was healing and taking care of me was very affirming. 

I have used positive self-talk.  When I would find myself saying disparaging words to myself, I would say, “Cancel, clear,” and then say two positive things that were true such as “My cats love me,” and “The sun is shining in my heart.” That one came a lot when the sun was not shining.

I have a movement practice called Nia that I use to help manage pain and anything that comes up in my body.  This practice also uses music to move in ways to pleasure changing the movement, if it causes pain. Another practice in Nia is 5 Stages of Healing. 

 The 1st Stage involves rolling and moving lying on the ground or carpet softly moving your arms and legs like you are a swimming embryo. Moving on your side, belly, back are all stage one.  

Stage two is creeping—move to the belly and the elbow bends to the knee on one side of the body as the other side is long. Then the long side becomes short with elbow to knee and the other side becomes lengthened.  One alternates this move.

Stage three is crawling on hands and knees.

Stage four is turning the toes under then lifting the torso to a squat.

Stage five is walking

At any point, one may go back to the previous stage or earlier stage.The stages are done for as short or long a time as desired.  One may do them with in silence or with quiet music.

Nia is a somatic practice to use the mind to direct the movements for the greatest ease, alignment, and pleasure.  Injury is a great teacher about how alignment works and how to use the mind to ease the healing. Nia is a pleasure based practice. I teach Nia and Nia Moving to Heal at the Winona Friendship Center Wednesdays 4:00pm and Thursdays 5:00pm.

Mind and body are so connected.  Let them share the love to help heal and feel better.

Saturday, August 18, 2018

The Art of Hearing Heartbeats by Jan-Philipp Sendker

The Art of Hearing Heartbeats is a book review with sections of the book selected to give the reader a sense of the beauty of the book.

This book is poetry set to a story.  First, I listened to the book on audio tape.  There was such a richness that I needed to read the text to catch each phase with my eyes and imagination.  It is a story that begins in the USA with a lawyer and his family and comes to conclusion in Burma. 
Julia comes to Burma to find the answer to her father’s disappearance.  She hears the story of her father, Tin Win, (Teen Ween) from a Burmese man named U Ba.  When Tin Ween was young, he became blind from cataracts and a friend, Mi Mi helps him view the world.

Page 145 Tin Win took no pains to hide his jubilation.  They were squatting again by the side of the street, and he could hardly keep still.  Mi Mi had opened the door a crack.  She had let a shaft of light into his darkness.  He would have liked nothing better than to run off with her then and there.  To investigate every tone, every sound, every noise that he could find.  He had learned his first word.  Now he knew the heartbeat of a chick in the egg, and eventually he would discover how to recognize the wing beats of a butterfly, why there was gurgling all around him—even when there was no water in the vicinity—and why even in a dead calm he still could hear a rustling.  With Mi Mi’s help he would solve one riddle after another, and in the end, perhaps a world would emerge.
“Mi Mi,” asked Tin Win, “why didn’t you want to look into that nest by yourself?”
She took his hands and laid them on her calves.  Tin Win had never felt skin so soft.  Softer even than the moss in the woods that we had previously so loved to stroke his checks against.  His fingers moved slowly down her legs to her ankles, which were slender, but then oddly misshapen.  Her feet were immovable.  They were stiff and turned inward.

This passage lets me, the reviewer hear the children singing in the mountainside.  The voice in first person is Julia with U Ba responding.
Page 233 In the distance I heard singing.  Several voices, faint and barely reaching my ear.  A wave melting into the sand before even washing over my feet.
              I listened hard into the silence, but heard nothing, picked up the song again, then lost it, held my breath and sat stock still until I heard the notes again, somewhat louder now.  Loud enough that I would not lose track of them again. It could only be a children’s choir untiringly repeating a melodic mantra.
“Is it the children from the monastery?” I asked
“Not the ones from the monastery in the town, though. There’s another in the mountains, and when the wind is right, their song drifts down to us in the morning.  You are hearing what Tin Win and Mi Mi heard.  It sounded no different  fifty years ago.”


Page 234 Music, my father often said, was the only reason he could sometimes believe in a god or in any heavenly power.
              Every evening before going to bed he would sit in the living room, eyes closed, listening to music on headphones.  How else will my soul find rest for the night, he had said quietly.

Page 240 It was oddly familiar to me.  I closed my eyes and tried to imagine my father walking along the road.  I was startled by the many and varied noises I suddenly heard.  Birds. Grasshoppers. Cicadas. And unpleasantly loud buzzing of flies, the distant barking of a dog.  My feel got mired in the holes and ruts of the earth.  I stumbled but did not fall.  It smelled of eucalyptus and jasmine.

Page 243 “Why? Love has so many different faces that our imagination is not prepared to see them all.”
              “Why is it so difficult?”
              “Because we see only what we already know.  We project our own capacities—for good as well as evil—onto the other person.  Then we acknowledge as love primarily those things that correspond to our own image thereof.  We wish to be loved as we ourselves would love.  Any other way makes us uncomfortable.  We respond with doubt and suspicion.  We misinterpret the signs.  We do not understand the language.  We accuse.  We assert that the other person does not love us.  But perhaps he merely loves us in some idiosyncratic way that we fail to recognize. I hope you will understand what I mean once I have finished my story.”

Page 307 The sun would be coming up soon, Tin Win knew from the song of the birds.  He laid his head on her breast.  He had not been mistaken.  Her heart sounded weak and weary.  It was ready to stop
              He had come in time. Just.

Page 325 “Death,” U Ba had said, “is not the end of life, but a stage thereof.” He would not have had to explain himself to a single person there.
              I hung back, motionless, in one corner.  Darkness had settled over the yard.  Through a crack in the wall I could see that the whole place was now illuminated by candles.
This story sent me to another land of honor, love, beauty.  I hope that you may have the divine delight to read or listen to The Art of Hearing Heartbeats by Jan Phillip Sendker.



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