Blessing-Moon Women’s Gathering

Blessing-Moon Women’s Gathering

woman-holding-the-moon-e13519969922181
The Full Moon of July is the Blessing Moon, arriving just before Lammas, the turning point of summer, the beginning of the harvest.

Think Humble Warrior.
Or better yet Revolved Warrior Pose.
Strong, like summer, but receptive, open hands…

In this second of the summer gatherings for women, we’ll move from the exploration of feminine strength to the tapping of receptivity–our capacity to receive that which we bend our will toward.

All women welcome. Skill & experience irrelevant. Come as you are. Curious. Hesitant. Weary. Energized. Introverted. Extroverted. Light. Burdened. Fearful. Hopeful. Ready.

Weather permitting, we’ll walk and move and listen on the land a bit, and mostly gather around the kitchen table and other receptive spaces–stairs & chairs & floors–journaling, speaking, listening, collaging–overhearing, ourselves, steeping in our own guidance and wisdom.

It is the third chakra that is most associated with summer–power, strength, will–and with that,the yogic principle of ahimsa–non-violence–which is an inside-out practice that we’ll embody in this evening gathering. Together we’ll shape a tapestry of strength and receptivity. Gently led from the inside out.

Host and lifelong educator KELLY SALASIN has been guiding women through the chakras locally, regionally and online for over a decade. She is a yoga teacher, a Let Your Yoga Dance instructor, the creator of Writing through the Chakras. She has studied with renown chakra author Anodea Judith and she is a regular assistant to leading presenters at Kripalu Yoga & Health Center, as well as an NGO delegate at the annual United Nations Commission on the Status of Women.

CLAIM YOUR SPACE (open & welcoming, but alas, very limited) in the Blessing Moon Gathering with the link below. Add your name & email address to the payment along with a few lines about what most attracts you to this exploration of strength & receptivity at this moment in time.

Blessing-Moon Gathering for Women
https://www.paypal.me/KellySalasin/35

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Thursday, July 26th
6:00 pm
Marlboro, Vermont

(More information to follow upon registration.)

 

 

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Strong-Moon Women’s Gathering

Strong-Moon Women’s Gathering


The Full Moon of June is the Strong Moon, aligned with the fire of summer and the alliance of the third chakra associated with strength, power & courage.

Think Warrior Pose.
Or better yet–GODDESS!

The third chakra is also associated with the yogic principle of ahimsa–non-violence–which is an inside-out practice.

Join a warm & welcoming gathering of women at my kitchen table on MacArthur Road in Marlboro–to write, move, listen, speak, create & express–in a journey through the body’s energy centers (aka. “chakras”) exploring our relationship to strength.

Women of all ages welcome. Skill & experience irrelevant. Come as you are. Curious. Hesitant. Weary. Energized. Introverted. Extroverted. Light. Burdened. Fearful. Hopeful. Ready.

Together we’ll shape a tapestry of strength, vitality & courage. Gently led from the inside out.

Host and lifelong educator KELLY SALASIN has been guiding women through the chakras locally, regionally and online for over a decade. She is a yoga teacher, a Let Your Yoga Dance instructor, the creator of Writing through the Chakras. She has studied with renown chakra author Anodea Judith and she is a regular assistant to leading presenters at Kripalu Yoga & Health Center, as well as an NGO delegate at the annual United Nations Commission on the Status of Women.

CLAIM YOUR SPACE in the Strong Moon Gathering with the link below. (Add your name & email address to the payment along with a few lines about what most attracts you to this exploration of strength/focus/power at this moment in time.)

Strong-Moon Gathering for Women
https://www.paypal.me/KellySalasin/33.33

Home

Thursday, June 28th
6:30 pm
Marlboro, Vermont

 

 

Where I belong

Where I belong

img_2220The Co-op is quiet this morning; the town itself demure–wet and waiting–for spring.

The ice spitting from the sky before dawn was the first sign that the winter was willing to surrender, something, before April.

I step through the tiny glistening shards as I cross the parking lot, thinking the day dark and heavy, just as the first flock of geese flies overhead, announcing its return.

The regulars are waiting. Mostly men. Mostly older men. Like an Italian piazza. They talk politics, instead of bocce ball, because this is Brattleboro. One has a wild, silvery beard and could be in Russia, playing chess. Talking treason. Instead he is running for office. Asking for signatures. Interrupting his companions’ reading of the cafe copies of the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal.

There are 8 men now, some a bit younger, one on a computer with headphones, smiling. A single, middle-aged woman unpacks her morning pills, her breakfast, her book.

“It’s like we are home,” says the cafe attendant, as I step up to the sink to wash my dishes. “We all know each other. It’s the way it should be.”

I don’t know any of them, really, but I know their faces, and their smiles, and their bad days. I join them in their morning ritual, a few times a month, when I’m needing an escape from working on the hill, where I live, encrusted in snow.

The mountain across the river is our steady companion, in every season. The Co-op itself sits beside a brook that runs into that river. The black, grated iron along its banks defines and holds the space we occupy: captures our silent gaze, keeps us safe, serves as a leaning place for children tossing pebbles.

As we crest 9:00 am, the cafe empties and fills, new faces, a few women; and the traffic across the bridge and up the main thoroughfare picks up to a hum to fill in everything in between.

A father and son cross the street at the light, beside the tall amber grasses at the corner, which some kind souls planted to remind us that there are other colors coming even when the world has been monochrome for so long.

It is this time each year, March, when I seriously consider moving; but this morning I’m right where I belong.

The Blessing of Becky & the Brattleboro Women’s Chorus

The Blessing of Becky & the Brattleboro Women’s Chorus

A few years back, I answered “a call” to SING–by reluctantly joining the Brattleboro Women’s Chorus.  This was a one time thing for me, but the women of BWC have continued for 16 years, including this past weekend’s Thanksgiving concert.  It is in the spirit of Thanksgiving–for the work of chorus director Becky Graber and the board & women of BWC–that I share the piece of writing below.

It was the second or third stop on the Mother’s Day Nursing Home Tour when it hit me.

The Low Middles and I had just patched our way through Que Sera Sera–a song my mother loved–one whose harmony slipped from my memory when it was our time to sing.

I’d been scrambling to learn my part to this and a dozen others for weeks in preparation for our big concert at the Baptist Church. I didn’t like the pressure. I didn’t like being unprepared.

My jewel of revelation was here.

I had long admired the work of the Brattleboro Women’s Chorus, and had even co-opted their music years ago to create a women’s sing-along in my community of Marlboro;  but I had never wanted to perform with them.  I didn’t like the responsibility of it.  My life had been too full with responsibility.

It was my spirit that cajoled me.
Over the years, I had grown accustomed to responding to this inner voice.  It had taken me on a wild ride from an Art and Meditation Class to a Ballet Class to this.  I knew there was a good reason why I was supposed to sing with the chorus, I just didn’t know what it was.

Once I had made the commitment and began rehearsing , I expected some great gift of joy to be released.

It wasn’t.

I hadn’t realized how hard it would be to focus on music for two to three hours at a time, particularly in the evening when I liked to crawl under the covers with a book.  I hadn’t realized just how much all my years at home had ruined me as a student.  I didn’t want to be told where and when to sit or stand.  I didn’t like being part of the herd and I didn’t know how to small-talk like women do on the rides home.

Sitting at a cafe one afternoon, I was approached by a friend whose wife had been singing with the chorus for years. “She loves it,” he told me, complaining that she wouldn’t take a break  no matter how full their plates were.

I told him that I didn’t really want to join and shared how anxious I felt about the performance.  Though it didn’t feel particularly sublime in the moment, his response, like a pebble tossed into a pond, rippled again and again.

“It is all of your voices,”  he said, “Coming together, that made the music so beautiful.”

Little by little, I began to experience just that.

On the day that we came to sing at the nursing homes, I knew it to be true.  It wasn’t the perfection of any one of our voices or parts, that made the music,  it was the mysterious alchemy of coming together–without perfection.

How can I begin to put into words the depth of my experience?  How can I communicate the breadth of its influence in my life?  Not one of us Low Middles knew our part fully.  But each of us offered something to the other–so that together, we made the music.

We made the shades rustle, the faces lift, the eyes brighten.  And for me personally, a profound understanding emerged: that I can be supported, that it is not all about me and my responsibility or my perfection, that it is in our fallibility as well as our competency that we support and uplift others.

On the following Sunday, I stood at the podium on the altar at the Baptist Church and gave VOICE to Julia Ward Howe’s words.  A wind came through me and spread her thoughts resounding through the room. Tears sprung from my eyes eyes and I was swept up in the passion of her voice.  I felt a strength that I have never known.  The strength that comes from vulnerability.

On the fourth floor of Eden Park, I had seen vacant eyes, drooping heads, drooling mouths. This is where we discard our elders, I thought. But when the music began, and we came together in song, the room came to life—not just in front of me, but within me.

I saw a husband tend his wife, wipe her mouth, hold her trembling hands.  I heard a woman, at first talking out a lifetime of troubles, begin to sing, eyes brightening, connecting with ours.  I felt a nurse spread love throughout the room with her caresses.

As we left the floor, I approached a woman who had never opened her eyes or lifted her head to our performance.  I gently squeezed her shoulder, and to my surprise, she moved her head to cradle it against my forearm.

I put down my backpack and gave her a full embrace knowing that she felt everything around her even though I hadn’t seen it.

Kelly Salasin, November 2011

For more about the Brattleboro Women’s Chorus, click here.

For more about Director Becky Graber, click here.

Things Change.

Things Change.

After the Flood, photo credit: Casey Deane, 2011, Marlboro, Vermont

Things change.

Take my mood for example.

Despite the life-threatening floods, the devastation of my road, the loss of power–and phone–and internet, I’ve been generally upbeat.

Then I got tired. And my mood soured. And I felt desperate–even after my power and my phone and my internet and almost my road were restored.

You know why? Because it was a gorgeously, hot late summer day and I couldn’t go to South Pond.

Isn’t that pathetic?

Here I have friends who have lost their homes or their businesses, and I’m depressed because they’ve closed all the swimming holes in Vermont on Labor Day Weekend.

Then again, if I withheld feeling sorry for myself until everyone else in the world had it better, I’d never get my turn at self-pity.

And what about joy? Should that be limited until everyone has it back too?

Is it okay to create a pond simulation with an outdoor bath, and glass of white wine, and a view of the setting sun in the West? (What about dancing last night to Simba on the Putney Green?)

Things change.

My mood changed after my bath, and here I am writing again in my own home instead of searching for wi-fi outside of others homes and businesses.

You should have seen the Farmers Market this morning. (Yes, I even went to the market and ate Thai food and got a massage when others were cleaning out flooded buildings and residences.)

Anyway, the Brattleboro Farmers Market was washed away in the flood on Sunday, but they rebuilt it, as a community, on Thursday. At 8:00 that morning, the parking lot was already filled with volunteers and a grater at work.

A friend of mine told me that just as he put out the last picnic table on the freshly seeded dirt at the end of that day, some travelers arrived in the parking lot, walked down the hill, and set themselves up with a picnic–with no idea of the miraculous efforts that preceded it.

Isn’t that the way?

I’m told that another guy pulled in with his truck asking about the logs lying around, saying,  “Wow, you guys were lucky that you didn’t get any flooding here.”

For your reference, here’s how affected the Farmer’s Market was:

And here’s what it looked like this morning, just 6 days later:

After the flood, Brattleboro Farmers Market restored, photo credit: Amy Boemig, 2011

Things change.

Like the Co-op.

My first few trips there were unnerving, to say the least; but today’s trip had me all but forgetting that there was a murder inside–because I was so engaged in talking to others about their homes and their roads after the flood.

And then there was the afternoon a week ago when a young family nursed their baby in the Cafe and another family enjoyed dinner there–unaware that we were all reeling from loss, and afraid ourselves to step inside.

Things change; and that’s a good thing, even if it sometimes makes us feel forgotten or ignored or irrelevant, like the water that could care less what was supposed to be its bed and what was meant to be our roads.

That first morning after the flood, I wrote about the apocalyptic change the water brought to my dirt road, and to the highway a half-mile away.

Two days later, however, I returned to those forever changed places and found them relatively restored.

This change was almost as mind-blowing as the first.

Everything must change, nothing stays the same, go the lyrics from a song that once made me cry when I first came of age and watched everything I loved disappear.

Now those lyrics comfort me, knowing that not only good things change, but bad things too.

(P.S. What’s changed for the better for you?)

Kelly Salasin, Marlboro, Vermont 2011

For more on Hurricane Irene & Vermont, click here.

I’ve Known Roads…

I’ve Known Roads…

“Sidewalk Closed”, Route 9, Marlboro, VT, August 2011 (Irene); Kelly Salasin, all rights reserved

If only I could write a tribute to roads like Langston Hughes bestowed upon rivers, but there’s no poetry in me this week, and none like his.

That anything could wash away thoughts of murder inside the Co-op is unfathomable, until now. Until Irene.

On the morning after she hit our unsuspecting mountaintop town, I ran down my driveway toward Neringa Pond. There I found clusters of neighbors in sober conversation, and passed them without a word, continuing toward the mangled dock that crossed the pond where I discovered that the dam was surprisingly holding steady.

I continued down the road alone until I came to the bridge that crossed over to Camp Neringa and saw that in its place was a gaping span of… nothing.

“We’re stranded,” called a young woman from the other side over the rushing water, “There are a hundred of us.”

“I know,” I called back, “I’m so sorry this happened while you were  here.”

Bridge washed out at Neringa, MacArthur Rd, Marlboro, VT; photo: Camp Neringa, August 2011

These wedding guests had flown in from Toronto, and others from California, while one had come from as far as Lithuania.  We shouted some more across the roar of the Whetstone–about food and generators and water (all of which they had)–before turning our backs on one another on opposite sides of what had once been connected.

I held back tears as I continued down MacArthur Road where I came across more neighbors helping one another over the gaping pits where sections of our road once stood.

At the bottom of the hill, the underbelly of MacArthur was completely exposed–revealing gravel and dirt and a culvert many times my size.

With hesitation, I leaped over it to make my way toward the Route 9.

MacArthur Road, photo from Catherine Hamilton, August 2011.

I’ve written about the highway that crosses Southern Vermont before, about the lives its mountainous curves stole from our community—a dear friend in her twilight years, the 21-year-old nephew of the kindergarten teacher, and an 8 year-old peer of my son’s from a neighboring town.

Typically teaming with travelers, Route 9 was barren this morning, and eerily so; so clear of traffic that I could lie down in the middle of the highway and have a photo snapped of me there.

Instead I continued up it, past the hill where young Kayla died, and without any specific destination in mind.

I’d never walked along Route 9 before, at least not with such an unsettling sense of safety, and I couldn’t stop. For awhile, it was only me and the butterflies up a road where vehicles fly by at 50 or 60 miles an hour. At the crest of another hill, I passed a man coming the other way with a wax bag in his hand.

“Sweeties isn’t actually open, is it!” I asked, and he nodded his head, and kept walking.

A half-mile later, I stood inside the darkened store, relieved to see Michaela, a graduate of Marlboro College, attempting to make coffee and sandwiches for the community; and Ashleigh, a Brattleboro Highschool student, arriving to work by some heroic effort of her mother; and Rose, a town official, bending over a large map, helping travelers find routes home should any open.

I hadn’t thought to bring any cash with me when I set out this morning, but I was able to create a tab so that I could take home some groceries and a wax-bagged treat of my own while stranded guests from the other wedding across town left with six-packs, and brownie mix (which perplexes me still.)

I passed other explorers on my way back down Route 9, and when I arrived back at the intersection of MacArthur, it was crowded.  A mini-van had been abandoned there during the night, atop a pile of rocks and trees, and someone said that it had been a traveler caught up in debris when the Whetstone Brook took the road and turned Route 9 into a grander expression of itself, rushing east toward Brattleboro.

By now, the sun had risen on the day, and although I was overdressed for the coming heat and unprepared for such a trek as I had already taken, I found myself passing MacArthur by, and continuing east on Route 9, to see what others had described as indescribable.

There at the edge of town, about a mile further down the highway, I approached Steve’s Auto Body Shop where half of Route 9 had neatly collapsed, right at the yellow line, into the rushing stream that didn’t used to be there below.

Beside this section of missing highway stood a small sign which politely read,  “Sidewalk Closed.”

No sign was needed for what lie just passed Steve’s. It was a destination so awe-inspiring that it had attracted elders and mothers with baby carriages for what was sure the most apocalyptic view of this flood’s devastation.

Route 9 had simply vanished, and the river took its place below. Some said a hundred, others two, and I can’t recall how many feet stood between me and the other side of what was once the highway, but it made me laugh when I recollected the span each time drivers rolled down their windows near MacArthur to ask,  “Is it passable up ahead?”

Often these travelers would persist, as if I hadn’t noticed that they had good clearance and four-wheel drive; and then I would have to be firm:

“There IS no road up ahead. It no longer exists.”

And if they still looked dubious, I would explain that even if they could, by some miraculous Evil-Knieval feat, daredevil their way across what many called the Grand Canyon, they would find similar canyons all along Route 9 heading east into Brattleboro–each with ten to twenty-foot pits below.

Then these desperate souls, hoping to get home to work or to pets or to children even, would turn their heads toward MacArthur, asking if there was any chance that way…

“Not even the National Guard, on a rescue mission, with tires bigger than your car, could get through last night.” I’d say.

Similarly, the roads heading West into Wilmington were closed, and those in the north, and in every direction; so that these drivers turned around, one by one, resigned to being stuck like the rest of us. Some slept at the church or at the Inn or inside their cars, I suspect.

By the time I  hiked back up to my house, the boys were awake and ready to do some of their own exploring. Their father took them out while I went upstairs to lie down, drifting into the sweetest, exhausted reverie I have ever known until the sound of a helicopter circling my home, not once, but three times, brought me to standing as I heard it land across the pond to sounds of cheers.

I jumped up then and dashed out my door to make my way over the mangled dock, and up the path to Neringa’s field where I came across 100 wedding guests huddled together as the chopper lifted back into the sky.

I caught the last words of an announcement made by a bearded wedding guest from Toronto: “If we have any medical emergencies, they’ll airlift them out, but for now MacArthur Road and the bridge to Neringa are not high on the priority list.”

I stayed on to talk to some of the guests, and drew maps of possible routes out of Marlboro should the backroads be cleared, and someone could come to fetch them. (They would have to leave their cars behind, most of which were rentals.)

And then I returned home once again, and slipped out of my clothes, and into bed, and slept–for the rest of the day–stirring now and again to the sound of more aircraft—the Red Cross, the governor, the National Guard—only to let my head drop heavily back on the pillow in what felt like a drugged stupor.

The air was crisp, the sky beautiful, and my home–and even my steep driveway–uncannily untouched by the devastation that was all around me.

From under my covers, the world was more tranquil than ever.  There were no cars passing on MacArthur and no whine of 18 wheelers from Route 9. The house was silent too–absent of the hum of appliances or the ringing of phones.

I couldn’t bear to think about how long we’d be without power or how much it would take to repair these roads or how hard others may have been hit, and so I slept as long as I could.

The sublime quiet brought me back to the days after 9/11–when our skies were as empty as our roads were now.

In my 47 years, I’ve known roads—mud strewn ones and flooded ones—empty ones and crowded ones–worn ones and brand new ones–but I’d never known anything like today.

My soul has grown deep with our roads, deeper than I ever knew.

Listening to the road, Kelly Salasin, August 2011

Kelly Salasin, August 2011

Hurricane Irene

Marlboro, Vermont

Resources:

Road Closings/Openings

Vermonters Helping Vermonters

FEMA Reimbursement for home & business owners in Marlboro

Governor Shumlin on CNN

Video: Neringa Before & After Neringa, including footage of MacArthur Rd & Rte 9:

Click here for more on Vermont and roads and the history of this place we call home, by road namesake, Robin MacArthur.

Tuesday, again

Tuesday, again

In exactly two weeks, “BFC Tragedy” climbs its way to the top of the list of writing topics on the sidebar of this Vermont blog–from a tiny thing at the bottom, to where it sits now–boldface, beside the prominent category of “Autumn.”

In retrospect, I wish I’d tagged this collection “BFC Healing” instead of “tragedy,” but at the time I never imagined that so much compassion would flow from murder.

Two weeks.

Doesn’t it seem like a lifetime passed since the Co-op mutated from haven to hell in an instant?

Somehow I find myself back here on a Tuesday; and this time it’s definitely easier; though I’m taken aback to see a baby in the cafe.  A baby.

Earlier this afternoon I passed tourists at the corner of Elliott and Main–two moms and a young son looking for a place to eat. I recommended the Co-op; and then wondered if I’d made a mistake.  If I was visiting, would I want to take my kids there?

I’ve left my own kids at home, but my husband has accompanied me again. I watch with tenderness as he approaches one Co-op staffer after another to offer an embrace or a pat on the shoulder.

I feel too shy to do the same, and wish I could wear a button that says, “I gave at my blog.”

“At least go see Tony in the wine department,” my husband says, over a bowl of soup.

Instead I suggest that I come back with cookies or candy–something easier to share than sentiment.

Perhaps the staff has grown weary of compassion anyway, I argue internally.  Maybe they’re trying to move on.  But the truth is that my biggest concern is that they would feel that we’ve moved on–without them.

Whenever I’m faced with uncertainty around connecting with those in grief, I think back to my friend Trish whose 18 year old brother was killed in an accident the summer we all worked together at the shore.  Everyone at the Crab House was heartbroken, but they avoided talking about Tommy so as not to make it harder on Trish.

Finally I asked her. “Does it make it worse when I talk about him?”

“No,” she answered. “I couldn’t feel any worse, and he’s on my mind all the time.”

Maybe it’s that way for everyone at the Co-op. Maybe this tragedy is always on their minds whether we acknowledge it or not.

I wonder how long it will take until I walk into that store and it’s no longer on mine.

Kelly Salasin, August 23, 2011

For more on BFC Tragedy, click here.

(ps. As I was leaving the Co-op, I saw those two moms and their young son, and they thanked me for the “great recommendation.”)