Colleen Bunker’s Journey: Nutrition, Needles, Ease & Flow

“We live in a vastly complex society which has been able to provide us with a multitude of material things, and this is good, but people are beginning to suspect we have paid a high spiritual price for our plenty.”
Euell Gibbons

When I first met Colleen Bunker, LAC, with her needles and certification as a Nutritional Therapist, I was waking up at 2 or 3am many mornings and lying restless for hours. I suffered a chronic hip pain and hoped acupuncture might help me to hike the mountains and snooze through the night. Almost 50, enrolled in massage school, and learningg to use my brain, body and hands in new ways, I felt stressed.

Colleen had begun acupuncture school at age 45, after years of managing a whole-food co-op in Maine. Before that she had an acre market-garden, three green houses and grew food for the store and elsewhere.

While working at the co-op, her father fell terminally ill and moved into her home. She still had two teenage boys around, and a man on the board of the co-op noticed her distress: “You need to come see me,” he said, and those visits were her introduction to acupuncture.

She also met her now-husband, Joe, at the co-op, also a board member. They eventually moved to Vermont where he studied Meditation and Conflict Resolution. She continued to receive acupuncture treatments, and several years later they moved to Portland, Oregon where she enrolled at OCOM (Oregon School of Oriental Medicine). Continue reading “Colleen Bunker’s Journey: Nutrition, Needles, Ease & Flow”

Kinesiology, Shakespeare & Dog Training

sternocleidomastoid from Quizlet.com

Please forgive me for neglecting my blog–and choosing instead to focus on kinesiology!

Studying the muscles of the human body, memorizing where they originate and where they attach isn’t something I’d ever imagined myself doing. I am comparing this course of study to when I first began to read Shakespeare: It made no sense. As You Like It required translation. Before I could appreciate Orlando and Rosalind’s story, I bought a little red paperback–an American-English translation of this Shakespearean play.

As time went by, I took many more Shakespeare courses before earning my B.A. King Lear was my favorite–but the language of all the plays became natural to read and understand. My vision: Let it be so with kinesiology!

Rather than write to you about muscles and the miracle of the human body, I’d like to introduce you to one of the students I’ve met: Continue reading “Kinesiology, Shakespeare & Dog Training”

Brooke Hall’s Leap Into the Wilderness

 “Ethical behavior is doing the right thing

when no one else is watching

– even when doing the wrong thing is legal.”

Aldo Leopold, 1887-1948

Ecologist & author of A Sand County Almanac

 

20140621_183222_AndroidMy interest in the outdoors started when I was horseback riding as a child,” says Brooke Hall, now a Naturalist teaching children survival skills, ethnobotany, bird language, primitive crafts and wildlife tracking.

“Some of my favorite memories of riding are through fields outside of San Antonio–finding a swarm of bees in a tree, or encountering a rattle snake on a road. In New Hampshire, I remember being bundled up on chilly fall days, following trails amongst the colorful fall trees.”

Brooke says she did lots of exploring and loved being outside with the horses and all of the hard physical work that went along with the sport. “I loved being covered in hay, dirt, horse hair, and sweat.”

Though her parents aren’t outdoorsy types, they supported their only child to do what she loved.

Riding taught her how to jump into things and not be afraid to get dirty.

“I probably wouldn’t have had the courage to cover myself in mud and crawl around on the forest floor practicing native scout skills this year if I hadn’t had those early experiences.”

Brooke spent nine months as a student in the Wilderness Awareness School’s Anake Outdoor School–about 30 miles northeast of Seattle. She learned to track wolves, build fire from friction Continue reading “Brooke Hall’s Leap Into the Wilderness”

When No One Is Watching: Thank You Parents–and It Takes a Village

Wear gratitude like a cloak and
it will feed every corner of your life.

~Rumi

 

20140917_162617_AndroidThe other day I had my annual appointment with *Jennifer, my dental hygienist.

“You have two kids, right?” I say in-between fingers in my month. She’d already told me about her son who’s off to college.

“He’s always been so easy. Things always turn out for that kid.” Happy glow she tells me how once he told an elementary school teacher, “This is my favorite holiday–not because it’s Halloween but because it’s my mom’s birthday, too.”

“My youngest is 16–a strange age.” Her voice tightens. “He’s driving now and he got himself a job, but recently he said to me, ‘It’s okay if I’m a little late,’ –and I about went wild on him.”

She looks at me for confirmation and I smile.

This generation! I can’t stand that kind of attitude–as if it’s okay to be casual about everything. That is NOT okay! People are counting on you,” she told her son.

“Then he asked me a week later if he can go to the Homecoming Dance. He was scheduled to work that night, but he says to me, ‘I can leave early,’ and I tell him ‘No. No you can’t: You made a commitment. You can’t just leave early. People are counting on you.’

I nod sympathetically, wondering how this story is going to turn out. “At least he got himself a job,” I manage as she completes the polish.

“The next week he asks if he can take a day off work to go watch his girlfriend’s volleyball game. It’s the same conversation, and I ask him this time, ‘How long have you known about her game?’ and he says ‘A couple of weeks.'”

He was talking to his mom about this conflict the day before the volleyball game.

After each of these scenes, Continue reading “When No One Is Watching: Thank You Parents–and It Takes a Village”

John Fox, Poetic Medicine & the Art of Listening

“Wherever I can find a place to sit down and write, that is my home.”

Mary TallMountain

John Fox
John Fox at Gleann Cholm Cille in Ireland

At Groiler’s, the one-room poetry bookstore in Harvard Square, back in 1996, I bought a copy of Finding What You Didn’t Lose— John Fox’s first book, subtitled, “Expressing Your Truth and Creativity Through Poem-Making.”

“It’s important to be a witness and to be present to someone so they can edge out a little, then a little more. If I can be without judgment–or at least not show it–people feel safe,” he tells me.

It would be almost two decades before I would meet this kind listener, poet and poetry-therapist, though I thumbed through the chapters year-by-year–always a believer: Writing can heal. Writing does heal.

In the English 101 courses I taught for almost 20 years, I saw it happening. In essays students wrote week-by-week, journals they kept, conversations we shared, the world shifted.

Students  learned about themselves, writing words on the page. And we read poetry aloud and talked and wrote in response. They–and I, too–made connections and discovered possibilities for our lives. It was fun, and some who had recoiled in the beginning opened with the poetry.

From a young age, John knew he was a writer. Planning to study poetry with Ann Sexton and George Starbuck, he went to Boston University. Sexton would leave before her time, of course, and eventually John would transfer to Bard College. He continued his studies of literature though never called to deep-academia–earning a Ph.D. or publishing scholarly articles about Renaissance-men. He memorized Blake, Yeats, Ezra Pound and began exploring his spirituality with the likes of Ram Dass, later Stephen Levine, and he would eventually meet Joy Shieman–a poetry therapist Continue reading “John Fox, Poetic Medicine & the Art of Listening”

Lives That Touch Our Own: Karen Turner–More than English Professor

“Nobody sees a flower–really–it is so small–we haven’t time–and to see takes time like to have a friend takes time.”
Georgia O’Keefe, American Artist

 

 

karenturnerbench-inscripMany of you, I imagine, have had this same experience: A friend, teacher, pastor, rabbi, astrologist, lover, sister, doctor, neighbor–someone in life–is like a fixture. We take them for granted. We don’t realize how important they are or how we’ve depended on them until it’s too late.

Not to sound dramatic, but you probably know what I mean. It’s human–waking up a bit too late. For me, it wasn’t losing my mother that left me reeling in the way of “I never realized how important she was.” I had regrets, but I knew Mom was important in my life. Her diagnosis spun me into a panic and regret, but I would have some time near the end of her life to say goodbye, make some peace, and let her know how I appreciated her. I tried–as difficult and awkward as I was.

When she died, I was just 31 and hugely sad. The loss called me to attention in a way nothing had. I wanted to make her proud. I wanted to live a life that would show my mother’s efforts and all she gave of herself to me was worthwhile.

A couple of years later, I traveled to India Continue reading “Lives That Touch Our Own: Karen Turner–More than English Professor”

Celebrating Education for All–and Tomato Starts

 “The mind is not a vessel that needs filling, but wood that needs igniting.”

Plutarch (from Ian Kidd’s translation of Essays)

IMG_20140329_113828
Oregon Food Bank Learning Garden

A couple of Saturdays ago I spent three hours potting tomato starts in the greenhouse at the Oregon Food Bank’s Learning Garden. That’s when David, one of the volunteers, talked about a Modern Poetry class he’d taken through Coursera. Everyone else potting tomatoes that morning seemed to know about this online platform where anyone can “Take the world’s best courses online for free!” — says their motto.

Coursera–not the first in the MOOC (Massive Online Open Courses) movement–started in 2012 with Stanford University, Princeton, the University of Michigan, and the University of Pennsylvania as partners. Today Coursera partners with 108 institutions in 641 countries–and has 7.1 million users worldwide (Wikipedia).

A couple of professors from Stanford University, Daphne Koller  and Andrew Ng, started Coursera: They hoped to offer high-quality learning communities where students could pursue life-long learning from top-notch instructors.
After my morning in the OFB greenhouse, I decided to catch up with the world and see what I might like to learn. Though I wasn’t looking to start immediately, I found a course I couldn’t resist: “Understanding the Brain: The Neurology of Everyday Life.” courseraindexForever I’ve wanted to learn more about how the brain works.

Recent discoveries of brain plasticity fascinate me, and I’ve been intrigued by the work of Jon Kabit-Zinn and Rick Hanson, and have wanted to learn more about pain and the nervous system. Since I survived a brain tumor as a kid, I’ve always wondered what goes wrong–and how the brain recovers.

I decided to jump in. Continue reading “Celebrating Education for All–and Tomato Starts”