The United States of You: From Anger to Devotion

Day 3

For Wednesday's camp theme, we focused on transforming potentially fraught situations into focused, committed, and patient action. A particularly challenging yoga pose in the morning - Lean on Me - invited us to share weight and balance with a partner to rise up from our feet. (A lot of giggling was involved.) We were also treated with a special visit by writer, artist, and storyteller Christine Mason Miller, founder of the SwirlyGirl brand, and author of Plant Your Dreams and Miracles Will Grow, Ordinary Sparkling Moments: Reflections on Success and Contentment, and Desire to Inspire: Using Creative Passion to Transform the World. Christine led a book-assembly and collage activity and the girls spread out to every corner of the studio to work on their pages. 

After lunchtime, Christine facilitated a creating writing activity in which our strong selves addressed our vulnerable selves, giving advice and offering guidance about how to maneuver through difficulty. The weather cleared and we made our way outdoors, practicing the ancient art of Ebru, or paper marbling. We floated paint on paper using droppers and other tools to maneuver the colors, and watched as new shapes emerged from our movements. 


As we wound up our projects for the day, one of our campers, Tal, sang for us! She'd brought her guitar and played some of her favorite songs as well as an original one she'd composed on her own. We all sat on our yoga mats, blissed out by her singing, inspired not just by her self-confidence, but by her devotion to music - the desire to learn, the hard work of practicing, and the courage of sharing. We finished the day with the deeply restful and restorative Yoga Nidra meditation, which allowed us to come back to our own bodies, hearts, and minds and celebrate all of the ways our contributions are important to the whole. 


The United States of You: Our Fifth Chakra

Day 2

Our fifth chakra is the chakra central to our communication. The throat. It's the one that governs our expression, and it's the gateway between our heads and our hearts. We can keep our throat chakra unblocked and in balance by expressing ourselves creatively, by being true to ourselves without losing sight of the world around us. We balance our fifth chakra through storytelling, writing, poetry, and making music and art. 

Today we kept our throat chakra in balance by:


  • Making laughter milkshakes in yoga and shouting "yes" and "no" while moving between cat and cow poses. 
  • We experimented with writing messages in white crayon on white paper and then allowing others to "reveal" our message with watercolor paint. Dream big. Don't rush. Be the change you wish to see in the world.
  • Writing stories using paint chip colors as inspiration and then making collages to go with the story. At the end of the day each of the girls got the opportunity to read their story out loud and share their words and images with the group.
  • Making squares for a "Happiness Quilt" our friend, Munira Bootswala is helping us put together. Eventually more squares will be added by members of the community and we will begin to map the happiness around us.
  • Putting together fantastical headdresses made of feathers and dried flowers and shells, ribbon and lace and pom poms.
  • The most gorgeous "Om" breathed at the end of the day just as the sun peered back through the clouds.


Our Fifth Chakra is important. It teaches us that we can say things cruelly, or clearly.

We can blame or we can take responsibility for ourselves.

We can be centred and grounded, or head over heels.

The Best Decision You've Ever Made

It’s a short short story. She called and asked. I said YES. The End

~Grace Moore

It wasn’t the best decision at the time, but the lessoned I learned were PRICELESS. Three years ago I made the wildly unpopular decision to have my unemployed, quasi-writer boyfriend move in with me. My relationship with said boyfriend was troubled during the best of times. I tricked myself into believing my decision was to know if I was meant to be with him. I risked alienating my friends and family. After three months, I wanted out. I knew it wouldn’t work. It took nine more months to get him out of my life for good. During this journey, I learned the true value of close friends and family. I pushed them away when they disagreed with me. But when it was time to help me pick up the pieces of my broken heart, they were by my side. (And not one “I told you so”.) I learned that I deserved better. I learned that the decisions I was making were to fulfill a part of me that wasn’t authentic. It was a painful journey but I wouldn’t change it. Today, I’m with a guy that’s smart, cute, and affectionate and, he respects me. I’m happy with him, it’s easy.  ~Terri Jo Tatusko


Gram Dot did not babysit me often. So imagine my excitement, that special afternoon that I got to go to her apartment for lunch and a some time spent together doing her afternoon errands. Now, imagine my sensitive 5 year old nose walloped when she set placed in front of me a funny looking boiled hot dog that had cheese inside. Gross! I knew I had two choices. Eat the thing or not and suffer the consequences. Maybe I'd just get a glare from her eyes that looked like mine. Or a long lecture that I'd be hungry later. But from the look on her face, in her point of view, I had two choices. Eat it or eat it. Gram Dot had a good reputation in the kitchen all year long. She cooked and baked and pickled and jarred for every season, holiday, and gathering.  All homemade and fresh. She also was known to be kind to animals, loved her family dearly, read books, was a fierce democratic in a very republican town, and wrote letters to friends. She also was known to be kind to animals, love her family dearly, write letters to friends. So with that said, I do not know what steered her to the artificial horror on my plate that particular day. But there was more to her, she was a bit short and gruff and always had to be on time, in fact - often hours early. I suppose, she was trying to get me and her somewhere on time.  And that hot dog with the God forsaken cheese inside was a choice of convenience. I remember taking a bite, reluctantly as to appease her. I remember gagging. I remember throwing it up in my napkin. I remember her reaction to that behavior. My beloved Gram Dot was besides herself. But I also remember me not finishing that hot dog and taking a stand. I remember not caring that my stomach was gnawing the rest of the day or disappointing her. And from that day on, I revolted the rule of finishing my plate especially on things that I put under my disgusting category. Yes, my family began to call me names, like the "bird" eater of the family. But I still consider this a huge win for myself and now my son who does not have to finish his plate.  ~Amy Lee Czadzeck







We asked, they answered.

Last week in Maude's Musing, we posed the question, "What would you spend all your money on if given the opportunity?" We asked, they answered. . . . 

These few cents remain
Only to be spent on books
A noble exchange 

~Ceci Perez 

I'd spend all my money to buy land on Norboro Road. I would turn that land it into a nature conservatory.  This road and land holds a special place in my heart. My father used to take us walking up Norboro Road. It was his escape from long days at work and where I could connect with him. It's where I'd learn what song a red-winged blackbird made, how to forage for raspberries, and stick the long roadside grass in my mouth.  I'd watch for salamanders at my feet and stop and visit the fence of the horses that lived there. ~Amy Lee Czadzeck