A Little Bit of Softness

Yesterday morning a friend and I sat on a ledge overlooking the blues of Lake Michigan. A small bird landed nearby, hopping among the dandelions, with a dandelion colored splot of yellow on his head. This little guy skitted about for the better part of an hour, eating bugs from the underside of stems, seemingly feeling safe near us. All the while it kept not more than two or four feet away, going about his business.  This  beautiful little feathered being is a yellow- rumped warbler.  The female makes a small nest out of twigs and pine needles and other building supplies that the male brings her. She lines the nest with softness, like deer hair and lichen. Maybe moss. But what’s most interesting is that she weaves this nest  in such a way that the softness curls up and then covers the fragile eggs. 

Lately, I’ve been thinking about the people we surround ourselves with; a nest of family and friends that when you spend time with them, it feels like home. And what I’m reminded of, from this little feathered songster, and from the people I’ve been spending time with, is the value of weaving in softness; recognizing in each other the times we are extra fragile, and then offering  an extra bit of support to each other,  until ready to fly again. 


Join us this June at the studio as we do yoga, sound therapy , meditate. It’s a pretty studio, with the sun shining in and the light shining out. On warm days we’ll go to the outside deck, do our practice at the edge of the water, overlooking the river. We may hear some birds, maybe even see a nest. And I’m guessing we’ll all feel that softness of support, being among each other in a safe spot with other like-minded folks that we can call friends. 

June Schedule of my classes:

Mondays, 6:30-7:30pm, Classic yoga. June 3, 10, 17, 24
Thursdays, 9:30-10:30 am, Deep Stretch. All levels. June 6, 13, 20, 27

Also offering private Meditation, and Vibrational Therapy-Energy Massages. 

Contact Sheri: 262-719-4633.

Visit www.balancingartsstudio.com for more details and to discover the great teachers that also offer yoga and Ayurveda at the studio. 


A few weeks across the globe

I had the privilege of traveling far and long to meet up with my daughters for a reunion in a place none of us had ever been. New Zealand seemed to me the synthesis of my favorite places on the planet-Telluride, and La Jolla, Bayfield, Costa Rica, the Switzerland Mountains and St. Lucia waters.

Vast golden fields with lazy sheep and grazing cows. Mountains and rainforests, rivers and oceans. Glacier and sunshine. Land of the Kiwis. Bungee capitol of the world. Rain and more rain. Glow worms and hot springs. Charming villages. Queenstown beauty. Adventures. Healthy lifestyle and friendly people. Manuka honey. Wool. Unfurling fern. Hiking the mountain. Beauty. Rainbows.

It was a foreign country, a place all its own, that reminded me of spots I’ve left bits of my heart.

Across the globe it felt like home.

Rainbows under a waterfall
When I travel, I wake up before anyone else that I’m traveling with, and head out to catch the sunrise alone. It’s a good time to breathe in the peacefulness of a place before it is filled with whatever fills the day and space. This time, I snuck around a few cliffs and came upon the break in the rock to see the sun peaking through the clouds. A lone bird, still waters…catching the sun slide into the sky in solitude.
The shores of NZ
One last NZ rainbow…
Mountain reflection. “Appear as you are. Be as you appear.” -Rumi
“Now we come together.” Waleed Aly.
When the clouds roll in over the mountains…

The colors of New Zealand

Came in to say Hi

I never lived too far from home. Madison to Cedarburg-that was the extent. And even then, when I grew up, it didn’t take me too long to find my way back, ending up four houses from the one I grew up in. Our daughters would walk down the street to Grandpa and Grandma’s. Get their non-organic Kraft macaroni and cheese intake for the week. I’d catch up for a few minutes with Mom. And while I vowed to never have a house full of Hostess twinkles and zingers available like we did growing up, I never minded when my three girls went to Grandma’s sweets drawer and had a few moments of what it was like with a little bit more freedom….of playing in the sun ’til lemonade time. Days measured by the moonrise, and as many cookies as you wanted as long as you ate your dinner first. Those moments, I’ll admit, all sort of blended into one big moment of me watching my mom being a grandma while I was learning how to be a mom.

A few years ago, after my mom died, we sold the house that was down the street from theirs. Then sold theirs. As I was packing, I carefully tucked this note away to scotch tape up in my new house in a little corner that I’d glance at each day. It’s just a simple note. Next to a photo of my mom. Written by her one day when she decided to stop over. “Came in to say hi.” I wasn’t there. So she left that note. I didn’t think much of it as the time. But I kept it. It’s the last note I have of hers.

I’d never want my daughters to live near me in exchange for the adventures they are having. Never. Home is where the heart is, I know this, and the hearts of moms and daughters are always together, no matter. And there are times I wonder what things would have been like had I not saved many of my adventures till now. But I will say this…I was so, so blessed to have those run of the mill, every day, non-memorable moments that blended into one…with my mom. She was a great mom. She was my loyal friend. And that note that she left? Reminds me of one of the most valued treasures I once had in this lifetime and no longer do..the simple yet profound possibility of “came in to say hi.”

It’s the Little Things

Writing kids books isn’t always easy. And once a manuscript is written, getting it sold isn’t always a walk in the park either. A publishing house I submitted to said they buy 7 picture books a year out of the 30,000 submissions they receive. The process from start to in-the-hands of young readers , could take years. So…why do we write?

I usually answer that it’s the Life-Artistry concept of passion to purpose. A need as much as a want. Dharma..doing our life work. And that’s all true. But there’s more, and it’s a “littler” reason.

Over the weekend I visited my nieces and nephew. I brought them my newly released books. I read one out loud to Brinkley…The Kid and the Chameleon. It was the first time I’d read that published book to the intended audience; the first time I’d witnessed a reaction to that book from a child. I began reading. She wanted me to keep going (even when others were playing on iPads.) Then after I had finished, amidst the excitement of everything around her, she sat by herself and read it again. Relatively speaking, she’s a newer reader. Because relatively speaking, she’s a newer human. At the age of 7, the world that books open for her is just beginning. And as I watched her read through the pages, stopping to take in the amazing darling illustrations of Joanie’s, I felt a mix of emotions, from a tremendous responsibility for what we are writers put into print to be taken in by impressionable minds and hearts, to a sense of great honor, for being a gateway into the world of literature for little ones. As writers, we never really know how a book we’ve written might stay with the reader even after the covers are closed.

That night, after we’d said our good byes and driven the two hours back home, my brother txt to let me know. “Thanks again, Sheri. Brinkley is sleeping with the book under her pillow.”

Yep…it’s the little things.

Soar

On Whitnie’s preschool picture day about 20 years ago, they offered the option to bring siblings to be photographed as well. I brought Kaiti, though she was too young to even go to school. I remember her sitting perfectly still for the photo session. The man snapped the pic and the moment he left, she burst into tears. It was too scary for her.

I learned something that day about this girl…that I needed to be more in tune with her unique fragility so her strength could shine; I needed to allow her to take the reins in her own hands a bit more. She couldn’t be forced, she had to be allowed. To be her in her own way. I certainly didn’t get it right all of the time. And sometimes, it was almost too scary for me. Because when I handed over the reins to Kaiti, she took off full speed ahead. Rock climbing, sky diving, parasailing. Moving to the point on the planet further from home. Camping in the wilds of Australia. A tattoo that means, “create your own destiny.” Inspiring others to be kinder and gentler. These are just a few of the ways she takes in the world in her own unique way.

Most recently we were in New Zealand and Kaiti had the idea that for her birthday, she needed to bungee jump off of a bridge. I fought it until I remembered that pre-preschool moment. So I sat with her on the ledge as a stranger tied a rope to my daughter’s legs. Kt was visibly scared yet had that sparkle in her eye. Truth be told, it was really too scary for me. I couldn’t watch the fall, but I did get the picture of her standing on the ledge, smiling. I snapped the pic, she jumped, and I burst into tears, knowing that the reins were now, and would be forever more, officially in her hands.

This pic is Kaiti soaring into the air, out of her childhood and into whatever adventures await. Since that teary pre preschool pic day, she’s grown up to be brilliance and kindness, graceful fragility and abundant strength. Happy 21st golden birthday to Kaiti. The planet became a more beautiful and exhilarating place the day this girl joined the world.

To My Parents

When I was little, my parents used to give me gifts here and there like lots of parent do. Often, there was a note or a card, “To Sheri…”

One of the best gifts in my childhood was their encouragement for me to be creative. It seems that a continual message from them to me was, “To Sheri…write.” As a youngster, I’d sit against a tree in the woods with my collie and paper and pencil, and scribble out story after story, long winded drafts that could have been said in half the words (No comments here please, lol.) I remember how excited I was to show my mom and my dad. Though of course, early on, I learned that while publishing is important, ultimately, I shouldn’t write to receive praise from others…still, there’s something powerfully encouraging about the nod, the smile, the words from a mom and from a dad. “To Sheri….write.”

I never outgrew that excitement to share with my parents. This weekend, I’ll take my newest book, “Soar High Dragonfly!” to show my dad. He is in a retirement home now. His mind is filled with other things these days that keep him from recalling some of the details he used to recall, so I may need to remind him that this book is soon to be released. But I Have no doubt that the same smile he showed me 40 years ago, will spread across his face as easily as it did then. My mom died a few years ago, so unfortunately, I”ll only be able to feel her smile, and not see it. But when the book comes out in a few weeks, I’ll be glad that I’ve finally gotten a chance to give a gift back to them that says, “To my parents…”

Two Weeks

Two weeks in India…37 degree nights in a tent. 73 degree days in the sun. Smiles. Honking. Cows wandering. Trash. Meditation. Hindi. Curry. Polluted air. Flowers. Millions of people. Ganga. Wild peacocks. Holy shrines. Naans. Kirtan. Seminars. Malas. Bucket bathing. Humility. Fire ceremonies. Homeless dogs everywhere. Sanskrit. Beauty. Swamaji’s caretaker. Honking. Smiles. Chai tea breaks each afternoon. Early evening prayers. New lifetime friends. Living outside. Sacred teachers. Kind strangers offering their chair. Kumbh Mela. Vegan meals. Learning. Raw humanity. Dirtiness. Brilliant bright colored clothes. Rupees. Endless noise. Yoga. Alchemy. Honking. Smiles. Sacred practice. Fourteen days of India.

This beautiful woman nodded a yes that I could take her photo, but only after she carefully covered her head and shared a gentle smile.

Vivid colors of dye among the drab drape of pollution.

At the confluence of rivers
A man and his son. A man and his beast.

Once Taken for Granted

Many concerns almost kept me from making the trip to India. I’ll admit that one such worry was bucket bathing in cold temps for two weeks.

Touring through the villages and watching the people’s ways…them bathing in public, scrubbing dishes streetside. Pausing in their chores as we strolled by to smile and wave.

Back at our campus…a plastic bucket full of water was never appreciated so much. I was told I’d learn how to not waste through this practice. Not waste water. Food. Words. (Are my posts getting less lengthy?) I do know this…I’m grateful for this experience and the learning I’m gaining. And I’m hoping to be more mindful of blessings once taken for granted.

Holy Cow

Many in India see things differently than many in other countries. Take the cow, for example, held in high esteem to be protected and revered. Where I’m from, you most likely won’t see a bovine adorned with flowers.

People often ask why I turned vegan. The answer is somewhere in here…it’s a little less about diet. A little more about non-violence. Like my daughter, who inspired me to be vegan said, “it’s easy to be vegan when it’s for the sake of animals and the planet, not just for yourself.”

Today we went to a place where Gandhi spent some time. I bought a book with his words of wisdom. “Ahimsa (non-violence) is the highest ideal. It is meant for the brave never for the cowardly.”

I’m working on respecting all living things; I’m working on my bravery. Namaste.

Sacred Treasures

A boat ride on the Ganga. It was slow. The water was low. The sun beat down. The river was filled with remnants of the Mela. At first glance it wasn’t pretty. But then I noticed the vessel we were in. Old and worn, yet continuing to carry. The men rowing smiled and sang and one gave me his bracelet off his wrist. The river-sacred flowing water that has been washing millions, gifted this book that was floating by and our captain said was a bible in Hindi. I was reminded that if you are open, sacred treasures can always be found.