Move to Change: Using Dance to Ease Conflict

Throughout our lives, we learn contextually appropriate ways to maneuver our bodies in relationship to the world. Children, for instance, are often given more social permission to move about, jump, and play with fervor. However, the body-politic does not offer equal access or freedom to move for all; in some cultures certain forms of movement may be against the law or push against the boundaries of cultural norms. Yet our bodies need to move to live, and to change. Dancers seem to understand this need to move on a cellular level. For them, dancing serves as a form of communication. … Continue reading

Creating Art Puts All the Pieces Together

Some of the most creative, resilient people in the Twin Cities live at Tower Apartments in South Minneapolis. In the spring of 2016, they spent many hours together in Tower’s lobby sharing their stories and shaping hundreds of ceramic and colored glass pieces into a stunning mosaic. The massive community creation now delights their eyes every time they step off the elevator near Tower’s entrance. With obvious pride, they tell visitors, “We made that.” Tower tenants are people with long lives. Most have faced more than their share of deep difficulties – having to leave beloved places, losing loved ones, … Continue reading

The Mystery of Systemic Family Constellations: A New Method for Healing Transgenerational Trauma

I’ve been a member of 12 step programs for a number of decades. I credit one of them with saving my life. However, about three years ago, I found myself confronting body pain that, upon closer inspection, seemed emotionally generated: my back seized up and I couldn’t walk. This was an acute representation of physical pain that I had lived with during most of my recovery. This kind of flare-up had happened a number of times before, yet I could never find the basic cause. This time, a friend of mine, a body-oriented somatic therapist, suggested I try “family constellations.” … Continue reading

Abstractly-Defined Artists Restore Humanity

Recently, I had the pleasure of speaking with both an old college professor and a local artist about the notion of healing through art. Comparing both conversations I found some striking similarities: Both people I interviewed came from backgrounds with troubled family dynamics that could easily be argued was — and still is — the foundation of every artistic thing they have ever done. Independently, yet simultaneously, they have taken their personal experiences and embedded them into ridiculous institutions [by way of teaching] with the objective being to either entertain or report possibilities in real time. Collectively, all three of … Continue reading

Have you Hugged your Teddy Bear Today?

Eleanor Leonard

Her college-age daughter had died unexpectedly in an accident. In a state of shock and controlled focus, she and her husband had reached out to friends and family, made funeral arrangements, housed out-of-town family members, carried on conversations. Now the house was empty; guests were gone, her husband had returned to work, a neighbor would look in later that afternoon. She went into her daughter’s room. It was exactly as her daughter had left it – the bed neatly made, a favorite teddy bear propped against the pillow. She circled the room closely, running soft fingers over her daughter’s jewelry, … Continue reading

Looking Both Ways in the New Year

Ah, the new year! Starting over, a clean slate, a fresh beginning wrapped up in our lists of resolutions to improve some aspect of our lives, to make the year ahead better. But better than what? The uptick in ads and commercials for fitness club memberships, diet plans and body sculpting would indicate a narrow definition of “better.” Yet the human spirit seems to innately understand that self-improvement is so much more, that some deeper wisdom longs to elevate our status above the quest for the transitory illusion of physical perfection. How do we honor that longing? How do we … Continue reading

Horse Sense

The snow swirled around the eight figures. They stood, shaking their heads, arms crossed, and shoulders hunched against the cold. They’d been standing there about ten minutes, staring at the PVC pipe that was raised a foot off the ground and at the herd of horses that seemed unconcerned. The predominating sense amongst the group was that these horses were not going to go over this obstacle. “Come on, let’s just go,” one of the group members called out, gesturing back toward the building, and one by one they walked into the arena and stood out of the wind and … Continue reading

Lighten Up with Step Six

“Lighten up” is my mantra for 2017. I tend to take life – and myself – pretty seriously. These days, though, I’m finding myself pretty amused by my imperfections, also known as character defects, thanks to engaging in Step 6. I’m especially humored by how many activities I thought required my involvement which seem to turn out just fine – or good enough — without me. But I’m the only one who knows how these things should be done. Hah! Apparently not. At first glance, Step 6 sounds painful: “Became entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of … Continue reading

Creating Your Food Philosophy

It’s the beginning of the year again. A time of snow days, hot chocolate and for many of us, resolutions. If you’re like millions of Americans, some of these resolutions revolve around healthier food choices. Media is full of recommendations to guide us in the right path. We are bombarded with articles about paleo diets, vegan lifestyles, detox cleanses, blah, blah, blah. Much of this information is well-meaning, but it is often biased and may not be right for you. I work with people who get caught up in this advice and decide it’s time for a diet overhaul. Honestly, … Continue reading

Rewild Yourself!

We modern, industrialized humans live a tamed existence that is overly mechanized, gadgetized, sterilized, and—for the most part—segregated from the natural world. We are hungry for rich engagement with life that is ancient to our mind, heart, body, and spirit. We feel restless in our heads, hearts, and bones for reunion with our selves and with nature, as well as for freedom from the madness of the over-complicated civilized world. Let’s willingly let ourselves out of our cages. Let’s rewild. “Rewilding” means simply returning to a state of wildness. One definition of “rewilding” is re-skilling with the technologies of our … Continue reading

The Art of Giving

Eleanor Leonard

Potatoes; a pocket watch chain; a pair of decorative combs; a plastic crucifix. Are any of these on your gift list? We may turn up our collective nose and scoff at the quaintness, yet each in its own way could stand in for the grander definition of “gift”. The 14th century Persian Sufi master and poet Hafiz, in a poem entitled The Gift, wrote: A hunger comes into your body / So I run to my garden / And start digging potatoes. Six centuries later, American writer O. Henry published his now-beloved short story The Gift of the Magi. In … Continue reading

Stressing the Importance of Stress, How mental distress is a signal to make a change in your life

Physical or mental distress can be challenging at times. We certainly don’t go out of our way to acquire it, and we generally try hard to prevent it, but like Murphy’s Law if something can becoming challenging and distressful it will, and probably at the most undesired time. Just the idea of distress is frequently distressful. Our minds act in concert with our bodies in how they handle or respond to our specific environments. When our bodies are perceived to be under attack from, say, a virus, the hypothalamus – the area in your brain that acts as your body’s … Continue reading

Love, Joy, Peace and Hope – Give it Away

“You give but little when you give of your possessions. It is when you give of yourself that you truly give.” ~ Kahlil Gibran It is better to give than receive. We hear it all the time—especially this time of year. But sometimes I wonder if we really believe it. We say the phrase as if the generalization is a forgone conclusion. We print it on bumper stickers and billboards. We teach it to our children. And we mutter it under our breath when circumstances don’t go as expected. But in reality, the axiom is difficult to live out. We … Continue reading

Gratitude: Focusing on the Bright Side

If you count all your assets, you always show a profit. ~Robert Quillen I can get so frustrated with my life some days that I allow my thoughts to make me feel as though nothing is going my way and nothing ever will. While I was doing the dishes this afternoon I made a mental list of all the things going wrong. My daughter is getting ready to move into first apartment while attending the college and the change-related stress due is causing tension between us. My grown son has been especially busy lately and doesn’t seem to ever return … Continue reading

The Next Step — Rediscovering the Whole Person

The landscape for alcohol and substance abuse recovery has been dominated for 80 years by Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and its guiding principles The Twelve Steps which became the gold standard for recovery. While the program is credited with helping millions of people around the world, the gold is losing some of its luster. The National Academy of Sciences in a 1990 report to Congress noted AA’s “lack of well-designed and well-executed studies that can be cited to support or negate the validity” of its claim to be “the most successful treatment for persons with alcohol problems.” To date, that scientific … Continue reading

Staying Sharp: Q&A with Doctors Henry Emmons & David Alter

By Women in Recovery In their new book Staying Sharp, doctors Henry Emmons and David Alter have combined the latest neuroscience research with ageold wisdom about resilience, mindfulness, and stress reduction to show that vibrant aging is within reach. Together they demonstrate how to blend the best of modern science and Eastern holistic medicine to form a powerful drug-free program that will maintain a youthful mind and a happy life. We posed some questions to the doctors on how to live more joyfully, age more gracefully, and build intimacy in our relationships, no matter what our age. Q. What happens … Continue reading