From the Publisher: to Dolores

Julia Edelman's mother Dolores

This issue of The Phoenix Spirit is about retreats. This is when I usually blather on about retreats being my favorite topic of the year and that there exists a retreat to fit every budget, temperament, and shoe size. But this year is different. While all of the above is true, I’ve ventured, rather involuntarily, into a retreat of a different stripe this past spring. Dolores, my 88-yearold mom, passed away on May 4. Her death was both expected and unexpected. People ask such things, and it’s a good question to ponder. Mom was declining rapidly with her physical health, … Continue reading

In a World Without Empathy

John Driggs

Imagine living in a world where no one is capable of understanding anybody else’s feelings. In such a world, someone could grasp how you feel only if he or she had exactly the same experiences you’ve had. If they hadn’t had those experiences they would have no idea what you are talking about. Consequently, you’d likely feel all alone in your solitary circumstances. Of course then you would have no way to feel loved since the experience of true love is about someone else accepting us as we really are and not for how we match up to their expectations. … Continue reading

Entering Silence

“Nowhere can man find a quieter or more untroubled retreat than in his own soul.” Marcus Aurelius Where do you go when life gets to be too much? When your days overflow with tasks and decisions? When resentments simmer and bubble while violins sing woeful laments? Where do you go? Life ebbs and flows. As tasks overcrowd my hours, the elasticity of a day stretches only so far before it snaps back. Some days everything goes according to my plan and I confidently step out on the ledge of arrogance thinking, “I’ve got it licked now! I can manage my … Continue reading

The Retreat: Not Just for Weekends Anymore

When I first got married, my wife and I moved to a tiny hamlet in eastern Montana. It was her hometown and she had a job at a local community college teaching public speaking. My job was at a rinky-dink bank playing customer service rep and twiddling my thumbs in the back room pretending to work with the computers. It wasn’t bad, but definitely not a dream job. At least I had plenty of time after work to drink when wifey was off teaching in the evenings. We belonged to a church where my wife had been baptized as a baby … Continue reading

Rock the Boat

Rock the Boat: How to Use Conflict to Heal and Deepen Your Relationship     By Resmaa Menakem      Hazelden Publishing      Menakem writes, “We look to our partner for harmony and safety and familiarity. A long relationship provides these some of the time. But it also provides friction. Friction-not harmony or safety-is an engine of growth.” Drawing on his 25 years of experience as a licensed social worker, mediating families, including military and civilian couples, he gets right to the point describing the reality of relationships, “This book is about choosing to grow up.” He uses stories from actual clients and composites of … Continue reading

Warrior Goddess Training

Warrior Goddess Training

Warrior Goddess Training: Become the Woman You Are Meant To Be     By Heather Ash Amara     Hierophant Publishing      Amara states that women were “trained to seek our wholeness and value and to find love through others.” She was trained in Toltec wisdom and shamanism. Now she wants to share her wisdom and help woman be so much more. She wrote this book based on a year-long program she created in 1997called Thirteen Moons. In the first of 10 lessons, she encourages the reader to “Commit to You” and learn to “love all of who you are, flaws and all.” In the … Continue reading

Simply Open

Simply Open

Simply Open: A Guide to Experiencing God in the Everyday     By Greg Paul     Nelson Books     In his newest book, Paul states, “Prayerfully read this book and ask God to open your eyes, open your ears, open your nostrils, open your mouth, open your hands, open your mind, and open your heart.” He describes using the five senses while reflecting on the cycle of releasing, receiving, becoming, and doing. Each chapter closes with items to remember, such as this from the chapter on touching: “We are not likely to be touched or held ourselves, nor to touch or hold others in … Continue reading

My Dearest One

My Dearest One

My Dearest One     By Monisha Vasa, M.D.     Balboa Press     Bedtime stories are sharing times between the reader, whether they are a parent, grandparent, or other caregiver, and the child. They allow room for new words, discussion of the story and new concepts which may be presented by the story. They provide a dedicated space of time to share together. This children’s book is intended to facilitate those interactions. Vasa encourages the discussion of living intentionally and using self-reflection as a tool to help children develop healthy emotional lives. As the parent elephant said to the little elephant, “Blessed are we … Continue reading

Better Than Before: Mastering the Habits of Our Everyday Lives

Better Than Before

Better Than Before: Mastering the Habits of Our Everyday Lives     By Gretchen Rubin     Crown Publishers     Habits. We all have some that we think are good and some we think are bad. In this book, readers are taught to evaluate their habits and use that knowledge to affect change. What’s the best way to successfully change a habit? Know your specific personality type. Whether an Upholder, Questioner, Rebel, Obliger, or a combination of these, readers can put the principles of change into action. Included is a quiz to assist with determining which type you are and twenty-one strategies to help establish … Continue reading

My Retreat

Emily Roiphe Carter

I am not a woman naturally drawn to serenity or stillness. I am often tangled in the trees and quite unable to detect the shape of the forest. I do not tend to meditate, or exercise with the kind of disciplined regularity required to make up a healthy habit. There is however, a place I can go to escape the world and myself. It’s on video and it’s available in abundance of YouTube. At night, in bed, before I fall asleep, I watch a story about a humble, blind masseur wandering through Edo period Japan: my own personal Jesus—Zatoichi, (Masseur … Continue reading

create art! make music! explore!

create art!  make music!  explore! It was the holiday season, my day off, and I was up to my eyeballs with things to do. So when my daughter phoned inviting me to make baked dough ornaments, I thought I just don’t have the time. But I really wanted to spend time with her so I happily put tasks on hold. I figured we’d hang out together, make a few ornaments and I’d get back to my to-do list. I arrived to a warm, sunny kitchen where she and a friend already had the first pan out of the oven displaying … Continue reading

Resentments: the Hydrochloric Acid of the Soul

“It is plain that a life which includes deep resentment leads only to futility and unhappiness. To the precise extent that we permit these, do we squander the hours that might have been worthwhile? But with the alcoholic, whose hope is the maintenance and growth of a spiritual experience, this business of harboring resentment is infinitely grave. For then we shut ourselves off from the sunlight of the spirit” —Bill W. in As Bill Sees It I’m a person who is easily pissed off. There . . . I said it. And it’s true. Let me give you an example … Continue reading

Wild: Life Lessons from the Wilderness

An Interview with Cheryl Strayed, the author of Wild: Life Lessons from the Wilderness Cheryl Strayed is a Minnesota native, and the author of Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail. Wild is the journey of Strayed’s 1,100 mile, three month solo hike on the Pacific Crest Trail and the personal struggles that led to her hike, including the tragic loss of her beloved mother to lung cancer when Cheryl was 22-years-old. Oprah Winfrey selected Wild for her book club, which led to a spot on the New York Times best seller list, and Reese Witherspoon commissioned … Continue reading

Letter to the Editor

Dear Reader, I can well appreciate your response to my article on parents who are abandoned by their children. Certainly people who were abused in childhood ought not be judged or pressured to reunite with their parents unless they are internally lead to do so. Some abused people actually may lessen their damage by trying to reconnect with parents. My intention in the article was to specifically address parents who were not abusive to their children who nevetherless get rejected today by their adult children. The example at the start illustrates this intent. Although I tried I could have been … Continue reading

From the Publisher

A few years ago a friend smiled wistfully as she listened to me stumble through an beginner’s sonata on our ancient Wurlitzer upright — the same piano I sat at for half-an-ungodly-hour day after day while growing up. “I’m so impressed that you can read music,” my friend lamented and I was shocked. She plays at clubs, weddings, big events and restaurants around town, and my brain couldn’t compute that she could be so talented and yet not read the notes on the page. “It’s like I have some sort of musical dyslexia,” she said, explaining the musical malady that … Continue reading