Saturday, December 5, 2015

Introducing "The Tango Provocateur"

This is the first in a series of essays about my relationship to embodiment and movement through the unlikely (those of you who know me know how unlikely this is) pursuit of Argentine Tango. Some backstory is necessary for you to appreciate what I've learned from exploring the odd range of activities and circumstances in my life that includes Osteopathy, ice-skating, Continuum Movement, cancer, and tango. The way I encounter all of these things shares a philosophical common ground that applies to everything in my life. In the coming weeks I will be establishing a new blog, to explore this new frontier in my conscious embodiment, specifically in the context of tango. "Bonnie Gintis Health Update" will continue to be a way for me to communicate with you about my health and well-being, and as an exploration of the philosophy of life that has supported my surviving and thriving, even in the face of life-threatening and disabling disease.

On a chilly day in the fall of 1989 shortly after my 33rd birthday I realized that the burden I had been dragging around beneath my head was my body, and I began to suspect that it held wonders. I knew a lot about bodies; after all, I was not just a physician, but an Osteopath. It was convenient and interesting to have a body so nearby, but I tried to not let it get in the way of my life. It invariably did anyway, and did more so as I continued to get older. It even distracted me occasionally with something pleasant or even pleasurable, so when it got my attention that fall day, I chose to listen and follow where it led me.

My body led me to an ice-skating rink in downtown Poughkeepsie, New York. “Learn To Skate” is what the marquee on the front of the building commanded me to pursue, and in a moment of slipping out of character I thought, “that’s a good idea.” I went inside and inquired about how to learn to skate. I was coincidentally just in time for a beginner’s class. They collected seven dollars, asked my shoe size, handed me a pair of navy blue plastic skates and pointed to the far end of the ice, where traffic cones walled off a corridor. I was perplexed about how to get there. I asked if there was there a special walkway for beginners. Could I walk around to a backdoor that would let me in the far side of the rink by the lesson area? When they told me I had to skate to get there, I burst into tears, overwhelmed by the decades of ignored and unresolved fright, fragility, hopelessness, helplessness, and clumsiness of my physically awkward childhood.

I fumbled with my wobbly and extremely uncomfortable blue plastic rental skates. I managed to get them on, and then desperately gripping the railing, shuffled to the lesson area. I arrived red-in-the-face, tears dripping down my cheeks, to meet the instructor and the six other members of my class, all eight to twelve-year-old girls.

Within an hour I could push off with the side of my blade and glide on one foot. I could turn a corner by tilting my outstretched “airplane wing” arms. I realized that if I began gliding in the trajectory of a circle that I ended up spiraling in towards the center. I became fascinated with spiraling and spinning. It felt so good to glide on the ice and move in such unexpected ways that I forgot about being self-conscious. I stopped caring about what my teacher and classmates thought of me and the people watching us from the other side of the traffic cones disappeared.

The friction of a moving blade on the surface of the ice melts a drop of water beneath it. The skate blade sluices across the thin trace created by this freshly melted ice water between the blade and the rink’s frozen surface. The interface of the movement of my body, the blade, the liquid water, and the ice created sacred shapes. My mind quieted and all I could do was feel the emergence of circles and spirals between my body and the frozen water. What had been frozen into my body began to melt and move from me into the ice. I felt my past become the foundation on top of which I skated.

My intellect had objectified my body and walled “it” off from my experience for most of my life. There is no actual “it” in this story. I had fractured myself into pieces, dissociated, and objectified my own body. I’m not sure why I did this, but I trust that there was some good reason for my young survival mechanism to create this strategy and agenda. What once might have helped me get through something difficult was being perpetuated for too long, far beyond its necessity and was now hindering me from experiencing life fully. In moments of bliss on ice, I felt my sensation of embodiment shift back into phase with my sense of wholeness.

I regularly ice skated year-round for about 7 years, until I found myself living too far from ice to rationalize the drive. I became bored with the repetitive nature of the few things I had learned to do while balanced on a blade. Skating was technically so difficult to execute that I rarely felt free to express myself fully without risk of falling. I had reached a plateau of learning and creativity due to some combination of the limits of my free time, my body’s natural limits of strength, balance, and flexibility, and the threshold of my capacity to assimilate any more kinesthetic learning of this particular form. My interest faded, but I still yearned to listen deeply and feel my own movement unfold.  My relationship to my body was only beginning and I needed a new venue to explore embodiment.

This is around the time I met Emilie Conrad, and for those of you who don’t know that story, please read my book! (click here to buy a copy)

Twenty years later, lying in bed with breast cancer eating away at my bones, I did what many dying people do; I pondered my regrets. Astor Piazzola’s “Oblivion” ( could have been the soundtrack of this ordeal. In the early days after my diagnosis, the pain was so excruciating that I could barely breathe. I had to minimize the movements of my inhalation and exhalation. The tumors in my crumbling sternum and ribs wreaked havoc with this primal movement and I learned to adapt by breathing deeply into my belly without moving my chest. 

I silently pondered and surveyed my life. I had no serious regrets, but I wished I had learned to speak another language when I was young enough to have been fluent. Now it was too late and seemed somewhat irrelevant and not worth the energy.

I also wished I had learned to dance with a partner, but no dance ever called out to me. I could never get past the conventional gender roles with which you had to agree to participate. Most ballroom dances seemed exceedingly stiff and structured. Swing dance was too athletic and seemed frivolous. Salsa struck me as too fast and peppy for a zaftig Jewish girl like me. I tried Contact Improvisation, but it frequently led to what felt like a "puppy pile" and a lot of projection of people's needs on other dancers. Argentine Tango is what always got my attention. I found the music deeply moving. It’s probably best that I couldn’t understand Spanish so that I wasn’t turned off by many of the songs that have melodramatic and dated lyrics. Learning this very difficult dance seemed out of my limited reach as I contemplated my cancerous decline.

I told myself that these regrets were not so bad; I had lived a full life and done my best. I had loved well. I hadn’t done too badly in the thinking realm either. I achieved great things in my professional life. I was generous with my friends and family, and cared for other people for a living. It was in the domain of feeling that I had always been challenged. My tendency was to feel too much, too little, or the wrong thing for the situation at hand. Because physical and emotional pain so dominated the feeling realm of my early life I tended to avoid emotions and sensations that might bring my suffering into the forefront of my attention.

Perhaps it was this avoidance that allowed me to miss the growing presence of cancer as it spread. I quickly dismissed this possibility because it only led to more regrets during a time when I was soul-searching to decrease my burden. Why blame myself for the way things are? There's no way of knowing how or why some things happen. I realized that if I was going to make it through this ordeal I had to learn to be in a state of nonjudgmental acceptance without the emotional charge of self-blame. I have spent the past 6 years cultivating this state of acceptance. It has allowed me to live with the presence of cancer in my body without emotionally (and physically) decompensating. This acceptance of the way things are has guided the choices I make and the way I care for myself. Surrender to the course of my life has profoundly deepened my appreciation for each precious moment.

This acceptance has also allowed me to get curious about dancing Argentine Tango. My teacher, Tomás Howlin, likens tango to moving meditation, but points out that in meditation you can sit there sometimes looking as if you are meditating, while actually daydreaming and fooling yourself and others. In tango, if your attentiveness to the moment wavers for a second, the connection with your partner and the music is interrupted and the dance is lost. Tango is meditation with instant feedback. 

Tango requires a willingness to be uncomfortable and has increased my capacity to endure discomfort. This discomfort arises as you see all your habits and ways of being that don’t serve you in this dance where relationship, listening, and connection are foundational. The saying, “wherever you go, there you are” sums it up. All of your habits in relationship, compensations, and avoidances that you’ve made work in the rest of your life, show up as impediments to the dance. And in turn, the dance offers a chance to finally examine and let go of these strategies that don’t really work. The gift of tango is freedom, but you have to climb an extremely steep slope to obtain it.

Tango without courage and vulnerability is nothing but a technical performance, like a movie set that has striking visual effect, but no actual depth. This dance is spontaneous, improvisational, precise, and intimate, an unlikely combination of attributes. It has its awkward and occasionally painful moments, but the rewards make it all worthwhile. There is amazing pleasure in being able to communicate intention and movement and to share creativity within a constantly changing shape of space. Tango offers a way to live with uncertainty and meet the unknown with grace and fluidity. 

Occasionally and usually unexpectedly, a blissful and transcendent dance unfolds. Two dancers seamlessly communicate and respond to each other and the music joins them as a third and equal partner. This joy is the reward for patience, presence, and persistence. I don't mean the kind of transcendence in which you leave your body. What I mean is an embodied transcendence that transforms everything in its path to Grace. 

Osteopathy taught me to listen to and engage with other people's bodies. Ice skating awoke in me the desire to move. Continuum Movement taught me to listen to my own body and my environment, and to explore the mysteries of movement, stillness, breath and health. Cancer teaches me to stay and surrender to the necessity of the moment. Tango combines all this life experience as I learn to listen, to lead, and to follow in new and unexpected ways.

(In the coming weeks, you can find more about embodied tango as a personal and radical political act at

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

I’m Great, But My Body Is Having A Hard Time

In Wendell Berry's poem, The Real Work, he writes,

     It may be that when we no longer know what to do
     we have come to our real work,
     and that when we no longer know which way to go
     we have come to our real journey.

It’s been another long stretch of time between blog entries and I’m starting to get emails and phone calls again from some of you asking if I’m okay. I like to answer that question by saying, “I am great, but my body is having a hard time.” I have definitely reached a new phase of no longer knowing what to do and no longer knowing which way to go. Here's my new conundrum...

This past March I began feeling worse, assuming it was the side effect from the anti-cancer, estrogen-blocking medication I was taking (Femara/letrozole). This is what prompted me to write the last entry, "Why Me?" Versus "Why Not Me?" I went off the medication and rather than feel better, I continued to get worse. It was apparent that there was something else going on. 

To make a long story short, I have been diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis. My first response was, "really?!" This is an exasperated expression of shock. But it is followed by a regular, garden-variety "really?" which is an expression of momentary disbelief, followed by acceptance and curiosity. What is this new challenge about?

The twisted good news is that I have lived long enough with cancer that I have developed a new chronic disease! How ironic that I simultaneously have 2 diseases that behave at opposite ends of the immune spectrum. My immune system didn’t recognize and go after cancer, and now it thinks my own joints are foreign invaders that need to be destroyed. 

I am searching for ways to treat this auto-immune affliction. I like to think of it as a "reaction" more than a "disease." I spent 3 months trying all sorts of new diets, supplements, herbs, and alternative treatments, and I continued to deteriorate. I decided I needed relief and to halt what felt like a spreading wildfire before permanent damage was done. I went on a short course of prednisone and weekly methotrexate. After 9 weeks, I am beginning to respond to the methotrexate (which takes 8-12 weeks to kick in), with surprisingly no apparent side effects, and I am now weaning off prednisone. Prednisone is both miraculous and evil. I have great respect for its light and dark sides and hope to be off of it in a few weeks before I am confronted with any of it’s serious side effects. Over time, I hope that some of the other approaches, such as addressing my gut ecology, will support a remission or cure of this dreaded autoimmune arthritis.

I went back on a different anti-cancer drug. This time I am taking Tamoxifen, which has no muscle and joint side effects, and is thought to be just as effective as what I was previously taking. I'm not willing to stop taking an estrogen-blocker of some sort because 100% of women I have known with similar cancers that have tried to go off after 5 or 8 or 10 or 12 years and have had recurrences. I can't tell you if this is fear-based or just being practical. I'm not willing to find out, so I'm on Tamoxifen for now.

Even though I’ve been immersed in a health crisis since the spring, I have also managed to thrive, participate in the things I love, and find their therapeutic value. I somehow have managed to dance tango (even when I could only hobble for a 3 minute song before needing a rest), go to Kripalu, attend a silent retreat led by Jack Kornfield, go to the annual Osteopathic Cranial Academy conference, visit my brother, and take a day trip to Montreal. Steve and I did all of these things together. He has been amazing and with me all the way as we both explore how to move through life’s uncertainties. 

Leading a workshop at Kripalu on Transformative Self-Care was quite an energetic push. It was the workshop I really wanted to be taking. I taught it so that I could reap the benefit of having been a participant. I needed a few weeks to recover afterwards, but it was totally worth it! For those of you who want to join me next time, I'm offering it next year on Sunday, May 22 - Friday May 27, 2016. It's not listed on the Kripalu website yet, but it will be soon. I will post a blog entry as soon as it is open for registration.

Remaining curious about the paradoxical nature of my physiology, I can creatively cope with the challenges of my daily life. Perhaps in order to achieve balance my immune system has had to swing far in both directions. When I let go of needing to understand why and just explore what is, I find an unexpected vein of meaning. I immerse myself in contradiction until there is no duality. When I hold the reference point for these apparent opposites as the fulcrum of meaning, I can see that auto-immune reactivity and lack of immune recognition both share the same reference point - immune function. What if I shift my attention from the 2 ends of the spectrum, and move to the fulcrum that each malady shares? There I discover the power at the point of balance between these 2 states. I meditate in an open-ended state of inquiry about this each day, hoping for insight or relief. Like an Alchemist, I hold the tension of the two opposites and wait for the transformational (or should I say "transmutational") power to bring forth something new, an unexpected third state.

If only I could find a way to apply this practice to coping with my reaction to the predicament of refugees, racism, beheadings, police brutality, loss of privacy, the slaughter of Pakistani children, etc. The world is too big for me to take on. My heart is aching and my mind is baffled.

The final lines of the Wendell Berry poem I quoted in the opening are,

     The mind that is not baffled is not employed.
     The impeded stream is the one that sings.

I find these words encouraging. I don't have to solve the problems of the world.  I may no longer know what to do or know which way to go, but when I encounter a blockage of flow, I have an opportunity to be creative and find another way to allow my impeded life stream to sing. 

Thursday, April 16, 2015

"Why Me?" Versus "Why Not Me?"

“Why me?” is a common outcry of the newly diagnosed. As I have sat with this question for more than 5 years, I have explored many alternative answers, and they all lead me to the realization that I don’t take my life so personally. This doesn’t mean that I am in any way detached or not caring, in fact, this underlying assumption allows me to thrive within the limits imposed upon me.

My cancer experience is one common to humans. Almost everyone dies of cancer or cardiovascular disease. A few die from a few other diseases (infection, diabetes, neurological conditions), accidents, violence, and suicide. What I am experiencing is quite mundane in the realm of human experience.

There is a difference between my biology and my biography. Emilie Conrad loved to explore what she called, “The Three Anatomies.”

  • Our personal anatomy carries our life stories and the specifics of our bodily experience within the context of our families and culture. 
  • Our biological anatomy is the field of expression that is shared by every human. In this domain there is no identification with individuality, race, class, nationality, or religion. Our existence as part of the natural world can be explored through this biological lens. 
  • Our cosmic anatomy encompasses the energetic or non-material aspects of our existence – the unknown and the unknowable aspects of living in a vast mystery. 
I can view my life through any of these filters (and a variety of others too) and draw very different conclusions, and yet, they are all simultaneously true. 

Cancer may be an entity that has integrated and assimilated itself into my body, but I do not identify with it as part of my “essence.” I don’t deny its existence or power, I just try not to be enmeshed with it. I approach living with cancer like a difficult relationship that needs good boundaries and a lot of attention. I believe I am the same person as I was before I lived with cancer. This belief allows me to put a little space between what I perceive as “me” and “it.” On a day when I feel good, this is easy to do. But when I'm not feeling well, I can be tempted to sink into identification with the disease process. This magnifies my suffering, which is the last thing I should want to do. Why am I tempted by the dark pleasure of suffering? (That's a rhetorical question, please don't offer advice or potential cures!)

I'm learning to recognize when I’m caught in this loop of thinking. I try to be aware that I’m doing it, and this awareness decreases it’s charge and the power it has over me. Two sayings from different teachers help me in these challenging moments. Jim Jealous said, “when you find yourself in a rat’s nest, don’t play with the rat.” Emilie Conrad used to warn people to not get intoxicated by "inhaling their own noxious fumes." Both these thoughts motivate me to shift something in my inner scene when I catch myself going down a dark hole. I have come to realize that there is a big difference between being informed by my experience and being identified with it. 

I understand the natural history of the living human body and I try to differentiate normal aging from the experience that is superimposed upon me by medications and their side effects. Aging is an internally generated experience and I accept that it is not about me personally; it is a normal part of being human. A medication side-effect is externally imposed, which helps me not take it so personally. I accept that I choose joint pain rather than to die soon from spreading cancer, so I take my medication and have gratitude for how it contributes to my being alive, even if it does so in an imperfect way.

My situation is not my fault. If any fault could be assigned it would not change my experience, so why waste the energy trying to discover the unknown or unknowable? I cannot do anything about genetics, the environment, random mutations, or any other putative cause. I refuse to abuse or punish myself for anything. Even if my situation were someone or something else’s fault, it would not change anything or help me to be angry, bitter, or wish for revenge.

Immediately upon asking, “why me?” I am led to the obvious next question, “why not me?” When I immerse myself in the contradiction posed by those two questions, they seem to collapse into each other until there is no duality. I discover freedom and peace in the stillpoint in the center of this paradox, in which two seemingly opposite questions have the same answer.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Confronted With The Impossible

Being confronted with the impossible 
makes us ask unexpected questions. 
Emilie Conrad, founder of Continuum Movement

I did not think I'd live long enough to ask some of the questions I'm asking these days. It's been five years and a few months since I was diagnosed with cancer and told that I would most likely die within two years. I'm living outside the realm of probability and therefore, inside the realm of possibility, and within this mysterious domain I am confronted with a deluge of unexpected questions. I am living proof of the unfolding of Emilie Conrad's statement.

Before I launch into philosophically pondering some of these unexpected questions, I need to fill you all in with some current events. I've been somewhere between unwilling and unable to blog, post on Facebook, or talk about myself publicly for quite a while. It is exhausting living life under scrutiny. It's tricky to find the balance between my need for privacy in order to maintain and support my inner state of equilibrium and inquiry, and the desire for a wider web of connection. Before I engage in public disclosure, I have wanted to understand what need I am meeting by sharing with you all. I am feeling the tenderness of exposing my fragile being, and an organic sort of shyness.

I don't mean social or emotional shyness, the feeling of self-consciousness when looked at, although I have to admit to feeling a little of that. My shyness is not personal; it is more like the expression of shyness that we find in the natural world - the way a bird is scared off by staring at it, or the way animals in the wild run and hide if they know you've spotted them.

I value privacy, and yet I feel that there needs to be a balance between privacy and sharing, otherwise those private moments can seem isolating. In writing to you all I get to choose what to share and when to restrain disclosure. I'm not trying to create a public image; I'm searching for the balance of information that helps me feel expressive, connected, and understood, while also respecting my own guardedness of my vulnerability.

In this blog entry, I’ll address the following “external” questions that have come from emails from blog readers since I posted last. Sometime soon I hope to write to you all and dive into some of the internally generated “unexpected questions.” 

My PET scan, which was done in December, shows no new cancer activity. My tumor markers remain low. No one really knows what it means to have cancer that is “metabolically inactive.” It’s just a finding on a test, not a literal description of what’s happening in my body. We know it’s probably not growing or actively spreading. Cancer cells could be circulating in my blood and traveling throughout my body, but we don’t know how to accurately measure this. For now, it all seems to just sit there sleeping. It’s not gone, but it’s also not doing much. Do I tip-toe around in my life trying not to wake the sleeping dragon? Or do I ignore the inert mess inside my bones and plow ahead? I’m always listening for clues and although I can’t say I know the answers, I am alive, and that is literally living proof that I’m on the right track. But as Will Rogers said, “Even if you're on the right track, you'll get run over if you just sit there.” I try not to sit too much.

My bones that have/had metastases growing within them are remodeling, and it’s not clear how much of this is a good thing or not. My clavicle and ribs are changing shape and the outer rim of bone is thinner with more scar tissue in and around the bone. In some ways, knowing this I feel more fragile. I’m afraid to walk outside alone in this icy winter wonderland for fear of falling and breaking. No one can definitively say if I am exceptionally aware and I’m being appropriately cautious, or if I’m being overprotective of myself. I walk the fine line between heightened awareness and paranoia.

The side effects of the anti-estrogen medication I take daily (and am still encouraged to take for the rest of my life) continue to wreak havoc with all my muscles, tendons, and joints. Almost everything hurts all the time. It’s a full-time job filtering out pain from my daily perceptions without losing other vital information from my body, people around me, tango partners, and my environment. But it’s what I do, because it’s preferable to taking pain medication. How do I cope with chronic pain? These are some of my avenues of relief: I breathe, I rest, I meditate, I have a glass of wine, I practice Continuum, and I tango.

Tango doesn’t actually provide relief (yet, but I’m hopeful), just distraction. When the dance becomes fluid there is tremendous pleasure, but at a cost. It has taken almost a year and a half to begin experiencing these few precious moments of fluidity without pain, effort, and concentration. The strength I have had to develop to be able to dance has been hard-earned. I not only suffer from the soreness of using my body in new ways, but from the compensation I have to engage to dance with my upper body in such disarray. I hurt if I stay home and do nothing, so I’d rather hurt somewhat differently and be dancing.

I have been mysteriously drawn (ok, it’s not so mysterious) to a dance that relies on awareness of my sternum/heart, but my sternum is as thin as an eggshell, filled with the remains of tumor and scar tissue. My heart is heavy as I carry the sadness of the life I have had to give up, the sadness of my mother who died from ovarian cancer at 53, the sadness of the world. My third rib on the right doesn’t attach to my sternum and it grinds and pops with every ocho (a tango step) and torque of the embrace. 

It’s not just my chest and ribs that hurt, my neck and upper back are literally holding on for dear life. I have constant pain and frequent spasms, especially with movement of my arms. Both hands become numb and tingling if I hold anything or anyone too hard for too long. 2 of the 4 places in my pelvis that have "suspicious lesions" ache all the time, especially after walking backwards. I have migratory intermittent flare-ups of my feet, ankles, knees, shoulders, elbows, and wrists. My hips remain the only joints in my body that work fabulously! I have a faint hope that these things might get better with use, since my feet, which were horribly painful 2 years ago have significantly improved.

As some things have somewhat improved, my left hand, in particular, is rapidly getting progressively worse. The joint at the base of my thumb is destroyed, and the one next to it is starting to degenerate also. The trapezium bone and its former ligaments are just a blur on an x-ray. The thumb metacarpal is dislocated, because the joint is gone – there is no location for it to be located anymore. I have 2 large osteophytes (bone spurs) one of which has broken off and is floating in the mess in my palm. I have minimal use of my thumb. I can only grasp with the other 4 fingers.  The good news is that I’m alive and hope to be so long enough that I’m considering a surgery (sometime before September) that will restore the use of my thumb. I would be in a cast for 3 months, which seems simultaneously unimaginable and like it might be a reasonable tradeoff, if I get the use of my thumb back. I’m sitting with a big decision and waiting to be clear about what to do.

Pain reminds me of the preciousness of life and the temporary ability we have to dance. I know that everything I’m learning is ephemeral. I will eventually have to let go when I lose my ability to move in this way. Is this heart-wrenching melodrama? Or is this this being a realistic human? Regardless of how young and strong and healthy you are, unless you die suddenly one day without warning, you will eventually lose the ability to do certain things. I know that my window of opportunity will eventually close. As I get in touch with the imperative of my desire for a last chance to learn this dance, I accept that some day I'll let go of being able to dance. This highlights the preciousness of it.

Life in Vermont continues to be great. I love all the seasons – all 7 of them: winter, sub-zero, mud, spring, summer, fall, and stick (after the leaves fall but before it snows). I love the variety of so many distinct times of year. So much of my life has been in monotonous weather, in Florida and California, that I welcome the variations. I could do without this much sub-zero weather, but I still prefer being too cold to being too hot. We are cultivating a rich circle of friends and innumerable opportunities for art, entertainment and other aspects of culture. We get our "urban hit" by going to Montreal. Steve’s practice is thriving. Life here requires very little time in a car. As a former Californian, I still haven’t experienced what Vermonters call “traffic.” The lake and the mountains easily satisfy whatever gap was left by moving away from the ocean. Although the lake has frozen all the way across to New York, and it’s covered with walkers, skiers, and ice fishermen, I still find it disconcerting to walk even a few feet from the shore. I’m thrilled just to gaze across the frozen expanse towards the Adirondacks on the other side. (Since I wrote the first draft of this entry, I finally cultivated the courage to venture way out into the middle of the frozen lake. It was like walking on the moon. Amazing!)

I am still grieving the loss of our beloved Emilie Conrad to metastatic lung cancer last April just shy of her 80th birthday. Our loss has catapulted the Continuum community into chaos and “creative flux.” In the midst of this painful reorganization of the Continuum community, I remain committed to my own practice, and to teaching at Kripalu this coming July. Here’s a link:
Please consider coming. I’d love to have you all there. I have created a workshop that feeds me and that I can do once a year, but I could not fathom being able to do more, or to teach on any regular basis. Sorry, but I have no other plans to teach right now. I continue to write, thanks to Dragon voice-activated dictation, but no book is looking like it’s close to finished.

For my Osteopathic colleagues, if you’re wondering where you might see me this year, Steve and I will be attending the annual ASSSG course in Great Barrington, MA this April and the annual Osteopathic Cranial Academy conference in Naples, FL, where I am so looking forward to introducing Hugh Ettlinger as this year’s Sutherland Memorial Lecturer. I’ll also attend the Montreal International Osteopathic Symposium in May. The new highway is finally completed in southern Quebec, which makes the drive to the Osteopathic College only about 1 hr and 45 minutes from home. I can’t imagine being able to travel alone, so it’s great that we can both attend these events this year.

And to answer the last of the questions I’ve received from many of you, “what did we have for Thanksgiving this year?” all I can say is that it involved a trip to Montreal and cheval (everything sounds better in French). I hope this doesn’t upset some of you like the Easter Rabbit and Christmas Reindeer dinners did. We were blessed to have both my step-sons here in Vermont for Thanksgiving and we wanted to have something new and make it memorable. (For a history of our novel Thanksgiving menus, see 11/24/09 and 11/17/10 blog entries.)

What are those unexpected questions I’m asking these days? How do I live with cancer and not take it personally? What's the relationship between tango and Continuum Movement? Can I immerse myself in contradiction until there is no duality? I have no answers to these questions, but I will share my thoughts on these and other questions in the weeks to come.

I'd like to leave you with a poem from Mary Oliver, from her book American Primitive (1983)

To live in this world you must be able to do three things: to love what is mortal; to hold it against your bones knowing your own life depends on it; and, when the times comes to let it go, to let it go.