Monthly Archives: October 2013

Steven Tyler as Elvis

Halloween at the Store!

“Halloween came, with swarms of costumed kids and their parents visiting the Store for Trick or Treat, cider and donuts on the porch. Lots of photos. Cute babies. Giggling children. ”  from My Life at the Marshfield Hills General Store, a collection of short stories by Sherry Campbell Bechtold

pumpkin banner

Halloween was always a pretty big deal in our neighborhood….because it WAS a neighborhood.  Our first year in the Hils, we decorated, stocked up with bowls full of goodies and ran out of candy by sunset. Bob had to scurry over to CVS in Scituate for reinforcement.  Lesson learned, over the years, we prepared mightily for the event – particularly as younger families moved in.

Back then, I was so preoccupied with career and commuting, most of the folks who showed up at our door were almost complete strangers…even the famous ones that I may have recognized if they hadn’t been in cognito.  Steven Tyler, his wife Theresa and the two kids were regulars from Day One. Much later, when we owned the Store and hosted Trick or Treat there, the Talarico (Steven’s actual name) family was always a big hit.  The last year that I remember them showing up together, he walked in the door dressed as Elvis.  I said “Wow, you’re dressed as MY rock ‘n roll idol!”  And, Theresa, right behind him replied “Mine too.”  I don’t think he heard that.  Or maybe he did and just chose to ignore.

The Store Halloweens were the best.  I always played “War of the Worlds” on the CD player, dimmed the lights, opened the front door, set out the refreshments and candy in big bowls so the kids could make their own choices.  Patty dressed up as a witch. She had the most believable cackle!  Made my flesh crawl.  EVERYONE stopped in – sometimes to get warm and always to visit, laugh, take photos.  Did I mention it was wonderful?  It was.  Think I miss it all?  I do.

Composite2Halloween composite1

  Listen to the 1938 Broadcast of WAR OF THE WORLDS:

Yoga Teacher Training: The End/The Beginning

Rites of Passage
April 2013

Crazy as it seems, we are nearing the end of The Yoga Sanctuary Teacher Training Program  of  2012 – 2013.  I’m not yet at the point to sit back and try to summarize the experience.  Next month, perhaps.  Or maybe never, as summary would most certainly fall short of any meaningful assessment of what this entire process has been for all of us.  But, I’m getting ahead of myself.

Somewhere over the past few weeks, we have passed through some kind of invisible door – bringing us all to a more confident space, where we are able to relax a little, have fun, to laugh at ourselves and, yes, at each other. The big thing – the really BIG THING – has been our Community Class experience, where we each choose a local Charity and teach a class for donations.  As I write this, only 3 of us have not yet completed this rite of passage.  I’ve been fortunate to attend all my fellow students’ classes and can say that, to a person, life BEFORE your Community Class and life AFTER are so different – it’s like you’ve moved to another planet.

Leading up to doing your Class, there is so much apprehension and preparation that, even those who have taught in the past have found it a challenge.  We all want so much to integrate what we have learned, and aspire to do The Yoga Sanctuary proud!  For me, well, I was terrified.  This business of teaching a class has loomed in front of me since December, as I imagined myself forgetting the names of body parts, when to inhale, when to exhale and making a complete fool of myself.  Or worse.  Tears might come.

So, I worked on my sequence diligently.  Practicing on my generous victims.  Leaning on Jennifer’s advice and wisdom.  Writing out everything I hoped I would say –  editing, questioning, refining, finalizing the sheet of paper I would use as my cue card, my crutch, should memory completely fail me during my “routine”!

Then, as surely as the birds leave in Spring to fly north, it was suddenly MY DAY.   In a vague fog, I found myself walking into the studio under my own power.  Then after a lovely talk about my Charity, the Peace River Wildlife Center, I was “up”.   Miracle of miracles, as I looked out at all those lovely, goodhearted people, and felt them ‘with me’, it was as though Tinkerbell waved her little wand and I knew that whatever happened was going to be ok.  As one of the other ‘girls’ remarked after her Class, “I felt all that good energy, saw all those friendly faces.  We were all there for Yoga and for a good cause.  I knew it was ALREADY perfect.”   That’s the peace that comes with LIFE AFTER your Community Class!

Now we are approaching ‘crunch time’ – review of our work and demonstration of what we have absorbed over the past few months.   It has become obvious that each of us has brought some strengths to the program – some have a real knack for Asana, some have had experience with the philosophical aspect of Yoga, and some are near experts on anatomy.  Safe to say, though, that everyone has been challenged – perhaps more than they expected to be.   And, haven’t we all faced the challenge!  Haven’t we all grown!

Haven’t we all opened a window and let the light shine in on us a little brighter?    It IS already perfect.


May 2013

Love the Work and See Where it Takes You

Over the past few months we “TT’s” have been deeply entrenched in the work at hand, perhaps at times feeling unequal to the task, and understandably rather self involved! Now, as we prepare to turn the last page of this life chapter, we can glance up beyond our noses and consider ‘what happens now?’.   We all have some ideas……

Laura is inspired to bring the peace of Yoga practice to women who desperately need peace.  Carol has more tools to enhance her work in Wellness Management.  Dea’s seniors will be the beneficiaries of her new skills and refreshed commitment.

Julie is full of characteristic enthusiasm, ready to bring new things to her students at home.  Ashley’s goal was to deepen her own personal practice and has found, along the way, the desire and confidence to teach.  Brandy has a dream to combine her love of Yoga with her Art.

Sally says the program has exceeded her expectations in developing her personal practice.   Sonya will infuse the wisdom of Yoga into her professional life and her photography.  And, I predict that Lynn,  after she’s had a chance to percolate on the Bhavagad Gita, will soon be emailing us from Long Island, saying “can I ask you a question….”.

Me?  Well, this experience has certainly changed me and I guess I need a little time to assimilate – sort of an extended savasana!  One thing I know for sure:  the limitations I had placed on myself have been significantly altered, my comfort zone expanded, my sights lifted.  Wouldn’t it be wonderful to be able to help others find that? Perhaps bringing Yoga to people who may never have imagined it is “for them”?  We’ll see where the path leads.

We all have some ideas, yet I think that every one of us embraces the belief that the work itself has been the reward.  We are left  with open hearts to whatever may lie ahead, as we take our places in the Yoga community, accepting the responsibility and joy of sharing what we have learned.

Very soon, the exams will be over, the celebratory gatherings will pass.  There will be hugs, well wishes and promises to stay in touch, to have lunch, to see each other in class.   Regardless of how much or how little we see each other in the future, we are forever connected and we know this is not an ending.  We’ve hardly scratched the surface on the subject of Yoga.  And the answer to the question “How long will it take me to ‘get this’” is “The rest of your life”.


Graduation Party


I couldn’t possibly sign off on this Teacher Training Blog series without expressing our deepest gratitude to Bonnie and Jennifer.  My, they are patient! They are wise.  They are loving.  They are kind.  They are fun.  They are charming and beautiful.  We are blessed to have them in our lives.  Our immediate community and our extended Yoga community are blessed by their presence.  I could go on and on, but they are also humble, and they know how we feel.




Month Three: Finding Your Voice

The Third Installment in the Blog Series written for The Yoga Sanctuary in Punta Gorda Florida.

Finding Your Voice 

In considering the topic of Finding Your Voice, I felt it more than appropriate to ask some of my fellow students to express their feelings, thoughts, observations about their own experience in the YTT program.  Their remarks appear in quotes throughout this article.

 “ As we progress though this training, the respect and gratitude I feel toward our teachers grows.  It is my intention to find and nurture my own fledgling voice so that their gift to me can become my gift to others.”

Right from the start of our Training Program, we have been reminded how important it is to ‘find your own Voice’.  Initially, I took that to mean the voice with which we would instruct our future students, should we decide to teach.  The words we would choose to cue postures, our individual styles, using our knowledge to create classes that suit our own abilities and also are appropriate for those looking to us for guidance.

As I dive deeper into the teacher training I come to realize that it’s not how ‘bendy’ you can be. It’s about being in alignment and personal growth.”

Over the past couple of months, we have waded into the deep waters of  ancient and modern wisdom from great minds, great spirits, great hearts – sifting through philosophies, concepts, and approaches to what is known as a Yoga lifestyle. We are absorbing information, gleaning values and beliefs that will become part of who we are.   Throughout this process, I’ve become aware that I am developing a much broader perspective of what it means to find your Voice – the verbal and nonverbal expression of your true Self.

I have come to believe that Finding Your Voice is grounded in Finding Your Truth – the crowning glory of self exploration and study.  Who am I, what do I believe, what are my core values, where do I find Peace?  What brings me Joy?  How do I find the center that allows me to face each day with equanimity?   And, just as important: who am I not and what no longer serves me?  What do I need to let go of?  We seek these answers for ourselves, and in the discovery, we find our Truth.

This is truly the work of a lifetime ~ isn’t it?  We struggle through data and experiential overload, considering various options and paths, hopefully, hearing ever more clearly the music that calls us to sing it with our own Voice.

More often than not, we explore alone.  But, for us, in this brief segment of our lives, we are in the good company of like minded seekers.

“We are helping each other to emerge from our cocoons, to blossom, and prepare each other to spread our wings and fly. This is the true spirit of Yoga. And we are blessed to be able to experience it”.


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Play On

It begins with the opening phrase of Gounod’s Ave Maria – just the solo voice – long, languid, perfect tones, with only the slightest improvisation that let’s you know this is something special.  A Chris Botti concert.  The voice is his trumpet – and he sings it in his own personal, once – heard -never- forgotten style.

The crowd is already in high spirits, in anticipation of what they know (either from previous experience or acute instinct) what the next 90 minutes is going to be.  They are in the presence of excellence, of deepest heart and purest soul – maybe as close to God as we humans can expect on this earth – wonderful music.

It’s not just Chris himself, although that would most certainly be enough to ignite transcendence.  But, he is a magnet for the excellence of others. His band includes Mark Whitfield on his bright red guitar, Carlos Puerto on bass and the amazing, thrilling, according to Sting “most bad ass drummer ever” Billy Kilson.  Just seeing him on the stage tells you this performance is going to be over way before you want it to be.   On keyboard and piano are two more of Chris’ friends – Andy Ezrin and Geoffrey Keezer – and it is obvious they are having the time of their lives!   Special guests are the stunning vocalist Lisa Fischer and violin virtuoso Caroline Campbell.  I mean, REALLY!

Folks, we are at The South Shore Music Circus in Cohasset – a small town south of Boston; not in the center of Manhattan.  I only hope everyone realizes what a gift this evening is!

The concert is a selection from old favorites and some newly discovered favorites!  One of the cool things about including locals and different guests is that even the numbers that travel from concert to concert around the world are a little different via the interpretations and abilities of the guests.  Being on the road for seven years, 300 days a year, I’m thinking this changeup must keep things fresh and fun for the regular band members.  For sure, they do not look bored.  Or tired.  No, they also are obviously having the time of their lives.

They play with the abandon that is available only to those exceptionally skilled at their craft.  They have achieved Musical Zen.  As is the way of Jazz, they take turns showing their stuff, play off each other, to each other, feed and nurture each other, sometimes break into spontaneous laughter of joy at what they are creating together!  And, the joy just ripples out through the audience, ecstatic to be taken along on this magic carpet ride.

In the end, we are gently landed back where we began – the stage is empty except for Chris with Geoffrey at the piano.  Chris tells us his story of being a young boy and hearing Herbie Hancock and Miles Davis playing My Funny Valentine.  As he tells it, that was the moment he decided he was going to play trumpet. They complete the evening with the iconic melody, an homage to that turning point in his very young life.

As I write this, my heart is beating a little faster, remembering Saturday night… how I felt before; how I felt after.  Not a small miracle, this.  The ‘world’ didn’t change.  The headlines Sunday morning were still grim The world may not have changed, but I HAVE!

True, I’m not any younger.  My back still hurts.  I still need remedial wardrobe therapy.  My checking account shows the same balance. But, I have received a transfusion of the highest form!  Music is in my heart again!  I have been in the presence of greatness and life is good. I’ve been reminded that – all my life – it has been music that has ‘saved me’. It will always be thus. For this miracle, I am once again, so grateful.

You Tube Video of Chris at South Shore Music Circus August 2013: 

Let’s talk about Poetry

Once a month, on a Thursday afternoon, a small group of us meet in a classroom at Edison College.  We are there because we love Poetry.  Some of us (me, for example) know only a little about the subject but nonetheless have favorites.  Some know quite a bit – in fact, are what I would call ‘experts’.  Here’s the thing, though:  regardless of our degree of knowledge, or whether we could actually attempt to write a line or two, everyone in this group takes the opportunity to express his or her feelings and insights about anything we are reading.  And, we all seem to learn from each other.

The miraculous thing about works of art is that once  created and sent out to live in the world, we the Observers bring our experiences, perspectives, attitudes, personalities and create unique interpretations of the work, often beyond what the artist had in mind.

Yesterday, we welcomed a local Poet, Dorothy Howe Brooks, to our group meeting. She has recently published a collection of poems entitled A Fine Dusting of Brightness.  I arrived not having met Dorothy and not having read her book.  Our fine moderator Craig guided us through a handful of his favorite selections and we all proceeded to offer our comments and interpretations.  Of course, we also took advantage of this rare opportunity to hear the story behind the story directly from the poet!.  It didn’t take me long to become a devoted fan of both the lady and her work.

Dorothy’s poetry is a clean, direct hit to the Soul.  Certainly, women of a certain age will resonate with her heart and mind tugging observations of generational evolution, personal growth, loss and self acceptance.  But, these are universal issues and therefore the work appeals to men and women of all generations. She is intelligent, always sympathetic but never sentimental.  Her work is so relatable that I found myself thinking, “Yes, this is exactly what it feels like!  Thank you for expressing it in these beautiful words!”

Fortunately, Dorothy will be teaching a course in Writing Poetry at the Lifelong Learning Institute in Punta Gorda next month.  I will go – not because I fancy myself a Poet, but because I want to get closer to the mind and heart of this gifted woman.

Sharing only one poem is a challenge, but here is the one we closed our class with yesterday.

Song of Songs

By Dorothy Howe Brooks

The Mockingbird sings a song
not her own, yet

you know her voice.
You know it the way

you know your child’s cry,
the way she calls to you

from the swing set, or her room late at night,
the way you finally

know your own voice
in spite of the clever imitations

you’ve practiced for so long.
Some evening alone in the quiet

words begin to take shape,
a first faint whisper, then a melody,

Then at last you hear the song,
the one song that is yours,

and in your own voice
sing back.  O Mockingbird!

To read more about the Poet, go to her website:

For your own copy of A Fine Dusting of Brightness, go to Amazon.


Month Two: Yoga Teacher Training

This is Part 2 in a series of Blogs I wrote for The Yoga Sanctuary in Punta Gorda, Florida during last year’s teacher training program.  Please go to their website for information on all their programs and classes, as well as next year’s Teacher Training Program.

The Plot Thickens!

A month into our Teacher Training Program and two remarkable things have happened:  1) we have learned a LOT and 2) the reality of how much is involved in this teaching yoga thing is setting in!

The LOT part includes the many hours we have spent on Asana with Jennifer.  If any of us thought we knew what we were doing before, well ….. we have become disabused of that notion!  Jennifer, of course is a bit of a Rock Star when it comes to Asana and a self admitted anatomy ‘geek’.  Observing her adjusting a posture is somewhat of a miracle and feeling her adjustments in our bodies is a revelation.  We can only hope to emerge from this program with a cursory understanding of her knowledge.  But, we aspire!

We have also had the honor of a two day workshop with Yoga Master Alan Finger – wisdom and insight, with a healthy dose of humor and comradery.   Then, of course, our work with Bonnie on Chakras, Bandas, Nadis and Pranayama is intellectually challenging (wish I had studied Sanskrit in school instead of Spanish) and inspiring.  I’m both amazed and grateful that this wealth of information feels less and less foreign.  There are more frequent  ‘aha’ moments – along with some ‘duh, where have I been all my life?’ moments.

For people like me who want to ‘do well’ and want to learn all I can, there is both frustration and comfort in the increasing awareness that this is a process that does, in fact, take a lifetime.  There is always more to learn, room to grow, and experience to deepen one’s awareness.

Yoga is, after all, a way of life.  And, this is where the reality of possibly teaching Yoga comes in: it’s a responsibility not to be taken lightly.  Asana is not just a form of exercise  – it’s a road to self-awareness, balance and total health.  Breathing does not simply keep your body alive – mindful breath work directs your energy and refreshes your spirit.  Many of us have heard these concepts, but through this intensive study, they are becoming real.   DO IT.  GET TO THE MAT.  Experience the benefits of your PRACTICE.  This is a gift you give yourself, and in turn to all the people in your world.


Yoga Teacher Training – The Beginning

During my time in the Teacher Training Program at The Yoga Sanctuary in Punta Gorda, I was asked to write a blog about the program for their website.  This is the first in a series of four.

Yoga Teacher Training.  “I” becomes “We”

My name is Sherry.  I am 66 years old and I’ve been practicing Yoga for almost 30 years….with some seriousness for the past 15 years.  This is my third year practicing at the Yoga Sanctuary, and I suspect it was my experience here that put the idea of teaching into my head.

So, here I am, in December of 2012, among 11 other people, on our mats, upstairs at the Yoga Sanctuary – embarking on a journey into the study of Yoga.  Each with our individual histories, talents and reasons for being here.  Each knowing a little, all quickly realizing how much we do not know.

Am I the only one who is nervous?  Daunted by the scope of material we are expected to absorb?  And the idea – just the idea – of getting up in front of a group of silent Yogis waiting to be guided through one posture! Just ONE posture!  Well, that strikes terror in my heart.

With more than a little relief, I quickly realize that my doubts and fears are shared by the others.   We all seem to be a little unsure – some are frankly terrified.  Yet, we show up.  We carry our bags of books, we do the homework, we manage to come to the front of the room as we are called and, remarkably, before we know it, the first full weekend of classes has come to a close.

We’re all tired, but the mood of the group is decidedly different from our first meeting.  Something pretty wonderful has begun to happen. We’re forming bonds, learning from each other, encouraging each other, becoming collectively smarter, stronger and more powerful than we were alone.

Some of us have lived a long time and hope to bring a lifetime of experience to the teaching of Yoga. Some are young and hope to bring the teaching of Yoga to a lifetime of experience.  But, we are one in our desire to know more, to deepen our experience of Yoga – in all its aspects – and to incorporate that into our lives.

Salt Lake City Utah

Mormon Tabernacle Choir

Salt Lake City may have been the scene of the Olympics a few years back, and yes the mountains and valleys are impressive.  But, for me, this stop was all about Temple Square and the Mormon Tabernacle Choir!  The Temple, Tabernacle, Conference Center and all other buildings in the Square are gorgeous, and the gardens that surround them are equally so.  This is a quiet, immaculate space, filled with flowers, water features, architecture and art that is so wonderful to experience, you find yourself not wanting to leave.

The GardensTemple Square

The highlight was attending a broadcast performance of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir on Sunday morning.   Emerging from the entrance to the balcony, we entered the Tabernacle just as the choir was finishing its pre-broadcast rehearsal.  The combination of sight  (the 360 person choir, full orchestra, magnificent concert hall ) and sound (the triumphant, out-of-this-world last measures of Arise, O God and Shine) and the spirit in this place completely overwhelmed me.  This was one of those few moments in life that is personal, indescribable, and utterly unforgettable.  If that is what heaven is like, I wouldn’t be surprised.

The way we were …. Mixed Company

The Way We Were…..

Once upon a time, there was a group of grown people who decided to do a show.  It was called “You and the Night and the Music” – a celebration of popular music from the 1930’s.  They had so much fun singing together, they formed a more permanent arrangement and called themselves “Mixed Company”.  Though they suffered loss and change, the core group remained together for several years before dissolving.  Luckily, there was one recording made – of a concert in Providence.  When I hear this, it brings everything back – the friendship, the music, the love.

Listen to Down to the River by Mixed Company in live performance