Monday, September 20, 2010

Upcoming Yoga Benefits in Maine for our family

Our dear, beautiful, and talented friend and yoga teacher Kara Seymour is hosting two upcoming yoga benefit events at The Yoga House in Bridgeton, ME in honor of our family. We are again filled with gratitude and this is another buoy for the spirit in the unknown waters of our life right now.

Please see her website to learn more:

The Maine Yoga House :: Brideton, ME (western Maine)

Thank you Kara and Amy!

108 Sun Salutations
to celebrate the Autumn Equinox.

Thursday, Sept 23rd, 6:30-8:30 pm
By Donation

Join us this evening as we dedicate our practice to the changing of the seasons and the change in our life. The room is filled with community in spirit and friends. Change is inevitable, it is the only constant so let us embrace the changing times with ease.

Refreshments will be provided.

Karma Yoga
Wed, Sept 29th 6:00-7:30 pm
By Donation

Karma Yoga: This class will be offered once a month, and is a donation based class. Each month a different organization will receive the donations from the class. Refreshments will be provided after class. If you would like to bring something to share that would be welcome. All Levels Welcome.

Monday, August 30, 2010

"When the student is ready the teacher will appear".. Buddhist proverb

I have discovered that Julian's presence in my life has become my most powerful personal guru or teacher.

"A guru is one who is regarded as having great knowledge, wisdom and authority in a certain area, and who uses it to guide others (teacher). In Sanskrit gu means darkness & ru means light. As a principle for the development of consciousness it leads the creation from unreality to reality, from the darkness of ignorance to the light of knowledge. In its purest form this principle manifests on earth as a divine incarnation (saint), a person with supreme knowledge about God and all creation." wikipedia

My friend David mentioned that he thinks babies come from an outer realm, the baby planet, and they know ALL. We can just watch them and learn and absorb all of their, well, baby-ness and presence. Some say that the reason people are so taken by babies is because they have a direct connection to God. For me their sheer ability to be incredibly present constantly is such a teacher (and at times utterly exhausting). Whatever emotion, feeling, or state of being they experience they embody it with their whole body. Whole body -- breathing, laughing, giggling, crying, angry, sad, happy. They have no filters or blockages.

In the past 48 hours Julian went from being the most perfect baby on the planet (in my opinion) to a fussy, crying, non-sleeping (at all last night!), little ball of fury, then back to a giggling half ball of fury and half clown, flirting, squealing, and now back to little perfectness in the most angelic, cherub-like beautiful state that you've ever seen at 10 AM. And this is exactly why Julian is my guru and teacher.

Raising a child and witnessing the recovery of a stroke day by day is a bit like living inside a Zen koan.
"–noun, plural -ans, -an. Zen .
a nonsensical or paradoxical question to a student for which an answer is demanded, the stress of meditation on the question often being illuminating." dictionary

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Portland, ME Benefit/Celebration concert :: Aug 28th :: 8pm

Our Portland friends are pulling together an upcoming concert. Hope to see you there!

Save the date! August 28th 8PM

Benefit Concert/Celebration
for the Phil James Family Emergency Fund

Saturday, August 28, 8pm
Trinity Episcopal Church
580 Forest Ave, Portland

Admission by donation

Phil Nyokai James – shakuhachi and piano
Carl Dimow – flute
Nathan Kolosko – classical guitar
Danielle Langord – celtic harp
Nicole Rabata – celtic flute
Mark Tipton – jazz trumpet
Marita Kennedy-Castro – dance

For more information: Carl Dimow – 207-615-1550,

Phil Nyokai James is a recognized master of the Japanese flute, the shakuhachi, and also a wonderful pianist and composer. While driving from the Grand Canyon in Arizona this past January, Phil had a major stroke. Paralyzed, he lost control of the car. Sitting in the passenger seat next to him was his wife, Lara, seven months pregnant. In an incredible rush of adrenaline, Lara gained control of the car and prevented the family from heading off the icy road into the mountains. Far from any town and without phone reception, Lara pulled Phil from the driver’s seat and she drove until she saw headlights - and connected Phil with medical care.

Phil was initially very far gone and in acute rehab for weeks. He had minimal speech and no ability to read or write. His recovery has been slow, but steady. He and Lara were able to return to their home in Portland at the end of February, and Lara gave birth to a healthy baby boy, Julian, in early April.

At this point in time, Phil has regained a lot of physical control but still has aphasia and is working to regain his full speech capacity. Amazingly, and thanks to daily encouragement from Lara, he began playing shakuhachi within a week of the stroke. His musician friends have been stunned with how little the stroke affected his musical skills. Nevertheless, he is still recovering and has not been ready to return to a work life of teaching and performing. The family is struggling financially.

This concert is to raise money for Phil, Lara and Julian, but it’s also a celebration. This will be Phil’s first public performance since the stroke. He’ll be joined by a number of luminaries from various ends of the Portland music scene: Nicole Rabata and Danielle Langord playing celtic music; Carl Dimow and Nathan Kolosko playing Brazilian music; the wonderful jazz trumpet playing of Mark Tipton; and the exciting dancing of Marita Kennedy-Castro. The musicians will be working in a variety of combinations and Phil will appear as a soloist and with a variety of ensembles. This promises to be a unique, special and entertaining evening.

For more about Phil, the composer, performer and writer:

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

40 days and then some

In many cultures the first 40 days after a baby is born mother and baby are sheltered from the outside world. I have been trying to honor this space in my own modern way as much as possible. It has been a big four months, needless to say and the past 40 days have increased the intensity. But alas, we have survived this boot camp of physical, mental, and emotional obstacles of the latest flavor. Of course, this is not without the help of my mother, Phil's daughter Sierra, my sister, Birth Roots in Portland, Phil's mother, Sarah B., and the countless other community and family members who continue to support us both near and far in an incredible creative way. I was reading in some African cultures, after this first 40 days of complete seclusion, the mother emerges from her hut and is treated like a warrior goddess. She is crowned and revered just like men who go off to battle and return. Our society doesn't honor mother and child in quite the same way -- but birthing and new motherhood is the biggest shape-shifting life transformation I've experienced to date. This is a radically new time -- our two beings learning from one another at a rapid pace, complete experiential learning in turbo time.

Julian is thriving; this is such a miracle and a gift. He has gone from 7 lbs and 10 ounces to around 12 lbs in the past 6 weeks. Rather than being able to write, read, or interact much I have been primarily feeding this child! The nurses at the hospital say, "Oh, this baby really knows how to let his needs be known". Ah, yes. That is one way to say it. Why does this surprise me given his mother and father’s personalities? I go to these new mother support groups and many mothers of newborns have these little soft, bread dough like SLEEPY little angels. Many people also say, "oh this is the easy time, just wait". This concerns me, as our little Julian is, let’s say, highly engaged with the world around him. He doesn't have much time for napping. There are too many new sounds to try, too many facial expressions to explore, body movements to discover, and new smiles to flirt with people in a big, toothless gummy kind-of huge way. We love him and he has been consuming nearly all of us with his incredible force of energy.

Meanwhile, Phil is still recovering in a meandering and up and down way. Our days continue to be filled with sparks of hope and wonder, and sadly dark unknowns about his eventual healing. We both keep trying day in and day out, hour in and hour out, and minute by minute to knit together our lives. Amazing that an event, his stroke, which took maybe five to ten minutes, can so suddenly change the entire course of your life. Phil is determined to keep trying and learning but the hill feels quite overwhelming some days. New fatherhood and being present for my 60-hour birth (yes that is right) has taken quite a toll on his much needed sleep. Meanwhile, Julian and Phil share an incredibly special bond. They look almost identical, expect for the chin. Their personalities seem to be quite similar too as Helga; Phil's mother sends many excerpts from old diary entries by Phil's father about his early years.

This has been my year to squarely embrace both life and death. My life requires me to stay as much in the present moment as possible to stay sane. It is still very unknown what our future as a family holds. The social security disability has still not manifested, how or when we will go back to work in any real way is unknown, how much Phil will recover is a mystery, and where we may need to move this fall is in limbo. The day-to-day rhythm with a newborn also requires you to stay on your toes and just stay present.

Alas, one huge transition has been resolved, for now. Mr. Julian James is here, in full force, and reminding us about the incredible wonder and rapid development of life as it unfolds before our eyes. His brain will grow 60% of its adult size within this first year. This is an incredible amount of expansion to witness. Every day and every moment is filled with the miracle of newness.

This honestly feels like the first moment in at least 40 days that I have been able to string together coherent letters and sentences in reflection. Thank you for reading and there will be more to come.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

The children

The children

The garden’s planted.
In the middle of this city we
celebrate one more season of the old ways,
grooming the earth and gathering
bright green food.

May we remember to teach our children
mostly what’s obvious,
the simple relations of hand and soil,
and may they remind us season after season
of the garden’s first truth:
that all things grow to unique goodness uniquely
if you give them some space,
if you don’t bother them too much.

-- an old poem by Phil James

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

This Much is Enough :: ETSY craft/art website

Some of our dear friends have created an art/craft shop on Etsy as a benefit for our family. We are very grateful to them and to all of the artists and crafters who have contributed their goods thus far. Please help us spread the word for both shoppers and for any creative contributions.

To learn more please visit:
Facebook:: This much is enough

Here are some words from Beth Taylor -- artist, friend, and co-founder of the etsy site:

"Dearest Family and Friends,

We have started a website to raise money for very dear friends in Portland, Maine who find themselves in a tough spot at the advent of the birth of their first child. I am writing to seek donations of crafted items (of any size and variety) to sell on the site. All of the proceeds will go directly to the Phil James Family Emergency Fund. Spread the word, invite your family and friends to donate. Here is the direct link:

Craft/Art donations can be mailed to:

This Much is Enough
c/o Birth Roots
101 State Street
Portland, ME 04101

Or left in the entry area under the shelf that holds the brochures if you are local to Portland.

Feel free to be in touch with me with any questions or requests to Beth (contact tab) Once items have been donated and loaded up to the site, we will be in touch again with an encouragement to spread the word and buy beautiful goods from the site.

And thank you so much,
Beth Taylor"