Friday, December 28, 2007

Dec 28, 2007

It is time of the year to be grateful and forward looking. I am both--in full measure.

The tests following my first course of treatment show steady, good progress. My doctors and I have decided that the next step will be another surgery which will happen on January 4th. I look forward to a recovery made easier because I feel strong and healthy and have good systems in place for that time.

Elizabeth Whalley has been here with me for Christmas, something she has been doing since my daughter, Louise, was two. We celebrated with both of my daughters and their families. Friends, two wonderful families with four grandchildren make for the best presence.

No snow here, but lots of holiday flurries. I had a special day with Bryan, Louise and Scot’s son aged 13, at Cirque du Soleil, followed by lunch at Michael Jordan's, embellished by the music and light show at Grand Central. Christmas eve we had a great feast and lots of fun, and then presents and glee for all, especially Matthew aged three, on Christmas morn.

Elizabeth and I got in Cyrano de Bergerac with Kevin Kline and The Bucket List too. We did the Met and the Whitney in one day and the next The New Contemporary Museum sandwiched between my two classes. Wow!

We reflect on the year at this time, and it has been a big one, with both big challenges and great joy. There was a celebration at the Institute of the Iyengar Yoga Association of New York’s coming of age. As part of the festivities, I was honored to learn that, among other things, I was “the champion of stiff people.” In the spirit of the year’s end, I want to enlarge my championing-- and will work on that in the coming year.

So many gifts from you are in my heart, so many of you have wished me well and prayed and meditated for me. So many of you have written or called and given me such smiles. The richness of this year is one of friendships and learning and connecting. I have music to listen to, poetry to read, and the warmth of your hugs and words and well wishes to take forward.

Wishing you your dreams!

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

November 20, 2007

Thanksgiving stops us to appreciate our bounty, to lovingly prepare and sit together, to celebrate tradition and to innovate. Mine will be spent with my family and two of my four grandchildren. I look forward to making the cranberries, pies (apple with a hint of cardamom and pumpkin, traditional) and vegetables. I look forward to playing long games of train with Matthew, just turned three, holding and rocking Rebecca, six weeks, and free-wheeling conversation with all the adults around the table.

Over the past month I have continued to have a wonderful flow of friends from near and far to fill my weekends. My weeks are taken with teaching and taking care of myself. I have also gone to Ann Arbor to see my mother, brother and sister-in-law. While in Ann Arbor I saw a thrilling University of Michigan performance of La Boheme conducted by Martin Katz, a cherished family friend. Music takes us to places we cannot otherwise go.

My first phase of treatment is due to end around the beginning of the new year. The second phase as currently planned will be more widely spaced and less harsh. My hair is already sprouting in anticipation… The rhythms of my life are more normal. I am looking forward to holidays, continuing my teaching in New York, my annual Feathered Pipe week with Dean Lerner in Isla Mujeres and the promise of old and new friends, sun and sea.

I am appreciating all the generosity that has come to me, reading books you have inspired, and holding dear in my head and heart all your kind thoughts, spoken and unspoken, written and unwritten.

Wishing you all a happy Thanksgiving!

Monday, October 8, 2007

October 8 2007

Dear Friends,

Last Wednesday, the 3rd October, our family welcomed Rebecca Katherine to the world! She joins Bryan, Sammi, and Matthew as part of a new generation. Rebecca is sleeping and eating well and using soul-filled eyes to check out all who hold her. She came in at 7 pounds, 5 ounces, 29 ½ inches, and lots of hair! Mother, father, big brother, relatives and friends are all celebrating the homecoming!

A part of the preciousness of new life is that it continues the threads that go back to the very beginnings of all of life- a time hard to conceptualize. The innocence of a new life brings us face to face with why we cultivate profound respect for all living beings as they have come to cover the earth and the very earth which nourishes us.

Each walk I take, practice I have, and class I teach makes it evident to me that I need to keep learning and why it is a gift to have this time in which to learn. What is under the surface comes to a reality I can see it more clearly. Being able to put it into words helps me know it better. Meditating on what I am learning helps me integrate the knowledge and accept the truths within which we all live.

The Fall for Dance festival, the summery October days, and the dance of life are all reasons to know and celebrate life’s moments.

Love and lightness to all of you,

Monday, September 24, 2007

September 24, 2007

Dear Friends,

I am writing to catch you up with good news! I am feeling well and recent tests have shown numbers and results all going in the right direction!

My chemo schedule will go through the end of October when we will again evaluate treatment. Currently, I am learning more about nutrition and its many ways of supporting my fight. I continue to take courage and support from all aspects of my yoga practice. On principle and in fact I am practicing not rushing or taking on too much and making time for fun. (It can be a big help to state goals to others.)

My daughter, Elizabeth, and her husband are having their second child next week! Being part of this wonderful event and new life is at the top of my priorities.

Sweet temperatures are reminding me of summer, but fall is turning up at the tips of the leaves.

You are in my thoughts and meditation as I am so grateful to be in yours.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

September 18, 2007

Life has been a whirlwind. I have been to Hawley, Pennsylvania for a retreat and to enjoy the Ritz Theater, the visionary community theater started by James Murphy’s family over 30 years ago. Then I went to Philadelphia for the rich family experience of the Bar Mitzvah of my daughter and her husband’s son. AndI I just returned from a trip to North Carolina at a beautiful family wedding and afterwards went to Blowing Rock, North Carolina, where I spent time at my grandparents’ home every summer growing up. Between these trips, I had wonderful visits with friends and family from Scottsdale and Berkeley. This week my cup is full with more friends, this time from Sausalito, West Virginia, San Francisco and Boca Raton.

I am feeling well and tolerating the chemo. I am practicing yoga, walking and napping. I have gone back to teaching a few classes and teaching this wonderful subject nourishes me. I am grateful to be back in touch with this rewarding part of my life.

Your prayers are with me.
With love to all of you,

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

August 28, 2007

Dear Friends,

Chris Saudek was with me for a week. We reminisced about old and good times here and in India, about our families and the friends we have made in the Iyengar community for all these years. We went for walks in Central Park and around the upper West Side and thoroughly enjoyed Spring Awakening on Broadway. Chris cooked and we appreciated and stockpiled nutritious food and ideas.

Chris entered a time of organizing and throwing with exuberance! We went into piles of papers that had grown up in the past years. What a relief to get to the bottom of some of these piles and deal with them and allow them to be gone!

The most recent chemo yielded more fatigue, to which I have responded by sleeping a few whole days. Since I often cheat the night of its rest, it seems quite a good thing to cover a few days.

Eating well and keeping my strength up are priorities. Restorative asanas take only initiative and return energy. So the many versions of Supta Baddha Konasana, Viparita Karani, Setu Bandha and, of course, pranayama, meditation and Savasana are on my menu every day.

I laugh or become quieter as I assimilate the poetry and beautifully wrought thoughts from gardening to sparkling shoes you offer. Your ideas and memories blend with mine and spark my imagination. A horse chestnut tree takes me to childhood trips to North Carolina and my grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins. Notes from India, from an old friend in San Diego whose daughter is a cancer survivor, and from Italy bring wonderful memories of Pune, San Diego, and Rapalano with Gabriella and world flung friends. Layered memories and present prayers from our beloved Feathered Pipe Ranch make my heart sing.

So know that whether I am catching up on some extra rest and restorative yoga, spending time at the Institute, visiting my daughter and friends, seeing a movie, or taking a walk, I am taking life as it comes and embracing it.

Much love to all of you near in the close present or emerging from a rich past. Hearing pieces of your lives is a blessing of light and peace and wholeness.


Tuesday, August 14, 2007

August 14, 2007

Another week, a week off chemo, flew by! If the response of the fast growing hair cells is evidence, the chemo is definitely working. I trust other fast growing cells, the cancer ones, are responding at the same rate! The cancer markers were definitely down at the last reading and the shedding of my hair is more evidence of things going in the right direction. I have always loved hats and find that scarves work fine. I purchased some extra hair that twice fooled my friend, Elizabeth; maybe it will fool you too.

The time in Ann Arbor was productive. My mother is less and less able to make conversation, but knows me and we know we love each other. She is in a living situation with kind people making life as stimulating and satisfying as it can be for those whose minds fail.

Clearing the things left from my parents extraordinary lifetimes is daunting, but I have been working through the memories and things with care and determination for some time. My friend Elizabeth met me in Ann Arbor and for four days helped me go through several more layers. A potluck dinner for eight wonderful friends at my home capped by singing highlighted our visit.

My friend David arrived at the end of the week to help me by driving me back to New York. We loaded his car with things to save, give to my daughters and dispose of here in New York and headed back. I love car trips. We took scenic highways that showed the true easy beauty of this land. On the way we stopped at the Chautauqua Institute, a beautiful resort area dating from the Victorian era. Eight hundred acres houses an Institute for the visual and performing arts, philosophy and religions in a Victorian town. Performance and meeting spaces punctuate the winding streets and gardens. Victorian homes welcome all comers with wrap around porches, cupolas, and fanciful gingerbread, an abundance of flowers, streaming bicycles, and good will. Winding walking roads, arching trees, and a beautiful lake brought delight at every prospect and turn.

Now I am looking forward to going to the Institute to be with my colleagues and to seeing my daughter and grandson this week...and to starting another round of Chemo this Friday. Chris Saudek will come and stay with me to visit and help.

I am thinking of all my friends at Feathered Pipe Ranch. It causes some pangs not to be there as the week which has anchored my year for so many summers. There is no place on earth I love more than its hallowed earth, hills forests, bringing unexpected sightings of enchanting wildlife. Prayers for me, for all of us, and for the earth are in the Lodge and teepees. Delight is in the air and on the wildflowered walks, ways, and byways.

I love hearing your news, poems, and observations.
And now on with the day!

With love,

Monday, August 6, 2007

Monday August 6, 2007

This week flew by. I continue to feel more and more myself. I decided it was high time to spread my wings a little more today, and did a short Sirsasana before the restorative postures I embrace many times during the day. Yoga practice is educative, restorative, balancing, and in this case was wonderfully thrilling. Now do know that I know how to do, and not do and not to over-do….

I am having so much fun living through your tales of tails and wings and wiggles through the earth. My toes are tapping with the elephants and my own Sensibar can indeed do the samba….as long as I lead.

Now one Central Park tale… I can report that in a posted quiet zone, the robins were spread thickly and evenly across the lawn, listening for worms. Across the path, where there is no prohibition on festivities, birds of all sorts were in the bushes and branches-- swooping, warbling and generally having a high old time welcoming the morning. I kid you not. And I wonder if the Conservancy knows how well the signage works.

Later today I will fly to Ann Arbor to visit my mother and take care of some things in her home. I look forward to getting some necessary things done, walks and seeing at least a few of my many friends in my hometown.

When I get back to New York, I hope to go to the Institute often and use it as my haven and inspiration.

When I think of Puja in Ladekh, the many, many prayers that you are offering from all parts, and the vibrations of an organ playing Bach traveling out to me and to all of humanity, it is no wonder that I am feeling better and better.

I will be off email for a week and enjoying some of the best of the Midwest.

Hearing from so many and knowing you are there for me makes me more eager to see you all and get back in the swing. That is the direction you are pointing and I am headed.

Much love,

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Dear ones,

My second chemo is behind me and in me fighting. GO CHEMO!!!!

On this round, I have not had any debilitating side effects and so continue to feel better and better, more and more myself.

An independent soul as well as a highly social animal, I love being able to take care of myself. In addition to accepting and enjoying more pampering than usual, I have the opportunity to practice the joys of tidying up, organizing, giving things away, and the contentment that comes from having less and gives space the moments of living.

What a gift to take time to reflect on the joys of being in the state of yoga--of movement and stillness, breath and body and soul. Feeling the humidity or the lightness of air, the breeze or the heat of the sun is a revelation. The ego is less and wholeness is perceivable.

I am in the state of profound gratitude of the outpouring of love that is carrying me forward and upward. I am reading poetry and listening to music, keeping company with my favorite comics…and thinking of all my friends and my wonderful family.

I love all the messages of support, inspiration and the wonderful tales of what is going on in your lives and the experiences you share.

I have a new friend, a Buddhist elephant beast with beads named SAMBA SANSIBAR sent from all my students. He is on my bed and perfectly housetrained.

Thank you all.

With gratitude and love,

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Tuesday, July 24th, 07

Dear Friends,

Central Park has become my haven. Just two long blocks from home, and it spreads its arms.

Recent sightings:
-A Westsider butterfly showing the way.
-A family outing that includes two grey parrots, one on each shoulder of the mother. A chat at the park café revealed that one is named Dorian and the other Doreena.
-Many running styles in the finishing loop of the Triathalon and the winners coming in to the sounds of a band and the cheers of onlookers.
-Cheers as ardent and joyful for those finishing hours later, just as much winners.
-The pride of poodles in smallest, small, medium and large from blond to black looking ooh la la, oh so French.

And more:
-Grey Gardens, a real wonder that I had wanted to see but put off, proved that I could stay up until midnight!

-Tomorrow round 2 of chemo will keep me out of crowds for recovery time in rest mode.

I have wonderful reading for my spirit, intellect, and funny bones. I have wonderful listening on podcasts and discs.

Blankets, blocks, straps, and bolsters are here so I can practice.

Smiles and tears of joy in reading your messages and poetry and being able to keep up with your lives through what you are writing on the blog and in notes. Thank you all for giving me the quiet I have needed while at the same time we are staying in touch.

More friends than even I with large imagination could have envisioned.

I am content.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Thursday......July 19th............2007

Last night the strains of the Daily Show wafted out of the television...And I started smiling with anticipation of an unexpected angle Jon Stewart would choose to spin the events of the day. Probably not "the" right angle, but a right angle.

And yesterday I also got back to my bemusement of beloved New Yorker cartoons.

I went to the nutrionist in the Integrative Medicine part of Sloan and learned lots to help me make wise choices. An occassional chocolate IS in my future after the dark greens and variety of other good things to nourish and sustain me.

Had lunch out after the appointment. Good to be able to have a sequence of events.

New York was under water in the morning, complete with a sound and light show.
And the afternoon the water spouted out of a pipe near Grand Central slowing all comers to a standstill.

I am feeling better and better every day and the days are starting to feel more like my days.

Thinking of all of you. I hold you all so dear in my heart. Indeed the present is big enough to hold the past and the future

With love,

Sunday, July 15, 2007

July 15th Ups and Downs

Dear Friends,

I feel more like myself than I have since surgery and chemo.

And there are ups and downs.

My friend since we were college roommates at the University of Wisconsin, Elizabeth Whalley, arrived today from California and will be with me for the next 10 days.

We have all kinds of activities in the offing. Some of the most important are Savasana, resting and sleeping. My recovery depends on this balance.

I continue to be blessed and surrounded by kindness, support, your poetry and stories and all the messages of love.

My white cells are responding to my care and to me. My appetite and enjoyment of food is back!

With love


Thursday, July 12, 2007

July 12 Out and About

Dear ones,

Yesterday, I was out and about with medical appointments bookending my day.

I received education about the projected course of chemo and continue to feel I am in wonderful hands and am doing exactly the right things.

One week after the first treatment, my doctors say that the chemo is already having desired effects. Unlike some chemo that is brutal, I seem to be to be tolerating it and feel better each day.

I can go out for walks and see the sky.

The healing from the surgery is continuing each day.
With love,

Monday, July 9, 2007

A New Week

Dear Friends,

I am loving being at home. One day at a time and one hour too. This quiet time is just what I need.

One of the interesting things is how time changes when it is not filled to the brim. The silence is impressive. And the spread of time from moment to moment.

I am doing what the doctors order and what I know to be healing.

Looking forward to being with you all in body as well as spirit as the time becomes right.


Saturday, July 7, 2007

7/7/07 Home Sweet Home

Great to be home.

All plans full steam ahead....including a wonderful visit with family and grandson, Matthew.

They say I look great, so I am going with hearsay--for now.

Wonderful to sleep in my own clean bed in my own clean space.

The apartment is cool and comfortable and so am I.


Friday, July 6, 2007

The Sixth of July == More Independence

Departure Memorial planned for today!

The timing is good as I am strong enough to go home to the West side.

It will be good to get back home, and I have plans in place for the care I need.

One of the side effects of great spirits is the possibility of I explored yesterday. So I will be guarding my sleep, rest and quiet time to do my big job...

To all of you who are with me in this journey, know that I am reaching out to each of you in spirit and would be in a more concrete way if I could and do the work of geting well simultaneously.

The messages of hope and wisdom and healing and lightness are the treasure of this time.

With love,

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

The fourth of July

Dear friends,


Second chemo a great sucess. So I am right on track. And this treatment should make me feel better, hooray, as well as make me start getting better!

Since the hospital stay ended longer than expected, I am skipping the Philadelphia hospitality and will go directly to my home on discharge in a few days.

My computer seems to respond to blogging but I cannot so far send email out, so that will have to wait. They have technology a plenty here but no nurds in evidence.

The care continues to be great, and I have a angled view of the river which might work for fireworks tonight. We will see.

Today I intend to go to the 15th floor where there is a patio because the laps around my floor, even on my MBT's, could use a little more view...

A great 4th to you all. The only time I seem to tear up is when I contemplate the love that surrounds me.


Monday, July 2, 2007

Big Guns

Big day! After clearing the ins and outs required by the hospital, and getting back to normal living, I'm onto the next big thing. I am welcoming my first treatment of chemo today. Getting the big guns in to help me fight is the right thing to do for me. So I'm counting on it, and the wonderful love of my family, and the friends who become family through their actions, and all of you who are holding me in your hearts to be an invincible team. In musing on today, I find there's a curious intersection that I don't know has been noted before between science and religions in which, somehow or other, female human hair becomes a point of interest. So, in the interest of science and with a bow to religions, I'm happily releasing mine, knowing that it will grow again - perhaps curlier this time.

I know chanting is heavenly and earthly. Dispite the difficulties all New Yorkers bring up about crosstown transportation, no problems here. And there was chanting fron all directions from all areas. The quiet reflections, joy, chanting and prayers of all forms are in my consciousness.

So, onwards and upwards!

Saturday, June 30, 2007

It is true what they say about hospitals!

Just when i'm drifting towards a blissful nap they come in peeking and marching according to thier rank, with questions or expectations. I am the receipiant of both the porcupine and midtown tubal gridlock award. However off to saltines, toast, full spectrum juices and beyond. I will probably be here in this other worldly existance thru Tuesday best guest and then move for a week to Philadelpia to be under the kind care of daughter Loiuse and son in law doctor Scott and then back to New York.(Sometime in Scarsdale with daughter Elizabeth and family and sometimes in Manhattan)

All this blogging has been a marvilous outlet for me, but I plan now to settle into a more stately place with communications, so i will indeed check your messages, which are carrying me aloft , giving me love and laughs, but my blogging will be less frequent .... not to worry.
It is surprizing how in such a state each moment takes up it's time and the days are full. As I morph back into my healthly self I am responding. Right now I have to let go of my habit of picking up the phone and instead respond to the direction of my eyelids and eardrums drawing me inwards to a place of rest

I'm not the first to observe that all the worlds a stage and staging is our human artifice for making things make sense.

Right now we are seriously talking about having the first treatment here in the hospital before i leave.
excepted results....
less bloating and less air.... feeling better


Friday, June 29, 2007

It's not true what they say about hospitals

Another great uninterrupted night of sleep.
Two good walks yesterday.
One one lap.
One two laps.
Walking in Tadasana meant a whole new component and lease on life.
Blogging in Supta Baddha Konasana is the way to go.
All efforts today about peri- STALL-sis.
(The menu actually looks good)
I'm going to be here at least til Monday so I want to take advantage of the food.
The doctors are on to me and on my case!

Feeling good vibes.

Thursday, June 28, 2007


Morning is bright and promising. I'm resting fairly comfortably, moving fairly uncomfortably. It seems like a fair trade.
Today the real walking and sitting up begins. Yesterday just baby steps in that direction, although I got up twice. Everything moving towards that all important renewing of peristalsis. There has to be an exit strategy before we get on to food.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Sitting UP

I am sitting here with James and Louise, in some version of dandasana.

I have talked to the surgeon and am dealing with peritoneal cancer. He removed what he could and said that the rest of the metastases will respond well to chemotherapy.

After I am released from the hospital, I will do some R and R with Louise in Philadelphia.

Then back to 73rd St and on to chemo.

I love reading the cheers and cheer to the reads.


Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Just Out

Dear Friends,

Mary has just come out of the surgery at Sloan Kettering.

Her daughters are with her and they are waiting to hear from the oncologist as to the findings and the next steps.

Will keep you posted.

This picture was taken at the Yogathon June 3, 2007 where we celebrated Mary's birthday.
Her radiant smile and glowing presence leaps right out through the screen, right?


I had a good conference with my surgeon yesterday. We talked about the various ways the surgery could go and the facts that they had much they could do and needed me and my immune system to do the job.

I am working on that.

Sloan has a real sense of my weight and vitals... After liquids yesterday, the weight is probably down a tad.

Anyway, I feel ready for this part and in great care.

And to all of you who are holding me in your hearts, keep me there!


Sunday, June 24, 2007

June 24 BLOG ONE

I have started this blog to respond to the outpouring of love that has come to me in response to the news that I have cancer that has spread in my abdomen.

Tonight I am preparing for the surgery which I am welcoming as the first step in getting well.
Tomorrow pre-admission testing and I meet my surgeon, Nadeem Abu-Rustum, face to face.
I have talked to him and had a really good feeling about us being a marvelous team. And when I mention his name, I get smiles and good vibes back.

I am also reading Bernie Siegel's Love, Medicine and Miracles and learning about his experiences. I will investigate the Simingtons and their work when I have time in recovery.

Anyway, the stay at Memorial Sloan Kettering will be at least four days after the surgery on Tuesday. So far the the doctor has identified the cancer as female, but has not given more specifics or a site of origin. I will know more tomorrow, maybe, but probably not be blogging for a few days after--mostly fogging.

Now that I am on to this blogging, you can be sure I will be back with news of things getting better.

In the meantime, I feel supported and loved to an enormous degree. When my girls were growing up, we used to stretch our arms out to the last fingertip to say how much we could love each other. Now so many are doing that for me. I guess looking back, this gesture predetermined my career.