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,


Anonymous said...

Good Morning, Mary.
Happy to hear you are doing well and sounds like you have been quite busy too. We miss you at the Institute and hope we'll be able to see you soon.
Peace and Love, Varoti

vanessa said...


I had attended (and loved!) literally 4 of your classes at the Institute and was expecting to attend the 5th one when Dimtri gave the news of your illness at the end of the Gentle class he substituted.

It's wonderful to read your blog and follow your journey. It's a great gift for all your readers, but especially for those of us who had just started to know you.
Glad to hear you are feeling better and better and hope that at some point in the future I'll be able to continue attending your classes!

Much love,

maryp said...

Hi Mary,
What a week for you! When my sisters and I distributed my wonderful mother's things, I kept a pair of beaded heels that she had tailor made in Hong Kong in 1970. They are in perfect condition and I am going to wear them to my son's wedding this weekend. They are very retro. Because they only fit me, we did not even have to discuss who would keep them.During all of the busyness this week brings me, I think of you often each day and offer you my practice, prayer and heart felt good wishes.
Much love,
Mary P(Ct)

Anonymous said...

Dearest Mary.
Letting go and shedding layers, cells, hair, belongings, but keeping the memories- this is life. Sounds like you've got plenty of that going on right now and you are characteristically handling it all with ease,grace and humour.

I love to read your wonderfully vivid descriptions and observations of life. You are not only an inspiring speaker but, as I always knew, an amazing writer and inexhaustible teacher to all.

My daughter, Becca, is in Buenos Aires for her junior fall semester and she, too, has a blog, and is a fabulous writer. My days are incomplete without reading both your blogs and hearing about the very different terrains which you travel in.

With love and blessings,

Cynthia W

elena said...

With birthday #65 approaching this fall, I thought a lot about how I would like to celebrate the event. I knew I didn't want any more "stuff," and I knew I didn't want a traditional party. Then it came to me: I would find the workshop schedule for the yoga teachers who have had the greatest influence on my practice and schedule classes with them. I was registered for your Portland workshop. It would have been wonderful to be in your presence again, even briefly. Now,instead of forty-eight hours of Mary in Portland, I have frequent access to you via this amazing blog. Thank you, more than I can express adequately, for this generous gift. You continue to teach and inspire me.
Know what? I think of you every time I fold blankets. In the first workshop I took with you in Dallas at least a million years ago you said that you could tell by the care I took folding blankets that yoga was going to be an important part of my life. Smarty!

Judi F. said...

Mary - Wow! I am inspired by your words to really practice yoga - to be truly present for each moment of precious life.

Did you see yesterday's NY Times Science section (I know you love that section too!)? How fortuitous that Jane Brody wrote of "Thriving After Life's Bum Rap." The opening line was "Can getting cancer make you happy?" She goes on to talk of a book you might like called "Here's the Bright Side" by Betty Rollin. She also quotes a cancer survivior who concludes that "Happiness in a storm is never about enjoying your illness but embracing your life withing the limits of your illness, and figuring out how to feel happy whenever possible."

As to be expected, it sounds as if you've been a super fast learner of how to find happiness in the face of cancer. I will try to learn from you, my teacher, and see if that notion can't be applied to the every day challenges of life!

Wishing you continued healing, and happiness. hugs and Kisses --Judi F.

Lisa said...

Hi Mary,
You were much missed at Feathered Pipe & thoughts of you infused all our moments.
India & her prayer circle did a sweat lodge for you in the sauna, as there is a level 3 burn alert in Montana. Did you know that 18 people can fit in the sauna?
By the way, the hot tub has been shut down..the state will no longer allow wooden hot tubs for spa use.
Elan celebrated his first birthday; he's a friendly, smiling child & is walking, collecting rocks & sipping Bengal Spice tea out of our cups. Katherine's daughter Nanette had a daughter, Bailey Cecilia, on July 17th. She came out to visit several times--looks like she'll be a redhead.
Much Love from Lisa

jean w said...

Mary, My prayers and thoughts are with you. I only know you from a workshop on "hips", which was wonderful, and one class you covered for James. In that class you taught me not to give up. I think often of that advice. Not giving up is certainly applicable to many if not all situation in life. It seems like even in your time of struggle you are giving an example of just that. Thank you for sharing and giving us the strength of your courage.. My prayers are with you . Love and Peace.

Nilufer said...

hi mary,
i moved to india 6 months ago and been living in my own lil universe here-today decided to check on what was happening with yoga in ny and found this link to your blog to discover all that's been going on..i'm so heartened by your steady voice in the midst of all these upheavals and all my prayers and thoughts go out to you along with wishes for speedy healing..peace and love, nilufer

Mary Beth Early said...

Hi Mary,

It lifts my spirits to hear you so upbeat, perky and resilient! Bravo!

What can I tell you of my life? Well, “gardening” in August provides so many opportunities to be and not do. As Yogi Berra said, “You can observe a lot just by watching.” Entropy and a change of season are in the air. The leaf-cutter bees have made perfectly round holes in almost every leaf of the rose bushes and the redbud trees. A male praying mantis has been seen lurching through the shredded foliage, cocking his head to look at me occasionally. The day lilies are mostly gone. In a way it seems sad, but this is the way it is in August.

My neighbor three houses over has a horse chestnut tree taller and broader than any of these old row houses. In June the tree tosses its glorious pink candles toward the sky like a very large, supremely graceful, and confident dancer. Now the brown dry leaves are falling away as it channels all its resources to making fruit. It humbles me to watch this cycle every year. Soon I’ll be picking up horse chestnuts with the autumn leaves.

I think of you every day and wish I could say that my yoga practice is as attentive and focused as some of your students. But I’m doing my very best. Sending you love and lots of different healing thoughts,

Mary Beth

Linda DiCarlo said...

Dear Mary,
I have been reading your blog over these last several weeks and it is good to see your progress along such a difficult path. You are truely heroic. I am sending many good vibrations your way. Yesterday one of the NY Institute board members came to my Level 3 class, Christin Nounou. It was a pleasure to have her join in while she is on vacation near by.

I know your positive attitude will be as powerful as the chemo in regaining your good health. Stay the course and know you are enveloped with love and affection.
Linda DiCarlo

claudia said...

ciao Mary,
l'm claudia from venice,l've met you in rapolano ,right last week l was with Gabriella,and l asked to her "when mary will come back in italy?"(you cannot hunderstand how your lessons was important to me!you are often on my thought) so she told me about your situation,l've been deeply sorry,but l've faund this blog,and reading your news,from you, l can hunderstand that you are doing well,every time l've met you ,you was bright and beautifull,out and inside,it seems you are still like this! l send much love to you
sorry for my english

Bill said...

Dear Mary,
Here at Feathered Pipe Ranch you are very, very present. I saw you walking down the path from the bath house to the lodge with a red Indian Paintbrush flower behind your ear. You went gliding by in the canoe as I was swimming in the lake. you walked into the yoga room after we were all settled and were delighted we had all mad space for each other. I heard you say, "Bill! Straighten your legs!".
But then I blinked, or turned my head , and weren't there.
I was hoping you might get in the car from Ann Arbor and somehow head
west instead of east and arrive here at the ranch.
I'm sure Patanjali would have much to say regarding all these thoughts.
This is to say I miss you.
And I am so happy you are feeling better and better!

Robin Janis said...

early morning musings:

losing hair and gaining perspective is not a bad trade off: whatever cocktail of chemo you are getting seems to be leaving you "drunk" in the best Rumi sense: imbibing, soaking, wonderfully intoxicated, enlivened and alive.

So now I send you my most favorite of all poems:


Look, the trees
are turning
their own bodies
into pillars

of light,
are giving off the rich
fragrance of cinnamon
and fulfillment,

the long tapers
of cattails
are bursting and floating away over
the blue shoulders

of the ponds,
and every pond,
no matter what its
name is, is

nameless now.
Every year
I have ever learned

in my lifetime
leads back to this: the fires
and the black river of loss
whose other side

is salvation,
whose meaning
none of us will ever know.
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 time comes
to let it go
to let it go.

-Mary O.

a description of yoga, to me...

so glad you remain Mary, and merry and a little "drunk!"


Kristine said...

Ah, Mary, thank you for reminding me of Chautauqua – I am so glad to know you were able to spend time there! It’s one of my favorite places but I haven’t thought about it for a long time. I spent a summer studying music there, ages ago. I’ve made a mental note to visit it again. I hope to see you at the Institute soon. With warm wishes, Kristine Bell

Amy Kraft said...

Dear Mary
I just returned home after Family Reunions on Cape Cod and read "Challenges" and then your Blogspot. Thank you so much for your words of wisdom and the practicality of your great gifts.
Next weekend I am co-hosting my first Yoga Retreat at 'Krassota', my property in Montana, which is dedicated to you, and we will all honor you with Love and Light and prayers and blessings of gratitude.
I treasure my classes with you and your teachings in practice and life. With Love and Many Hugs, Amy (Kraft)

Maureen said...

Hi Mary, Sounds like you had a fun ride back. I smiled when I read that you had taken a road trip...Grrrll, you got energy! Thinking about you and keeping loving healing thoughts coming your way as you enter another round of Chemo on Friday.
Love to you, Maureen

cathyannhenry said...

I have been thinking of you often this week, as this is the week my teacher, Karen Allgire, is filling in at Feathered Pipe as the teaching assistant for Dean & Rebecca Lerner. I am sure that all of them out there are sending all their positive energy as well.

Glad to hear things are progressing and that you are continuing to have such a positive approach to your treatment and your life. You are a great example to others fighting cancer.

Continued blessings to you and yours,


Joe C said...

Hi from India, Mary its Joe. I have missed you so much and thought of you often as I attended classes at RIMYI. It was rich with insights and fun , and the medical classes very informative. I also observed treatments at a local physio-yoga clinic where all therapists are Iyengar students.One of the therapists spent many extra hours going over the sequences with me and some of the setups. It is overwhelming AND exciting to have more information and some experience to work with when I return Aug 30.
I am now up in Ladakh attending the teachings of the Dalai Lama, trekking , and enjoying time to practice without interuption. This trip has been a special gift to myself, and I look forward to giving myself to our community in hopes of bringing peace and health home to NY.
I'm infinitely glad to hear you are doing well Mary, and look forward to seeing you and connecting in whatever way possible when I return.

Love , Joe

Barbara Nicol said...

Dear Mary,

Nice to have news of you. I always wanted to get to know you a little better and your blog has fulfilled my wishes in some ways. I hope chemo went ok today.

As far as the garden goes, the first watermelons have appeared; they are very cute, but smaller than oranges. I check almost each day to see if they've grown any, but so far they seem content to be the world's smallest watermelons.

I have also been paying alot of attention to butterflies this summer. There is a beautiful butterfly weed plant with purple flowers in the courtyard of my apt. building and I have been mesmerized by a yellow swallowtail pair feeding on it. Also I have seen two monarchs and a few black swallowtails... Such beings of light and grace...

Much love,

Sue Shapiro said...

So wonderful to hear your voice, you great way with words, and most especially your boundless spirit. Enough to make me plow through my technological challenges and find a way to get this post through--the last ones I wrote never made it when, surprise, surprise, I forgot my username, or password and then got frustrated and went back to work. I'll stop now and figure that part out. More later.

all my love and hugs and energy


Tina G. said...

Dear Mary,
Hats! When I first learned about the cancer I stuck a picture of you on my frig. It's in Bali and you're wearing that wonderful, crushable straw hat with a black silk? sash wrapped around the middle. Oh, how I coveted that hat! Jacob, Elizabeth, and Sue S. (just saw her well wishes here!) are around you, all gesticulating as if saying, "whom...moi?!" And you're pointing quite definitively at yourself. We're about to embark on the rain forest trek.
Thank you for this gift of your blog -- your community -- stitching us into a wonderful quilt.
Sending you metta and lots and lots of it this next week as I'll be silent, on retreat. xx-oo Tina

Carol Cook said...

Dear Mary--David and I got back from our week at Feathered Pipe just a couple of hours ago. It was a wonderful week, in spite of the pang we all felt at your absence. You were constantly on all of our minds. Whenever we had to repeat a particularly tortuous pose, the refrain would ring out "One more for Mary!" We had prayer circles and native American smoke ceremonies for you and ate a lot of cookies, quite selflessly, on your behalf. If you find yourself packing on the pounds, we'll know it worked.
I want to report particularly how wonderful Rebecca was in her role as teacher this year. She is so modest about her teaching that she seemed quite diffident about trying to fill in the gap left by you. But her teaching was inspiring, precise, demanding, and yet kind. I hope that you and Dean and Rebecca will all be able to teach us together again in the near future. In the meantime, I very much hope that this latest round of chemo does you much good and that you are able to take in all the love that is coming your way. With love, Carol

Xell said...

Dear Mary,

Your astounding good cheer is an inspiration to us all.
Many blessings on the road to wellness and health of your physical self - your inner self seems - no, is - in the best of health!
Many blessings,

jan hall said...

Dear Mary, I just had confirmation of your diagnosis and information about your blog. Our thoughts and prayers are with you as you continue with your healing process. We have been on a similar journey with Jenna, now 41, who was diagnosed with rectal cancer in its 3rd stage. She will live out her life with a colostomy but appears to be cancer-free. Please pray for our family. Love, Jan Hall

Karen said...

Hi Mary.

Well, at Feathered Pipe, the My Fair Yogi saga was continued to include a couple more songs.



All I want is to clap my wrist
Give my kidneys a deeper twist
And give my shin a kiss
Oh wouldn't it be loverly!

Study yoga philosophy
Practice inner serenity
Just like Patanjali
Oh wouldn't it be loverly!

Oh so loverly sitting
Absobloomalutely still
I would never drop my chest
I'm teaching it how to fill

Someone's knee pressing on my spine
Lifting me for the fifteenth time
A feeling so sublime
Oh wouldn't it be loverly!

Oh so loverly lying
Absobloomalutely still
I would never fall asleep
I'm using my inner will

Someone's hand resting on my knee
How annoying can someone be?
I want some samadhi
Oh wouldn't it be loverly!


I could have balanced all night
I could have balanced all night
And still have begged for more

I could have squeezed my thighs
And felt an inner rise
I'd never felt before

I'll never know
What made it so exciting
Why all at once
My buttocks took flight

And now I feel the draw
To do Bakasana
I could have
Balanced balanced balanced
All night

Kathy Jo said...

Back from our week at Feathered Pipe, I'm sucking on the Belgian chocolate from Shanti Boutique and holding your rich smile and deep healing in my heart.
Kathy Jo

Nancy Mildren,Corvallis Oregon said...

Dearest Mary,
It was my first time to go to Feather Pipe last week. Rebecca and Dean were an awesome teaching duet, inspiring and nourishing further growth to my roots with Iyengar yoga. The land felt so sacred, a deep peace of coming home as I arrived amidst the trembling aspen, birch and pine trees surrounding the lake.
It was nice to bond with India and Howard and the land and Dean and Rebecca as our heartful leaders and be part of a group missing you and sending you lots of love in multi-faceted rich nuances throughout the week.
The asana was well orchestrated and fine tuning, the pranayama sublime, the humor light and good, the food colorful, fresh,abundant, and sumptuously vegetarian. The land sacred, tranquille and deeply replenishing, the prayers humble and whole hearted.
I saw and felt in Rebecca not only her own beautiful Self but the seasoned feminine harmonized with masculine wisdom of you and Geeta and Guruji glowing through. This blossomed feminine united with masculine is a wisdom that waters and nourishes my roots well. Dean and Rebecca's yoga sadhana being deep roots in their marriage was a beautiful energy;a dance of love, respect and mutual inspiration to the balance of masculine and feminine in this ancient art. It's humbling to value sensitivity of heart equal to keeness of intellect. I love yoga philosophy and had classes with Mandira Haynes and Judith Lasater at the IYISF and it's nice how the wisdom is a seed that can blossom in tending to the demands of daily living. Thank you ,Mary, for your dedicated, and enthusiastic practice and for always giving your best so generously like Guruji.
Rebecca cried one day saying how the sacred energy of Feather Pipe always deeply replenishes you in your busy schedule... I understood exactly what she/you meant as I felt my deepest dedicated efforts of my life being soothed and rejuvenated. Just to be called in solitude to sit on one of those chairs above the lake and soak in a timeless, suspended moment of eternal beauty....
India is sending you a group art mandala that we made last Fri to send to you some of the good wholistic energy of Feather Pipe.
My mother love holds you dear the same as how I hold my precious daughter.
All my love and gratitude,

dianachange said...

Hello Mary:
I was a "Little Dinosoar" at Feathered Pipe with you and George Purvis ages ago--1991, I think! Saw you also at workshops in Lacrosse in 2000 and 2002. . .
Now I'm on the East Coast more or less. (In Virginia, 5 hours away from the coast) Heard about your illness recently from a fellow yogi as we were finishing up the Yoga and Sound camp with Ramanand Patel and Mukesh Desai at Arsha Vidya Gurukulam in PA.
Well, one good thing is that now I can find you on the web! Two years ago I did a google search for "Mary Dunn yoga" and gave up because there are a gazillion Mary Dunns out there. But of course only one you. Who would have thunk you would be blogging?
Well I wish you the best on your healing journey and will keep you in my thoughts, and even though I'm not much of a pray-er, in my prayers too! Keep us posted. . .
Thanks so much for your teaching.

Diana Woodall

Ronnie G. said...

Hi Mary,

it's always a treat to read your blog, hear of your adventures and see how well your doing. When I read this peom I think of you. Love and blessings,
Ronnie G.

Ithaca by Konstantinos Kavafis (1911)

As you set out for Ithaca
hope your road is a long one,
full of adventure, full of discovery.
Laistrygonians, Cyclops,
angry Poseidon - don't be afraid of them;
you'll never find things like that on your way
as long as you keep your thoughts raised high,
as long as a rare excitement
stirs your spirit and your body.
Laistrygonians, Cyclops,
wild Poseidon - you won't encounter them
unless you bring them along inside your soul,
unless your soul sets them up in front of you.

Hope your road is a long one.
May there be many summer mornings when,
with what pleasure, what joy,
you enter harbours you're seeing for the first time;
may you stop at Phoenician trading stations
to buy fine things,
mother of pearl and coral, amber and ebony,
sensual perfume of every kind -
as many sensual perfumes as you can;
and may you visit many Egyptian cities
to learn and go on learning from their scholars.

Keep Ithaca always in your mind.
Arriving there is what you're destined for.
But don't hurry the journey at all.
Better if it lasts for years,
so you're old by the time you reach the island,
wealthy with all you've gained on the way,
not expecting Ithaca to make you rich.

Ithaca gave you the marvelous journey.
Without her you wouldn't have set out.
She has nothing left to give you now.
And if you find her poor, Ithaca won't have fooled you.
Wise as you will have become, so full of experience,
you'll have understood by then what these Ithakas mean.

Elizabeth said...

I have been in the darkness
I've been in the light
blend them together
there will be hope
and the softness of white
for always there is strength
after every night.

dianachange said...

Hello again Mary:
Re-reading the comments from those who have returned from Feathered Pipe this year and almost being able to breath in that special sacred peace. I recalled that as a "Little Dinosaur" (Rebecca and Dean were "Big Dinosaurs" that year) during one class George played a funny trick on you: he put on a pair of Halloween glasses, the kind with a rubber nose and mustache, and positioned himself so that we could see him, but you couldn't. You were teaching and couldn't figure out why we were barely able to suppress our laughs!
Also remember how not only were you enthusiastic about the yoga poses, but about the process of teaching itself. How "From the big toe, extend all the way to the sit bone" was a better instruction than "stretch from your toe to your sit bone."
I look forward to connecting with you again on this blog (and it is the first and only blog consider worth my time!)
Diana Woodall

Sue said...

Dear Mary,

I too feel so fortunate to be able to share this beautiful space with you and your many wonderful friends. You've been with me all summer in Italy..looking for mushrooms, drinking some very nice wine, teaching a little yoga class in a tiny Alpine village (I said to myself: this I can do!) and then too you were with me in Switzerland .. glaciers, The Miro Museum, The Beyeler Foundation in Berne, a glorious day in Lucerne with friends and wonderful fresh cream and merengues in Gruyere. Now home in New jersey as of last night and I so look forward to catching a glimpse of your wonderful smile this fall at the Institute.

The strength of your words, the joy that radiates from this wonderful site and the blessings that are being sent back and forth are powerful beyond expression. I join everyone in thanking you for all you're giving to us; I in turn send my love and prayers for your continued progress to a good and soon and complete recovery,
Sue Abiad

Karen said...

Hi Mary,
I'm glad you were able to visit with your mother earlier this month. I just finished watching the documentary "Yoga Unveiled". There's a segment with B.K.S. Iyengar talking about your mother and how she invited him to come to the old Ann Arbor YMCA in '73. He says fondly, "she is my old student". Your mother and Priscilla Neel are also shown talking, with your mother holding her old, old copy of Light on Yoga with a note written inside by Mr. Iyengar.

I was remembering what a treat it was to attend your workshop weekend this past spring at the "new" Ann Arbor YMCA, and the additional treat of having your mother come visit us during the class on Mother's Day.

Lots of love,
Karen HC from A2