By Sandi Tomlin-Sutker
I’m finding it very difficult to write my regular column introducing you to all the intriguing content contained in this issue. I’m writing this on Dec. 21st … the day the world ends according to some prognosticators.
The world already ended for 26 people in Newtown, Connecticut and for the families of those victims, the world as they knew it ended that day.
In 2012, in the US, there were 13 “mass killings” where a shooter killed at least 2 others and himself. Yes, always guns and always males. (See CBS News’ Crimesiders for details and also Mother Jones’ overview of mass killings over the past decades.)
What do we, as Americans, make of these statistics? And what do we intend to do about solving this increasingly intense problem?
Are mass killings really increasing? Depending on how one looks at the data, mass murders are holding steady over the past decades or they are increasing. However we look at it, there was a definite surge in these killings in 2012 (Mother Jones’ study excluded gun violence in robberies and gang violence and shows an increase since 1982 in the kinds of mass shootings that have led to President Obama asking Vice President Biden to lead a task force to come up with some solutions.)
From one side we hear calls for even more guns on the streets, in schools and other public places. If the principle of Sandy Hook Elementary had a gun, could she have stopped the violence earlier and saved more lives? Possibly; yet do we want to live in a world where everyone is armed and ready to shoot? Must we return to the Wild West culture, whether real or myth?
Perhaps, as some argue, it is about our mental health system and the lack of sufficient services that involve ongoing therapy instead of mainly psychotropic drugs? I just read that the mother of the killer in Connecticut was trying to get her son committed, and that knowledge may have precipitated his spree; yet that same mother kept three guns in the home where this troubled son lived; the guns he used to kill 26 people.
Clearly this is a complex problem. Do we, as a society, have the will and resources to tackle it in a meaningful way? Can we have a true dialogue and attempt to sort out the various issues? There are models in other parts of the world: after a particularly horrific mass shooting in Australia in 1996 (35 dead, 21 wounded) that country instituted stronger weapons restrictions that resulted in fewer firearm deaths, suicides, and a decade without mass shootings. (Australian Gun Study, 11/2006)
We can’t completely legislate behavior, or keep all “assault weapons” out of the hands of criminals; we can’t find and help all mentally ill people. But we can start the process and keep working and refining the laws and learning from our success and mistakes.
Stopping even one mass killing is worth the effort, don’t you think?
Briefly, then, I’ll introduce this Issue; the first one of WNC Woman’s 11th year of publication … yes, our first issue was on the street at Thanksgiving, 2002.
We have published the annual Women Minding Their Own Business issue nearly every year since and it’s always interesting and enlightening to hear what women are doing to create and sustain businesses. And it also includes a broad definition of our “own business”! For women, that often includes pretty much every activity in their lives as we navigate work, family, friends, education, and all the tasks that keep things flowing (or at least moving!)
From Art to Mortgages, from Hormones to Organizing, it’s here. Two writers look at the difference between traditionally masculine approaches to work and life, and a more feminine one.
A UNC-Asheville student relays a searing story of bullying and how cooperation and friendship can help.
And do check out our Women in Business SHOWCASE on pages 28-29-30. I love this focus on the women themselves; a great opportunity to learn what makes them tick as well as a bit more about their passion for their work.
I hope this New Year brings you love, joy and abundance in all areas of life.
By Susan Lachmann
Ingrid Dyhl admits she drew on everything as a kid: paper, tables, steamy shower doors, and frosty windows. Instead of listening in class at school, she doodled all over notebooks with lots of swirls and circles and hearts. She even admits to a love affair with good penmanship, confessing to frequent letter writing, especially the poster sized variety. Everything had to be perfect, and balanced and pretty. “I just didn’t ever like to be told what to draw and how to draw it,” says Ingrid. “Boy, that was an indicator of what the future would be like for me. My poor mother!”
From her early childhood roots in a suburb of Chicago, arts, history and culture were part of the daily landscape. “My mother felt very strongly about having culture in our lives,” she relates. “I took art lessons at the community center, went to summer art and music camps. I was horse crazy too, and my best friend, Jenny, and I “perfected” the art of drawing horses. There were all kinds of art all over the house, especially handmade things that were meticulously created. After my Dad died when I was six, Mom and I only had each other, so often times we would sit together in the kitchen where she would do needlepoint, and I would paint or make some other type of craft. I think being Danish also means I automatically have an appreciation for finely crafted things.”
Fast forward to adult years as a single parent with more to do than there are hours in a day, with a heaping helping of anxiety piled high on top. Childhood instincts and experiences plus the impulse to create lead to a whole new learning. Ingrid’s’ story continues: “One day, I decided that I wanted to put some paint on this small, wonderfully smooth stone I had saved from a beach in Florida. It was staring at me, just begging for some color. I painted the word “Breathe” on a purple background with some leaves all around. It felt really good, and so relaxing! The feeling of that smooth, cold stone under the paintbrush, and the way that fantastically rich purple acrylic paint lay on the rock perfectly uniform in color… I loved it! That next week I went looking for more rocks to paint.
The very next thing I painted was a mandala, but here’s the thing: I had no idea the design was called a mandala. They were just designs that satisfied my love for detail, symmetry and color. It was meant to be! I will always wonder what led me to this cultural and historical art form, one that is celebrated for its calming and spiritual contributions to the soul both for the artist and the observer.
Since then, I have found a home spiritually in my art and the Buddhist philosophy. Friends encouraged me to sell at local markets, and I’ve also started and Etsy shop. Soon I’ll have a website. It truly makes me happy to see others enjoy the things I create. I consider them all fingerprints of the soul; they come from that place that needs no words. My trade name, ArtSten, is half English (Art) half Danish (Sten meaning stone). Since I am half Danish (my mother was pure Dane), it seemed appropriate!”
Starting with found natural materials then adding designs led by the heart is indeed a fine example of green giving! Find more photos on Face Book page: ArtSten; you can also contact artist Ingrid Dyhl on her personal FB page.
Susan Lachmann is an Artist in Education who enjoys living and working in Jonesborough, TN.
By Sherri McLendon
When it comes to money, women often need to gather their courage and face their fears.
Fear erodes courage.
Money is an emotional topic for many women. We avoid it like the plague. When drama and chaos ensues, it’s sometimes easier to subjugate ourselves in our relationship with money than it is to face the emotions it brings up. However, money is currency, and it has currency. Its reflection of our inner and outer reality runs deep, flowing in and out, for better or for worse. Our primary relationship with money will last us a lifetime.
Instead of investing in a harmonious relationship with money as our partner in co-creating the life we truly desire, we divest ourselves of our power. We do this through doubt, recriminations, worry, concern, nagging others, guilt, anger, embarrassment, and resentment. We choose to be in denial about money, because… well, we’re afraid, and fear erodes courage.
Socio-economics, of course, are partially at fault. Who among us hasn’t heard? Everyone knows women aren’t good with money, or with math. Our grandmothers encouraged us to consider loving a rich man as easily as a poor one. Our fathers discouraged us from concerning ourselves with family finances. Once we were married, we were passed off to become someone else’s “problem.” Many husbands, even today, resent it when we concern ourselves with the household finances. Even enlightened husbands often expect us to put our careers on hold indefinitely when we have children.
How do you know if you’re in denial in your relationship with money?
*You choose not to look at your money situation very often.
*When spending money, you have no plan for how you’re going to pay off that debt.
*There’s a disconnect between what you want to create, and what you do.
*You live in the land of “not enough” in matters of time and affordability. “There’s not enough…,” and “I can’t afford… ” are common phrases you use.
If you are in denial in your relationship with money, then you’re giving away your power. There may be lots of reasons why. But the one that concerns us here is the fear of success. Often unconscious, fear of success shows up in our lives as a lack of momentum or self-sabotage.
How do you know if you are giving away your power with money?
First, watch the places where you feel attachment to the money itself as it flows in and out of your life. Think of your body as a battery, and the flow of money in and out as a positive or negative charge. Without looking at the amount, feel the energy of the transactions in your life. If you feel contraction in your body regarding the expense, you’re giving away your power with money. However, if you feel expansion, or a positive feeling, you know you’re standing in your power with money.
How do you recognize expansion and empowerment in relationship with money?
Watch for the places and times in your life that joy, abundance, relaxation, happiness, excitement, security, bounty, gratitude, and appreciation are enhanced by the way you energetically spend and earn. Then, choose to follow the joy when deciding how to allocate your financial resources.
Where do I start to cultivate an empowered relationship with money in my life?
The thing to remember is your current money situation actually recalls your past beliefs, choices and decisions. It does not determine your future outcomes. To get out of denial and regain your power in relationship with money, do what you’d do with any new relationship – go out on dates. Plan a special weekly money date for yourself. Look at your bills, and make decisions. Ask yourself, “What are my choices?” and “What are my actions?” It doesn’t matter if the actions are tiny. Teeny tiny actions, in the face of fear, are acts of great courage which create new habits and increased mindfulness about your relationship with money.
Are you a woman nurturing change in your relationship with money?
If there’s fear in your relationship with money, the opportunity for an empowered mindset shift is here.
When we, as women, courageously face our relationship with money, we create the change we wish to see in our world. We become role models for other women. We stand in our power and create lives we love which honor and value the collective. We become able to affect meaningful shifts in our communities, help more persons heal or develop, and initiate social change by placing our energies collectively to bring increase to whatever we wish to grow – one tiny, courageous, fear-defeating action at a time.
Sherri McLendon integrates spirituality into money mindset and marketing strategy through expert coaching and consulting. Learn more about her at
- Kristalyn Bunyan
- Janis Gingermountain
- Anya Robyak and Lisa Garrett
- Martha Jane Petersen
- Beth Browne
- Margaret Kirschner
- Jeri Senor
- Sandi Tomlin-Sutker
- Jane Lawson
- Michelle Baker
- Lavinia Plonka
- Jeanne Charters
- Judith Toy
MEET OUR ADVERTISERS
- Bill Brackney
PET CARE CORNER *A New Section*
- Beth Jones, DVM
- Lorri Gifford
MINDING HER OWN BUSINESS
– Sherri McLendon
- Saralyn Collins
HOME SPACE *A New Section*
- Dawn Izon
COMMON SENSE HEALTH
– Maureen McDonnell, RN
WOMEN MAKING MUSIC
Peggy Ratusz will be back next month
WORDS BY WOMEN: Poetry/Fiction/Book Reviews
- Peg Steiner
- Mary Ickes, a review
- Marilyn McVicker
By: Cathy Larson Sky
Leaving the trail, I
Notice the sky unfolding
A quilt of pink silk
Earthly Connections in Ireland
There’s one more month for you to tell us how you feel about WNC Woman and tell us what more you’d like to see in these pages. And, help us attract more advertisers by giving us some demographic information (it’s all anonymous) about yourself.
Just to pique your interest, here are comments so far on the question: What are your favorite departments/features/themes in WNC Woman:
The poem entries; Articles by Lavinia
Featuring the strength of women here and what women are doing in helping others
Poetry/Editor’s Messages/ Feature Articles on Wellness and Health/Ads/
honestly I like the ads
I like reading about what wnc women are doing; I enjoy the recurring columns; Jeanne Charters; Lavinia Plonka; Kathy Godfrey’s articles; Kristine Madera’s articles; Lorri Gifford’s writings; Women minding their own Biz.
Human Interest stories; Love the men’s issue; Always something of interest that resonates in WNC WOMAN
I like the editorial and last word, Y chromosome; I like interviews with artists and business people
I HATE confessional articles, my pain of growing up, my relationship to God. Dislike poetry. Is this what women are about? Wimpy, over-exposing, and then proud about it? If these things are the positive aspects of women, the ideas are outdated by 30 years. What is NOW about us?
Woman artists, business woman, relative information about local woman.
And the question, What new content would you like to see?
More blog type entries from local women that are informative or educational-not opinion waxing. Articles from a local woman in politics either candidate or elected officials. An article about mothers and/or children’s interest. Locally owned businesses. Something for gay women.
Something a little more serious regarding women’s issues.
More about health and health care
Some themes concentrated more for young adults in the area; More information for mature 60+ women
I don’t have any suggestions b/c I think you all do a great job.
How to become a successful artist in Asheville; I would like to see more about the occupy movement and political and social justice.
Some shorter articles that can be read quickly
I like articles/info about women who advertise who have started their own business
It’s a great magazine but I’d like to see something a little edgier. Not so totally sweet-here-we-are-aren’t-we-wonderful. I worry about our heads being in the sand on some important issues.
So, if you haven’t put in your 10 cents worth yet, please do so this month, and thanks!
Go to: wncwoman.com for the link.
By: Deb Weir
Twenty years ago, at age thirty-seven, my identity took a deep shift. Through a series of painful experiences, I was transformed from a bleached blonde BMW driver to a tree-hugging Jeep Cherokee driver. It’s true. During the process of change, I not only adopted a new way of being in the world, I became obsessed with nature as a powerful self-esteem levitator.
Here’s the short version of my story: I bought a used foreign car (BMW). Its engine blew up one month later when I was driving way out in the country, leaving me stranded in the wilderness of life. I realized that, inadvertently, with my feminine ignorance around cars, I had gone out on a financial limb for a lemon. While the car was patched together, I read a book about a wilderness survival school and had insights about my state of weak vulnerability and dependence. I decided right then and there to toughen up by attending Tom Brown’s Tracker School to learn survival skills. It took a little while to scrape the money together, but where there’s a will, there’s a way. During that month of initial wilderness survival training and practice, I had a classic transcendental vision that totally validated a newly-heightened state of being. With the passion of a young woman on a mission, I committed to helping other women become empowered through nature immersion.
Since I was already in school to become a licensed professional counselor, this experience focused my career goals. I was able to use the lessons in counseling theory and psychology to enrich the elements of a woman’s nature program. It was a time of transformation in all aspects of my life. I even found my soul mate in my counseling classes, a partner who could ground me in the business of starting a counseling practice. He remains my biggest fan and support.
After a couple of years of honing the wilderness skills of building shelters, foraging for water and food, making bow-drill fires, as well as creating wilderness workouts, finding isolated campgrounds, and gathering enough camping gear, I felt ready to offer weekend workshops to women. I called my self-esteem nature program Women in the Wilderness, and I worked hard to market and create exciting learning experiences. Behind the wheel of my red Jeep Cherokee, with my buck knife on my belt and cut-off jeans showing my beautiful legs of power and earthly connections, nothing could stop me.
Thinking back twenty years, those memories make me smile. I was truly wild as wolves’ teeth. Now a bit older and more sophisticated, not quite as rough and tumble as then, I’m still rolling around in the leaves and grass, stacking river rocks into little stone sculptures, letting nature penetrate the spaces between my cells. And I’m still trying to find women to play in nature with me.
In a way, I wish I could stop and just be more normal. I wish I could go on hikes and camping trips of my own without this driving compulsion to introduce others to my world of passionate nature connection. But some bug bit me back then that infected my psyche, not letting me rest unless I’m planning a nature retreat or event. It keeps pushing me to write articles and books, to create vision boards, and to look for property that will work for a gathering—even when I’m exhausted.
I have this playful inner child who wants to grab a friend’s hand and say, “Look at the root system on this tree! Isn’t it magical how it’s formed the perfect small animal home? And such a pretty home!” or “Wow! Look at this interesting moth. The markings on its wings make a cross. Is this a sign from The Universe?” or “Want to try an Andy Goldsworthy nature art project? Let’s gather pine cones and stand them up around this tree trunk. Or do you think if we worked together we could actually get a stone arch to stay up, like Andy’s does?” I’m truly obsessed to play in nature. I laugh at myself that I’m still enthralled with a big pile of natural debris that could serve as shelter-makings, and that I still search for cordage materials and practice twisting it into string. It makes me happy. It makes me more than smile—my soul soars with the birds when I’m immersed in nature, my belongings protected in a tent while I sit on a boulder beside a cascading stream.
I know that I can be in nature alone and experience my own natural high, but the positive feelings seem even more profound when a group of women experience nature together when the various surprising wonders of nature (and there are so many) or the quiet peace of the forest are shared with other like minds. I invariably felt this feminine alchemy during my Women in the Wilderness weekend gatherings. For instance, I felt empowered when we cooked in the ground using techniques taught by the wilderness survival instructors. I know it may sound silly to hear about someone pulling baked potatoes out of the ground, removing the foil, putting on butter and salt, and feeling strong and transformed as a result. I wasn’t alone in my feeling—the other women shared my excitement.
For years I’ve tried to understand this wilderness magic that flourishes when women gather in nature. Is it simply, like the Cyndi Lauper song lyrics, that girls just wanna have fun? That’s probably a lot of it. Or is it related to the Mars-Venus theory that women evolved from a primitive feminine “planet” of wild nature and hand-holding connection? Hmmm… Might it have something to do with how stressed women are, trying to be super-woman to each and all every day? So when they get the chance to go wild and let their hair down, they luxuriate in its ecstasy? Maybe. Is this restorative and blissful inner peace the result of right-brain stimulation of the senses, leaving behind the left-brain compulsion to achieve? Some wonders are not easily explained, especially when it involves women. We women are mysterious and complex creatures.
Brain science related to happiness is all the rage right now in the world of psychology, and it’s causing me to think that we may be closer to understanding the healing powers of nature. One book of the happiness genre promises to teach how to harness the ability to keep the bliss alive, even as we leave nature and return to the chaos of our lives. Wow! I want that! From my studies so far, it seems that the secret is, first, to develop a basic understanding of brain physiology—the autonomic nervous system, the role of neurotransmitters, and the importance of such structures as the amygdala, hippocampus, and the pituitary gland (tall order). Secondly, one must not only engage in relaxing, positive activities, but also learn to work them so that the bliss dominates over the powerful negative thoughts and experiences.
From this lesson, derived and simplified from the brain science articles, I’m imagining a weekend of doing what I love in nature, and then when I return home, using a powerful dose of mindfulness to remain blissful while I check e-mails, complete forms, talk with my clients, sit in tense meetings, clean house, answer the phone, write notes, workout, shop for groceries, pluck my eyebrows, dry my hair . . . I’ll take a few minutes to sit down and get back to the wilderness of my memory and reconnect with the inner peace that I experienced, reinforcing the being in contrast to my obsessive doing. I imagine that I can actually enhance the memory of the peace I felt in nature, as well as the memories of all the fun I had playing in nature with other nature-lovers. This meditative process will enable my parasympathetic nervous system to cool the fires of my adrenaline rushes.
It thrills me to read scholarly articles and books, attend continuing education seminars, and find certifications related to mindfulness, yoga, meditation, and imagery—interventions that I had previously practiced and thought to be alternative. These practices are now emerging in our culture in a scientific and researched way, empowering counselors and therapists to use them full-throttle as potent adjuncts to more traditional therapy methods. These forms of natural medicine are finally becoming accepted and touted as effective ways to calm us down and bring awareness and meaning to our intense lives. My nature retreats are now adapting their focus.
Women are more empowered now. There’s still work to be done in women’s equality and empowerment, but we’ve come a long way, baby, in the upsurge of femininity and the need for nurturing our planet and our world. Balance is now the buzz word, as we try to cope with environmental controversies, cultural philosophical dichotomies of all sorts, technological stimulation, and the like. It’s still a cold, cruel world, and we all feel a bit dizzy as the pendulums we cling to swing dramatically. As mindfulness teaches us, we still have natural places to go to find solace, especially in Western North Carolina. How rich we are in that regard, at least at this very moment, which is all we have.
Mindfulness, yoga, meditation, imagery, relaxation practices of all sorts are truly awesome experiences when carried out in the right natural setting.
Combining these practices in nature with the understanding (empowerment) that we can gain from the flood of brain science studies, I’m starting to feel that wild rush of passion seep back into my more mature body/mind. I still love creating my teepee fires in ways that are environmentally responsible and efficient. I still adore planning for the day when I get lost on the trail and have to problem-solve for safety, maybe building a debris hut or using my wide-angle vision for clues. But now my obsession is more directed toward finding balance in an over-stimulating world, and using nature as a healing agent.
Earthly connections, nature immersion, awareness, wide-angle vision, moving meditations were all basic lessons from my wilderness survival weekends. These lessons are still a part of my identity and focus, my mission and oath that I took when I became a professional counselor to help others become happier and more fulfilled in their lives. I’m still under the influence of the bug that bit me, but at least it appears that I can hold hands with contemporary science and not feel so out on a limb. It remains a worthy mission.
Thinking of Asheville as her dream place to live, Deb is new to North Carolina and working as a counselor at October Road, Inc. She practices what she preaches by using Western North Carolina’s nature playgrounds to stay balanced. She’s the author of Women in the Wilderness: Exploring Your Primal Nature and is planning a nature retreat near the Pisgah National Forest for the spring. She can be reached at DebWeir@WeirPartners.net. www.immerseyourselfinhappiness.com
By: Janet Parkerson
“I believe that there is a subtle magnetism in Nature, which, if we unconsciously yield to it, will direct us aright.” ~Henry David Thoreau
In the mid-1980s, Judy Garry was working at the University of Delaware and studying for her Master’s Degree. Ed Doll, a retired chemical engineer from Dupont, was living on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. The two met through mutual friends, and their first date was a sailboat race on the Chesapeake Bay. It was Judy’s maiden voyage, but Ed was an expert sailor, and very competitive. To Judy’s amazement, they were in first place! Judy says she had nothing to do with winning. “I just went along for the ride.” What a great start for the couple!
A few years and many sailing dates later, they devised a plan to fulfill Ed’s dream of sailing year-round. They refurbished a 46-foot sloop, appropriately named Sloopy, and set sail from the Chesapeake Bay to the Caribbean in May 1989. After going through weeks of red tape, they became qualified members of the Virgin Island Charter Yacht League and offered their boat for charter. Captain Ed and First Mate/Chef Judy were the crew.
Sailing conditions in the Caribbean were perfect. They soon developed an active charter business, making their dream vacation in paradise a reality. They became expert guides in the United States and British Virgin Islands, discovering secluded beaches, quiet harbors, the best snorkeling sites, the best island bars for local rum, and great reggae bands!
Despite their busy schedule, the lifestyle they were living offered little opportunity to develop deep friendships or a sense of community.
This was before e-mail and Skype. Phone calls home were few and far between, and Judy looked forward to each September when they returned to the United States to visit family and friends.
After five years of living and working on their boat, Judy and Ed could no longer deny their longing to return to land and find a place to call home. They needed grounding!
With no regrets, they sailed back to the Chesapeake Bay and began searching for a place to put down roots. They traveled from Florida to Maine, from the Rockies to the Alleghenies.
After a winter in Florida fixing up Sloopy to sell, they drove into Asheville on their way back to Maryland where they still owned a house.
It was mid-March, the temperature was perfect, the mountains were beautiful and the skies were Carolina blue. Judy recalls that they stopped along the Blue Ridge Parkway near the Folk Art Center for a picnic lunch when the Tour Dupont bike race flew by. They decided to spend one night in their camper at Lake Powhatan, but stayed a week! They knew they had found a very special place. Asheville met all their criteria for a great retirement city. They vowed to visit again.
Shortly after their return, Judy’s 88-year old mother passed away. As they turned to the task of preparing their Maryland property for sale, Judy decided she needed to replace a few scraggly shrubs in front of the house to create more curb appeal. Something amazing happened. Judy explains that when she picked up a shovel for the first time, she became possessed! “All I wanted to do was dig.” She knew it was not logical since they planned to sell the house soon. But she kept digging and buying and planting! “I was obsessed,” claims Judy. “I just couldn’t stop myself!” She couldn’t wait to get up in the morning and get out into the yard. She devoured books on gardening and landscaping, read seed catalogs, learned the botanical names of flowers, and went to every nursery within a 25-mile radius. At night, she dreamed about her fantasy garden.
Judy’s mother had been an avid gardener all her life. “I truly believe it was Mom’s spirit inhabiting and guiding me.” Creating a garden helped relieve some of her grief. “It made me feel close to her. She was so precious. I miss her terribly.”
By the time the Maryland house was ready to sell, Judy had planted flowers everywhere! There was no way she could leave them behind. Even as she planted, Judy knew that she would dig them up and take them with her.
“The lesson I have thoroughly learnt, and wish to pass on to others, is to know the enduring happiness that the love of a garden gives.” ~Gertrude Jekyll
After two more visits to Asheville that spring and summer, Judy and Ed met with a realtor and found a house they loved in a great neighborhood with lots of room for a garden. Their house in Maryland sold quickly, and they moved to the Land of the Sky in late October 1995, plants and all!
Putting Down Roots
Next, they worked to fulfill Judy’s dream of a cottage style flower garden.
Judy was eager to become active in her new community. She applied to the Master Gardener volunteer program, a 13-week course offered through Cooperative Extension. Because she was such a novice gardener, she never expected to be admitted. She thinks her enthusiasm for her newfound passion and desire to be part of a volunteer organization were the reasons she was accepted.
In addition to her Master Gardener activities, Judy volunteered at the Botanical Gardens where she helped coordinate special events, served as newsletter editor and board member. She volunteered at the North Carolina Arboretum and served on the board of MAGIC Community Gardens and Quality Forward (now Asheville Greenworks). “I jumped in on all fours,” says Judy. She was particularly happy when UNC-Asheville’s Center for Creative Retirement asked her to coordinate study trips similar to those she had done at the University of Delaware’s Academy of Lifelong Learning.
Grow Where You’re Planted.
Ed tackled many projects around their new home. With Judy’s design input, he built arbors, planters, and an entirely new front porch surrounded by garden beds. He, too, became quite involved, serving as president of their homeowner’s association, and continuing his love of singing as a member of the Land of the Sky Barbershop Chorus and president of that organization.
All the while, they continued developing plans for their dream garden. They defined a large area of lawn to be transformed into flower beds and spent the next 18 months creating them. The first spring, they brought in 40 tons of dirt from a lot near their development. “We had a humongous mountain of dirt right in the middle of our lawn! I’m sure our neighbors thought we were crazy!” They spent their first summer amending the soil with truckloads of composted leaves, cow and horse manure, mushroom compost, peat moss, and soil amendments—the ingredients to make good dirt for their plants. Judy’s training as a Master Gardener was indispensable for this task. Bit-by-bit, plant-by-plant, their garden grew.
Sadly, after four years in Asheville, Ed was diagnosed with cancer. He fought his illness courageously. After his death in 2001, Judy threw herself even more into her community activities and—again at a time of great loss—she found solace in her garden. Today, Judy gives Ed much of the credit for making her beautiful garden a reality.
Eventually, Judy had so many flowers, that she began thinking about selling some to support her habit. Early every Saturday morning, she loaded her car with buckets of flowers, cut the night before, to sell at the Black Mountain tailgate market.
She loved having shoppers enjoy the fruits of her labor. She soon had a following of regular customers arriving early to see what goodies she had brought from her garden. People were amazed at the quantity, quality, and variety of her flowers. Had she grown them all herself? Yes. How big was her farm? Judy laughed and told them there was no farm, just her home garden on less than a half-acre in East Asheville. She invited them to visit. And as she welcomed guests to her garden, she began to consider the concept of pick-your-own flowers. Her visitors select their flowers which Judy then cuts. It was much easier to have folks come to her garden for flowers than taking her flowers to market. Your Vase or Mine was born.
Reap What You’ve Sown.
“Show me your garden, and I shall tell you what you are.” ~Alfred Austin
The last seven years have been a tremendous learning experience for Judy. She knows which flowers are best for cutting and plants a variety of seeds and flowers so she will have plenty of blossoms throughout the growing season. Roses bloom from mid-April to mid-November, peonies in the spring. Daisies are almost always in bloom, while sunflowers and zinnias are abundant in the summer. Her dahlias are a big fall favorite.
Today, about 90% of Judy’s business is weddings and rehearsal dinners. It may be the do-it-yourself bride who comes for buckets of cut flowers or the bride who wants Judy to make everything from decorations for the arbor to hair wreaths for the flower girls.
Judy is not a florist; she’s a gardener, but she loves creating arrangements and bouquets, claiming that there is no way to mess up a beautiful bunch of freshly picked flowers! “It’s such a delight knowing my “home-grown” flowers will grace the biggest day in a couple’s life.”
“Let us be grateful to people who make us happy; they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom.” – Marcel Proust
What could be better? Nature, beauty, love! “I feel so lucky to be doing what I do. And if my Mom is watching, she’s thrilled with joy.”
Judy Garry, gardener and owner of Your Vase or Mine in Asheville, can be reached at 828-299-4394 or email@example.com.
Janet Parkerson is a neighbor who walks by and admires Judy’s garden.
Leigh Glass and the Hazards
By: Peggy Ratusz
Which came first, the chicken or the egg, the egg or the chicken, the chicken or the egg, are the lines to the first solo North Carolina native Leigh Glass ever sang. She was dressed in a white bunny costume alongside other five-year-olds in animal costumes at a school Easter celebration choral concert. She’s been singing solos alongside animals dressed as humans ever since.
Like so many, she began her musical path in church, in school plays and talent shows. Recognizing her propensity for music and dance, at age eight her parents enrolled her in the Haywood County clogging and chorus called Smoky Mountain Kids. It was good stomping grounds for this maven of words and melody.
In junior high and high school she played the flute and studied piano. But she didn’t pick up a guitar until she was 22 years old. She calls her self-taught strategy “glorified cheating” to get “near the same place” as trained instrumentalists.
Additionally, Language Arts was her forte in high school and her love of history and stories remains her inspiration. She writes from personal experiences as well as those of real and fictional people. Because she and her first partners picked, played and sang Gospel, Old Time and Bluegrass on the porches of Cold Mountain, her first songs were thus influenced.
In person and over the phone during our interview, her speaking voice is deliberate and has that full sexy Southern draw that makes Yankee men melt. It translates effectively into the melodies she conjures up to match the lyrics she generally starts with when crafting a tune. In 2005, she solicited players to support, arrange and perform a notebook full of completed songs she’d been writing or working on for over ten years. She’s evoked a plethora of voice comparisons made by reviewers who mention Pat Benatar, Alannah Miles and Joan Jett. I concur but will add that she embodies a warm yet gutsy, tender yet evocative, playful and sensuously unique vocal style.
Jazzy Grass is the way she describes the sound of her first band called Voodoo Tavern consisting of an upright bassist, percussionist and Jazz guitarist. They played venues like Fred’s Speakeasy and The Grey Eagle. Leigh Glass and the Sweet Bitters morphed from that first quartet to an acoustic Jazz trio. Eventually she decided she wanted a fatter sound so she solicited an electric bassist and full kit drummer and that group became The Leigh Glass Band. They played local haunts Hannah Flanagans, French Broad Brewery, Jack of the Wood, Mo Daddy’s and Tressa’s. With her newest electric guitarist and co-vocalist Corey Bullman beside her, her current lineup also consists of her boyfriend Patrick Wells on drums and Bryan White from Brushfire Stankgrass on electric bass. They call themselves Leigh Glass and the Hazards.
Channeling Led Belly, Mississippi John Hurt, Tom Petty, Lucinda Williams, The Cowboy Junkies and the Rock and Pop music from the 90s, as well as Journey and Fleetwood Mac, you get an idea where Leigh is when it comes to themes and grooves. The marrying of these styles makes for an assertive, heady, meaty and persuasive library.
Equipped with pen and paper by her bedside, she actually dreams her themes sometimes, knowing that if she doesn’t write them down in the middle of the night, they’ll be gone by the day’s first light. Later, she allows these images and phrases to guide her into the story they were meant to tell and melody they were meant to own.
Her first of soon-to-be-three albums is called The Saints and the Creole Angels. Recorded at Collapsible Studio in Asheville it is a gathering of Bluesy, Acoustic Rock and Americana that takes the listener through a scorned woman’s cognitive healing work. Flooded with more and new ideas, Leigh experiences what many artists notoriously do: a second collection ripening while a current release is being sent from studio to press.
Seeking balance and a desire to remain introspective while knowing both those come from the endeavor of walking in another’s shoes, her second release The Drone was recorded in a home studio and explores love and loss from the male perspective. This one made the top 20 on WNCW’s list in 2010. “Being beat down by life’s misfortunes and love gone wrong” is what she says about the songs. This offering contains stories in a “hard Folk” format. Drone sounding and drone laden guitar and bass segue to lyrics that invoke the very definition of the one male bee’s job to continuously mate with the Queen; to a life sequestered and imprisoned within the hive and in the end, to fulfill his destiny by chewing off his wings.
Something in the Water, her upcoming release spawned from the regurgitation of the material from The Drone plus The Saints and the Creole Angels, promises redemption, dreams realized to fruition with faith, hope and love the primary goal of the characters and you. She describes this assembling of tracks “Crazy good Gospel and Swampy Blues.”
Her summer schedule each year consists of mini tours that include festivals, arenas and club dates from here to Charleston and beyond. The coast’s desire for Blues and Rock, and her band in particular has made this annual summer jaunt her favorite. The Hippodrome in Charleston is a venue she’ll play this summer for the first time, along with Nashville based Rock band Drivin’ & Cryin’ and she’s super excited about that. She’ll play her usual stint at The Pauley’s Island Tavern and the Awendaw Green in the South Carolina town of the same name.
Friday, April 6th at Highland Brewery here in Asheville at 6pm is the official CD release party for Something in the Water which was recorded in three parts at Echo Mountain Studio, Brevard Music Studio and at Chip Martin’s studio in Nashville. This show will feature guest players from the CD including Garry Segal on harmonica, Aaron LaFalce on piano and Forrest Smith on guitar.
Kickstarter is the world’s largest online funding platform that Leigh and the band as well as many independent recording artists around the world use to finance artistic projects. Without it she says, “The release would not have been possible.” For more information about Kickstarter, google them and you will find detailed information and reviews.
Although she plans to take a much needed break from recording, the inspiration cycle knows no rules or boundaries, so of course she’s already writing new material. It’s the plight and so too the obligation and joy of the minstrel to continue the dance, to push on in the quest to find the truth about which came first, the chicken or the egg.
Peggy Ratusz is a writer, songstress and vocal coach. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org or learn more at reverbnation.com/peggyratusz
The Weaving Together of Story, Music and Imagination
By: Courtney Smith
Imagine this: a powerful horse slowly approaches. You can see the ripple of muscle and tendon over flank and bone; inhale the earthy smell of grass and horse-body as he approaches and feel the intensity contained within his powerful stride. The whuffle of breath escaping his nostrils is warm in the air and you yearn to reach out and stroke the velvety softness of his nose. As he nears and your gaze rises, you connect eye to eye. He looks at you—steady, unblinking and focused. His stillness is motion and energy suspended. And you realize as he holds your gaze that he has been waiting for this moment. He looks deeply into your eyes until you recognize the familiarity of him. You step closer; run your hand across his warm shoulder and up his neck. And without hesitation you climb up, settle in and begin the adventure of a lifetime.
Sounds like the beginning of a great story, or a scene from the Narnia Chronicles, doesn’t it? In actuality, this powerful horse-as-guide appeared to Connie Regan-Blake as she began a journey into her imagination during a Guided Imagery and Music (GIM) session with me—music therapist and wellness practitioner at Source for Well-Being in Black Mountain, NC. It was the first time Connie and I met and after the session, we knew that we wanted to work together again.
I was delighted with Connie’s engagement into the realm of symbolism, archetype, and myth; and her rich and detailed narration of her GIM adventures left us both breathless and wanting to know more of her unfolding journey. It was no surprise for me to learn that Connie’s life has been dedicated to the telling of stories and the sharing of hero’s journeys—her own, those of her listeners and especially the characters she shares. As the daughter of a poet and storyteller myself, I recognized the twinkle in her eye as she spoke and the way she pulled me in as she narrated her adventure.
As our relationship turned into friendship I learned that Connie Reagan-Blake is one of America’s most celebrated storytellers and a treasured WNC woman. She has captivated the hearts and imaginations of people around the globe with her powerful performances and workshops. Entertaining audiences in 47 states and 17 countries, she brings the wisdom, humor and drama of stories to main stage concert halls, libraries, storytelling and folk festivals and even into the corporate world.
Both as a solo artist and a member of the acclaimed Folktellers duo, Connie has been featured on seven award-winning recordings—five audios and two videos produced by PBS. New Age Magazine, School Library Journal, and Southern Living have praised her work. She has been a guest on NPR’s All Things Considered, ABC’s Good Morning America and CNN.
Connie has performed at the nation’s top folk music and storytelling festivals in Chicago, Philadelphia, and San Francisco, as well as the Smithsonian Folklife Festival in Washington, D.C. She has traveled to Africa, New Zealand and Australia to share her work and listen to indigenous stories wherever she goes. “Hearing a story reminds all of us that we’re doing something our ancestors did hundreds and hundreds of years ago. It’s almost genetic,” Connie says. It’s a special craft because, unlike most performing arts, anyone can learn to tell a decent story over the dinner table. In fact, Connie teaches workshops to people at all levels, from lawyers who want to improve their courtroom performances to budding professional storytellers.
Her groundbreaking collaboration with the Kandinsky Trio—an innovative blend of storytelling and chamber music—was hailed as a “new art form.” That collaboration between story and music continues with the combination of Connie’s stories and my musical journeying. Once the idea of weaving our two crafts together formed, the path seemed to unfold before us. We created a three-day workshop combining the power of music and the power of story to change lives.
“Heeding the Call: Claiming Your Story” is the result of our combined talents. Throughout a weekend, we weave together story and music to create a canvas of colors, experiences, sounds, images and imaginings that uncover aspects of the self, reveal inner truths, and highlight each participant’s process of living their own hero’s journey.
Journeying is the basis for my work as a music therapist at Source for Well Being (voted #1 Alternative Wellness Center of WNC). The Bonny Method of Guided Imagery and Music (GIM) is a music-assisted therapy that offers individuals the opportunity to integrate mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual aspects of themselves in a transformational way. GIM is characterized by the use of sequenced musical programs designed to stimulate and sustain a dynamic unfolding of imagery experiences.
Those music and imagery experiences are direct reflections of an individual’s personal relationships, feelings, and identity. The traveler may have glimpses of transpersonal inspiration which both challenge and nurture the sense of self and who you can become. Creativity is often awakened.
Connie says, “A good storyteller leads you to a window you’ve never noticed before in a dusty corner of your mind. Then she opens that window and shows you a world you didn’t know existed or had forgotten was there.” The musical journeying of GIM opens doors into worlds you never imagined possible. Our combination of story, music, poetry, and song have already been powerful for those who have attended the workshop.
“These elements [story and music] were inseparable parts of the whole experience. The selections of poetry were perfect for connecting the concepts and ideas we were exploring. The music grounded me in my body, as did the advice to listen in a deep physical way for the story to emerge. Deeply listening to stories of others also supported a grounded interpersonal and physical connections.” *participant’s evaluation at the end of the weekend
We will hold our next workshop in Asheville on April 27-29. After gathering together on Friday evening we will immerse ourselves in story. Participants will hear stories told, share their own stories and look briefly at the aspects of the Hero’s Journey as outlined by Joseph Campbell. I will introduce the power of music to enhance our personal experiences and Connie will share with us new ways to listen.
On Saturday, we will delve more deeply into the different phases of the Hero’s Journey. By using story, music, art, poetry, journaling, writing and guided imagery, each attendee will have the opportunity to examine who they are and where they are going, and to embrace the story of their own hero’s journey that lies within. On Sunday we’ll reflect on our experiences, shine the light on new versions of the stories we tell and examine ways to integrate them into our lives.
As one participant said at the end, “I left with a new vision of myself, one that I will continue to grow with.”
Connie and I invite each and every woman (and man) to come and join us for a transformational weekend on “Heeding the Call: Claiming Your Story,” in Asheville on April 27, 28, and 29th. For more information, please go to Connie’s website: www. storywindow. com
Courtney Smith is a professional Trainer and Consultant for Barium Springs. She travels around the state and also nationally facilitating organizational change, writing and developing curricula, and delivering training to leadership, managers, social workers, therapists and other human service professionals. She holds degrees in music therapy and counseling. Courtney has completed all her coursework at Appalachian State University is working on her supervision hours to become a Guided Imagery and Music Fellow. She practices at Source for Well Being in Black Mountain, NC. 828-413-7269 email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org