Throughout this month’s issue I have placed snippets of information from the section of Newsweek (Sept 26th) about the status of women in the world. Interesting to see that all the Top 10 were western industrialized democracies; notably most are in Scandinavia. Sad, to me, to see that the US was ranked #8.
Not surprising to see that the bottom 10 nations were African or Middle Eastern. Yet, even in Afghanistan, ranked #2 from the bottom, “almost 38 percent of Parliament is female–9% higher than the world average.” And to understand the political power of women, read this: “Of the nearly 4 million South Sudanese who registerd to vote… to secede from the North, 51% were female.”
Brazil has a woman president now; four of the 20 women heads of state are from South or Central America: countries epitomized by Machismo in the past.
So, positive changes abound, even in seemingly intractable situations. Much more to be done and always the threat of backlash and back tracking.
In the US, for instance, men gained 768,000 jobs after the last recession, while women lost 218,000. States passed more than 50 laws in the first 6 months of 2011 undermining women’s family planning and abortion rights.
On the other hand, Walmart began a program pledging to buy $20 billion worth of products from women-owned businesses and to donate $100 million to women’s non-profit groups (after defeating a gender-discrimination lawsuit).
Clearly a mixed bag of positive and negative events with some overall movement toward female empowerment.
We know that education is one of the most important factors for succes, for men and women. It’s interesting to note that since 2005, about 43 percent of women ages 18 to 24 were enrolled in college, compared with 35 percent of young men.
“Some researchers have focused on these trends as a positive development for young women, who still lag behind men in labor force participation rates and earnings. Others view these trends as evidence of the growing social, behavioral, and economic problems facing young men, particularly those in lower-income groups. Some colleges are now actively recruiting male students in order to bring men’s enrollment rates in line with those of women.”*
Yet, upon graduation, women still earn less than men, primarily because they are not training for the higher-paying fields like science, math, and engineering. Women with full-time jobs now make 78.2 percent of what men earn, up from about 64 percent in 2000.
And then there is the fact that women still are the primary care-takers of children (and aging parents in many cases), the idea of Mr. Mom notwithstanding, even as they work full-time along side husbands, or are in the growing cohort of single moms.
Gender stereotypes, traditional expectations of women’s roles, and the difficulties inherent in trying to change cultural norms seem to be the primary factors still holding women back.
By: Carol Dreiling
For 17 years I’ve come in the back door of restaurants around the Asheville area, delivering the gourmet mushrooms my husband Pete and I grow on our farm in Alexander. I feel lucky to get a glimpse behind the scenes in these excellent eateries as they do their culinary magic. It’s like the hustle and bustle behind stage before the curtain rises.
I love the appeal to my nose that the food sends out, the smells of fine cooking that allure me as soon as I come in the door. Whether it is garlic permeating the air, or cinnamon and spices that the pastry chef is baking with, or pork roasting on wood chips, I breathe it all in with delight. I inhale the pungent oregano-and-basil tomato sauce cooking in huge pots on the stove or bread fresh out of the oven and carry their perfume with me as I make my rounds of deliveries all over town. It even seems to hang on the clothing I wear. The smells surround me like a cloud and comfort me like sunshine.
Many times I don’t literally come in the back door, because to get to the back I need to come through the front. There is food in preparation in many cases as I deliver. What you encounter as a customer of the eatery and what I encounter on the inside is a contrast. Customers see an organized eating area decorated to make you feel at ease as you dine. Coming in the back door there are huge walk-in coolers, expansive cutting boards, commercial stoves and ovens. The stage setting for food creation.
Here are the sights I’ve experienced:
- fragrant, cooling loaves of restaurant-made bread at Table
- an overflowing carton of organic produce from a local farm sitting on a counter at Early Girl
- pork being exuberantly chopped up prior to barbeque at Curras
- a basket full of wild mushrooms gathered in the woods, sitting in a cooler
- a tray of sweet little cookies ready to pop in the oven at Country Club of Asheville
- workers busy kneading dough into rounds at the Marketplace’s window production line
- trays of restaurant-made potato chips at drying at Corner
- the arranging of a simple salad on a white plate in an artistic presentation
- a knife-edge chopping fresh strawberries in season, ready for a scrumptious dessert
- a chef collecting fresh colorful veggies for a burrito with beans and rice and guacamole
- a pig’s head lying on a tray ready for preparation
a group-tasting by a large table of staff becoming acquainted with the evening’s presentations before serving.
This complex mélange of sights and smells gives me a view into the incredible amount of hard work and creativity that constitutes fine dining in the Asheville area independent restaurants.
As a behind-the-table person I receive food to taste at times.
I’ve sampled white asparagus, zucchini blossoms, fresh pita bread at Laughing Seed, herb sauce at Zambras, tomatoes in season from Fig. Sometimes I was lucky enough to come in just as the creators were mixing up their tasty foods. I even got a biscuit to take home to my dog from Lobster, made partly of leftovers from their beer-making.
The independent chefs in Asheville are committed to bringing high quality food using products from WNC. I remember in l997 two chefs organized a meeting of local growers and chefs at Asheville-Buncombe Tech’s Culinary Department. As farmers, we donated food—and the students cooked up fantastic tastings! Much networking occurred at this gathering. This was the beginning of the Buy Local movement in the Western NC mountains.
Appalachian Harvest was another big event that kicked off the Buy Local movement. In October of 2000 Appalachian Sustainable Agriculture Project (ASAP) organized a huge farmers’ market in one of the big ballrooms at the Grove Park Inn. Farmers from all over WNC packed the ballroom, selling their wares. This was a strong boost early on to those of us who were growing locally to continue in our commitment.
As our mushroom operation and other farms have grown over the years, so have the restaurants. One eatery started just at the time we did. We would trade mushrooms for food. Now we deliver our produce in boxes. Back then we would take mushrooms in bowls or grocery bags—a bag of mushrooms bartered for a meal for two. One eatery started as a window in the YMCA. Now it’s a Bistro. Our product has been used in national competitions as our eateries become more and more established in Asheville.
Now when we view the many inventive restaurants in Asheville, it’s easy to lose track of the history. I’ve lived in Asheville for 38 years and there was very little in the way of businesses downtown except for banks and lawyers offices when I first moved here. Nowadays, downtown and the outlying WNC areas are booming with creative, tasteful establishments custom-made to meet just about anyone’s taste in food. The really wonderful aspect about these eateries is they support our mountain products. These chefs form a beneficial team with farmers, adding to the quality of life for Asheville.
Carol Dreiling lives in Alexander with her husband and their dog and cat. We grow gourmet mushrooms for the restaurants and North Asheville Tailgate. Carol takes care of children at First Presbyterian Church and has her own pet sitting business in Alexander
By: Carol Dixon
We were in her closet the day I made the promise.
I like my job delivering meals to old-timers and shut-ins. It’s easy work being my own boss, taking any highway or alley or side street, long as I deliver on time. And anybody can tell you, five days a week I’m regular as digital. I like my customers, too—mostly old people with stories they got to tell somebody while there’s time.
I’ll give you a for-instance: Gus and Hans Felhoffer (Gus being the wife whose real name is Augusta). I’m delivering Monday’s special, bean soup and corn bread, right to her kitchen when she sees me gawking at some old-timey pictures above her table. Next thing I know, she’s telling her family history back to the time of mud.
“Ven me and Hans get hitch, like you say, ve vus kids, me and him fifteen. Den no more school for us. Hans vash dishes and paint houses till now he’s vat you call geezer and can verk no more. You finish school, Billy, else you be a meal man and old like Hans.” Whatever we’re jabbering about, Gus is always on my case about school, but in a nice way, so I say “sure” like I mean it.
I’m delivering chicken potpies so it must be a Thursday when the closet thing happens. Like usual I start the morning at the senior center, pick up my nineteen foil-pack meals, and by the time I’m half way down the street, my Chevy-beater smells like some grandma’s kitchen on Sunday. I know the rules, and number two says you have to bring your own lunch. Today it’s a salami and mustard on white and a quart of chocolate milk bagged up on my front seat. My Rapper Joe CD blares bass sweet and steady, I make five green lights straight and I’m one happy dude when I pull up front of the Felhoffer’s building. It’s an all-right neighborhood in the day, probably not so good at night. From the front hall I take two stairs at a time up to the second floor, and like usual Gus has their door open a crack. She’s in the front room ironing, and Hans is bunched up like a kid with his baby blanket on the couch behind her. Gus’s face is red and sweaty, and she’s humming like she forgot Hans is sick with whatever he’s got. The head lady at the senior center says people’s sickness is none of our beeswax, so I don’t ask my customers. That’s rule number three.
“Is chicken day, yah Billy?” Gus says and yanks the iron cord till it pops out of the wall socket and smacks the leg of the little table with magazines. Hans stretches his neck, yawns, and goes back to being a one-man snoring band.
“Is fine, Billy. He’s up all night like a baby vit colic, sleeps all day like my babies ven ve haff babies,” she says and leads me and her potpies back to the kitchen. I don’t know anything about her babies. Maybe I don’t want to know, but long as I’m her meal man, she can tell me if she wants to. Like usual, Gus has a stack of ginger cookies on a nice blue platter on the kitchen table. Every week I tell her the rules for keeping my job, but the cookies are there anyway. She knows I can sit and jaw for a few minutes—but no eating. Rule number four.
“Tomorrow I take Hans to doctor vit his problem. You can leaf stew in here ven you come, yah?” she asks. While I’m thinking what rule I’d have to break, the front door bangs and there’s a guy in a Pluto mask standing maybe ten feet from me and Gus. The kid’s got green hair, a camo sweatshirt, black pants with a lot of pockets, and ratty Converse dragging dirty laces.
“There’s trouble in here,” Pluto’s sputtering through the plastic false face and patting his sweatshirt pocket.
“Vat you vant, vat you vant?” Gus says kind of loud. Hans rouses, flicks his eyes open and shut, pulls the blanket over his head and starts a new snort-and-whistle routine. Pluto takes a step back to look, practically trips on one of Gus’s little rugs and has to grab the back of a kitchen chair.
“I say vat you vant?” Gus repeats. In the living room Hans carries on like a champ practicing for the Olympics.
“I know somebody here got pills. I see you at the drugstore.” Pluto’s voice breaks like a busted trombone, and he’s swiveling his head between the kitchen and the racket in the living room. “I’ll find the stuff myself,” he says and shoves Gus, then me behind her, into a hall closet.
I crash into her back, the door slams and it’s dead dark and smells like we’re in mothball heaven. The lock clicks and the kid sounds kind of polite when he says through the keyhole, “Don’t try to get out for a while.”
I’m hanging onto some itchy, wooly thing that feels like a coat sleeve or a pants leg and thinking if mothballs kill bugs, what about people?. My mind races ahead doubletime to my obituary: “Billy Harper died on the job, a meal man to the end.” It’s not how I thought I’d go.
Gus is scuffling around in the clothes, and I can’t tell if she’s huffing mad or ready to bust out crying. Me, I’m stepping on somebody’s boots or shoes and kicking an umbrella or maybe it’s Hans’s cane.
“We’ll get out and Hans’ll be just fine, I promise.” Then I think maybe I ought to distract her with something else, so I say, “Listen, Gus, about that other thing I’m always promising—school I mean—I’ll go, really.”
“Yah, I know,” she says and clangs clothes hangers so loud Pluto must be thinking we invited the neighbors in for a party. I feel Gus’s hand poke through all the scratchy clothes, then she’s jabbing me in the chest. There’s a keychain with a bunch of stuff, some keys and a little flashlight.
“Where’d these come from?” I’m whispering.
“Hans gets confused so I hide things in here so he . . . ”
The way her voice breaks up, I’m thinking she’ll let out with a big boo-hoo any minute. “You okay, Gus?” I flash the light on her face, and she’s laughing like a crazy woman but no sound is coming out.
“The bad boy don’t look in here for the pills. He’s bad looker,” she says, trying to hold back a big hee-haw. “Ve trick bad boy, yah?”
After a while Gus’s front door bangs, and we wait for a long time and listen to a lot of quiet. Finally, I try all the keys and one works and Pluto’s gone and I’m breathing fresh air. Gus is leaning over Hans on the couch, talking right in his ear till he rouses and gives her a dopey wink.
Gus shrugs when we go in the bathroom and find medicine cabinet stuff—oothpaste and brushes, aspirin and vitamins, Q-tips and cough drops—scattered all over the floor. “Not to vorry, Billy,” she says. “Hans vas fine and ve get out yust like you promise.” She doesn’t even mention the big promise.
Next morning when I stop at the senior center for Friday’s mac-and-cheese, the head lady comes charging across the room with her boss look. One of my customers must’ve complained about me being late with the chicken yesterday. Before I can explain, she’s handing me a paper and going on and on, and I’m thinking, “She’s firing me and I’ll have to go to school now and I don’t have the money for classes and things aren’t working out like I planned.” Then all the other meal people are clapping, and the head lady’s pointing to the poster with the rules and saying, “Well done, Billy. Very well done.”
When I tell Gus I’ll be her meal man for a long time ’cause I have to work while I go to school part time, she says, “Not to vorry, Billy. I vill tell you my stories on soup and chicken days. On udder days you vill say vat you learn at school.”
I never told Gus rule number one, about keeping promises. I’ll tell her when I graduate.
Carol Dixon lives with three generations of her family on an organic farm in Hot Springs. She ‘s a school tutor, gardener, baker, writer and grandmother.
By: Beverly Molander, MEd, RScM,
One comment that a client made got me to thinking. He said that one of our counseling sessions had been a “watershed moment” for him—a critical turning point in his life.
The term intrigued me enough to look it up. Technically, watershed is the entire drainage area feeding a river or other water system. Simplistically, think of rain falling on a mountain. If the rain falls on one side of the mountain it could end up in the Atlantic Ocean; on the other side of the mountain it could be on a path to the Gulf of Mexico.
Metaphorically, the term, “watershed” can be a decision, an experience, or an event that has a pivotal and profound effect—and things will never be the same again. Everything changes.
Not all watershed moments are extreme, yet many are gut-wrenching and feel catastrophic. Our world seems to be shifting on its axis. Sometimes watershed moments are subtle shifts and changes that lead us in a different direction.
Fiora L., of Asheville, has had several watershed moments, including:
The stark fear and aloneness of my five-year-old self, getting ready to fly home after a year in Ecuador and having to leave behind my beloved puppy;
In the delivery room when my first baby opened her eyes and began suckling my thigh before she was even out;
Our decision to go to U-Mass-Amherst to attend school full-time. We loaded up a moving van, seated our daughters, ages 3 and 7, on the sofa behind us, and headed off into the future;
The recent birth of my first grandchild; Dancing in Barrie Barton’s Community Choreography Project, Hand Me Down: Bestowing our True Inheritance of Life, Lessons, and Legacy—a seven-month process of examining such moments. We created one giant watershed moment on stage at the Diana Wortham Theater.
Watershed moments happen all around us, all the time.
Miriam Freer returned to Sylva after graduating from WCU, traveling the nation, and owning her own graphic design company. She had been through a hard divorce and decided to move home to re-evaluate her life.
In 2009, not long after her move, she received a numbing diagnosis of breast cancer. In shock, Miriam went through the preliminaries – meetings with doctors and specialists. Reality didn’t hit until her first bout with chemotherapy that landed her in ICU for a week.
“I felt as though my life was being taken over by other people,” she recalls. “That’s when my watershed moment occurred. I realized that, although they were sticking needles in me and taking x-rays, that part was just about physical health. I had to take control of my emotional and mental health.” Miriam had begun her career as a psychologist and knew full well the connection between mind, body, and spirit. “I sought out positive friends and quit listening to the anxiety of naysayers. Even though dark thoughts can lurk in the corners of my mind, I don’t have to let them gain ground or take over.”
Miriam now handles every kind of stress this way. “I allow myself no negative thoughts about anything. If something has the potential to disturb me, I step back and calm down until I can handle it differently.” She used her new-felt sense of control to empower the doctors to try a different treatment plan that resulted in a less radical mastectomy than was originally anticipated.
“Recovery is a process and we can determine how we move through it,” Miriam reminds us. “Although every woman has a unique treatment plan, there is one thing we have in common: when we think and act positively we will have a better physical, mental, and emotional outcome.”
Maureen N. says, “I had a marriage-ending watershed moment, not dramatic, just a knowing.” Although she and her husband tried marriage therapy to deal with the effects of his addiction on the marriage, the pivotal moment came when they went to a cabin in Highlands with their adult children for a weekend getaway. Maureen recalls, “Nothing was new or different. We cooked and walked the dogs and played games with the kids, but there was nothing there. And that’s when I knew it was over. We were not intimate in any fashion anymore, and even a beautiful weekend couldn’t make a difference. No real feeling was left. And that was it. No drama. No more crying. It was over.”
Her story recalls an old BeeGees song, –“not even love enough to break each other’s heart.” Divorce proceedings came shortly thereafter.
Sally Ray lives in Waynesville and Asheville. After being told by a professor that she would “never succeed in life” she earned her Interior Design degree. “In the seventies, I gathered up my shy, country girl courage and headed to Atlanta for a job,” Sally remembers. Then came her first of many watershed moments.
“I moved to Manhattan with the boss, where I got a gig modeling wedding dresses on 7th Avenue. Then I met Cindy, also a model, who was connected to the jet-set at Studio 54 – the place to go for disco and decadence.” Other opportunities spilled from that decision – like a trip with the rich and famous to Acapulco where she met the owner of an Italian modeling agency and worked the runway in Milan and Florence for a year.
Returning to the Big Apple, she worked as an assistant to the owner of Studio 54. “One day I overheard a conversation about setting up a hotel in St. Thomas Virgin Islands for a huge celebrity charter adventure. The hotel needed an overhaul, and when I told the owner I had a degree in interior design I was on my way to St. Thomas 12 hours later!” she smiles widely. Within two weeks, Sally met Armando, a handsome diver who had worked with deep sea explorer, Jacques Cousteau. Investors hired Armando as Managing Director of a 120-foot Italian mine-sweeper, and Sally was hired to transform the interior on what became The Okeanos Explorer, the largest dive research vessel in the world. “We spent the next two years living in St. Thomas with a crew of 10 – an absolute dream come true.”
Sharlene lives in Atlanta, as does her German Mom. Her African American Dad lives in Munich, Germany. Sharlene decided to jumpstart her physical self, and signed up for a yoga immersion intensive. She knew this 500-hour course would transform her physically, but little did she know that it would be a watershed decision that would transform her life.
Sharlene met Leslie, a PhD candidate going to Emory University, who had lived in Munich, where Sharlene had also lived. When Leslie moved to Zurich, Switzerland, the friends skyped, and a year after they first met, the two buddies were on a trip of a lifetime, visiting Sharlene’s family in Germany and traveling through Morocco. “Leslie knows more about me than anyone else,” Sharlene explains. “The yoga intensive helped us to get to know each other fast, and now she knows my family and friends in Atlanta and Germany. She understands who I am.”
Mrs. Zada Phipps, 94, has lived in Waynesville for 30 years. After the Civil War her grandfather started a trading post with the Seminole Indians in South Florida. Her father helped with the business and grew it into the popular Burdines department store chain back in the twenties. Already a sophisticated young woman of 24, Zada married a pilot who traveled the world, imagining a life of glamour and excitement. By the time her daughter was born, Zada knew she had married the wrong man. When she asked for a divorce, he decided to spite Zada’s request.
After telling her he was taking their daughter to visit relatives in California, he disappeared with Patty, age four at the time. “They were gone for a harrowing three months,” Zada recalls. “I hired a lawyer, who found out they were in Hawaii. A detective and I flew over to Hawaii—and we found them by chance, on a side road. We stopped our cars. When Patty saw me she jumped out of his car and into mine, and that was it.” There was no question about winning the divorce and custody when Zada got back home and went to court.
“The watershed moment occurred when I decided that, despite the social mores of the time around World War II, I could not live with this man,” Zada explains. “His behavior confirmed I was correct.” Divorce freed her up to eventually meet and marry the love of her life, Ernie. They had a daughter, Zada, together, and were married for 43 years before his death. “Sometimes we have to make tough decisions and simply move on, regardless of what anyone else thinks.”
Ann Basserab, of Atlanta, agreed to start a school in Talek, a Maasai village in Kenya. During her first trip in 2000, Ann met many townsfolk, including Sonkoi, a tall, shy young man who made a living slaughtering goats and selling the meat. When Ann brought some Americans to help build the school in 2001, Sonkoi was there, offering support.
Six months later, Ann was back to open an internet café near the Maasai Mara Reserve. When she went home to Atlanta, she and Sonkoi stayed in touch through letters, although he could not read or write. His father had kept him home from school to watch the cattle, the lifeblood of every Maasai family. “A villager read and wrote our letters for a small fee. Neither of us knew what literary license the scribe took, but at least we were able to keep in touch!” Ann chuckles.
When she returned to Kenya in 2002 to check on projects, Ann wanted to visit a friend who had married and moved to Lamu, a Swahili island off the coast of Kenya. Drawbacks — no phone number, address, or knowledge of how to get to the island from the bush where she was — plus the danger of traveling alone. Ann says, “I wondered who could accompany me, and Sonkoi said Yes, without hesitation.”
They made it to Lamu after a two-day, non-stop car-bus-plane-ferry journey. “This was first time that Sonkoi and I could spend time together without the entire community,” Ann explains.
When Sonkoi escorted Ann to Nairobi to catch her midnight plane to America, they sat for hours talking about their adventures and how fortunate they were to meet each other. Then Sonkoi told Ann, “You are my first wife.”
“I was stunned,” says Ann, “but happy, because we had grown very close over the last two-plus years.” Since Sonkoi’s dad had four wives and 36 children, Ann asked Sonkoi how many wives he was planning to have. “Just one,” he replied. “I said Yes!, scared and ecstatic at the same time,” Ann grins.
In April of 2003, Sonkoi came to Atlanta for his first visit so they could make sure they were compatible on both continents. They were married in August of that year.
“I am a 5’2” white female and my bigger-than-life love story, my watershed moment, began with the decision to travel to Kenya and live in a Maasai village. I met, fell in love with, and married a 6’6” strong and handsome Maasai warrior. There is a 39-year difference in our ages.
“Our story is remarkable — how two people of very dissimilar lifestyles, ages, races, religions, nationalities, and cultural systems can work it out together. Nothing that is in the heart is impossible.”
Beverly Molander, MEd, RScM, is host of her radio series, Affirmative Prayer: Activating the Power of YES, on www.unity.fm (The Voice of an Awakening World). Her program airs live every Monday, 1:00-2:00 p.m. Eastern Time. The show is archived for listener convenience at www.unity.fm/AffirmativePrayer. Contact her at Beverly@beverlymolander.net or 404-931-7333.
By: Laura Collins
On your next exhale, ease yourself gently out of the stretch.” Kelly McKibben beams at the students assembled in the 1920s brick bungalow that is home to Good Yoga Studio. “Oh, that was such a delicious squeeze and soak for all your organs. They’re thanking you!”
Located on a tree-lined street in West Asheville, the studio is also Kelly’s home, where she lives with her partner Greg and their cats. Purple mats arranged with bolsters and blankets grace the gleaming wood floors in what once would have been the living and dining rooms in the welcoming home. Soft lighting from decorative wall sconces adds to the quiet ambiance of this gentle yoga sanctuary.
“Put all of your fingers together in the mulka mudra,” Kelly continues, demonstrating one of the hand poses that she frequently uses in her classes, “and send some good energy to your digestive system which you’ve been massaging with this last set of stretches. Now take several more breaths to integrate the work we’ve just done.” She nods enthusiastically at those of us gathered around the room.
“Isn’t that yummy?” No matter how your body feels, it’s hard not to smile when your yoga teacher looks at you with absolute delight, like a friend who has just given you the best chocolate bar ever!
This fall, Kelly celebrates her tenth year of teaching full-time in her home studio. A teacher in the Kripalu tradition, she shares extensive anatomical knowledge during her classes, but her focus is much broader than the physical body. As she encourages her students to become more aware of our own bodies, she reminds us how the yoga poses affect our energetic and emotional bodies. Each week Kelly knits together themes of mental and physical work, from letting go to firing up, explaining what joints and muscles we’re working while reminding us of the inner work she’s gently prompting.
“In Kripalu,” Kelly tells me one morning on a brisk walk through the neighborhood, “the focus goes beyond any one school of yoga and invites insights from transpersonal psychology into the practice of yoga. That’s what speaks to me.”
Apparently it speaks to her students as well. Kelly has an enthusiastic and loyal following that stems in part from her desire to make yoga accessible to everyone, not just skinny young women or people comfortable with woo-woo spirituality. “My attitude is: you are welcome here. Come sit on my porch and get to know each other. It’s that Western North Carolina ‘y’all-ness’ that I embrace.”
Her website’s testimonial page overflows with glowing accolades. “I’ve taken lots of yoga over the years and your class has been my all-time favorite. Really. You obviously have found your Calling, your heart shines through when you are teaching,” writes one student.
So how did Kelly find her calling? “I got really sick,” she tells me. Though Kelly grew up with a mother who taught yoga, it wasn’t until she was in her 20s and suffering from anxiety-related illnesses that she dove into her own purposeful yoga practice. “Where my light bulb came on was in the depths of my illness and eating disorder. I was a brain on a stick. Yoga connected me to my heart.”
Yoga invited Kelly to pick up the pieces of her fragmented life and restore a sense of wholeness. It’s this sense of personal wellbeing that Kelly wants to share with her students. “I think of myself as a health educator. Yoga is a platform for wellbeing.”
Working for The Nature Company at the time of her illness, she requested a transfer to one of their Hawaii stores. She intended to give herself a retreat from the intense energy of New England where she had lived all of her life. Kelly imagined that she would stay in Hawaii for a few months and then return home renewed.
She stayed six years. While there, she began to teach yoga in a beautiful pavilion in a Chinese cemetery. Some of her students recognized her gifts and offered to help her pursue teacher training. Over the next few years she traveled back and forth between her home in Hawaii and Kripalu in the Berkshire Mountains of Massachusetts.
Eventually, the desire to return east led her to Asheville. In Hawaii she had met Greg while studying A Course in Miracles. The two of them loved mountains and the cycle of four seasons. Kelly had grown up hiking in the Northern Appalachians through her youth, and Greg’s large family hailed from West Virginia. Looking at a map, she followed the Appalachian Trail south toward gentler weather and landed on Asheville.
For a while Kelly worked part-time jobs while teaching a few yoga classes. Her first classes were at the Unitarian-Universalist Church in North Asheville. “I still have students in my classes who started with me at the UU Church,” Kelly tells me. Instead of the usual “yoga bunnies” who can twist into exotic poses, Kelly enjoys working with an aging population and has yoga therapy and senior stretch classes in her weekly line-up.
“I love the vital baby boomers and retirees, people from their 40s into their 80s. I work with post-menopausal women, students with chronic fatigue and hip replacements, people who feel pudgy or out of shape. I enjoy finding ways for each body to adapt to the poses. We all need to see ourselves as whole beings: psycho-emotional, spiritual, mental, and physical beings. I like taking that integrative approach.”
Kelly takes teaching yoga seriously, but it’s her light touch that sets her apart. Every class includes some good laughter medicine (what she calls haha-sana) and students are encouraged to moan and groan as needed. “Hug-asana” is a frequent pose, as Kelly invites students to wrap themselves in love. It’s all part of her attention on student self-care.
And then there are her scones. From the beginning she has baked scones for her students, based on a Kripalu recipe that she constantly tweaks. It’s yet another way her students get to massage their digestive organs.
After building her home studio business over the years, Kelly is adding a class at the Reuter Center this fall. She set up the yoga program at the College for Seniors years ago when they first developed the wellness department, but stopped teaching there when her own practice got too busy. She’s excited to be teaching at the Reuter Center again. “I missed it. They’re my peeps!”
On October 22 Kelly will celebrate the 10th anniversary of Good Yoga Studio (see ad page 9) with a brunch and benefit back at the place where her local teaching began: the UU Church of Asheville. Good food, spirited Appalachian music, and a room full of fans of Kelly’s lively humor-filled yoga classes will raise money for Riverlink’s Wilma Dykeman’s Riverway. To find out more about the celebration and Good Yoga, you can visit www.goodyoga.net. And see ad this page.
Laura lives with her son and their dog in West Asheville, where she writes, leads rituals, and tries to practice hahasanas and hugasanas on a daily basis. She can be reached at email@example.com.