As a little girl I spent many timeless days sitting completely still and silent, basking in the sounds and scents of the valley behind my home in the backwoods of the Missouri River Bottoms, near the confluence of the Missouri and Mississippi Rivers in the American Midwest. These were some of my first experiences of effortless meditation, although I didn’t know to call it that. It was just what I did. Ever since, I have been seeking that sense of peace and connectedness in all the adventures of my life. What I have discovered is what on some level I must have known all along. Cultivating calm presence and awareness of the life all around us, all the time, no matter what circumstance throws our way, is the key to really experiencing the peace, the connectedness, and even the adventure that I have always been looking for. Right here when we recognize it, right here in front of us, over and over again. Reminding myself of this is what I practice and what I have to share.
I have practiced and taught meditation, yoga, pranayama/breathing exercises and mindfulness extensively since 2005, both in the structured setting of practice and in my everyday life. I have taught in studios, health clubs, in schools to teachers, children and teens, in offices at lunchtime, to cross country running teams, football players, ski and snowboard instructors, at a variety of festivals all along the east coast and up into Canada and in tandem with substance abuse recovery centers. I have a 500 hour certification in Shakti Flow Yoga through Asa Dustin of At Om Yoga in Concord, NH; 200 hour RYT Yoga Alliance certification through Parvathi Nanda Nath Sarasvati and David Pittenger of Sarasvati River Yoga in New Hope, PA; Level 1 training in Thai Yoga Therapy with Shai Plonski of Still Light Centre in Toronto, Canada; completed TIMBo (Trauma Informed Mind Body Program) training with Sue Jones of yogaHope of Boston, MA; and have studied with Bo Forbes of Elemental Yoga and The Center for Integrative Yoga Therapeutics in Boston, MA; among numerous other influential teachers, including Patricia Walden, Elena Brower, Dharma Mittra and Sadie Nardini.
I taught myself to cook through trial and much error over the years with the help of a few years stint in the catering world of San Francisco, primarily under the at-the-time-under-appreciated tutelage of Gordon Drysdale and Douglas Monsalud, then of Modern Catering, among many, many other teachers, chefs and cooks.
I had the fortunate experience of attending Columbia University in the City of New York for an undergraduate degree officially in history and unofficially in the deconstruction of preconceptions and the ability to think and perceive beyond the rhetoric of how people present themselves to each other. I learned this in the classrooms and in the city. It has taken awhile to develop and is still awakening all the time.
I was born in New Orleans Louisiana, near sunset, on the longest night of the year, the day before the winter solstice. I am named after Dionysus, the Greek god of wine and ecstatic abandon. I count as my teachers the real hippies, the shysters and the festival punks of The Grateful Dead, Jerry Band, and Phish tours and the continuously evolving underground festival culture. The kids on Telegraph Avenue in the early 90’s. My professors at The Williston-Northampton School and Columbia University. Henry Sieff and our collective in NYC. The pack of dogs I roamed with in the valley behind my house on Hoot Owl Road in Chesterfield, Missouri with my little sister when we were little girls. My generations of cousins that have been gathering since 1941 at the Porter Houseparty week-long family reunion in North Carolina. My line of ancestors that converged in New Orleans, Louisiana to birth my parents and my sister and me. My son Philip and his father Tim O’Sullivan and the rocks of Portland Maine. The red rocks of Arizona and Colorado. The rocks of the Blackwater River. The contours of Loon Mountain. The glades on Beaver Creek Mountain, Mount Mansfield and Jay Peak. All the people who pass through my classes along the way. And really, every one of you period – this list could go on and on. When we are awake to the experience, and really, even when we are not, every moment is our teacher. Especially when we recognize it.