Beyond Fat Tuesday

In my family this is a sacred time of the year, and not directly because of Jesus, Christianity or Ash Wednesday.

But kind of.

It’s because of Mardi Gras.

Both of my parents grew up in New Orleans (well, my mom in Metairie) and both sides of the family pretty heavily celebrate Fat Tuesday. As well as having particular significance to my family, as two of our family’s ancestral deities, my Aunt Judy Porter Beier and her father, my Papa P. Papa Preston Porter, passed away in the wee hours of Mardi Gras night/Ash Wednesday morning, many years apart, both at age 64…the day itself is a holiday for the whole city and outlying areas (I think). There are parades and balls for weeks leading up to this major main event. Which turns out isn’t really the main event, but the precursor.

For Mardi Gras, or Fat Tuesday in French, is the day before Ash Wednesday, or the first day of Lent, as recognized in Catholicism and some of the other Christian religions. Lent symbolizes the 40 days Jesus wandered the desert before he was crucified and resurrected on Easter Sunday, as the story goes.

During Lent the faithful were to ceremonially fast, as Jesus did when in the desert. Sometimes this was done by literal fasting of certain foods and sometimes, as is more common today, by renouncing something meaningful or a particular vice, to symbolize and facilitate an experience of sacrifice as Jesus experienced on his journey towards his upcoming transformation. As the story goes.

The day before Lent is also called Shrove Tuesday, after the Christian practice of “shriving,” or confessing their sins and receiving absolution from a priest before entering the sacred time of sacrifice in lent. The Fat Tuesday part seems to have come in as people would try to eat all the foods that could go bad during Lent, making pancakes with all the eggs, milk and fat that was on hand.

Yet another reason for Mardi Gras Carnival time is that people wanted to engage in all of the vices, all of the “fat” that is, that they would be giving up for the 40 plus days, depending on the tradition. In my life and in my family this enjoyment of the “fat” part is the aspect we have celebrated.

To be very clear, our Mardi Gras was not the lewd spectacle you may have seen on Bourbon Street. Our Mardi Gras was Granny making red beans and rice in Papa’s conversion van parked under the movie sign at Lakeside Shopping Center in Jefferson Parish. It was like a citywide Halloween in springtime where magical floats passed by as we sat in these ladders my Papa built and yelled “Throw me something Mister”… and they did. Colorful beads, shiny doubloons, plastic cups printed with the names of the Krewes of each parade and other random trinkets.

It was pretty disheartening when I went to Mardi Gras as an adult. I’m not into the degrading aspects and alcohol fueled excitement is no longer my cup of tea so…but the childhood memories are sweet and what Mardi Gras always was for me.

Yet this year is a bit different. There are no parades for one thing. For me personally it is a bit different too, as I am a different person than I was last year pre-Covid. Mardi Gras 2020 was one of the last mass gatherings and superspreader events before lockdown.

At this point so many of my/our hopes and dreams and naivety have been, well, crushed, and so many of us have to totally reinvent our lives. I don’t hope for or imagine the same things are possible that I did a year ago. I haven’t figured out how to go forward yet. I’m still dealing with the loss.

Perhaps I am out in the desert, or maybe we are between the crucifixion and the resurrection, symbolically. Regardless, this year I’m less focused on eating all the “fat”. I’m more interested in the renunciation, and the imminent transformation.

The shriving on Shrove Tuesday. Looking into what I want to atone for to help me move forward into what is becoming. Owning responsibility for my part. Offering up my self-will as sacrifice to open myself to possibilities beyond what my past experience and limited mind can conceive of, yet.

Receiving absolution to release me from guilt and shame so I can meet the future fresh, unburdened by my past. Oh, please hear me lord. Help me see what it is that is blocking me, what will free me if I can let it go.

For this is the potential of renunciation.

I share this with you as I find it interesting, and maybe you do too. Yet also to inspire you. To notice in this time that we have been forced to renounce all kinds of things without our consent, what has been beneficial to let go of? What has grown in the space? What will we embrace back with greater appreciation when and if we can? And what will we leave behind?

What do I consciously want to release in order to free me from my own expectations and the limits of my own self? What of these things can I do right now? How can I adapt to life as it is currently presenting and be ready to keep adapting as things continue to change? What do I have to contribute?

In this time I ceremonially let go of the “fat” I’ve been holding onto and step forward consciously into the transformation.

So be it. So be it. So be it.

So mote it be.

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By the way I do not subscribe to any religion or worldview, although I do appreciate intentional ceremony, ritual and parable from all traditions.

Peace

Tempestuous Luminescence

As the sun rises on this day, may the light shine upon you too☀️

Right now things may feel a bit chaotic and crazy but … things are! It is serving me to accept this rather than deny or hold onto any previous idea of how things should be.

I am practicing to help myself be steady in this storm. Sometimes that includes being able to really feel the storm so that we can learn how to navigate even in the wild winds, cold rain and snow. And still see the beauty that surrounds us, illuminated uniquely by this tempestuous luminescence.

Perhaps this is a creative evolutionary trait that we may need to make it through this time.

As I hold this orientation maybe it helps you align to it and as you hold your center it helps me find mine too.

Thank you.

♥️

The Gift of Mothering

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Sunday was Mother’s Day and…I did a lot of mothering. It just turned out that way. Some things went down (no trouble, just life) and presence is what was required. ⁣

⁣A lot of what I do as a mother is that I am present. I am available. I listen…as best I can. Turns out I’m so easily distractible! I use the other’s face and sound of voice as dristi/focus points and keep coming back. Compassion is a helpful motivator. ⁣

When I have thoughts or perspective I try to offer them in a respectful way that is translatable. At the right time. To help navigate. Sometimes I do this better than others. Yet more than anything I am just here. ⁣

Parenting in a pandemic is hard. There is a lot to face and continuous hard choices to make. Kids and young adults want to be with their friends and from what we have been told so far they are likely not at high risk. ⁣

Yet their lives that are just beginning are being seemingly derailed to keep safe the elders, many of whom have already lived long lives, and the immune compromised…like myself.

There are conflicting motivations for sure, and most of what we are going on is speculation at this point. It’s hard to make choices in this climate and then have to live with whatever that brings. Once again, always true. Yet accentuated. ⁣

Late high school and college age kids are deciding if they want to sign up for major debt while trying to plan their future when nothing seems clear. We just paid for likely the highest priced online schooling so far in history while having the highly anticipated freshman year experience cut off with no warning after moving cross country together to make it happen! Each of us has our own unique story…⁣

These kids have worked so hard doing what they have been told they have to do only to have the rules change at the last moment. I suppose we are all experiencing this but it is really accentuated for the upcoming generations about to step into the world as adults on their own. ⁣

Although there is this…they have experienced the old way and yet are not already as ingrained in their life path. Perhaps they can more easily adapt to life as it presents going forward. Without the same preconceptions of how things are supposed to or have to be. They can help evolve the old to meet the new. ⁣

This is what I will encourage. ⁣

In myself, my child and whoever else I encounter. Whether the new way is full of roadblocks, newfound possibilities, or both. We may not be able to recreate the future in the image of the past, we will have to adapt. Yet the more seamlessly we can do this with fresh, open eyes the more likely we are to succeed in the new environment. ⁣

Perhaps this is post covid parenting. Expectation, entitlement and arrogance will only get in the way. We have to keep adapting as quickly as the world around us. Once again, this is not new, but even more so. ⁣

It seems…people want accolades and congratulatory pampering about their parenting. It is helpful to support the caregivers, yet remember, mother’s day was at least in part developed as a consumer holiday with a political agenda. Every day can be appreciation day! Yet that’s not why I parent.⁣

While I sure could use a massage or a delicious meal I didn’t make myself sometimes, the real gift I receive is the parenting itself…learning how to adapt and meet my child and a situation right where they are. Not in the way I think I want things to be. As they are. And respond to that.

When I stop fighting or forcing I can better see what we have to work with. I see my child as a being with needs that are trying to express…and I can help or hinder that.⁣

For being a mother…is really about mothering. It is something you give. The potential-yet-not-guaranteed reward is the connection, and your child. You give without knowing what, if anything, you’re going to get. In my case, I have given a lot. And been given back so so very much. Not always what I thought or expected, and sometimes so far beyond what I could have imagined.

It’s not for everyone, parenting, and at times seems not for me! Yet once you’re in it there is no easy out. We adapt or we suffer. And we pass that on.

Once again, this is not new. But accentuated. ⁣

We are all presented with this opportunity right now – evolve together or get stuck trying to force things to be some preconceived way. In parenting and in this post covid world. Same thing, accentuated.⁣

I…am going to keep trying to meet things with fresh, open eyes, and continuously, consciously adapt to the situation as it presents itself. I don’t already know better, I am learning as I go.⁣

In life and parenting.⁣

This is my precious Mother’s Day gift.⁣

♥️

Quarantine Awakening

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There is something so electric about the sunrise. The way the light slowly increases to illuminate the landscape, revealing all that was shrouded in mystery. I feel more capable, wise, like I understand things a bit more clearly.

We made it through the night again to face another day. ⁣⁣
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I slept on the couch last night so I could awake with the sunrise on this snow capped hill across from my window. I feel like I’m finally waking up, I’ve been so tired for such a long time. ⁣⁣
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That’s what I’ve been doing during this time of isolation, I’ve been resting. At first I could hardly get off the couch. I figured I was stressed, depressed, overwhelmed, afraid and triggered from ptsd for a variety of reasons in this situation.

While all that was valid, I then recognized I was exhausted from the move and the last year of getting Philip settled into college, then before that from 20 years of parenting. Then I thought, wow, I’ve been running since I graduated high school! Then I realized I have been going since way before that. As long as I can remember I’ve been running. And I was starting to falter in it too. I really needed some rest. ⁣⁣
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So I have been. Resting. When else have I ever been given the time and space to finally, fully rest? In the beginning of this I spent time purposefully allowing myself to be as slow as I wanted. I am always being rushed in life; I could finally go at my own pace. Maybe nothing has ever felt this good.

I stayed in bed as long as I wanted. I took naps anywhere and anytime. I didn’t make myself leave the house if I didn’t want to. I let go of any pressure to get anything done. I let myself be. So much underlying static rose up and was processed or released, or both.⁣⁣
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I have been spending a lot of time in a liminal meditative space between wake and sleep where I allow a free flow of thought while retaining consciousness. My tolerance to retaining presence in any state is increasing and a sense of adaptability and underlying peace is stabilizing.

Much insight into things that have plagued me is arising while I am also coming to terms with what I can’t know and don’t have the power to fully control. In doing this I start to see what choices I do have and where I can have an affect.

I am not doing all this but just being and allowing it to rise and process.⁣

I’ve gone from perhaps the most afraid and triggered I’ve ever been (as it was the culmination of a lifetime) to feeling that the perspective of this lifetime is the most integrated it has ever been. Because I finally have the space to let myself be. ⁣

I know this isn’t everyone’s experience. Many are working harder than ever before, many are in unsafe conditions without enough resources. Many appear to be struggling with being alone and not being able to get out or be entertained while others are suffering from being with the people with whom they are isolating. Some have been terribly sick or losing loved ones. There are usually many sides to each experience.

I may have been sick too, maybe with a physical illness, certainly soul sick and exhausted from a lifetime of trying to keep up. All I know is the mist is clearing. We are all going through something right now. ⁣

We are all in this together, sure, but we are not all in the same situation. Each have our own life tragedies born from this and otherwise and each will learn what we learn. ⁣

I could tell you my tragedies but you already have your own. Instead today I chose to share some of the beauty that I am experiencing. ⁣

Waking up inside the parable of my life and learning to let myself be. Slow and steady like the sunrise, until suddenly, when everything is illuminated.⁣

No matter your story, perhaps you will experience some of this too.⁣

We made it through the night again to face another day.
♥️

Gayatri Mantra

Om Bhur Bhuvaḥ Swaḥ

Tat-savitur Vareñyaṃ

Bhargo Devasya Dhīmahi

Dhiyo Yo Nah Prachodayāt

ॐ भूर्भुवः स्वः

तत्सवितुर्वरेण्यं

भर्गो देवस्य धीमहि

धियो यो नः प्रचोदयात्

Gratefully dilating open to allow the all pervasive radiant light beyond individual form to shine through.

Dissipating the veils, pixelating the solidity of the forms, clearing the lenses that block us from wisdom, from experiencing the continuum of the infinite.

(current transliteration and experience of the moment)

Framing

Thoughts upon awakening:

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I do not want to allow challenges from the past to negatively define how I envision my potential moving forward. I want to utilize the perspective and wisdom I learn through all my experiences to inspire me to be adaptive and resilient, to inform me of ways I can continue to grow with discernment, empathy and grace.

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How we perceive things is greatly dependent upon the frame we see it through.

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Every experience relevant, a springboard for the alchemy of transformation.

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Planting seeds, observing how they grow, refining as I go.

Stillness in Motion: Guided Freeform Dance Meditation

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led by Denise Porter Kemp, accompanied with music and sound by Kalidasa Joseph Getter

This workshop utilizes guided mindfulness movement and spontaneous freeform dance meditation as experiential metaphor for resetting unconscious yet familiar patterns; in the way we approach our movement practice, in the way we move when we dance and in how we relate to the unique circumstances of our lives.

I will offer meditative orientations to both help us notice how the forces of momentum, conditioned habits, preconceptions, our own will, each other, the environment around us and even the music direct our movement and experiment with consciously unhooking ourselves from following this momentum.

In the space of the pause we can potentially tap into the experiencing witness state, pure awareness underlying all other states of consciousness – the silence ever-present behind the sound, the spaciousness inside our form and the stillness of each moment within the movement – and allow fresh insight and creative possibilities to arise.

Instead of repeating pattern or even identifying as the “dancer” and moving by our own will alone, the dance takes form through us. Informed yet not defined, limited or controlled by everything we have experienced so far in our lives.

All levels welcome, no prior experience necessary. I will offer variations to suit every body.

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Denise Porter Kemp makes stillness, movement and yoga meditation practices accessible to the uniqueness of every body while expressing the underlying psychology and teachings through the experiential practice of the physical form.

Currently based in the forests of New Hampshire, she brings her traveling school to private homes, offices at lunchtime, ski mountains, addiction recovery centers, yoga studios and music festivals all along the east coast.

Certified at the 500 hour level in the Shakti Flow Vinyasa style of yoga by Asa Dustin of At OM Yoga, Level 1 in Thai Yoga by Shai Plonski of Still Light Center and initiated into the Kaula lineage of Kashmir Shaivism by Parvathi Nanda Nath Saraswati, Denise has studied with many teachers and learns from everyone who comes her way. She has been teaching yoga since 2005 and offering Thai Yoga since 2011.

~  body geometry, pure awareness  ~

Snowshoe Yoga Walking Meditation 3/16/19

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Saturday, March 16 11am-3:30pm
at The Viaggio Spa and Wellness Center
in The Mountain Club on Loon
on Loon Mountain Resort

$60 for Drop-In (bring your own snowshoes)
$75 for Drop-In (with snowshoe rental)
$50 for Members (bring your own snowshoes)
$65 for Members (with snowshoe rental)

Welcome the spring with a snowshoe yoga practice and walking meditation through the forests along the Pemigewasset River surrounding Loon Mountain Resort in Lincoln, New Hampshire!

We will conclude with a cool down practice in the elegant yoga sanctuary at Viaggio Spa and Wellness Center in The Mountain Club on Loon on Loon Mountain Resort, unless we decide we prefer to stay outside for the duration of the workshop.

Bring your own snowshoes and poles or rent them from us for $15/set. Weather permitting we will experiment with special grabs and positions unique to yoga on snowshoes. If the trail is very icy we will adapt with micro-spikes, which we also have for rent for $10. If there is not enough snow cover we will hike in boots and if the weather is rainy we can increase our practice time inside. We will utilize poles for some postures so bring a pair or we have some you can borrow.

Bring water for yourself, a snack or light lunch and layers appropriate for the weather that day. Wear waterproof or resistant pants or bring a garbage bag or something waterproof to sit on for stillness meditation and potentially to have a snack, weather and interest permitting.

Included in the price of the workshop is a day pass to utilize the amenities at the Viaggio including indoor and outdoor hot tubs, an indoor pool, steam room, weight room and exercise machines. Contact the spa if you would like to add spa services to your stay.

If you have any questions make a post, leave a comment or send me a message, to register contact Viaggio Spa and Wellness Center by message, by phone at 800-229-7829 ext. 3 or through email at spa@mtnclub.com.

We are working on online registration but are not quite there yet!

Then and Now

These photos are from 2005-2007 when I started teaching yoga and now ❤

Things have grown in general in the world of yoga during this time and there are a lot more teachers and ways to practice to choose from. Up until now I have pretty much always had as much work as I wanted while also raising a child as a single parent in a town without family to help with childcare.

It is new to me to navigate this aspect of presenting myself and my teachings to the public beyond word of mouth. Now that my son is 18 and planning on college next year I have more time and energy becoming available. I am considering what directions I will go in my own life as well as how to let people know why what I have to offer might be interesting amongst everything else out there.

I am wondering if any of you who have worked with me in the past would be willing to write testimonials about your experience? You could post them yourselves on LinkedIn, Denise Porter Kemp Yoga, leave a comment on the Testimonal page of this site orsend them to me personally. I will ask before I use your words in promotion.

If you prefer to be anonymous that is fine, I currently have a testimonial from a student in a substance treatment facility who wanted to share their experience openly yet also have their identity remain private. If you are open to including your name and even a photo to personalize the testimonial that helps, but just your true honest experience will work perfectly.

If you’d like to see what others have been saying already check out my Testimonials page.

Thanks so much for your time and support, even in just reading this message! I have put a lot of myself into this project over the years and hope to reinvent and keep it going now that I have more space to cultivate the potential and help it grow.

Yoga Playshops For Kids

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Do you have kids or know anyone with kids and will be in the area of Loon Mountain Resort in Lincoln, NH next weekend? I will be offering three age appropriate kid’s yoga classes hosted by Viaggio Spa and Wellness Center in The Mountain Club on Loon.

 Yoga Playshops for Kids
Sunday, February 17, 2019

.• 9:30am – 10:00am 7-11 years $10
• 10:30am – 11:00am – 3-6 years, Mommy or Daddy & Me $10
• 3:30pm – 4:15pm – 11-15 years $15

My Background in Kids Yoga:

My first experiences with yoga for kids was when I was a child myself. My mother would practice yoga with my sister and I while listening to Saturday Night Fever in front of sliding glass doors so we could see our own reflection. We would dance and laugh and copy her, learning to be agile, coordinated and comfortable in our bodies while playing. We experienced that moving our bodies gave us energy and was fun! That has stayed with me throughout my life.
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As I got older I began to do my own yoga practice, although I didn’t know to call it that. I enjoyed gymnastics but was not as interested in the competitive aspect so would dance and stretch and balance on my own. It was fun and it helped me find peace in myself and my body as I moved through the changes of adolescence. This has also grown with me throughout my life.
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When my son was little we had our own “circus tricks” routine where I would lie on my back and fly him through a variety of flips and tumbles. As he grew we experimented with videos like YogaKids “Silly to Calm” which helped him learn the joy of movement as play and as body meditation. He went on to become a black belt in Tae Kwon Do and brings this meditative awareness with him as a confident and capable park skier to this day. He is now 18.
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I have been teaching yoga since 2005 and have developed mixed level yoga classes for children at health clubs and yoga studios, age specific year long programs at elementary and middle schools, have had individual children private clients as well as spent quite a bit of time playing with yoga with my niece and nephew and the children of friends. I have led introductory yoga sessions for the seasonal program at Loon, teaching postures that complement both the physical and mental aspects of snowsports.
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In our sessions at The Mountain Club I will build upon this past experience to create age appropriate practices catered to the students present, utilizing yoga postures, movement, dance and storytelling to engage our minds and bodies through the art of conscious play.
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I look forward to seeing you there!
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For more information send me a message, follow the link to the event or look under the events section of my website listed in my bio. To register contact Viaggio Spa and Wellness Center at spa@mtnclub.com or call 800-229-7829.

mural and photography: Christopher Oktavec of Okto Ink
assisted by: Taniya Toomey