Monday, December 31, 2012

Small Acts of Kindness Making a BIG Difference!

Thank you to the kids and families who came out to support Snowflakes for Sandy Hook.
After a peaceful snowflake meditation and moving and breathing to find peace in our bodies, the kids and I discussed different ways we can send peace into the world through random acts of kindness. This all inspired by #26Acts - a hash tag that is sweeping the nation. The movement was started to inspire random acts of kindness in honor of the 26 lives lost at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. Time has passed and our lives go on, but the tragedy is still in our minds and the community is still in our hearts. With the help of the Alluem Kids this week and kids across the US, Sandy Hook students will be surprised to come back to thousands of snowflakes filling their hallways and classrooms. Snowflakes filled with love and hope for a brighter tomorrow.
A random act of kindness from one child to another.

Discussing acts of kindness.
Snowflake makers.

Snowflake makers.
Glitter Station!

Friday, December 28, 2012

Winter Schedule

Hey Alluem Kids & Teens! Winter registration is open! 
Sign up online - - workshops tab

Alluem Teens (ages 12-17): 
 Wednesdays - 4:45-5:45pm - starting 1/23 

 Alluem Tweens (ages 10-12): 
Sundays - 11:15am-12:15pm - starting 1/20
 Mondays - 3:45-4:45pm - starting 1/21 

 Alluem Kids (ages 7-9): 
Sundays - 12:30-1:30pm - starting 1/20 
Thursdays - 3:45-4:45pm - starting 1/24 

 Alluem Little Kids (ages 4-6): 
Sundays - 10:00-11:00am - starting 1/20 
Tuesdays - 3:45-4:45pm - starting 1/29

 NEW - Boys Yoga (ages 8-12): 
Wednesdays - 3:30-4:30pm - starting 1/23 
As requested, we've added a new class just for the guys! 
 Please note: Boys are not exempt from our regular class schedule. 

All fees and packages are non-transferable, non-exchangeable and non-refundable. Any classes not used in the duration assigned are forfeit. Kids may make-up missed classes in another class of their age group only. 
Teens may make-up in any Beginner class on the schedule.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Broken Hearts, Prayers and Hope

Like the rest of the nation, I am heart broken. 20 children are gone.
Words are hard to find. 
I have no children of my own, but every child that walks into my yoga class leaves a footprint on my heart. And at a time like this, I think of each and every one of them. What are they thinking? Have their eyes and ears wandered over to the news of this tragedy? Are their parents talking to them about this? Are they afraid to go to school? It hasn't yet, but I find myself searching for words and preparing myself for when one of my students brings it up on the mat. I have the need to instill hope in our children's view of humanity and the things that happen in this world. Mr. Roger's mother taught him well...for every bad person that does something, look at all the good people that rush in to help, that come to the rescue, that support in times of need. It doesn't take away the pain of lives lost or the velocity of what has happened, but I like to think it brings a little bit of hope. 
I've been sending prayers to the children - I get nauseous at the thought of what was the last scene their little eyes saw. I've been sending prayers to the families - I can not even fathom what it must be like to bury a child. I've been sending prayers to the teachers who risked their lives - especially 27-year-old teacher Victoria Soto, who in an act of selflessness, was killed while shielding her first-graders from danger. I've been sending prayers to the entire devastated community of
Newton, Connecticut. 

Who I haven't sent prayers to was Adam Lanza until today...
I urge you to read this posting: I am Adam Lanza's Mother
Take a moment to look through the eyes of a mother raising a violent child with a mental illness. I condone her for sharing her story and taking the necessary precautions to keep her child and those around her safe. 
On the intake form, under the question, "What are your expectations for treatment?" I wrote, "I need help."And I do. This problem is too big for me to handle on my own. Sometimes there are no good options. So you just pray for grace and trust that in hindsight, it will all make sense. I am sharing this story because I am Adam Lanza's mother. I am Dylan Klebold's and Eric Harris's mother. I am Jason Holmes's mother. I am Jared Loughner's mother. I am Seung-Hui Cho's mother. And these boys—and their mothers—need help. In the wake of another horrific national tragedy, it's easy to talk about guns. But it's time to talk about mental illness.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Don't let the paint wash away.

I found a speck of yellow paint in my hair this made me so happy! Then I realized it may be the last one, which immediately made my heart feel a little heavy. I've been doing everything I can to try to hold on to Haiti. Eating the Mamba spicy peanut butter that I brought home with me, washing with my new coconut soap (by Ayiti Natives & Co.), wearing my new handmade jewelery, looking at pictures over and over again and talking about my trip every chance I get. It's a trip I'll never forget, but now I'm afraid the last of the paint will wash away.  
The children welcomed us at the gate, all smiles in their ACFFC (Art Creation Foundation for Children) tee shirts. We planned to spend the day with them at their new location in Jacmel. Some of us would be putting a fresh coat of yellow paint on the walls while others would be regrouting one of their beautiful mosaics. While we waited for the one huge bucket of paint to be mixed, the children started playing hand games and invited us to join in. These children, some of who are street children, some of who come from severely impoverished families, were so full of life and light. They were kids being kids - doing exactly what they should be doing. The center offers them the opportunity for a better life, an education, consistent supply of food and medical care. Things they may have never been able to receive without this save haven.
I spent most of my time painting with a 12 year old girl. She had a bright smile and gently practiced her English with me as we painted. Asking questions like, "How old are you? Do you have a back pack? Do you know a song?" I asked her questions, too, but there came a point when the language barrier was too much. "I don't understand!" she said. "I don't understand either!" I said. So we just smiled and laughed at each other. As we moved further from the bucket, she would run and refill my paint brush every time I finished a spot on the wall. One thing I noticed here is everyone worked together and they all helped each other. Often times we get used to rushing and insisting on doing things for ourselves if we want it done "right"...this was a nice change. It was messy at times, but it worked...and it was fun and filled with love.
By the end of our time together painting, this young girl turned to me and said "I love for you to be my mom." I gave her a hug. While I would love to be her mom, I knew she had a mom and a dad and 2 sisters. I knew she had a place to go home to...but now I wondered what home was like. Whatever home is like for her, I'm comforted knowing that she has the art center as well to call home. A safe haven. A place to find her creative freedom. A place to express herself through her art. A language we can both understand. She showed me some of her pieces before I left...beautifully hand painted paper mache bowls. Products that the children make to help raise funds for the center to keep them self-sustainable. I learned that art in Haiti is often a means of survival. Artists are to Haiti what accountants and engineers are to the United States. And by an artist being supported and earning money, they are helping the socio-economic structure of the country...allowing them to then buy food or goods from local vendors - a trickle down effect that will help communities grow and thrive. I felt like I was doing a great service to the country by being there and supporting the children that day. I went home with a bag of paper-mache bowls, necklaces, birds and a lone cow I found in the pile of animal statues, masks and canvas paintings. These children are so talented and have beautiful souls that need to be shared. Through their art they thrive. It is truly a beautiful thing to witness.
I encourage you to visit their website and support if you can:
As I was leaving, she asked me, "You come tomorrow?" "Not tomorrow," I said, "but soon." I taught her the "I love you" sign in Sign Language and waved good by. And I will be back (in April 2013!!!!) paint, to share, to support, to love. That's all you need to do. Who's coming with me???

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Never Forget Michele

He didn't really look at anyone and he wouldn't speak...then he hid behind me. I reached my hand behind my back and he took it. With his hand in mine he led me and the group down a narrow muddy pathway from the entrance of the Fondwa Orphanage to where all the children slept and played. Still not speaking, he laughed when I slipped and fell in the mud. I laughed, too. Our group of 11 was delivering donations of toys and supplies. They were so excited to see us and what we had - stickers, play dough, balls and beads. In all the excitement, someone bumped my little friend's arm reopening a cut that looked raw. He began to cry in pain, so I scooped him up and held him close. We poured some of our bottled water on the cut and put a bandaid with some medicine over top. He was brave even though it looked as though it could be infected. Then I carried him over to get a toy - a small green ball that popped into a dragon. He sat on my lap and we played.
I know how to say maybe 5 things in Creole now. I asked him his name...still not talking. I got him to laugh while we played and other children snuggled in - playing with my hair, inspecting my earrings, asking if I was a doctor. Before you know it, I hear a little voice on my lap repeating the words "For you, madam. For you, madam. For you, madam." I realized it may be something he's probably heard over and over again from visitors to the orphanage. I wondered how many people come through for a day, an hour or just a moment, dropping donations and leaving. "For you, madam. For you, monsieur." And then out of their lives. Suddenly I was sad and I didn't want to go. I didn't want to be one of those people that just pass through, but I knew I was for today. I began to think of a song, whose name I can't remember, with a line that says something like - if you never say your name out loud or to anyone, they can never miss you...or remember you...or something like that. He is a 4 year old orphan in Haiti, but somehow I believe he knew he didn't want another person to know his name and then forget him. But I wanted to know his name. I didn't want to forget him. I asked him his name again and again until another child told me his name was Michele. I would not forget...Michele.
I've been listening to a song on my iPod a number of times since I've arrived in Haiti called "Show Me What I'm Looking For" by Carolina Liar. I've been asking myself - why am I here? I've been asking God, the people, the mountains, this country - to "show me what I'm looking for". I know I came here to bare witness, to learn, to be exposed, to step out of my comfort zone, to be inspired, to live, breathe and connect with each other as a human race. To connect with myself. I started thinking Michele was repeating the words, "For you, madam." literally for me. I suddenly felt Michele was there for me as much as I was there for him. I was looking for connection and that's exactly what we did. 
Over the past 8 days, I've seen a lot of this country...trying to interact with the people the best I can. Sometimes feeling scared and unwanted. Sometimes feeling warm and welcomed. Today I connected to Michele in a way I will never forget. I held this boy, who's touch is probably so limited, and before I left I put my hand over his heart. It was beating fast. So was mine. I did not want to put him down. I connected and hopefully not for the last time. I will never forget Michele. 

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Mountains Beyond Mountains

Hello friends! I've landed safely in Haiti and will be here for the next 10 days. Who would've ever thought I would be celebrating my 32nd birthday in such a way as this?! Thanks to The Village Experience (and of course, all of your support at Alluem Yoga!) I am ready to absorb all I can while I'm here - the people, the culture, the history, the beauty of the land. I'm ready to explore, to learn, to bare witness with my own two eyes and lend my hand where it is needed. I feel so blessed to be on this journey. There really are mountains beyond mountains here.

Incase you're following along, here's the intinerary:
December 1 - Arrive in Port au Prince International Airport. City tour upon arrival. Check into locally owned and operated hotel. Welcome dinner at Presse Cafe with friends of TVE. 
December 2 - Depart in the morning for the drive to the North. Arrive to Cap Haitien in the evening.
December 3 - Enjoy a city tour of Cap Haitien, the old city, local marketsand much more throughout the day. Spend the afternoon on a hike to the mountaintop fortress of Citadelle Laferrière and the San Souci Palace – both designated UNESCO World Heritage sites in 1982.
December 4 - Project day with Sonje Ayiti in Limonade.The mission of Sonje Ayiti is to uplift Haitian communities though education, economic development, and health promotion. Learn about the adult literacy program, operation goat, university scholarship program, economic development projects, and the micro-credit loan program. This promises to be an educational and inspiring day of service
December 5 - Project day with GARR near the Dominican Republic border. GARR stands for Support Group for Refugees and Repatriated Persons. It is one of the few organizations to work with Haitians and Dominico-Haitians (Dominicans born of Haitian parents) who have been forcibly removed from the DR and left to fend for themselves at the border. GARR provides them with emotional support and practical help. GARR visits imprisoned migrants and offers them legal assistance and informs their families of their situation. It also raises awareness about trafficking through radio broadcasts and public debates to encourage people to pressure the Haitian authorities to reduce the trafficking of people.
December 6 - Enjoy the beaches of the North Coast today and free time to reflect.
December 7 - Morning departure for Port au Prince. 
December 8 - Transfer to Jacmel in the morning. Stop in Fondwa to check on projects and visit the orphanage and university.
December 9 - Spend the day with the Art Creation Foundation Center for Children. Help paint the walls of the new site with the children. Visit the Arts Festival in Jacmel to support local artisans.
December 10 - Free morning, visit the Jacmel Children's Center. Leave for Port au Prince. Farewell dinner.
December 11 - Transfer to airport.