Thursday, July 13, 2017

An Ode to Spring 2017

“What we do see depends mainly on what we look for. ... In the same field the farmer will notice the crop, the geologists the fossils, botanists the flowers, artists the colouring, sportmen the cover for the game. Though we may all look at the same things, it does not all follow that we should see them.”
― John Lubbock, The Beauties of Nature and the Wonders of the World We Live in

Unlike last year, when I had moving boxes to unpack, home construction projects, and a new commute blinding me from the beauty of spring, this year I was more awake. I found raspberry plants on our property loaded with fruit, and picked pounds of strawberries at a local field. I discovered bluebirds nesting in one of our bird boxes, which was a thrill, and watched the koi spawn that resembled a beautifully choreographed water ballet, something I won’t soon forget. An up-close and personal encounter with a friendly hummingbird who decided it needed a little shower while I watered the garden is a moment I will cherish forever. And while all of these experiences were memorable, nothing can compare to our cherry blossoms and bees.

We have ten mature Yoshino Cherry Trees bordering one side of our driveway that put on a spectacular show when in full bloom! The blossoms start as white, but then get a tiny hint of pink after several days. What I noticed this spring, however, is how the blossoms seemed to transform into little blank canvasses for a palette of soft, muted colors as they reflected the light and shadows of the environment.  The trees mimicked the colors of the sunrise from pre-dawn grays, dark purples, and dusty rose into more vibrant pinks, and a light salmon color as the sun crested over the hill. On a bright sunny afternoon, they had a pale buttery color; and the blooms took on a fluorescent-like white juxtaposed against dark, stormy skies. One chilly, blustery day, I sat watching an ethereal cherry blossom blizzard, the ground polka-dotted in thousands of pink and white petals, feeling sad that the blooms had faded, but also anticipating the next color to appear; green.

One warm spring day I decided to take my yoga and meditation practice outside, and as I was walking under the trees, I noticed a steady buzzing, humming sound that made me stop and intently listen. Was someone in the neighborhood running a motor or piece of machinery? Were my ears still clogged from a cold?  Am I developing tinnitus!? These were my thoughts as I stood there listening, trying to unclog my ears. After a few moments, I shrugged it off, and continued on my way, grateful that the buzzing in my ears magically disappeared, only to have it return an hour later as I walked back up the hill toward the cherry trees. Puzzled, I stood under the trees again, listening. What was that sound?

I wasn’t going to solve the case of the strange buzzing noise by tilting my head from side-to-side trying to unclog my ears, nor walking down my driveway looking up the road. No, I needed to change my perspective; I needed to look up, of which I eventually did, discovering the source of all the buzz. Bees! Hundreds, if not thousands of bees! I’ve never seen and apparently heard, that many bees. I was in awe! I walked from tree to tree, looking up, watching them fly from blossom to blossom. The trees were buzzing with activity!

So how many times in my life have I walked around with tunnel vision, not opening myself up to a more panoramic view, missing awe-inspiring moments like hundreds of bees right above my head? Probably more times than I'd like to admit because sometimes it’s easier for me to let distractions blind me from life’s miracles, and meaningful moments.  And could it be that the walls of my tunnel vision get built out of the busyness I choose to create?  Seeing the cherry blossom trees with their kaleidoscope of colors, and the buzzing of the bees taught me to see less myopically,  to let go of some of my unnecessary distractions and notice the fish, the blue birds, a hummingbird and the resurrection of spring from a new perspective.

Summer is here now with its relaxed personality.  Can I let the lessons from spring bleed over into this new season and notice all the wonderment that nature brings in the summertime? Can I bring this awareness to other aspects of my life? Can I look in all directions, from every perspective, to find those meaningful moments, to make wiser decisions, to live an open-minded life? I hope so. My tunnel-vision will inevitability turn on, but with some practice and the lesson of the buzzing bees, maybe I’ll be able to turn it off sooner to live a fully present life.

“Life is no different than the weather. Not only is it unpredictable, but it shows us a new perspective of the world every day.”
― Suzy Kassem, Rise Up and Salute the Sun: The Writings of Suzy Kassem

Monday, October 24, 2016

A Rainy Day in Leesburg

Welcome falling rain!
Thirsty roots drink blissfully,
Parched no more, revived.


I have been home here in Leesburg enjoying this much-needed rain, listening to the rain pattering on my roof, nursing a head cold and writing a haiku. I have also been watching a turtle slowly trek his way to our pond. He has a long way to go, but I am betting that he will make it, eventually! I like his quiet, but strong determination. I appreciate his deliberate, mindful pace, and the fact that he takes frequent breaks to chill out when necessary. So far on his commute he has traveled 45 feet in seven hours. No accident on the beltway or subway shutdown is slowing him down; he is a turtle, doing what turtles naturally do, taking his time.  After a considerable journey, and at the rate he is going, it’s probably safe to say that he will make it to the pond sometime in the near future,
and I for one will be cheering him on from the sidelines, envious of his leisurely trip and laid-back demeanor.

Thursday, March 31, 2016

Quelling Rumors

“Rumor travels faster, but it don’t stay put as long as truth.” --Will Roger

As I was entering the studio to teach one morning, The ABC’s of Life, a wall plaque hanging in the reception area caught my eye, and one of the sayings jumped out at me; Quell Rumors. I don’t use the word quell very often in my vocabulary, so I looked it up. I assumed it meant to end or stop something, but it also means to calm something such as fear and worry. Recently it was brought to my attention that some rumors regarding the future of Body Grace have been spreading around town, so I’d like to share with you the truth, and calm the situation; quelling the rumors.

The building that Body Grace is in and the long, red brick building next door were sold to new owners in the fall of 2015. Therefore, I have a new landlord who is honoring my existing lease to 2018. The new owners, a development group, do have plans to tear down the buildings, and as is the case with much of Vienna, begin revamping the Mill Street area. It is my understanding, after meeting with my landlord a couple of weeks ago, that they are probably three to five years from doing that. Getting plans drawn, and zoning approved, as many of you know, can be a long, drawn-out process of countless meetings and bureaucracy, so there is no truth to the rumor that the buildings are coming down anytime soon.

Dear friends, Body Grace is open for business, and thanks to you doing just fine! I promise to be transparent, and let you know should any new developments come up. Armed with the truth, is how we quell rumors, so please don’t ever hesitate to contact me if you hear something that you question, or you have a concern. I love Body Grace and our community, so it is important to me that the rumors are put to rest and the truth be shared.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015


Let me address the rumors that are going around, as some of you have seen the sign that is up
in my front yard, that Bob and I are indeed moving; we are relocating to Leesburg. And to put your mind at rest, Body Grace is not closing, and will continue to be part of the Vienna community. I’ll be commuting to the studio a few days per week to keep the studio open,
and to teach.

Almost 35 years ago, Bob Crerie and Jan Gilliam drove up to a little, brick house in Vienna, with an inviting front porch, in a friendly neighborhood, and knew instinctively that this was the
place we had been looking for to start a life together. We rented at first but eventually ended up buying the place, adding on and renovating it.  I addressed our wedding invitations in this
house; we raised two beautiful daughters here, and three German Shepherds, and in the last few years, our grandsons have come to know this house and the town of Vienna. I can honestly say that we have walked in Glyndon Park just about every day for the last 35 years. Saying good-bye to our home is extremely sad, but we are also excited about our move.

A God-incidence is a word Bob, and I use for when circumstances align so perfectly there is no denying that a higher power is at work. It is not happenstance or a fluke, but those times when we feel like something is just meant to be. We felt it 35 years ago with our sweet little house in Vienna, and recently we felt it again with a piece of property outside of Leesburg.

We came to the realization over the summer that our original plan of rebuilding our house here in Vienna to better suit our needs was going to be hard on us financially, especially if Bob wants to retire in a few years. Living in the country, with trees and nature around us, has always been attractive to us, so we changed our plans and started looking for a little piece of country life that was affordable. On a whim, our daughter sent us a listing for a place just outside of Leesburg; and on a whim, Bob and Jan Crerie drove up to a modest rambler, sitting atop a hill, overlooking ten, picturesque acres and a gorgeous pond. We knew instinctively that this is where the next adventure of our life together will begin. A God-incidence.

Right now we are tackling the purging of stuff from our house, which includes scary closets, a particularly frightening room, and a terrifying attic! We are also weeding through a whole bunch of memories. We’ve had fun going through our old junk; we’ve cried and laughed a lot, and we’ve questioned our judgment on why we saved individual items.

I have been trying to practice what I teach during this time of upheaval and stress. Making time to keep up with my workouts and yoga practices has helped me keep my energy level up, and my sanity intact!  But I must admit that I have my melancholy days too. Leaning on my family has been a Godsend, but being at the studio has been a saving grace too. I only have to step into the peace, warmth, and love that resonates at the studio and know that I still have a home in Vienna.

Monday, December 7, 2015


“There's a trick to the Graceful Exit.
It begins with the vision to recognize when a job, a life stage,
a relationship is over - and to let go.
It means leaving what's over without denying its value.”
- Ellen Goodman
 (American journalist)

“You’ve gotta know when it’s time to turn the page.”
Tori Amos
(Music artist)

Change and I have never had an easy relationship. I am a regimented person, any variance from my routine can throw me off kilter, and I do not make spontaneous decisions well.  When I see a big change coming, I’ve been known to run the other way. But change usually finds me, sometimes sweet-talking me out of hiding, sometimes dragging me out, reluctantly!  Intellectually, I know that change can be good, that change is inevitable, that progress does not exist without the transformational power of change, but letting go can be emotionally draining, no matter how spiritually uplifting or life changing it ends up being. And I also know that change can have an ugly side, blindsiding us with hard life circumstances. Maybe that’s the side of change that keeps us humble, letting us know that ultimately we are not in control of the Universe. Change can be our best friend too; when we feel comfortable with a new transition; when we intuitively make the right decision; when it’s time to turn the page. I don’t know about you, but I always feel physically lighter when that happens. Recently, saying good-bye to a place I had been teaching at for twenty-five years was not only a big change, but an emotional one too.

Body Grace was born and raised at Vienna Presbyterian Church, and for that opportunity I will always be grateful. But just like the letting go that happens between a parent and a child, it was time to make a “graceful exit,” moving the final class out of the church, and into the studio. In 1990, I appeared before the church’s Board of Trustees to get approval to start a weekly fitness class. There were some board members and congregants who disapproved. They felt that a fitness class had no business existing in a place of worship. My presentation, based on passages from 1 Corinthians, was that our bodies are temples, that we are connected physically, mentally and spiritually, and what affects one, can affect them all. I’m sure that sounded a little “New Age-y” in 1990, but how exciting it is twenty-five years later to see the scientific evidence backing this up! Permission for a trial session was granted, and that one class eventually led to the birth of Body Grace. I will forever love and appreciate all the people who supported me throughout the years, and who spoke up for me when I needed it the most.

Change can be hard to embrace, particularly when it uproots us with unexpected life experiences: When it messes with our routines; with our health; with our faith; with our emotions.  But change can also help us undergo positive transformations, like a spiritual makeover, enlightening us with a new perspective. Change can help intensify our connection physically, mentally and spiritually, and Body Grace is a manifestation of that belief; a belief that I have not strayed from in twenty-five years. To me Body Grace is a sacred place, within the larger community, where all are welcome to take care of their body, mind and spirit; a place to help deepen our relationships with others, and with our self. 

Monday, April 20, 2015

Dear Spring

“In the spring I have counted one hundred and thirty-six different kinds of weather inside
 of four and twenty hours.”   Mark Twain (1835 – 1910)

Dear Spring,

What a prophetic description of March 2015 written by Mark Twain over a century ago. Spring, you sure can be fickle. Stop teasing us!  We humbly acknowledge that you are in control. We understand that you want to make a dramatic entrance dressed in your fine couture, and honestly, with all your beauty, who can blame you? But you’ve already got us in the palm of your hand, sitting at the edge of our seats; we are a captivated audience.  Spring, we’ve been patient, now show us some mercy, and reward our patience with a steady performance of warmer, brighter days. We are so ready for the cold, gray curtain of winter to lift, and your colorful, spectacular show to begin. Spring, you have a rapt audience, now give us a reason for a standing ovation.

Jan Crerie

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Welcome to my new Grandson

Nash Robert Beech
Jan. 30 at 4:08 am
6 lb. 14 oz.