The Park

One of the perks of living in the same town or around where you grow up is crossing paths with your childhood memories in one way or another. This happened recently to me on a Facebook page in the town where I grew up. I didn’t realize at the time I read a post that it was a friend from my old neighborhood. She asked, “Who spent time at Manatawny Park?” I answered quickly without realizing who posted. After a while, I saw and responded in more depth. After a back and forth I responded finally, “Those were the days!” She came back with a response that included, “Those were the days…we were lucky to grow up when we did.”

I was cleaning out my basement from some construction mess and writing these messages when I started to remember those times and it dawned on me by what I meant when I replied, “Those were the days!” Yes, back then as a little kid, I started to know what a mixed blessing life was. I was lucky to grow up in that neighborhood when we did!

I got to live across from the park when my Mom got pissed at my Dad after they got divorced and he went back to Penn State to finish his college days, or so he thought. I don’t know the exact timeline, but I was still nursing and around 2 when my Mom dropped me off at this house across the street from this park, with my Nanny and Pop Pop. My Dad was in school, so I guess my Nanny quit her job as a secretary at Kiwi polish to take care of me and my sister who was 4 years old at this time.

These days that I thought…were the days….happened from that day, when my Mom dropped me off, till my step father came to get me when I was 7 years old and just finishing first grade and I guess there were some of those ‘days’ when we would go back to the neighborhood to hang out and visit my grandparents until my Pop Pop died and Nanny moved to an apartment. I think I was in fifth or sixth grade when all that happened.

My grandmother was one of those who thought that on weekends you should go outside after breakfast and not return till you were hungry again. Then after lunch do the same till dinner. In the summer we were told to go out until dusk. Do you know how hard it is to figure out when it is dusk and then get home before it is over? It’s hard! That would require someone to come around the ice cream factory from our house and yell, “Bonnie, Sherri!” I often wondered if she knew that most Saturdays we had to wait for hours for our friends to wake up, eat and do chores till they came out. But these were the times when all this great stuff happened on the streets and in this amazing park.

We were lucky to grow up then. We could roam around on our own and find lots of amazing things to keep us busy. We went in kids houses and met their families and found their coal cellars. We found big pipes to climb in and heard stories of someone setting off a home made bombs and burning his face. We played in the Creek and jumped on floating ice. We climbed on the rafters of the pavilion and watched kids as they built fires in there. We hung out all day on the swings, slides, merry-go-round. We did what ever we wanted to do! It was a special time.

In my message, I told my neighborhood friend that my ‘best looking Dad in the world’ died in November. What I didn’t tell her is that I lived most of my 61 years not sure if he really was my Dad. I didn’t tell her, though I almost did, that when my step father picked us up when I was 7, I didn’t know him, my Mom, my sister Kim or the newborn baby, Timothy, either. I didn’t tell her that at 18 said stepfather did tell me that there was a very good chance that ‘my father really wasn’t my father’. I almost wrote in that message that at least I took measures to finally answer that fatherhood question right before he died and went to visit him days after I got the results. I finally decided all this was a bit much for an old neighborhood Facebook page and didn’t say that we had a great visit and I said my good byes and was glad he was my Dad.

Those were the days of mixed blessings. I always thought that those years were my ‘saving grace’. I thought that I was blessed to have had lived that life and that it formed for me into who I am today. Somewhere I read that we form who we are before we are five years of age. I always was glad that I lived in a clean, well kept house. That my grandmother loved and cared for us with style! That we learned to sit at a nicely set dinning room table to eat Sunday dinner. That we had nightly baths and clean clothes. That we went to Ocean City for vacations and visited places like Longwood Gardens. Because at the age of seven my life changed immensely and learned even better what a blessing it was to be dropped off at such an early age.

Looking back at my old neighborhood friends, I know that we all had a story of how we got there and that we didn’t know what those stories were. What we did know, was that the Park was a great place to hang out, that Second Street had the best street games, that that was the greatest time to grow up, when you could roam all day on your own and feel safe.

Life is a bag of mixed blessings. Not that I didn’t suffer from abandonment issues, but I did always look at those years as such a blessing. I was lucky to have that great neighborhood experience and friends. I do think that I was blessed or maybe it was that I thought I was blessed that made the difference!









While Visions of Sugar Plums Danced In Their Heads…

December roles around each year and so do those “visions”. Not from the reading of “The Night Before Christmas”, but for many years of my adult life, from actually having the Sugar Plum Fairy dancing around me for months of rehearsals. With December, comes lots of excitement and for many years my birthday of December 4 was spent either in rehearsal or in the performance of the Schuylkill Valley Regional Dance Company’s (SVRDC) full length ballet of “The Nutcracker”.

Looking back at those years, I am overwhelmed by feelings of gratitude for having the good fortune of having been a part of such an amazing, creative undertaking. Being a part of SVRDC, brought joy in so many ways and was such an important part of my life that I can’t think of much of my 30’s and 40’s without memories of my rolls there! Being a member of the ballet company,  meant having the pleasure to mix with people of many ages and diverse talents. And, it offered a plethora of opportunities to grow in many different directions.

Before I was asked to join the company, I took care of the costumes as Wardrobe Mistress. Taking care of the costumes was only the first responsibility I took on. Over the years, besides dancing, I would have roles as wardrobe mistress, costume maker, set and stage crew, makeup and hair person and roles that came with any specific titles, and my most troubling role, controling the music tapes!

Dancing with the company, and later being a member, not only brought fulfillment as a dancer, honing my dance skills but also generated lifetime friendships and connections. There was nothing more satisfying then knowing that your friend wrote a ballet with you in mind for a specific role and having the privilege to see these ballets grow each time from a small creative seed. It was the close personal relationships, that built up over the years, that remain so dear in my heart. The many hours spent rehearsing, building, crying, laughing, dancing, creating, supporting, cheering on, sewing up, powdering, spraying, falling down that added up to something magical. Not only when we were on stage, but deep connections of love and admiration were formed that remain long after the applause.

The genius behind this company and the one responsible for offering me the opportunity for this amazing, creative adventure of a lifetime, is a dear friend and relation, Phyllis Dersh Rudzitis. She was a founding member of the Philadelphia Ballet Guild in the beginning of 1950. She opened her dance school, in Pottstown, Pa, in 1964 and started the regional ballet company in 1971. It was her dreaming and direction that brought so many amazing dance performances and creative outlets . From small pieces performed every June, to performing two full length ballets a year, Ms. Dersh was the strength and direction behind all of the joy and creative magic that SVRDC bestowed on the community. Although not alone, she was the backbone and creative genius. It was her dream and she made it come to life through her love and dedication to dance, hard work and sweat.

After selling the school in 2000, Ms. Dersh remained Artistic Director of SVRDC. A few years later when she was forced off the board and stepped down from her cherished position. For some years after that, she continued teaching ballet at “A Step In Time Dance School”; the dance school of former student Bonnie Downie, where she remained untill she retired. Now, at the age of 86, Ms Dersh is well and enjoying retirement living with her Daughter, Alida and son-in-law Kyle in sunny Eureka, California.

I am so thankful for my creative opportunities and to all the people who came and went and left their footprint in my memory. Thanks to all who had a hand in developing and supporting my roles as Duchess in Alice; the Mother and Spanish, in Nutcracker; the lead in Michael’s Ukrainian piece; and all the roles I have forgotten! Thanks for all of of friendships, laughs, and good times. Thanks for sharing the stage with me; Voloshky Ukrainian Dance Company; all of the soloists from Pennsylvania Ballet Company and all of the other guest dancers. Thanks to the genius of Ms. Dersh, Linda Comly, and the late Beth Haines Williams. Thanks for the coffee clutches with Beth, Dawn, and Bonnie. Thanks for the laughs from our job as “Official Welcoming and Fun Finding Committee” Alida, Beth, Big ‘O’, Terras. Thanks to all who pirouetted through the magical happenings at SVDRC.

There is nothing that stirs the memories like New Year’s Celebrations.  On this beginning of 2017, I am honoring my life and memories by recalling all of the magic I was blessed to find through my dance life with Ms. Dersh and the Schuylkill Valley Regional Dance Company in little ole Pottstown, Pa.

Thanks for the memories and that beautiful, creative, twirling, dancing life!

Out of Ashes

Being exhausted from the day on the beach and a bit overstimulated, our walk around the block was to give my year old grandson the much needed quiet so he could relax and fall asleep. Enjoying the walk and cool air, I took a turn that put us in bright lights and loud voices. With the added stimulation, Phoenix bolted right up in his stroller and pointed up at the full moon that was glowing in the sky right in front of us. “Clock Nanny,” he said as he pointed up at the moon. A bit confused, it took me a few seconds to figure out what he was doing. He was seeing the full moon and calling it a clock, referencing his Richard Scarry book of words. The only word he knew for the round, bright light in the sky, clock!

I think of that night often gazing up at the full moon. That was eleven years ago and only 5 months after the diagnosis that he was born with a birth defect called optic nerve hypoplasia. At this early stage of the diagnosis we were not sure how his vision would develop and what he saw at this time.

Immediately the tears rolled down my cheeks and I started running back towards our rented apartment. We burst into the living room with me crying, “He can see the moon! He can see the moon!” Through tears I surprised his mom, Alix, while babbling, “How bad can it be if you can see the moon?”

Phoenix is an amazing 12 1/2 year old. He is funny….I mean so funny, which gets us into a lot of trouble especially with his mom! He is smart. He used to love math but now he is in love with science. He is a tech wiz…. I think he channels his Poppy. He loves gaming with his friends and talking politics with me. He is incredible for a 12 1/2 year old and we still don’t know what he can see.

Our lives are all a mixture of what is going on, and how we interpret all the things that go on in our lives. None of us do this the same. We all have our own little algorithm. We are influenced by our past, our beliefs, our stories we tell ourselves and a myriad of influences that give us rendition of our life, our own unique way we see the world. This was brought to my attention this week in a profound way.

Phoenix and I were driving and in front of us were about 50 or more turkey buzzards circling in the sky. It was so awesome. I love the vultures medicine and the social mores they follow as they come together in large funnels in the sky. The vulture has the most antiseptic liquids on the planet. They are mostly misunderstood as a dirty bird but they represent the cleaners nature, the ones that come in to do a very important job. This totem speaks of purification and rebirth.

Through all my ‘oh my gods’ and ‘look’, ‘look’ I finally realized Phoenix couldn’t see any of them. “Can you see anything in the sky in front of the car? I was asking quickly, thinking he still had a chance. “No…” he kept saying.

Wow! I am with him a lot. I have been with him at least 2 days a week from birth and used to have him three days a week, up until a couple of years ago. I ask him all the time to tell me what he can see. He tires of this quickly. He has no peripheral vision. He puts his hands outstretched from his sides and pulls them in to the front. When they are about shoulder with apart is where he sees them. He looks at my phone without his glasses and right up to his nose. He sits in front of his Poppie’s huge tv, right in front. Other then that, you would not know he only has vision out of one eye and that eye only has 70% of it’s optic nerves. He navigates on the soccer field. He navigates like he is full sighted. Except for the occasional blind joke, he acts as if he sees just like me.

That is what hit me in such a profound way. We don’t know what people ‘see’. We don’t know if what we experience is the same for all of us. Lots of times, I just assume that what I am going through, when we are together, is pretty much the same for him. But at this moment I realized I really had no idea. It isn’t the same. Is it better or worse or just different? What he sees is his whole reality. He doesn’t know what he doesn’t see, nor do I. But, we walk around side by side all the time. We have our special time goofing off in Target and listening to Trevor Noah in the car. Me, seeing all of the fauna and flora outside the car. Him, I’m not sure! I assume my experience is just like his. He’s there with me but I realize at this moment our worlds are not the same but I also realize that is ok.

His story is rich with all of the amazing things in his life; his computer, his mom and dad, his baby brother and step mom, his trips to the beach and to the lake, our fabulous days together and his time with his friends. His life is built on a foundation of family and friends. He will process all of the happenings in his life and develop his life story through his lens, his special lens. It will be his, uniquely his. And, in some way, the way he views his world will play a part in his story. I am confident that he will navigate this journey in a way that only he can and that is definitely good enough. Actually, it is amazing, just like him!

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Follow Your Gut

Well….i did it! I am enjoying my first cup of black tea in over a month. I even added some cream and a tad of honey. I’ve just completed Dr. Junger’s 21 day gut cleanse from his book Cean Gut. Plus a 7 day reintroduction phase of gluten and dairy. The whole time I wondered what I would crave first.

This cleanse was a diet of veggies 80% and meat 20%…. no grains, beans, sugar, coffee, alcohol or dairy. After a glass of water in the morning with juice of half a lemon, breakfast was a kale shake with protein powder. Lunch was as the largest meal with soup, salad and some protein, usually chicken followed by a dinner of a smaller salad or stir fry veggies. Berries and nuts were allowed in small portions and supplements were taken at every meal.

I chose to do this cleanse after I suffered the summer with peptic ulcers and didn’t get any dietary help from any healthcare providers. It is designed to help heal the gut by replacing bad gut flora with beneficial bacteria. Supplements cleaned out any yeast and aided digestion by adding digestive enzymes.

In the reintroduction phase I realized what i already know, but it really drove home how awful I feel eating empty carbs like bread! After eating bread at every meal for one day, I was starving and craving food! I had been completely satisfied with my shakes and small meals with no cravings.

The biggest challenge was the shake for breakfast. I’m a firm believer in eating whole foods. But this cleanse explained that to give the gut the time it needed to heal, a liquid breakfast would help in that process. I really like to start my day out with a liquid breakfast.

The second challenge were the supplements. Taking supplements is not something I do! But again, I realized the benefits and that they were needed to achieve the end results. Buying them was not as challenging as I feared, thanks to Kimberton Whole Foods and all of the help they provided.

The batch cooking all organic food was not as challenging, as I have done that for years. Sundays were cooking days to make sure I had food for the week.

Also, I had a lot of support and help from my cleanse buddy, Keith. It was tremendous help to have a partner to navigate all the buying, cooking, preparing and schlepping meals. We chose to eat all our own prepared meals and not to out at all!

So, I love how I feel 10 pounds lighter! I am amazed at how little I have to eat when eating nutrient dense foods. I love when the craving subside from empty carbs. Eating healthy is a lifestyle change not a diet.

I was devastated to learn I had ulcers because I have been eating low carbs to maintain a healthy lifestyle for about 15 years! What I have come to accept is that my ulcers were that flashing sign to get me to see the whole picture. The ulcers were saying to me, ‘hey.. what are you worrying about all the time?” I never think of myself as a worrier but I ruminate all day… every day. I work by myself and was listening to msnbc news in the car. I was thinking about our democracy falling apart and what I should do with my house!

So….i made some changes. I see my acupuncturist. I talk to my grief counselor Clair and I continue to have periodic calls with my spiritual advisor, Charmayne Kilcup. I try to meditate most mornings, turn off the news and turn on some kizomba music. I journal when I need to process and listen to inspirational YouTubes. Now that I have finished my cleanse, I feel that I have attacked these buggers from all sides.

My health issues have always been that flashing sign. At 25 I suffered from a bleeding ulcerated bowl. That sign read… When are you going to address your anger issues? I started a life long journey of self discovery with my first therapist and marriage counselor. A few years after Steve died I had bowel issues again with parasites. It was time to do some deep grieving and healing work. Now this last bout of ulcers was telling me to stop thinking.

I intend to follow my low carb hybrid life program that is modified with a shake breakfast and some supplements, continue my self discovery and most of all listen to my body and to all the signs around me.

Mmmmm… I’m having another cup a tea…i missed you!

Dancing Alone


I woke up at age 60 with peptic ulcers. After working on my own to heal through Reiki, acupuncture and lots of healing touch, I came to terms with realizing that for 6 years since my husband, Steve, died of of colon cancer, after 11 months of treatment for anal cancer, I have been ruminating and holding onto questions that just literally ate away at me. Believing that the universe speaks to me through my health, I ran back to my grief counselor and asked for help to figure out why I don’t have good relationships with my family, ticking off items on my list of things I need to do to heal. First on my list was sending a paternity test kit to my father, after living my life from the age of 18, when my step father told me there was a good chance that he was not my Dad. Well, he is and I am trying to find out why my family relationships are not satisfying to me, especially since I lost the energy to put into feeding them since my husband died.

I got a call at my home, in Birdsboro, PA,  on a Monday morning from my daughter, Alix. By 11:30 that night, I was driving from the airport in Ft. Meyers, FL, to my sister Lia’s home in Nokomis, with my oldest sister, Bonnie. My father has be suffering from diabetes at the age of 84 in Florida for a year and took a turn for the worse and ended up on hospice at his home. I haven’t traveled for over 10 years, so this act of courage was huge for me. Focusing only on what I needed to do, I set out on what would be an amazing spiritual adventure armed only with a copy of Braving the Wilderness…The Quest for True Belonging and the Courage to Stand Alone!

The Universe will offer us whatever we need. Our job is to recognize what we need, and have the courage to grab it!  This trip offered me a much needed break from my business and my routine. It gave me an experience that would challenge the trust I have in myself to be courageous. It gave me the opportunity to say good bye to my father and for the first time in my heart he felt like my father. I had a chance to a look into some of the relationships with my siblings and can now process with my therapist with much gained insight. And most importantly, I had an opportunity to look deeply into the wilderness and to discover true belonging and the courage to dance alone! By trusting and jumping, I embarked on a spiritual journey, with the back drop of Brene’ Brown’s book, that has changed my life! I wouldn’t realize the parallels to the book till I finished it on the plane on the trip home.

I have always been someone who has chosen to live outside that proverbial box. I have had lots of experience at standing alone. The loss of my life partner of 40 years has offered me a great opportunity to grow in ways that I chose not to with him by my side, to become strong and to rely on myself spiritually, emotionally, and financially. True belonging has been a theme throughout my life. True belonging comes from knowing and trusting myself first and trusting myself is something I continue to struggle with. My quest of authentic living and integrity has been a lifetime challenge and a challenge that I have always welcomed!

When you open up to the gifts of the Universe, the Universe opens up to you and showers you in what you need. I will always remember the day I took off for Florida to see my Dad for the last time. I will remember the beautiful sunset color show that was enhanced by clouds. I will never forget the excitement and invigoration of the African dance with a soul sister from Sarasota to the drum rhythms by the beach and the setting sun. I will always listen to the totems of the Pelicans, who reminded me that week to go inward to balance, to spend time with family to bring things back into focus, to float through my emotions and to take time to savor each special moment. The Osprey’s message will stay with me and remind me not to worry about what others think and that I will survive diving into the emotional waters but most of all the osprey reminded me to respect my boundaries. The sharing of sacred stories and the sacred time spent with family eating, swimming, laughing and listening have filled my heart with much needed energy and warmth.

There is no coincidence. Nothing in nature is haphazard. Everything is exactly how it should be. I will continually be grateful for the offerings of the Universe and be thankful for the ability to grow and chose to vibrate at a higher rate. I will always be in awe of Universe and All That Is and the energy we hold to create our reality. It is in this gratitude that I thank my Father for life and all of the opportunities it has offered.


Strange and Beautiful Life

Life is so strange and beautiful… never stops……it doesn’t stand still…..but there are moments when life as we know it is about to change….when you know deep in your heart that things will never be the same…it is in this moment when I start grasping for things to hang on to….when my inner voice is shouting “Noooooo……stop….don’t do this”…..and I know that momentum has caught me ….grabbed my life and is dragging it down a new path… is in this moment when I want answers…….I want to wrap my brain around something to drag my life back to where it was happy being…..I want something, anything to make sense…..I want to control….to understand….to see clearly….but mostly what I want is life to go the way I expected….I want people to do what I think they should….to think in manners I have become accustomed….to fit into the box I have given them….neatly understood….neatly understood……but no… is unexpected….life throws us curve balls……life hands us lessons to fulfill the Karma of other lifetimes…..therefore, sometimes, completely unable to be understood… this panic I want control….but in this panic the only answer is to relinquish all control, to take life’s gift and to accept what is being laid at my feet….surrender….accept…..Surrender to the reality…..Accept that reality… questions… control…….and let life unfold into the beauty of the unknown…let go of life and let it be…let go of what I want and let life unfold….with no expectations….It is here where healing begins and life continues to flow… is here where I struggle to accept the gifts of life… is here where I am wondering ……and it is here that I let go of all expectations and work on forgiveness and moving forward…..


The Large Bath Tub, Jacuzzi

So…….I would like to impart some of the knowledge and wisdom that has come to me from my many hours of labor and hard work. I think of this as me paving the way so that you have an easier time. There aren’t many things, besides mirrors and that is another post, that give me a hard time during my long days cleaning houses, then those big bath tubs that everyone is getting. For years they were just big and a pain to clean. Now they are so big that it required research into the best way to proceed when faced with the task of cleaning one of these monsters. So, thank me in advance, for doing my research to make your life a little easier.  Here is the best way by far to clean your tub or Jacuzzi, actually, this will work on any size tub. First, fill the tub with warm water. It is important that the water not be too cool or too hot…just right. Then strip down and get into the tub. The best way to clean one of these things is to just be still….maybe a lit candle, and what I have found….a nice glass of wine helps….don’t do anything…..except an occasional sip….and you will get great results in about …..oh….a half of an hour…..then drain…..and wipe the tub dry and in my case I have to fill my clients wine bottles with a little water, wash out the glass…….and voila! Beautiful…….easy…….

Thank you to Todd and Teresa for their help and cooperation in my research.  Thanks guys and I prefer white …over red…..ox