Tuesday, September 3, 2013

A French Bulldog Makes Connections

With some time off around Labor Day, I packed my bike in the back of a $137/week (including tax!!) rental car and headed out for a Taoist weekend in Yogaville. It was a spur-of-the moment decision. I had wanted to go to my usual “spiritual home” – the Himalayan Institute in Honesdale, PA. But I’d hoped to share the 5-hour drive with my friend Gayle. Gayle is hard in training for the New York to DC Climate Ride in three weeks and didn’t feel she could take the time off from her rigorous schedule. As a side note – Gayle is 65 years old and has been doing 60, 70, even 90 mile bike rides to get in shape – so, GO GAYLE!! But I couldn’t face the long drive alone and decided to go to Yogaville instead – a much shorter 3-hour trip.

I arrived a day early, getting there in plenty of time for a pre-dinner yoga class. The next morning – after another yoga class – I was determined to spend the morning writing. I’d lost all the edits I’d done while in Minnesota and, well, let’s just say it hasn’t been a highly productive summer for writing.

But I was distracted by mournful howls penetrating the stillness of my room. I peeked out and saw that, across the way, a lonely French Bulldog was parked in the window of another room, wailing for its human companion. I went over and talked to her through the window, reassuring her that someone would be back soon. It seemed to calm her down and I was able to complete the edits on one essay. I then took a laughing yoga class, which definitely cheered me up, went for a post-lunch bike ride, and had a massage – not a bad way to spend a day.

As I left my room the next day, the little Bulldog came running over to me (the door to her room was open). I don’t think it’s anthropomorphism when I say she wanted to thank me for my visit the previous day. Her gratitude was so great that, when I started walking to lunch, she insisted on following me. I went back to the room and found her owner – letting her know that Naima (I’d read her nametag) was about to take off with me.

The rest of my stay at Yogaville was filled with learning some of the lovely practices from the NI family style of Qi Gong: the Dao-IN and The Eight Treasures, as taught by Paul Olko. After eyeing each other throughout the 4-day workshop, another participant and I finally realized that we had known each other through mutual yoga buddies many years ago and we had a good time catching up on old friends and memories. As a counterpoint to the quiet Qi Gong sessions, each afternoon I took a bike ride in the sweltering heat. What a joy to ride on gently rolling country roads with hardly a car – even though the heat wore me out.

On Sunday afternoon Naima was outside again and, as I went over to pet her, her owner asked if I was from New York, and did people tell me all the time that I looked just like Jane Goldberg? I’m not from New York, and I don’t look like Jane Goldberg – but I do know that she’s an awesome tap dancer because Sarah, one of my oldest friends, used to dance with her in New York. As we started connecting the dots, it turned out that Naima’s human was Connie – a good friend of Sarah’s. The two of them had performed as The Doily Sisters at La Mama in New York more than 30 years ago. What a small world it turned out to be.

Connie was at Yogaville for a different program and we never would have connected, had not dear little Naima brought us together. We only had a short time to talk, but Connie and I were delighted to find each other. It seemed the hand of fate guided me to Yogaville.

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