Jelly RIP

Our sweet cat’s life ended yesterday and we are left with wonderful memories. And some photos to share…

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He came to us as a small kitten (pictured here with Mijin) and soon became Peanut’s best buddy, and of formidable girth!

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Peanut and Jelly hanging out cheek to cheek…IMG_1552Jelly survived Peanut and 3 years later bravely welcomed Lola to our home.

Maybe Lola tired him out, maybe things turned after the operation to remove his big growth, or maybe it was just his time. Jelly slowed down on eating and eventually stopped eating much at all.

Our Jelly belly became very thin and weak, but until the last few days he continued to be active and maintain his unique and affectionate personality.

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IMG_2183Loving Jelly Belly, you shall be missed and fondly remembered. Rest in Peace.IMG_3679

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Lola in Canada

Here is the requested update on Lola. In a sentence, “She is doing great!”

After 3 long flights (Manzanillo-Mexico City- Houston – Toronto), we arrived home and happy to meet the rest of the immediate family – Neah and Jelly.

After a couple days, Lola and Jelly had become friends (though Lola plays a bit rough sometimes).

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Climbing down the stairs was an adventure (she has it down pretty well now though she still can be heard growling at the bottom if she takes it too fast – I have a cute video but just learned that I can’t post videos – you can imagine).

IMG_1508Getting used to the cold has been a process, but luckily it is warming up around here. She refused to walk on bitter days, but she loves the dog park!

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She continues to be deliciously cuddly and her training is going well. She has “sit, down and stay” and usually responds to come. We start “doggie training school” in two days. The book Dog Sense that Lisa sent me has been invaluable. Neah and Lola are in love.

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IMG_1549I couldn’t be happier and she seems pretty content herself! She has doubled in size since I’ve known her and I anticipate she will likely double again!

Love to all who are reading this. We hope to spend more time in Mexico (maybe as of January 2018…?) xox

Tai Chi in Barra

Directions to Classes with Didi

Feb 5th 2017 –

I’m thrilled to be vacationing in Mexico for a month.

One mini-project is to offer tai chi classes twice a week –

Tuesday and Thursday’s at 9:30-10:30am. The first class is on Feb 7th.

Everyone is welcome. Join anytime. By donation.

Here are some direction details.

The classes will be held in a shady area in the Unidad Deportiva (Sports Park in Barra).

Turn onto Avenida Nueva España (to the “Barrio”) continue past the tower

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The “Unidad” is 3 blocks after the tower on your left.

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You can drive into the park- there are various courts for basketball, volleyball etc. We will practice in a shaded area near the children’s playground.

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We can meet at the playground a few minutes before 9:30am.  Class will start at 9:30am sharp. Latecomers are welcome to join in.

 

Questions or comments?  contact me at  dawn@dawnaarons.com

There will also be a workshop (for tai chi students and anyone else interesting in a good time learning about Yin/Yang through movement) at Kalina’s Yoga Studio – Buena Onda Centro de Yoga in Barra – 6-8pm on Tuesday February 21st.

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Mount Madonna YSC1

I left Mount Madonna this morning. As I wait for my flight, I’m wishing I had taken more photographs. Here is a short explanation of what I have been up to for the past 2 1/2 months, and some of the photos I did take.

Mount Madonna is a conference, retreat and yoga centre in the heart of California, a half hour from Santa Cruz, on the top of a mountain, with 355 acres of open meadows and redwood forests.

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I participated in the YSC Program – Yoga, Service and Community. My primary motivation for going was for the Yoga. I was looking for a healthy environment and lots of exercise. I quickly learned that “Yoga” on the mountain (that’s insider lingo)  refers to the 8 limbed system of Ashtanga yoga as taught by Baba Hari Das, and asana (what I meant when I thought yoga) was one of those limbs. Asana classes were offered daily, mainly in the mornings. I averaged about 4 classes a week. On many days, pranayama (breathing and meditation)  classes preceded these classes, and 2 of those classes were a mandatory part of our program.

Classes were held in the Redwood Room. You can almost see it in the back left side of the photograph.

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Yoga at Mount Madonna is mainly gentle and slow. The instruction was good, but I sure missed classes with Blanca in Mexico. Though I thought I was coming for the classes, there are many other aspects to Mount Madonna that interested me more and that are pulling me to return for a second session in June.

Service, the second component of the program, included working to keep the centre running. Most of my work shifts were in the kitchen, dish room and dining hall. There were valuable presentations and discussions on the meanings and opportunities in the spirit of service. Here is a photo of some community members, Kelly and Vasudev (he’s an acupuncturist!), in the dish room.

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Community, the C in YSC, took many forms. My immediate community consisted of the people who were taking YSC1 together.

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KC, Chella, Grace, Ann, Me above. Sarah, Tatiana, Tiffany, Stephanie (Svapna missing- below)

 

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We were each given a private room (some shared a bathroom, but somehow I lucked out and got the only room with a double bed and private bathroom) at Forest View.

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We had work shifts together, took classes together, and had some fun times.

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Svapna and I took some adventures to parks and beaches in the area.

IMG_0301 IMG_0336 IMG_0339The larger community (of approx. 50) includes people who have lived at Mount Madonna for up to 40 years. The centre was founded and built under the leadership of their Guru, Baba Hari Das. Babaji, as he is affectionately called, no longer comes to the centre, so I was not able to meet him (he is now in his 90’s) but his influence is felt around the place.

I watched some videos of the early years which were impressive. The community planned and built the entire centre under his direction.  One of the buildings, the CB for Community Building, is where the kitchen, dining room,meeting rooms offices and more bedrooms are located.

I got to know some of larger community at meals, at work shifts, and at classes and special events. I loved Tuesday and Thursday mornings because they were the days of the classes on the Gita and Yoga Sutras. I also enjoyed teaching a weekly tai chi class.

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Fortunately, in addition to the deer and wild turkeys,

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I had some very special visitors. Mijin came for the day with her beautiful family. They were so warm. When I first saw them, Mijin’s daughter, Mina,  ran towards me with her arms open wide saying “Nana” even though she had never met me.

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Len visited from San Diego and we spent a couple great days in Santa Cruz.

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Mount Madonna hosts many retreats (the largest one was Adyashanti with over 200 participants) and some excellent people came through the centre while I was there. I had the opportunity to audit a course by Dr. Vasant Lad (a very respected Aruyvedic Medicine Dr. and teacher).

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It was an honour.

After a short visit with Len in San Diego, I will be coming home to Toronto for a while. I am looking forward to seeing family and friends. My plan is to return to Mount Madonna in June for a three month program.

Please be in touch. If you are reading this, I would love to know how you are and what is happening in your world.  xoxoxo Dawn

Mexico Highlights 2015

Here are  photos that tell the story of some of my activities and friends over the last 8 months.  As I prepare to move to California for the winter, I have put together these photos as a tribute and thank you to the many that have loved and sustained me in Melaque this year.

My first “thank you’s” are  to Gail and Yoda for providing me with a lovely home which fortunately withstood the wrath of Hurricane Patricia remarkably well.

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I enjoyed many, many hours at home alone, and the occasional company of friends.

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Thanks to the tireless efforts of Pro-Animal, in addition to the puppies I wrote about in an earlier blog, it was an honour to love and fatten up rescue puppy, Lenteja, and find her a good home.

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Yoda checks out the skinny pup the day she arrives. A month later she is looking much better and is ready to move on.

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I enjoyed teaching English and Tai Chi classes throughout the summer and fall.

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It was a treat to watch “my kids” from the daycare perform the other night, including a Christmas song in English.

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Here are a hodgepodge of more pictures of friends and good times. P1040133

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An important part of my time here was studying yoga with fabulous Blanca at Bios Yoga.

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In September, I surprised my mom for her birthday as part of a wonderful visit to Toronto for the High Holy Days.

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To my great fortune, Neah visited me twice this year, and Joy joined her in a fabulous visit in early December.

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Thanks for making it through all these photos!

I wish you all a Happy and Healthy 2016!

The journey continues… xoxo Didi/Dawn

Puppy Love

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One of my main activities for the last 4 months has been fostering puppies in Mexico. I am housesitting a great place (with a dog). My current lifestyle does not support adopting a dog of my own, so fostering allows me to love and care for various dogs without making a long term commitment. And there are lots of fantastic puppies around.

 

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Silvio and Sissy found a cozy spot for a nap beside the fridge the day they arrived.

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But there are other commitments. While puppies are adorable, they are also high maintenance. And more intense than constantly cleaning up after them, is the commitment to myself to “love without attachment”.

So far, it has been easy to pass the puppies on to their forever homes. I trust that they are going to a good place and as I pass the pup into another’s arms, I feel glad for the time I had with the little pisser and move on. Gratitude over grasping.

And then came Kanet.

And then came Kanet.

This fostering feels like training for wider interpersonal applications.

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In service to the puppies’ needs, I am less self absorbed and less alone.

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Feisty Kanet was adopted out the day after my daughter left.  Enter Orion.

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Sweet Orion after a bath.

Sweet Orion after a bath.

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Kudos to fabulous Yoda (the house dog) for putting up with all these babies.

I am particularly fond of Orion, or at least it seems so since he is currently with me. I’m happy to say that a friend in Toronto is eager to adopt him, so we are set to travel next week.

These puppies have extended me loyalty and unconditional love. And they are so darn cute and funny. Appreciation to my canine teachers.

Love to you all,

Dawn

 

Marvellous Mexico

I am settling into a peaceful, heathy lifestyle in Melaque. Here are some pictures of my temporary home (thanks Gail!) and my immediate neighbourhood.

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Yoda, the house dog, is doing great and is a dedicated little companion.

P1030702I appreciate the colours and open concept of the house. And of course the pool!

There is a welding workshop across the street (yes, every fantastic situation has some compromise, no?). I almost don’t hear it anymore.

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It is convenient to have a small store just steps away(its on the first floor of the building with the thatched roof)- it surprising how many things are on sale there, including vegetables, eggs, toilet paper, etc.

This picture also shows the way to town. I usually ride my bicycle (unfortunately the bike I bought was stolen. Fortunately, a friend lent me his second bike- and I like it better than the one I bought.) It’s a block down this road, then a left to cross a bridge and reach a “main” street.

P1030693Now heading in the other direction are some pictures from this morning. The horse inspired me, though I have been meaning to catch up on this blog.

A big apology (to myself mainly) that I did not take photos during the month that I was in Toronto.

P1030698 P1030696 P1030694Gail’s house is beside a canal (which has been known to overflow in rainy season – and this coming summer is expected to be wet!) though it sure looks lovely now…

P1030704and lastly, a picture of my bedroom. I chose the smallest room for simplicity sake and because it’s the least costly to air-condition. I am comfortable there.

P1030708I spend most of my time where I am sitting right now. At a big round table off the kitchen and beside the pool. There is a big strong fan overhead, a palapa roof and a strong internet connection. I’m listening to welding and the songs of birds.

Visitors welcome.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dawn’s Last Leg in Thailand

I’m flying to Toronto tomorrow. I’m excited to see everyone there. It’s also hard to believe this adventure is coming to an end. I had a great time on Koh Phangan Island for a couple weeks. I went there for a silent meditation retreat but it was full so I went back to the north-west part of the island, Srithanu Bay area. P1030476

This part of the island is yoga central with a strong hippy and tantra vibe. I did a little yoga school shopping and found Samma Karuna, a yoga and awakening school that I completely enjoyed. P1030535P1030558

I intended to do lots of  yoga, but due to a fall (which with the exception of a very sad big left toe I am almost completely healed from) I ended up finding other activities, including an excellent Qi Gong class. For the first week I stayed in a funky cheap room near the school. The owner was nice (and invited me out to a fair one night which was a lot of fun) but the room and especially the bathroom were very dirty. Yes, disgustingly dirty. P1030524

I decided to splurge on resort on the beach where my friend Sue was staying for my last 3 nights on the island.

I had something to look forward to, and was happy with the choice. P1030492 P1030495 P1030497

Most evenings a French Canadian couple led a kirtan (singing/chanting) event on the beach.     P1030513

I made some new friends, notably another English woman named Sue, P1030517

and a Australian/German woman named Klaudia. P1030551

Just after taking this picture I commented to Klaudia that I liked her white top and she gave it to me! I left the island and travelled directly to Pop House just outside of Bangkok for a 3 day retreat to end my trip. It was a lovely place, but not what I had in mind. It turned out that Pop House is part of a huge, unorthodox Thai temple called Dhammakaya. We got a temple tour at the end of the retreat. One of the things we saw was a stadium constructed to seat a million people. Yikes! The participants were from all over and we had a good time. P1030600

My last adventure has been visiting temples in Ayuthuya- the ancient capital of Thailand, not far from Bangkok with a Sweedish woman on the retreat. We rented bikes yesterday and temple hopped.

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Today we head back to Bangkok. I’m hoping to get some shopping in at “JJ market” before boarding a plane for Shanghai this evening. A 29 hour journey should land me in Toronto Sunday afternoon!

Thanks for joining me on this ride through sharing in my photos and stories.

Lots of love, Dawn

Lovely Luang Prabang

Luang Prabang is nestled at the confluence of the Nam Khan and Mekong Rivers in Laos.

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It is no surprise that Luang Prabang is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.I quickly fell in love with this picturesque, peaceful and friendly city and have been here for close to two weeks.

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In addition to the natural beauty, the city is charming with obvious French influence from the years during which it was a French colonial protectorate.

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There is a fabulous French BakeryP1030378

and I actually found a restaurant that serves only wine and cheese!

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Jo, Clare and I went there after the “Ballet”.P1030401

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My favourite Lao breakfast has been noodle soup.

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First a plate of fresh greens (watercress, mint, cilantro, lettuce, green beans)  are delivered to the table. P1030208

Soon joined by a bowl of broth with noodles and a choice of meat.

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There are so many greens that I add half of them, then eat the soup for a while before adding the second half. Limes and chili and a variety of sauces I don’t know are on the table to help yourself. Yum(20,000Kip=$3.30Can)P1030217

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Complete with green stuff in my teeth, I am one early morning happy camper.

But I digress (though promise another posting just on food in the future).

Back to celebrating the City’s other aspects. Like the Temples,…

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Monks and many Novice Monks….

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Every morning at 6am the Monks walk in the streets receiving alms. People line up along the streets and pass out sticky rice and cookies.

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The monks keep some of the food and pass on some of it to the poor who station themselves

along the pathway with baskets or boxes.

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It’s a bit out of town, but I can’t leave out the Kuang Si Waterfalls. Susan and I signed up for a trekking tour and lucked into having our own guide. We walked for 3 hours passing through a village shared by both Hmong and Khmu tribes,  as well as forests and farmland. We visited a Cave, and arrived at the top of the falls. The hardest part was the climb down at the side of the falls. But we made it, and knees and all, it was worth it!

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There are a number of community projects here, the most impressive for me, is Big Brother Mouse, a Lao owned not-for-profit project focused on publishing books and promoting literacy.

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I volunteered a number of mornings/afternoons and had the opportunity to speak with Lao people, largely young monks, to help them with their English and to learn more about their culture.

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I visited Ock Pop Tok – both their store/gallery in town. This company promotes and sells textiles from all over the country. P1030205

At their Living Centre just outside of town bordering the Mekong River, there are educational tours and opportunities to see weaving in action, not to mention, a lovely cafe with spectacular views.

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But of course the most important part of my stay here has been the people. Special mention to my companions Susan, Jo and Clare. It was a gift to make such meaningful connections.

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I leave Luang Prabang tomorrow for Ventiane on my way back to Thailand.

xoxo Dawn

PS. Clare, Jo and I spent 4 days in a Khmu village – a spectacular experience chronicled in another blog I set up (https://friendsofphaonglomvillage.wordpress.com) If you haven’t seen this one yet, please check it out.

Amazing Mekong River Longboat Trip

The two day slow boat trip from Northern Thailand to Luang Prabang, Laos was a pleasant surprise.

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It was great to have Susan’s company. We were in the boat for appox 8 hours each day. The boat had a friendly, international vibe and there were washrooms and a small store on board.

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We stayed in a guesthouse after the first day of travel. The room was fine. The place had great spirit and spectacular views from their restaurant. Our waiter was happy to pose for a picture.

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Day 2 was likewise “smooth sailing”. A lovely adventure complete with children playing and waving on the river edge,  and buffalo and elephants. I recommend it!

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xoxo Dawn