August 27, 2008

What I Did on My Summer Vacation

The garden is a mass of weeds. I suspended voice lessons until fall. Cookouts came and went while I sat at the computer. What was I doing all summer? Writing a book. Really. And, it’s about to be published. A plethora of yoga books line my shelves and topple from stacks on my desk. I enjoy them all, some more than others. But each is peppered with bookmarks noting sections that speak to me. Some highlight interesting poses. Others are there for easy access to a phrase that touches on bringing daily practice from the mat into my day. None, however, fully address yoga and Parkinson’s. There’s mention here and there in some of the texts, and there are books that connect exercise to the disease. But when I couldn’t find one that dedicated itself to living your yoga while living with Parkinson’s, I decided to dedicate myself to writing […]
October 4, 2008

Friends and Footwear

It wasn’t the latest toy or a trip to Disneyworld that topped my wish list as a kid. No, I yearned for what friends and classmates had, what came so easily to them. I wanted to be normal. The gimpy leg aside, there were other oddities. While most kids wonder about their parent’s sanity levels, I knew Mom and Dad were wacky. My mother was a nun – really. My father liked to take things apart – walls and ceilings, mostly. The foil-backed insulation in my room shimmered in a number of spots void of sheetrock; the closet door never did make it back onto the hinges, and I lost endless change, two necklaces and a contact lens in the gap between the wall and floor where a baseboard used to be. Needless to say, when friends came over, we played in the living room, which had all four walls […]
October 7, 2008

My Word

I’m intrigued by how much emphasis has been placed on word choice throughout the presidential campaigns. Each candidate’s selection appears to reflect his or her persona. Obama’s seemingly effortless way with words has marked him as great orator; Biden’s occasional gaffes when speaking from the heart of experience make him human; McCain’s Straight Talk slogan indicates a direct approach; Palin’s colloquialisms use a linguistic style to reach out to crowds. Late-night talk shows, newspaper op-ed pieces, and numerous Internet sites all comment on the verbiage the candidates are using when they discuss the issues facing the nation. Living with a chronic disease, health care tops my list of concerns. When I studied the issue on each candidate’s official web site – and – I was again intrigued by word choice. Each stated the overriding challenges of the health care system – affordability, access, a focus on prevention. The […]
November 18, 2008

Movers and Shakers

It seems odd to say I had the pleasure of attending my first PD conference since there isn’t much about PD that’s pleasing. Sure, the peppermints and chocolate kisses at the exhibitor’s booths were a treat, but that hardly made up for the lemons life has doled out.
December 28, 2008

Smell’s Good

Despite the ridiculous number of holiday cookies I’ve devoured (frosted cutouts and snowballs with chocolate kisses hidden inside among the best), I’ve escaped the “Weber Hips.” This unfortunate posterior flab plagues most of the other women on my mother’s side of the family. I can, however, lay claim to inheriting the “Weber Nose.” Distinct not only in size, it can detect the lilacs in a neighbor’s yard two doors down. With the windows closed. This sometimes-blessing has a flip side in that it also can identify a full diaper from as far away. But I’m losing it. This baking season, the aromas have lost their strength. I barely noticed the hint of cinnamon wafting from the oven or the fresh pine of the greens on the mantel. I’ve even started to hand the milk jug to my husband and ask, “Does this smell okay?” A Weber would never have to […]
February 11, 2009

Turn Down the Radio

If I’m to listen to my body, as any seasoned yogi would, which part do I heed? Various shrieks from my hamstring tendon shout, “Injury here, don’t move.” At the same time, the rest of my anatomy hollers out over the pain. “Be strong,” it says. “With PD, if you stop moving, you might stop moving.” I feel as though I’m stuck between two radio frequencies, drifting between them depending on where I’m standing in the room. As the spasms in the back of that leg ease up a bit, I’m tuned in to a classical station, and can head for the gym without too much clamor. When the heavy metal band takes over, I’m back to the freezer for another ice pack, overwhelmed by the throbbing beat. You overdid it, I’d say, all but wagging a finger at myself for my mishap. Until the next time the soft violins […]
February 16, 2009

Unexpected Friends

When my publisher let me know that companies in France and Italy are interested in translations of Yoga for Movement Disorders, I had mixed reactions. I smiled and thought, Magnifique! Bellisimo! At the same time, I grimaced knowing that differences in culture and language prove no barrier for Parkinson’s. It need not pass through customs despite what it brings into the country. If there is any positive that spans the continent, any gift associated with this disease that takes so much, is in the proverbial glass. Whether it contains champagne or Chianti, it is certainly not half full. But, neither is it empty. In it are the warm personalities of people whom I’ve met due to our commonality. This haiku is for you. Pebbles, sea glass, shells, Tumbling, twirling together Riding the same wave
April 8, 2009

Quick Bites – Renee’s PDQ snacks

During spin class the other day, the instructor grinned as she relayed that regular aerobic exercise can increase our metabolisms by thirty percent. Spin two or three times a week, she said, and we’ll burn more calories even while we’re asleep. NO! I already wake up to a growling stomach at 3:00 am, I thought. The music pulsed and I kept rhythm with my feet, circling at a quick pace. My mind, however, was caught up in the whether I’d be able to keep up that ridiculous cadence without passing out from hunger. Some nights, I go to bed with a little twinge telling me that dinner was too long ago. Besides, once I’ve brushed my teeth; that’s it. I’m not going deal with flossing a second time in one night. As the beat slowed – the signal for an uphill – I stood in the pedals. The teacher was […]
April 24, 2009

Quick Bites – a postscript

Two additional non-protein food groups need mention: 1)    Chocolate: I didn’t list it among the PDQ snacks. Silly me. It’s a given – the darker, the better. 2)    Rice milk: All the calcium and none of the protein make this a real find for my refrigerator. I’ve yet to drink a glassful, so I can’t attest to it as a chaser after a few Oreos. But, it’s just right over a bowl of cereal. It’s nice to be able to increase the breakfast menu beyond toast and fruit.
May 1, 2009


The entrance to the yoga studio is around the back. A gate leads from a narrow, dimly lit tarred walkway to a bright sculpted garden by the door. Spiky iris, feathery poppy, and the red stalks that will be peonies sprout through the soil, lovingly tended. It’s hard not to smile on my way in to class. I pass the plot of healthy spring plants on my way back down that path. Something in the shadows catches my eye. Springing forth not from loam but from pavement, surrounded by gray, is a lone flower. It’s determination makes me smile all the way into my heart, where a haiku forms. A blue hyacinth Pokes through an asphalt alley Reaching toward the light On my next visit to the studio, I won’t hurry toward the lush, sunny garden in back any more. I ease past what is a reminder that when I […]