Summer Solstice Healing Retreat 2022 – SSHR

SSHR 2022

Sauna at Breitenbush

The incredible wet sauna which is a world treasure.

I’m just back from this year’s Summer Solstice Healing Retreat (SSHR) at Breitenbush Hot Springs in Oregon. This was my 27th year. I started going in 1995 (thank you, Shelley Glendenning) after I had recently relocated to Seattle, WA. I wanted to talk about this year’s event and also what makes retreats so valuable.

First off, one of the main things that are valuable about a healing retreat is sharing with one another things we know about healing. This post was inspired by a short talk I had with a friend about getting a good night’s sleep. I recommended to him my trick of using construction headphones whenever needed. I go into more detail about the headphones and offer my personal life tips in an 11-part series I created a couple of years ago. And that’s how the whole weekend went. I’d bring up some ailment or issue and someone would likely be the right person to answer a question, provide a book reference or know someone at the workshop to talk to.

home in the meadow

Home in the meadow

SSHR is structured so there is plenty of time to soak in the hot tubs, hot spring pools, and wet sauna. That is a great combination with the delicious vegetarian fare and the sound of the rushing Breitenbush river flowing by. Then there are the workshops put on by participants for one another. This year I participated in a few workshops and offered one of my own. Mine was an introduction to co-counseling which I’ve been doing for over 30 years. I gave a short explanation of what co-counseling is and how it got started, we practiced co-counseling a little bit and then I answered participants’ questions. Here are a couple of the workshops I participated in and I’ll fill in the references further as I figure out contact information for the different teachers.

  1. Leah Tarleton – The Nourished Sensitive led a lovely workshop on nutrition in the River Yurt – there were some great book recommendations and the woman teaching is an RD and had a great mixture of life experience and ideas for weight loss (an issue for me) and how to make eating more fun and interesting. She finished the workshop with a taste experience featuring Honey Mama’s chocolate – having us talk about the differences between different tastes and textures
  2. Evelin Dacker did a great talk called “Let’s Talk about Sex” which was an introduction to her STARS talk. I’ll let that link serve as an explanation of what the workshop was about. If you’ve never heard about the talk it’s a great guide for conversations to have with new partners.
  3. I chanted kirtan with Natavar Knudson in the North Wing of the lodge. We tried to keep things safe all weekend by having masks on when indoors. I played the drum and Natavar ably led us on various chants using his harmonium. He has been doing this for years and his talent is really high level and rich.
  4. Odyssey offered an interesting workshop on erotic hypnosis. Often I find hypnosis workshops kind of hypnotizing 🙂 And I often find myself in a state between sleeping and awake and this one was no different. I think I get the idea, though, and it is a mighty interesting one.

Personally, I took the weekend to take a break from coffee and a downshift from sugar. Actually, I didn’t have any meat except a little bit of beef jerky that someone offered me. It was also a lovely chance for a tech fast – there is no wi-fi available to guests at Breitenbush – so no phone or laptop for 4 days – yeah. This year I could actually feel the distance from the internet hour by hour as my fingers played the guitar or I soaked – and all the work I do in the world had to take a break!

Part of the weekend is also Karma Yoga we all do. Here is a crew headed to remove scotch broom – an invasive that grows well in disturbed areas of forest.

Very important to these gatherings is also the reunion aspect. There’s a chance to reconnect with people you have known for years and also to meet new people. I’ve been feeling for a while that I don’t have enough baby energy in my life – and boy were my prayers answered on that score. There was a 2-year-old girl who I spent the weekend playing peekaboo with and having all sorts of interactions with. There’s nothing like a 2-year-old to bring your attention to the present moment. And she was full of so much joy – bringing a smile to my head and heart all weekend long.

Then there’s all the catching up with one another. Giving each other health updates and sharing stories of those who we know in common and what’s up in their lives. It can have the feeling of a big family reunion. This year there were only 160 people in attendance, but many years there are 4-500 people – so there were many people missing from our celebration and lots of connections and information to share. Being an extrovert I know a lot of people and that means a lot of stories and updates 🙂 And we also talk about those who are no longer with us like Amira and Ben Bochner. We sang Altar of Love a couple of times – a song that Ben introduced to many of us. Amira used to love this song – Light you Up!

Over the years there have been varying amounts of musicians participating. We had a pretty small group this year and so the number of musicians was also smaller than usual. Luckily, I had the company of Kieran McManus to keep me company. Kieran’s a great person to jam with – not only does he know some wonderful songs, but he’s also an incredible lead player. I think we both upped our game during the pandemic – so, it’s a joy to play together whenever we get the chance as he’s also relocated to Bend, Oregon which is a ways from Portland. We both had many opportunities to play for everyone which added to the healing for everyone. Singing together is one of my favorite things to do – so I suppose it was healing for me and others at the same time.

A lot of people are probably wondering how Breitenbush is doing. Speaking of healing. The place has been under the duress of closing during Covid and then a wildfire rushed through and took out over 70 structures. There are huge patches of forest that are gone and all of the guest cabins and some very precious places are no longer there – like the Sanctuary. The Sanctuary was a lovely building that many of us have come to love over the years. Many workshops were held there, yoga, chanting, and just people doing their own personal retreats. Personally, I sang inside the Sanctuary dozens of times. I never thought this building would ever be gone.

The Breitenbush Sanctuary

The Breitenbush Sanctuary

If you’re curious to see what the result of the forest fires and tree removal look like now – John Holley’s blog is a treasure trove. It also goes back through the years better than any collection of photos around.

There were lots of elements to this year’s SSHR that I could go into – this could be a much longer post. There’s a lovely group ritual to welcome the solstice and a no-talent talent show. During this year’s show and also at the campfire along the flood plain I made up some one-of-a-kind songs that I’ve been doing for years. The first song highlighted the carrots and beets which are usually on the menu at every meal (including salad), but which had been missing for our first couple of meals. What was funny is that the meal which followed my song suddenly there appeared beets and carrots and people came up to me sharing that they loved the song and thanking me for bringing the beets and carrots 🙂  The second song I made up had some fun elements that came to me at the moment – I talked about the VIP treatment we were all receiving (having our cars parked and a bottle of champagne for each tent – all of which was not true, but was funny at the moment). Actually, I spent the weekend in a cold and damp tent – and part of the song focused on how – next year I’m going to upgrade to fancier digs. This also is probably not true, but we’ll see – there are now some nicer tents that are canvas and already set up and have a bed inside them. That’s part of the change at Breitenbush – new housing is in the works and already well underway!  Ah, the chance to sing together around a fire in the woods – priceless. We even saw stars for one brief moment.

The giveaway circle at the end of the weekend is also a fun element that is repeated each year. Everyone puts something into the circle and we take turns finding a new treasure. After that, we hold hands in a circle, sing songs, and then say our farewells until we meet again.

I am so grateful for this year’s celebration. It’s usually the start of my Summer and is such a great way to be reminded of the beauty of the world. Good food, dance, soaking, singing, and being together. What more does one need?  My heartfelt thanks go out to everyone at Breitenbush who worked hard to put this event on and also our Breitenbush Counsel which has been collaborating to make SSHR the best ever for many years! I wish you some time at Breitenbush or a similar place with good friends to celebrate our time on this planet together.

Love, Albert

Albert and Kieran McManus Closing Circle 2022 – photo by Kaya Singer

Moving about the Gameboard – Charlotte, NC?

Charlotte, NC

Well, Hello Charlotte

Recently, I was traveling back from visiting my family on the East Coast. Philadelphia, the City of Brotherly Love, to be exact. That’s where I was born and I grew up not far away in New Jersey. I was on my way back to Portland, Oregon, my home for the past 20 years (7 years in Seattle before that). I love it in Portland and hardly ever think of leaving, but of course, traveling by air puts strange thoughts in one’s mind. On my trip back to Portland, I had a short layover in Charlotte, North Carolina and it kind of moved me.

The flight into Charlotte took us over some very flat terrain and I could see the city clearly from above. It looks like a much smaller place than Portland, Oregon – at least from the air. It turns out that Charlotte and the metropolitan area are maybe even bigger than Portland, Oregon. It looked warm and green and full of lots of suburbias. Kind of like the part of New Jersey that I grew up in – Lawrence, New Jersey. 

The airport was also nice. I ended up sitting down at a restaurant and having a meal. Whereas everyone on the plane and in the airport was wearing masks because we’re in the middle of a pandemic, in the restaurant you were allowed to remove your mask which was a relief and a great break up to the day.

When I think about leaving Portland, I often start with what I love about this place. I was just thinking yesterday about Depave which is an organization that helps people organize work parties where we rent a dumpster and pull up all the asphalt and it’s hauled away. I’ve been doing this type of thing even before I moved to Portland. In Seattle, we rented a large truck to do this, but the dumpster route is much preferred. When I rented a truck – we ended up driving to the transfer station – something that’s fun once, but not something you really want to repeat! I’ll never forget how sore I was pushing the asphalt off the truck and into the pit of the transfer station! 

Anyway, does Charlotte, NC have a Depave group? Do they have a Friends of Trees which works to plant trees in the area? I wonder how I’d do moving to a completely new town.  Whether I still have the energy to start new efforts from scratch or whether I’d just settle in and ignore all that needs to be done. These are big questions that I pose to myself as I consider ever leaving Portland, Oregon.

The big reason I moved to the Pacific Northwest in the first place was for better weather. I grew up in New Jersey which had real winters. Snowy. Cold. After living in Germany from 1991-1994 I realized that I really was through with Winter. That’s why Seattle came next. And I’ve never thought seriously about relocated back to the Northeast even though winters there are becoming warmer due to climate change. Charlotte, North Carolina does look like it’s got a little bit of a humid, tropical feel.  I guess my next step will be to gather with my cousins, brother and sister there one of these days and spend a weekend seeing what it’s really like. If you have any thoughts about Charlotte, NC, I’d love to hear about them in the comments. Or, where are you eyeing as the next place to live if you are considering relocating?

Thanks for your thoughts. 

Albert 

PS – that’s me at Breitenbush this summer for the summer solstice gathering 2021

Albert at Breitenbush Summer Solstice 2021

Me by Zen

Zen Magic!

Zen Achilles turns his friends into magic. Here’s the latest version he did for my 60th birthday in 2021.

And here are some more from the past – enjoy!

Georgia

Georgia on My Mind

The upcoming election in Georgia will set the tone and pace of how our lives go for the next two years. If we win the 2 senate seats – Jon Ossoff and Reverend Raphael Warnock – we’ll have a little better chance to get serious about the climate crisis. So many things will be possible that will be blocked by Mitch McConnell and his cronies if Georgia votes Republican in these races. Let’s all help get out the vote in Georgia for the next few days.

The day after I was aware that there were to be two senate runoff seats in Georgia I decided to do some things to win these seats for Democrats. Here’s why and some guidance about what you can still do to help.

I’m a musician, so whenever I’m asked to contribute my mind goes to music. Georgia on my Mind has been an ongoing theme for many during this upcoming election. I’m also a marketing guide – so my main mode is email newsletters. So, I combined the two.

Here are the four newsletters I’ve sent to my list and tried to send further as well via social media.

  1. If you didn’t know, now you know
  2. See possibilities, dear Georgia – John and Eecole write a song
  3. Featuring an awesome Broadway for Georgia
  4. You’re getting very Peachy

​This is Important

For the children

For your neighbors

For you

​Get busy!

For lots more information on these two races and how you and your friends can get involved, click here.

Please copy the url of this post and share it on social media: https://albertideation.com/georgia-now

Credit: HTML help from Dan Kaufman at DKG Promotions

Editing: Hannah Kaufman

Facebook Friend Culling

After watching The Social Dilemma I became overwhelmed with a desire to both spend less time on FB and also to lessen the # of friends I have on there. I explained this in my 10.11.2020 The Eleven newsletter thusly:

“Years ago I followed the advice of a fellow marketer regarding social media and accepted the friendships of thousands of people I didn’t know. The idea was that everyone would become an audience for my marketing business (part of which was teaching classes on how to use social media). Over the years my work has shifted away from social media, and after watching the new documentary The Social Dilemma, it occured to me that it is a great time to reconsider the # of “friends” I have = 4,470.
I recommend doing this next step
A couple days ago in FB I clicked on “friends”. From that viewpoint one can see all of the people one is connected to. Then, I started culling. I’m at 2,330. It’s interesting. Beyond saying goodbye to a lot of people I barely know (if at all), I’m also coming across people who I haven’t thought of in a while and am reaching out to say hi and reconnecting. I’ve always found FB useful as a networking/staying in touch tool.
I thought I’d share this since I’m finding the process interesting. If I’ve culled you and you want back in just send me a friend request :)”
—-

10.22.2020: 741 FB friends.  Some observations and upsides

  1. My FB newsfeed is entirely different now. It’s filled with postings from people I know. It’s also moving a lot more slowly. I still use FB Purity which allows one to customize your FB experience – for instance, I see things in the order they’re posted. Install this app and you will be a happier FB user = no advertising.
  2. Having so many FB friends played into some of my weaknesses. I kept a lot of people on there thinking – ah, potential date when that was really not the case 🙂  Or, staying friends with certain celebrities – what actual good was that doing me?  I detached from a number of people who have close to 5K friends (actually, Michael Lerner who had 5,000 🙂  It’s not that I don’t love these people anymore, I just won’t see them in my newsfeed 🙂  This is true for both the people who I never met and those who I did years and years ago – old HS connections who I have no reason to stay in touch with; people who I burned with or shared a night with on the playa in 2003… All great memories, and I still get to keep those and I know that I can always find people if I want to 🙂
  3. There is definitely an addictive quality to FB like they talk about in the Social Dilemma, and as I unfriended people I could feel the pressure to not do this. FB actually makes it difficult to unfriend people. There’s a way they make the actual move to unfriend someone when you’re looking at your friends from the “friends” page difficult. The pull-down menu jiggles and is hard to actually click on!  They are so clever.  They also stopped me two times when I hit the “700 unfriendings in one day” limit. I got a message that my account had been blocked and I’d have to run through a series of steps to reconnect. It was super earrie, but I suppose not a bad thing, either.
  4. I also partly went through this effort to get to the other side and see what life is like for most people. I often hear from someone – you probably saw my recent important update on FB.  I never did. Never. So, perhaps now I’ll be a little more in touch with the people I’m closer with. We’ll see 🙂  I partly want to really keep moving away from FB and towards more IRL experiences – even with Covid keeping us apart.
  5. FB is very useful for introducing people to one another. With a smaller group of friends I’ll probably be able to see people I’m closer to stand out more and be able to help them more. I just noticed when I posted this blog post to FB the people who popped up to respond were a closer set of friends than usual – and I was able to see the power of the people I’ve kept around.
  6. Oooh, this means that I’ll see a lot less people who’s birthday is today 🙂  I love wishing people happy birthday and have an email that goes to those on my list on their birthday which people love. Now, way few people to wade through. Love this.
  7. Yeah, I think having my group of friends on FB be ones I’m closer with is going to be a good thing. Whew, a little relief there that this wasn’t a huge mistake 🙂
  8. 10.23.2020: I’m noticing a few things I hadn’t noticed before. Way less notifications. Way less friends on-line to chat to. That part has gone from 3-500 people to 77 right  now 11:30am.
  9. 10.27.2020 – I still post to FB, but I notice that the responses are from people I’m closer to – has changed the quality of response.  Also, I notice my newsfeed has so much less on it, it’s a lot more attractive to check 🙂
  10. 1.30.2021 – I’m segmenting my lists – I’ve written about making FB Friends’ lists in the past – it’s still a useful thing. Having a smaller list to look through brings me face to face with a lot richer collection (to me) of faces.  Reminding me who to reach out to and causing more connection through that. 

I’m sure I’ll add more insights to this article as I have them. I feel like I’ve just landed in a new place and I’m excited to see how it’s different. So far it feels calmer.

Downsides to doing this:

  1. A thought I’ve had over the years is that when I’m older (70+) I’ll probably want to spend more time reconnecting with people who titillated me once upon a time. I just said goodbye to lots of people, so I won’t have the easily-accessible group that I had 2 weeks ago to choose from.
  2. My FB live concerts will not reach as many people and have the chance to spread. I’ve noticed as I’ve played some recent FB live shows that I haven’t had the bigger audience I’ve become accustomed to. Oh well 🙂
  3. My business offerings might not have as wide a reach via the newsfeed as they once did. Oh well 🙂  Luckily, I’ve been building my email list like gangbusters over the years 🙂

Thanks for listening. I’d love to know your thoughts. Please leave them in the comments area below.

Happy Facebooking. Happy living. Albert

PS – Next up, same thing for LinkedIn 🙂 – 1.30.2021 – I’ve decided not to do this on LinkedIn, especially now that they’ve put together Lunchclub.

PPS – 10.23.2020 – Ooooh, under settings look what I found! More places to limit the FB monster’s reach into my life 🙂 

12.16.2020 – I was on a video discussion related to this topic with Gary Ware and Apryl Schlueter.

My Nextdoor.com posts about Leaf Blowers – Feel free to borrow and re-post

Nextdoor.com posts about leaf blowers by Albert Kaufman, Portland, Oregon

Please re-post these as is, credit or not. Thank you – let’s end the noise and air pollution of leaf blowers together.

  1. Pets and Leaf Blowers don’t mix: Note from a veterinarian

    In support of local efforts to ban gas leaf blowers and improve the quality of life in Sonoma and drastically reduce unnecessary harmful particulate matter in the air we breathe, I wanted to contribute a few statements and my opinion from the vantage point of a working small animal Veterinarian in Sonoma.It is very well known that particulate matter such as dust, dirt, and debris from the environment can pose a tremendous health challenge for dog, cats, and virtually all other mammals. While the normal changes in seasons, weather, rainfall, and pollen counts can all affect animals, extra particulate matter such as the debris aerosolized by leaf blowers pose a sharply increased risk for a variety of health problems for our domestic species. Among those most notably seen by me directly are:

    1. Significant flare up of cough, wheezing, and “respiratory” issues that encompass both infectious and inflammatory types of diseases.

    2. Eye problems of unknown origin–either in one or both eyes: owners report a clear discharge from the eyes or a “pink eye” situation with no previous known injury.

    3. Nasal discomfort: rubbing and snorting, as if to remove a “foreign body” that is not there, but rather a minute irritant that was substantial enough to bother the mucous membranes and irritate the pet’s nasal passages.

    4. Skin issues, including itching and scratching. These clinical signs are usually blamed completely on atopy or “allergy.” There is well documented, long standing scientific evidence that the irritation in the skin is secondary to allergens that the pet has inhaled.

    In addition, because pets are so sound sensitive, the use of leaf blowers can startle animals and cause outdoor pets to dart away from yards and potentially scare them into more dangerous situations such as traffic or other precarious situations.

    The blasting “on and off” sounds made with leaf blowers has a definite impact on small animals “fight or flight” response, causing an immediate release of cortisol into the bloodstream. Especially with cats, this taxes the body and leads to a surge in blood glucose almost instantly. In my opinion, this is a good example of the loud noise made by leaf blowers having a negative impact on animals all around our town—it is not an obvious impact, but once you realize what is going on inside their bodies on a cellular level, you realize that maybe the impact is farther reaching than we previously realized.

    The information and examples I have stated above are only a small sample of the deleterious effects that leaf blowers have on the small animals of Sonoma. I hope that my words will help get some conversations started that emphasize the importance of considering the quality of life for our pets in Sonoma as people make an effort to decide the fate of leaf blowers in our community.

    I would be happy to answer any other questions regarding this topic as my time and schedule permit.

    Sincerely,

    Vallard Forsythe, DVM ~ Broadway Veterinary Hospital

    735 Broadway Sonoma, CA 95476

    (707) 938-4546

  2. More and more brave towns are putting a stop to the tyranny of leaf blowers – Thanks for considering!

    Lately I’ve noticed less and less gas-powered leaf blowers being used in our community. Thank you to anyone who has personally made the change or had their landscaping service adjust either to electric blowers or to rakes and brooms. Thank you thank you thank you – the Earth thanks you – your neighbors thank you – the insects thank you. Thank you! https://qz.com/1729584/more-brave-towns-are-putting-a-stop-to-the-tyranny-of-leaf-blowers/ PS – the quietcleanpdx.org group is working on something with the City. I hope to have news about this very soon.

  3. The Devil’s Workshop by Kim Stafford, Oregon Poet Laureate, 2018-2020

    The Devil’s Workshop by Kim Stafford, Oregon Poet Laureate, 2018-2020 To torture your neighbors, some devil said, I give you my multi-tool that hits so many irritants at once: it deafens workers so their ears ring, it kicks up killing dust to sicken children, it spews more poisons to taint the sky in a mere half hour than a truck driving from the Texas plains to Alaska, and all to hustle leaves from yard to bin. Have you seen one such contraption chase a single leaf to pirouette in the blue plume that’s killing us? Have you gritted your teeth and hated the neighbor you recently enjoyed? Have you missed your meditative hour with rake and rain, as you walked your way from summer into fall? My friend, the bar is low. We can do better. —– Learn more about this issue @ https://quietcleanpdx.org

  4. If you’re still not convinced about the danger of leaf-blowers, please watch this video

    https://youtu.be/sRsYRen6nVE  Join our effort to ban these in Portland @ https://quietcleanpdx.org

  5. The Case Against Leaf Blowers by Singer