Be the Change

Next Step Adventure is offering a series of dinner discussions called “Be the Change” on Thursday evenings beginning January 2, 2014 with “Be the Change in Your Body.” All of the events will be held at Christopher’s Restaurant in Beaverdale. Register here for one event at $30, which includes a healthy dinner of fresh, seasonal ingredients. Or register and prepay for all five events for just $125 ($25 discount).

Many a conversation ends with a statement something like, “Well now that we’ve solved all the world’s problems…” Then we go on to the next discussion. I often feel more overwhelmed by the issues of the day at the end of the day than I did at the start. But Rachel Naomi Remen says something like, “What if you’re exactly what the world needs right at this moment?”

I love that, and I work to keep it in mind as I go through the happy and sad events in life. A dear family member was killed in a car accident a week ago, and it feels pretty hard to believe that all is right with the world. I know death is part of life. As Thich Nhat Han says, “We need to see the garbage as beautiful because the garbage is in process of turning into the flower.” So, I’m looking for peace and understanding.

Would you like to get some clarity and support for being the change you wish to see in the world? Then join us for a series of dinner discussions at Christopher’s Restaurant. Here are the topics for the five sessions:

  • January 2–We experience the world through our bodies, our senses and movement for our whole lives. We’ll discuss how to get back into our bodies and engage in life.
  • January 23–Join us for a lively discussion of lobbying, letter and op ed writing to be heard in the political arena.
  • February 6–Where is the courage to create change in times of big problems? It’s hard to be hopeful, but we’ll chunk down problems, explore how vulnerability enhances connection, and cultivate optimism.
  • February 27–Focus on being present in life through meditation, putzing, art and yoga. Whether through formal or everyday practice, mindfulness improves mental health.
  • April 3–How to improve our relationship with mother earth? We’ll explore things to do outdoors, eating a more sustainable diet, conserving fuel and decreasing stuff.


  • Martha McCormick–artist, yogi, transition coach, facilitator, teacher, entrepreneur
  • Kyla Cox–urban farmer, activist, community organizer, Zen student, counselor
  • Sonni Giudicessi–manager, yogi, political organizer, athlete

Attend one or all discussions at Christopher’s Restaurant, 2816 Beaver Avenue, Des Moines (Wheelchair Accessible). Register here for one event at $30, and includes a healthy dinner of fresh, seasonal ingredients. Register and prepay for all five for just $125 ($25 discount). Please send a check or money order to Next Step, 3615 Adams Avenue, Des Moines, IA 50310 by November 18th, or pay by credit card the night(s) of the event(s).

Questions? Ask Kyla at or 515-689-7255


Love Your Life

I was smiling as this TED Talk ended. Then I struggled with getting Word to open (it’s the FOURTH time that’s really the charm) and listened to some of Amanda Palmer’s music (it’s NOT for everyone). Now I’m more thoughtful than smiling.

Palmer makes some wonderful points in this talk, and I decided it would be a good kick-off to my month of writing about women who make history. March? Women’s History Month? Yah!

I celebrated it for the first time back in the 1990s with a contest, custom printed tee shirts and a gala celebration. Anyhow.

Amanda Palmer talks about connecting. It’s about music, acting, asking for her. For me it’s about listening, with not just my ears but also my eyes and my heart.

Ms. Palmer talks about using Twitter to communicate instantly, to find what she needs. For me, technology is about getting and spreading ideas. For connecting people with those ideas.

At the center of Ms. Palmer’s talk is her split from her record company when they considered 25,000 records sold a failure. That seems to be about right sizing. When I was a girl I wanted to be a famous spy. Little did I know that spies by their nature are among the least famous of people. For the most part, their work is very boring.

Instead I’ve played games and gotten paid for it. I’ve built programs and organizations and even facilities and watched people learn and grow. I love my life!


Mind the Gap

“Mind the gap” was the theme of the John Friend yoga workshop I attended a couple weeks ago. The message is that what happens between, is what’s important. Between inhaling and exhaling. Between the busy-ness and the being-ness. Between the effort and the letting go. The subways in London warn you to “Mind the Gap.” In NYC, you are to “Watch the Gap.” Not nearly as poetic, nor as relevant.

Watching implies seeing, but if you mind something, you do more than just see it. You pay attention. You listen. You ponder what it means. You take responsibility. You mind the children. You mind your parents. The dictionary says you “regard as important and worthy of attention.” That’s exactly what Friend had in mind at “Dancing with the Divine.”

I’ve been practicing yoga at Shakti Yoga Shop for nearly two years. It is an Anusara shop, and John Friend is the founder of this particular branch of yoga. His visit to Iowa was a chance to learn from the guru. I went with a certain cynicism. My expectations were low, but he was amazing, and far exceeded those expectations.

Friend has a quirky sense of humor, and a depth of knowledge about a broad range of astrophysics to zoology. One of the funniest bits was when he gave us a physical demonstration of how humans are the only critters with shoulder muscles. The message was clear. We’ve got them so we need to develop them. He talked quite a bit about what we do with our bodies has a nearly immediate effect on evolution. Our genes remember our behavior.

On that Saturday afternoon, Friend talked about the increasing weight of the self-help book section addressing mindfulness. It’s a good thing, but these books usually focus on minding what you are doing or what’s happening. If you’re minding the gap, you’re paying attention to what’s not happening. On the resting. On the being, not just the doing.

Friday morning when I called my mentor, I was in a dither. The condition of the house was interfering with my serenity in a big way. She told me “go outside. Not to do something, not to make a list of what you need to do, just to be.”

I sat down in my hammock, with my phone still to my ear, and immediately felt the weight lift. Pat said she felt tears come to her eyes, hearing the relief in my voice. I minded the gap. First I had to create it. Then I paid attention to it. I lay down and looked up at the bright blue gap between the Locust and Pin Oak trees above me. And I minded it.

Afterwards I was able to return to the busy-ness of the day, to put things away, organize the house. And I was able to find some more gaps and mind them too.