Posts Tagged ‘Cindy Heath’

Bob Bloom Leads MSI’s Drumming Jamaica


Mountain Spirit Institute teams up with Master Teaching Artist Bob Bloom
By Cindy Heath

Bob Bloom, of Storrs, CT will lead our Drumming Jamaica workshop February 7-11, 2011 at the Calabash House in Treasure Beach, Jamaica.

I first met Bob Bloom in the late 90’s, when I was searching for musicians to fill the program for a children’s entertainment series in Lebanon, NH.  Bob was on stage at a performing artists showcase, and I was immediately drawn to his energy and of course, his skillful drumming. I hired Bob on the spot, and he returned to our stage every summer thereafter, bringing drums for all to play.

Bob Bloom Leads Drumming Jamaica

Bob has been a busy guy, building a highly popular and successful interactive drumming and education program.  Here’s a snapshot of his accomplishments:

*Bob’s certification as a ‘Master Teaching Artist’ was awarded by the Connecticut Commission on the Arts in 1997.

*For over a decade, Bob served as a faculty assistant to Dr. Babatunde Olatunji for his “Language of the Drums” courses, and he performed as a member of Drums of Passion, Dr. Olatunji’s internationally acclaimed drumming and dance company.

*Bob served from 2007 to 2010 as chair of the Interactive Drumming Committee of The Percussive Arts Society, the largest percussion organization in the world.

I bought my first conga drum right around the time I met Bob, and started taking lessons at Dartmouth College – what a thrill!  There’s nothing like playing the rhythms with a group – I learned to play conga, bongo, clave and eventually steel drums – all without knowing how to read music. Turns out we feel rhythms at a cellular level, and drumming has all kinds of health benefits, including a positive effect on our immune system.

A highlight of my relationship with Bob was when he gave me one of his drums – a beautiful djembe. This is the one I’ll bring to Treasure Beach,

Calabash House, Treasure Beach, Jamaica

Jamaica for the Drumming Jamaica workshop Bob is teaching – perhaps I’ll learn some new rhythms, and come back from Jamaica a bit healthier and wiser.

As African music educator Olatunji said, “Rhythm is the soul of life. The whole universe revolves in rhythm. Everything and every human action revolves in rhythm.”

If you would like to join MSI in Jamaica, please check out the MSI website or call 603-763-2668

MSI Successful Board Retreat


Burning the midnight oil

At MSI’s recent residential retreat, the energy was contagious. The board members worked on actively bringing Mountain Spirit to a new level of commitment and confidence. MSI was started in 1998, when R. Richards,  after having just returned from high alpine guiding in Peru, led a trip under the MSI name to the Cusco region of Peru.  Since then the non-profit organization has had numerous and successful programs and workshops ranging from a Peruvian Shamanic Studies program which ran over the course of two years, a wilderness experience educational program, author lectures, and a film series, ongoing programs to Peru, the teen healing adventure and the Peru/USA Music Exchange held in the Northeastern US in the fall of 1998.

“Becoming more sustainable as an organization, and building capacity to deliver programs ” has been the board’s goal for the last two years.  At each board retreat we’ve identified how we can move forward, and at our last retreat, we dug in and wrote our first grant together. Laptops were all over the room, crunching numbers from every program we have on the calendar.

We had a ball, put in some long hours and have some great results. Importantly, we have set a time to develop our annual program schedule where we’ll slate new programs for the coming year during our Board of Directors summer retreat. Also, as  a result of the great work every did putting together some great programs and an top-notch organization-wide budget, we applied for our first grant to the New Hampshire Charitable Foundation’s Express Grant. We put in some serious hours, and suffered from a bit of what fellow board member Craig Cimmons calls “HBO”.  The acronym stands for “Haven’t Been Outdoors”.

Thanks to Cindy Heath, Craig Cimmons, Bob Stremba, and Amanda Richards for all the work and energy that they put into the board retreat! Adelante!

Image: MSI Board Members LtoR: The beagle Daphne (not a board member), Randy Richards, Amanda Richards, Bob Stremba, dinner guest and author *Henry  Homeyer, Cindy Heath and Craig Cimmons. (*Who you’ll be seeing more about on this blog)

MSI Director on MSI’s Forward Direction


Mountain Spirit Institute Director Cindy Heath talks about MSI’s proactive attitude about new programs, and action steps we’re taking to offer more programs next year.

Snatam Kaur Benefit Concert for MSI


Mountain Spirit Institute announces Benefit Concert with Snatam Kaur

Snatam Kaur

Snatam Kaur will be playing at the Lebanon, NH, USA Opera House on September 1st, 2010 for a evening of meditative music. Kaur is an internationally known recording artist, who’s music is highly soul soothing.

Say Cindy Heath, Mountain Spirit Board Member and Coordinator of the concert, “I happened to be at a Kripalu event and heard her playing for a yoga event. I had remembered her music when we had it playing at a MSI board meeting.” Adds Heath, “When I approached them to see if they’d be interested in Snatam playing under an invitation from Mountain Spirit Institute as a fundraiser concert for the organization, they eventually said yes.”

It took a while, but after the booking person looked at MSI’s website, they deemed our organization has a similar mission to Snatam’s.  Tickets for the concert will be sold through the Lebanon Opera House

Concert in Toronto

“I was first introduced to Snatam’s music by my wife, Amanda, who listened to Kaur’s music while attending meditation and yoga retreats in India during the summer of 2008,” says Randy Richards, director of Mountain Spirit.  “I have just about worn out Snatam’s CD’s, and when we heard from Cindy that she had met Snatam and there might be the possibility of a concert, we jumped at the chance.”

Read more about the upcoming Snatam Kaur/Mountain Spirit Institute Benefit Concert  at our webpage on the concert. To listen and learn more about Snatam’s music visit her website.

Prajna, The Best Knowledge


Shirley's Herbal Sweat Studio

The Simple Pleasures of Jamaica

On a morning bike ride around Treasure Beach, Jamaica recently, I was drawn to stop and admire a beautiful hand built sandstone building, surrounded by lush perennial herb and flower gardens, fruit trees and meandering pathways.  Shirley, the owner, walked down the hillside, greeted me with a warm, broad smile and welcomed me into her yard for a chat, typical of the Jamaican residents we had met during our two week stay.  It turns out Shirley is a well-known herbalist and massage therapist in town, had built the structure herself for her massage business, and within minutes I had signed up to have one of her legendary herbal sweats and relaxation massages. With this vitally important step out of the way, we toured the gardens and learned about the fragrant mixture of wild Jamaican herbs and fruit juices Shirley uses to send her clients to relaxation nirvana.

In Jamaica, the elder women pass their knowledge of herbs and plants from generation to generation, as Shirley’s mother had while she was growing up in nearby Great Bay.  Shirley explained the provenence of each plant, either planted from seed, field dug, or gifted from a friend or family member.  Her knowledge of the individual characteristics and uses of each plant was remarkable. When we parted over an hour later, I could barely wait until it was my turn to savor her herbal ‘detox’ treatment and relaxation massage.

Shirley Genus, Jamaican Herbalist & Massage Therapist

So it was that the next day, I watched as Shirley chose from her yard the pimento, lemon grass and eucalyptus to help clear my lungs, and lime juice for cleansing my skin.  She tossed these and other herbal delights into a cauldron of  boiling water over an open fire.  She then poured the boiling, aromatic mixture into a clay cauldron tucked inside a three-sided steam room with a cloth door.

In I went, with Shirley’s instructions to stir the mix, ‘breathe’ and stay hydrated with the water she provided. This was not your typical steambath!  Immediately, the rich herbal smells filled the small space and I settled in to enjoy a blissful 30 minutes of total relaxation.  Next came the oil massage, which included a fascinating philosophical commentary by Shirley about the history of Jamaica, the value of massage, the state of our busy lives, her world travels and education in the United States, and good humored bantering about gender differences.  Shirley’s massage combined many styles, and is uniquely her own brand.  I dare say it’s one of the finest massages I’ve ever had.

As I ventured back to reality toward the end of the hour, I asked Shirley when she was going to write the Book of Shirley.  She laughed heartily and replied,  “Everyone wants me to write a book.  I say to them, come back and see me and we will continue to talk together and teach each other.”  I think I will, Shirley, thanks.

MSI Holds Retreat


Good Energy & Great Ideas at MSI’s Board Retreat
Mountain Spirit Held its bi-annual retreat recently at the home of Founder Randall Richards in Sunapee, NH, USA.  Board member Bob Stremba of Colorado, Craig Cimmons of Vermont and New Jersy, Cindy Heath of Plainfield, NH, R. Richards and Amanda Richards of New Hampshire and New Zealand, also attended.

The group discussed last years goals and achievements, plus future plans for fund raising, grant writing, and programs for the future.  Randy and Amanda Richards did a presentation on last summer’s Peru program, and plans were discussed to run the program again. New programs such as India, Everest Basecamp, and a Holistic Leadership Training program were discussed and planned.
The board also talked about updating and modifying the website.  Amanda Richards was also voted on as the newest member of the board, as well as being named treasurer.
A new boardmember search is planned which would focus on people with experience in donor relations and fund raising.

The following day the group, went for a day hike on Mt. Cardigan near Hanover, NH to walk and talk about ideas such as the mission and working on the board’s “elevator speech”, plus take in the view. They also had a ball getting out on the mountain for a crisp fall day in New England.

Below, four of the six board members pose for a group shot, which turned out to be a video instead.

The Adventure, continued

Wet Socks in the Backcountry

Wet Socks in the Backcountry

The adventurers from Singapore, Shaun Lee and Karan Puri, (see earlier post) took me up on my offer in joining me in New Zealand’s backcountry. I don’t think the two would have ventured out in this territory on their own, in fact they mentioned the whole concept of “backcountry” didn’t exist in their country. Singapore is compact. Their eyes were wide when they first came up on the Rob Roy Glacier after a few miles up a steep trail, after a small swinging bridge. They then made the two hour trek to the Aspiring Hut with me. Their shoes were a bit wet after the hike, but after a warm meal they were feeling great. The following morning, they were on their way back to the trailhead, as they had reservations on the mountain shuttle.  They were a bit nervous, heading out in the rain, but I assured them they would make it. I assume they did! I’ve not heard from them.

‘Gross National Happiness’

3 cups of Tea

Three cups of Tea

A Mountain Spirit Board member, plus a few others, have been telling me I need to read “Three Cups of Tea”  by Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin. It’s a great story about persevering a dream of building a school for the children of Korphe, Pakistan. One passage, quoted below, reminds me of how gravitating back to sustainable cultures can make our lives saner. If you’ve not read Three Cups of Tea, I suggest you pick up a copy.
An excerpt from the book that caught my eye: 
“A book he’d read , Ancient Futures, by Helena Norberg-Hodge, was much on Mortenson’s mind. Norberg-Hodge has spend seventeen years living just south of these mountains in Ladakh, a region much like Baltistan, but cut off from Pakistan by the arbitrary borders colonial powers drew across the Himalaya. After almost two decades studying Ladakhi culture, Norberg Hodge has come to believe that preserving a traditional way of life in Ladakh-extended families living in harmony with the land- would bring about more happiness than “improving”  Ladakhis’ standard of living with unchecked development.

Ancient Futures

Ancient Futures

“I used to assume that the direction of ‘progress was somehow inevitable, not to be questioned,” she writes. “I passively accepted a new road through the middle of the park, a steel-and-glass bank where a 200-year-old church had stood…and the fact that life seemed to get harder and faster with each day. I do not anymore. In Ladakh I have learned that there is more than one path into the future and I have had the privilege to witness another, saner, way of life- a pattern of existence based on the co-evolution between human beings and the earth.”
Norberg-Hodge continues to argue not only that Western development workers should not blindly impose modern “improvements” on ancient cultures, but that industrialized countries had lessons to learn from people like Ladakhis about building sustainable societies. “I have seen,” she writes, “that community and close relationship with the land can enrich human life beyond all comparison with material wealth or technological sophistication. I have learned that another way is possible.”
Norberg-Hodge admiringly quotes the king of another Himalayan country, Bhutan, who say the true measure of a nations success is not gross national product, but  ‘gross national happiness.”

Danish Family: “World is our Classroom”

The Bagers in their "mountain classroom"

The Bagers in their "mountain classroom"

The Danish family of five had headlamps but had decided they didn’t need them.  The moonlight illuminated their way. They left the trailhead around dark and rode their mountain bikes on the single, sometimes double track up the valley, being sure to keep the Matuktuki River on their right. Dennis, the father, aside from briefly looking at the map, was going on memory. He had been in this place some 15 or twenty years prior, but that time he was high above this place, and almost slid off  Cascade Pass on snow covered wet grass, losing his fingernails while self arresting with hands and nose. This return trip had a different sense of adventure. He was returning with his wife Birgette and his three children Manus 10, Rasmus, and their little sister Frederikke, 7.  And this trip was part of a bigger adventure. He and Birgette were about a third of their way through a two year round-the-world educational odyssey with their kids.  They pedaled into Aspiring Hut around 11pm, tip toeing into the hut with their gear, careful not to disturb sleeping climbers and hikers.  I had heard they had just arrived , and what’s more that they had shipped their 1990 VW oversized camper complete with school books and bikes from Denmark through Asia, Australia, and were headed to South America after a good long stint in New Zealand I had to find out more.  The next morning I asked if I could interview them. Dennis jokingly said no but later agreed and even said I could get more info off their website.
MSI: Do you mind if I ask? How are you able to afford to take two years off with your whole family?

Dennis Bager: In Denmark there has been a law that allows either a man or a woman to take a family leave before their child is nine years old. This law has existed for two reasons. (more…)

Rock Flour = Turquoise Rivers

Wilken River, Makarora BC, NZ

Wilken River, Makarora BC, NZ

Kerin Folks Flat on the Wilkin River is about an hour into an eight-hour trek to the Top Forks Hut area.  I’ll include more images of that area soon, but felt I had to post this image ASAP. “Rock flour” colours the water the brilliant turquoise blue that is visible in this image. Rock flour is a result of the glacier a few miles upriver, dragging and grinding rocks and stones between the bottom of the glacier and the ground. The curious color of the fine powder that comes out of the glacier’s terminus is the subject of many a tourist’s query. So I’ve been told, rock flour is simply mud that hasn’t been exposed to the air.  Once exposed, after a number of years, it turns brown.  In any event it sure makes for good images.  This is probably one of my favorite, even after being a professional photographer for a number of years.

 Top Forks is a remote part of Aspiring National Park, right in the center of the park, accessible from the Makarora West village area.  The highlight of the Top Forks valley is  Mt. Castor and Mt. Pollux from which hanging glaciers drop house-sized ice blocks throughout the day and night, making a roaring sound heard from the hut.