Monday, November 28, 2011

Thank The Stars For Aunties

In the whole world there are no greater relationships than those you can have with an Aunt.  I have two very special Aunts.  I've always known and loved them of course, but, our relationships solidified after the passing of my mother.  I think we all provided a link to my mom for one other in a way.  We've developed relationships of our own outside of my mother over the years. We all helped each other heal after our loss and then we built our own very personal relationships.

My Aunt Ann and I write weekly and sometimes two or three times in a week when there are lots of exciting newsy events going on. She has been an ear for me and a constant support.  My Aunt Dianne is my mom's sister and just being with her I'm reminded of the little things my mom did on the daily,  they share too many similarities to count!  Both of these women love and sacrifice always putting family first. They always make time for me and for that I'm forever grateful.  

Women need one another and although the family unit may look different in this day and age the fundamentals of family have not  changed and our roles as women in our families don't change.  My Aunts are my support and my wings and they have had such a hand in shaping me.  I hope they know how much I admire them and have learned from them, I'm forever grateful.

Aunt Dianne & Ann

Sunday, November 27, 2011


My dad visited recently.  Nothing can quite describe watching my dad with my little girl. Finley had a cautious curiosity about him which lasted only hours and then they were quite taken with one another. Here they are sharing ginger cookies... the picture says it all!
Finley & Grandpa at I Can't Believe It's A Book Store in Washington NC

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

I'm Thankful

This Thanksgiving I'm very thankful for my little family.  
They are my heart and my sunshine. 
Where ever we are together is HOME.

Photo Courtesy: Karoline Ouimet 

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Down Dawg Yoga - Washington NC

There was a really nice mention of MOI in this recent article about the NEW yoga studio in my little NC town where I'm very pleased to be a member of the faculty.

Getting down with yoga

Published 12:37am Wednesday, October 26, 2011
Editor’s note: BizLine is a weekly feature highlighting local businesses serving Washington and Beaufort County. This week’s BizLine reaches out to Down Dawg Yoga of Washington.
Since it’s across the street from the Turnage Theater, one might say Down Dawg Yoga is perfectly positioned.
Connie Cipriano, owner of the studio, often mentions the Turnage when giving directions to the storefront at 143 W. Main St., Washington.
Down Dawg’s show is all about finding a harmony of mind and body in this quiet, former retail space.
“I want people to feel comfortable being here,” said Cipriano, who opened the studio in September.
Down Dawg Yoga awaits its next class Tuesday in Washington. (WDN Photo/Jonathan Clayborne)
Originally from Maryland, by way of Charlotte, Cipriano moved to Washington in 2006.
Asked what brought her here, she replied, “Just the desire to live near the water in a smaller town.”
She started practicing yoga in the mid-1990s, and began teaching in 2006 at Hilton Head, S.C.
After moving to this river town, she quickly realized Main Street would be a good location for a yoga studio.
“I just put that in the back of my mind and played around with it for a while,” Cipriano said.
She opened Down Dawg Yoga amid trepidation just after the passage of Hurricane Irene, and the storm nearly changed her plans.
“I was toying with the idea of not opening,” she said, “but I did, and people still came.”
Each of Cipriano’s classes ranges from five to 11 students, with an array of ages and both sexes.
“It’s a great mix,” she said. “I’m so pleased.”
And she’s trying to counter the mistaken impression that yoga is solely for women. The message seems to be getting through: recently she had three men in an eight-member class.
“It’s really to bring yoga to everyone,” she said of her business.
Down Dawg Yoga offers yoga classes Tuesdays through Saturdays, and specific times are posted on its front door or on its website,
Classes are $12 per person, per session.
The 75-minute instruction is for people ages 15 and up.
Participants are not required to buy mats, but they are asked to wear comfortable clothing that isn’t too loose — the kind of apparel one would wear to a gym, Cipriano related.
No special equipment is required.
“All you need is bare feet,” she said.
She also teaches yoga at Lifestyles Medical Fitness Center in Washington.
“The benefits of yoga are just unlimited,” she said.
Cipriano’s fellow Down Dawg Yoga instructor is Michelle Shipley.
“She is someone that cares about people a great deal,” Cipriano said.
Future plans for Down Dawg Yoga include branching out with tai chi, belly dancing and meditation instruction.
Starting Friday, aikido martial-arts classes will begin there at $10 per class.
Incidentally, the name Down Dawg is taken from a yoga position called the downward-facing dog.
Cipriano said she took the position and “Southernized it” when seeking a name for her enterprise.
For more information, call Cipriano at 704-819-8875.
If you would like to nominate a local business for BizLine, call 252-946-2144, extension 230, or email

Thursday, October 20, 2011

My NEWEST Yoga Workshop

Mother Ship Yoga and Wellness Presents:
Interdisciplinary Yoga & Journaling
Saturday November 19, 2011

Join us in PERTH Ontario for a FULL DAY of Delicious Personal Inquiries exploring the self through mind, body and spirit.

Hosted By: 
Michelle Shipley RYT 200hr Yoga Alliance Member

Perth Family Health Center
33 Lewis Street
Perth, Ontario, K7H 2R4

Morning, Afternoon or Full Day Attendance Rates - Although  a FULL day is encouraged!
Morning Session $25.00
Lunch $10.00
Afternoon Session $25.00
Full Day Rate $55.00

9 AM – 12 NOON
Welcoming, Journaling Workshop &
Interdisciplinary Yoga Practice

                                                                    LUNCH BREAK
12-2:30 pm
A light vegetarian lunch will be catered.
Yogis are then invited to go out, walk around and enjoy Perth’s down town.

2:30 – 5:00 
                            Yin Yoga / Restorative Yoga Fusion Practice, Journaling & Closing

**  YOGA workshops offered are IDEAL For Beginner to Seasoned Yogis **

For More Information / Registration Please
Contact: Michelle Shipley 252 292 2163

Friday, September 16, 2011

New Interface

Well, I'm once again on a bit of a learning curve to figure out the new interface of  Bare with me while I figure it out... The Good night Irene post is a little WONKY!

Goodnight Irene

Since arriving in the Carolina's we've battened down the hatches to prepare for some good named storms, but, luckily have not had to face their wrath.  Last year's Earl was like a fart in the wind. It barely rained.  This year however, we were on target to get Hurricane Irene as a category three directly on top of us.  The stores were stocking tons of bread and water.  The isles usually full of camping equipment were stripped bare of propane came stoves, coolers, and kerosene lamps.  The flash lights were sold out and so was the milk.  The calm before the storm was seen only in the air as the energy from all the people was electric.  Some worried, others shrugging the whole storm off. It was kinda fun to wait and see what would transpire.

Of course my final assignment for University was due on Monday and Irene was expected on Friday night...she didn't leave until late Saturday night.  So I had to rush to get the house ready and get my assignment handed in before we lost power for who knows how long!   We contemplated right up until Friday afternoon as to whether we should drive to the next town over to stay at Steve's mom's house and then we decided not to.  All our neighbours were staying put, our house has been standing here since 1910 boasting original floors and most original windows, we felt we wanted to stay and ride out the storm.  So we put the bed down in the yoga studio and camped out in there for the next 24 hours. 

Here comes Irene.

Saturday morning at 7:35 AM we lost our power and it was out until 5:30PM. Apparently our house is on the main grid that facilitates the third street pump house and it HAD to be operational to clear out the flooding. Lucky us.  We sat in the kitchen watching the trees bend with each wind gust.  I tried to take video and pictures but they just don't do any justice to the 100 mile an hour winds.   Inside we listened to trees crashing and we kept Finley entertained by reading books, playing with Play -Doh and painting.  
Finley wanted to paint the BIG BAD WOLF and Swiper the Fox.
 It must have been due to all the wind huffing and puffing our tree limbs down!
Without power we began to eat the contents of the cream FIRST.
The next morning we awoke to pristine Carolina blue sky, no humidity and the largest mosquitoes the size of horses and as hungry as an out of work actor at a True Blood audition....and we began to assess our damage.  The car lost it's side mirror, we lost power line to the garage outbuilding, we had an entire yard filled with tree limbs and a terrible leak in the bathroom. Otherwise we were fine. Our neighbours a few block over were evacuated and they suffered flooding. There is nothing as destructive as flood water.  Everything had to be thrown out, bleached and rebuilt.  Most of our neighbours were awaiting the insurance company to asses. 

Down town the roof blew off a prominent historic building and all the contents of the apartment and stores were destroyed. The roof landed a block away in a parking lot. How fortunate for that! 

This is the day after Irene. 
The Pecan limbs lined our property and our neighbours to both sides.
Steve had to go to work - our neighbours were awesome to come and help us out.
Finley sang "Clean up, Clean  up, Everybody Cleeeeeaaaaaaan up!"  
While we all worked - she was very helpful.

Finley Walking Up Sidewalk
ALL these limbs are from OUR two Pecan trees!
We thought we had some trees down and then we took a drive and saw this....

So many hundred year old trees just toppled, onto houses, power lines, streets, barns, boats and cars. 
The hurricane stayed on top of Beaufort County for almost 12 hours.  The locals say it's the longest hurricane in their history to stand on top of them.  Of course there were tornado's wreaking havoc on the outsides of the hurricane too...but these trees down are all Irene. 

This is our neighbours house.  She wanted to take this tree down but the historic society wouldn't allow it.Irene didn't ask permission.  I wonder what the historic society thinks now?
Luckily it fell right into a small space in the driveway and did not even take out the stone fence.

The storm surge raised the river ELEVEN FEET.  These boats didn't have a chance.

This my friends is the EXACT dock 
we used to keep our sailboat on.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Lil' Washington

UCLA Week 7 - Literary Journalism Piece:
Lil' Washington
We could have chosen anywhere near here; New Bern "The Birthplace of Pepsi” or Bath “Home town of the infamous Pirate Black Beard”  we chose “The Original Washington” or as the locals affectionately refer to it: Lil’ Washington.

Washington is a town of storytellers.  Its rich history is bountiful in tales of the Civil War, as evidence some of the historic buildings still wear cannon balls imbedded in their walls. The old county courthouse standing on Market Street dating from about 1786 currently houses a library on its ground floor but the top floor courtroom remains untouched. Famous for a murder trial in the mid 1800’s, a clergyman found his wife in a tryst and shot her lover dead.  Found guilty the clergyman shot the jury! Locals say you can still smell the cigar smoke and hear the gunshots ringing out from its walls.  One of these days I’ll be brave enough to ask for the keys so I can go and find the ghosts for myself, but for now, I’m happy to reside in a fascinating town of tales.

Washington, North Carolina sits at the junction of the Tar and Pamlico Rivers. When Col. James Bonner founded the town in the 1770s, it was referred to simply as "Forks of the Tar.” The town served as a supply outpost during the Revolutionary War, and in 1776, Col. James Bonner changed the town’s name to Washington in honor of General George Washington whom Bonner had served under during the war.
The town of Washington is steeped in history. Family names of Grimes, Blount, Bonner, Alligood and Woolard are still prominent amongst the community. 

My neighbour, Jake Mills said, “A wedding hosted by the Alligoods and Woolards is known as a Wooly-Good Time.”

I putter my neighbourhood admiring the historic homes lining picturesque Main Street. These homes date as far back as the 1850's. They stand testament to the resilience of the town's people after Washington was burned to the ground by Union troops during their evacuation after the fall of Plymouth, NC during the Civil War in 1865.

Located on the corner of East Main Street and Bonner Street sits the most wonderful church cemetery. St. Peter’s Episcopal church circa 1822 and churchyard are shaded by live oaks with fern growing off their branches up-up overhead. It’s spring and the camellias are just ending their bloom. Lining the lens of my camera to catch the perfect angle to photograph a headstone with the inscription:
In Memory of Thankful
Wife of William O’Cain
40 years and 22 days.

I’m pulled away by the sound of footsteps. I look up to see a chap smiling at me.

“Say, hey there, I’ve a few minutes before my appointment. You want a tour of the prominent gravestones?” 

His southern drawl as smooth as butter has got my attention.

“Yes please!” I reply. 

“A large number of the stones predate the Civil war. Recently we found some really early stones when we dug the foundation for the addition. They’re preserved in the church basement. This here has always been the town’s cemetery. That lot over there – he points to a parking lot- stood a single church structure shared by several denominations. They all buried their followers here." He says as he waves me to follow.

Over the next fifteen or so minutes this gentleman walks me through the churchyard. He points out the grave stones belonging to John Grey Blount 1752-1833 chain bearer for Daniel Boon who helped found Washington, Col. James Bonner the founder of Washington, and to my delight the DeMille family.

THE Cecil B DeMille was born right here in Washington, but, he’s not buried in the family plot. He’s laid out somewhere in New York. We still claim him.”

My tour guide waves a greeting at another gentleman and says he has one last grave he wants to show me belonging to a soldier of the Revolutionary War.

It reads:
James Ronner Foreman
Dec 1785 – 1807
22 years, 21 Days
Come view my tomb as you pass by
As you are now so once was I
As I am now so you must be
Therefore prepare to follow me.

“Ponder that. Good afternoon Ma’am.” He slips away. 

I do ponder it and then try a little research. The dates are wrong this soldier was born after the Revolutionary war ended!

Washington and The Pamlico 1976, East Carolina Joyner Library Digital Collections, St. Peter’s Episcopal Church Website and Wikipedia.

Monday, August 15, 2011

UCLA Week Six: Personal Essay

I come from a family of pack rats. My Granny Dodie had an entire bedroom in her two-bedroom apartment devoted to boxes of stuff she wasn’t using. My mother had sets of good dishes we only looked at, and never used, unless it was a special occasion. My sister saved paints and markers lest they were used up rather than enjoy them for creative endeavors.

I have acquired a lot of stuff. This stuff takes the shape of family heirloom antiques, photos and memorabilia from my childhood and now my daughter’s. I’m really getting tired of carting it around and I’m wondering if I could be just as happy to walk away from it all? I’m an emotional hoarder if not on some level a material one too, and it’s beginning to hamper my freedom.

Recently, my favorite baby dolls were liberated from an old box for my daughter to play with. “I would have thrown that out if I’d known you were keeping it all these years.” Steve said to me.

My husband has little attachment to anything material. He buys and sells his toys as soon as a new one catches his fancy. He does not affix an emotion to an object. That’s one reason why we fit. If only I’d met my husband before I chose to buy a breed of dog that lives for 20 years. Sigh.

The Indian sage Patanjali says; the essential companion is non-attachment. Learning to let go of the many attachments, aversions, fears, and false identities clouding the true self is the way to freedom. I meditate on this logical concept with every yoga practice trying to make my peace with the release of the burden of my attachments.

Roaming my neighborhood I discover two very curious looking white houses situated side by side. From my vantage I can see the front porch of one house has a narrow pathway clear to the door, otherwise both verandas are piled high with junk. In the corner of the second house by the top step sits one of the most gorgeous mirrors I have ever seen. I decide I want this mirror. I’m already attached to it. Curiosity over the house has got the best of me. What does it look like inside? Is it filled with cats? Clearly this is the home of a hoarder.

According to the Mayo Clinic definition: hoarding is the excessive collection of items, along with the inability to discard them. This is a symptom of obsessive-compulsive disorder often triggered by an emotional loss.

The hoarder spots me and waves a greeting. I compliment her on her hydrangeas, which are heirloom in size and grandeur, full of beautiful blooming blue flowers.

“Come.” She says, “I have a knife in my pocket, I will cut you some.”

While she works at cutting branches off the hydrangea she says; “ I’m Velma I’m 95 years old, I was born right here in this very house!”

Without pause, Velma launches into her history. She tells me of the train stopping on the track behind her house to let all the circus animals off to bathe in the river before the handlers marched them in a parade up Main Street. She tells me of the ice and milk truck deliveries and of her brother in-law named Lolly Pop running his butchery in the out building behind the second house, now crammed with junk. She points to the trees, each one planted for her four sisters upon their first birthdays.

Waving her arm towards the front porch she tells me she wants to have a garage sale but has been too tired to sort through the piles. Then Velma plunges into another story and I see my opportunity to ask about the mirror slip by. Taking Velma’s mirror would come at a cost too great for her, I could not ask after this kind soul so freely gave me a reflection from the mirror of her life. Unlike Velma, I learned I truly do have the capacity and freedom to move, houses, states and countries. I can move beyond my stuff.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

August in the Carolinas

Tobacco Flowers in a Field in Eastern North Carolina
iPhoto By: Moi

UCLA Week 5: Memoir

Eight weeks into working for The Comedy Network, I’m sitting with my boyfriend Steve at a VIP table at a comedy club. It is my job to meet talent, pair them with producers, meet producers, take pitches for TV series and take them all along the production line from development to on air. I love comedy, I love socializing, and this new job is a perfect fit! Most of all it is the perfect distraction from the life I lead outside of work. Outside work, life is not funny.

Concentration failing me, I miss most of the comedy. A shock of applause brings me back to the room, clapping I and throw a smile of encouragement toward the performer. I grasp at the neck of my shirt feeling as though don’t have enough air.

Arriving home from the club I surrender to bed. The phone rings, Steve still awake answers.

“Hello, yeah? Oh, okay. Michelle it’s for you. It’s your sister.” He hands me the phone.

“Hi.” Sue says.

“Hi.” I echo, a silence comes over the line.

“The nurse called and told us mom looked like she might be going. We were just there. We left the hospital to go out for dinner. The phone was ringing as we came through the door at home. Dad said to sit tight we’ll call ya with an update.”

“Okay.” I hang up.

Repaying the conversation to Steve. He comes over to hug me.
“Hon, she’s gone. Hospitals tell families that so they can safely drive back, so they are not overcome when they arrive.”

“Oh.” I break from his grasp and calmly head to the armoire to pull out all the black clothes I own and begin to stuff them into a suitcase. Steve watches me. Next, I move toward the sink and begin to wash dishes. When my world spins out of control I clean. I can control the dirt.

A telephone ring cuts the silence. Quickly I grab the extension before it rings a second time.

“Hello.” I say.

“She’s gone. Can you come? They’ll hold her here in her room until you can get here.” Sue’s voice is shaking.

The drive from Toronto to Ottawa is fast. We pull into a vacant spot on the street in front of the building. The wet shiny road is sprinkled with the cheerful reflection from Christmas lights. The dark night sky is broken by the waltz of large fluffy snowflakes. It’s almost five o’clock in the morning. Steve places a hand on my back encouraging me forward. I look up at the hospital and see a giant black raven perched on the overhang of the front entrance. It takes off into the night. I move forward again with a little coaxing from Steve.

“I’ve never seen a dead body before. Like, not before they are done up at the funeral home.” I say to Steve.

“Hurry sweetie, a body can only be held so long before it must be moved and they’ve already been waiting five hours. You’ll be okay, your family is here.”

My father ushers me into the room, “She told me I was handsome, then she was gone.” He hugs me tightly pulling Sue into our embrace. “Your mother loved you both so much – the only thing she ever wanted was to be a mother.”

Looking over his shoulder the vision of my mother in bed shocks me. She is so tiny, considerably smaller than she was when I saw her last. She is not peaceful looking. Her face shows signs of fight and struggle and her mouth hangs open. Tucked under her hands is the little bear in a bee costume along side a Beanie Baby that looks just like my sister’s son, little gifts from my sister and I.

“Let’s not let anything ever come between us.” Dad says hugging us tight. We hold each other and cry both out of sadness and relief. After six years it is finally over. I replay this scene over and over in my head wishing his statement rang true. So much has come between all of us.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Cutting The Cheese

This morning while I was getting our breakfast ready, it's always the same, granola and yogurt, Finley came into the kitchen. She is wearing a white with florescent pink polka dot dress, my black fancy open toe high heeled shoes, a purse in the shape of a white poodle slung over her shoulder and the baby doll my dad gave her (that she has named grandpa baby) in her arms.

Quickly I grab my phone and hit the camera app to turn it on. I hate moments like this to go uncaptured. I hold the phone up, "Smile" I say.

"Chhhhhheeeeeeeeese!" Finley shouts.

As I'm checking the photo Finley says, "Mama I tooted when I said cheese."

She giggles and climbs up onto the chair to reach counter height and dives into her yogurt.

I love our mornings.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Week 3 Writing Submission UCLA


Cruising the Carolinas afforded my husband and I opportunity to meet all kinds of characters. In Wilmington we made acquaintance with one swarthy cat. A wiry man of indeterminable age with skin like tan shoe leather. The dude would disappear for a few days and then reappear. He seemed agreeable enough but I didn't’t figure it would take too much to set him off. I was happiest when he was at a distance.

Our paths crossed for the first time in the upscale marina laundry. He had a little white Lhasa Apso with him. This dog struck me as being an odd fit for a guy like him.

I bent down to greet the dog. "What's your dog's name?"

"Mutton.” He sizes me up. "Inherited her. Name was Muffin, but that was too faggotty so I call her Mutton. It works."

"Good name - she looks like Sheri Lewis' Lamb Chops." I say.

He looks at me blankly. Perhaps my Canadian accent trumped him or more likely he had no idea who Sheri Lewis and Lamb Chops were.

“Which boat you on?” He asks.

“A sailboat.” I am purposefully vague. My instincts tell me to be cautious.

"Tell your Mister to see me if he needs work done.” Then he adds, like it’s a selling feature, “I’m a cash man. Live aboard a boat on the ocean, what do I need to pay tax for?” He raises a hand to his head to tip an imaginary hat and passes through the door with his small bag of laundry. The dog reluctantly follows. “C’mon Mutton! Ain’t got all day.”

I return to our boat and swing the bag of clean clothes up over the safety lines to my mister. “ I just met the salty dude. He said you should get-up with him if you need any work done.”

“That guy is used to taking on jobs for boat owners. We are sailors not boat owners we do our own work.” My mister says.

Later I return to the slip to find the salty dude up our mast. The boats in their slips are rocking gently in the breeze. Lines clinking against masts sound like a percussion of spoons tapping a water glass. Mutton is tied to our hookups lounging in a small bit of provided shade.

"Hey, what are you boys up to?"

My Mister winks at me to let me know he caught my joke. “ Jesse is giving me a hand with the wind gage.”

“Hey, why so far from home? Canada too cold?” Jesse shouts as he repels the mast in bare feet. “I’m from West Virginia in the mountains. Too fucking cold there and I knew soon as I was old enough I was getting outta there. Ain’t never go back cept to burry my kin.”

“I’m also allergic to winter.” I say as I head below to grab a notebook. This was one conversation I had to record.