Nia Training

Nia is a cardiovascular sensory based movement practice that leads to health, wellness and fitness. Nia empowers people of all ages by connecting the body, mind and spirit to increase flexibility, agility, mobility, stability and strength. 


This week I am participating in the Nia White Belt Intensive Training!


My classmates, Pam, Dawn & Irene:


 My trainers, Charlotte & Gail:


The Nia Retreat Center on Anna maria island, FL:


There are more trainings scheduled for February, April & October 2013! Go to NiaNow.com for the details or to find one near you! We are learning the 13 principles of Nia and dancing everyday. Long days, but much learned. I have not done this much creative movement in a long time! I must go to bed now and recover . . . there are 2 more full days and one half day, with graduation on Friday :  )



Nobody cares if you can't dance well. Just get up and dance. Great dancers are not great because of their technique; they are great because of their passion. 
   ~ Martha Graham 


kayak train

what is a kayak train? That is when you tie a number of kayaks together bow to stern with ropes and have someone ie: my husband, affectionately known around Lucas Boatworks as Crazy Steve, pull the kayaks down the river and back! Here we are yesterday . . .


Dave Lucas says, "We have the record well in hand for the International Briggs and Stratton powered old timey African Queen type boats towing a string of kayaks and canoes award." He is referring to our boat Chelsea, that pulled the kayaks. Yes, it has a lawn mower Briggs & Stratton engine and was hand built at Lucas Boatworks. You can see me sitting in it below as we are readying to tie the kayaks to the boat and take off down the river.



That is our friend Red Sears relaxing in the front, he was the first kayak behind Chelsea. Steven moved the boat up in front of him when it was time to go. As you see the kayaks stretching around the corner . . . there were 28 boats in all. we think it's a world's record kayak train!

More from Dave Lucas: It was a great day and something we'll talk about for a while. Ernie and Donna were in Beauty Berry the safety boat and had to rescue two fallouts on the way back home, I think the beer may have gotten to them. This doesn't need much comment except how we got this long train hooked up and off the beach. You'll see in some of the early pictures a guy walking out across the lagoon; that's me. I started with the first boat and started walking out into the wind and as they came off the beach the next one was tied on. It worked very well, the line was pretty easy to pull. We figure that this train of boats was about 750 feet long. I made it out to the sand bar where I tied on to Chelsea with Steve and Lenna and the dogs inside. I waited on the bar for my kayak to come by; some of the gang gave me beers for my effort.

Simon Lew took a video! He was closer near the back of the kayak train and had a totally different view than I did in the boat pulling all the kayaks. The direct link to the video in case you do not see it embedded is here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nu7-aH_3RLA. He has speeded it up a bit and added music so it's quite fun.



Here is what my husband wrote about it: Prior to this trip Dave and company had a total of 17 boats towed by Chelsea (which Lenna and I own now). This record breaking trip was planned by Dave and we had no idea how many people would show up on Saturday morning. We spent Friday cleaning all the available kayaks and canoes at Lucas Boatworks, which was about 21 boats including three of my canoes. On Saturday morning we got people showing up from hours away and many brought their own boats. The tide was supposed to be high and a half foot over normal by noon but at 10:30am it was still kinda low. This was because we had a 15 to 20 knot north wind and wind can make a big difference on tides around the Tampa Bay area. We decided to launch anyway, though. Logistics was a big problem – how to get 29 people in 28 boats and keep it all under control. In normal non-windy conditions it wouldn't have been a problem but I couldn't keep Chelsea pointed in the right direction while they were tying boats on and that’s when Dave decided to just drag the sting of boats across the bay. He’s a genius – it worked really well. Once we were tied on and moving the plan was to drag all the boats right past Dave and he'd hop into his from the shallow sand bar, but the boats weren't behaving like we've been used to in the past. With only a dozen boats behind Chelsea they follow the leader perfectly and the Chelsea pilot can make incredibly sharp turns and the kayaks follow the same path – not cutting the corner at all. But with 28 kayaks the first 10 boats got dragged whichever direction Chelsea steered. Dave was able to get into his boat OK but I realized (as the Chelsea pilot) that we had a problem. The original plan was to go all the way down the Braden River to the Rt. 64 bridge, then turn and come up the other channel through some really cool mangrove channels. It was obvious to me we wouldn't be able to make the turns without dragging people through mangrove branches. Also, with 28 kayaks towing Chelsea at full throttle could only pull them at about 1 knot. The original trip plan was 3 miles down and 3 miles back so that would take about 7 days. After going about 1 mile down river I did a turn back at the widest part of the river and 2 people tipped over just after the turn. I had to slow down to let them try to get back into their boats and the wind pushed the train into the mangroves. We got it all straightened out but it was slightly hairy for a bit. Also, during the turn you can see that we totally blocked the entire river. One boat was coming down river but thank god the operator was experienced and not drunk and he stopped way far away from us. Dave calls me Crazy Steve but he’s the crazy person that comes up with this stuff. Very fun day though.

Probably more than you ever needed to know about a kayak train, but . . .  it was unusual and fun and a little scary being in the boat pulling everyone! I just had to document it even though I am really tired and have to get to bed! One more thing, if you are interested, I have some still photos up here in a flickr album that give a more close up look. Enjoy! This kayak train was really just for fun, like a boat "messabout" that Lucas Boatworks often organizes.

Nia training is good, but lots of movement and learning and the days are from 8-6:30. I am not used to that! more on that later, take care, lenna

Adventure is worthwhile in itself.
   ~ Amelia Earhart

creative play: it's good for you!

I hosted a prayer flag swap recently, see the results here. It turned out to be a really fun swap, more than I anticipated when organizing it. Many of the participants found they so enjoyed working on these easy to make small flags, creating them with prayers, wishes and good thoughts in mind. There was a huge variety of flags which you can see if you follow the link above. A lot of us said, "I think I am addicted to making  these!"  When Jan Smith added a link to her photos on her blog, she wrote: I'm still addicted to making them...so if anyone out there fancies swapping a shabby style prayer flag (1 to 1 swap) I would love to hear from you.....

So guess who wrote back to her? That's right, me! I figured I would need a break from that tedious job of packing, so I went ahead and agreed to a trade. I knew Jan loved "shabby chic", so I took some fabric I had found and plunged in. These flags are small, around 5" x 8" - so it didn't take long and was a treat for me after a morning of squishing things into boxes and going through oodles of packing tape. While packing up some of my fabric I found a really old piece of cotton print that I made something out of 20 or 25 years ago!!! I also purposely chose one of my grandmother's old linen pieces with cherries on it, very small in size -not sure what it was used for, some type of napkin? I also chose a lace doily & trim for a shabby look. If you click on this first photo, you can view them all in the lightbox . . . . I made 2 layers for this flag, one muslin and one the old cotton print and only sewed them together at the top so they could move freely.


I sewed the doily on only via 1 straight line in the middle so it would flop over.
There is my Nonie's 'cherry' linen piece layered under.


I added a quote printed on fabric (found while packing) for my thoughts 
or wishes . . . and some cotton lace across the bottom



I also cut the floral print so it would be fringed


On the back I sewed a business card


Here it is -Voila! 


I sent this to Jan today . . . it is traveling to the UK so it will take a week or two if we are lucky and she is sending one to me today as well, what fun! My received prayer flags are shown via the link - wow, so many of them! Everyone was so generous and I received many flags as gifts. They stayed up outside for about 2 weeks and are now packed in a box to be brought to our new home.

New home? Yes, our closing is tomorrow morning!!!!!!!! We will move in about 3 weeks to a home on a canal right off the Braden River, and we have decided to rent our current home. I have Nia White Belt Training starting on Saturday that runs long days for a full week. We (mostly Steven!) have some things to do in the new home like painting the kitchen (cabinets too) and all the windows being replaced with Hurricane ones . . . Steven and I have an anniversary (together 8 years) coming up October 25th we'll be celebrating in Casey Key with our boat Chelsea in tow. I still have lots of packing to do here. I really have only just begun! So, that is my story, what about you? I cannot promise to answer but I would so love to hear from you. 

Hope all is well with you & yours. 
xo lenna  

"packing up is hard to do" . . . .

"packing up is hard to do" . . . . just writing that made me think of this song.
Well, I have finally completed emptying my very large 4-drawer metal file cabinet and tossing a lot of stuff out. Then reorganizing all the folders and placing the contents into file boxes for our upcoming move, phew! We will close on a new home at the end of next week and are anticipating moving sometime in early November. I will keep you posted on when we move and I know you will understand if I am not posting here on the blog as much. I do have a personal trade or two that I hope to accomplish soon -- I still need to be creative, even if I am moving!

We now have an empty file cabinet . . .


The next thing for me is to pack up the art you see here -
On the walls and on top of the file cabinet! 



From that empty file cabinet, we now have these 3 boxes plus one more on the floor!
(and a couple of accordion fie folders)


Of course my husband teasingly suggested that I could have just moved the whole file cabinet without going through it!! Yes, he is right, but! I did toss out 2 huge garbage bags full of old unneeded papers and now I can actually go through the files easily and find whatever I'm looking for. Plus I don't want to keep this old metal file cabinet. I guess moving was the impetus I needed to do this tedious job over a number of days. I did take breaks! This afternoon I started working on the template for this blog - creative lenna (if you are reading a feed) and later my creative lenna photos blog. Doing this work is a different way of being creative for me, one that I obviously enjoy doing. If you know me at all, you know I enjoy tweaking these online sites and changing the photos I use for headers & the backgrounds. I am especially happy with the changes I made today that include recent photos I have taken myself. I switched to the "lightbox" method of showing photos, something I have held out on for a while, but I think I like it. Your comments are always welcome.

Another interesting thing about packing and sorting was that I came across a few old newspaper clippings, old emails, old poems (mine & my boys), school reports and drawings. I even found an old invitation we made for my oldest son Decklin's 9th birthday (he is now 31 years old!). These things now have their own special accordion file folder - click for details.



That was really fun and made it all worth it for me.
I hope you all are well and happy and making the most of what you've got! sending love, lenna

The most valuable of the arts is the art of living.
 ~ Cicero


creativity re-channeled

With a house move on the horizon and all that is entailed with that, I find my creative outlet of choice is now taking photos... see my blipfoto journal for a beautiful clear and yet colourful photo of the Gulf of Mexico flowing over crystal white sand here in florida. I may be able to squeeze in a little 'hands on' art in the next month or so before we move, I would like to for my own sake, but I am trying not to fret about it if I don't.

The new house we found is moving along nicely as far as the contract, so it looks like we should close by the middle of October. There is some painting in the kitchen to be done before we more in, plus I have my Nia White Belt Training October 13-19, so we don't think we will move until early November. I guess it depends on how the packing goes! So far, I have only just begun. It wil be worth it! Our new home is located on a short canal right off the Braden River.


A large screened "lanai" as they call it here, overlooks the water.
French doors go to the master bedroom.

Asia came by boat with Steven for the showing . . . see her running on the lawn!

Only a four and a half minute paddle to Lucas Boatworks where Steven is every day, amazing! I'm looking forward to paddling there myself and visiting with Dave's wife Helen, who is a quilter.


This space below is in the front of the house; a more formal "living room" and separate dining room. The dining table you see there was left behind and we wiill not use it . . . I have a lovely dining room table given to me by my parents. I will put this long table in the front "living room area" along with some of the furniture from my studio that would look alright there. Then I will use the smaller "dining room" area for my messy studio work table, messy storage things etc. In fact, the large table in the front room could double as a teaching spot or an extra work area, when covered! It is amazing I'll get to spill my studio over into 2 rooms....


This is the view from the kitchen (we will paint the cabinets white) into the family room, complete with a wood burning fireplace which we will use in December & January!! The "dining room" space is in front of the kitchen, facing the street and the "living room" space is in front of the family room. The large screened lanai is behind the family room. There are 3 bedrooms as well, so plenty of room for guests.

This is just a little update for you . . . everything happened very quickly, so you may have missed my mention of this move in my last post. We are happy and excited and flabergasted we could find a home like this, on the water. Our current home? We may rent it out or possibly try to sell it. We have not discussed everything with our realtor yet as closing on the house comes first.

October 1st is coming up soon. This is the 1st anniversary of my father's passing and also the 1st wedding anniversary of my son Dallas and his wife Liz. My family experienced both death and a life commitment - all on the same day. I could not be at their wedding understandably, but I am so happy to have made a celebratory animoto photo-video for Dallas and Liz for their first wedding anniversary. If you cannot see the video below, follow this link. And wonderful news, my older son Decklin & his partner Tina will be getting married next year on October 5th, 2013!



sending love


prayer flag swap complete and hanging up!

Wow, this was quite a swap! It was more popular than I expected, with 40 participants registering and 36 completing the swap. Congratulations to the participants!

The flags were sent to me to be exchanged/ swapped and then returned home. View all of the flags that were created for this swap on my creative swaps blog. A visit to the blog is recommended for inspiration factor alone! Beautiful artist prayer flags arrived in my mailbox from Scotland, Great Britain, Germany, Norway, Canada and many of the states across the USA -so much fun!

As part of this exchange I wanted to share photos of my swapped flags hanging up and then invite the participants to do the same. I'm adding a "link list" to the creative swaps blog so everyone can add a link themselves to a specific blog post or photo that shares the flags they received, hanging up. I'll add this to the "link list" on creative swaps as soon as I finishing sharing my photos with you!

As the swap hostess I was unexpectedly gifted with many gorgeous prayer flags, 23 of them to be exact! I also participated in this swap. I made 3 to swap but I also made 3 extras to hang with my received swaps, for a total of 26 flags hanging! Details of the flags I created are shown in my September 17th post if you'd like to see.

I started by dividing my prayer flags in three fairly equal piles, trying to coordinate them. The Super-Tech spool on the counter is the fishing line I decided to use to hang them. Click for details!


I strung each pile on fishing line with a big plastic yarn needle and then laid them out on the floor to see what they looked like. I ended up with 3 groups of flags strung together. I'm thinking I may choose a rope, ribbon or something different next time to string them on, as the flags slide a bit on the fishing line.


My original plan was to hang them over our patio tied to the tiny little lights we have hanging there, but my husband and I unexpectedly put an offer on a home last week (click to view) and it was accepted!!! Amazing. It is perfect for us. The home is on a canal, only a 5 minute paddle from Lucas Boatworks where Steven goes every day. Since we will be moving soon, I went for this easier to reach location, but they still look beautiful! I have already been thinking of where to put them in our new home : )



I love how they catch the breeze and spread their prayers and wishes . . . 











Thank you to all my creative and generous participants! 
Visit creative swaps to see and read more about these wonderful artists.


There are things that we don't want to happen but have to accept, things we don't want to know but have to learn, and people we can't live without but have to let go.
 - Author Unknown


prayer flags - more on mine

Back in June when I was preparing for the artist's prayer flag swap I was about to host, I showed you my first prayer flag I ever made. You can read about that first flag and see my process here.
In this post I will show you the rest of the prayer flags I made. If you'd like to see ALL of the wonderful and beautiful, creative and thoughtful prayer flags made by the 36 participants - visit the creative swaps blog. When you get to the bottom of the blog page, you will need to click on Older Posts to view more! I am in the process of swapping them out and sending them home. When the flags are all sent I will give the artists the opportunity to share photos of their own flags and the swap flags they received, hanging up in the breeze! So watch creative swaps main page for more beauty.

I made these two prayer flags while visiting wolfe island, Ontario
My work area overlooking the St Lawrence River. So very peaceful.

The first flag I made on the left. I'm getting started on a new one.

I took one of my grandmother's (Nonie) linen cocktail napkins with embroidered fish already on it and added my own crude embroidery. At first I did not like it, but by now it has grown on me . . . the word/wish I embroidered is "energy". I will keep this one to fly at home and send me energy!

This is before I accentuated it with inks and also beads.




I did really enjoy hand stitching and adding beads in front of the river . . .

Here are some others I made. This one is made out of a hand towel! 
I think I will keep this one. 

I also added lovely handmade beads by Carolyn Saxby, sewn on to the corner...

This one is so simple, but I love it. All glue and no stitching! 
(my machine was at home!) This one will be swapped.

I made this when I returned home . . . I love this flag but I will swap it.

This one was made on the island and will be part of the swap (I participated too)

My first prayer flag I will keep. Remembering balance in my life is something I really need to bestow upon myself! I beefed up the lettering by outlining it with a black sharpie marker.

Love grows by giving. The love we give away is the only love we keep. 
The only way to retain love is to give it away.
 ~ Elbert Hubbard




creativity and Nia

Yesterday after Nia class, I was interviewed by international faculty member and trainer Gail Condrick. Gail has already edited this video interview and done a super job - see below. She's putting together a number of videos about the Nia White Belt Training coming up in October and February on beautiful Anna Maria Island in Florida. Gail will be team-training with her friend and Nia instructor/trainer Charlotte Jorgensen, October 13-19, 2012. I will be immersing into this October training! Below are the video clips Gail took of me telling a bit about why I have registered for this training. The video was taken inside Island Yoga Space where we have Nia Classes - I love the prayer flags behind me! I have embedded the video in this blog post, but if for any reason you can't see it please use this direct YouTube Link. To learn more about the White Belt Training and Nia - click here.

Video below: Behind the Scenes Planning a Nia White Belt Intensive with Gail Condrick!



From the Nia Website:

What is Nia?
Nia is a sensory-based movement practice that draws from martial arts, dance arts and healing arts. It empowers people of all shapes and sizes by connecting the body, mind, emotions and spirit. Classes are taken barefoot to soul-stirring music in more than 45 countries. Trainings are designed for those seeking personal enrichment and professional development. Every experience can be adapted to individual needs and abilities. Step into your own joyful journey with Nia, and positively shape the way you feel, look, think and live.

Additional videos: How close is the beach? Gail shows where you can take some time off during the training!

Gail's interview with Irene Schmoller, another White Belt Trainee -and why she is doing the training.

More videos here on Gail's YouTube Channel!

Dallas rides for Bottom Line!

-My son Dallas with his wife Liz, and me! We are bundled up on de Soto beach here in Florida one cold and windy day in January 2010. Steve and I hope to see them here again this coming January or February, hopefully with warmer weather and less coats & hats!

In the meantime, Dallas is in graduate School at Simmons College in Boston and Liz is working hard at Bottom Line, an organization that helps low-income and first-generation-to-college students. Bottom Line is dedicated to helping disadvantaged students get in to college, graduate from college, and go far in life.

Dallas is raising funds for Bottom Line so they can help more kids get into college and offer support to make it through. He is participating in the Rodman ride for Kids on September 29th with a 25 mile race. It is a matching gift charity and close to Dallas' heart as his wife Liz is passionate about her work at Bottom Line.

Dallas wrote a lovely letter requesting help for this cause and I would love to share it with you.

"On September 29th I am going to be riding a bicycle 25 miles, as part of the Rodman Ride for Kids, to raise money for the non-profit organization Bottom Line. What is Bottom line and why would I spend my free time trying to raise money to support their mission? That's a fantastic question, Bottom Line works with low income students who are the first generation of their family to go to college. Not only do they help them with the complicated application process, they also support them throughout college, working with them until they graduate.
For more information about Bottom Line, please visit their website: http://www.bottomline.org/

If you would like to help in my effort to raise 1,500 dollars for Bottom Line, please make a donation of any size at this website prior to September 29th: http://BottomLine.kintera.org/2012/dallas

Should you have any questions about anything, please don't hesitate to contact me.
All the Best, Dallas Foster"

That's my boy! I just went and made my donation. I hope to go to Boston when Dallas graduates on May 10. Thank you for your time and for reading!! lenna


You live longer once you realize that anytime spent being unhappy is wasted.
  ~ Ruth E. Renkl

art journal on holiday

Wouldn't it be fun to be on that little sailboat out on the St Lawrence River, heading for Lake Ontario and sailing around the Thousand islands? I saw this boat there . . . 

well, my drawing skills are not that keen, but the boat looked something like this!

 We were staying in the family cottage on Wolfe Island in Canada at the time. The St. Lawrence runs directly in front of the cottage and I could not help but try to capture this scene as a fun thing to do at the time and a lovely memory now. I had prepared the page previously with white gesso, so it was all set to go. I liked the texture the gesso left on the page, so I grabbed both acrylic paints and oil pastels and jumped in. 

I left some of the gesso uncovered, especially on the sky, to look more like clouds. The paint is a very thin watery wash, for a nice light airy feeling. You can see I applied a little bit of the same paint to the river too, but then added pastels over that as well.

I had packed my list of positive affirmations, given to me by my friend Joanna. I chose one easily and hand wrote it with my trusty Sharpie Marker . . . . We are looking at my rendition of Kingston, Ontario.

Even though it is not the most realistic of drawings, I am very pleased with this journal entry. Thanks for looking! I am linking this up at Art Journal Every Day!

I also worked on my 2013 Sketchbook project while there and plan to scan & share those pages with you soon. Right now I am concentrating on the Prayer Flag art swap I am hosting . . . I have lots more flags to scan and share. They are really quite remarkable, inspiring, beautiful . . . to name a few adjectives! You can see them all on my creative swaps blog!

 All swap flags are due in my hands September 15th, so I am sure to have a busy week. Please check it out if you have time - such gorgeous fabric art!

Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.  

  ~ Theodore Roosevelt