Wednesday, December 23, 2015

The Sewing Kit

I’ve been busy lately. Every day or two, I take some time to sort through the items that defined my parents’ lives: files, old documents – Russia, Poland, Germany, Switzerland, USA – yellowed deeds to properties long sold, faded photographs, birth certificates. My father’s diploma for an apprenticeship as a furrier, completed. A letter of recommendation from my mother’s year in Denmark for a job well done, shortly before escaping the growing threat of Adolf Hitler for the safety of America.

My father passed away fifteen years ago, my mom just barely three months ago. That’s still very raw; the ache from my father’s passing a more distant and familiar friend.

And so today, I find myself looking for her sewing kit, identical to mine, a gift to her, and to me, from an aunt, many years ago. I’m looking for grey thread to sew a hem on my husband’s pants; why am I all out of grey? I find the sewing kit, woven in white plastic, with flowered puffy panels cushioning the top. I notice that hers is in far better condition than mine; it still has the white plastic around the loop that mine lost years ago. Was this box used less frequently? This isn’t the first sewing kit I remember; that one disappeared long ago, a large wood box that opened in stepped zigzag layers as you unfolded it, revealing one side or the other.

I forget to steel myself before opening the lid. How am I to know that this box, so innocent, sitting on the shelf untouched since I moved it into my house, could hold such a wealth of memories?

As I open the box, I’m stunned. Tiny, elegant scissors in the shape of a fanciful bird, greet me. A few spools of thread: yellow (what was that supposed to repair?), orange (for her sweater, new in Zurich, and now not new anymore?). Oh, and here’s that grey thread I was hoping to find. This spool at first commands my attention, but quickly, my eye is drawn to a treasure trove of sewing paraphernalia. A sharp needle, for sewing leather: that was my father’s, clearly. A zipper. Pins. Chalk.

I catch my breath as I spot a button with a flower pattern in the fabric. I know that button, and the dress it came from. It makes me wonder: why did she remove it? Was it an extra button, irritatingly placed inside a seam, that my father removed for my mother many years ago? I miss her, in that blue green pink swirl of a dress, a holiday afternoon kind of a dress.

The top layer of the sewing kit is see-through plastic, with compartments for items such as spools for the sewing machine – something she never touched. A red tape measure, centimeters and inches, carefully folded upon itself in S loops, a slender metal band holding it together neatly, keeping the ends from unraveling. Another scissor, not quite as delicate as the first, the lower blade rounded so as to protect the fabric one layer below. Shiny gold ornaments – they look like earrings, but they’re not. What were they used for? And what was my mother doing with those sparkly red discs? Maybe she bought them, or picked them up at the crafts club, but without my father, anything to do with sewing wasn’t going to happen. I’m left to wonder.

I excavate deeper. Black batting. A mini-sewing kit, for traveling. There are loose buttons, and neatly organized buttons, from suits, men’s shirts, and dresses. And a needle threader: that must have come in handy when it was no longer easy to thread a needle with aging eyes. Hooks for fixing a bra (does anyone repair those anymore?).

As I get to the hard, blue-lined bottom, it finally dawns on me: this was my father’s sewing kit. My mother didn’t sew; I’d never once seen her thread a needle, or sew on a button. She left that to my father. Oh sure, she picked up crocheting again when she moved into an apartment at a senior residence: the Knitting Club, but she would crochet, she insisted, always a bit different from everyone else, slightly defiant. Maybe she snipped a stray thread with that elegant scissor, once.

My father was the one who used this kit, lovingly, meticulously choosing what he needed: the scissor, the thread, the tailor’s chalk to mark a hem. I can see his sinewy-strong, veined violinist’s hands choosing, threading, holding the fabric just so, his elegant fingers stitching a perfect hem, sewing on a button with the eye of the perfectionist. My mom must have asked him to fix this or that, surely. And, just as surely, she would have been pleased with his handiwork. They might have smiled at each other on a quiet evening, when the sewing was done. Or he might have left her sweater, the seam repaired with almost-invisible stitches, neatly folded on her dresser, to be discovered the next day, with pleasure. There are many ways to love.

I sigh. The ache is there as tears well up with the memory and the missing of him, and her, and them, and their quiet understanding.

The work of choosing what to keep and what to discard begins. The yellow thread: no. The elegant scissors, yes, definitely. I allow myself moments of pleasure: his hands held that scissor. A large silver thimble: I try it on and feel the metal that protected his fingertips envelop mine, he, still keeping me safe from harm, reaching out to me across the years. I sort things out, holding onto some of the items because I’ll use them (can’t everyone use more needles? pins? elastic thread?), others because in keeping them, I can keep him, them, close to me.

I can’t stitch them back into my life. But I can piece together the fabric of their lives, one scissor, one thread, one memory at a time. In that, there is the stab of loss and pain. And in that, there is also great, great comfort.

- Charlotte Chandler Stone, December 20, 2015

Friday, September 4, 2015

If You're Going To Trek To The Lighthouse, You Need To Do Three Things

If You're Going To Trek To The Lighthouse, You Need To Do Three Things

Northern Lighthouse, Block Island

Have you ever set a goal for yourself? Maybe you were going to take a course, and finish it. Maybe you were going to exercise more. Maybe you were going to learn a new language. Setting the goal was the easy part. Getting there, and completing the goal, that was the hard part. It took some planning, some decision-making, some preparing, some tough choices and trade-offs. I recently spent a few days on Block Island. I walked a lot (that's what you do on Block Island), and it was fun to be a tourist, snapping photos of quaint houses, the great Victorian inns, and the ocean, forever changing. One of those days, I found myself at the northern tip of the island, where the paved road ends, and there's nothing but sand between the end of the road, and the northern lighthouse. A lot of sand.  I decided that I was going to see that lighthouse. And so, I set forth. I thought it would be a short hike, maybe 10-15 minutes, tops. It wasn't. I started out, feeling just fine. For about two minutes. That's when I realized that there was no "road," no path at all, nothing solid underfoot. Just sand. Shifting, slippery sliding sand that turned each step into a Herculean effort. It was 92 degrees that afternoon. But I wanted to get to that lighthouse. Suddenly, nothing else mattered. Everything else fell away, and it seemed to me that my life depended on reaching that lighthouse. I wanted this like I had never wanted anything else before. Well, my head wanted it, and my heart wanted it. My legs: that was another matter. It became a torturous walking meditation of sorts: Stepping high, placing, sliding, pushing off. Stepping high, placing, sliding, pushing off.  

I tried different strategies: What if I took longer strides? That didn't work. What if I turned my feet out as I strode forward? That did work: I must have looked like a cross-country skier lost in a nightmare, displaced from snowy slopes onto a distant and unfriendly beach. 

I stopped to catch my breath (a lot). I stopped to take gulps of water (a lot). I stopped to shake out the sand caught in my sneakers (a lot). I stopped to take pictures of the lighthouse, taunting me. I stopped to look back to check on my progress (unimpressive). OK, I stopped a lot, but I kept going. The sweat pouring down my forehead stung my eyes. But I kept going. And I finally got to the bottom of the little hill that leads up to the lighthouse. The structure loomed large in front of me now, not so far away anymore. I considered turning around: after all, I'd sort of made it. That didn't feel right, though; I hadn't trekked all that way in the unforgiving sand just to turn back when I was just one small hill away from the lighthouse. I was going to get to that lighthouse and touch that building and look around and take in the view! So I trudged up the final hill, quads screaming, heart pounding, face burning from the heat. And I made it! I felt triumphant! For others (people in better aerobic condition than I), this is probably not a hard trek. But for me, it was, and I was grinning from ear to ear because I had vanquished my inner demon ("go back ... this is crazy .... it's hot as blazes out here ... you don't have to do this ... you're not in any shape to do this ... what if you die out here ... "). And when I had rested a bit, and taken a selfie or two (oh yes, I wanted proof!), and gulped more water, I turned around to face the trek back to where the road had ended, and my quest had begun. 
Here's what I learned. If you're going to trek to the lighthouse, you need to do three things: Travel light. Drink water. And wear sturdy shoes. 


Please note that the studio will be closed for Labor Day (Monday, Sept. 7). We will also be closed on Wednesday, Sept. 23, in observance of Yom Kippur.

And good news: The Tuesday evening Hatha Flow Yoga class (no longer "Hot Yoga"!) resumes Sept. 29th -- see you on the mat!

Tuesday, July 28, 2015


with Beth Taubes, RN, OCN, CBCN
Certified Health Coach
Founder of Wellness Wisdom
If you've been frustrated by repeated attempts to get healthy, lose weight, keep it off, and stay in shape, then this sensible approach to lifelong wellness and weight loss is for you! 

Join us in a 4 week program that will help you gradually change lifelong habits related to nutrition, physical activity, weight management, and stress.

In this program, we will:

- explore & discuss a range of health topics
- create short and long term goals
- learn about sensible (and delicious!) meal planning
- have fun exercising and meditating together (no experience required!)
- have the opportunity to receive ongoing support


4 Wednesday Evenings:

July 29
August 5
August 12
August 19

7:30 - 8:45 pm

$150 (payable to Stone Yoga)

Pre-registration is required, and space is limited, as we are committed to providing a safe space with plenty of individual attention and support.

THERE IS STILL TIME TO SIGN UP; use this link to register:

OR: Bring/send a check to the studio to register: 
Stone Center for Yoga & Health
1415 Queen Anne Road, Ste. 204
Teaneck, NJ 07666
NOTE: This program is offered with people seated in chairs -- it is accessible to everyone, of all fitness and wellness levels. While some movement will be offered at each session, movement will be adapted to make is accessible for each and every participant.


Tuesday, June 30, 2015



Join me Sunday evening, July 12th, for our FREE Monthly Meditation Circle, 7-8 pm. The Meditation Circle is a great way to unwind, relieve stress, and find a contemplative respite from our busy lives. No prior experience with meditation required … all are welcome! FREE (small donations are appreciated, but not required)

Sunday, March 22, 2015


Join us this summer  …  and in just 3 weeks, you can become a certified, Yoga Alliance-accredited Children's Yoga Teacher!

The Nesheemah Kids Yoga Teacher Training (NKYTT) -- hosted at Stone Center for Yoga & Health -- is a 95-hour Yoga Alliance-accredited professional training.

This comprehensive program is for yoga instructors, classroom educators, administrators, directors, counselors, physical and occupational therapists, nurses, and anyone who works with children ages 3-17, and has the mission of bringing out the best in them. Trainees will learn the many ways that yoga can create joy; promote the healthy physical, emotional and social development of children; and help them develop lifelong healthy habits.


MONDAY - THURSDAY, June 29-July 2, 2015
MONDAY - FRIDAY, July 27-31
MONDAY - FRIDAY, August 10-14

12:30 - 4:30 pm

Contact us for information:

- Techniques, training & practice
- Teaching methodology
- Anatomy & physiology from childhood to young adulthood
- Philosophy & ethics
- Practicum

Through attainable, relatable, accessible and fun ways to understand yoga for children, participants will graduate with a very valuable toolbox.


Nancy began her career in the early childhood classroom and is currently an Educational Consultant specializing in mindfulness education and children's yoga teacher training. She taught children's yoga for 15 years and created and implemented educationally based and yoga inspired programming that has resonated with school leaders, educators, parents and children.

Nancy is the founder and director of CADDY Camp, which stands for Circus, Art, Dance, Drama and Yoga. Nancy has a M.A. in Educational Leadership and holds E-RYT200 and RCYT (Registered Children's Yoga Teacher) Yoga Alliance accreditations.

Charlotte is the Founder & Director of the Stone Center for Yoga & Health. She holds certifications in Structural Yoga Therapy, Phoenix Rising Yoga Therapy, Cardiac Yoga, Transformation Meditation, and Wellness Coaching. She has completed professional trainings in Osteoporosis: A Comprehensive Treatment Strategy, and Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR), and is the Director of Integrative Yoga Therapeutics for Kula for Karma. She holds the highest level of accreditation from the national Yoga Alliance, and she is in constant dialogue with those at the forefront of yoga and yoga therapeutics both nationally and internationally.

In her teaching, Charlotte draws from Structural and Viniyoga, Ayurveda, and Feldenkrais. A longstanding member of the International Association of Yoga Therapists, she offers 200 and 300 hour Yoga Alliance-accredited teacher trainings, and advanced therapeutic trainings for yoga teachers, healthcare professionals, educators, and those wishing to integrate yoga into the healthcare and educational setting.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

"Gratitude Practitioner"

I love Thanksgiving. It's my favorite holiday. I love it because it invites me to pause and look back at all the blessings that have come to me over the past year.

And it reminds me that gratitude is a practice. It's something I do -- and must do -- as a daily practice. When I wake up in the morning. And when I go to bed at night. And throughout the day. 

This year, I decided to become a "gratitude practitioner," looking at all the moments each day that bring precious gifts:
... a stranger smiling ... enjoying good health ... my mom (98, and no slowing down for her!) ... and my beautiful family ... the teachers at our studio showing up, without fail, always well-prepared, so eager to teach ... the larger fellowship of yoga-therapy-mentors, who support me unfailingly and generously when I have questions about anything and everything ... a student offering to clean all the blankets in the studio as a way of saying thank you ... a friend and colleague helping me to organize the props in the studio closets ... a trainee who takes it upon herself to organize the studio room schedule ... and another who organizes the weights in those fabulously tidy closets ... the amazing people at Kula for Karma who make it possible for me to do what I so love to do: train teachers in yoga therapeutics ... friends who showed up when I was healing from knee surgery, with tea, aromatherapy oils, warm blankets, books, and care packages that may or may not have included a few trips to Starbucks :) ... a friendly salesperson ... someone who holds the door open when I come charging through with too many things in my hands ... a stranger who decided to listen, really listen, when I was sad and just needed someone to talk to ... a colleague who selflessly sends students here because they need what we do ... my friends who offer friendship, respect and kindness without question ... the dog "wranglers" who love Cosmo and treat him so well ... and of course Cosmo himself, faithful golden retriever, for his unconditional love and fuzzy hugs ... 

So much to be thankful for. And I see, as I write this, that it's not the huge, dramatic things I'm most grateful for -- it's the small gifts that I cherish; those moments when someone could choose to not care, to not be kind, to fly by ... but didn't. 

And so, on this eve of Thanksgiving 2015, let's pause in our busy-ness and take a moment to be thankful for all the blessings in our lives, large and small. Let's write them down, to be revisited at a time when the going is rough. Let's be kind, to ourselves, and to each other. 

Let's all be "gratitude practitioners!"

From my heart to yours, a heart overflowing with gratitude,