Author Archives: jenniekristel

About jenniekristel

I am an artist, writer, therapist and teacher exploring my world through the lens of the small things around me.

A Grumpy Day

Dreaming the World

Banks_of_the_CharlesI am grumpy and this post reflects that.

This morning dawned cloudy and cool, which was refreshing after two days in sweltering Boston; there is a reason one lives in Vermont. We were in Boston for family and work. Jennie discovered a hotel deal so we stayed in Cambridge, right on Harvard Square, and enjoyed avoiding the commute. The new Cooper Museum at Harvard was across the street, and we caught the last day of a truly moving exhibition there. The small museum is dedicated to African and African-American art; the show was predominantly contemporary and explored the African diaspora as experienced by living artists.

Then we crossed the bridge to Boston to meet up with my stepson, Daniel, who is an artist and arts administrator. Daniel is working hard to bring accessibility to one of the city’s iconic, and inaccessible, visual arts institutions. a building surrounded by even less…

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Report from Vermont: Summertime

Michael talks about our summer. Enjoy.

Dreaming the World

Charlie's_Boat_HouseYesterday was hot and today is forecast to be more so. Last evening we went to the lake for a picnic, something we do as often as possible during warm weather. We were tired following the holiday weekend and a long work day, so made a salad and arranged to pick up a pizza on our way to the park.

We are well past the solstice but evenings remain long, twilight stretching out forever. The evening promised a lovely sunset, but we were too tired to wait for it, so after a simple meal (often our picnics are complex gastronomical celebrations) we came home. Jennie had planned to walk down to our neighborhood beach for a swim, but never made it past our neighbor’s house. She and our neighbor sat on the stoop and chatted as the sky very slowly darkened.

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Getting ready to go

I just received this in my inbox from the Psychology Network, an online forum for psychotherapists and thought it was interesting:

“We all think we know ourselves and are convinced that we know others just by reading body language, the way they speak, write, look.

As I get ready to go back to Asia I am aware that thisDSC00656 statement could potentially be rather dangerous for me to follow given where I am traveling to. In fact, I find it deeply insensitive for many reasons.

While I have traveled extensively now through out Asia,  there are a variety of social and cultural norms that go from the more liberal (western clothing acceptable in the cities men and women able to be together in one space and work together) to more Continue reading

Remembering the Healing Stories

Dreaming the World

Winter_FogLauret Savoy ends Traces with this: “Remembering is an alternative to extinction.”

Remembering is a well-formed story. One of my early clinical teachers used to insist that neurosis was that which prevented the development of healing story, and that psychotherapy was the search for stories that worked. I’ve come to the conclusion that this is also the most useful definition of trauma; indeed, perhaps, as Pierre Janet suggested, trauma and neurosis are essentially the same. In that view, neurosis becomes a sort of effect of trauma, a trace of that which defies narrative.

On this Martin Luther King, Jr. weekend, we are reminded that violence seeks to interrupt the development of rich, liberating stories. To those who hold unfair advantage, there is something frightening in the arrival of empowering, healing stories, and they will do all within their power to prevent the development and dissemination of such liberatory narratives. Assassination…

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Trying Something New

It is a new year. The old year, 2015 went out with the usual flurry of holiday activities. We celebrate Channukah, Solstice and Christmas in our house and so we had our usual gathering for Solstice which was warm with rich deep sharing both with story and food. Christmas is a big thing for us. I sing in our local church choir and we serve breakfast on Christmas morning. We then spent New Years Eve with neighbors made for a sweet ending to the hectic year we had.

While we celebrated, There was something a bit different with this year. Michael and I bemoaned that it seemed hard for us to enjoy the holidays as we were working so much and were tired at night. We finally managed to get out to see one of our favorite A capella singing groups, Social Band ( and were glad for it as it was a wonderful performance.

DSC01805(Our Medicine wheel lit up on New Years 2016)

It was busy not so much because of the actual holidays themselves (although that definitely was present, excuse the pun), but I think the experiences in our collective worlds.  There is much drama in our world right now and a lot of it deeply anxiety provoking. Tonight a presidential campaigner is coming to our town and it is stirring a huge to-do in our community. That coupled with extremes around the world, environmental chaos (Vermont had the warmest December on record by a huge margin) and sad and maddening responses to the environmental crises by our local elected officials created a deep well of sadness, pain and anguish for me and others.  It was hard to see the forest through the trees.

I noted that my client load went up- People feeling tremendous pain. The holidays brings so much with it- often not pleasant. Putting on a face and supporting others, in the end is what supported me as well. “Take the long view” I counseled. This too shall pass and there will be another day. I find that at times it is hard for me to take my own counsel.


As I get older and bear witness to all this, I am taking stock of what is most important. Ive been trying to be in the studio more. Working on what nourishes me. Today I took a Nia dance class and so enjoyed it that I decided  I am going back and committed to a ten visit pass. Exercise classes can be interesting  and often painful with my CP based  slightly twisted and awkward back muscles. Im looking forward to seeing how this goes. I had fun, was with a community of women, and the music was great. Right now my back feels great and I am full of energy. With this, I begin anew and step into the unknown of 2016.

Break A Leg 

A heartfelt and real experience of when the caregiver needs care. Very sweet. Very real.

Life with Becky

Yep, that’s exactly what I did ten weeks ago during the dangerous activity of gardening. Unfortunately no-one was around so I had to crawl the 150 feet back to the house to call for help. The bones were set and cast that day, but I was told I needed surgery.

I went home to take care of Becky and to make arrangements for the next day. Our friends jumped in to help, so after a sleepless night I headed back to the hospital knowing that Becky was in good hands. It was a long painful wait for surgery, but at 1 pm I was called in. I wasn’t nervous, I just wanted it over with so I could go home.

I woke up several hours later feeling sleepy and nauseous. I passed out several times but finally started to come around another two hours later. I called my neighbour to…

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Holding Place Dear

I have not written here much. A lot going on in the world. I did receive good news Friday. Monarch Meadow is currently zoned as recreational conservation. It doesn’t mean we get to relax though. Our government has been thoughtlessly changing zoning on many a pristine place. In fact, with the sense of spae that comes from this news, I find that we need to use it to create a strong group to be able to ward off what might come next. Michael writes about holding places so dear. Love is about loving and cherishing. It can be painful and come at a cost. Blessings, Jennie

Dreaming the World

Spring_ShootsA lovely, chilly, raining day. It is good to have rain, as the Earth here has been quite dry, and the fire danger high.

Saturday Jennie and I hosted a workshop focused on using personal stories to nurture and protect beloved spaces. Those gathered shared stories of the places they hold dear, and the fates of those locales. Some of the places remain, others have disappeared under the miner’s or developer’s bulldozer.

Holding places as sacred is a risky business. So often, that copse of woods, lake, or deserted lot we grow to love are taken from us. Yet, given the opportunity, we humans seem hard wired to fall in love with landscapes, corner lots, and ecosystems. We form deep bonds with boiler rooms in a tenements or the Natural world, including parks; sometimes they are our only childhood refuge.

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A Sacred Weekend

SAMSUNG CSCThis weekend has been a busy one in our home. Both Passover and Easter were acknowledged. Michael wrote about his experiences in “An Easter Walk” seen here.

After Googling many a Haggadah -there are literally thousands of them- Reading through more than I ever have, Michael and I frantically cut and pasted what we hoped would be meaningful and honoring of the Seder story, including all relevant parts (This year along with the orange on the Seder plate, and Miriam’s Cup of water, we included olives representing the hardships of the Palestinians and of the bloodshed that has occurred) just as the children arrived-already hungry! A quick snack, and we were on our way to tell the story, relaxing as we are to do, in front of the fire, in our livingroom sharing stories and asking questions. In our family, we are mindful of the slavery that still exists in the world of all faiths.10-DSC01297 Continue reading

A Question of space

DSC01282 In the last few days, months, really years I have reflected on the nature of space. I count myself as blessed to live in a city that has green spaces all around, including my backyard which backs up against wooded areas and a beautiful field. From there, it blends with the Burlington Bike Path and down to the lake.In the last year, our mayor, a developer, has been working, with help from elected friends, to erode the green spaces that make our city so special. In the last few months, I have been working with a grass-roots organization (Save Open Space-Burlington  at to support our elected officials in becoming more accountable, and to educate the public on what is happening in all our backyards. Its been eye-opening for me, and illuminating, to discover how intrenched our political landscape has become, and how, like one of my colleagues said, that we as a community have become complacent and, well, sheep like (no offense to the lovely sheep out there simply being themselves). I have been simultaneously encouraged and depressed. After three major events sponsored by Save Open Space-Burlington in the last three months in which we have invited people to consider what open space is, and means for us as a community, I now know that there is a lot of interest in our human community about open space. It often gets pitted against the need for decent housing(which will be another blog), and which then brings about the question of who needs the space more? For me it also begs the question of Whose lives matter the most? InDSC01281 the last few days, I have heard that a local civic community center has been talking with developers about possibly putting housing up in a field that is directly behind our neighborhood in the NNE. This is now very close to home. This is an area that is used by two high schools for track meets in the spring and fall, and cross-country skiing in the winter. Countless dog walkers and hikers and joggers, and a plethora of bees, butterflies, owls, eagles and hawks, deer, bunnies, fox, and turkey live on and use the space. I’m sure there are other species as well. We have Hermit Thrushes as well. Hermit Thrush need enough wooded area to feel safe.The communities that exist and co-exist in this rich field and wooded area would be decimated if the space were developed.

DSC01229I spend a lot of time in the back of my house simply watching the world that exists in the feathered and furry communities. I find that I go there to catch my breath, to meditate, and to silently drink tea as the birds and squirrels have breakfast, brunch, lunch or dinner. I find that I am drawn to this space where our gardens are and where we have a Medicine Wheel and ceremony area in which many deep healings have taken place.

Today I watch as the plants spring back, the sap begins to run, and the world begins to wake up from its long and very cold winter sleep.  Mother nature is preparing to rise and shine as Spring is wont to do. As I watch, I am aware of my own process of deep sadness:  how incredibly ignorant we are as a human species, ego driven to think that we as humans might have more sense than the animal kingdom that has lived in these woods and fields for centuries before us!DSC01292

If condos go into this area, we might well help in the demise of several species. This brings me to anger. As a practicing Buddhist, I work at moderation and particularly moderation of emotions such as anger. But I find myself both sad and angry, and trying to understand how anyone could even conceive of taking down these woods, or destroying the land behind  Burlington College (with the last remaining vista of the lake that is unadulterated by housing), or how we consider ourselves as being more important than the lives of the flora and fauna and animals that have lived here long before us.

I have decided to track the woods and fields to see the changes of the seasons. I welcome your thoughts and comments and stories. We need to tell our stories. What does green space mean for you where you live?  If you are local to Burlington Vermont, how have you traversed these woods? What does space mean to you? What do you notice? How does walking in the woods make you feel? Does any of this matter to you? Can we, as a collective, come to an understanding about the Nature of the Spaces we live in that takes into account voices of those who cannot speak our language? I hope so for all our sakes.