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Dawn Downey's Blog: Stories About Mindfulness, Gratitude, and Transformation

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Dawn Downey's Blog: Stories About Mindfulness, Gratitude, and Transformation

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  • Dawn Downey
  • December 01, 2014 11:49:52 AM

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My outlook on daily life will inspire you and make you laugh.

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Great New Zoom Life

Quarantine gave me Zoom, and Zoom gave me brand new experiences.I turned my living room into a yoga studio. When Sunshine Studio moved online, I followed. There were glitches at first. The setting sun blinded me in the middle of Carolyn’s classes. It was weird complaining to my laptop that my elbow hurt. It was even weirder when my laptop said, “Dawn, take a wider stance.” (In person or online, Carolyn always made sure your alignment was in line.) Once the details got worked...

Quarantine gave me Zoom, and Zoom gave me brand new experiences.

I turned my living room into a yoga studio. When Sunshine Studio moved online, I followed. There were glitches at first. The setting sun blinded me in the middle of Carolyn’s classes. It was weird complaining to my laptop that my elbow hurt. It was even weirder when my laptop said, “Dawn, take a wider stance.” (In person or online, Carolyn always made sure your alignment was in line.) Once the details got worked out, I attended more weekly classes than in the old days, when the studio was across town instead of in my living room.

I joined a co-writing group. Personally, I preferred to work alone, in absolute quiet, in my empty room. I also needed real life mingle-time. Co-writing restored that balance. At the beginning of the session, we chatted. After months in isolation, it was exhilarating to talk shop. Last week, we talked about peanut butter, too. A scrumptious smorgasbord of new information about peanut butter. Then Jessica, our facilitator, hit mute. We put our heads down and wrote. I was in good company. At the same time, I was working alone, in absolute quiet, in my empty room.

I debuted on Broadway. The Alvin Ailey Dance Company offered a dance class. A young male dancer, alone in a studio, taught jazz moves to a screen full of little squares. I was a star during the warm-up, because it felt a lot like yoga. However, when we got to the choreography part, my Broadway career appeared less certain. He taught steps faster than I learned them. He was as twisty as a rubber band and as float-y as a dust moat. I was stiff. I tripped over my feet. I fell down. I went right when he said left. But I was grinning till my face hurt. I missed dancing.

I meditated with a hundred people. A few times last year, I’d attended services with the Society of Friends, where I got to know Marilyn. My dedication to church, as usual, staggered from enthusiastic to perfunctory to nonexistent, but Marilyn and I kept in touch. She invited me to the Friend’s online meditation. At login, my screen bloomed into a hundred living breathing humans on couches, beds, chairs, and porches, with cameos from cats and dogs. At the end of the silent service, everyone said, ‘Hello Friends.” The hellos came from England, Canada, India, and all over the US. One morning, among the cacophony of greetings, I heard, “Good Morning, Dawn.” Marilyn’s voice. The Friends made the sun rise on my day.

I learned to chant. Another of my yoga teachers, Ramaa from Mumbai, offered a class in Hindu meditation and chanting. The timing was perfect. Class started at the same time as the evening news. I was addicted to the news, but the news made me sick: depressed, anxious, and mad.  I desperately needed a commitment to take me out of the cycle. Ramaa rescued me. In class, she told us stories of Vishnu. She taught us chants she’d learned from her grandmother. While the world spun in turmoil, we sat in silence and breathed deeply.




Reminder. My Virtual Reading.

Hi. Good to see you today.I'm doing an author reading via Zoom this evening. Friday, June 26. 6:50 PM-8:00 PM Eastern Time.Details below.Literary arts nonprofit Wordier Than Thou hosts Dawn Downey for its Quarantine Storytime series.We will conduct this virtual reading using Zoom. Please create a Zoom account and learn more about the platform at https://zoom.us/Please login between 6:50 and 7 p.m. Eastern Time. You will be muted upon entering the conference room. Please remain muted unless...

Hi. Good to see you today.

I'm doing an author reading via Zoom this evening. Friday, June 26. 6:50 PM-8:00 PM Eastern Time.

Details below.


Literary arts nonprofit Wordier Than Thou hosts Dawn Downey for its Quarantine Storytime series.

We will conduct this virtual reading using Zoom. Please create a Zoom account and learn more about the platform at https://zoom.us/

Please login between 6:50 and 7 p.m. Eastern Time. You will be muted upon entering the conference room. Please remain muted unless you're called upon to speak or ask a question.

Virtual Storytime Log-in Information:

Join Zoom Meeting
https://us02web.zoom.us/j/87111359382?pwd=M202S0lhcStRY0RQYnRKVFB2dkgzZz09


Meeting ID: 871 1135 9382

Password: 797372


Books I'm Reading

Quarantine provides lots of quality time for my favorite hobby. To keep my attention until the end, a book has to do one of the following: Make me cry. Make me laugh. Make me smart. Here’s what I’ve devoured recently.The Muderbot Diaries (Books 1-4), by Martha Wells. SciFi novellas. A robot designed for providing security, (including killing, without the inconvenience of conscience) is bored with security work and obsessed with soap operas. Although the pace is fast, the appeal of...



Quarantine provides lots of quality time for my favorite hobby. To keep my attention until the end, a book has to do one of the following: Make me cry. Make me laugh. Make me smart. Here’s what I’ve devoured recently.

The Muderbot Diaries (Books 1-4), by Martha Wells. SciFi novellas. A robot designed for providing security, (including killing, without the inconvenience of conscience) is bored with security work and obsessed with soap operas. Although the pace is fast, the appeal of these books is Muderbot’s personality. The quality of Martha Wells’s writing taught me how to be a better writer. Made me laugh. Made me smart.

Eleanor and Hick: The Love Affair That Shaped a First Lady, by Susan Quinn. Biography. I loved all the history in this one, details about the Great Depression, insider politics, and the lead-up to World War II. The more I learn about Eleanor Roosevelt, the more I admire her and feel sorry for her, both. She was unable to love who she wanted to love and was repeatedly betrayed by her husband. Made me smart.

Here For It, or How to Save Your Soul in America, by R. Eric Thomas. A memoir about coming to terms with being gay and being black. He grew up in a black neighborhood, was educated in white schools, and married a white minister. Insightful and funny. Taught me about pop culture and about what great essay writing looks like. Made me cry. Made me laugh. Made me smart.

Saturday’s Child: A Daughter’s Memoir, by Deborah Burns. A daughter can’t get her mother’s attention. This hit close to home. Every once in a while, I had to put it down, because it made me think of something I needed to write about. It was a great example of how you perceive events while you’re going through them as a child, and then later, as an adult, see the same events differently. Also liked this one, because the story takes unexpected twists. Made me cry. Made me smart.

She Said: Breaking the Sexual Harassment Story that Helped Ignite a Movement, by Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey. Nonfiction. Kantor and Twohey, New York Times reporters, tracked down dozens of the women who’d been preyed on by Harvey Weinstein. These women did not want to be found. I was disgusted, but not surprised, by all the forces brought to bear to keep this predator in power. This was a thriller, even though I knew how it would end. Made me smart.

My Life as a Rat, by Joyce Carol Oates. Novel.  A young girl witnesses a, crime, speaks up, and is ostracized by her family. Ostracized, as in she runs away from home to save her life. Gut-wrenching depiction of how your family treats you and values you or not—how that gets into your head and colors your life choices. There’s so much pain in this story. (I love that.) And every page taught me how to write better. Made me cry. Made me smart.

What are you reading this week?


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