If you are a yoga retreat guest or someone coming to our site for the first time this is my personal musings..for news and things about the retreat please go to the blog at the top of the website homepage..meantime here is a bit more education about the personal challenge I am facing, we all have them,  and maybe something that is educational if you think wind energy is green….. This was printed in the Bangor Daily News along with some other stories of the Great One..thanks for reading..and to learn more go to wind watch or Maine Wind Task Force online or see the movie WINDFALL available on DVD.

ImageDonna Sewall Davidge of Island Falls relates what the natural beauty and history of Katahdin means to her and her family.

Mount Katahdin means the “Great One,” as the Indians called it. It rises majestically as you view it from the scenic overlook on I-95 or from various points in Island Falls, where Theodore Roosevelt started from when he climbed it. It means wilderness and wildlife and, thanks to the vision of Mr. Baxter, it meant preserving it for Maine and its people.

When Theodore Roosevelt climbed it, he was with my great grandfather William Sewall. It means a lot to me to keep the tradition alive — of friendship that can be made in nature, which doesn’t judge you for what you have or who you know. Nature treats all equally.

Involved in the battle to keep the wind turbines from harming our wildlife and hilltops viewed from Mount Katahdin, I never thought the day would come that the area is so jeopardized. Even if [natural landscape] is ruined nearby (if a miracle happens, the people of Maine may wake up and rise up and say, “Please do not change the way of life we have known all these years.”) the mountain will remain unchanged, even as everything around it does not remain the same. If [Katahdin] had a voice it might cry out, “What are you doing to the brothers and sisters I look out at every day? What is the blasting and the machines as high as skyscrapers? What purpose will they make? How will they serve my beautiful land and woods?”

I climbed Katahdin 1999 and again in 2010. The second time, I was with a guest who returned to my great grandfather’s home in Island Falls, where we host people as he did. She was determined to climb Katahdin. She had climbed mountains as far away as Ecuador and lived in California. I always say Susan Hopp made me go to the top. It was a glorious October day. I so hope and pray the next time she returns we will have the same views, free of industrial wind turbines that would ruin our experience of nature.”


Besides teaching and studying yoga, balancing New York City students, some I have had since the late 80’s-early 90’s!, and our wonderful  retreat guests in our wonderful historic home in Maine, my time has been consumed seeing if we can preserve the highly ranked lakes near our retreat.( the header is the view from our cabin 5 miles down the lake) The lakes will still be there but the wind farm will ruin so much of the wildlife and natural beauty that I have to do what I can..if you think Wind Is Green and Good so did most of us when we started. It has become very confusing because environmental groups have even obviously received monies (by the way, our tax dollars are subsidizing this) to say wind is good..even organizations like Audobon, who should be most concerned for the life of the birds. Jim Wiegand from Berkeley has been studying the impact of wind turbines on birds and none of it is good..carcasses of birds and bats are found under turbines in numbers. The companies argue birds hit windshields. I still cannot support  that way of thinking, They have lied to people in Vinylhaven and other parts of Maine to get what they want and once they do, they either pay them off or force them to leave their once peaceful and pristine homes. Maine- the way life should be. What happened to their motto? These turbines require blasting into hills that are untouched for thousands of years, clear cutting 5 acres of beautiful forest for each turbines, the low frequency noise and the audible noise drives the creatures from their homes as well..and see the movie Windfall for an example of the impact on humans and more..it will NOT get us off fossil fuel..as a matter of fact, it requires back up because it is so intermittent..want to learn more? Google Wind watch, Save the eagles or Wind Task Force. We have appealed the DEP, the BEP and watch the corruption of the expedited wind law that Angus King and Baldacci should be persecuted for – acting as if the beauty of rural Maine does not matter and sneaking in to the towns before they knew what hit them. True, some people are apathetic- true, the ones against them have personally told me they don’t want to lose their friends so say nothing..but we will do what we can as we always do. Yoga lifestyle means living your truth with courage and clarity and strength and grace. It is not simply about asana.

As T.R. , (while has was at Harvard) who trekked these woods and lakes for 3 fall expeditions with my great grandfather William Sewall while staying at Sewall House, said:

“Nobody knows how much you know until they know how much you care”

and as one of my beloved NY students wrote me yesterday knowing the challenge I am dealing with

“Everything will be all right in the end and if its not alright it will not be the end”

It is the yoga principle of ahimsa, non harming or nonviolence, that I feel deeply when fighting the fight of the wind warrior..for all the life taken for the cause, whether it be trees, birds or frogs..


This is my personal blog- the retreat blog is on the top of the webpage.


So DEP turned a deaf ear to the beautiful letters written and the comments made about the damage First Wind will create over and around our beautiful untouched lakes in a proven low wind area- logic is not prevailing here, sadness fills every cell of my being- and messages come from unexpected places to assure us of who we are.

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thanks Michael for sending this with your payment for Kent’s wonderful peanut butter that you ordered:

“Our task must be to free ourselves by widening the circle of compassion and understanding to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty”..Albert Einstein

Friday was the last day we could provide comments to the DEP for their sad form draft permit for the 50 45 story wind turbines overlooking our historic highly ranked lakes which are wildlife preserves..for eagles, bats, loons and enjoyed by humans who love the tranqulity and healing of nature-in the last monet the Sierra Club wrote them saying this is the wrong place ..will our DEP protect the Wind Companies or the people of Maine ands those who enjoy our part of Maine? this link tells it all
donations accepted as we continue our legal battle..


Infants Gravestones 1860's

One sunny day this summer our neighbor Fred, the head of the Cemetery Committee in Island Falls, drove in to our driveway with something in a small trailer pulled behind his ATV. He walked to our door, knocked and asked if I knew anything about the contents. I did not. But I could speculate. The dates and the names of the parents determined that these were infants that had been born to my great grandfather’s older brother. They died 12 days apart, brother and sister, in October, likely the victims of a flu or, worse yet, diphtheria, that they had somehow shared with each other. The stones had been found in the barn of an older neighbor whose estate was being auctioned off; mysterious the things we store in our closets, so to speak, the secrets we all carry that only are in the halls of our own mind. No, I did not know their story. But seeing these little tombstones my heart and mind recollected a time where life was more uncertain, where we were held more in the grips of the whims of nature, whether it be weather or disease. We have never truly escaped this grip, even with modern medicine and weathermen. Perhaps we experience it more now in a different way by the way we treat our environment and each other, I wonder. Little ones, rest in peace. (age 1- little LEVI GONE ON TO A BETTER LAND, obviously named for his grandfather, my great great grandfather and age 4-DANCING IN HEAVEN MARY ANNIE).

For years now I have spoken about ” writing a book” , have purchased books on writing and on publishing books, even had the courage to take a spiritual memoir class this Spring. With childlike trepidation I read the first two pages to the class, who responded with at least curiosity.  The teacher said he would read 10 pages if anyone wanted him to. I jumped on the opportunity, giving him the part about leaving my first marriage to escape in to my own (selfish?) search in Europe etc etc etc blah blah blah, which is pretty much what he thought of it- “nothing there”. Ouch, I (it) might not be as interesting as I thought! These day so many people in yoga have had these “journeys”( ie The Poser- Eat, Pray . Love, neither of which I can judge because I have not read them but they ARE best sellers) . Is mine really all that interesting?

My nephew wrote me a note when I was 40, thanking me for attending his wedding,  writing (and he writes spectacularly) that I looked like the main character from some Argentinian novel whose life resembles Angela’s Ashes; I was touched by his insightful observation. It sounds so dramatic but it is relatively true. I have had an adventurous and varied life, as someone said to me recently, deliberate. A story like mine seems it should have a different outcome. We could call it..at first you don’t succeed (wow it took me ten tries to type that word, is it Freudian or WHAT?)..or we could call it, well, I cannot tell that story here.

Life nectar is now my personal blog, not my yoga teacher blog, not the Sewall House blog(that you can find now in our menu) so from time to time I will muse on life or little stories.

An agent in NYC that my friend Paul kindly referred me to (much more useful than a cold call) said my idea had merit – in the rejection e-mail an assistant took the time to write. I think that was actually encouraging, though I did not take it that way at the time.

My 96 year old father says he wants to complete his memoirs; I wonder if either of us will.

With the NY Times article last weekend and the response to it in Elephant magazine and the Details magazine on the eroticism of yoga in the hot yoga world, there are a lot of ways to do yoga these days! Why do you do it?? What does it do for you? In case you did not catch the articles- is yoga a lifestyle, a philosophy or just exercise??


Donna bends a bit...

Our most recent trip advisor review says ” All stressed out New Yorkers should have a place like this to retreat to, where people are not obsessed with wealth and status and common sense reigns supreme.” This week Edmund Morris was featured in Metro New York, having completed his third and final biography installment on Theodore Roosevelt. As only an eloquent writer can do so well, as Morris reflects on the issues of TR’s 1912 campaign he sees that TR had a profound mistrust of wealth as a false American value and that wealth these days is “so grotesquely celebrated and regarded as a badge of merit”. Though he only mentions my great grandfather a little in his first celebrated bio of TR, he grasped the relationship so well. I saw the King’s Speech last night and had the good fortune to be part of a Q and A with the screen-writer (having kept my SAG card for a reason) afterward. I could not help but feel very touched and relate to the lifelong friendship between two men of totally different social and financial backgrounds who forged a true friendship based on what counts most, authenticity. So in this interesting time, when our own political parties are so seemingly divided, and where people are doing yoga for various reasons as it has risen in popularity and also fosters the star system our country so admires, we do our best to continue and honor this tradition at Sewall House. Some who come here don’t really know much about the friendship that was forged by TR and my great grandfather but thanks to Andrew Vietze’s book last year, some more know now. And that TR not only forged a friendship in this house but was healed by the nurturing of nature here and a welcoming home and family, I hope we are doing my great grandparents proud.



94 years ago at Sewall House, here in Island Falls, Maine Sam Sewall was born. This morning at 2 am he breathed his last breath. For anyone who might chance upon this blog, and not many read it with all the information to sift through in this techno-info age, Sam Sewall was an incredibly special person. He was the last of the three older relatives I had bought this house from, all men like they just don’t seem to make anymore. Sam was the kindest, smartest, always eager to learn new things, continually curious about life- totally self sufficient as many Mainers, who know how it is do to with and have little, are. My sister used to say we need to find someone just like Sam, thirty years younger for her and forty years younger for me. My husband Kent also, like Sam, has many talents and hails from North Woods, though Kent’s woods were in Sweden. I am thankful Kent can help Sewall House carry on where the Sewall men have left off.

When I told Sam’s friend Brad yesterday that he was failing (and just about everyone in this little town who knew Sam could not help calling him friend) Brad said three things..”Sam was such a good  friend, so smart and capable he could have earned a lot more money than he did.(yet he chose to stay in the town he loved and make do with less, working at the hardware store and using his expertise to help others) Brad said he once asked Sam why he never got angry. Sam said it just didn’t pay. The third thing Brad told us was that Sam had told him that he could fight the things in his body that old age had brought upon him (and he did, in his garden and on the lake last summer, moving slower, in pain ,,as he said “old, lame and deaf”..but moving just the same) but there was one thing he could not fight..TIME. None of us can.

Sam was truly good natured and unlike many New Englanders, he was a huge hugger. I once told him that I heard  we needed 8 hugs a day for health and he loved getting and giving them.

There are just too many stories to tell about Sam Sewall. When he was a little boy getting a fish hook stuck in his lip, walking home with cousin Christine holding the other end of the pole, or an apple stuck in his mouth, seeing how big an apple fit in there. Photos of him as a toe-headed child were adorable, taken with his grandfather William Sewall down at the lake, where they fished and hunted. My almost 96 year old father said this when he heard Sam was failing ” the fish in the lake will be happy anyway” but the people, all of us, will miss him terribly. His high school photo, which I keep nearby to show people when he stopped by, showed an incredibly handsome young man, as he still was in old age to all of us.

Sam has had hardship in his life, plenty, but never once did I hear him complain or say a bad word about another person. The closest was once he told my husband ” they were not good people”. And not good people do exist if the truth be told. But Sam Sewall was certainly not one of them.

Dear dear Sam, our guests have had the privilege of knowing you- I had the privilege of buying the home you were born in and lived in as a child – from you and two other wonderful cousins of yours. You were so generous you probably would have given me the house if I had asked; You have shared your wisdom, your knowledge, yourself with so many..helped so many..and are loved by so many. I am sure tonight, as we enter 2011 without you, that many are shedding a tear. I know I am.


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