Eagle Crosses the Finish Line: Honoring the one year anniversary of dad’s death

In 1992 dad got the biggest badass brass eagle award they give. It’s called the Grandslam of Ultra Running. Today I have that huge bronze eagle up on a shelf with its little bronze inscriptions that note Old Dominion 100 Mile Endurance Run, Western States 100 mile Endurance Run, Leadville Trail 100, and Wasatch Front 100 mile Endurance Run.

My dad had the solo will of a highflying athlete. He was alternately an eagle and a stubborn donkey married to the trail, hauling things and people around on his back.

In 1992 when he did those four races called the Grand Slam he would have been 60 years old. At five foot 9 inches with balding wrap over hair he had legs and arms that were Roman, solid, cut and scared, speckled and finally immune to poison oak after years of clearing trails on the Angeles Crest. Places on his face were marked by skin cancers he regularly had removed even though he was always slathered with lotion and wore hats with improvised bandana flaps to protect his neck.

Dad was a warrior, a jovial warrior allied to a platoon of runners, or are they a band of turkeys, quail, a wide variety of birds who must be on mountaintops, ridges, and wind swept trails in order to be who they are?

Yes, he was an endurance runner! But, the endurance run that was biggest, hardest, and most humbling of them all was not on any trail. It was his fight to cross the finish line on his last year; the year cancer filled his legs with fluid. Ironically, his final test was not on dry land but win fighting the storm and sea inside his body.

Dad believed in the Holy Spirit. If he connected with a stranger on the trail it was the Holy Spirit. When he found an old book in an abandoned trailer in the desert with a Winton ancestor who wrote about Mexico it was the Holy Spirit.

Dad said it was miracle that Stephen and I showed up right when we did. Normally, we live hundred miles apart. A get together typically required a major holiday and a road trip. Dad normally came to us. We happened to be driving through L.A. and asked if we could have dinner. He didn’t want a hassle about his house where we’d grown up now filled with bags and bags of running equipment, snacks, videos, books, mementos, and trash no one valued except him.

Dad was never one to call out to us or bother us though a month never went by when he didn’t call us to talk about his adventures and to see if we were O.K. No. He didn’t want us there for any of the five oblation surgeries that purposefully scarred the inside of his heart. He didn’t want us there when he had a pacemaker put in. His neighbor Dennis was all he needed, just a friend to give him a ride home.

I knew Dad was ill, that fluid kept filling his lungs and legs. I knew he was having a much harder time moving. I listened when he told me to value my health as a treasure beyond belief. How could I have known he was that close to death?

In early May he drove himself across Los Angeles by hauling his swollen legs one at a time into his van and then up the mountain to meet thetrail workers on the Angeles Crest. It was snowing, snowing in May! “Merry Christmas,” he said to the trail folk, “Now Go Home!” it was the last trail crew he’d see.

It is hard to know how bad off an ultra runner is. For endurance athletes pain is no enemy, it is a companion. That Monday night we were just planning to stop and get dinner with him. I knocked on the door. When he came out the north wind took my breath. My virile dad was gaunt, yellow, and weighted by oceanic fluids.

After dinner my husband and I got a hotel instead of traveling north to Santa Barbara to stay at my sister’s house. Dad accepted our offer to take him to his appointments the following day including a cancer doctor he hadn’t seen yet.

The eagle was down. We walked into the office, but Dad needed to be wheel chaired out.

Is it failure when an endurance athlete dies?

Is it failure when the medical system fails to detect cancer?

Is it failure if you cannot survive a race and you’ve done everything you could?

Dad trained to live. He put everything he had into the race. One of his winton-ims, personal quotes he loved to share, said, “ It is not what you are given in life but how you carry it that counts.”

My siblings and I agree, past all of our own sorrows and distances the Holy Spirit and the power of angels brought all three of us together at his bedside in the ICU the next day. The race was over. Wednesday night May 24th he crossed the finish line. Dad spread his wings.





Healing the Split on Give InterPlay Day: The Rise of Spiritual Intelligence!

It’s Give InterPlay Day here in the Hidden Monastery. YAY!

When Phil Porter and I started InterPlay in 1989 we had a secret intent–­to heal splits.

We knew our lives were connected to everything especially when we danced.

Sadly, our culture splits body from soul, male from female from all genders, joy from suffering, white from color, work from play. Worse, most systems in place value one experience over the other.

Phil writes about the body, mind, heart, spirit split in Having It All, “Despite all the writing, preaching, and teaching going on in our culture right now about integrating the different parts of ourselves, no one questions these categories which we have used for so long to understand our experience. What if this system of categories is itself keeping us from having wholeness? What if it doesn’t really match our experience?”

To read more in Having It All by Phil Porter: Our Lives Are Full of Splits click hereA D V I C E Identify the splits in your life: it is the first step toward healing them.

The splits we must do don’t match up with what we know as bodies. All these splits are killing us and driving us crazy. They destroy our relationship with each other and earth.

It’s a lifetime project for Phil and me to put the practices and language back in place to honor that baseline truth we need in order to heal, the wisdom that heart, mind, and spirit are embodied realities.

Once people rediscover this a bright wholeness appears. I call it ensoulment. As we remember how we move, voice, tell, be still, notice, converse, reason, shape, swing, thrust, open, close, alone and with others a cumulative intelligence integrates and plays through us. The totality of all intelligence is Spiritual Intelligence.

This is what InterPlay offers. Today is Give InterPlay Day. InterPlay is the ground of this Hidden Monastery. 

Donate to InterPlay today Here. 

Mention the Hidden Monastery in your donationand  I’ll gift you the pdf of my unpublished book of poems Dancing on the
Dark Side of the Moon: Initiation poems on the wisdom of darkness, resilience and hope.

If Spirituality is your thing, consider my upcoming InterPlay based offerings:

The Fall-Winter InterPlay Life Practice Program for Spiritual Leaders

A one day workshop: May 5, 10-4 in Oakland Wanted! Creative, Spiritual Intelligence for Times of Change: InterPlay’s Approach to Unlock the Full Wisdom of the Body

June 22-24 Hidden Monastery Retreat Bay Area Enshrined! Oakland Move, Share, Sing, Write, Make Art, Rest Where body and soul need no explanation, artfulness is natural and diversity and mystery are holy ground.  


New! Online Contemplative Writers Retreats: Move Write Share 

Blessings as you transition to Spring Body Wisdom for those in the northern hemishpere….

Need a little retreat next week?

April 4, Wed 9-12 or May 19, Sat 9-12
on zoom…..

Get a bit of quiet, interplayful connection. Come…
if you have something you are already writing or need help getting going, 
if you wonder if writing could be a spiritual path for you, 
even if grammar or punctuation befuddles you,
or you sense that body and language need to dance in you.

We’ll begin with a body warm up and brief check in about life and our writing process.  There will be movement breaks, gentle coaching, and a period to share writing or notice at the end.

Just $45 per session or whatever you can pay… 
RSVP about either date and I’ll give you the link and sign you up.


My writing practice: Like many things I’ve learned by doing it and by reading a ton. I write everyday in a very disorganized way. Blogging keeps me connected. I love to write letters, emails, and to correspond. Writing helps me understand and share my life experience, especially with so much of it wrapped up with theology, art and yes, mystical weirdness.

About me as a published writer:  In Latin publicare means to ‘make public. My first pieces were published in the 80’s with The Sharing Company through my mentor, Doug Adams. He encouraged some of us sacred dancers to move our thoughts about dance to paper in short essays. We could finally read and learn from each other.

As body intellectuals and teachers Phil Porter and I self publish. In addition, Move: What the Body Wants is published by Woodlake Press and Dance: A Sacred Art is published by Turner Publishing. I had an agent for my memoir, Chasing the Dance of Life. No one took it until John Mabry offered to publish it at Apocryphile Press.  He uses print on demand.I’ve made little money on these artifacts. To do so I’d have to carry them around and show them off like unruly children. Even though they are on their own, I hear that they are good medicine for people. They certainly have been good for me.

For other upcoming retreats in this Hidden Monastery check out other May and June dates.




Flowers R Us! Celebrating Equinox

A friend sent me Grace Cooke’s (White Eagle) words–

“Flowers do not force their way with great strife. 
Flowers open to perfection slowly in the sun. 
Don’t be in a hurry about spiritual matters. 
Go step by step, and be very sure.”

In the spirit of Spring I invited flower wisdom into the Online Dance Chapel. This chapel is a mysterious place where we hold sacred the Wisdom of the Body to move, voice, share stories, and honor each other’s bodyspirit in these times.

At best I see myself as a little flower in a garden of flowers. Such relief and joy to soak in life in simplicity and goodness. Invoking the spirit of pansy, hyacinth, rose, black eyed susan, sunflower, plum blossom something tender grew. Our flora became our intimates.

Ruth Showalter writes beautifully about what happened in the dance chapel and invites us into an 11 day online Spring Creativity Challenge. Get a peak into her own flower images.

What flower essences are in you? What flower memories nurture your perfect blooming? 

Prayers of thanks to Great Mystery for flowers, seemingly needless, briefly lived bursts of beauty. Such medicine! Whatever season, day or night, in love we bloom.








Riotous Spiritual Rigor: For All Who Are Far From Dead

“You may have heard of “rigor mortis”––which is a medical term describing the stiffness of a body after death. Rigor used to mean stiffness outside of the corpse context, i.e., sternness. The word changes meaning along with our changing standards for what we want teachers to be.”

Synonyms:  cogencyrigour, validity
Type of believabilitycredibilitycredibleness: the quality of being believable or trustworthy.


While talking to Spiritual Leaders in InterPlay’s Life Practice Program on Body Wisdom and Hard Challenges or what InterPlayers call body deals I said, “This is not an easy time. Creativity, Art, and Spiritual Practice demand rigor.”  I call big times of learning and growth– our initiations.  I think the whole world is currently in a difficult initiation rite.

This is a rigorous time for me. If I engage a sense of rigor without spirit or creativity I descend toward rigor mortis.  I need all three– creativity, spirituality, and rigor in order to rise to the moment. And that is just to stay upright some days! It’s rigorous for this body to remain patient, kind, loving, truthful, embodied, to dance, to sing, to be true in a hard personal, political, global time.

How do we engage in the face of whatever-the-hell-it is?  It is crucial to aim toward our own grace, energy, identity, community, and creative path and to dignify this in others. Yet, as every human and artist knows even God won’t stop a storm from coming.

Artist and monk: apply thy rigor and find those who do. Make sure to include riotous humor.

I keep thinking about the Olympians and dancers who flip and soar and crash. They train. They exemplify rigor. I am glad for my undergrad training in dance. I had to use all parts of me in order to graduate. I’d like to see some real grace training in all my leaders– to see the grace and love that our leaders are capable of today.

I bought new hot glue guns. Stick with me if this seems a little off topic. The ones from Beverly’s Crafts died. They were pretty middle of the road. As a hot glue, E6000 artist  I’ve got big things to attach. It’s a time to go beyond Beverly’s. I need a hotter gluegun with higher wattage. Plus I recently burned the skin off of a finger! I want to be able to change the temperature or turn it off on the handle. I must admit though the burn came when the little shell I was holding flipped glue right into my hand. Nothing could have stopped that. Today, as I meditate on my finger the wound is covered by a tough scab. In a few days it will be gone. My body is resiliently, rigorously working its healing magic.

Rigor upgrades our tools and practices. It’s the result of willingness to face life as it is, to speak up, and do so in a seemingly abnormal, riotous way.  See Youth Against Gun Violence. Back Lives Matter. See Coke Tani’s one hand dance in the midst of her cancer journey on facebook. See anyone who survives the death of someone they love and learns to rise again.

All you who are inciting or taking part in a riot, 
given to or marked by unrestrained revelry; boisterous, uproarious: 
hilariously funny.
O’ Riotous, Rigourous, Spiritual Livers!
You know it isn’t easy to be a place of grace and ease.
Thank you.
Sign me up again today for that holy job.

I’m excited about spaces to keep creativity and spiritual ingenuity alive and engaged.

Mondays, 5pm PST and Thursdays 9:30 am PST Online Dance Chapel: Cynthia Winton-Henry & Nancy Pfaltzgraf

Fridays 10:30-12 Weekly InterPlayce Meditation in Oakland

April 4, Wed 9-12,  May 19, Sat 9-12 New! Online Contemplative Writers Retreats
Move Write Share Come if you do best writing with others,if you need help getting going, or if you wonder if writing could be a spiritual path for you. Receive gently structured support to move your wisdom. questions, and inspiration from body to page.  We begin with a body warm up and brief check in about life and our writing process. There are movement breaks, gentle coaching, and a period to share writing at the end..

May 5th 10-4, Workshop: Wanted! Creative, Spiritual Intelligence To Meet Our Historic Time. InterPlayce in Oakland. Embodied practices doors open rather than close.

Cynthia Winton-Henry, InterPlay cofounder, believes that spiritual intelligence is the sum of all our our Intelligences: kinesthetic, emotional, spatial, cognitive etc.” and that it’s time to put them all together and link to the Greater Intelligence of the planet and Universe. When we access and combine our birthright intelligences of movement, voice, words, stillness, and reflection we create pathways of resilience instead of roadblocks.Come delight in a way to name and explore an evolutionary path.
Cost: $20-$80 sliding fe

June 22-24 Hidden Monastery Retreat Bay Area Enshrined!

Where body and soul need no explanation, artfulness is natural and diversity and mystery are holy ground.  With the founder of InterPlay.

Friday 10:30-12
  Body Meditation at InterPlayce
Catered Lunch
Friday 2-6 Shrine Workshop: Jingletown Art Studio
Optional Dinner Out
Saturday 10-12:30 at InterPlayce Body Wisdom for Our Time: Sharing Practice
Lunch Out 12:30-2
2- 4:30 SpiritMarkings: Contemplative Art, Writing, Relfection.
5-6 Prayer Circle
Sunday 1230-3:30 Optional Excursion to Sausalito Labyrinth

Costs: $225  includes Friday Lunch. Or select a Single Time below. No one turned away.
Friday Morning ($10-15) Fri Workshop $65 (includes materials) /Saturday only $95/Sunday only $35








July 9-20 Oakland Art and Social Change Training for Millennials

August 9-13 InterPlay Leaders Gathering at Kirkridge Retreat Center in Pennsylvania

September 16-20 Alice Springs Campfire of the Heart, Australia

October 8-11 InterPlay for Spiritual Leaders Life Practice Program Oakland Retreat 

Nov 1-7 InterPlay at the Toronto Parliament of World Religions