An Interview with Breathless Yoga Founder, Diana Vitantonio

An Interview with Breathless Yoga Founder, Diana Vitantonio

During the Yoga on the Mountain festival in Snowmass, I experienced a highly energetic class on the concert stage on Fanny Hill with Diana Vitantonio, founder and creator of Breathless Yoga.

The class began with a calming and meditative deep breathing, which then transitioned into sun salutations and yoga postures flowing into a steadily increased pace, and as the music got more rocking we moved to a breathless state pounding out mountain climbers, crunches and pilates moves, ending where we began with the calm breathing.

When the class was over I was so invigorated I had to pull Diana aside and ask what just happened, which culminated in our impromptu conversation.

Diana’s breathless yoga style begins with the intention to heal the inner self from trauma and to live and breathe wholeness.  Her hope is to keeping healing and to teach others that no matter who you are, you have a creative genius inside you and your voice deserves to be heard.

Find Diana on Instagram @Soul Activist and visit her Breathless website here.

An Interview with Yogi Matt Giordano


Getting My Palm Read with Cynthia Clark

Getting My Palm Read with Cynthia Clark

As many of you know, I’ve been working with experts to help me to stay on my creative path. In this podcast Cynthia Clark, Author, Teacher, Hand Analyst Expert and Intuitive Life Coach, reads my palm and helps steer me along.

With a desire to help people to understand how people can grow and progress, Cynthia has written the book, The World is in Your Hands, and has been on tour traveling throughout the country to helping others to find and live their authentic destiny.

I will say that, although spiritual, I can be quite the skeptic when it comes to looking toward the future to see your destiny. It was Cynthia’s non-nonsense business background that brought me in, that and a conversation I had with a friend whose life pretty much changed full circle after getting his palm read by Cynthia. “You HAVE to go to her,” he exclaimed.

I am fascinated to learn that our hands map out our lives, and our forever changing destiny. The fingerprints telling your soul level, the lines on the hands mimicing pathways of the brain, and the hand shape representing one’s personal archetype. The thumb represents one’s will power, the bigger and stronger the thumb the more dominant the will power. If one has a long thumb it’s easier to manifest one’s destiny, and, if one such as myself has a totally curved hitchhikers thumb, one is easily adaptable, which could be considered a good thing, or bad as we with flexible thumbs tend to get easily distracted. I’m also Water, both meaning that I make my decisions based on how I feel, rather than logic, and I’m very adaptable, which could lead to my having trouble with direction and staying on course. AHA moment.

Through this journey I have been on, beginning with Rod Stryker’s Path to Enlightenment course I took through the Aspen Chapel a few years ago; I have tried to meditate weekly, if not daily; have had conversations with life coaches; have listened to many books about the creative and meditative mind; and now have had my palm read on the air, and have written down my intentions during the new moon at Aspen Shakti.

What consistently throws me off is the desire to reach financial gain due to the guilt I have of working extremely long hours without receiving solid monthly monetary compensation. This bogs me down in thoughts and sabotages my momentum.

The setting of intentions and quieting the mind through meditation allows for greater ease of flow. As I mentioned in my last live Facebook conversation with Jeff Patterson, I had a dream where I was riding my mountain bike up a single track trail with a drop off to one side. Knowing that my bike would follow where my eyes went, I tried not to look at the “yikesy” side with a mantra going on in my head to keep riding and looking forward. But, my mind betrayed me and looked to the right and off the trail I went. Slowly tumbling through the air, I thought about how sad I was that this was the end, and that I was not going to be able to be there to guide my boys anymore to become the beautiful beings that I knew they would be. But, I also thought about how my life had been so full and that if I had to go, it was okay. And then I landed on my feet, unscathed and got back on my bike.

At the time, I didn’t know what the message was to the dream, but as I listen to others talk about success and happiness, I understand that the message to the dream was to not allow for my mind to disrupt my goals, and to continue doing all I am doing; the yoga, the meditation, the giving of myself to help others, and soon the rewards will pay off.

Listening to Dr. Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, Ph.D. talk about “The Flow State” he declares that ecstasy means stepping into an alternative reality where the conscious mind is not driving. He also states that one finds happiness  and success by helping others.

My conversations with Jeff and my interlude with Cynthia’s reading of my palm, provides me with the tools I need to help me navigate this wildly beautiful path I am on, and not worry about the outcome. And this is why I shoot from the hip. This is why I invite people to tell their own stories on my site. This is why I keep writing the stories, and this is why you all keep reading.

[su_box title=”The Flow State from”]The flow state has been described by the world’s greatest thinkers as the most productive and creative state of mind in which to work. In addition, positive psychologists–most notably Dr. Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, Ph.D.–argue that achieving the flow state on a regular basis is a key component of happiness. That is, by learning how to enter the state of flow you can increase your productivity, be more creative, and be happier, all at the same time.[/su_box]

[su_box title=””%5DMihaly Csikszentmihalyi asks, “What makes a life worth living?” Noting that money cannot make us happy, he looks to those who find pleasure and lasting satisfaction in activities that bring about a state of “flow.”[/su_box]

Listen to our first podcast with Cynthia here. To find out more about Cynthia click here.

Listen to the palm reading here.

Chapter Six: Protecting Our Innocence

Chapter Six: Protecting Our Innocence

The mornings in my bedroom were the antithesis of the nights; warm, safe and my own haven, where I’d spend oodles of time alone letting my imagination go, dancing wildly to my 45 records, spending time on my CB radio, or playing with the barbie dolls I so wanted to look like. The superficial messages of how to look began early, with barbie dolls.

Like many Baby Boomers, our childhood was pretty unsupervised. Other than that horrifying “Stranger Danger” movie that traumatized us all for life with pictures of a lone sneaker found in the woods and missing children on milk cartons, parents seemed to have had less to worry about back then. My sisters became quite independent at an early age, taking care of their little sister by holding my hand and pulling me along with them on all of their adventures, saving my life when I would do silly things like skate straight into the thawed icy waters of the pond in the back woods of our house. I remember well being so happy to be included with the big kids as the blades of my skates dug into the frozen pond. I also remember flirting and not paying attention and not being able to hockey stop before plunging into the frozen water. With my skates and water-logged clothes dragging me down from the breaking ice that I was trying to get a grasp onto, I didn’t despair, trusting my sisters would save me. And they did. When left to their own devices kids can be quite resourceful and at my Michele’s demand, they quickly formed a chain by all holding hands and pulled my dead weight out of the water.

Comforting me as wet as a drowned rat sniffling on the path back home, they assured me that all would be okay and kept me going by telling me we could do our favorite thing, sneak packages of unmade jello and hide in a closet to stick our fingers into the powder and eat the box (like Pixie-Sticks). That one was risky because there was no lying due to our dyed orange and red fingers, lips and tongues.

Sneaking me up the back stairs to my room I left puddles of footprints (that back staircase became more and more useful as I got older). “Silly girls,” my parents admonished with no questions asked when they found the heap of wet clothes entangled with the tornado of a mess that was my bedroom.

To deepen the bonds and our loyalty to one another, we became blood sisters, pricking our thumbs with pins and blending the blood together and making sacred vows to love each other forever and NEVER tell our secrets. We were forever sworn to secrecy and never defied that trust. Never. Not even when our favorite cat Nike was entrapped under a box filled with pot smoke to see how he would react at one of the many parties that were thrown at our house on those weekends when my father coerced my mother to go off on romantic escapades without us. My sisters were left behind with a wad of cash, the keys to the BMW and little instructions to take care of their little sister.

As we got older our roles reversed as I tried to protect my sisters from our father’s horrible temper. Being 21 years old than our mother, he really was in a different time zone than his wife and three girls and had no desire or idea how to relate to us. He interrupted our harmonious lives together and we began to become resentful of his moods and intolerance as we got older.

There were many times when he would be reprimanding us about walking into the house with wet shoes, or leaving a light on, and Michele and I would keep silent not wanting to send him into a rage, but not Melanie. Melanie would rebel and provoke him, sending him to a dangerous place with his temper. When this would happen Michele and I would scream at both my father and Melanie to stop, shielding the blows as best we could. What we could not understand was his inability to refrain from allowing himself to get to that angry state, both mentally and sometimes physically. Things improved a bit when our mother began to slip him a little blue pill as she fed him all the others for his heart and his back pain, and we would get glimpses into what our mother had fallen in love with. A playful, adventurous, flirtatious, gentle man with an infectious laugh and a wonderful sense of humor. I was the most like him.

Melanie was our warrior, protecting us from our father’s short temper, and his discipline. A natural born rebel, she’d toss fuel onto his anger and get his fires roaring, sending him to a dangerous place. Michele and I would scream at both of them to stop, shielding the blows as best we could. The damage that parents can cause to their children, even without any physical contact, is tributable to the monstrous adults in our world today.

Heading off into the woods, we’d prick our fingers, smashing our blood together in a pact of allegiance, and swearing to always be there for each other.

But Harold wasn’t all bad. His sense of humor, and his love for his daughters and our mother, often redeemed him. It was a traditional marriage that they had, with he working all day in commercial real estate and she doing everything else; the cooking, the entertaining, the taking care of the girls.

Bringing in her people to help her with the cleaning of our large white house on the hill, the ironing of my father’s shirts, and the dinner parties, it was always an enigma as to where our mother found her people who all seemed slightly askew. She took them all under her wing and supported them when she could, and even when she couldn’t, no questions asked, and no judgement, even when she’d come home to find one of them frolicking in she and my father’s bed with his concubine. “Where else is he supposed to go?” She’d ask us as we beckoned her to wake up to reality.

Our mother’s philanthropy was hidden from Harold who felt that these people did not need to benefit from his hard-earned money. He was generous with his family but the buck stopped there.

If he could, Harold would have lived a nice, quiet but adventurous life with his family, but Nicky craved a much less provincial lifestyle surrounding herself with her children and quirky friends. We chalked it all up to her lonely upbringing in England and her desire to take care of other lost souls.

On rainy days she’d bundle us up. The more inclement the weather the more magical our walks became. Gathering our wellies and umbrellas we’d head outside to splash around in the rain, following her like ducklings through the puddles and soaking up her l’aissez-faire energy as she poetically described the changing light on a grey day and the soft whisper of the trees, or in the winter, the snow diamonds sparkling in the snow. With our mum, the stormier the weather, the happier she’d be.

When we turned to teens, it was Harold who demanded our attention for walks that were more like training sessions on how life was not all about fun. The entire walk would be a lecture on marrying well, which meant finding eligible, rich Jewish bachelors. With hands waving in the air like a spasmodic wind mill he’d animatedly talk about the importance of money and finding a man with ambitions. He was too removed from our world to notice that the men of our generation were growing up with different ethics about work and marriage.

We were from the Baby Boom generation, a generation who had only heard about hard times but had never experienced them. Growing up in a time of affluence, we rejected traditional values and lived our life the way we wanted to live it. Filled with fun, and lots and lots of boyfriends, Jewish or not.

Harold’s visions of wealth for us meant that he was not going to release us into the arms of just any brave high school boy pursuing us. He became the watchdog of the house, managing to scare off the weak with his intimate questions like, “What stocks did you buy this week?” If ever any of the men were brave enough to go out to dinner with our family, the ordering part of dinner became one where we’d hold our breath lest some unfortunate boy would order the most expensive thing on the menu AND a drink evoking Harold’s mischievous side, “So, when are YOU going to take US to dinner?” he’d ask. The embarrassing questions increased as we reached the end of our high school tenor when he’d half jokingly request our boyfriends to pay for dinner and offer up marriage proposals. The smart boyfriends learned quickly, appeasing him by watching football with him or by offering to do our chores of cleaning out the gutters and raking the lawn. The not so smart boys stopped calling.

It turns out that Harold had good reason to worry about his girls. Melanie, moody and dreamy with flashing almond green eyes and a passion for clothes, considered herself to be the black sheep of the family, claiming she got the raw end of the stick with our parents who didn’t seem quite ready for a child yet when she popped out. Like her mother, she was the nurturer of other black sheep, attracting beautiful, troubled souls into her life, leaving the house as often as she could with them as they grunted their hellos to our parents, patted her little sister on the head not noticing her batting eyelashes, and screech off.

Michele attracted the perfect boys. The ones who were surely headed for greatness and who had their shit together in high school. The kind I was too intimidated with to flirt with. Excelling at everything, they knew how to impress our parents, dissolving any suspicions so that they could then be naughty in their own teen-aged boy ways and do things like scale up the trellis outside her window late at night to wake her up, or if that didn’t work, knock on her little sister’s more accessible window to let them in.

And then there was me, a girl whose life purpose was to be around boys as much as possible. Harold had his hands full.

As long as I can remember I have always loved boys. The only reason why I got excited for school was  so that I could flirt. When I was sixteen I fell madly in love for the first time. He was a year older than me and I was smitten before he even knew I existed. Breathing in everything he did, I observed him for months; the way he leaned into people by bending his tall frame over to get more intimate; the way his pecks bulged as they crossed in front of his waste; the way his friends adored him the most; the way he smiled; the way he laughed. His voice. And then I went to a friend’s house for an unsupervised party, and there he was. Sucking down Blackberry Brandy I gained the courage to descend to the basement and feign interest in the pool game he was playing.

Eventually my lingering presence caught his attention and that night began my love affair with love as we  slept wrapped up in each other on an L-shaped couch shared with all of our friends.

Sexy, spiritual and fiercely independent, my first boyfriend taught me all about love in the basement of his house, his parents upstairs. I learned of loyalty and that people don’t fly away when conflict arises. He introduced me to deep thinking, and to question meaning. He introduced me to The Doors and drugs. And then our best friends fell in love too, and we watched as it fell apart after she got pregnant her Junior year.

Much to Harold’s dismay, my first was neither Jewish, nor was he rich. In fact, his lovely, tiny mother was a Born Again Christian and taught Sunday school in tongues. I tried to convince my dad that being a Sunday school teacher meant that she was a wonderful person. He still wouldn’t ever take him out to dinner. But my soul-mate was in love with me, and if my father didn’t get it, than Fuck him. We breathed as one now.

When he went off to college I tried to stay true and resist the attention of the others swarming in, but what was a nineteen year old to do? My mother’s words of wisdom became the soul of my existence, “Relationships are like traveling, the more men you meet in your life, the more life experiences you will have.” She denies ever having said that.





Encountering Wildlife, and Pain

Encountering Wildlife, and Pain

When I read the text, “Let’s go for a walk today???” I had to pull the phone closer to my face to confirm that the message came from Pam, my long-legged, golden-hair She-Ra of a friend (think Amazon Goddess meets Tarzan, Scrat and Sacagawea). With all of those traits packed into one, Pam is not the type to take walks, preferring to push her physical limits in everything she does in her life, but she was being a good friend to her Jilly3 who was in the midst of recovering from a virus that felt similar to typhoid. 
The virus started with a sore throat that felt like strep, and as the inflammation invaded my body I woke up on my birthday with my Sciatic Nerve screaming, “HAPPY *(&%’N BIRTHDAY!!!!” Feeling as though some evil force was digging the sharp tip of a carving knife deeper into my nerve I called in my people, beginning with Denise Searle, Owner of The Fix, whose treatments many of you have been experiencing through my blog
Having resisted the Cryotherapy Chamber due to my fear of being cold, Denise told me it was time to get in there to bring the inflammation down, and so I consented/relented and relinquished my body to the chamber. I should have listened to Denise from the beginning and gone in there sooner.
In the eight months that I have trained with Denise in Pilates, I have experienced her professionalism and have gained immense respect for her as a trainer and as a professional with great attention to detail. Denise has earned my trust for her knowledge in the treatments she provides, and the practitioners she brings in at The Fix.
Before entering the Cryotherapy Chamber Denise explained the mechanisms of it and how it helps to decrease inflammation in the body. Handing me the best wool socks and mittens on the market, a bathrobe, and cushy memory foam slippers before entering the chamber, I felt relieved in knowing that it would only be three minutes and that she would be there to talk me through every second of it.
The first time I was nervous and so I needed Denise to keep reminding me to try to relax to stop my teeth from chattering. The more I relaxed the more my blood would flow more efficiently to my heart, and, when I walked out of the chamber, rush more freely hydrated and restoring my body.
The best way to describe the experience is that I felt as though I was actually inside an ice pack where my body felt a slight burn of coldness, but there was no pain. When I walked out of the chamber a wonderful warm feeling rushed throughout my body and stayed with me all day. I slept like a champion and was invigorated the next day. After three visits I felt the inflammation decrease and it was easier for me to stretch my muscles and feel results from my stretching.
In addition, Denise scheduled a deep tissue massage for me with Anita Rayburn. Anita read my body well and applied the perfect pressure to get in to my Piriformis, ham strings and throughout my body to break up the knots and get the blood flowing. I liked Anita’s massage so much that I bought a ten pack for Baddy. He is now hooked on her as well. The other massage I experienced was with David Berkson who practices Inner Awareness Body Work and Massage.
Before his hands even touched my body, I could tell that David was a healer. Walking around me contemplatively with his chin in his hand he read my energy and the way I carried my body, saying things like, “Why are you standing so far forward? Don’t be in such a rush to get to where you are going, sit back more on your heals.”  In the massage he went directly to all of my painful spots and with his touch he showed me where the muscles wanted to be, rather than where they were. I walked out of there feeling absolutely incredible and as though I had just gone on a journey with somebody who completely nurtured me and gave me their everything. David is now my guy to go to when I need that healing touch. On top of all the healing therapies, Denise gave me packets of Lypo-Spheric Vitamin C, Glutathione and B Complex Plus.
Feeling like I was on the road to recovery, I didn’t rest as I was told to do and decided that if I couldn’t mountain bike, I could at least hike … to the top of Buttermilk … and stretch …. aggressively, sending me back into The Fix, humbled. That was about when Pam called to support me in taking it easy.
We parked at Slaughterhouse Bridge and walked our more preferred section of the Rio Grande Trail. With winter hanging on for as long as it could, we dressed for the chill, I in my Columbia Sportswear Omni Heat light blue AspenRealLife jacket, with my Lilybart Foundation bear logo embroidered in the back by Aspen local Paula Godfrey Eaton, and my nordic race hat from Performance Ski (plug).
As we walked, the winter runoff raged down the river, separating like a water fan over the huge boulders that had been covered in snow all winter.  Passing a sweet little Chipmunk at eye level on a rock, I took a closer look to see if his cheeks were filled with food and if he had an acorn in his paws. With nuts and seeds as her snacks, Pam is usually by my side noisily reaching her hand into a bag to shove a handful of some sort of natural concoction into her mouth to give her even more energy. I was hoping for her to get a closer look at the Scrat side I often hang with.
We were talking about how I feel the need to know what Baddy and my next move should be after that imminent day when the owners send the message that it’s time to level the house that we are living in (we’ve moved 8 X’s in 14 years). Pam was encouraging me to live in the moment and let that worry go when the Sakawega in her stopped in her tracks. Leaning back to whisper loudly to me, “BEAR!!!!“.
I stopped and froze with the thought occurring to me that if anyone was going to get mauled, it was going to be my own sick self. I knew what to do if needed, raise my arms up in the air, get taller and wider and be the bear. My Gary Larsonesque stream of consciousness began to chant, “be the bear, act like the bear, be the bear.”
One thing I was certain of was that running was the worst idea. Walking backward didn’t feel right either so the two of us stood very still and watched as mama bear began to lumber away, her cub frolicking by her side, jumping up to bat it’s paws on her nose to play. Whispering out of the side of her mouth and nudging my rib with a sharp elbow Sakawega told me to get my camera out as she had forgotten her phone. Actually, the only thing Sakawega ever brings with her on her excursions is water and her nuts. She doesn’t even carry her knife with her anymore that she uses to strap onto her outer calf. She’s clearly not worried about survival, even though she purposefully likes to get off the beaten track and often gets lost and has to call Baddy to lead her back onto the trail.
It was almost too beautiful and magical a moment to video record it, but I managed to watch with my eyes while filming with my phone, capturing Mama Bear taking her mouth and picking up her baby cub by the scruff of his neck to wander off into the woods. I felt badly for disturbing them, and yet these powerful moments one has capturing the love between wild animals is so magical and powerful. I am so happy to carry this image with me where ever I go, and share it with all of you.
It’s not easy to say what was the best therapy to cure my body. I’m thinking it was a combination of everything; the good friends, the magical and powerful moments with nature, the healers, the therapies, and my change of diet to decrease inflammation.  What I did learn is that sometimes one has to hit rock bottom in their health to learn important lessons like; there are people out there whose life ambition is to help others and they are just a call away, and that friends and being out in nature is a must for the healing process.

What is Cryotherapy?

[su_box title=”Cryotherapy “]I am impressed by Denise’s knowledge and meticulous attention to detail and trust that she is on the right path to naturally healing the aches and pains of her clients, and get those on medication to be able to throw those pills away. One of Denise’s most valued therapies that she offers to Aspen is Cryotherapy. Invented in the 1970’s for people with rheumatoid arthritis, it is said that Cryotherapy removes inflammation of the joints and also helps with athletic recovery for those who are taxing their body through training. It is also said that it can relieve fatigue, insomnia and stress and increase the metabolic rate for weight loss. With many Roaring Fork Valley athletes recently returned from running in the New York City Marathon I am thinking they could use a good bout of sessions in the Cryochamber for relief of sore limbs and torn tissues. Starting at -166 Farenheit and dropping to temperatures as low as -300 Farenheit, the Cryochamber exposes the whole body or a specific area to subzero temperatures, which stimulates skin’s sensors, activating a response in the nervous system. This causes the release of endorphins, the body’s natural pain inhibitors and mood elevators. Cryotherapy also enhances blood circulation which helps to decrease inflammation by clearing toxins and metabolic waste from the blood supply. The additional supply of oxygen and cleared, nutrient enriched blood then stimulates faster healing through cell regeneration. These types of treatments are at the forefront of healing technologies and have been adopted by elite athletes and pro teams for muscle and injury recovery. Cryotheraphy is becoming nationally well documented as being used for the daily management of pain, inflammation, energy, and stress related conditions, as well as a treatment for fine lines and wrinkles when used as a facial application.[/su_box]

Why Lypo-Spheric?

[su_box title=”Lypo-Spheric “]Superior nutrients and liposomal encapsulation technology makes Lypo-Spheric the most comprehensive and powerful supplement of its kind. Vitamin C encapsulates the C molecules in liposomes made from Essential Phospholipids, which protect the vitamin C from destruction in the digestive system. Within minutes of taking Lypo-Spheric™ Vitamin C, liposomes filled with vitamin C are transported directly into your bloodstream, and into your cells. Lypo-Spheric Vitamin C™ has been called “Vitamin C on steroids!” Lypo-Spheric Glutathione encapsulates the Glutathione in liposomes made from Essential Phospholipids, which protect it from being destroyed by digestive juices. Within minutes of taking Lypo-Spheric GSH, the tiny liposomes filled with Glutathione are transported directly into the bloodstream, and into the cells. This makes Lypo-SphericGlutathione one of the most efficient and cost-effective ways to boost your levels of this essential antioxidant. Glutathione (GSH) is one of the body’s most powerful antioxidants, cleansers and immune system boosters. It also works quickly to neutralize free-radicals and recycle other antioxidants like Vitamins C and E. Although the body manufactures GSH, many aspects of living quickly deplete the body’s stores. Pathogens, toxins, and aging also greatly diminish GSH levels. Until recently, because unprotected GSH is destroyed in the stomach, precursors in the diet were the only way to help restore optimum GSH levels. LivOn Labs “Smart” Lyposomal Nano-Spheres transport GSH bio-availability without depending on the body’s capacity to find and put together a series of precursors.
The Lypo-Spheric™ B Complex Plus innovative formula incorporates superior, active forms of B-Vitamins such as Benfotiamine, a fat soluble form of Thiamine (B1), Methylcobalamin (B12), Niacinamide (B3) and Pyridoxal 5 phosphate + Pyridoxine HCl (B6), selenomethionine as selenium, and a new source of phospholipids – all to ensure that every ingredient is non-GMO.
[su_youtube_advanced url=”″%5D%5Bsu_youtube_advanced url=””%5D%5Bsu_video url=”” title=”Gondola Files” autoplay=”yes” loop=”yes”] [/su_video] [/su_youtube_advanced]

Win Kelly Charles, A Voice in the Handicapped World

Win Kelly Charles, A Voice in the Handicapped World

I first met Win Kelly Charles when she invited me onto her Butterflies of Wisdom Podcast, and my first physical introduction to her was this past October, when, with her permission, I attended one of her therapy sessions at the Snowmass Club​.

Born with Cerebral Palsy, Win has defied the odds by becoming an author. Her memoir I, Win takes us through her life lived with “CP”. As a competitor in the Kona Iron Man Triathlon, CEO of her own jewelry design company, and motivational speaker, Win Charles truly is an inspiration to many.

A petite girl, the smallest to wear the ekoskeleton suit, Win entered the physical therapy room with the assistance of a walker, wearing white leggings with bold colors splashed all over them and a matching Majenta fleece, her long chestnut hair perfectly woven into a single braid.

Moving towards Debbie Weidemann, a Physical Therapist for Able Bionics USA and Bridging Bionics Foundation, Win announced that I was there to observe quietly and take notes for my blog.

Debbie helped Win to strap into the Galileo Tilt Table, a device brought in from Amanda Boxtel to increase tone in order to get patients flexible enough to put the EksoTM bionic exoskeleton suit on. The first person in the United States to own an EksoTM bionic exoskeleton suit manufactured by Ekso Bionics, Amanda has donated her exoskeleton to the Bridging Bionics Foundation for use in the Aspen Community to help others who are paralyzed walk. Amanda currently serves as Executive Director for Bridging Bionics Foundation, which aims to bridge human mobility with exoskeletons and bionic technology.

Helping individuals in their program with various neurological impairments such as; spinal injury, Multiple Sclerosis, Parkinson’s Disease and Cerebral Palsy, Bridging Bionics helps people to regain their health and wellness so that they can walk over ground with upright weight-bearing mobility, using the combo of technologies including whole body vibration, and the eksoskeleton for neurological recovery, and they are getting results.

[su_box title=”Bridging Bionics”]Bridging Bionics Foundation is a public charitable organization. Our mission is to provide funding, education, and advance the research and development for exoskeletons and bionic technology to augment human mobility and capability. We envision that exoskeletons and bionic technology become standard mobility options globally as we strive to improve the quality of people’s lives. The goal of our program named Able Bionics USA, is to provide ongoing access to cutting edge technology, which is typically cost prohibitive, for individuals with neurological mobility impairments to reduce secondary complications as a consequence of paralysis, serve as a preventative healthcare measure, and enhance neuro-recovery.[/su_box]

Getting to know Win K Charles​ has been inspirational and eye-opening, and what I have learned is that Win’s Cerebral Palsy may handicap her physically but her mind is very active and intelligent and she will stop at nothing to tell her personal journey with cerebral palsy, and her desire to help others who have CP.

When asked how she feels after therapy, Win said that she is able to walk straighter in her walker and her Cerebral Palsy is easier to handle.

Win’s next adventure is to return to school for journalism while she writes her second book. Listen to our podcast here.

She is looking for aid a few days a week.

The easiest place to connect with Win is on Facebook

Win’s Facebook:

Win’s Author Facebook:

I, Win: my journey with cerebral palsy living in a non-disabled world by Win Charles on Amazon

Win’s podcast on disabilities: Butterfly wisdom on wheels on iTunes

Wins podcast on business and solopreneurs: Win’s Women of Wisdom on iTunes


[su_box title=”Amanda Boxtel”]About Amanda Amanda’s story is a universal message of hope. After more than two decades of paralysis and a journey across continents, her pursuit is one of spirit-mind-body transformation. While her spinal cord injury took away her ability to walk, it didn’t take away her ability to dream. Today she is turning her dreams into her reality one-baby-step at a time. On February 27th, 1992 a freak skiing accident rendered her a paraplegic. On that fateful day, at the age of 24, Amanda’s life took a dramatic turn and her dance on wheels began. It happened in a split second while downhill skiing – she somersaulted, an electric current ricocheted through her legs, and instantly she knew she was paralyzed. Since sustaining a permanent spinal cord injury, Amanda has become a strong advocate for people with disabilities and has been involved in community and outreach projects that aim to improve the lives of individuals with disabilities. Amanda presents from her bionic exoskeleton suit, walking across the stage and demonstrating to her audiences the power of bionic technology. She is a passionate and dynamic motivational speaker who captivates her audiences with her stories, weaves in the valuable lessons she has learned along the way, and warms their hearts with laughter and compassion. She focuses her energy to present fresh material in a polished style. She has been featured as a speaker at numerous conferences and venues including TED2011, TEDx San Antonio, TEDxDU, TEDxSF, The Aspen Ideas Festival, 20th Century Fox Studios, Aspen Brain Forum, and Singularity University’s European Summit. Amanda has appeared in magazines, news publications, and on major television networks globally such as CNN, CBS Sunday Morning, National Geographic Channel, PBS Nova, Al Jazeera America, Sky News UK, BBC World News Horizons, ITV Daybreak UK, Sat.1 Bayern Germany, RUV Iceland, ABC’s Australian Story, and 60 Minutes Australia. Amanda’s overall message is one of never giving up in pursuit of the best quality of life possible. From her life experiences, she has a greater sense of healing and that transformation occurs from within. She believes in the divine connectedness to all things and she aspires to help make the world a better place for future generations. Amanda currently serves as Executive Director for Bridging Bionics Foundation, which aims to bridge human mobility with exoskeletons and bionic technology. In her spare time she enjoys writing, painting and drawing. She lives near Aspen in Basalt, Colorado.[/su_box]


Healing with Horses

Healing with Horses

There are many incredible organizations helping children in our valley, WindWalkers is one of them. Located on a beautiful ranch in Missouri Heights where sage brush infuses the Colorado air, Windwalkers is an equine assisted learning and therapy center where individuals with challenges, be they physical, neurological, emotional, behavioral or psychological, partake in therapeutic activities with horses to achieve goals they never thought were possible. 

While sitting astride a horse, a rider with a disability is not only gaining confidence and self-esteem while controlling such a magnificent animal, but they are reaping the many benefits that the unique movement of the horse provides. Ambulation, speech, improved range of motion, and improved muscle tone are just a few little miracles that happen at WindWalkers.


Windwalkers is an organization where patients challenged with everything from cerebral palsy and autism, to drug and alcohol dependency and post traumatic stress syndrome, receive equine assisted therapy.  What this means is that horses are matched with children and adults who have physical, emotional, behavioral, and neurological disorders and through this therapy startling results occur. Individuals with challenges often struggle to communicate – but put them with horses and they can achieve so much, because it seems more like fun than therapy. The childlike awe and the widening of the eyes when a client sees, and touches, their horse for the first time is beautiful to observe.

While there is little controlled research on the subject, progress notes from physical therapists, as well as reports from physicians, teachers and parents, testify to its benefits. These include improved balance, muscle strength, self-confidence, interpersonal skills and agility. The impact on everyone who participates in equine assisted activities is visible from their infectious smiles and laughter that occurs daily.

WindWalkers Therapy

Since 2005, volunteers and staff at WindWalkers work 6 days a week, 12 months out of the year and have had an unwavering commitment to those with challenges in the Roaring Fork Valley, helping to improve the physical well-being, behavioral development and emotional health of clients, their families and the communities.

Therapy takes 3 people to take one client out, two side-walkers and one leading the horse. Not everyone needs that much help, but it does require a dedicated experienced group of volunteers, an instructor and our four-legged companion. And, in some cases there may be three to five clients riding at one time, so the profound commitment from volunteers and staff is impressive.

Currently, there are 15 full time horses willing to let clients climb up on their backs, groom them, or just be with them. We call the horses the doctors, the healers, the modality treatment – our friends!

Clients have become more outgoing and children with autism have been known to communicate spontaneously for the first time with a horse. Often students enjoy an independence they never thought would be available to them. While on a horse, they’re able to leave the bonds of their disabilities behind. They become an explorer from the back of their horse. They’re free!

As Aspen Times writer Tony Vagneur described it, “ Whether bound to a wheelchair, locked inside emotionally or anywhere else on a scale of troubled children, these kids and adults, once abroad their horses, are truly walking with the wind, with a feeling deep inside that must be akin to the thrill of birds on the wing.”


How to Help WindWalkers

The program is run by grants and donations from our community and right now (through May 28th, 2017) WindWalkers is having their “$50K Challenge Match Opportunity”. Click here to help them reach their goal.

Become a sponsor of Windwalker’s 5th Annual Benefit Horse Show being held at Strang Ranch on June 23rd– 26th (Friday- Sunday). The annual benefit horse show is one of our major fund-raisers that contributes toward operating costs directly. The deadline for sponsorships is May 30th, 2017.

Healing with Horses

Become a volunteer. Become part of the solution for a healthier individual and community. Make a donation of any size online or simply call and talk to a two-legged staff member at 970-963-2909 or  visit Make someone’s day by “keeping butts in the saddle and feedbags full” act now!

Lower your blood pressure, lower your stress levels reduce feelings of tension, anxiety and anger. Replace them with feelings of empowerment, patience, trust and higher self-esteem, at WindWalkers. 

WindWalkers is a not for profit, 501c3 organization. For questions contact Gabrielle or Mary Jane at (970) 963-2909


Salon Face Off Winner

Salon Face Off Winner

Our Salon Face Off was an enormous success and we had such fun getting to know the local’s favorite hairdressers in our valley.

We give our huge thanks to those salons and hair dressers who participated in our contest and took time out from their busy schedules to allow us to video their consultations on what they would do with my hair if given the chance. And although, we regret that there could only be one winner, we truly enjoyed getting better acquainted with some of the best hair stylists in our valley.

So why the face off? As much as my curls can be extremely fun, it was time for me to make a change and for once in my life wake up and start my day feeling put together. A tough decision to make on my own, I welcomed the input of the locals to put in their nominations for their favorite hair stylists and then I invited all of the nominees to participate. Unfortunately, my timing was not ideal as it was over the holidays and many stylists were too busy to get involved and I am grateful for those who went with it, even though they did not fully comprehend what was going to happen. Next time we promise to have better timing!

In the end it was Annette Chiappe, Owner of Avalon Salon in Basalt Colorado, who brought in the most votes and so we met to make the final decision on what she would like to do with my hair, which included a slight trim with a few bangs, a richer color with deep tones at the roots and soft gold tones framing the face, and a Brazilian Blowout Smoothing Treatment to calm the frizz. Annette is a true artist and an excellent colorist and had I not had such trust in her I probably would have opted to keep the curls and get one of her other suggestions, but she read me well and knew I was ready for a big change and because it was Annette, I took that leap AND I can’t tell you what a happy girl I am with the results!

Huge thanks go out to those who chose to participate and all of you who voted!


Annette Chiappe of Avalon Salon

Michael Tullio of Salon Tullio

Linda Chadbourne of Salon Tullio

Rita Bellino of Queen B Salon

Shenoa Leslie of Salon Sublime

Brooke Smith of Polished

To watch all of the video consultations click here.

[su_box title=”THE STORM BEFORE THE CALM”] I love my hair on a good beach day, and definitely enjoy being different from everyone else … but on most days I loathe that my tendrils escape in every which way, mimicking my personality; wild, frazzled…late, and since I am becoming a famous Aspen blogger at a rapid pace of nine years, and am hanging out with some of the coolest and most inspirational people of our valley, I deemed it time to bring out my own outer coolness. Being that I am all about connecting people to the things and people I love most in the valley, I decided to do it differently than the others and shamelessly put myself in front of the video camera and show off my frizz. [/su_box]

Jillian Avalon Salon Face Off Winner Salon Face Off Winner Salon Face Off Winner Salon Face Off Winner Salon Face Off Winner