Always Be Dancing Expressive Arts

Yoga and Flamenco for Every/body


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Mindful Book Reviews By Eve: The Dance of Interaction: An Embodied Approach to Nonverbal Communication Training for Caregivers of People with Dementia (Training Manual) by Donna Newman-Bluestein with Meg H. Chang

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I know the author, Donna Newman-Bluestein, through the dance and movement world in Boston, MA and was excited to have a chance to read and learn from her new training manual. Through her Dance For Connection work Donna brings joy, vitality and a sense of interconnectedness to people with dementia through playful, expressive movement and dance via direct programming and training caregivers.

This manual sets out to change the culture of care surrounding people with dementia within nursing home care by using mindfulness, movement and nonverbal cues, such as facial expressions. This manual strives to support caregivers, to help them to awaken their mindful selves, to guide them to trust their intuitions, and to enable them to go forth and shine. Embodied learning is mindfulness in-action and it empowers you to be authentically you so that you can see that every interaction with a person with dementia is an opportunity to build a relationship.

The chapters are carefully laid out and are broken down into easy to follow sections. One page, titled “If You Do Nothing Else…(pg. 77) that I found immensely helpful is a list of go-to strategies to try before approaching a person with dementia. This is a list of lifelines for the caregiver, because we all know “you have to put your air-mask on first before you can help anyone else…” In other words, this is a list of mindful mini’s to increase confidence, joy, and vitality so that caregivers can be at their best, fully aware, present and with self-control.

I highly recommend this work and trainings by Donna Newman-Bluestein. An embodied learning approach can be used caregivers, teachers, paraprofessionals, parents, anyone who works with patients with dementia and really any specialty group. This approach will make you curious, compassionate and above all authentic, vibrant and empowered to be the best you and the best caregiver. I love this beautiful, compassionate life line!

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Mindful Book Reviews By Eve: Drawn From Nature by Helen Ahpornsiri

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Drawn From Nature in front of a watercolor by my mother Amelia Robin Agush. It was her rendition of the park next to our house.

This is an excellent nature book, weaved throughout by a book about the seasons accompanied by some of the nicest nature collages I have ever seen. I rate this book a Capital “G” for GREAT, GORGEOUS, GLORIOUS and GO GET it now! The beautiful art of Ms. Ahpornsiri is truly incredible. You can see her connection to nature through her attention to detail, employing so precisely varied colors, shapes and textures to form and enliven each creation. I love her imaginative use of tiny flowers, delicately curled ferns, spindly roots and all the perfectly preserved flora that accompanies so many interesting facts about nature. This book is just so beautiful. I highly recommend it. Get it for you…get it for the nature lover in your life…so many options!

Here is a sweet book trailer that I found online.

Thank you to Candlewick Press for sending me a copy of this book. All opinions expressed are my own.


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Mindful Book Reviews By Eve: Black Bird Yellow Sun by Steve Light

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First off this book is so bright and captivating. I love that it is a board-book. Big kudos! I love the sharp-black raven/crow set against the brightly colored, tacky-paint textured palette of the pages. The colors make me feel happy. A cute addition is the special friend that follows through the book-catching the eye in each page spread, so there’s a game of eye-spy going on. This is a sweet first book of colors.

Here is a book trailer for it that I found online

Thank you to Candlewick Press for sending me a copy of this book. All opinions expressed are my own.


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Mindful Book Reviews by Eve: Stress Free Kids: A Parent’s Guide to Helping Build Self-Esteem, Manage Stress and Reduce Anxiety in Children by Lori Lite

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Ahead of receiving this book, I had the awesome chance to talk to Lori and found her to be a kind-hearted, open-minded person. This book is absolutely chock full of wonderful, creative and easy to use ideas, techniques, and strategies to reduce stress in your life and in that of your any children you come in contact with. That is for sure her main point: you have to put on your air mask first in order to help those around you. Relaxation is a skill that you need to practice in order to master and by sharing personal stories, answering parent generated questions and other varied techniques, such as affirmations and meditation, this book will empower you on your journey to a stress-free life. I was especially inspired by her chapter on bringing these techniques into schools and know that I will use many of her tips to help the sites that I work with. This is an excellent book for parents and teachers, anyone who works with kids.


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Mindful Book Reviews by Eve: Breathing Love: Meditation In Action by Jennie Lee

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This is a lovingly written book about choosing love. Ms. Lee passionately writes about loves inspiration and how it opens you up and strengthens your inner landscape to allow for a full experience of your true nature. Sat nam, I am my truth. Each chapter is headed by inspirational and unique quotes cited from spiritual leaders, poets and philosophers. Each one offering a gateway into the breadth of the chapter’s contemplations on love. This is a very thought provoking book and is a great addition to your body-mind-soul library. I highly recommend this book- it is eye (heart) opening And I have been seeing signs of love everywhere since I read it. There is unifying peace in the release into universal love.


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Mindful Book Reviews By Eve: Watkins Publishing Round-Up

  • How To Teach Meditation to Children:Help kids deal with shyness and anxiety and be more focused, creative and self-confident by David Fontana & Ingrid Slack
  • The Calm Buddha At Bedtime: Tales of wisdom, compassion and mindfulness to read with your child by Dharmachari Nagaraja
  • The Mindful Mandala Coloring Book by Lisa Tenzin-Dolma

IMG_1092How To Teach Meditation to Children:Help kids deal with shyness and anxiety and be more focused, creative and self-confident by David Fontana & Ingrid Slack

This is a great one-stop-book to learn how and why to bring meditation to children, whether they be your own or your students. This book very clearly lays out meditations for different age groups from 5-8 year old children to 15+, late adolescents and for different needs, such as creativity, relaxation and body awareness. The author has come up with fun and creative, and easy to follow, meditations with follow up exercises for home, daily life and school. One of the ones that immediately caught my eye was exercise #4 in the chapter about meditations for mindfulness. The exercise is about taking a familiar object and showing it upside down and having the kids draw it from this odd angle. The exercise is about perspective and focus and creativity. I use this exercise in my yoga class-which is just meditation in motion, and we turn yoga poses on their heels or backs or bellies and then recreate the poses from a different perspective. We can rename them and bring new qualities of them to light when they are taken from a different angle or a chair or are holding onto a cane. Our attention becomes more focused, our minds more creative as we experience gravity from another angle.

I really enjoyed this book and recommend it for it’s unique and creative meditation ideas. I highly recommend this accessible book and strongly agree with the author about having a practice of your own as a necessary element in the desire to bring this to children.

The Calm Buddha At Bedtime: Tales of wisdom, compassion and mindfulness to read with your child by Dharmachari Nagaraja

IMG_1091This is a lovely collection of read aloud stories on instilling wisdom, compassion and mindfulness into ours and our children’s lives and by using the age old art of story telling, these stories make it very easy to bring these qualities to children. The short tale with morals empower children to take these teachings into the world by learning about patience, honesty and trust.

At the back of the book, there is a section of very sweet and simple mindful meditation scripts that can be used to enhance the teachings of the stories. The index makes it very easy to find themes that work in with what you are teaching.

This is a wonderful book that opens the hearts and minds of all who share them. I highly recommend these calming and enlightening stories.

The Mindful Mandala Coloring Book by Lisa Tenzin-Dolma

IMG_1090This is a lovely coloring book with beautifully detailed and delicately drawn mandalas. The book is separated into three sections: Buddhist mandalas, Celtic mandalas and Healing mandalas and at the beginning of each section, a few colored examples are given. Included with each mandala are a description of that specific mandala, simple step-by-step instructions for its contemplation, a recommended color palette and a meaningful quote. Also, for added creativity and self-reflection, at the end of each section are blank mandala templates for you to create your own, personalized mandalas.

This is a wonderful book that is packed with information for contemplation and quiet-time self- reflection. It it the first coloring book that I have seen with all the elements of a mindful practice included in one place. Coloring is a great way to bring about contemplation, meditation and healing. This book is beautifully laid out. I am looking forward to choosing a mandala to color and contemplate! Namaste!

Thank you to Watkins Publishing for these books. All opinions expressed are my own.


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Mindful Book Reviews by Eve: Ahimsa by Supriya Kelkar

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This book is an instant classic! I loved the flow of words and the style of the writing in this wonderful work of historical fiction. The book set in India in the 1940’s is experienced though the eyes of the protagonist, Anjali, who is a smart and determined and is wise beyond her years. She does not back down from deep self-reflection and she is willing to take the time to search for answers. She shows how important even one person can be and is a true hero of social justice and equality.

The story is richly detailed and the prevailing message, beneath the turmoil of the time, is that conflict can be resolved with compassion, hard work and peaceful protest. I learned much about India in the 1940’s, the caste system, Ghandi and the daily life of people and whole heartedly recommend this book. I loved learning about the charkha’s and the weaving of the natural cloth and took it as a play on the Fate’s from Ancient Greece, weaving the fate of the people of India as they struggled to gain their independence from the British rule. wheel

It deserves its place on reading lists, right along side classics, such as, I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou, The House On Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros and A Raisin In The Sun by Lorraine Hansberry. This books message is so relevant today and will fit perfectly into classroom discussions and to questions about the ways of the world, diversity and equality. I will be sharing this book far and wide!

Thank you to Tu Books/Lee & Low for sending me a copy of this book. All opinions expressed are my own.