A Fairy Tree: Creating Beauty with What We Have


Paul and I have put up a small Christmas tree this year, just under three feet tall. We’re calling it our fairy tree, and are dressing it up with homemade decorations. This week I’m feeling the need for some especially close interactions with the grandchildren, and for doing things by hand. Our two granddaughters spent the afternoon here helping me craft ornaments. With pipe cleaners, wooden beads, and fabric scraps, we made small people, butterflies, a puppy, and curlicue icicles. A dear friend who loves to quilt and has been taking time to make beautiful quilts for her family gave me the colorful fabric scraps adorning our tree. It’s bringing me much joy to use them.


Later our oldest grandson came by and helped me “grow” our little tree into magical proportions by use of the children’s favorite play scarves. I was imagining a small tree in the mountains, touched by a swirl of brightly colored snow, while my grandson (a beauty maker, like his dad) thought we should put the emphasis on the symmetry of the tree itself. As you’ll see in the photo, the result was a little of each.

© 2012 by Gail E. Dennison. All Rights Reserved.

Brain Gym® is a trademark of Brain Gym®  International. Click here for the name of an instructor in you area.

Adding More Play Space to Our Garden


I’m feeling inspired by the Alexander seedlings and by Stephen Jepson’s video Never Leave the Playground (see review). Jepson, in his early seventies, is always moving playfully (mostly outdoors!) and sharing with others how to do so. My oldest grandson helped me place some new rocks and stepping stones in a meandering fashion through the flowers and shrubbery along the edge of the patio. This way, the grandkids can hop and skip along the stones (and, quite likely, I will, too), with the Alexanders and their strong verticality as a focal point.

I still have a few organic lettuces and Swiss chard growing along the side of the house. I raised these from seedlings last fall, and was surprised many times over by how much attention it can take, and for how long, to grow plants from seed. Despite all my care, I still lost many. The few remaining plants are vibrant with flavor. Paul enjoys them in an evening salad, and I like to eat just a few of these leaves in the morning, if I can get to them before the roly poly bugs.

For more about vertical alignment and the Alexanders, click here.

© 2012 by Gail E. Dennison. All Rights Reserved.

Verticality in Gravity: The Alexanders Are Coming Up!

Amazingly, four of my Alexander seedlings are sprouting. According to Wild Garden Seed’s 2012 catalog, the Alexander is “a biennial relative of celery and angelica, once widely cultivated in the Mediterranean for its fleshy petioles before celery became a well-domesticated vegetable.” The flavor is said to be similar to celery, but milder. And this veggie was supposedly a daily part of Alexander the Great’s diet. They grow through the spring and are eaten in early summer.


I had given up on them in late October (the end of the eight-week “wet chilling” incubation period), and didn’t even notice till today that their delicate double leaves and tiny vertical stems had broken through the soil in the egg carton planter I set out on the porch. I immediately transplanted the seedlings along the edge of the patio, where they’ll stay in the shade that they like.

Such strong verticality in nature reminds me to attend to my own alignment. All too often, I find myself sitting or standing in ways that don’t support my natural well-being. Then I can do some Energy Exercises from the Brain Gym® 26, or some favorite Vision Gym® activities, to restore a relaxed alignment, with my head centered over my torso and hips.

The name of these tiny plants also reminds me of the great movement educator F.M. Alexander (1869-1955), an Australian actor who developed the Alexander Technique of Postural Development. Alexander’s simple way of paying attention to movement habits and letting go of excessive tension has been an essential building block of Paul’s and my own work in Educational Kinesiology, and is also the inspiration for the Energy Fountain* activity from Vision Gym®.

© 2012 by Gail E. Dennison. All Rights Reserved.

*The Energy Fountain, an activity that connects learners with this verticality in gravity, is from Vision Gym®: Playful Movements for Natural Seeing, by Gail E. Dennison and Paul E. Dennison. 

Brain Gym® is a trademark of Brain Gym®  International. Click here for the name of an instructor in you area.

An Eye at the Center of the Storm

It’s beautiful, sunny, and clear here in Ventura after last night’s drizzle. It’s good to have Paul home again—for a few days now, he’s been resting and readjusting after his long tour of courses.

News reports of the recent struggles for so many people on the East Coast have left me feeling somewhat dazed and vulnerable. I notice that the sweeping news images of nature unbound have shaken my trust in the natural world and made me aware of the way we are all connected, taking me back even to natural disasters that I heard my parents talk about from their childhoods. At the moment, the planet seems small and fragile. Doing Hook-ups, the Positive Points, and other Brain Gym® activities has helped. Relaxing into Hook-ups, I find that I quickly become attuned to any negative undercurrents in my mental and emotional spheres and am able to release them.


Walking in our garden last night at dusk, Paul and I were filled with gratitude for all that we have—our family, health, home, and so much love. As we walked and talked, we were surprised to see the first purple iris just beginning to bud—a promise of the spring that can come so early in Southern California. The thriving loveliness of this delicate flower stimulated and held my centralized focus, and I felt truly grounded in my body for the first time in days. The natural world can seem relentless, yet it also offers simplicity and healing. I’m still holding in my mind and heart the surprising contrast of two very different natural experiences. Nature’s resilience, and my own ability to rebound so readily (after all, I’m part of nature, too), is soothing my sense of loss.

© 2012 by Gail E. Dennison. All Rights Reserved.

Brain Gym® is a trademark of Brain Gym®  International. Click here for the name of an instructor in you area.

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