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Sage Sojourns – May, 2021

As the body changes, what is left is soul.

Conversations with a Peppermint Tree

by Sage Bennett

sage bennettThis week I delighted in a post-COVID, late morning coffee with my friend, Marianne. Sitting on the outdoor patio of a coffee shop, we exchanged stories about how we wound up in Orange County, California.

I had been living in Marina del Rey, California, on a boat, a 35-foot motor yacht named Sophia with my wife and poodle-bichon mix dog. After receiving my Parkinson’s diagnosis, we knew that it would be better to live more stably on land, but I was reluctant to leave the westside. My friend nodded with understanding. “Sure, everybody likes it there. What finally changed so you could make the move?”

I explained my process. Over a few months we looked at properties at a 55 plus senior community in Laguna Woods. With every step I was stuck in resistance. I didn’t want to leave my old life. I didn’t want to accept that I had PD and may need other accommodations in the future. I didn’t want to confront the movie in my mind of a possible dim future because of PD.

“On one visit we had narrowed our house hunt to two properties, but I was still tangled in ambivalence,” I told my friend.

I walked outside to clear my mind and came upon a tall, peppermint tree. Drawn to its sprawling outreach of branches I felt welcomed by its beauty, shade, and peace. I leaned into the tree with an open palm, feeling its striated, dark brown trunk, warm and strong to my touch. Within a few timeless moments I felt assured this was a good place to lay my own roots and that all was well. I felt free to move forward.

I cannot explain my experience with this tree, but I do know I am not alone in recognizing the value of being in nature. In Taoism, intuitively following the flow of nature leads to a life of balance and right action. Native American spirituality offers the wisdom practice: let nature be your teacher; the sacred abides in every rock and leaf. The Japanese suggest forest bathing to attain inner peace and well-being.

I had not thought about that peppermint tree in many years until that recent conversation with my friend over coffee. But I remember that day deeply and it helps me see clearly. I don’t have to live in fear of a dim PD future. Although my future is unknown, a growing body of facts based in research now exist.  Studies show that exercise, plant-based eating, and positive social connections have a lot to do with the way PD progresses and many people live active, vital lives, despite having Parkinson’s for fifteen even twenty years. I can help create, and even transcend, my future. No matter how PD uniquely expresses in my life, the enchantment of nature and the secrets of the universe are ever present, waiting to reveal the mystery.  As Emerson muses: “We live in the lap of immense intelligence.…”



Sage Bennet, Ph.D lives in Laguna Woods with her wife, Sandy, and their two dogs, Chloe and Freddy. She teaches philosophy and world religions online and is the author of Wisdom Walk: Nine Practices for Creating Peace and Balance from the World’s Spiritual Traditions.

PD Buzz is Growing!

by Lauren Simmons

Four years ago, I was diagnosed with Parkinson's Disease.  While reeling from my diagnosis and dealing with my symptoms, my family and I were left with the task of finding resources in my area to help me.  I am fortunate that there were many classes, groups and specialists near my home but finding them was not so easy.  It took hours of online research and phone calls.  I needed someone else with Parkinson's to talk to and guide me and until I found that person, my Parkinson's journey was a maze of confusion.  Fast forward a couple of years, and I was hearing from people frequently that they were having the same issue.  The problem was not a lack of help but finding the help and finding it easily and quickly after diagnosis.  This problem led to the founding of a new website,, which was a "one stop shop" for all things Parkinson's in my hometown, Orange County, California.  It is a database of Parkinson's fitness classes, programs, services, support groups, specialists and events and we have started a peer program to give the person with PD or their care partner someone to talk to. With the support of the Parkinson's Wellness Fund and some dedicated friends, was launched in December of 2018. It is run by a group of people with Parkinson's helping people with Parkinson's.

Parkinson's Warriors
Candace Mueller and Kenna Diaz PD Buzz Springfield, Illinois

A couple of months ago, I mentioned PD Buzz in a Zoom meeting full of women with  Parkinson's.  Shortly after the meeting, I was contacted by a couple of superhero PD Advocates, Candace Mueller and Kenna Diaz,  who checked out PD Buzz and wanted the same thing for their town, Springfield, Illinois.  Others have made the same request in the past and I always dismissed the idea because keeping the site updated for just Orange County was proving to be a daunting task and I am not a trained web person.  I am learning as I go because I believe strongly that people with PD need to find resources as soon as possible after their diagnosis and I want that to be easier than it has been in the past. I want it to be easier than it was for me. Maybe it was the timing of this request from the ladies in Springfield that made me consider saying yes this time.  I know it had something to do with a strong urging from Russell Meyerowitz at the Parkinson's Wellness Fund.  When I told him  about the requests to expand and said that I wasn't a web person and  I didn't know how to do this, he said, "But you already are doing it and if you can help just one more person with Parkinson's tomorrow, then you are successful."  He got me right there.

Things fell into place after that.  A couple of us from PD Buzz in Orange County met virtually with the ladies in Springfield and got the process started.  They were able to collect the information on their local Parkinson's resources and pass it along to a family member who works in web development  and  as they say, the rest is history.  Recently, we added PD Buzz Springfield to our website.  It is exciting to think that we are helping more people with Parkinson's and who knows, maybe we will be growing more in the future.  It may be a slow process but as my friend Russell said, you just have to help one more person with Parkinson's tomorrow.  I think we can do that.

Meet Connie Anderson

People with Parkinson's in North Orange County have been asking for a Rock Steady Boxing location near them for years.  Connie Anderson made their wishes come true by opening a Rock Steady in Anaheim, Ca.  Connie's boxers will tell you that their group is like family and will attest to the fact that exercise is helping them stay well.  During Covid, Connie has taken her classes online so that her fighters can continue exercising at home.  Their classes whether in person or online are always full of laughter.  You can also find Connie running the Capriana Warriors Parkinson's support group which is also meeting virtually during the pandemic.  For more information on Connie's group, you can reach her at


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