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Sage Sojourns August, 2021

As the body changes, what is left is soul.

Something Takes Over

by Sage Bennet

I love boxing. The smell of leather gloves, the pitter patter rhythm of the speed bag, learning the names of punches—Jab. Cross. Hook. Uppercut—all connect me with something familiar, yet elusive. Where does this joy come from, I wonder?

Memory transports me to childhood and I am a tomboy growing up in Brooklyn. Life is grand--playing stickball, running bases, boxing--until Norman moves in. He is twelve, straight, red hair and freckles, I am nine, short and wide, with curls I try to flatten every morning with  brush and water.  One day we are choosing sides for stickball.

Norman looks down at me and snarls: “I’m not playing with a girl.”  Then he swats me away like I’m an insignificant bug.

I step towards him and try to look menacing. It does not work well; he towers over me.

“Get outa here, runt,” he says sliding his glasses up the bridge of his nose.

I refuse to move.

Then he pushes me, his right hand shoving my left shoulder.  This is bad.  I know I have to hold my ground. But how? Then something takes over.

“Put up your dukes,” I say bringing my fists to my face, legs apart, shifting my weight, side to side. No one is more surprised than I am.

Norman laughs at me and looks away.  I do what I have to do.  I swing at his face with my left, closed fist, thrusting my whole body into it, as if my life depends on it. Jab, Cross. He is not expecting the punch, and he underestimates me.

Red-faced Norman goes down. Not only does he fall to the sidewalk, but he also lands in a puddle. While everyone is laughing at him, I am thanking God my life is spared. Call it a lucky punch, a supernatural power, grace; I cannot explain it.

Six decades later my life is good.  I have a job, family, and friends I love. Then out of nowhere a Parkinson’s diagnosis hits me by surprise.  Jab, Hook.  Stunned, disoriented, I stumble around. Then something takes over. I join a Parkinson’s support group; I hear a speaker on exercise as medicine. I join her gym, Rogue Physical Therapy and Wellness. I befriend others who have PD.

I am a make-love-not-war kind of gal, who accompanies spiders out the front door on a paper towel. But on those days when it feels like Parkinson’s towers over me--my arms feel like noodles, my feet feel like lead pipes clamped to the ground-- I know how to fight back. Exercise.  In boxing classes, I hit hard at Parkinson’s, throwing punches like my life depends on it.  Strength returns to my arms, lightness to my steps, my inner boxer comes alive, and I am playing to win.

I do not look away or underestimate the power of Parkinson’s. Neither do I underestimate the greater soul power behind my punches. I have Norman to thank for that.

Jab. Cross.

Jab. Cross. Uppercut.




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.


Parkinson’s Walking Club

Our next walk will be Thursday July 22 at 10:30 at the trailhead of Buck Gully Trail: 872 Poppy Ave, Corona Del Mar, CA 92625
For a full description click on the link Buck Gully Trail Guide. We will not be hiking the full  5.2 miles the guide shows


GPS Directions can be obtained by searching 872 Poppy Ave, Corona Del Mar, CA 92625 in whatever you use for directions.

Note that the fastest way from South OC may be on the 73-toll road, and should have the least traffic going and coming, but at the hours we are driving the directions you see for taking the 405 instead of the toll might be comparable.

Another fantastic though longer option is to get on PCH in Laguna Beach and take it north

Via CA-73 North (toll required)

* Take Exit 11, Newport Coast Drive, and turn left toward Newport Beach * Turn right at San Joaquin Hills Road (1.1 mi)
* Turn left onto Marguerite Avenue (2 mi)
* Turn left onto Fifth Avenue (0.8 mi)

* Turn left onto Poppy Avenue (0.3 mi)

* Destination (872 Poppy Avenue) will on the right

Via I-405 North

* Take I-405 North toward Long Beach
* Exit at Jamboree Road and turn left
* Turn left onto MacArthur Blvd.(1.8 mi)
* Turn left onto San Joaquin Hills Road (3.2 mi)
* Turn right onto Marguerite Avenue (0.7 mi)
* Turn left onto Fifth Avenue (0.8 mi)
* Turn left onto Poppy Avenue (0.3 mi)
* Destination (872 Poppy Avenue) will be on the right

Go to this link: for more information And no, we are not going to hike the full 5.2 miles shown.

There is paved road at the beginning, but quickly turn to compact dirt.

There is street parking in the neighborhood around the trailhead.



The trail for the most part is smooth and easy. Slight elevation gain going up, but we get to enjoy the slight down back to the trailhead!
The trailhead has been running about 15 Degrees cooler than MV

Rest Rooms:

Available at the Oasis Senior Center, one block from the trailhead. 801 Narcissus Ave, Corona Del Mar, CA 92625. About a 6-minute walk.


Mainly sun, but part of the walk is under some trees and brush. Bring your hat and sunscreen



Neil McNally 949-610-2584

For coffee, rolls or lunch Rose Café is almost within walking distance from the trailhead
Rose Café: 3536 East Coast Hwy Corona Del Mar,


Jump Start

newly diagnosed

PD Buzz is honored to partner with Rogue PT & Wellness in Fountain Valley, CA to bring you a special event for those just starting their PD journey or not too far along into the journey.  Our day will feature presentations by Movement Disorder Neurologist, Dr. Mindy Bixby, Physical Therapist, Claire McLean and founder of PD Buzz, Lauren Simmons.  This is a great time to meet others with Parkinson’s and meet some of the Parkinson’s leaders in Orange County.

This is an in person event held at Rogue PT in Fountain Valley.  Registration for this event is limited.  If you have registered and are unable to attend, please contact us.

This program is sponsored in part by a community grant from the Parkinson’s Foundation.  We are grateful for the support they provide.  You can find out more about the Parkinson’s Foundation here.

June 26th 10:00-12:30 at Rogue PT & Wellness

18030 Magnolia

Fountain Valley, CA


Sage Sojourns – February, 2021

You're Only One Swim Away from a Good Mood

by Sage Bennett


I was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease, PD, five years ago around Valentine’s Day.  I am still coming to terms with what that means. Each day is a little excursion into the question: how can I live well with PD?

Before taking meds and exercising daily, I experienced limitations I do not have today.  Shortly after diagnosis, I decided to swim a few laps after a water aerobics class.  To my chagrin, instead of swimming without effort as I had done since childhood, I was a tangle of arms and legs awkwardly trying to coordinate a swimming stroke. It was as if my brain had forgotten  how to swim. swimAs I kept trying to swim, I breathed in water instead of air and coughed my way out of the pool, dejected and embarrassed.

Soon after I heeded my doctor’s advice: “Try this medication and follow these three best practices-- Exercise. Exercise. Exercise.”  This prescription and the support of others in the PD community have helped me live more fully. Yesterday I enjoyed 45 minutes of carefree swimming. Even though the outside air was chilly the water was warm as I glided back and forth from one end of the pool to the other in effortless strokes of crawl, side, and then back stroke. I swam past pine trees on the left, palm trees on the right. Overhead a baby, blue sky held cumulus puffs of white. A brushstroke of long strands of cirrus clouds swept across the sky, as a rainbow of blue, green, and purple faintly appeared in its center, then disappeared. In the water my movements are fluid. Feeling at one with clouds, sky, and trees, I am grateful for these moments --and living well with PD.

Sage BennettBio

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.


Meet Gretchen Westgaard

Fighting Parkinson's in Orange CountyOrange County local, Gretchen Westgaard,  started her career in the fitness industry as a Pilates instructor.  When her mom was diagnosed with Parkinson's Disease, it seemed only natural that she would jump into the world of fitness for people with Parkinson's. After working with Ann Adams at Rock Steady Boxing Southern California, Gretchen decided to open her own Rock Steady affiliate.  She quickly got certified as a Rock Steady Boxing Coach and has been the owner of Rock Steady Boxing South OC for over four years.

RSB South OC classes are a blend of boxing,  cardio exercises, strength training and stretching. The class activities are designed to help improve balance, cognition, flexibility, vocal strength and even dexterity.   If you watch one of Gretchen's classes, you will not only notice the hard work but the laughter and smiles can not be ignored.

"Rock Steady South OC is a big family.  We laugh with each other and sometimes cry with each other but at the end of the day, we are there to support each other." You can reach Gretchen at

Fighting back at Rock Steady Boxing South OC