About Chery

I teach Self Love with PresenceYoga and treat clients with gentle, trained, experienced hands and 25 years of experience as a therapist. I am the owner/manager of Mountain Valley Retreat, a residential and overnight guest glamping retreat in the mountains of San Diego's backcountry. I love PCT hikers, hiking, dancing, painting, going to the beach, getting bodywork, holding my grandbaby, singing, petting my cats, sleeping, staring at campfires, silence, serving my clients, hanging out in my watsu float pool, howling at the moon, traveling to new places with friends, taking photographs, drumming circles, giving hand massage to old hands, watching the moon rise over the desert from Turtle Rock, music jams, singing and playing my guitar, free writing, sharing cool off the grid hikes with guests, soaking in my hot tub, laughing, potlucks with friends, hanging upside down, practicing innocence, being a PCT trail angel, working in my garden, cuddle puddles, preparing food from my garden, teaching pelvic floor yoga at Esalen Institue, riding horses, hosting retreats at Mountain Valley Retreat and all fun childlike behaviors. I am Yoga.

April 24, 2020 Evening Pages

I’m wondering what makes today different. I am publishing my thoughts in my blog, Source Reflections. If you know me, you know it’s been awhile. I started this blog eight years ago, on Jan.1, 2013. After about a year of daily morning pages, I stopped.

I began building Mountain Valley Retreat which included painting murals on 3 large canvas tipis and constructing two yurts and a garden. I haven’t had much to write about. I’ve been busy.

Now I’m not. I have been in isolated quarantine since my last PCT Hikers left on March 21. Four weeks in and I’ve left my little compound four times for basic supplies. I have quite a lot of liquor and pot.

I am pretty stocked with inventory & supplies for the Class of 2020 Hiker Season which began on March 1. Mountain Valley Retreat is on the 101 mm of the Pacific Crest Trail which begins at the Mexican Border in Campo and ends in the Cascades at the Canadian border. Every year about 3000 adventurers attempt to thru-hike it.

This was my eighth year hosting thru-hikers at my residential glamping yoga retreat. Hikers at MVR is one of those awe inspiring win-win situations: the hikers, my friends who fly in to be “trail angels” and me. We are pretty much always smiling.

I had up to 12 hikers around my dining room table for breakfast and dinner for two weeks and during the week of the 21st we bonded through the stories that were coming through the media about the Coronavirus. On Friday morning, March 21, we gave rides to the San Diego and Palm Springs Airports and dropped nine hikers at the Barrell Springs trailhead. This new “trail family” headed north with the intention of hiking to Idyllwild (about another 100 miles) and then re-evaluating the Covid-19 story and what it meant to their 6 month plan to hike the PCT. Werner hiked one more day and then came back and flew home to the Netherlands rather than risk being quarantined in the US while his wife and children were across the ocean. The rest hiked on.

I was suddenly alone. It was a startling contrast and although I appeared to take it in stride and adapt I am realizing now that big changes are happening within myself. I guess that IS adaptation. I’m feeling that now is a good time to talk to a therapist. In fact I just messaged a girlfriend to get a referral.

I am feeling the need to connect to someone with whom I can share the stories of this past month and explore the experiences that are currently happening. I’m needing conscious touch and a friend who listens with the ears of their heart and is willing to be open and honest and true. And I want to be that friend for another.

It seems important to be very vulnerable, transparent and raw at this time and rest back in pure trust. It seems important to remain in an expanded state, focus on self-care and connect with all other forms of life. It seems important to dive head first into the river and float in the love of the Tao. I think I need support to manage this transformation. Thanks for listening.

All That I Have…

“All that I have, is all that I need.”

The journey is to uncover it.  It appears to be buried under layers of mistaken idols.  These idols include everything I have collected and kept over all my years of living.

Marie Kondo has caught my attention.  Marie’s practice takes me into an intimate relationship with the community of “things” which “live” in my personal space.

Her practice isn’t making the journey easier, but it is helping me see the essential when I ask her simple and profound question as I connect with each thing, “Do you spark my joy?”

Here is what I have discovered so far:

  • Every “thing” is a sentient being.
  • All “my things”  live in “communities” that share a common theme.
  • The journey is to gather the community of things, with their appropriate theme, into one space.  One bed, one floorspace, a room…whatever it takes to hold it all.  Every single member of the community within my personal living space is being held by me or worn by me while I ask the penetrating question, “Do You Spark My Joy?”
  • My space includes two acres of land holding three tipis, a “big” house and a “little” house with porches and patios and a deck with a hot tub.  There is a yoga/performance studio in a yurt.  There is a shed and pump house, a well with a water tank, tool room, solar system and a salt water float pool inside a yurt.  There is a fence all around the acreage with four gates, over one-hundred trees, a garden, greenhouse, orchard, grape arbor, rockwork, a tree swing and a medicine wheel.

Having just begun this Kondo Journey I gathered several large bags of clothing and accessories from my closet that don’t “spark my joy.”   They did spark joy for some of my friends that I gave them to!  Hopefully the rest find homes with someone whose joy they do spark.

I moved to California ten years ago in March of 2009.  My various versions of myself came here from Illinois to the San Ysidro mountains, at 4000 feet elevation where I am surrounded not by the man-made but in the four basic elements of nature:

  • A rare, alkaline, pristine well that gives me all the water I need.
  • Year round sunshine in clear, open skies and night skies that sparkle with stars and the moon.
  • Clean, clear gentle winds that bring amazing weather to me from the nearby ocean.
  • A high-desert, oak grove with its sandy/ loamy fertile earth.

I joyously share this space with occasional two-legged ones…and ongoingly with 3 cool cats and the tree people, the four-leggeds, the winged ones, the stone people, and the creepy crawlies…you get the picture.

“All That I Have IS All That I Need.”

I am so blessed and rededicated to being a good steward to this land that I  live on.

I am giving myself all of 2019 to complete this process of asking every thing on my property the Kondo Question!

Only Love is welcome here and Only “Things” that Spark My Joy!  Is there a difference?

Retirement as a Spiritual Practice


My Tenets for Retirement as a Spiritual Practice

  • Live Only for Love
  • Live Life for the Love of Life
  • Be Grateful for All That I Have AND
  • Know That All That I Have is Enough
  •  My Body Was Born To Die
    • Every Breath is a Gift from Life
    • Be Grateful, Be Happy
    • Feel Joyful, Feel Loved
  • Give Only Love and Receive Only Love
    • Love IS the Flow that Moves Through Me
    • Love IS the Energy that Heals
    • Love is the Truth, All Else is the Illusion
    • Everything that isn’t Love Dies
    • Love Can Never Die
    • Love is the Creative Force of Life.                            

My words point my reader toward an embodied experience which can only be understood when it is felt. The mind will have many arguments about these tenets…they are not for the mind. Hold these concepts in your body and feel them with your heart. Only then, will you understand how they can be true. Your experiences are welcome if you would share them.

Shifting by degrees

I’ve been away from sharing my life on this post

For a long time…

It seems like years.

I’ll be 69 in 2019.


Life gets more interesting,


and with more challenging opportunities

every passing day.


I am shifting…by degrees

I am slowly yielding… almost surrendering.

(She said with a hopeful smile…)

I have been waiting for this time,

Since I was that fearless ten-year-old girl,

leaning side-to-side,

in the wind.

From my perch

in the top of the weeping willow tree

in Dr. Jones’ backyard.


The eons of conditioned confusion,

make my forward movement

akin to walking knee deep in molasses.


Each portal has an awning labeled,

“Opportunity for Trans-Personal Growth.”

Which translates as, “Fools Only.”


Knowledge, the Seed who became a Tree in my mind,

Relentlessly creates ordinary thoughts,

Programming Poisoning my Innocence with Fear.


Praise the Lord!

Hidden within,

The First Teachings

are woven through the hems

of the Robes

of the Saints.


The First Teachings,


Has Survived,

Hidden and protected

By the Secret Society of Healers and Mystics.


THE TRUTH Teachers of

All Indigenous People

have waited until it is Safe Enough.


The Poison of Lies,

Presenting as The Church

Pushed the Truth

Deep Underground.

Hide or Die.


That was Then.

This is Now!

Now is the time…


For the Seed has sprouted,

The Plant has grown.

The Flower is blooming

The Fruit will soon be ready,

May we gather the Fruits of the Harvest

And share with all who hunger.



You Want Me To Do What?


I’m at Esalen Institute, home of the Human Potential Movement.  I love it here.  It’s not just the beauty of the rugged ocean coastline that creates a cliff on which Esalen is perched.  It’s not just the gardens, the flowers, the trees, the hot natural mineral baths, the amazing food, the inspiring teachers, the old friends. Its the freedom and spaciousness I feel here.  Even with a schedule of treatments to give and classes to assist, I feel a sense of wide open space and time…as if each day opens into an endless series of moments in which nothing is required of me but to simply be.

Yesterday I went to my dear friend Pam’s writing circle.  Pam and I met when I was a work scholar in 2007 and she was on staff in Cabins, my department.  We have a sister-bond that is deep and unexplainable.

She and I were the only two at the start of her writing circle and then two lovely young women joined us…and we were four.

We had a delicious sharing of free-writes from prompts Pam gave us which ended with the title of this blog.  As I put pen to paper for a 5-minute write, my 7-year old self quickly took over…

You Want Me To Do What?

Write about a prompt?  In a circle of people, I don’t know?  Risking exposure of some deep dark place in me that I’ve been hiding so well for so long I don’t even know what it is?

But, this prompt…

What if it is the key that unlocks the door to that dark inner cave of my heart?

What if as the door opens I am brave enough to walk in?

What if I see, for the very first time, the monster in the cave that is me?

What if I write all about the monster and read it out loud to the people?

What will happen then?

Aging & Death

The rains finally came today.  A solid 20 minutes of genuine downpour…a “get naked and dance in the rain” downpour.

I am so grateful to the Elementals.  They settled their differences today and found balance.  And so, too, may I find balance.

I’m 68.  I have been moving consciously through layers of armor and patterns of conditioned-response to stress for decades.  But at this moment, what seems significant, is the last decade.

I reverse my timeline and look backwards from July 12, 2018.  

I officially opened the Mountain Valley Retreat in 2014.

Sidebar:  “This is 2018, my fifth year in my new business.  I’m sorting out the bugs and it’s working.  My working edge is clarity about what I want.  I am a Renaissance Woman.  Staying focused on one project at a time isn’t as fun  (read challenging) as juggling several projects at once  Some interests are more lefty, artsy-fartsy and some more righty, rational-mathematical.  I seem to go for the balance.”

  In 2010 my marriage of thirty-seven years ended in divorce.


Sidebar:  “We hooked up for the first time in 1968.  I was an 18-year-old freshman at DU and Jim was a 20-year-old junior on a 4-year NCAA basketball scholarship majoring in Economics.  When Jim graduated he moved to Chicago to play at being a banker in the big leagues… riding on the lapping tongues of the jock-sniffing Execs at the First National Bank of Chicago in the loop.  His entry-level position was as a Jr. Trust Officer.  Jim did the leg-work for his boss, Manny, from Kenilworth, Sr. Trust Officer. I transferred to NIU and majored in Education and Psychology.  We got married in 1973.”

In 2007 I left Jim and the farm we had lived on since 1975, 32 years.  I maintained my business, Be Well Now, in Godfrey/Alton.  I moved into a tiny log cabin 10 miles from my farm isolated in an oak forest on a little lake owned by a young couple going through a divorce.  My landlady, Kristy, was getting the house with 100 acres and rented the cabin to me and my cat, Lemur,  for two years.

The story of the preceding fifty-seven years is a blog (read book) for another day.

So, this somehow brings me to my topic, Death & Aging…or Aging & Death.

What, you are asking, is the connection between Aging & Death and the past decade of my life?  I’m aging and so is everyone around me and we all die.  The longer I live, the more Aging and Death become a “thing” for me.  As friends and family die, I’m left wondering the great unanswerable question, “What’s it all about?”

Within my ‘wonderings’ I came upon a thought.  As I age, time appears to be collapsing in on itself.  The clock may say it is six hours later than what feels like a moment ago.  It appears that my mind is staying more and more present.  Without thoughts about the past or the future time is losing its relativity.  Without anything to relate to,  there are no relatives for time?   Without relativity, there is no time!  Only now.

What does this have to do with Aging and Death?  Everything!

Aging depends upon the passage of time.  No time…no aging.

Death is the absence of time…it is timeless.  Therefore, if I am in a timeless space, I am already dead, by definition.  If I am dead, what separates me from life? Just the appearance of this body.

Savasana,  The little death, the chance to die before you die.  This is what my yoga is all for.  For 50 years I’ve known of yoga, practiced yoga, studied yoga, taught yoga…and now?  Perhaps, I am yoga.

Aging and Death?  Nothing but concepts of the mind.  Paper Tigers.  Bring it on!

Agelessness and Life Eternal.  Word!










It’s July…the hottest month of our year in Ranchita.  My well is stressed.  And I keep allowing the water to run because I don’t check for irrigation leaks often enough.  My irrigation system has timers and they fail.  And when they do, the water just keep running until the safety shut-off on the big water tank kicks in and shuts all the water off.

At least I still have water…even if it is in the ground and in the bottom half of the tank.  And when I can access it, it is safe, and clean and delicious!  I can’t even imagine what it must be like to not have access to safe water.  This thought drew me to look up the statistic.  This is what I just found: “1 billion people lack access to safe drinking water. 2.6 billion people lack adequate sanitation. 1.8 million people die every year from diarrhoeal diseases, including 90 % of children under 5. This situation is no longer bearable.”

This situation is no longer bearable.  What does that mean?  If I can’t bear something, I must change it… or what?  How does this change happen in a world where the people with the power to make change have other priorities?  How can safe water not be the first priority for our global community?

We are not a global community.  We don’t have the connections which create community between our countries.  Instead, we are separated by borders and fear and hate.

This morning, as I sit here waiting for my water tank to recover from my laziness so I can take a shower and get a cold drink, I pray for forgiveness to all those human beings whose cup is empty.

Free Write on “My Calling”

Sun Salute in Sedona


What has heart and meaning for me?

What is important to me?

What do I love to do?

What ignites my passion?

What makes time stand still & expand for me?

What am I searching for?

What satisfies me?

What contributions do I want to make?

What actions will support my Calling?


The Call to Dance

I am in a room full of people.  No one is speaking.  Everyone is alert and full of life.  There is a feeling of aliveness and curiosity in the air.  The music begins.  The bodies in the room begin to move with the felt sensation of the music as it enters our ears and expresses itself uniquely through our bodies.

Each person moves in their personally defined impulses and urgings inspired by the music, the community of human beings and the moment.

As we create this dancing moment together, this beauty, this fluidity, this unique and fleeting moment of communal, living art, my heart expands out of my chest and I soar into heavenly grace with my fellow human dancers.


The Call to Treatment

My hands rest on the feet of the person lying on my treatment table.

I close my eyes and drop out of my mind and into my body…my personal navigation system.

I say a prayer of intention.  I ask that I might be a clear and clean channel for this person’s well-being.  I invite the unseen support of my guides and angels and those of my client to join us.  I express my gratitude for their loving support of the process we have entered.

I follow the urgings of my hands to touch and hold this body as I listen intently to the information that begins to flow into me.

I utilize the skills I have learned from my teachers and mentors and the experiences of my life…

As a wild child, a dancer, a painter, a thief.  A daughter, a friend, a teacher, a wife.  A liar, a lover, a singer, a mother.  A sister, a farmer, a therapist, a yogi.  A cheater, a channel, a seductress, a businesswoman, a divorcee.   A hiker, a seeker, a grandmother, an angel, a shaman.

At the end of the session, a clearing has happened…and a revealing.

Something that was no longer serving, has left.  Something that was needed, has entered. Something that was hidden has revealed itself.  Positive change has begun its process.


The Call to Nature

I walk out the door and breathe in the fresh air and sunlight.  I feel the gentle breeze on my skin and the solid earth under my feet.  I take a big drink of water from my well and enjoy the sensation of its cool fluidity sliding down my throat, quenching my body.

The elements of nature fill me with life giving forces and make me feel strong and resilient. I am filled with energy.

I step onto the path and begin my hike through the hills and valleys beneath the shadow of the mountain.  Every pore opens to the landscape around me.  The sky is brilliant blue and sunlight filters through the leaves of the giant oaks that line the trail.  I hear the singing of birds, the buzzing of bees and the flutter of butterflies.  I smell the fragrance of the ocean like subtle notes superimposed on the powerful scent of the blooming flowers that have exploded like a carpet of color under my feet.

My feet are sure and my legs feel powerful as I swing along in balance with nature.  My body is getting an energy reset and I am in touch with my Source.  At the end of the hike I have re-sourced myself and with energy reserves full, I am ready to listen to the next indicated thing.


The Call to Yoga

I sit on my cushion, on my mat, in the silence of the yurt, resting.

One by one, my students enter quietly, gathering their mats and props and setting themselves up for their practice.

When the room has settled, I breathe in a breath of the Divine and expand my field to hold the space with loving kindness, compassion, and strength for those who have gathered here this day.

I silently set the intention that my teachings will meet the needs of those who are here and inspire them towards greater health and well-being.

From this moment until the closing breath of the session, I follow the guidance that comes to me.  My anchor is breath.  Breath initiates all movement and all movement supports breath.  My words create imagery that allows my students to explore their own bodies from the inside and notice the whispers of their own internal gurus.

My intention is for them to leave inspired to return to their mats each day, without an agenda, simply to sit in silence and listen to their bodies with loving compassion and honor what they hear.


Morning Pages…A Stream-of- Consciousness Free Write

Meaning, Hope, Inspiration, Curiosity?

What generates these concepts for me?
What is the experience?
What is the feeling?
What is the Grace?

Meaning gives purposeful inspiration to action.
Meaning is the underlying thought that makes an action worthy of taking.
What is the meaning of this moment?
I Mean to gain clarity of mind and direction from this exploration of Mind.

Hope is trust in the future.
Hope is the feeling that all is well.
Hope lends it’s positive intention to action.
It says to me that my action today is creating a positive outcome for tomorrow.

Inspiration is the fire in my belly that fuels me.
Inspiration is the breath of a life well lived.
I breathe in Inspiration and I breathe out
Right thought, Right word, Right action.

Curiosity is the platform for Inspiration.
Curiosity is the undomesticated mind of the innocent child,
A Curious Mind has no room for agendas, expectations, and judgments.
Curiosity is a state of awe and wonder, inspired, and ever hopeful.

“My life flows like a river, carried by the surprise of its own unfolding.”

Each morning, I awake to the possibility of allowing the moments of this day
To unfold without the conscious direction of Mind.
When I remain in a state of presence, Mind is a curious observer
of the movie called My Life… playing in and around me.

Time unfolds, and My Life is a continuous creation… not separate…
But deeply connected and part of everyone and everything I perceive,
And also everything I don’t perceive.
The seen and unseen, the heard and unheard, the felt and unfelt…
I Am That.

Trusting in the Divine Unfolding Play of the Universe
I watch with Curiosity as I play out my tiny part.
My tiny life. This tiny moment.
Nothing more than the opportunity to Dance with Grace.


Me and My Brother

An open letter to my friends:

I just spent a week with my brother.  Gregg is 70 and has lived with a PKD (Parkinson’s Disease) diagnosis since he was 45.  He has been on PKD meds for 25 years, had a “brain stimulator” procedure which failed to produce the desired relief of his symptoms… and YET, he still golfs, lawn bowls, paints, boxes, does yoga, sings in a choir, weight lifts and does a PKD stretch class.  He jogs, dances, does tai chi, writes music, sings karaoke (we sing duets), plays the guitar, plays cards & games, rides a bike, cooks, drives a golf cart and knows the value of a massage.  He can make a great smoothie and makes me laugh a lot.
He manages his finances, fixes things that break, and offers help wherever he sees a need, including organizing support groups for people with PKD.
My sister-in-law, Jo, has been in my family since I was 20.  I love and respect her for being Gregg’s constant companion and support for so many years.
I am 66.  Gregg was 3 when I was born  and has been my steady, solid friend all of my life.
I have rarely heard Gregg speak in the negative about anything.
Depression is a part of his disease for over 60% of those diagnosed.
He told me, that when he learned his brain stimulator was a failure, he got depressed.
He says, “I let myself have a pity-party for a couple of hours, and then I said, OK, enough of that.  Let’s get moving.”
If ever I start to feel down about my life, all I have to do is spend time with Gregg and everything gains perspective.  He inspires me with his willingness to be vulnerable… all the time.  With him I realize that life is what I make of it.
What do I perceive? How many layers can I peel off to experience the essence of life?
Everything is moving energy.  Can I relax my gaze, relax my body, relax my mind?
Can I  rest back…behind the parade of thoughts that is passing through the field of my mind?
In this relaxed state of perception, I see life with no clothes on.
“Naked Life”, is the experience of my primordial state, pre-domestication.
“You wild-animal, you!”
In this state-of-mind dwells my “true nature,” and it will always choose the efficient “path of least resistance.”  Gregg has shown me that this choice is not related to the conditions or external circumstances of my life.  It has everything to do with how well I am able to choose my thoughts (or even better!  Simply watch the parade go by…) rather than be a slave to my “thought-processor.”
My brain, the “think-tank” of my mental body, is programmed to run on auto-pilot.  The program produces rationalizing thoughts to neutralize the “events” of my present experience that are  creating a “disruption” in my nervous system/state of equilibrium.  This “disruption” can be good or bad.  The mind doesn’t judge it, it just wants to bring things back to balance.  Too high, bring it down.  Too low, bring it up.   Using data gleaned from my life-history recording, it’s purpose is to try and make me think I am balanced, equalized… okay…It wants to hear me say, I’m in a homeostatic state.  The truth is, I already am okay.  I was okay and I’ll always be okay, with or without the mind’s constant balancing act.
My body works very much the same way on it’s physical level.   My body’s immune system continuously meets whatever is coming into my field to neutralize it and try and keep my body in homeostasis.   My body uses it’s immune system cells while my mind uses thoughts.  The body uses the physical system’s cells of  the immune system, and the mind uses the mental/emotional system’s thoughts. 
What I am practicing, and I invite each of you to try it if you haven’t already, is to rest back behind my constant thread of thoughts.  As I rest back and observe my thoughts like a parade going down the street (it used to be a ticker-tape, then a computer screen,  but I needed to slow it down, so I made it a parade, you know, like the speed of walking horses and kids.) I relax and watch the parade of thoughts go by and when one catches my eye and tries to lure me in, I notice it and I say,“Thank-you, but, no thank-you.  I’m just great and I don’t need your help.”
With the mind ignored, the body does what it’s programmed to do… innately.  You don’t have to think to breathe, pee, eat, have sex and sleep…sounds like retirement to me!!
The thing I love best about myself is the way I joke with my own process.  I truly do not believe my own bullshit!  Eliciting a laugh is the best possible use of a thought!  Right?
So I say, “Right on, my Fellow “Feel So Much It Makes Me Crazy but THERE IS NO BETTER WAY TO LIVE!”
You are my peeps!