Through Movement We Find Health

Thank You Portland For Making Me Who I Am Today

January 14th, 2011 · 11 Comments

This morning I flew up to Portland from my home in Ashland, nestled in the Klamath-Siskiyou mountains of southern Oregon.  Every where I look I am reminded of the story of my life, interwoven in these streets, layered in space and time and memory.  I lived and loved in Portland for eighteen years, after growing up in Brooklyn and going to college in Ohio, before I moved to Ashland in 1999.

On the cab ride into town from the airport, we pass Providence Hospital, where I taught my first regular movement classes as part of a dynamic physical therapy and endocrinology team.

As we cross the Willamette river I see an old stern wheeler, reminding me of my cotton-peddling ancestors who lived on the Mississippi at the turn of the nineteenth century.

From my hotel room on the fourteenth floor I can see south and west across the city, my old stomping grounds.  The south window looks up the Park Blocks toward the Oregon Historical society, where my father, George T. Resch, worked as book designer at the Press, and talked with my then future husband, Richard Seidman, about planting trees to offset paper used in book production, a desire to honor trees and the Earth that would lead to Richard and my meeting and marrying, but only after my father had died and himself returned to the holy ground.

Past the Historical Society is Portland State University, where I danced in PSU’s The Company We Keep and studied science on my way to becoming a physical therapist.  Through the west window, about a mile away, I see the neighborhood where I first lived in Portland in 1981, my old block on Osage Street marked from afar by the historic large pink Art Deco Envoy apartment building.

For lunch I order gourmet deli take-out from the young, artsy, urban wait staff across the street, and remember when I was a young, hip, artsy, urban wait staff in one of Portland’s first gourmet delis, Savoir Faire, a few blocks east.  That’s where I first met Jeff Stewart, now Nia’s CEO, when he had just arrived in Portland and was looking to start a restaurant delivery business on a shoe string.  Jeff and I met in 1983 – the year Nia was born in San Rafael, California.

Across the street from my hotel is the elegant central branch of the Portland Public Library, with its wide stairways and wide ears, holding all those books inside its big, old, intelligent head, a favorite hang out in my early days dancing in the dance studios of the nearby Pythian Building, where, tomorrow, gods give us life, I will begin the much-awaited, seven-day Nia Next Generation Trainer Summit at Nia Headquarters.

They call downtown the heart of Portland.  And I feel Portland in my aching heart, and to Portland I bow for making me who I am today.

Tags: Dancing Through Life · The Road to Becoming A Nia Trainer

11 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Susan Waterman // Jan 14, 2011 at 9:12 pm

    Dear Rachael;
    Beautiful. Thank you for sharing this. I love Portland and also give her thanks as she provided a nurturing environment for my family, evolving me into my career, allowing my return to Southern Oregon renewed and expanded. I keep visiting her monthly as she continues to nourish me with all you so eloquently described.

  • 2 Doris // Jan 14, 2011 at 11:00 pm

    Lovely, Honey! So evocative, and tugs my heartstrings, too, where the warp and the weft of our long Portland lives have miraculously danced together.
    All blessings for this week of deepening mystery!

  • 3 Joi // Jan 15, 2011 at 3:33 am

    I am excited that the future of Nia is held in hands such as yours that produce beautiful pieces such as this. Have an amazing ride, Rachael.

  • 4 Kathryn // Jan 15, 2011 at 6:47 am

    Wow. Thank you for reminding me yet again how interconnected we all are.

  • 5 Sharry // Jan 15, 2011 at 6:59 am

    Hi Rachael,
    It is so lovely to begin my morning by traveling around Portland with you. I only lived there from mid 1959 until Christmas 1962, but those were pivotal years. I started college and met and married from first husband Fred. My daughter Sally was born in Portland at St. Vincent Hospital. I love Portland and love being there with you in spirit for your training.

  • 6 Jason Alan Griffin // Jan 15, 2011 at 7:11 am

    That was beautiful and poetic. I really felt the uniqueness of the Northwest in your descriptions, and it made me long for being there.
    I didn’t know you and Jeff Stewart went back so far.
    Have fun this week. I’m sure it’s going to be amazing.
    Love Jason

  • 7 Ruth // Jan 15, 2011 at 8:23 am

    I am hopelessly proud of tender vast heart1
    Love, Ma

  • 8 Ruth // Jan 15, 2011 at 8:25 am

    I’ll try again

    I am hopelessly in love and proud of your vast and tender heart!!


  • 9 Richard Seidman // Jan 15, 2011 at 5:22 pm

    Dear Rachael,

    Thank you for so beautifully evoking Portland, that city we love and where I lived for 21 years and where we met.

    Here is what our beloved friend, Terence O’Donnell, may his memory be a blessing ,wrote in “That Balance So Rare: The Story of Oregon,” published by the Oregon Historical Society Press in 1988 and possibly designed by your father:

    “Portland’s dream began in 1845, sixteen blocks platted out along the river bank and a coin flipped to give the place the name of Portland…Portland was a place where the wagons could meet the ships, and during the California gold rush, many wagons met many ships. With wheat and gold, the wharf and the road, sawmill, tannery, blacksmith shop, and a population of about eight hundred, Portland was, as a local judge described it, ‘a small and beautiful village.’ In fact, it was a raw, disheveled place, gangling and awkward in the spurt of its first growth. ‘Rather gamey,’ said a woman passing through on her way south.

    “By 1851, however, the town was incorporated. A brick building with arches went up at the waterfront, Classic Revival cottages with tiny pillared porches appeared on the now elm-planted blocks, land was set aside for parks, and there was a ‘library,’ and a music shop. By 1858, there were one hundred stores, and a population of about two thousand. Oregon had its ‘metropolis.'”

    And now here you are, 153 years later, in that metropolis pursuing your path with grace and diligence and courage so that the beauty of your dancing and your teaching might still echo 153 years into the future.


  • 10 Rachael // Jan 16, 2011 at 6:16 am

    We truly live in a landscape of time, but my eyes, heart and understandings are usually closed to it. This is an indigenous understanding that al our ancestors had, and that Einstein remembered.

  • 11 Carmen // Jan 16, 2011 at 11:12 pm

    It sounds like an incredible journey Rachael, your lifetime, your ancestors and Now NGT! I was tickled by the knowledge that you met Jeff so far back, that his journey has intersected your journey – before Nia. Thank you for sharing the craft of your heart so masterfully, Carmen

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