Nyack Sketch Log: Dr. Lauren Dulberg of Two Rivers Acupuncture & Wellness

by Bill Batson

The metrics of Chinese medicine can be measured in the thousands: the number of specific meridians in the body is over 2,000 and the number of years Chinese medicine has been practiced is over 5,000.

But the number “one” matters most to Dr. Lauren Dulberg of Two Rivers Acupuncture and Wellness. “Many patients do not find out about Chinese medicine until after they have exhausted other options. We tend to go for treatment after things have reached a chronic state. If I could get one message across, it would be, ‘don’t wait.’ Start acupuncture as your first resort,” says Dr. Dulberg.

When did you become a Doctor of Chinese Medicine?

I finished my Master of Oriental Medicine (MSTOM) at the Pacific College of Oriental Medicine in San Diego, after 6 years of study in 2012. In California, a MSTOM is required to practice, which is great since everyone has to receive in-depth training in Chinese medicine and herbal medicine, instead of the minimal licensing requirements in New York State. I started practicing soon after in Argentina in early 2012 and then finished my Doctorate of Acupuncture and Chinese medicine in 2016. I also have a Bachelors of Art from University of Arizona in Anthropology / Medical Anthropology.

How does your practice differ from other traditions?

Western medicine mostly treats the symptom at hand and separates all aspects of the body into categories and completely separate parts. Often, western pharmaceuticals act more like a band aid that may create other side effects and issues in the body. Of course, we are incredibly lucky to have things like surgery and antibiotics, but many patients who come through my door feel failed by the western medical system or not listened to, especially when they may present with a complex array of symptoms that may appear “unrelated”.

Chinese medicine is a true form of holistic medicine since it treats the whole body from root to branch. We diagnose via an array of questioning which can sometimes take up to an hour, as well as through observing the tongue and measuring to the pulse.

Chinese medicine is ultimately a preventative medicine that can prevent a sequence of issues before they even begin. The moment a person may feel a twinge of back pain or a woman decides that she may want to have a baby in the near future, or just starts presenting with any symptoms that may be something out of balance emotionally or physically, is always the best time to start.

What led you to practice Chinese Medicine? I understand that your journey to motherhood played a central role.

I started my journey with Chinese medicine in college. I went to The University of Arizona and did my BA in Cultural and Medical Anthropology. I focused mostly in Ethnobotony and medical practices in traditional and tribal cultures.

The idea of ancient plant medicines fascinated me. Like Chinese medicine, it has been around for thousands of years and integrated into cultural and religious traditions. I felt a strong connection with this wisdom at a very young age. It wasn’t until many years later after studying yoga and energy work in India and Thailand, that I decided to take the plunge into my MSTOM program and become an acupuncturist and Chinese herbalist.

It was actually the study of herbs and anthropology that really led me into studying Chinese medicine. The idea that I could focus on one culture’s incredible tradition of Materia Medica, as well as the system of acupuncture which has been around for 5,000 years. Not only could I get a Masters and Doctorate,  but it was based on detailed studies recorded in books spanning thousands of years of trial and error. And even more compelling to me was the fact that this medicine was still not only alive, but had not yet been integrated into places like Sloan Kettering and the National Institutes of Health.

Personally, while in Chinese medicine school,  I confronted my own medical issues surrounding infertility. I was diagnosed with Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). Luckily, I had an amazing support network of mentors and Chinese medicine doctors who specialized in fertility. I committed myself to a year of acupuncture and Chinese herbal formulas to balance out my hormones. I made dietary changes. Within six months my PCOS symptoms were cured, hormones were balanced and, six months later, I was pregnant with my older son Noah.

Because of my own miracle story and profound experience with this medicine, I have dedicated much of my practice to treating fertility, women’s health issues and complex internal medicine cases. I never allow patients to believe the permanent story of a bad bill of health that they may of been sold by their doctors.

My well-known Manhattan based Endocrinologist told me ” You will never have kids and if you get pregnant, you will only have miscarriages and In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) probably won’t even work.” Well, she was 100% dead wrong. I didn’t listen to that story. I chose a different path. Now, I have two beautiful healthy boys and had them naturally through the power of Chinese medicine and making myself healthy!

My well-known Manhattan based Endocrinologist told me ” You will never have kids and if you get pregnant, you will only have miscarriages and IVF probably won’t even work”. Well, she was 100% dead wrong. I didn’t listen to that story. I chose a different path. Now I have two beautiful healthy boys and I had them naturally through the power of Chinese medicine and making myself healthy!

What are some of the biggest misconceptions about Chinese medicine?

That acupuncture hurts.

The needles do not hurt. I have done acupuncture on sleeping babies who have not awakened!  There is a video on my Two Rivers Acupuncture page to prove it. I actually posted it there because most people are so nervous about the needles.

That it only works if you believe in it.

If the placebo effect was 100% valid, then how do babies get remarkably better through acupuncture? And then there are all those patients I have had who didn’t believe in it and got better.

That it’s some hippie stuff.

Go to China and find me a hippie and then we can talk.

“I thought you had to be Asian to practice it.”

Nothing like some good old fashioned stereotyping

I’ll feel better in one or two sessions

That is how we have been taught to think: take a pill to cover and veil a problem. To truly treat most things so they go away for good, it takes 8-12 sessions and sometimes more. Treating my PCOS took one year.

Could you describe your needles? What are they made of, how do they work?

They are as thin as a hair and made out of the highest quality stainless steel. They are single use, so that means they get thrown away immediately after their one time being used and are contained in sterile single-use container packages.

Each needle is placed into a specific point. There are over 2000 points on the body, which are on meridians and activate an action for a specific symptoms. There is usually a formula of points used. Certain points couple together to create a reaction, but might be on completely different areas of the body.

The acupuncture needle acts as an antennae-like conduit and stimulates your body’s Qi or energy field, which then activates the needles. It takes 28 minutes for the Qi to circulate around the body from one organ channel or meridian to the next (there are 12).

Acupuncture can rewire the brain which leaves lasting effects on the peripheral and central nervous system and changes how the brain responds to pain and even anxiety, depression and stress. It creates microcirculation in the body, regenerates the body’s cells, and does everything from increase your immune system cells to fighting against cancer cells and activating beta and theta waves, which put your body into a deepened state of relaxation.

What would you like the public to know about your practice?

I would love the public to know that  Chinese medicine and acupuncture should be a first resort, instead of a last resort.

My practice is unique to Rockland since I am a Board Certified Herbalist and the first Doctor of Chinese medicine in Rockland, so I focus a lot on Internal Medicine. My expertise and specialties are the following :

  • All things relating to Women’s Health – (from period imbalances to fertility to prenatal care to menopause),
  • Emotional Health,
  • Pediatrics and
  • Complex Internal Medicine Cases.

My mission is to support my community through this medicine and be here as a source for wellness and utmost health. I have a deep passion for what I do and fully support my patients through their health and healing journeys.

What we may be missing in Western medicine, I believe, is to be truly heard and listened to. Patients in general feel that with their Western doctors, they are not getting treatment geared towards the goal of health, but instead toward masking the symptom, which then leads to more issues down the road.

I think most of us are very used to the idea of not really healing a disease or imbalance that may contribute to negative effects on our health and instead just living with something and hoping to manage it.  In my practice, I see that what may be understood as something that is a permanent issue can become cured and healed. This is something I hope to change through practicing this medicine, that the story a patient may believe or have been told to believe is actually something that is possible to change.

My hope is over time, with the incredible amount of research that has been done lately, Chinese medicine will become more and more normalized and maybe even become a standard of care, and prescribed by doctors here in Rockland. My dream is that we can create true integrative medicine relationships that serve the patient and their health to the fullest. In my practice, patients are listened to, heard and cared for, which is something many feel is unique to their health and wellness experience.

You have a statue of Quan Yin in your office. Could you tell us more about the patron saint of Chinese medicine?

I bought Quan Yin at Liberty Crafts in Nyack about 18 years ago. He/ She has traveled with me all over the country and the world and has stood watching over my patients in Buenos Aires and now here in Nyack.

I started studying the I CHING about 20 or so years ago. The I CHING comes from Taoism and the Ba Gua. Taoism is the foundation of Chinese medicine, since it is understood that all things are within a state of yin or yang, yin within yang or yang within yin. Everything in nature is trying to find it’s way back to the ultimate harmony and balance of the yin/yang. 

We are all a reflection of nature and the subtle nuances and imbalances of nature. Just as  water finds it way around the rocks in a stream, we too can find this balance within our bodies. Chinese medicine is all about supplementing what may be deficient, nourishing these substances of yin, yang, Qi and blood.

Sometimes, there is excess, so we must transform and harmonize. Sometimes, these substances are stuck like the water trying to get around the rocks, so we must move these substances so disease does not occur. Quan Yin encompasses all of this.

Since Quan Yin represents the true state of balance of the Yin and the Yang, he/she is both male and female. Quan Yin is a gender fluid bodhisattva. I always had a connection with Quan Yin and it’s an interesting thought to think about the journey she has been on with me and all the places I have lived, from Nyack to Arizona to San Francisco to Brooklyn to San Diego to Buenos Aires and now completing the full circle where it all began. You’ll meet a statue of Quan Yin when you enter my waiting room.

There are some incredible geometric artworks in your office, who is the artist and what part do they play in your practice?

The art in my office is by my husband Marcelo Sturgeon. He is a visionary artist who creates all of his images through the healing work and visions he has been involved in for the past 20 years. He is a traditional tobaquero and curandero from Argentina, which is like a shaman. In South America, shamans instead use the term curandero (one who cures).

He comes from the tradition of Amazonian traditional medicine and all of his work is based off of his medicinal healing. Each piece is actually a vision and many of them are medicine songs and patterns. You can check out his work at marcelosturgeon.com

What did I miss?

When I started practicing I lived in Buenos Aires, I was the only real acupuncturist and Chinese medicine doctor in the city and maybe the country since there are no schools for Chinese medicine in Latin America. Most doctors who practice it there take a short 50 hour course.

This led me to having a big practice that was mostly expats from all over the world and then 30-40% Argentine. I worked hand-in-hand with local doctors and midwives and was able to create a very special practice there.

It was definitely challenging since there was no importation in Argentina while I lived there and I had to bring in my needles and herbs in my suitcases which was not always an easy feat. I also had to learn how to speak Spanish quickly since the word caught on about my practice and I had many patients who did not speak English.

We were based there for about 4 years before coming back to the United States. I was hired on at the esteemed Yin Ova center in NYC by Dr. Jill Blakeway, which is one of the largest Chinese medicine centers in the country and specifically focused around Women’s health and Internal medicine.

After a year or so, I decided to leave the Yin Ova center and focus on my practice in Nyack to put my heart and soul towards my dream of becoming the “village doctor.” This community has been nothing but a blessing and I feel honored to have my practice based in Nyack and to serve such an incredible community!

Two Rivers Acupuncture and Wellness takes most out of network insurance plans and offers packages to try and make treatment more accessible. Visit them on line at tworiversacupuncture.com. They are located at 310 N. Broadway, Nyack, NY 10960 (845) 418-0809 info@tworiversacupuncture.com

Bill Batson is an activist, artist and writer who lives and sketch logs in Nyack, NY. Nyack Sketch Log: ” Dr. Lauren Dulberg of Two Rivers Acupuncture & Wellness” © 2019 Bill Batson.  To see more, visit billbatsonarts.com  


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Nyack Sketch Log: Climate Conversations with Dr. Robin Bell

by Bill Batson

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On two nights in April, scientists and a legal scholar, who call Nyack home, will give presentations that demonstrate how urgent the hour is for our planet, and what we can do as individuals and a community to respond.

Robin Bell

Robin Bell is the connective tissue between the two programs. On Tuesday April 2 at 6:30p at the Nyack Center, Bell, a Professor and Polar Researcher at the world-renowned Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory and the President of the American Geophysical Union will moderate a panel on the precise threat to our planet caused by climate change that features her colleagues at Lamont, Nicole Davi, Adjunct Associate Research Scientist, Paleoclimatology, and tree-ring expert and William D’Andrea, Lamont Associate Research Professor of biology and paleo environment, expert on natural and human-induced climate change.

On Tuesday, April 16th, she will introduce her husband, Pace Law School Professor and director of Pace Environmental Litigation Clinic Karl S. Coplan. Coplan, who is also a principal outside counsel for Riverkeeper, Inc. Coplan will offer readings from his book Live Sustainably Now: A Low-Carbon Vision of the Good Life, offering practical advice on how to reduce your carbon footprint, including everything from how you eat, commute, and run your house, to life enriching travel and recreation.

William D’Andrea at Friday’s Student Climate Strike

The programs are sponsored by the host, the Nyack Center, along with Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory of Columbia University’s Earth Institute, NyackNewsAndViews and La Taylaye Catering and Event Design.

I am honored to be one of the organizers. Tickets for each program at $20 ($35 for both) and include a catered receptions after each event.

Nicole Davi

Like millions of Americans, West Nyack’s Robin Bell dreads her commute. It’s not the time it takes to cover the 26,000 mile round trip. And while she certainly misses her family during the weeks she spends at her remote workspace; that is not the worst part. It’s the carbon footprint from the passenger and ski-equipped cargo planes that troubles her the most. Robin Bell is a climate scientist and air travel is the only practical way for her to get to her “office” at Field Camp Twin Otter in Antarctica.

Bell is currently one of the world’s leading experts in polar science. She directs research programs in Antarctica and Greenland; leads research on ice sheets, plate tectonics, and rivers; and leads the development of technology to monitor our changing planet. As chair of the National Academy of Sciences Polar Research Board, she was instrumental in launching International Polar Year 2007-2008, a major multinational push to study the polar regions.

Karl Copland

Her interests range from ice sheet dynamics to sub-glacial ecosystems. Bell studies the mechanisms of ice sheet collapse and the environments beneath the Antarctic ice sheet, including the Gamburtsev Mountains. The Gamburtsev range, also known as the ghost mountains, are as large as the Alps with a summit that never sees the sun, buried beneath 2,000 feet of snow and ice.

“I use physics to paint pictures of the world,“ Bell said in a 2011 interview.  “I’ve been incredibly lucky in terms of being able to leverage physics to see through to these places that are pretty much hidden to the human eye.”

Bell uses geophysics to observe “how the ice sheets work, how they grow, how they change and how they are changing now.” The model for how ice sheets behave was, until recently, as simple as “putting an ice cube on a table and letting it melt.'”  Bell and her multinational scientific partners in Antarctica are observing a much more dramatic process. “Parts of the ice sheet…are like giant conveyor belts that move a lot of ice into the ocean fast. Conveyor belts that are as wide as the state of Rhode Island. “

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Bell’s office space

As remote as her polar offices might be from our northern hemisphere Atlantic coastal setting, we are connected by the world’s oceans to the changes in the ecology of Antarctica and Greenland. In Antarctica, Bell is recording “how ice gets taken from the middle of ice sheets down along these fast flowing ice streams down into the ocean where they turn into icebergs and are the mechanism that raises global sea levels.”

“Since my grandmother was born, sea levels have risen one foot.” Bell said. “In the worst case scenario, the oceans could rise another foot in the next three decades, which means adapting to what we had seen since my grandmother was born a little quicker.”

Earth Day in Nyack

Earth Day will be celebrated in Nyack on Saturday, April 27 from noon to 4p in Veterans Memorial Park, Cedar and Main Street. Enjoy live music, food vendors, local artisans, craft projects, unique hands-on activities, learn about recycling and gardening how-to’s. Kids’ activities include art projects and face painting. drop off used battery. Keep Rockland Beautiful, Inc. Great American Cleanup crew prior to to the event. Brought to you by the Nyack Chamber of Commerce and the Village of Nyack and sponsored by Casa del Sol, Green Mountain Energy and Summer Play Camp at Blue Rock School.

Bell takes to the seas as a sailor as well as a scientist. “We sail as a family to soak in the open sea and sky and see new places together. I take a microscope and a small plankton net to look at the creatures in the sea, but that is just for fun.”

One of Bell’s recent projects included testing a new imaging system “icepod” that is designed to  measure ice thickness and how much snow has fallen in the last 100 years and the temperature. Her commute north is shorter than her southern sojourn, just 2,000 miles to the town of Kangerlussag and another 3,000 to the spot where they measure the ice.

Here are a few things that Bell thinks people who live on the banks of the Hudson should keep in mind when contemplating the impact of global weather systems:

Integrate your concern for the environment into your life whatever it is… art, journalism, business… we have to embrace change and move away from a lifestyle based on carbon fuels.

Encourage kids to study science and engineering…. we need more really smart people working on the planet as a system if we want to keep it as a habitable place.

When you are standing in Memorial Park, Bell has a simple way to fathom the elevated height of the river. “Put your hand just below your knee…. the water has gone up that far since 1900.”  Bell hopes that local governments will be mindful of this accelerating trend and place critical infrastructure above storm surge levels.

Even though she already gives to the fight against global climate change at the office, Bell’s activities extend beyond the traditional scope of scientific research. Bell was the director of the ADVANCE program at Columbia’s Earth Institute from 2004-2011 that increased the participation and advancement of women scientists and engineers at the University. She was also instrumental in the development of the International Polar Year 2007-8.

Most of us are as likely to walk on the moon, as we are to step onto the ice at the South Pole. But what happens underneath Antarctica’s frozen surface shapes our future. Which is why we are fortunate that one of our neighbors is willing to make the trip for us. Let’s just hope that policy makers have the wisdom to comprehend the implications of her findings and the integrity to take corrective action.

The Ice Beneath Their Feet from Lamont Doherty on Vimeo.

World-Renowned Climate Scientists Come To The Nyack Center

Learn about climate change from leading experts. World renowned scientists from Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory in Palisades, NY will visit Nyack.

Dr. Robin Bell

April 2, How Urgent is the Moment: Facts on Climate from Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory. Moderated by Robin Bell, Professor and Polar Researcher and President of the American Geophysical Union. Panelists include Nicole Davi, professor of environmental science, paleoclimatologist, and tree-ring expert; and William D’Andrea, professor of biology and paleo environment, expert on natural and human-induced climate change.

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Karl Coplan, kayaking to work.

April 16, Live Sustainably Now. Moderated by Pace Law School Professor Karl S. Coplan, director of Pace Environmental Litigation Clinic and principal outside counsel for Riverkeeper, Inc.

Coplan will give practical advice on how everyone can reduce their carbon footprint–from how you travel to how you manage your home. Coplan leads by example, having commuted to work across the Hudson River via kayak until new bridge construction restricted his access.

Each discussion begins at 6:30p, and is followed by a meet-and-greet reception with the presenters, sponsored by La Talaye.

Reservations are highly recommended. Tickets for each event are $20, or the public can purchase both for $35. Visit NyackKnows.com for information and reservations.

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Bill Batson is an activist, artist and writer who lives and sketch logs in Nyack, NY. Nyack Sketch Log:“Local Scientists and Legal Scholar Lead Climate Conversation”“ © 2019 Bill Batson.  To see more, visit billbatsonarts.com 


Nyack Sketch Log: First Woman to Vote in Rockland County Practiced Law Here

by Bill Batson

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Natalie Couch, the first woman to vote and practice law in Rockland County, lived and held “court” in this distinctive five-peaked tower on South Broadway and Depew Avenue.

Even though a marker erected by the Historical Society of Rockland County records the achievements of Natalie Couch, I walked past the plaque a thousand times before I stopped long enough to comprehend the compelling story of Nyack’s pioneering feminist.

The edifce that would one day house the Couch family was built in 1854 for A.J. Storms of  the Storm’s Tub and Pail Factory. Mr. Storms had his house built at this location so that he could keep a watchful eye over his factory that stood on the ground that is today Memorial Park.

In the mid-19th century South Broadway was a mixed-use neighborhood, where manufacturing and agricultural properties stood side-by-side with houses. As property values rose, factories moved further inland to make room for residential development.

From 1875 until 1882 this building was the home of Edwin Stillwell, Captain of the Nyack-Tarrytown Ferry. The views from the third story most have provided a panoramic vista of the Hudson, well suited for a ship captain’s residence.

NSL_83_Couch Court Historic MarkerThe building was purchased in 1885 by the Couch Family. Dr. Louis Couch used the tower for his Homeopathic practice. Homeopathy, which is a form of alternative medicine that treats patients with highly diluted preparations, found its greatest popular acceptance in the 19th century.

As fascinating as the image of men and women in period dress in a homeopath’s waiting room under a pyramid shaped roof may be, the medical practice is not the Couch family’s greatest legacy.

That distinction goes to the doctor’s daughter, Natalie. Natalie Couch graduated from Wellesley College in 1907 and was first in her class at Fordham Law School. When the issue of extending the right to vote to women first appeared on the ballot in Rockland County in 1915, the measure lost by 400 votes. The initiative passed two years later and in 1918 Miss Natalie Couch became the first woman to cast a legal vote in our county.

It was just the beginning of an impressive resume of firsts. Natalie Couch was the first woman to:

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  • Practice law in Rockland County
  • Vote in an election in Rockland County
  • Serve as Journal Clerk to the New York State Assembly
  • Win election as President of the Rockland County Bar Association
  • Win election as Vice-Chair of the Rockland County Republican Committee
  • Stand for election in a contest between two women (a national first)

From 1942 to 1951, her law offices became temporary meeting place for the New York State Supreme Court and Town Hall for Orangetown, which is why this building is known by many as Couch Court.

Natalie Couch came into a world where she was legally precluded from participating in government and departed life with an obituary in the New York Times in 1956 that described her as New York State’s Republican leader.

When you are confronted with a full accounting of her life story, some legitimate questions come to mind: where is her statue, the street named in her honor or the annual event in her name that would inspire young women to study law and enter public life? Shouldn’t every young girl who walks past this building be given the boost in confidence that the telling of Natalie Couch’s story would instill?

Photo Credit: Bill Coughlin, Historical Society of Rockland

Bill Batson is an activist, artist and writer who lives in Nyack, NY. “Nyack Sketch Log: First Woman to Vote in Rockland County Practiced Law Here” © 2019 Bill Batson. Copies of the book can be purchased at billbatsonarts.com.


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Nyack Sketch Log: A Mother and Daughter Practice Therapy at One Address

by Bill Batson

A mother and daughter, both therapists, practice from this home in Nyack. Susan Travis has been seeing patients for thirty four years in the wood-paneled front parlor. Her daughter Justine Girard, demonstrating just how close to the tree the fruit of her mother’s labor has fallen, operates from a studio behind the house.

I spoke to both practitioners recently, encouraged to see how the thread of creativity and community, so emblematic of our village, are stitched together in both of their work. People interested in aging, the process of grieving, the arts, care giving/ burnout, and honing the tools we need to build and repair our own lives, will find their journeys edifying.

Susan with children Justine and Brendan

I understand that you are active in something called Creative Aging in Nyack?

Susan Travis: Four years ago, I joined a group called Rockland County Village Community. A friend of mine, Sally Borgman, has been asking me to join things for the last 35 years and I’ve always said no. She said that this group just meets at a diner, Estrella’s, they say what they are grateful for and they have breakfast and that’s it. I said, I’m in. The mission was to help each other age in place of choice. You might not be able to stay in your home, but we wanted to help people go to where they want to go.

Your Own Worst Enemy…No More

by Susan Travis, LMHC, N.C.C.

When did you write your book, Your Own Worst Enemy..NO MORE?

I started in 2012, but my partner, Joseph, got very ill so I stopped writing for three years. I finally self published in 2016. It took three years.

In my introduction, I wrote, “This book is from and nursed by three sources: my twenty-eight years as a psychotherapist in private practice; thirty years as a career counselor at the Rockland County Guidance Center; and my sixty- eight years as a person who is still a work in progress…”

How does a person use the book?

It’s easy to read and use. It describes four roles that people play, three unconscious, one conscious. The first role is how people make themselves a prisoner, the second part is about the prisons that people build to keep themselves as prisoners. The next section is about being our own jailers, and these are all unconscious roles that they play. The fourth role and my favorite part of the book is about the keys that you already have to free yourself from the prisons that others make or we make for ourselves. If they read nothing else, I hope they read the fourth section. There are 16 keys, (names) Master keys, the mind shift keys, the potential expansion keys and the spirit keys. People are amazed to see the prisons they have build.

For more information you can reach Susan Travis at stravis.31@gmail.com or (845) 358-5560.

We were invited to give a talk at the Nyack Library in 2017. I was one of the four people who spoke. Ann Morgan was in that group. Ken Balban and Jim Evers.

When we spoke there, there was a man named Don Monaco, who came to hear it and he said he wanted to start a group in Nyack. And he got in touch with Ann Morgan. She left  RCVC to work with Don to start Creative Aging in Nyack (CAN). Because I was part of the other group, and I knew her, she asked if I would be part of it. She contacted people that came to the original work shop and it started. We began getting out information to tell people we were only going to work with the 10960 area code. If you want to help each other age, you need to be geographically proximate. The library was kind enough to offer us the room every other Friday 2 – 3p. The next meeting of CAN is March 15, 2019.

We formed groups to see what was needed. We looked into and joined village to village, which is the big movement that meets across the country. They help each other age in place. A big thing that we did was a survey, what do people need to be able to age in place. We then did a request to the group to see who was able to volunteer to help with all of these needs that people have. One of the interests was to go to the city and see something together, have a cup of tea, people wanted to connect to others. Some needed needed help with gardening, if they couldn’t do it themselves, or to help organize your house and get rid of things, help with technology or local errands.

One member had broken her leg and needed someone to shop for her, drive her and take her to doctors appointments. It was amazing.

Tell me about your Ask workshop?

What we are finding from other groups that volunteers are coming forward, but people are reluctant to ask for help. So I did a workshop on asking. We need to reframe how people think of asking. They look at it as if they are a burden, or less then, that they should be independent. I reframed it. Maybe by asking you are giving someone the gift of being kind, that they have the pleasure of helping, of using a skill they have, acknowledging that everyone needs help.

I made a mnemonic device for ask. I made buttons. My ASK stands for, Allow Someone’s Kindness. If you think of it that way, it’s not as hard. It takes away some of the burden. It begins an honest relationship. If we trust each other, I can ask and you can say no, that’s ok.  When I ask and you’re able and willing, you’ll say yes, and we are having an honest relationship.

CAN has 87 members. They don’t all come to meetings, but about 40 to 50 do attend.

As a therapist, how does your work engage the question of aging?

As a therapist, I don’t think it always directly does, but it engages change. Seeing yourself in a new place and discovering who you are there. Handling grief. I do a lot of grief work. There are a lot of losses as you age, as well as a lot of gains. But there are a lot of losses that you have to adjust to. One is a challenge to your fierce independence, another is seeing yourself as the person who had the job you had, and you no longer have that title or self-definition, how you once defined yourself. There is a loneliness, when people don’t connect. I deal with that it my practice.

I’m going to do a workshop called Crossroads. We are at crossroads at different times in our lives. In aging, we come to a lot of cross roads. We have to grieve losses, recognize a need for change and start to create this time of your life the way you want to live it!

My daughter Justine has a plaque that says “you don’t find yourself you create yourself.” In my work, I help people create themselves from where they now are and also, ask questions to explore the purpose of their life. People need meaning.  Viktor Frankl said he survived the camps because he searched for meaning. I help people look at the meaning of their life and how they want it to be.

How did this become the meaning of your life?

Susan Travis in her front parlor office, photo by Ray Wright

I was guided to do it. This is my life work. I know it and I feel blessed that I know it. I’m here on earth to help people. The man whose car won’t start, the woman who needs the door held open, the people in my practice. That’s what I’m here for.

How did you become a therapist?

Years ago, I was a classics major at Brooklyn College. In Classics, you have to wait for Venus to die to have a job, so I got married, and moved to Texas and I looked for a job. The state gives a Merit system test. If you took the test and passed it, you were a social worker. So I became a social worker for the Department of Social Services in San Antonio Texas, and the only thing I liked, was talking to the people and listening with them and trying to help them figure out how to solve their problems. I had to make budgets. I had to take kids out of homes, I had to look for shoes.., I hated that. Then we moved to New Hampshire. Merit system test again. I became a social worker there. Same story, the only thing I liked was talking to the people and helping them with their problems.

Fast forward, I came here, my husband was the director the YMCA. The marriage didn’t last. I knew the marriage was fading. I had to support children, so I took another test, The Miller Analogy test. I did well, got into Columbia for counseling, a 60 credit program. I left after 34, I couldn’t afford it and I had to work. But I had a masters in counseling. I got a job at the Rockland County Guidance Center on Main Street, a career counseling center where I worked for 30 years. I did workshops on how to interview, how to feel good about yourself , empowerment workshops/ human potential seminar, 8 week seminar. To help people feel good enough about themselves, I wrote about 30 workshops while I was there that I created and created with others. The center started over Presidential Life, then two locations on Main Street, the one near the drum store for many years. The final location in Nyack was in the present Key Bank building.

While I was doing it, I started a private practice that I have had for the last 34 years.

Justine Girard

Have you always seen your patients at home?

Alway, in the front room. There’s a little bathroom. I sit with them behind these old wooden pocket doors. The second owner of this house was Dr. Morell. He bought this house in 1891. It was sold from the original owner Anna Stewart. She sold it to Dr. Morell for $1000. I always get great pleasure thinking that he saw his patients in the same room where I work.

Did Justine see you practicing when she was a child?

She saw clients coming in. When my son, Brendan was young, I had to teach people not to open my wooden pocket doors, but once he did and he saw me talking and he said. Mommy, your job is talking to people? I said yes. They pay you? I said yes. He said, that’s a good job. He was 7.

Brendan owns a tea company with a friend from childhood Stefan Schachter. Yerba Mate, its a green tea. It’s called Eco Teas in Ashland Oregon. They deal with a farmer in Argentina. 

Justine Girard, when did you know you want to be a  therapist?

Justine Girard: In 1999, I joined an expressive arts therapy group in the city and it changed my life.  I just felt like, one, I could do this, and two, I realized that it just wasn’t accessible to people.

Justine’s Expressive Arts Therapy Studio

What was that first group like?

I did it for four months and it helped move things that were stuck, that I could never really work through. The use of  movement and sound and visual art  bypassed my defenses that allowed for a healing process that I wasn’t able to access in verbal therapy.

You are a dancer?

Yes, I danced with the Debra Weiss Dance Company for ten years, but dance  therapy did not resonate with me.

Art making really shifted things for me as I worked through my own trauma. It’s expansive. Trauma happens to your whole body. Using the arts brings your body in. It can hold the vast range of emotions and experiences to match the trauma. Instead of getting stuck in the narrative.

When did you start your studio?

August, 2017. It took a year.  It was a dream.

I offer a space that is warm and holding, but you can also get chalk pastel and paint on the floor.

As an art therapist, do you have a particular population you work with?

I work with adults, Men, Women, LBGTQ, individuals, couples, and groups, those who are open to the messiness of change and rediscovery and willing to find the strength in vulnerability and be open to playfully healing.

How did you start specializing with care- givers?

It’s evolved because I’ve done tons of internships. I had1,500 supervised hours. Through that experience, I realized that many care-givers were  burnout out and lacked the time for self-care. There is no time to process or to decompress.

What do you do with all of those emotions and the loneliness that you are exposed to working in these settings. Even though there are family visits, the people you are caring for are very lonely, there is not much you can do for that because you have to function as a professional.

You still have to write your notes, you still have to go home and do your life. So, I was seeing this and thinking what are these people doing with all of these feelings. Witnessing the burnout out and the compassion fatigue, I realized that this was the direction I wanted to move towards in my practice, by developing an expressive arts therapy group for them.

Do you see couples?

I’m good at holding the space for conflicting emotions and narratives. The use of art reveals the couple’s dynamic outside of their cyclical narrative that they may be stuck in.  Art is a softer, safer way for the couple and therapist to see what is happening in the relationship.  Art allows for the couple to be less defensive because the art itself offers a middle ground and facilitates new ways to communicate and see each other with fresh eyes.

What is your work with groups like?

Groups are three months long. They ebb and flow between a group process and art making that allows for insights, doing and undoing, reflecting upon where there is vulnerability and strength.

For more information you can reach Justine @ blueglovegirl@yahoo.com or at (845) 353-1230.

Bill Batson is an activist, artist and writer who lives and sketch logs in Nyack, NY. Nyack Sketch Log: ” A Mother and Daughter Practice Therapy at One Address” © 2019 Bill Batson.  To see more, visit billbatsonarts.com 


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Nyack Sketch Log: Already Missing Mostly Myrtle’s

MostlyMyrtlesby Bill Batson

After 11 years of gluten-free goodness, Debra Sadowsky is retiring and her bakery, Mostly Myrtle’s will have their last week at the Nyack Farmers’ Market on February 28.  You have just one more chance to enjoy her home-cooked delicacies, (but come early, because I might buy out her strawberry rhubarb muffins.) Here’s the story of a woman with great wit and culinary chops who will be sorely missed in all of the farmer’s markets where she has won a loyal following of satisfied customers.

A woman standing in front of a motorcycle with a tray of cookies is the logo for Mostly Myrtle’s, the purveyor of gluten-free baked goods at the Nyack Famers’ Market. The image is an homage to the grandmother of Mostly Myrtle’s owner and baker, Debra Sadowsky.  In order to keep up with the public’s growing appetite for gluten-free products, the former Occupational Therapist bakes up to 600 muffins a week for markets throughout the region.

Who Was Myrtle?

Grandma Myrtle

Grandma Myrtle

She was my very beloved grandmother, a strong, vital, and incredibly wise woman who was determined to enjoy everything that life had to offer. She was worldly and ahead of her time. But she also had this warm soft grandmotherly side. Her arms were always open for a hug and her hands were ready to create a scrumptious meal, or best of all, to make her cookies.

Why did you portray her as a biker?

I decided that we would have a likeness of her as our logo, but I wanted something that portrayed her whimsical and adventurous persona.

I worked with a young man who was in my son’s high school senior class at the time and destined to follow his own dreams of becoming an artist. I told him I wanted her to be riding a motorcycle while holding a tray of cookies to show that she could do anything!

What is gluten?

Gluten is a substance present in cereal grains, especially wheat, rye,barley and spelt, that is responsible for the elastic texture of dough.

Who needs to avoid gluten?

There are basically 3 categories of people who avoid gluten.

1. Those who have Celiac disease, an autoimmune disorder which can occur in genetically predisposed people that creates inflammation in the small intestine, and damage in the lining preventing important components of food from being absorbed.

Symptoms include digestive problems, skin rash, musculoskeletal problems, tingling sensation in the legs and other limbs.

Research suggests that Celiac Disease occurs in as many as 1 in 100 people, however statistics are varied and researchers believe that as many as 2.5 million people in the U.S. may have undiagnosed Celiac.

2. Those that have the symptoms of Gluten Sensitivity but test negative for Celiac disease.

3. Those that choose to avoid Gluten for personal dietary reasons.

For more information on gluten sensitivity visit celiac.org

What do you remember about her kitchen?

We lived only about 10 blocks away from her tudor style “gingerbread” house in Kansas City, Missouri. She kept a key hidden in the little “milk door” in the back so even if she wasn’t home, I could ride over and find a tin of cookies somewhere in her kitchen or pantry.

Tell me about your work before you became a baker?

Occupational Therapy was my first love. I’ve always been drawn to the service and health arena. The holistic nature of Occupational Therapy fulfilled my desire to help people regain or attain their independence.

I worked as an Occupational Therapist (OT) in Adult Rehabilitation from 1976 to about 1985 and then moved to Pediatric OT, working with high functioning learning disabled students until 2007.

Mostly Myrtle_Deborah at workWhen did you launch Mostly Myrtle’s?

When I decided to create a company in 2002, I went knocking on doors to find a bakery that would rent me space to make my dream a reality. I was living in Long Island at the time. Best Bagels in Great Neck graciously welcomed me.

No one thought that this Long Island woman would be able to take the “heat” that baking offers up on so many levels. The kitchen had this cavernous rotating oven, in which, on the very first day, I dropped a baking sheet into the fire. Their baking supervisor had to reach into the actual flames to retrieve the pan!

MostlyMyrtles201207Rob, the owner was a mentor to me and tremendous support as I made my way into small business. We remain friends to this day.

I essentially knew nothing about commercial baking or about running a business either for that matter. I took a crash course in Entrepreneurism at the local Small Business Development Center and watched the bagel guys do their thing and just went in and practiced and practiced and practiced. I read about formulas and food science, joined a pastry organization, went to Trade Shows, and walked down every bakery aisle in every store in every city I traveled.

Soon, I was less and less involved in my job as an OT. My fledgling company required all my efforts, so in 2007, I took a huge breath and quit my day job. At first, we were called “Nanny’s Cookies LLC “ but I changed the name to “Mostly Myrtle’s.” After all, Myrtle was my grandma and I am mostly Myrtle!

Mostly Myrtle's Grandpa's Rack

Harry Rubinstein Card Rack

Tell me about your signature product?

It’s called a Biskooky. It’s a Biscotti/Cookie. In keeping with my grandma’s panache, we changed the spelling to Biskooky.

Didn’t your grandfather invent something as well?

My grandfather, Harry Rubinstein’s company was called Atlas Wire Products in Kansas City. He invented and patented magazine racks & post card racks that became the industry standard. I worked there a couple of summers. My job was to  manage the old-fashioned plug-in switchboard.

What are some of the lessons from Occupational Therapy that help you as a small business owner?

Understanding the need to move forward one step at a time towards ultimate goals and to appreciate successes regardless of the dimension.

How many muffins do we make per week?

Mostly Myrtle's MuffinsNow that our business has grown into the production of gluten- free products with an unexpected emphasis on gluten-free muffins, we produce about 500 – 600 per  week during farmers’ market season. We started with our zucchini, carrot, roasted apple, and blueberry muffins, which later became our Heavenly Harvest. We now have 8 varieties with additional seasonal favorites.

I love getting inspiration from the Farmers’ Markets. We took those scraggy bulbous looking rutabagas from the market one week and added roasted onions and organic rosemary and created our most exotic muffin: Rutabaga Rosemary.

Later we coupled sweet potatoes, organic kale and roasted onions for our Sweet Potato Kale Muffins.

Mostly Myrtle's Henry

Little Henry

Didn’t you recently become a grandmother? Would you want your grandson to continue the family business?

You must know that my heart filled with love when you mentioned my grandson.  And… I giggled at the thought of little Henry carrying on this specialty baking business.

At 19 months old he was already calling Grandma Kooky.

Visit Mostly Myrtle’s for more information. 

Bill Batson is an activist, artist and writer who lives and sketch logs in Nyack, NY. Nyack Sketch Log: “Already Missing Mostly Myrtle’s” © 2019 Bill Batson.  To see more, visit billbatsonarts.com 


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Nyack Sketch Log: St. Philip’s Celebrates 160 Years of Worship

by Bill Batson

This year, St. Philip’s A.M.E Zion Church on the corner of North Mill and Burd Streets celebrates 160 years of worship. The church was founded in 1859, two years before Abraham Lincoln was sworn in as president, by abolitionist John W Towt. In the 1850’s, as slave catchers roamed the north empowered by the loathsome Fugitive Slave Act, abolitionists faced legal jeopardy and mortal danger. It was under the gathering and ominous clouds of a civil war over race based slavery that Towt arrived in Nyack determined to contribute to the welfare of the black community.

In 1821, the 19 year old white Methodist was exposed to the cruel perversion of slavery while traveling through the south. Towt settled in Nyack in 1859 after a successful career in New York City where he amassed a fortune.  He immediately threw himself into the effort to ensure that there was a Sunday school for black children in the village. At the same time he made arrangements to secure property for a church building and accommodations for a minister.

It is not surprising that the church that Towt would help establish was of the African Methodist Episcopal Zion denomination. The A.M.E. Zion Church was founded in New York in 1796.  From its inception the church was an active participant in the Underground Railroad and counted Harriet Tubman, Frederick Douglass, and Sojourner Truth as members.

Although Towt played many roles in the congregation including superintendent of the Sunday School, the day to day operation and religious activities of the church were led by members and pastors of African decent. The enduring wooden edifice at the corner of Burd and North Mill Street is evidence of the prudence and probity of the congregation.

At a meeting in early 1886, the chairman of the building committee, William H. Myers, argued against repairing the church and asked all those in favor of building a new church to stand. The whole congregation rose to his challenge.  My great grandfather, George T. Avery, was one of those who stood up.  As the Chairman of the Board of Trustees, he contributed $36 towards the $2,311 that was eventually raised.  The building that was dedicated on Sunday December 17th 1886 was of such solid design and durable material that it still stands.

St. Philip’s in 1909

Mr. Towt made his last public appearance in the pulpit of St. Philip’s on September 11, 1887. He was said to have been pleased with the results of his 28 years of collaboration with Nyack’s black community. He told those assembled that as its founder, he felt doubly repaid by the fact that his efforts had not been in vain.

In his definitive examination of local race relation, Nyack in Black and White, Carl Nordstrom cites a 1959 St. Philip’s Centennial Souvenir Journal as a source of some of his research. I was fortunate enough to recently obtain a copy from current St. Philip’s congregant Hazel Lancaster. Her husband, Earl, was the chair of the centennial committee.

George T. Avery

Within the pages I counted four generations of my family.  There was an historical photo of my Great Grandfather, George T. Avery; his daughter, Frances Lillian Avery Batson, who was a Secretary of the Trustee Board: my Aunt, the former Deputy Clerk for the Village of Nyack, Frances Adeline Batson photographed during a Sunday school class that she taught, with her daughter, my cousin Sylvia Peterson, sitting on her lap.

The pulpit of St. Philip’s seems to attract ministers that John Towt would admire: individuals dedicated to the advancement of the black community and drawn from the A.M.E Zion tradition.  The first pastor that I remember from my childhood was Rev. Petty D. McKinney who led the church from 1962 until 1968.  McKinney’s first year in Nyack was interrupted by return trips to Florida where he had to face unlawful assembly charges from his participation in the Freedom Ride movement.

Rev. Anderson-Cole with congregant and Village of Nyack Trustee Louise Parker

Reverend Jairite Anderson-Cole was appointed Pastor of St. Philips A.M.E. Zion Church in Nyack, New York. June 2016. In 2010, Rev. Cole did her trial sermon at Greater Centennial AME Zion Church in Mount Vernon, NY under Rev. Dr. W. Darin Moore, who is now the Presiding Prelate of the Mid-Atlantic Episcopal District AME Zion Church.

Few buildings celebrate 160 anniversaries; even fewer organizations reach such an august milestone. The spirit of those who endured slavery and those who risked their life, freedom and property to abolish the barbaric institution survive through the longevity of St. Philip’s A.M.E Zion Church. Like an eternal flame, the ideas of freedom and self-determination that John W. Towt enshrined in this humble wooden building have been diligently tended by generations of members of the St. Philip’s family. May they never be extinguished.

Bill Batson is an activist, artist and writer who lives and sketch logs in Nyack, NY. Nyack Sketch Log: “St. Philip’s A.M.E Zion Church” © 2019 Bill Batson.  To see more, visit billbatsonarts.com 


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Nyack Sketch Log: The Knowledge Market

by Bill Batson

The Knowledge Market opens its doors for the first time tonight, February 5 at 7pm at the Nyack Center. Meet experts from our village who will describe the classes, discussions, and interactive workshops that will be offered in this information boutique curated by NyackNewsAndViews.

Classes begin Thursday, February 21 and run through March 14  with morning or afternoon sessions. Operating contemporaneously with the Nyack Farmers’ Market, you can now get fresh produce and baked goods for the table and food for thought under the same roof.

Find out how you can participate, hear from the presenters, mingle with neighbors, and enjoy music from Jeff Rubin and refreshments from La Talaye Catering & Event Design.

Admission is free and your rsvp is appreciated: http://www.nyackknows.com.

Here are the courses and inaugural instructors.

Mikki Baloy has studied with shamans and ritual-keepers from around the world, and has facilitated private healing sessions and group retreats for the past ten years.  Her holistic approach is both intuitive and grounded, fusing indigenous traditions with yoga, Buddhism, and more than three decades of creative training as a performer, writer, and musician.  She was the Director of a 9/11 foundation in New York City, helping to create and maintain programs to assist many thousands of people—while undertaking her own healing journey.  She is the author of Hallowed Underground: Sacred Hope and Healing in Dark Times, which describes her recovery from PTSD, depression, divorce, and sexual assault, and she has been featured in two books about post-disaster resiliency. Mikki is also a minister of animism, and speaks and writes from her own direct experience.  mikkibaloy.com

Mikki’s course is titled Shaminism 101

Bill Batson, author and artist of the weekly Nyack Sketch Log on Nyack News And Views, has published an original sketch and essay about the Village of Nyack every Tuesday since 2011. His family has been in Nyack, New York, since the 1890s. Bill serves as the Marketing Manager for the Nyack Chamber of Commerce and the Artist-In-Residence at the Nyack Farmers’ Market where he sells and makes art, organizes events, and develops promotional tools for the Chamber. Bill is an advisor to the Nyack Center, a trustee of the Historical Society of the Nyacks, and the chair of the Nyack Commemoration Committee, a group that erected a Toni Morrison Society Bench by the Road monument in Memorial Park in 2015. From his Nyack Sketch Log column, the Flash Sketch Mob, a crowd sourced, en plein air landscape art project, and the Nyack Record Shop Project have sprung. Antigone on Robben Island—Mandela Takes the Stage, a play by Samuel Harps, was inspired by one of his columns. A lifelong artist and activist, Bill is dedicated to using the arts to promote preservation, commemoration, cultural education, and community empowerment. To learn more, follow his weekly column or visit billbatsonarts.com.

Bill’s course is title Vigorous Civics in the Trump

Michael Hays  is a local history fan and digital photography enthusiast who writes the Nyack People & Places column on Nyack News And Views. Retired from a career in educational publishing, he is President of Rockland Bicycling Club and a member of the board of directors from Marydell Faith & Life Center and Johns Hopkins University Press. His photos appear on IG @uppernyackmike.

Mike’s is teaching iPhone Photography

Jeff Rubin has been in the music business for 48 years.  He has performed, recorded or toured with Oingo Boingo, Danny Elfman, Randy Jackson (American Idol), Concert For Bangladesh Band (Dhani Harrison), Chuck Berry, Davey Jones, The Temptations, The Crystals, The Drifters, The Regents, The Dupree’s, Freddy Cannon, Del Shannon, Leslie Gore, and more. Currently gigging around the New York area as “Jeff Rubin Solo Artist,” the “Jeff Rubin Band,” and with a reggae band called “JLP and the Bad Ideas,” he continues his diverse career. He is a veteran teacher from Alto Music, where he began instruction in 1980. A recording engineer and Mac guru who produced “The Pipeliners (2014), Jeff also builds guitar and bass amplifiers, effect pedals, even microphones, bringing technical expertise to his comprehensive understanding of guitar and the music business. He was featured in the Nyack Sketch Log, Volume 2.

Jeff is providing Guitar Guidance

Bob Timm is a Nyack resident, father, musician and a published poet. He studied poetry with Allen Ginsburg at the City University of New York and was an original founding host of the NY College Poetry Slam at the Bowery Poetry Club. He has been a nominee for the Pushcart Prize, and has served as editor for Poetry New York and Rockland’s River River literary journal.

Bob is the Mindful Poet

Chef Michelle Timothee, owner of the new Cafe La Talaye, is a proud sponsor of the Nyack Knowledge Market

Her new restaurant, Cafe La Talaye will have its grand opening on Friday, February 8, 5-8p at 3 Main Street in Haverstraw.

To learn more about Chef Michelle visit latayale.com.

Read also Nyack Sketch Log: Cafe La Tayale

Bill Batson is an activist, artist and writer who lives and sketch logs in Nyack, NY. Nyack Sketch Log: “Knowledge Market” © 2019 Bill Batson.  To see more, visit billbatsonarts.com 


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