By Christine Polito
In March of 2013 my life changed dramatically. My grown son was out on his own, and after 23 years of marriage, my husband and I decided to part ways having different goals and visions for the second half of our lives. My stepfather had just passed away, so I lived with my mother for 8 months to help her clear out, pack-up, and sell her home. After that was all settled, it was finally time for me to embark on my own solitary journey. I was called by the mountains and woods to go as far north as possible, and ended up renting a house in Bretton Woods. I was like an infant taking my first steps all on my own for the very first time without my ex-husband and son, or mother at my side. My identity was no longer of wife and mother. Who was I? I spent 6 months in solitude in that house on the mountainside overlooking the Presidential mountain range. I was surrounded by exquisite beauty yet there was a hole in my heart that was no longer filled by my family, prior career as a Reiki practitioner and organizer, and my dear old friends. I had a choice to remain a hermit, or go out and start a new life. With shaky legs and a fearful heart I finally came down from my mountainside hideaway.
I took a yoga class at Balance Bethlehem and saw a flyer advertising a drum circle at a place called Neskaya. Hmmm…, I thought. What could this place be? I ventured out one dark cold night and found my way through the wilderness to Neskaya. Upon entering this most unusual and breathtaking circular building, with lights strewn around creating a warm and cozy atmosphere, I was immediately greeted by an attractive woman with white curly hair named Kayla. She was genuinely interested in who I was and where I came from. She introduced me to the other folks (mostly old hippie types just like me!), and showed me around the building. I was treated as a very important guest. Kayla has since become a good friend.
The drum circle was led by an interesting man named John who was very tall with a white pony tail and beard. He led the drum circle in a way that was mesmerizing and magical. Shyly joining in, I felt I had become part of something very loving and meaningful. There was a sense of familiarity as if I had met these people before. Accepted for my uniqueness, I become one of a group of like-minded people. I was no longer alone. I had found a new home.
Since that dark chilly night in 2014 things at Neskaya have unfolded beautifully. It has become the central focal point of my life. I have made some amazing friends – people with similar interests and life visions. The founder of Neskaya, Jenny, asked me to do some organization work for her. Three years later we still meet for tea each week before work, and have had many deep conversations delving into everything from psychology and philosophy to spirituality, physics, and existentialism. I was part of her grief writing group this past winter and had some profound realizations and personal growth. I participate regularly in yoga, NIA, circle dance, and drum circle. For a while I facilitated a weekly ecstatic dance, and now I host a meditation group. It was as if Neskaya was designed exactly for me offering everything I love, with opportunities to even offer my own interests. I now sit on the Board of Trustees as one of Neskaya’s biggest fans. With all of the people, energy, and activities that form Neskaya it has become my oasis in the woods.
The most amazing thing about Neskaya is that just because of it and the dear people it holds, I decided to buy a home in Bethlehem and grow permanent roots. Thank you, Neskaya and all those who love it, for saving my life!