Dear Brother: Your Death Was The Hardest Thing

Dear Brother: Your Death Was The Hardest Thing

Dear John, 

I write you letters all the time. In my head I do. And I wrote you that one on Japanese paper with samurai in bold colors and tossed it in the ocean where you are now, and in some senses, always were even when you were alive. And now, I’m writing you another one, and it will be preserved in a different way, here on my friend, Marisa’s website. She gets it, her mom ripped away suddenly, violently much like you were. I know you’d like her — as you did nearly everyone — and she’d like you. You’d hug her in that way of yours — unreserved, loving, connected, and unafraid of bodies. You’d hug her just long enough to fill some sort of loneliness, grief, need that you sensed in her. Then, you’d turn to whoever else was in the room, and take them in as you did, embracing, witnessing, appreciating. I wish you were still here in the form I understand to do that still.

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Balance & Peace Retreat - Treat Yourself On October 13!

Here is what people are saying about our one-day escape in the tranquil Santa Monica Mountains:

"I loved every minute of the Balance & Peace Retreat. The yoga/aromatherapy was both relaxing and rejuvenating, and the writing and storytelling were empowering on so many levels. It’s a beautiful day in a serene environment, which draws a welcoming and intimate group." - Christina Madrid

"Attending this retreat is a must! Don't miss it!! This is a special treat for yourself! The environment is beautiful, and the program is planned with great care, thought and love. Alison Burmeister is an exceptional yoga instructor. Hali and Robin provide an amazing, safe space for writers to explore their personal story. If you've never written before, or it's been awhile, no worries, you are in great hands with these ladies. And the food provided is so delicious. Hali and Robin put so much love into the programs they run. Trust me. It is time and money very well spent. I really can't say enough good things about their retreats. My only wish is that there were more of them." - Heather McGonigal

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The Missing Peace Salon - An Evening of Heartfelt Stories

We are still radiating after our salon last Saturday! It was an amazing night of authentic, vibrant stories which connected our bonfire circle, and fed our conversations as we celebrated the human experience. Hali and I were honored to work with eight storytellers in getting to the heart of their narratives, and honing their craft, as well as reading our own "peaces." Here are some of the kind words we heard about our event:

"Thank you for the opportunity to dig deeper into my story." - Lehua

"I've had The Missing Peace glow on all day! Such a special night. You guys rock!" - Mindi

"Thank you for a space filled with love and support. What you have created is very special. I feel so blessed to be a part of it." - Heather

"Thank you for an inviting and inspirational evening of story. The setting was warm and peaceful, and I was filled with a sense of community!" - Susan

"You have created a space for so many to share their heartfelt stories, and supported them in crafting them so artfully and meaningfully. The stories were just...WOW." - Melissa

Check back for our next salon date. In the meantime, sign up to attend one of our workshops or our upcoming retreats. All levels are welcome - no prior experience is necessary.

The Knitting Debacle: When an Armhole Full of Judgment Destroys Your Happy Place

The Knitting Debacle: When an Armhole Full of Judgment Destroys Your Happy Place

“Okay, look at me. Stop what you’re doing and look at me. In order to knit this armhole, we have to figure out how many stitches we need. So, what’s half of 32?” the calm and gentle knitting instructor with the perfectly toned arms asked. 

“Half of 32? Half of 32. Wait, I know this…hold on…umm…”

Why are you not getting this? What’s wrong with you, you idiot? Don’t cry. Don’t you dare cry, Hali. Just…don’t!

Grabbing my haystack of a hairdo (too much sun-not enough conditioner) tightly between newly tanned fingers, I wished I could just rip my whole head off and end it all.

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Stephanie and the Cowboy: A Story of Bravery

Stephanie and the Cowboy: A Story of Bravery

We could see him at the swings as we climbed over the fence. He stood over a much smaller boy who was wearing a cowboy costume. An unkind grin and taunting voice registered over the school playground, no one but us around on a Saturday morning. The little boy hung his head, appearing even smaller as he stood in the trough worn from many swinging feet. 

It was a rare excursion on the outside. Dad was racing a car he dubbed the Double Zero, a circle track car that topped out at 190 MPH, one he poured almost all of his time, money and love into. 

It was all I knew, having been to my first race when I was just six weeks old. Though Dad was a talented mechanic and aggressive driver, the races were ego-boosts for him with purses that didn’t even cover the cost of his car. His souped up “chordiac" — a combination of the best Chevy, Ford and Pontiac had to offer, which he skillfully cobbled together in a stall of his auto shop — left the rest of us wearing hand-me-downs that were hand-me-downs. On these frequent trips all over California, my siblings and I were stuck in an even smaller space than at home. This time we spent confined to the motorhome, and to just one bunk, we’d peek through blackout curtains at the cars and people in the pit, and listen to the engines whine as the cars raced at night. I’d follow Dad’s car as I slept, its sound a powerful growl distinct from his shrill competitors, and hope that he wouldn’t die in a crash, but feel relief in knowing where he was and that it wasn’t close by. Dad usually took the checkered flag and then brought home even more bravado, his dinner conversations becoming less dangerous, both his head and chair tilted back in pride. Those nights I’d sleep without my back against the wall. We never knew when the next time he’d punch a hole in the wall or kick us would be, but we knew that we were safer if he had been racing and won.

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Stephanie's Last Song: A Story Of Love

Stephanie's Last Song: A Story Of Love

He walked in after a swift knock and an introduction to a name I couldn’t quite make out. With an unenthusiastic “come in,” my sister and I watched a man in his 40s slip by the mauve hospital curtain stretched across the doorway on a metal track. I turned my head to better see a balding man in a collared, button-up shirt and a Van Dyke beard sprinkled across his face. My gaze then turned back toward my sister who asked him with alert hazel eyes his name once more. As he settled into the window seat dappled in the reflection of February raindrops, he repeated himself.

“Rabbi Chaim. I’m the resident chaplain.”

It was then I noticed his yarmulke, which was pushed far back onto his head. I immediately appreciated the skating sneakers on his feet, which were so much like the high-top Vans on mine, but I was disappointed our time was interrupted yet again. My sister and I with our chairs facing one another looked at him with curiosity. Then, Stephanie spoke.

“They told you, didn’t they? You’re here because they think I’m dying.”

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Always Discreet: Coming Clean at the Botanical Gardens

Always Discreet:   Coming Clean at the Botanical Gardens

So, there’s this commercial for something called Always Discreet Boutique…Maximum Protection…Made Beautiful. You may have seen it. They’re special panties for women who “leak”.

As my husband and I were muting it, I asked him, “Is this a thing? I mean, these women look my age! Am I now supposed to worry about leaking on top of every other weird aging thing that’s happening?”

“I don’t know, sweetie.” He responded.

It was a mere week later when I realized that, yes, this could be a thing.

Having driven down to Carlsbad for a visit with my husband’s Aunt and cousins, I had just sucked back my iced venti soy chai. It was a lovely day, clear, warm, perfect for a walk through the San Diego Botanic Gardens. A time to catch up with family and stroll through thirty-seven acres of 4,000 different plant species. But I really had to pee. I hadn’t felt that type of pressure on my bladder since I stood in line waiting for the single bathroom at a frat house in college. I wasn’t too worried, though. I mean, we’ll walk, we’ll hit a restroom, it’s fine.

Five minutes into the Bamboo Garden, I felt a drip. Wait, what? No. Oh no! I desperately looked for a place to sit down, you know, to possibly stop the pee in its tracks, but the only thing available was a bamboo bench that was for display purposes only. And then there was another drip. I did that whole crossing your legs thing but then, it was happening. Oh my god. This is not happening. Is this happening? Fuck!

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Who Are We And What Is The Missing Peace?

We are honored to appear in VoyageLA, a publication that features the hidden gems of Los Angeles. In our interview, we talk about following our dream and starting The Missing Peace, where we continue to affect change, connect people, and create peace through true storytelling. Click here to read more about Hali, Robin, and The Missing Peace. 

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The Missing Peace Workshops: What People Are Saying

Initially I attended The Missing Peace workshop with the intention to simply "write more." I had no idea what I was getting myself into! What I found was a diverse, supportive, creative, funny, intelligent community of storytellers. Robin and Hali do such an amazing job providing a safe space to explore and express yourself. If you come for the writing, you'll stay for the heart and soul. - Alison Burmeister

Loss Is A Fake: What I Learned From My Sister

Loss Is A Fake: What I Learned From My Sister

On a rainy day in February, I walked into a florescent hospital room in the pulmonary ward of Santa Monica-UCLA Hospital. A cloth curtain on metal hooks in pastel shades from the ‘80s, including her favorite color, mauve, stood in between me and my sister. I walked forward, my steps measured, but my heart crying out. She had checked into the ER on Valentine’s Day with breathing troubles and intense nausea. The respiratory issues were new, the nausea was not. Even though she had just begun a two-year clinical trial the month before, and large portions of my brain were spent convincing myself that she’d be fine, I was worried. 

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The Frank Twist: When the Actress Doesn't Act

The Frank Twist:  When the Actress Doesn't Act

There’s a brilliant scene in The Sopranos where Tony is talking to Carmela on the phone.

“I had one of my Coach Molinaro dreams.” He says.

“Were you unprepared again?” She responds.

In these two lines, the audience knows that this is a recurring dream for Tony and he knows exactly what it means.

So, I had one of my Frank Dreams…and I know exactly what it means.

A Frank Dream is basically your classic “Actor’s Nightmare” but with a twist. So, not only is the actor faced with the reality that they’re about to perform in front of an audience and have no idea what the fuck their lines are, an event that soaks the dreamer with anxiety, terror, and frustration, but then throw in The Frank twist, which adds elements of severe disappointment that highlights excuses, exposes cover ups, and throws in a severe bullshit meter that leaves the dreamer to face the deep truths of their very being. It’s the moment when the mentor looks through the mentee with their magnifying glass and reads them like no one else can. 

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A Postcard from Europe: What People Are Saying About The Missing Peace

Hi Hali & Robin,

I'm dropping you a line to let you know that like an athlete in training, the workshops have kept my literary muscles active. I have been and will continue to devote a good portion of my time here to writing. I again thank you both for reigniting the spark by encouraging fellow writers to reach within and own our stories. 

- Erick Woodby, workshop regular & aspiring writer