Under Santa Fe Skies

by Susan Tungate

A Time Out of Time Weekend to Rejuvenate and Revitalize in Timeless Santa Fe

(My friend and Southwest tour guide extraordinaire Patrizia Antonicelli, who owns Seven Directions Tours, is offering this Santa Fe experience in December. Please consider making this peaceful retreat a gift to yourself or a special friend. Patrizia will not disappoint, and I would love to see you in December. Locals are welcome to join in, too.)

The end of another hectic year is near. The New Year is soon upon us. What better time and what better place to nurture, center, and revitalize body, mind and spirit, than a weekend in December immersed in the inspirational beauty of Santa Fe, New Mexico.

Offered the weekends of  December 15-16 and 29-30, the Seven Directions Tours experience begins on Saturday morning at 10:00 a.m. with the class “Writing Your Memoir: One Vivid Story at a Time” taught by Susan Tungate. Susan is an author, teacher, an inspirational Guide for “Architects of Change” on mariashriver.com, and former attorney with CNN.

Memoir writing offers you the opportunity to observe the past with fresh eyes, reflect on your life purpose, clarify your future path and preserve your unique stories. Always with humor, Susan will demystify the process of memoir writing and provide the simple tools the client needs to begin. The class will end at noon.

From 3:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m., you will be immersed in Native American culture by spending this afternoon with a Native American healer who will offer a blessing and healing ceremony which is sure to nourish and renew the spirit.

Saturday dinner, held from 6:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m., will be a memorable experience. A premiere Native American chef will prepare centuries old traditional dishes for you in her home using organic ingredients. The history of each dish will be explained. To end the evening, her Navajo sous chef will drum and sing for you.

Sunday morning from 10:00 a.m. to noon will be spent writing with Susan. The experience will end Sunday afternoon with an herbal massage and flower and mineral essences with the Native American healer. Massage sessions will begin at 2:00 p.m. You will return home with flower and mineral essences as a remembrance of this special weekend.

What better gift to give yourself or a special friend  than the gift of a peaceful retreat, a moment out of time in timeless Santa Fe, to renew the spirit and meet the New Year refreshed and enlivened.

You will stay in town at a typical southwestern accommodation. Upon request, for this weekend, Seven Directions Tours will provide ideas and itineraries for anyone wanting also to enjoy the beautiful surroundings and the art and culture for which Santa Fe is famous.

For further information and media inquiries call Patrizia Antonicelli at 505.820.3305 or visit www.sevendirections.net.

Listening Horse Therapeutic Riding

Zorro and Ian ©Jack Hicks

The old man gently, quietly grooms his horse. As a young man in World War II, he faced the unspeakable horror of entering Dresden to save US prisoners of war after the bombing, so many soldiers were so severely burned. The sights, sounds, and smells are still with him, but once a week his focus shifts to the bond he shares with his horse.

A sweet twelve year old girl rides tall on her horse. She is diagnosed with selective mutism. She is withdrawn, does not speak and rarely makes eye contact with others. Her mother says this once a week riding session carries her daughter’s spirits all the week long.  After just a few sessions of riding, the girl is more confident.

This is the magical, transformative bond of horse and human fostered by Listening Horse Therapeutic Riding and its PATH International Equine Services for Veterans and Military Program. Gus Jolley, the founder of Listening Horse and a veteran himself, explains it this way: “I wanted to give back to military veterans and people who are looking to improve their way of life. What the horse has given me to help create a positive outlook, I wanted to give to others. I didn’t start this program alone. Friends and program volunteers have made Listening Horse the success it is today.”

Each participant is assigned a horse, an instructor and a volunteer. The participant begins with grooming and groundwork, which establishes the human as the leader and creates a bond of trust between the two. These exercises foster living in the moment rather than remaining rooted in the past or in fear or pain. And of course, the horseback therapy gets people out in the fresh air, working their muscles as they calm their minds.

“Winter Grass” by James Roybal

Since it started in 2008,  Listening Horse has served over 145 people, ages 5 to 88, facing the challenges of PTSD, autism, traumatic brain and physical injury, cancer treatment and recovery, issues of at risk youth, and an array of emotional and physical challenges. Listening Horse has over 50 volunteers and 10 instructors trained to work with people with disabilities; all give their time freely and for free. Operated from March through November, the program is free to participants who may participate in the program for as long as they wish. Listening Horse provides therapeutic riding to the big brother and sister matches of Big Brothers and Big Sisters of New Mexico and works with many veterans organizations in Santa Fe.

The nonprofit organization relies on generous donations from individuals, fundraisers and grants to continue and expand the program. There is a waiting list. This is where you can help.

by McCreery Jordan

Listening Horse is holding a raffle of the art shown here, generously donated by McCreery Jordan and James Roybal  of Santa Fe. Tickets are priced at 1 for $10 and 3 for $25. The drawing will be held at 7 p.m. on December 19 at the Santa Fe Brewing Company in Eldorado. You need not be present to win. For further information, to purchase a raffle ticket or just write them a big fat check, call 505.670.3577.  Mailing address: Listening Horse, Box 8960, Santa Fe, NM 87504. The participants thank you, Listening Horse thanks you, and horses Sugar, Zorro, Doc, Promise and Jack thank you, too.

“New Mexico Treasures” by James Roybal


8 Things to Do in Santa Fe and One to Do Regardless

Here we are at Thanksgiving week. I offer 8 things you might want to do if you find yourself in Santa Fe this week and one suggestion for where ever you may find yourself.

1. Hate to bake? Stop by Sage Bakehouse, just north of the intersection of Cerrillos and Paseo de Peralta across from the Hotel Santa Fe,  for your Thanksgiving pies and the best bread in town. While you are at it, pick up croissants for breakfast or to use for the late night turkey sandwich. Your left overs will be elevated to fine dining.

2. Hate to cook? Make a reservation for Thanksgiving dinner at tomme (820-2253) at the corner of Galesteo and Alameda or go historic and feast at the La Fonda buffet (995-2334).

3. How long has it been since you full time residents have played tourist and strolled around the Plaza? For 400 years people have walked around that Plaza. Feel the history. The Christmas lights are up!  Stop for a snack at the historic Plaza Restaurant which reopened this year. Start a tradition.

4. The weather will be perfect this week, sunny with highs in the 50s. Take a nice walk on one of the trails around the ski basin. Take a city walk down Canyon Road. Veer off onto Garcia Street and peruse the shelves of Garcia Street Books, a well curated delight for book lovers.

5. Support local artists and buy special one of a kind gifts at “A Gift Fair” held at the Santa Fe Woman’s Club (1616 Old Santa Fe Trail between San Mateo and St. Michaels) November 23-25 from 10am-5pm. Be sure to stop by the table of Catherine Trapani’s Beloved. Her jewelry incorporates rare and beautiful stones from all over the world at affordable prices ranging from $8-$300.

©Catherine Trapani

6. Attend the 10th Annual Thanksgiving Tradition of Wise Fool’s circus-arts troupe  at the Lensic Theatre (988-1234)  November 23-25.

7. Stop by the Santa Fe Animal Shelter (983-4309) on Saturday or Sunday (closed Thanksgiving Thursday and Friday) and find your new buddy just waiting for you. The beautiful and talented little Georgia is a rescue dog. I rescued her. She rescued me.

8. Sign up for my workshop Writing Your Memoir: One Vivid Story at a Time. The 4 class series meets on Wednesdays from 5:30-7 pm beginning November 28. For details, see my post dated November 18 or contact me at the email address listed under Contact Susan.

9. If you are with your family or will be chatting with them on the phone, gather a few family stories. Assuming you did not order in your dinner from Pizza Hut, start with a discussion of why you have the foods you do at your Thanksgiving table. Are the creamed pearl onions or lima beans from your great great Aunt Ruth’s recipe? Did your great grandfather originally make that oyster dressing? Do you have slimy green jello because that’s what your father and his sister requested as kids? Do you have pecan pie because your grandmother simply makes the best pecan pie anywhere? Ask the little kids their favorite thing to eat on the table. Ask the adults to tell about a favorite Thanksgiving or the most challenging one. Share your stories. Share yourselves.

Max and Ben

Happy Thanksgiving!

Memoir Writing Class

A few of you asked whether I teach memoir writing classes. Thank you for asking! I will be teaching a four class workshop Writing Your Memoir: One Vivid Story at a Time beginning November 28.  Below is an excerpt from the flyer for the class. For further information or to sign up for the class, please use the Contact Susan email address.


You have a story to tell. Whether you have lived your life quietly or on a more public stage, memoir writing offers you the opportunity to observe the past with fresh eyes, reflect on your life’s purpose, clarify your future path and preserve your unique stories. Here is the bonus: When you are open to telling your individual stories in the most authentic, truth seeking way, you will touch the universal truths that have the power to transform both you and the reader.

So often people feel called to write their life stories but have no idea how to begin. In this 4 week series of classes, I will be your guide:

  • With compassion and humor, I will demystify the process of memoir writing.
  • Through writing exercises and discussion, I will provide the simple tools you need to capture the stories of your life, one small vivid story at a time.
  • While the classes are specifically structured to teach memoir writing, participants will gain helpful information for writing informal family histories as well.
  • Both beginning and seasoned writers are welcome.
  • A sense of humor is mandatory.

This is a gift to yourself, an opportunity to get in touch with your purpose, your story.  The classes will offer you a sense of inquiry and focus as this year comes to an end and the New Year dawns.

“Susan is a storyteller of unparalleled substance. She will help you find the unique threads of your life and teach you how to weave them into a beautiful tapestry. You will not be disappointed.”  Elizabeth A. Martin

Classes will be held at Unity Santa Fe, 4 consecutive Wednesdays starting November 28, from 5:30-7pm. Cost is $99 for the 4 classes with payment prior to November 28, and $120 thereafter. (A minimum of 5 people will be required for classes to be held.) 

Veteran’s Day

A few years ago I made a documentary short “Women’s Wars: A Primer.” The movie was about women serving in the US military, focusing on the stories of the women veterans of New Mexico. Turns out New Mexico has the largest population of women veterans in the US. And what a group they are.

I met women who were in every branch of service. I met women who were nurses in World War II, Korea and Vietnam. I met women pilots, guards, translators, Army supply truck drivers, a logistics officer, all of whom fought in Iraq and Afghanistan. I met Native American, African American, Latinas and white soldiers.

I explored with these veterans why they chose military service and what they loved about their time in the military. They shared their challenges, including discrimination and sexual assault. Returning to civilian life also posed great challenges for many in the form of PTSD and fighting for the benefits they are entitled to receive as veterans who have served their country. Some are now homeless.

My goal was to make a full length documentary, but the recession ultimately diverted my plan despite the support of so many. I was devastated for a while, but came to understand that the short itself had served a good purpose. I submitted testimony to Congress explaining the issues faced by women. I was able to use the documentary short as an educational tool, showing it in local theatres and to various groups. It was shown on an air force base to help prepare women leaving for combat areas. You see, while technically women are not allowed to serve in combat zones, they do since our modern wars have no clear lines of demarcation.

They told me they were honored to share their stories and thanked me for my support and recognition of their service.

I know I received the greatest benefit. I had the opportunity to meet these strong, skilled, courageous, funny, loyal women who were open and gracious with me in sharing their stories.

So on this Veterans Day, I thank all veterans male and female who have served their country well. I honor you. You deserve our thanks and you deserve the benefits you earned. And  I offer a special thank you to the women veterans of New Mexico for their service and for honoring me with their stories. What a privilege to meet you all.

#50: We Thank You!

This, dear readers, is post #50, which also coincides with the 3 month anniversary of the first post in August.  I think this is the perfect time to thank my friends and family who dutifully subscribed on day 1. Thank you to the people they pestered into subscribing. Thanks to all of you who stumbled here, via googling something else entirely or reading an article of mine from another website, and decided to read along.

I have readers…not just spammers…from all over the US,  the UK, France, Italy, Canada, Australia, Germany, Spain, India, Mexico and Bosnia and Herzegovina. After only 3 months, my pages were read over 1500 times in the last 30 days. I just find that amazing.

While most of you are a bit shy about posting comments directly on the blog, I daily receive comments from you via my email address provided in the Contact Susan section. I truly appreciate those emails, your comments, questions and encouragement. Please keep them coming.

I know there are thousands of blogs and websites and information outlets in general. I also know you have precious little free time in your day. I am honored you choose to spend a bit of time each week with me,  meandering under Santa Fe skies.

Escargot to Go!

Two seemingly unrelated obsessions: Since I was a kid I have loved Airstream trailers. The sleek lines and shining silver just spark my imagination. In fact, a dream I am fairly certain I will never realize is renovating a small circa 1960′s Airstream, furnishing it like a gypsy wagon, and traveling all over the US with friends, Georgia the Dog and Harry the Cat. I am also a devoted lover of all things French.

So imagine my great joy when one day those two obsessions collided in the most delightful way. I turned off Paseo de Peralta onto Old Santa Fe Trail and spied what could only be a mirage in an otherwise empty gravel parking lot: a renovated 1960′s Airstream wearing a sign proclaiming Le Pod “curbside cuisine.” Quelle merveilleuse idée! C’est magnifique!

In that small perfect space, Chef Jean-Luc Salles creates French delights from escargot to Frog Dogs (hot dogs on a baguette) to scalloped potatoes oozing with cheese to crepes. He makes a luscious vegetarian sandwich of flavorful goat cheese, grilled mushrooms, sundried tomatoes and sautéed spinach on a crunchy baguette.

Not only has Chef Salles enriched our lives with his food, but he is also generous with his time in supporting local nonprofits. Bordeaux’s loss is Santa Fe’s gain.

If you are on overload with burritos, go cleanse your pallet at Le Pod. Go in any event.

Open Monday-Friday from 11a-4p. Check out the Le Pod website for photos that do the place justice and further information.

Signs of Our Times

Santa Fe is the City Different in so many ways. I do appreciate the time some businesses take to make their point with a little humor. This sign in front of Mail Call (in their former location) is a great example.

Then we have this sign posted in the window of our grocery co-op. Perhaps they should start screening their members.

I just like the juxtaposition on this one.

©Catherine Trapani

This sign is near the Plaza in Taos.

I know I showed you this sign before in the piece about my having my passport photo taken, but it still makes me shake my head and laugh, despite the sad fact the humor was not intentional.

Signing off for today….

Your Memoir: One Vivid Story at a Time

You have a story to tell. Regardless of whether you have lived your life quietly in a small town or on a more public stage, memoir writing offers you the opportunity to observe the past with fresh eyes, find a deeper understanding of the meaning of the events of your life, and preserve your stories for generations to come. And here is the bonus: When you are open to telling your individual stories in the most authentic, truth seeking way, you will touch the universal truths that have the power to transform both you and the reader.

I wanted to let you know that I work with clients to produce their memoirs, personal histories, family histories and life stories from recorded interviews. During our interviews I ask questions and guide my clients to tell me their life stories, one vivid story at a time. I then edit our transcribed interviews to create a story well told.

My storytellers are everyday people who may have fought in wars, worked hard to build their careers or businesses, smashed glass ceilings, raised a family, traveled, faced setbacks and rebounded, learned to play an instrument or ride a horse or follow a passion in their second or third act, and served their community. Everyone has a life that should be celebrated.

Whether for a family, an individual, a town, or a business or to commemorate a coming of age ceremony, a marriage or partnership, the passing of a loved one or a beloved pet, each project is produced with sensitivity, creativity and attention to detail. The final product  may include a bound book with photographs, genealogy, documents, recipes and memorabilia. I can also help you produce a short documentary film. In whatever form, the memories are preserved for you and your family.

I will travel to work with you. It is also possible to work together via telephone and Skype.

I personally understand the powerful process of memoir writing. Currently, I am completing my own memoir Macon: A Memoir, A Murder. I can tell you that the process of writing this book has been a rich, life changing experience for me, offering me a different, deeper understanding of certain people and events as well as myself.

It would be my honor to help you share and preserve your  life stories or the stories of a friend or family member. Don’t be daunted. You will enjoy the process as you tell me the stories of your life, one vivid story at a time.  For further information, please contact me using the email address provided in Contact Susan.

Saturday’s Wonder

“Always be on the lookout for the presence of wonder.” E. B. White

Storm Headed for Chimayo