Ten Most Intriguing

November 2010

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adamAlex Carleton
“Game Changer”

By Adam Perry

“I’m not looking to revolutionize L.L. Bean,” says designer Alex Carleton, 41, “but it’s interesting to consider how it can evolve. We’re reshaping and reforming classics like The Blue Rock Sweater, The Bean Boot, The Norwegian, The Field Coat…I love the challenge; it’s highly personal. This job was made for me.”

So is life in Maine. After working in Manhattan for Ralph Lauren and Abercrombie & Fitch, Carleton moved here twelve years ago. Beyond pumping up his trend-setting Rogues Gallery line, he also serves as creative director of L.L. Bean’s new youth-centric Signature Series.

Not that Manhattan doesn’t come calling. According to GQ, after signing him to design their “beautifully beaten-down,” snuggly-yet-still-iconoclastic T-shirt line, J. Crew “sent its fit blocks up to Portland just to make sure” Carleton approved of the garments’ edgy dimensions.

Now that’s more like it, Yankees fans!

“I moved here because it felt like the New England I was familiar with as a kid. In New York, I spent most of my time getting out of the city,” he says. Not that everybody ‘gets’ his ‘woodsy’ presence up here.

“People [who call or text me] think I’m constantly out hiking, sailing, or camping. You actually have to work harder here than anywhere else. I can’t just hop in a cab to JFK if I’m going to Paris or need to meet a fabric vendor in Mid-town. Living here means I need to worry about firewood, snow tires, storm windows, and my dog getting quilled by porcupines. I wouldn’t trade it for anything.”

He even gets amusement from the parade of urban fashion denizens rubbing up against his outdoorsy world here. “I once hosted a certain editor from the Vogue family at my [oceanfront] home [on Smugglers Cove Road] in Cape Elizabeth. There was a minor ‘footwear challenge’ when we went to take my dog out for a run in the woods. On another work-related winter visit, my heater died, pipes froze, and I ended up conducting a production meeting with folks from overseas huddled in front of the fireplace, sipping Earl Grey tea to keep our hands warm.”

Not that his fellow New Englanders have let him off the hook: “The hunting jackets look more appropriate for hunting down a good bottle of prosecco in Back Bay than tracking moose,” wrote the Boston Globe while covering the release party for the new line. “Oh, look over there, it’s Anderson Cooper.” [For our eyewitness coverage, visit Online Extras at portlandmagazine.com.]

Ever the tastemaker, Carlton is thoughtful on Portland’s animadversions about itself: “Portland is ironically a much easier sell to people who are from away from here than people who are here. Especially in Europe and Asia, there’s a lot of romance around the idea of what Maine represents and what it is. People think when you live in Maine you’re enveloped in Christina’s World. You’re living this idyllic lifestyle where you fell trees and build log cabins and sail on wooden boats and eat blueberry pancakes.”

Maple syrup aside, you can find this affable neighbor enjoying lobster at Street and Company, sitting at the bar at Fore Street, and chowing down on his favorite burger at Caiola’s. “It’s basically my Cheers–everyone knows my name.”

ariannaArianna Lawson
“From Russia With Love”

By Adam Perry

While 16-year-old Arianna Lawson calls Scarborough home, the devoted young ballerina is poised to put Portland on the international ballet map this month by becoming the first-ever Portland Ballet School veteran to study at the renowned Bolshoi Ballet Academy in Russia. After dancing at a Bolshoi-affiliated, intensive, six-week program in New York City this past summer, she was surprised and delighted to receive a letter from the Russian American Foundation stating that due to her “considerable talent, dedication, and strong training” she was being offered a spot at the academy in Moscow, which will cost her family approximately $18,000 for one year (at press time, they still had $10,000 to raise and were accepting donations).

“I’m really excited,” Lawson says, elegant even in warm-up clothes as she prepares for a session at Portland Ballet. “This is a rare opportunity, and I think it will be cool to go to a foreign country and learn the culture and the language and meet Russian kids–which will be hard and kind of difficult, but I’m already starting to learn some Russian.”

Lawson–who leaves for Moscow November 1–has been training for about twenty hours a week at Portland Ballet in addition to her traditional schoolwork. Studying dance at the Bolshoi Academy will mean leaving all other educational studies behind.

“They’re strictly ballet and it’s, like, seven hours a day,” she says. “There’s so much demand, and not to have that much academics is kind of tough, so it will definitely be different.”

The Bolshoi Academy is strictly classical ballet, and the stringently controlled Russian style is widely considered the most physically, emotionally, and mentally challenging form of ballet in the world. The emphasis is on simple, clean, and contained strength and line rather than creative expression. After a year dancing in Moscow, Lawson will be told whether the academy has chosen her to stay on for the full three years necessary to graduate. Whether she makes it or not, for Lawson, there is no “next best” concerning what she wants to do with her life.

“Just dance,” she says.

ahmed-ahmed-mukhtarAhmed Alsoudani
“War Paint”

By Adam Perry

“Painting is a marathon,” according to former Maine College of Art student Ahmed Alsoudani, and these days the race to snatch one of the artist’s paintings–which sell for a minimum of $70,000 each–is nearly as feverish as his work ethic.

Alsoudani, 36, was raised in Baghdad and forced as a teenager to flee Iraq for Kurdistan and then Syria after defacing a mural that featured an image of then-dictator Saddam Hussein. Thanks in part to his tumultuous experience as an Iraqi youth, Alsoudani has kept an impressively level head throughout his rise to immense success in the art world.

“I don’t know if I’d agree that I’m an ‘international star,’” says Alsoudani, who lives in SoHo and spends almost all his time working in his Chelsea studio, where a steady stream of jazz, classical, and Bob Dylan plays. Recalling his days in Portland, Alsoudani muses, “I loved the people there and had very encouraging professors, who I am still friends with to this day. I really feel that all these small things I know about painting came…specifically from [Sean Foley and Gail Stein]. Elizabeth Jabar taught me almost everything about printmaking. It was a very good environment to focus myself and learn.

“My biggest compliment [came from  Yale] painting department head, Peter Haley, who said, ‘You are a painter, and your viewers are painters.’ I think that’s because I pay attention to every detail…”

Alsoudani’s paintings–on canvas and paper in oil, pastel, acrylic, and charcoal–have been compared to Picasso’s and Goya’s (both artists serve as inspirations) for their vivid depictions of the horrors of war and its aftermath, often juxtaposing swirling, earthy backgrounds with depictions of suffering quasi-human characters who bring to mind the Iraqis tortured at Abu Ghraib. Since the day in August 2001 when Alsoudani–who spoke almost no English–walked into MECA and humbly uttered the words “I want to be a painter,” he has graduated with an MFA from Yale, lived for a time in posh Berlin, and subsequently exhibited his work in far-flung locales including London and Dubai. Recently, Alsoudani has been included on Forbes magazine’s prestigious “Watch List.”

But Alsoudani sees little difference between who he was as a quiet undergrad at MECA and the walking success story he is today. “I still feel Maine is home for me, and I am excited to be going back [to Portland this month] as a visiting artist [at MECA]. I’m looking forward to visiting my favorite places, like Arabica Coffee Shop and Coffee By Design.”

Alsoudani talks softy and humbly and dresses fashionably. He leaves much of his work untitled and attributes that to his love of poetry and dismissal of artists who try to pilot viewers’ attentions. When asked if people ‘get’ his art, he believes they do. “I had a waiting list…when the economy went bad, so people were [careful about buying] art [even while his reputation skyrocketed]…so if they didn’t like it, they wouldn’t risk buying someone they hadn’t heard of before.”

Alsoudani was not interested in politics as a teenager, but the situation in Iraq–magnified by September 11, 2001, shortly after he began at MECA–inspires most of his art.

“My work is not directly influenced by the environment I am in day-to-day,” he says. “It’s  more of a reflection, or exploration, of a psychological state of conflict, or war. What is important for a painter is stability and the ability to focus on the work, and Maine was very good for that.”

chellieChellie & Hannah Pingree
“Hyannisport North”

By Karen E. Hofreiter

“Mom missed the ferry, so she had to catch a lobster boat. She’ll be here soon. In the meantime, I’ve got to go to the dump,” says the sneaker-and-T-shirt-clad Speaker of the Maine House Hannah Pingree, 34, referring to her U.S. Representative (D-ME) mother, Chellie Pingree. It’s an hour before our scheduled interview at Nebo Lodge, a bed and breakfast owned by the Pingrees, on North Haven Island.

Lobster boats? Dumps? Sneakers? Never mind that Chellie Pingree, 55, has a wealthy fiancé atop a billion-dollar hedge fund who owns a 2007 Dassault Falcon 2000EX private jet. Here, it’s all about a dusty pick-up truck parked in front of a modest inn on a quaint island undulating with wind-thrashed sea grass.

“I was born and grew up in Minneapolis,” Chellie says, “and I’ve been on the island since 1971 after meeting my ex-husband, a boat-builder. For twelve years I was an organic vegetable and dairy farmer. Slowly, I got to know people and took the job as tax assessor, since no one else wanted to do it.” So how did she go from a tax assessor for a small island with no stoplights to a legislator on bustling Capitol Hill?

“I was on the local school and planning boards, and it was through town meetings that I learned how to be in politics,” Chellie says. “It’s about local issues. That was my real training. People had to work together to get things done.”

With her politician daughter (Hannah has been named “The Next Nancy Pelosi” by Marie Claire magazine and included as one of Time magazine’s “40 Under 40” in American politics), her dedication to social causes like health care reform and gay civil rights, the family’s (small) ‘compound’ on Hyannis-esque North Haven Island, and a glint of gossipy scandal, could this be the beginning of a legacy? Maybe it’s a stretch to compare Maine’s First District Congressional delegate and her family with Massachusetts’s famed first family in politics. However, the Pingrees’ shared philosophical belief in Kennedy-cohort Thomas ‘Tip’ O’Neill’s famed words, “All politics is local,” and JFK’s evocation of “All politics is personal,” that makes the call to duty for this budding Maine dynasty most like the Kennedys’.

“I have confidence that not all politics have to be divisive or full of disagreements. In D.C., I think more about common sense and the people I represent back home. There’s not a big ideological divide [in Maine],” says Chellie. “I can have an argument with someone here and then end up sharing a seat with them on the ferry. You have to live with people.”

It’s this pragmatic attitude and role as a ‘bridge-builder’ that endears her to her voting constituents (Chellie owns a home on North Haven, which is at the northernmost tip of the First District), and it’s that same attitude that has helped Hannah reach her high post at a young age (she was 24 when elected to the Maine House). “It’s less about the big issues and more about managing personalities,” Hannah says. “You’ve got to get to know people, and then put your own ego aside. I learned that from my mom.”

Hannah also shares her mother’s tenacity and work ethic, which helped her overcome speculations of nepotism. “During my first month [in the House], I did get ‘she’s just here because of her mother–she’s so young; is she really qualified?’ I had to work extra hard to prove myself.”

The work has paid off. Adds Chellie, “The best compliment I ever got was when Dick Mailhot, a Maine House legislator, said, ‘I’ve forgotten she’s your daughter.’ And Governor Baldacci is always saying, ‘That Hannah–she doesn’t back down.’ But that’s part of being from here–there’s a great aura about Maine in D.C. We’re considered a strong, thick-skinned state.”

And that thick-skin has been a godsend in light of recent accusations of hypocrisy over Chellie’s private jet excursions with fiancé S. Donald Sussman, after her 2006 condemnation of jet-setting Congressional colleagues. (U.S. Rep Barney Frank (D-MA) has acknowledged his 2009 trip to the Virgin Islands he and his partner took with Chellie and Sussman on Sussman’s jet.) The couples are said to be friends.) How does she counter the insistence, particularly from conservatives, that, in spite of her protestations, she is a member of the ‘limousine liberals’ or ‘gauche caviar’?

Chellie remains unruffled and resolute. “It’s fair enough to scrutinize people in politics, but to say I am out of touch…I was a single mom, I’ve been a housecleaner, waitress, organic farmer–I am a small business owner. Nothing has changed who I am.”

Whoever she is, she manages to come out on top. Win or lose in the November 2 election, she will–if history is any indication–bounce back stronger (after losing a seat in the U.S. Senate to Susan Collins in 2002, she became the National President and CEO of Common Cause, a non-partisan citizen activist group with almost 300,000 members).

This strength is magnified by the fire in her belly. Many considered her a ‘profile in courage’ in June when she balked at increasing the number of American troops in Afghanistan. She was one of only three Democrats to speak out on the issue, straight to the face of General Petraeus.

“People in Maine are very opinionated, but tolerant. We’re kind of libertarian in a way. We protect each other. Whoever you are is okay, as long as they know you and trust you.”

And you travel by ‘bug-tug.’ Who needs a yacht?

emiliaEmilia Dahlin
“Beat of Her Own”

By Adam Perry

For the record, while iTunes may list Portlander Emilia Dahlin’s music as “folk,” the beautiful and talented local favorite is not just another young Northeastern woman who grew up listening to the Indigo Girls and then morphed into a carbon copy of Ani DiFranco. Well, at least not anymore.

“There was a period when I listened to Ani DiFranco a lot,” says Dahlin, 30, “and that came out in my music. [Then] I began listening to more jazz and started finding my own sound. Soon as I did that, I got the opportunity to open for Ani DiFranco.”

On Dahlin’s latest release, Rattle Them Bones, she not only sings and plays guitar but also contributes piano, accordion, and glockenspiel. Rattle Them Bones juxtaposes sweet alt-folk with eclectic, jazz-infused experimentation to create a multi-faceted, original sound. Calling her music “acoustic roots with a vintage jazz twist,” she’s amazed herself at her transformation from folkie to iconoclast.

“Part of it was that conscious ‘I need to branch out; I need to expand my edges a little bit.’ Andrew Bird has been an influence and introduced me to gypsy jazz. Heritage Radio in Yarmouth also got my wheels turning and helped me drop [career-driven anxieties about whether or not something beautiful is marketable. It helped me totally reinvent my sound.] I’ve found that once I let go of those inhibitions, it’s done me well.”

From the romp of “Evangeline,” an alternative sea shanty, and the Tom Waits-esque title track’s “background of twisted, naked trees” to the accordion-heavy French noir of the mellifluous instrumental “La Fin,” Rattle Them Bones reveals why Dahlin has essentially cornered the market on local music awards recently.

Back from a hejira with her husband across the world that found her collaborating with–and finding inspiration in–socially conscious musicians in Brazil, she lights up when talking about her experience performing in São Paolo with a nine-piece samba band.

Which goes to the strength of her storytelling, which recalls the Be Good Tanyas and the more literary eras of Bob Dylan but is also grounded in Dahlin’s love for jazz songstresses such as Ella Fitzgerald and the singer-songwriter’s background as a film studies major at the SALT Institute in Portland.

Although Dahlin is open to offers from small labels, she’s not yet affiliated with a record company. “I’ve always produced my albums myself. Acadia Recording (Marc and Gina Bartholomew) are amazing. They’ve mastered two of my discs as well as hand screen-printed the packaging for Rattle Them Bones…. Working and investing locally is important to me because I know my money is supporting the local economy and fellow artists.

“I’ve lived in Portland for over ten years. The overlap between musicians and visual artists and performing artists is really strong. In New York or Nashville, there’s huge competition, but here it’s a tight-knit community of diverse musicians–neighbors, coworkers, and co-creators.

“But I can’t say there’s a Portland ‘sound.’ There’s too much variety. I’m inspired by Sontiago for her savvy and writing, as well as Vanessa Torres. My long-term collaborator Adam Frederick has prompted me to grow. Royal Hammer moves me to shake my booty, an important characteristic of music. I’m excited to get to know the new Portland music scene that has emerged since I’ve been gone the last year.

“Right now [I live] in Back Cove for the first time, in a sweet little vintage camper. I’ve lived on India, Monument, Winter, Brackett, Clark, and Waterville streets; owned a house on East Cove Street; and lived on my sailboat. It’s been fun tasting different areas within the city.

“[Other tastes I look forward to reconnecting with include] Rosemont Market, Local Sprouts, Flatbread, Dorolena Farm, Aurora Provisions, El Camino, Green Elephant, Fore Street, Micucci’s ‘Sicilian slabs,’ and all our great bakeries. My deep love of and interest in the way we cultivate, create, and consume is a huge reason why I love Maine and Portland so much.”

arunaAruna Kenyi
“Stunning Tale of a ‘Lost Boy'”

By Aruna Kenyi

Aruna Kenyi is part of a growing community of Sudanese refugees in Portland. At 17, he began to write the painful experiences that would become his book, Between Two Rivers, published by The Telling Room in 2010 and excerpted below:

My grandmother told stories. So do I. Listen.

I come from a village in the district of Kajo Keji in Southern Sudan. The village was Kansuk, and it was between two rivers, the Lorijo and the Manikilokui.

Kansuk was a good place. Nobody cried from hunger because there was plenty of food to eat. You could eat with your family, at a neighbor’s house with your friend, or you could just pick a mango from the tree. I only knew happiness and the safety of my family, my grandparents and cousins, and my village.

Of course at that time we did not know that the Arab militia would come.

[When the militia arrived in Southern Sudan, five-year-old Kenyi was separated from his family for the first of many times. His parents stayed behind in Kansuk. He was sent to Mundari while his oldest brother, Yugo, was sent to another village.]

For months while living in Mudari, I heard the sounds of war–bombs, guns and screaming. I asked my aunt why people were fighting and killing each other.

“It is a big world, Kenyi, and you are still a kid and do not understand now, but you will understand when you grow up,” she said.

But I wonder even now why people kill each other while God commands us not to kill.

Later, my father arrived in Mundari. He said Kansuk was burning already, and that even so, most people stayed. They said they would rather die in their own village than try and flee. My dad said the ones who stayed were attached to a car. The soldiers would drive the car and drag the people behind it until they were dead. Then they would cut the ropes and leave the bodies on the road…

During this time, I remember crying a lot when I was alone. Crying for the things I had seen. Crying for what I had lost. Crying for Kansuk. Crying for the people who were no longer with us. I kept imagining they had been captured by the militia and maybe were dead.

I was just a kid. I couldn’t help it. I could think of nothing else.

[For the next several years, Kenyi moved from village to village, fleeing the devastation of the war.  He was frequently separated from his family. One by one, family members found each other again and were all eventually reunited at a UN refugee camp in Bamuro.]

Generally, life at the refugee camp was okay, but the Sudan People’s Liberation Army became desperate for new soldiers. That is why one day, they came into the camp and started taking all the older boys and men.

They took Yugo and my father.

That was the last time I saw him. …

…Eventually, we got a letter from Yugo. He had escaped to a refugee camp in Uganda and asked us to join him there.

We did not have enough money for all of us to go.

My two older brothers and I left behind my mother, grandparents, sisters, and younger brother. I have not seen them since.

When we got to the Ugandan camp, I was nine. I remember a checker board of dirt streets. In each block, there were homemade houses, and next to the houses were gardens. The houses were filled with people from all over. These homes were simple. There was no electricity. No light bulbs. No refrigerators. This was Kyangwali.

After three years of living in Kyangwali,  applications for moving to different countries like Australia, America and Canada were brought to the camp.

In 2003, two years after starting the application process, we were still waiting for our flight. We were patient. No matter how long we were going to wait, we were going to go to America.

At 14, Aruna Kenyi, now 21, boarded a flight to the U.S. He has since graduated from Portland High School and now attends the University of Maine at Farmington, where he majors in Community Health Education. After college, Kenyi hopes to teach high school in Maine and eventually return as an educator to his home village of Kansuk.

katieKatie Hagar
Need for Speed

By Adam Perry

Just as Black Entertainment Television (BET) dares to challenge redneck clichés by running a reality show about NASCAR drivers, Katie Hagar–a 24-year-old Damariscotta native–defies the auto-racing stereotype that says good ‘ol Southern boys rule the tracks.

“Growing up in Maine, I was a true and passionate athlete,” Hagar tells us the morning after racing in North Carolina’s 34th annual Bobby Isaac Memorial 150. “I wasn’t worried if others thought that it was odd or not. The car doesn’t know your gender, and that’s all that matters.”

Hagar, who resides in Mooresville, North Carolina, doesn’t let the hard-edged, male-dominated world of car racing faze her (“They don’t dare make [sexist comments] to my face…”) and has been racking up top-five finishes since going pro a few years ago.

“The happiest 30 seconds of my life behind the wheel happened when I was racing in California in the NASCAR Drive for Diversity program at Stockton 99 Speedway, breaking the track record my fourth time ever being at that track.”

Energetic and sprightly, with a flashy smile and long blonde hair, Hagar is a perfect fit for Changing Lanes, BET’s new NASCAR “one-hour competition docu-series” which highlights minority and female drivers–the latter comprising a gender which now represents nearly half of all NASCAR fans.

As a woman striving for success in auto racing, Hagar says the legendary female drag racer Shirley Muldowney’s “strategic way of thinking” is a big inspiration. Hagar also stresses that Damariscotta–“always home to me”–continues to positively shape her as a person.

“Maine is the one place I go to if I need to get away,” she says. “All my family is there, and it’s true when they say ‘home is where the heart is.’ When I come home, it’s to re-ground myself, whether I’m just relaxing, picking out horse stalls, eating seafood, or visiting local beaches.

“After being away from home, I notice that it’s the small things I miss the most: how pure and fresh the air smells, how clean the waters are, how quiet and relaxing it is fishing and hearing the loons and owls at night, the privilege of having your privacy. Those are the things that made me me, and every day I am thankful for that.”

Not that she ducks the adrenaline rush of her present circumstances: “I don’t dream of crashing. I dream of winning.”

jimJim Miekka
“Leave It to a Mainer to Come Up with the Hindenburg Omen”

By Justin Ellis

Though he may not be able to see, Jim Miekka is known for a different kind of sight.

An inventor, mathematician, and former  school teacher, Boston-born Miekka, 50, has garnered attention for his wizardry in indicating downturns in the stock market. If that weren’t enough, he’s also the creator of an artificial vision device.

“I do lots of experiments,” he says. “I love research.”

Miekka, who winters in Florida and summers at his two-bedroom house in “Surrey by the Sea,” says he was lured here by a friend on the promise of great spaces, solitude, and quiet.

“I like elbow room,” he says. “I’ve got two miles of trails on my [80-acre] property and my target range.”

It was an experiment he conducted as a high-school teacher in California almost 25 years ago–working on a chemical compound for use in mining–that took Miekka’s eyesight. An explosion and complications from the resulting surgery rendered him blind.

Though he loved teaching, Miekka decided to start a new path. A stock market observer and mathematician, he began working on a formula to predict market crashes. Named for the infamous hydrogen zeppelin which met its fate in a fiery explosion, the Hindenburg Omen computes data on stock levels over a year’s time to predict combustible economic markets. The title is appropriate: the Omen has predicted every NYSE crash since 1985.

While some in the world of finance have questioned the theory’s reliability, presumably few of them have been Mainers. According to Miekka, Mainers–known for our pessimism–“express more interest in the Hindenburg Omen than in my more positive indicators, so it must be part of that psyche.” Regardless, Miekka says the value of the Omen is that it serves as a warning.

“It’s like a funnel cloud,” he says. “When you see a funnel cloud you might get a tornado. But without a funnel cloud, you can’t get a tornado.”

Miekka admits he’s done well in the market and publishes a stock market newsletter called Sudberry Bull & Bear Report.

When he’s not toying with economics or enjoying time with his girlfriend of seven years, Miekka is working on his target-shooting skills with the help of artificial vision technology.

“For a person who’s blind, what more would you want than to see?”

As a teacher, he taught his students how the eye detects images and translates what they are to the brain. Using photocells similar to those found in a camera, Miekka’s device detects light and dark and gives a corresponding sound for each. By interpreting the sounds, Miekka can “see” targets, including bowling pins and clay pigeons, from over 100 yards out.

Miekka thinks this technology can be put to other uses, maybe allowing a blind person to drive a vehicle.

“If you can point a gun and make a bullet go where you want it to, you can drive a car and point it where you want to go.”

Dr. Oz

Oprah’s super doctor, Mehmet Oz, believes time spent relaxing here, on the Foreside, is the best medicine.

Interview by Colin Sargent

How often do you and your wife, Lisa, come up here to visit your in-laws, and what’s on your “must-do” list while in Cumberland Foreside?

We visit them several times during the summer and generally spend the winter holidays with them in Maine. We love: Street and Company’s clams and mussels in the saucepan; the shopping and lemonade stands in Freeport; lobsters from the town landing in Falmouth Foreside; golf at Portland Country Club; and Lucinda’s [Day] Spa massages.

Do you hope to bring HealthCorps here?

I absolutely would love to begin a HealthCorps program in Maine. We must instill fitness, nutrition, and self-esteem in our youth to win in the obesity crisis. In order to begin a HealthCorps program, it requires more than just a financial commitment–it requires political willpower and cooperation and motivation at the school district and management level. These things take time to cultivate. If we begin a program in Maine, I’ll personally come to kick it off!

How did you both come to know Dr. Christiane Northrup?

I was introduced to her work by my parents-in-law two decades ago and have been a huge fan for years. We met in Maine and have remained friends since. She understands so clearly the passion women have for self-healing and has offered wonderful guidance on how to crystallize that message. My main contribution to the endeavor is to offer a little testosterone so women can be more assertive on issues they understand on a visceral level to be true.

What fitness/diet regimen do you practice up here?

Each morning I do [my] seven-minute workout. I also do vigorous exercise daily (since I’ve got more time while on vacation) and enjoy four-mile runs, basketball with friends, and tennis with relatives. [My in-laws’] house [a large Tudor home on Route 88 in Cumberland Foreside] is on the water, so we engage in water sports (with wet suits!). The human body’s built for movement, so you must have it do what it’s designed to do. I encourage people to do a very short routine each morning. The positive effects on your health are without measure!

What are three ways we can love Maine in a healthier way?

One of my absolute favorite things to do in Maine is go for a walk or a jog. We have such a beautiful coastline–the rocky beaches and the inland forests. Walking is sustainable exercise, and if you walk with a loved one like Lisa and I do, it bonds you together. The air feels crisper because of the temperature–I take deep breaths and practice intentional breathing and meditation. And there’s nothing more fun than catching and eating fish–especially cold-water fish rich in omega-3. Last trip, I went fishing with my son for striped bass, and in addition to the bonding, fishing gives a wonderful, primitive feeling that’s very peaceful.

Mainers are flattered that Daphne chose Maine for her wedding and reception this summer. As a proud dad, can you tell us how that came about, and was lobster served?

We did have lobster. Daphne has spent many of her formative years enjoying vacations with her grandparents in this beautiful state. We weren’t surprised at all when she chose to have her wedding at their home and attract a few hundred of her closest friends. Many had never been to Maine, and all claimed they’d return again.

How do you feel your connection to Maine matches up with your personality, Lisa’s, and Daphne’s?

The people and beauty of Maine have offered many insights and helped shape my personality. I schooled in Boston and Philadelphia, and I practice in New York City, so I’m used to big cities and the frantic chaos of an inner-city hospital that boasts 50,000 ER visits annually. Maine taught me there’s a world out there that’s more peaceful, more sensible in pace, and more dependent on seasonal changes. I’m a better person because I’ve been blessed with time in Maine.

About your family gathering here last January…Many people fear Maine during the deep freeze!

All the kids unanimously wanted to enjoy a classic winter holiday with snow sports, hot chocolate, and crisp, sunny days. It was cold–I had moments when I wondered how Maine folks last each winter. I came away with profound respect for you, braving each winter, year after year. I must say, though, the stars were worth the entire trip (in addition to seeing my loved ones). Down here in New York, there’s so much natural-light pollution, you need to be far away to see the heavens with the same beautiful clarity. And the sky map in the northern latitudes is stunning. I loved that visit and will continue to return to Maine in the winter.

When will  you come next, and what do you hope to do?

I’ll be up to visit family at some point. I hope not to be working while I’m there, and I hope to just enjoy myself. I write quite a bit, and when I have down time I write even more; the solitude of Maine clears my head to let the words flow.

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