Wednesday, March 31, 2010

EmBody Talk: Jo Lynne Valerie, Paranormal Author & Metaphysical Wise Woman

Jo Lynne Valerie and I clicked right away. We share similar pasts, and we've both come to similar conclusions and created happiness for ourselves.

Jo Lynne, for me, stands out as a never-get-ruffled, do-the-hard-work Creative Soul and Mother. Just read her tweets for a week, and you'll be introduced to a classy, unique woman, who will inspire you and make you giggle. My favorite combination.

Jo Lynne Valerie is an Award-Winning author of Paranormal Fiction, magazine columnist, and the former editor of print publications Nature’s Wisdom Magazine and Full Moon Rising Magazine. She was a writer for a PBS television show on holistic health, which she eventually co-hosted. Jo Lynne Valerie is known for the metaphysical classes she teaches both locally and online, including Numerology, Cosmology, Aromatherapy, Intuitive Development, Tarot, and Shamanic Meditation.

Ms. Valerie offers regular newsletters to readers via e-mail, consisting of holistic and spiritual tid-bits and musings from her writer’s life. Her website is, and her highly interactive and personal blog can be seen at She is also active on Myspace, Facebook and Twitter.

What is the first story that comes to mind when you are asked how you feel about your body?

I have to say, Christine, it's not a story that comes to mind when I'm asked that question, but rather my personal opinion of how women's bodies are viewed in our culture. This is sort of a hot spot for me. I've written about it and spoken publicly many times, regarding my view of this issue. In my opinion, there is just far too much emphasis put on the body, which I know is really the shell for our true being. Women are pressured by the media, by the opposite sex, and by the voice in their own minds - to look a certain way. That 'way' is often objectified: a sex object.

Yet at the same time, as the former Editor of a holistic health publication, I know obesity in our country is at an all time high, posing and creating very serious health risks. So it's important to take care of our bodies and to manage our weight. Particularly in our culture, where fast food (which means salt and sugar) and processed food (which means horrific hidden ingredients), is so abundant.

But I think cultivating a healthy and balanced view of one's body is quite a different topic from cultivating a healthy and balanced diet, although the two are related. In all, to answer your question, I'd like to see women feel less pressured for their bodies to look a certain way, and more motivated to cultivate healthy bodies.

Do you weigh yourself? Why or why not?

Great question! I don't weigh myself. This hails back to something my fitness trainer told me 2 1/2 years ago when he was helping me get into shape. At that time, he advised me to judge my (healthy) weight according to how well my clothes fit me, as well as the size I was able to fit comfortably into. He informed me that during weight loss, we can trade fat weight which is undesirable, for lean muscle mass, which is very desirable. So a woman may weigh 150 pounds and need to work on her body's balance and health - OR - conversely, a woman may weigh 150 pounds and be in great shape.

So no, I do not weigh myself; I know that if I'm wearing a certain size and things look and feel good, I'm doing well in the area of healthy weight management.

How do you like shopping for bathing suits and/or jeans (or any article of clothing)? How do you feel during the experience and after? What do you typically do about the feelings that are brought up?

(laughs) Well, I've had very different experiences, at different times in my life! Shopping for an outfit after I'd just had a baby was not so much fun. Nowadays, I enjoy it. :) I really enjoy fashion, so shopping for clothes has always been a lot of fun for me.

However, because I am a busty girl, I have had challenges in the past. It used to be hard to find clothes that fit me everywhere. Back when I was attending lots of fundraising events and broadcast galas, I found myself in need of evening wear, sometimes gowns. I would have to buy a gown several sizes too large, then have it tailored down, in order for the dress to fit my bust as well as it did the rest of me. It was frustrating.

I've had the same experience at a well known lingerie store, as it only carries pretty, fashionable bras such as the ones in their advertisements, up to a certain cup size. The larger cup sizes they do carry are very limited and not at all pretty. I find this to be a form of discrimination. Particularly because my cup size is not outrageous at all! Due to professionalism and legalities, I'll decline to name the store, but I will mention this same store asked a new mother, who'd gone into a fitting room to try on some garments and then lingered to nurse her new baby, to leave the store - and that incident made national news. I now shop at a privately owned boutique for all my lingerie. My lingerie looks great, I delight in browsing their posh shop, and they serve wine to their customers. Who can top that?!

(Blisschick here: Have to interrupt a second and say WOW! How ignorant about the nursing mother and DOUBLE WOW to a privately owned boutique where they serve wine!? I want one of those!!!)

What unattainable/unrealistic Rules do you have for your body? (For example, some women believe that only a certain size is acceptable or that certain foods are “bad.”)

I know what you mean. I once knew a woman (this is going back many years) who related that she refused to buy a pair of jeans above a size three. I don't recall what I actually responded, but I do recall what I thought - I remember thinking I'd just learned how utterly insecure and delicate she was. I couldn't imagine not giving myself permission to be human, or putting that kind of horrific pressure on myself! To me, realizing that our bodies change as we go through cycles, age, or transition from one stage of life to the next, is a sign of maturity and self acceptance.

I do not have any rules for my body such as the one I mentioned above; my only rule is that I feed my body good food it can interpret as fuel or medicine. I make sure the food is delicious in order to delight the taste buds - we are intended to enjoy food, after all, otherwise it would taste like sand! :)

Because I have always been very passionate about holistic health and as my spirituality is key in my life, honoring my body with healthy, medicinal food that is also delicious, makes me happy. :)

When have you felt best about your body? or When do you currently feel best about your body?

I felt fantastic the summer I worked with my fitness trainer! He really pushed me, but in a good way, to give my body what it needed to be toned, fit, and strong. The mind-spirit connection was wonderful, during that time. It was also great that my kids got into the routine of yogurt and berries with granola for breakfast and salad for dinner a few nights a week, too!

For me, because I'm petite (5'1") but big busted, I look and feel best as a size 6. I'm there, now. :)

What kind of movement does your body crave or do you not notice this craving?

I am a cardio girl! I adore cardio, much to the surprise of many. I can get my cardio from good, smart walking, or I can hit an elliptical. I also adore aerobic exercise. I also like circuit training, for what it does. Left to my own devices, I'd never weight-train at all (circuit or otherwise), but I learned how important this is for health.

For spiritual exercise, I practice a combination of Hatha-Vinyasa yoga at least twice a week. I have also practiced Tai Chi, and as I write this, I realize I'd love to get back to it. :)

What story would your body like to tell if you were able to listen?

What a beautiful final question. I have been there, Christine. My body has communicated with me under very desperate circumstances - and I've had to listen.

When I was Editor in Chief of Nature's Wisdom Magazine, I was running the magazine (which was a tri-city print publication with a full staff), communicating three times a week to film our holistic health television show in studio for PBS, and I was running The Natural Food Cupboard as well as planning all magazine-related events, of which there were many, frequently. In time, that break-neck pace manifested as high blood pressure - in the stroke zone. I had to slow down, stop some things entirely, and make my health my priority.

It was an incredible learning experience, a powerful wake up call, and an awe-inspiring testament to the power we have to heal ourselves, with the help of good, natural things, of course. *winks*

Thanks for having me, Christine! This has been a most sublime pleasure.

I love Jo Lynne's emphasis on eating food that tastes good and is good fuel for her body. As I dance and workout more every day, I find this is the key to not succumbing to old habits of disordered eating.

Feeling great is my primary motivation now. The fact that new clothes are being purchased that look great is a total side effect.

What's most important is that I remain strong and injury free so that I may continue to dance for the rest of my life.

Thanks for sharing your bright and sparkling wisdom, Jo Lynne!

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

The Holy Dance of Holy Week

I am feeling rather quiet this week. Contemplative. Which seems just about right since it's Holy Week on the Christian calendar and Passover on the Jewish calendar.

This year, for me, there is an added layer of confusion to the contemplative.

I've written about this a bit before, and at the end of that piece, I say that lent is about to start and what a great time to think all of this through, and yet...

I'm more confused now than ever. I've discussed some of this with some really helpful people and come to some understanding but no conclusions. And this Chick loves her conclusions. She likes things Neat and Tidy. She likes things to be Decided. She is uncomfortable with too much gray in her life.

Here is what she does understand:

She feels split in two. There is the part of her that is totally smitten with her new life in Dance. This part of her is In Love. Completely moonstruck. Then there is this other part of her that worries that she is Missing Something by focusing. This part permeates much of her life -- from radio channel surfing to wanting whatever Marcy ordered for dinner if it is different from what the Chick ordered.

Okay...enough of the Third Person Royal speak.

I fear missing out. I have spent much of my life being a snorkeler, because I fear that in diving deep I will miss out on a pretty fish.

But diving deep, it turns out, is really my true nature. It feels Right and Good and it comes easier than I would have ever expected. (Marcy would tell you that she has known for-EVER that I am a very single minded animal, but I did not know this...)

So I am diving deep into the ocean of Dance, and that part of me that thought I loved snorkeling above all else is totally panicking.

I enter Holy Week and worry that I am not following the "Right" path. I worry that I am meant to be doing some other thing , that I am meant to be another Dorothy Day or...well, something else.

I know better than that.

I know many things, actually, and it took writing this to figure these things out. They are sprinkled all over a couple of important conversations, and here I will bring them together:

I know, for one, that Dancer is who I was born to be.

I know, for two, that finding who we were born to be is the primary path for most, if not all, of us. We are born to be something, life happens, and then we have to find our way back. It's our hero's journey.

I know, for three, that my idea of God is bigger than any container, though I love some certain containers and think they are representative of some Amazing human thinking and creativity.

But I know, for four, that my most amazing thinking and creating is going to happen in Dance.

I know that when I dance, I fulfill myself. When I dance, I turn my life into the Holy of Holies, into a Eucharist, into an Offering, into a Prayer.

Every time depression attempts to re-enter my life and defeat me like the demon it is, I dance and I rise from those ashes.

Every time I dance rather than succumb, I am saying "thank you."

When I dance, I co-create. When I dance, I am free. When I dance, I am Full of Grace.

If that is not the point of the Lenten journey, I don't know what is.

I'm sure -- I know for certain -- that I will feel confused again. But then, Easter comes every year, and before that, we are given plenty of time in the desert.

(If you're needing a little inspiration and an angel blessing, go read this at Abbey of the Arts.)

Monday, March 29, 2010

Embodiment This Week: Ending March 28th

I love dark beer. Yum. A meal in a glass, we like to say, but I'm learning that that particular meal can be a little too much -- or a little too little.

This past week held a lot of lessons for me about food and nutrition and rest.

I've been so busy with dance classes -- teaching and taking -- that I barely did my own workouts. I only did one morning of ballet. I usually do five. I did not lift weights once. I usually do that about three times a week.

Toward the end of the week, as I tried to incorporate more of my usual levels of activity, it hit me that teaching was kicking my butt. I heard myself thinking, "I'm getting old...this is harder than it would have been ten years ago (insert whiny voice)."


Luckily, there is a part of my brain that is smarter than WhinyChick.

I thought back to the way I had been eating -- or not eating.

We'd been so busy with activities (and lots of socializing) that we weren't fitting in home cooked meals. Let's get real -- we weren't fitting in meals at all. We were eating a lot of appetizer and snack type food.

And drinking a little too much beer for this Chick. Be clear -- "too much beer" for me is anything near a whole one or a bit over. I am a total light weight, which makes me a delightfully cheap date as Marcy would point out.

This socializing also meant we were going to bed way too late. Drinking alcohol close to bed time means interrupted sleep patterns.

It turns out I'm not getting too old for this dancing thing at all (DUH!), but it also turns out that I need proper nutrition and lots of rest (DOUBLE GIANT DUH!).

It's a learning process...

Now more than ever before in my life, what I put in this body impacts my day to day productivity. It was a lot easier to be a little sleepy and a little undernourished when I used to sit at a keyboard all day, but hitting the mat and the dance floor means being fully energized and ready to Go!

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Wild Woman of Dance: Sylvie Guillem

She is three years older than me. She's been dancing since was very young, but she never stopped. She is breath-taking and edge-making.

"To doubt, to take risks...creates a moment of find real emotion...if you think too much, all the instinct...all yourself...hides behind the steps..."

Yes. She says a lot of really important stuff in this short video and it doesn't just apply to dance but to all of life.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Dance, Chicks!

Turn it up loud. (The beginning is just silly. The song starts within the first minute.)


Right now!

Wherever you are!

Dance with the rest of the world at 3 PM New York City Time!

Treat Yourself Like Someone You Love

(Driftwood at the peninsula.)

An excerpt from near the end of Locker Room Diaries: The Naked Truth About Women, Body Image, and Re-Imagining the "Perfect" Body by Leslie Goldman, in which the author has asked elder women about their bodies. This particular section is from Linda, age 63, an author and psychotherapist:

I remember a friend said to me, "You never had good mothering. Now it's time to mother yourself." So every morning, I say things to myself like, "What do you need today?"

I also use other methods to nurture my body, such as restorative yoga, resting my neck every day, and traveling to exotic places with my husband, where we snorkel. I stay hydrated. I pray. I treat my body as I would treat someone I love very much. These acts have brought me to radiant and resilient health -- so much so that I have gone from crippling joint pain to being pain free, without medication.

A lot of women carry shame about how we look. Many of us are undergoing surgery, even at a very young age. One of my tips is to massage every part of the body with scented oil and a brush. As I do this, I thank each part of my body...It's very affirming and gets rid of so much negativity about our body image.

What do you need today?

Can you imagine asking yourself that every day? Perhaps we could all try to do this each morning for just a week and see how it changes our lives.

For more inspiration along these lines, go listen to this podcast with Kimberly Wilson, in which she interviews Diane Cesa about Doses of Pleasure.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Dance Anywhere: A Double Dog Sort of Dare

(Photo from last fall. I'm attempting to get more comfortable with this whole exposing of one's self...)

I just learned about his amazing yearly event, and so I will have to wait until next year to plan anything that resembles grand. But for now, it's enough to spread the word.

This Friday, March 26th, is Dance Anywhere Day. At 3 PM New York time or 8 PM Paris time, you and some friends or coworkers are asked to stop what you're doing and just dance.

Here's a video from a hair salon in San Francisco. There's no sound, but it's not needed. You can see the giggling. How amazing would our days be if we all stopped and did this for five minutes?

And because they say it so well on their site, here's what it's all about:

dance anywhere® brings everyone's attention to their immediate environment and brings awareness to the change that dance and art brings as it converges with their day.

dance anywhere® is about shifting assumptions and heightened awareness, and generating dance anywhere and everywhere simultaneously.

The concept for dance anywhere® blurs the line that separates art and dance from our daily lives. This is art that does not need to be on a stage.

dance anywhere® is about the transformation of familiar and ordinary locations.

This is a conceptual dance created by Beth Fein.

Join in!

And if you're really daring, make a movie or take a picture and post it on your blog. Make sure to come back here and let us all know you've taken the leap!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

EmBody Talk: Rachel Hawes, Yoga Teacher & Chronic Pain Sufferer

Rachel and I share some things in common: some degrees in Literature, a love of yoga and movement, a curved spine, a love of Paris and cats, chronic pain, and, I think, a very determined spirit.

It was the pain, though, that initially brought us together. People who don't suffer from chronic pain are odd to me. Like I always assume that if you don't wear glasses you must have contacts in! I never think that maybe you have great eyesight.

For example, when my partner can garden all day long and feel great the next day, for me, that feels like I am witnessing some sort of miracle.

Rachel and I are Chronic Pain sufferers, yes, but we are also the sort who Do It Anyway. Now, I am not saying we are "better" than people who sit on their heating pads. Oh, no! Actually, I think Rachel and I could use more of that, because we can tend to push too hard and too far.

For all of us who suffer from pain, it's about balance -- learning to push when we can and be kind when we can't.

Rachel has learned a lot about her kind of balance from yoga. You can find her blog here.

What is the first story that comes to mind when you are asked how you feel about your body?

I’ve always been in a lot of pain, you know? My physical body has pained me. And I’ve always been clumsy and somewhat uncoordinated. I have a really vivid memory of spending an entire weekend practicing backwards somersaults, because I didn’t want to be the laughing stock in gym class on Monday morning (I never really did master them!). I have terrible hand eye co-ordination too so I could never play tennis or badminton. All sports and gym classes always seemed a huge effort because of this and because of the pain, but I never really told anyone. It was a long time before I realised that it’s not normal to be in pain all the time!

My gym teacher despaired of me really. I’m not sure what she would think if she knew I was a qualified yoga instructor now!

It wasn’t until a few years ago (I’m 35 now) that I was diagnosed (thanks to a wonderful chiropractor and a series of equally wonderful yoga teachers) with a congenital C-shaped scoliosis and fibromyalgia. There isn’t a whole heap that can be done for either now, but I try my best to stay positive and keep going in spite of the pain – after all what other option is there!!

I guess I should have been diagnosed when I was much much younger. My mother is furious with our old family doctor, but I say, what’s the point in being angry? What’s done is done. And I have been told by several professional bodyworkers that my long term yoga practice (I have been doing yoga since I was very young) has helped me more than I can imagine. So really I’m just grateful for what I have!

Do you weigh yourself? Why or why not?

No. I don’t need to. If my clothes still fit fine then I’m doing OK! Besides I’ve got rocks in my feet or something because I weigh quite a bit more than I look like I weigh – which just goes to show they are only numbers!

How do you like shopping for bathing suits and/or jeans (or any article of clothing)? How do you feel during the experience and after? What do you typically do about the feelings that are brought up?

It’s so sad that, as women, we are so rarely completely happy with our bodies. I have been a UK size 8/10 most of my adult life (I think this is a US 4/6 but I’m not sure), but believe me, that brings with it its own issues. I have no hips and no boobs and always feel that clothes never hang right on me because of this. Over the last few years, I have developed a style of dressing that I think flatters what I have, and I have learned to work with what I’ve got rather than with the fickle world of seasonal fashion.

I also have a condition known as “funnel chest” that I was born with and is, in part, responsible for the scoliosis. The top of my breastbone protrudes and, being naturally flat chested anyway, has always prevented me (in my mind at least) from wearing any top remotely low cut. I still were tank tops over bikinis I’m afraid.

I always try to remember that there are many women who would love to be my dress size and I try not to covet hips and boobs too much (but curvy girls, you are sooo beautiful, I want you all to know that!).

What unattainable/unrealistic Rules do you have for your body? (For example, some women believe that only a certain size is acceptable or that certain foods are “bad.”)

I used to desperately want to perform yoga asana (postures) that were really not right for my body. I would push and push myself and have ended up injuring myself on more than one occasion. Luckily I found the yoga of Sri TKV Desikachar which works on the theory that each of our bodies is completely unique and therefore the way we practice should be too. I have found this yoga to be incredibly healing (as well as pretty hard work!), and I draw on it a lot in my teaching as well.

When have you felt best about your body? or When do you currently feel best about your body?

I have to say, that after many years of hard work both physically and emotionally, I do feel pretty good about my body (outside of a changing room mirror – I prefer to bring clothes home to try on, at least I have good lighting in my house!). I’m still in pain a lot of the time and some days the pain in my spine can drive me to distraction, but I always remember how I feel on my yoga mat because practicing yoga is definitely where I feel best about my body now I have accepted my own strengths and limitations. I work hard on carrying that feeling with me off the mat as well.

What kind of movement does your body crave or do you not notice this craving?

Yoga asana practice, without a shadow of doubt. I practice for between 30-75 minutes 5 times a week and my body certainly likes to let me know if I don’t keep this up. It’s not just about my physical body (although a few yoga stretches throughout the day when I’m stuck at my desk certainly make a huge difference), but my emotional attitude towards my body. Being on my mat puts everything into perspective.

What story would your body like to tell if you were able to listen?

I think my body is pretty proud of herself to be honest. I think she has overcome a lot of hurdles to get to the place she is today. I suppose my only wish is that I listened to my body telling me how well both she and I have done more often. Because even now, when I’m having a bad day or a fibromyalgia flare up or things just aren’t going right, even now with all this yoga training, with all my exercises in mindfulness, I still can be known to curse my amazing body. Meanwhile my body is yelling at me to listen!!!

Yes, even now, Rachel. I feel the same way, but I try to remember that pain -- bad, chronic pain -- changes who we are. It alters us. How can it not?

When I am able to remember that and be mindful of it, it soothes my Pain Beast just enough that I can notice that the real problem is that I am angry at the pain and not taking care of myself. As if I could punish the pain enough that it would go away!

Oh, the twisted patterns that our minds can make!

Our bodies are often yelling, as Rachel says. What about your body? Has it been yelling and you've not been listening?

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Bloated & Uncomfortable: Having Too Many Ideas and Not Knowing What's Next

(Lilly in the window. All that snow outside is now gone.)

The other day I wrote about feeling weird. Weird was the best word I could come up. (Yep, an undergraduate and graduate degree in English and look at my giant vocabulary! Sometimes my dexterity with language impresses even me...ha.)

I have experienced an immense amount of (good) change in the past nine months, and now I am feeling off balance, like I have not completely adjusted to that change. Yet a couple of other things are going on here, and Heather Plett hit the nail on the head in the comments when she compared it to that momentary let-down feeling that can happen after a literal birthing.

First, I am off balance. It's going to take time to adjust to this Me that I am right now. She is radically new. She is happy. And that is weird, frankly.

Second, I am in that speck of let-down stage that happens after any birth. I have created this new life for myself what?

Third, and here's the biggie, there is more birth around the corner. I can feel it, and because I've gone back to my dance/dreams journaling, I see it now in pen and ink.

I am Pregnant with Ideas.

I have ideas for classes, ideas for workshops, ideas for books, ideas for choreography, ideas for playlists, ideas for marketing, ideas for this blog.

I am Bloated, for goodness sake! I am in danger of Popping! (As we would say about the Mini Cat, Toby, after he eats a big bowl of meat.)

I have somehow created a metaphor here that I do not know how to get out of. I could say something about gas or relief or even enemas, but I won't.

How about patience? Yes. Patience is the antidote to all this weird. And patience is not something I ever got any kind of degree in...

Monday, March 22, 2010

Holding Ourselves Accountable to Our Dreams

When I was in yogadance training, I was really, super good about writing in my movement journal every day. It was part of our in-between-training-weeks homework, and I felt obligated to those sheets of paper from our teacher, Megha.

In order to try to replicate that feeling of obligation, I created my own "homework" sheet that hangs on the refrigerator, but like most reminder notes, I rarely "see" it any more. It's just part of the refrigerator door landscape now.

But this journal writing thing was important. I've always journaled but not in this particular, focused way. This movement journal, this Dancer Journal, kept me accountable to my dream. Every day, I tracked the steps I was taking on my path. I reminded myself what was important. I recorded quotes. I brainstormed ideas. I worked through rough spots.

"The secret to life," said sculptor Henry Moore to poet Donald Hall, "is to have a task, something you devote your entire life to, something you bring everything to, every minute of the day for your whole life. And the most important thing is -- it must be something you cannot possibly do." (Found via Gala Darling)

My Dancer Journal was part of helping me to live and breathe dance every minute of every day; it helped me bring everything to dance, as Henry Moore says we must.

Before you start with the whole "but there isn't one thing...I love so many things..." let me also share that I just listened to this phone call about finding our internal essence and then finding the path we are to walk externally.

It taught me that my essence is Expression. I am fully myself when I am expressing myself through dance but also through writing in a variety of genres and chanting and teaching. So, see? It's not the picking of one definitive thing (though I think there is much merit to that in terms of becoming excellent), but rather, it's more about understanding what you must do all the time to be You. I must Express.

This thing is also not necessarily what you are doing or will do to pay the bills. It's your obsession, though, the thing you can't stop thinking about, the thing you are willing to do anything for.

I love the part about it being something impossible. This seems true to me. It is about daring yourself to be the biggest and most courageous version of you that you can be.

As the White Queen says to Alice, "Why, sometimes I've believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast."

I am 41. I dance. I will dance more. I have choreography in my head, performances to create, people to teach. The world would tell me, "that's impossible -- you're too old."

But I'm going to side with Henry Moore and The White Queen, and I'm going to remind myself every day in my journal that I am accountable to this dream that has been planted in my heart by the mysterious and beautiful power of the Universe.

What dream holds you accountable? What dream keeps knocking at the door to your heart?

(NOTE: Again, if you can't see the comments, simply click on the title of this post. You will then have access. I apologize for any inconvenience; I am awaiting a response from blogger.)

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Embodiment This Week: In Full Possession

I got an email from one of fellow yogadance trainees the other day in response to an email I had written about my recent, amazing, life-changing experiences with teaching, guiding, playing with all these wonderful women in yogadance classes.

She said some really kind things. I'm not great at taking in such kind things...

But when I wrote her back, I found myself typing this sentence: "I feel like I am in total possession of my True Self."


Thank you, Life & Universe & Music & Dance & Teachers & Students & Marcy & Animals & Lake. Thank you for letting me get to this place. Thank you for all the determination in the days of pain. Thank you for all the little lights that guided me out of the dark. Thank you for the ink that flowed from all the pens and left all those words on all that paper.

Thank you, Chick, for being brave enough to stand up and dance to that song. Thank you, Heart, for opening up and flowering. Thank you, Body, for this Path you have shown me.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Dance Break Bliss!

This song is on my current teaching playlist, and no matter how many times I hear it, it gets me.

Turn it way up and see if you can stop yourself from moving!

(NOTE: Again, if you can't see the comments, simply click on the title of this post. You will then have access. I apologize for any inconvenience; I am awaiting a response from Blogger.)

Friday, March 19, 2010

People with Soul

"Often people with a lot of technique have nothing going on inside...everybody has a soul. When you see people who bare their soul, who are on the verge of being totally ridiculous, you're right there with them."

--Wilhelm Burmann, Ballet Master, Dance Magazine, November 2008

(NOTE: Again, if you can't see the comments, simply click on the title of this post. You will then have access. I apologize for any inconvenience; I am awaiting a response from Blogger.)

Thursday, March 18, 2010

My First Spring: A Story of Transformation in 9 Months

(Cropped version of a photo from May 2009)

When I took this photo last year, I was months away from attending our friend's wedding where I would dance for a few minutes and change my life in the process.

When I took this photo, I was a different person. I thought I was happy enough. I thought I was over depression and anxiety enough. I thought I was stimulated and challenged enough.

But I wasn't. I had no idea how much more was waiting for me just around the corner.

It's nearing nine months since everything changed and I am feeling...weird. There's no other way to describe it: weird.

Nine months. How appropriate. I didn't notice that until writing it.

There was one point during the first week of our yogadance teacher training in October when I said to the whole group after an intense exercise: "I have been changed on a molecular level. Instantly."

Everyone giggled. I mean, who wouldn't? My words were fierce. Powerful. Daunting. Full of fire and sincere passion.

And true. I felt it. I felt everything in me shift in a moment.

Nine months of big change, like I said, and now I am having what I can only call "vertigo." I feel off or... is it that I have a new center and must acclimate like an astronaut doing a space walk?

The other night I was reading Anthony DeMello before bed, and he was writing about "real" change and how it is transformative. In the moment that it happens, you are forever different. And it's not because you've done something or helped yourself but because you suddenly SEE everything differently. And SNAP! You forever see everything in this new way.

He says this only happens when you are ready and not many people are. People don't want to see new things; they are used to the old.

That moment in my training? I'd been working toward it for my whole life, I think.

Of course, I feel weird, (and thanks for listening because this is helping me -- just to write it out), of course, Everything is new. Everything is the first time.

I have never seen Spring like I am seeing it right now and the beauty of it makes me want to weep...and dance.

(NOTE: Again, if you can't see the comments, simply click on the title of this post. You will then have access. I apologize for any inconvenience; I am working to remedy this (WEIRD and most ANNOYING) issue.)

Numbers as Weapons

(Crocus in a front bed.)

I think most of us would agree that judging yourself by the amount of money you make is not just silly but rather unenlightened. If you are feeding yourself and your family, if you are sheltering your loved ones, if you are clothed, if you can generally pay your bills and have a wee bit of fun, we would say, I think, that this is just a number.

I think most of us would agree that judging yourself by your age is also in the category of "unenlightened." Again, it's just a number.

There are other numbers that we would say are a waste of our time: your height, the repetitions of sun salutations that you are capable of, the grade you got in elementary school on that math test, how much someone you love weighs, how much you weigh...oh, wait.

That one right there.

How much you weigh.

Yeah, it totally matters. I mean, how can you possibly think you have any self worth unless you weigh the "right amount?" Really.

Forget that you are beautiful by virtue of simply being a human being, a miracle of existence. Forget that. That's just crap compared to what the scale said to you last night or this morning or perhaps after you used the bathroom the last time.

Forget all the stuff that your body does for you everyday. Forget how your arms wrap tightly around those whom you love. Forget that your eyes see the sun rise and set and that they take in the daily beauty that is the coming spring. Forget that your legs walk you toward home. That your spine stands you upright when you hear your name called.

Forget all of that, because it's crap, I tell you, just crap compared to the number on the scale.

Okay. Enough. You get it, right? You get why you need to throw away that contraption. That Device of Self Torture that you willingly put in your house, step onto at the gym, step onto when told to at the doctor. (Yes, there are people who refuse the doctor this one number.)

What are you trying to tell yourself with this number? How healthy you are? Because guess what? There's a thing called Skinny Fat. It's a phrase about people who are thin but can't do a set of stairs. They are unhealthy on the inside.

And the inside is what you should care about.

Can you run up and down the steps and not get winded to the point that you have to sit down?

Are you physically active every single day?

Do you enjoy being inside this body?

There's the real question: Do you enjoy being inside this body?

No number is going to give you that. That comes from the inside.

Why have we intelligent women granted authority to this evil hunk of metal, not only over our bodies but over our minds? Only a good night's sleep, early-morning sex, or a nice vanilla latte should be allowed to wield so much influence over how we start our day.

--Leslie Goldman, Locker Room Diaries: The Naked Truth about Women, Body Image, and Re-imagining the "Perfect" Body

(NOTE: Again, if you can't see the comments, simply click on the title of this post. You will then have access. I apologize for any inconvenience; I am working to remedy this (WEIRD and most ANNOYING) issue.)

Special Offer from Magpie Girl

I am betting that a lot of you who regularly hang out here at Blisschick also hang out over at Magpie Girl and already know about her amazing online soulcare community, Flock. She has a special offer for a few of you who act fast. ( And as usual, I am in no way being compensated when I recommend something to you! If I were, I would tell you!)

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Welcome Home!

*This offer available only to those who have not already received a discounted or free trial membership. Honor system, pretty please.

(NOTE: Again, if you can't see the comments, simply click on the title of this post. You will then have access. I apologize for any inconvenience; I am working to remedy this (WEIRD and most ANNOYING) issue.)

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Embody Talk: Jan Lundy, Wise Woman

Jan Lundy, of Awakened Living and Awake is Good, is one of those women with whom you immediately feel comfortable. There is a peace that surrounds her and her writing. Immediately upon reading Jan, you will know you have happened upon an authentic soul who has "done the work," as I like to say.

She has come to a place of rational wisdom in her life, and we are fortunate that she shares so generously with us. I have been the recipient of her generosity in many ways beyond her blogs and feel grateful whenever I see her name in my Inbox.

What is the first story that comes to mind when you are asked how you feel about your body?

Wonder and appreciation.

For many years now, I've embraced the notion that my body is sacred in that it provides me with a pathway to the Divine. There is no other way for me to experience the Divine (God) except through this human body. Through my senses, eyes, hands, breasts, womb, feet, heart, brain, and more. Each of these allows me to perceive, feel, and understand the Holy in all of life. (I write about this in my book, Your Truest Self—how our body can be a gateway into wholeness / "holiness.")

I did not always feel this way. For most of my life, I was aware that I had been given a wonderful body but I did not appreciate it, nor take very good care of it. I struggled with it due to health issues caused by stress. I held unrealistic and unkind expectations of it. Not until I pretty much lost my health in 1994 did I create a new and more conscious relationship with my body.

Do you weigh yourself? Why or why not?

Once in a while. I can usually tell if I am off balance with consumption or lack of exercise by how my clothing fits. I have a "set weight" that I feel comfortable at and my body sure tells me when I'm not there any more. For many years, I was enslaved to a scale. I was a model in my teens, then again in my thirties, and the pressure to be thin was extreme. I no longer buy into that notion and don't count calories or measure inches. I trust my body's wisdom to tell me what I need to give it to be well and healthy.

How do you like shopping for bathing suits and/or jeans (or any article of clothing)?

Honestly, I don't shop much. I am now 56 and my body has definitely shifted and changed. I am into "comfort clothing" that feels good on my body. Tight jeans are a pain in the belly! (Ha!) I've also simplified my lifestyle so my consumer consumption has been minimized. I don't "shop" like I used to. I used to be a "clothes hound" in my younger years, but now I have a few good outfits for each of the various roles I play and that is enough.

How do you feel during the experience and after? What do you typically do about the feelings that are brought up?

If I do have to shop for a swimsuit, I try to be gentle with myself. If I hear a critical, judgmental voice, I shush it and hold myself in compassion. I wear a comfortable swim suit at the beach, one more suitable to my age and body shape. I am no longer too worried about trying to look a certain way anymore. I am definitely more comfortable in my skin. I am enough.

What unattainable/unrealistic Rules do you have for your body? (For example, some women believe that only a certain size is acceptable or that certain foods are “bad.”)

I don't, at least I don't think I do. I accept and like my mid-life body. Without extreme effort on my part (at this point in time, anyway), it is not going to look like it did twenty years ago . It is a mid-life body. It has seen five pregnancies, numerous injuries, and health challenges.

I do like being a size 10. It seems that that is my "set size" and has been for many years now. If I go beyond that, my body feels very uncomfortable and sluggish. If I drop down to an 8, it's usually a sign that my body is stressed and unhealthy.

I am a vegetarian, eat organic as much as I can, and don't eat processed food or out in restaurants very often. I eat sensibly and do not really deny myself anything. I do try to watch my consumption of sugar as my body doesn't metabolize it like it used to. (Makes me feel weird.) I don't consume alcohol either. My eating habits are pretty mindful, which supports my mindful lifestyle. Conscious eating works for me. I go with foods that make my body feel good and avoid those that don't. I do not believe in diets. Eating for health and longevity is for me.

When have you felt best about your body? or When do you currently feel best about your body?

I've felt best when I was exercising regularly. Exercise has always been a bit of a struggle for me. I start and stop a lot. When I was doing yoga especially (on and off for 35 years now!) I felt great. A closed head injury a few years ago prohibits me from doing rapid movement now or inverted positions, so finding forms of exercise that keep my body fit has been challenging. I have just recommitted to a daily walking practice and I am loving it! Feeling stronger and more fit every day. (Recently, I wrote about this recommitment on my blog.)

Also self-nurturing is very important to me. (That's what I wrote my first book, Coming Home to Ourselves, on—self-care.) I need good, regular sleep, and plenty of self-nurturing. Solitude, nature, long baths...various things that send my body messages of care through relaxation. My body responds in kind.

What kind of movement does your body crave or do you not notice this craving?

Right now, it's eager to swim! Just waiting for the weather to warm up here in FL so I can begin daily swims in the pool. I love the feeling of being in water. I think my body also might like to get back into weight training.

What story would your body like to tell if you were able to listen?

"Thanks, Jan, for paying more attention to me. I'm glad you've recommitted to taking good care of me. I'll serve you well, I promise."

Christine, thank you for posing these thought-provoking questions. It felt very healing and integrating for me to answer them publicly. May we all continue to embrace ourselves tenderly as we make peace with and learn to like (even love!) these divine bodies of ours!

Like Jan, I believe that our bodies are gateways to the divine and should be treated as such. No more desire for any kind of transcendence for this Chick! I want to sink deeper and deeper into the mud of my physical self and see what sorts of seeds are sprouting there.

How about you? Do you tend to separate your physical life from your spiritual?

(NOTE: Again, if you can't see the comments, simply click on the title of this post. You will then have access. I apologize for any inconvenience; I am working to remedy this (WEIRD and most ANNOYING) issue.)

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

40 Days of Delight: Are You Ready for Spring?

(Frozen Lake Erie off one of our beaches.)

At the beginning of Lent, I proposed a different way of approaching this season, and I proposed, in that post, a different sort of Lenten challenge. I asked you, well, dared you to get back into your body and challenge yourself to live through this beautiful and often neglected sensual vehicle.

How has this gone for you? Have you learned anything? Have you done anything unexpected?

A reader of this blog, then, upped the ante by asking us to create lists of 40 dee-lights that we could fall back on when we were feeling unimaginative in our challenges.

Looking over my own list, I realize that I have a ways to go, but that I've also made some strides, very much like the earth right now, I guess. She is awakening but still quite sleepy.

Lake Erie, though frozen in the above photo, is starting to melt. Cracks are forming; water is seeping to the surface.

In front of our house, the crocuses are up and early narcissus and tulips are not far behind.

Birds are singing songs of spring.

This is the 40 days of lent -- a time of thawing that leads to new life.

Are you ready for your own, personal spring? Are you ready to shed the hibernation of winter?

(NOTE: Again, if you can't see the comments, simply click on the title of this post. You will then have access. I apologize for any inconvenience; I am working to remedy this (WEIRD and most ANNOYING) issue.)

Monday, March 15, 2010

Eating to Live, Eating to Dance

(Toby and Lilly are truly best friends -- sharing a stool!)

Part of learning to teach YogaDance is learning to eat well enough to have the energy to teach YogaDance. This is an unexpected but welcome lesson for this FoodIssueChick.

I've written about how and when my warped relationship with food began and how far I have come. Then recently, I was asked on my formspring page if I consider myself fully recovered and how I am keeping dancing a "disorder free zone."

The dance world is, of course, notorious for creating a mindset of "never perfect enough," and when you add that to the larger culture's attitudes about women's bodies, well, it can be hard to avoid eating and body image issues when you are doing a lot of your work in front of a mirror.

Am I fully recovered? What a powerful question.

If we are to define "recovered" as being in a state of never contemplating food in a negative and self-destructive way, then most definitely not. I would love to meet any woman who never ever thinks of food in these ways.

On the other hand, if we are to define "recovered" as "Aware," then most definitely Yes.

Yes. I am recovered. I notice very quickly, almost in the moment, when I am denying myself food for all the wrong reasons. I notice very quickly when I am falling back into old patterns. This happens not only on the level of the mind, but now that I am more fully embodied, my body sends messages, which I hear loud and clear and which I respect.

This is new to me -- the girl who would go all day without peeing and not notice until she was in severe pain. This body used to feel like a burden. All of its needs were offensive to me in one way or another.

Now if I don't eat correctly, my body tells me as I struggle to dance for more than 30 minutes with any grace and balance and strength. If I don't eat correctly, I tire easily and I feel my muscles weaken too quickly. If I didn't eat correctly, there would be no way I could make it through teaching a high energy class for an hour, all the while talking and trying to inspire and keeping an eye on my students' needs.

I love to dance. When I am dancing, all is clear. I know who I am.

I will not endanger that by not taking care of myself.

Dancing is too important for it not to be a "disorder free zone."

I guess that leads to the larger answer, doesn't it? Now that I am doing what I was born to do, I am no longer hiding from life. Now that I am no longer hiding from life, I am open to all the majestic adventure it may have in store for me. Now that I am open to this living thing, I am happy. And, so...

I am happy, therefore I eat.

(NOTE: Again, if you can't see the comments, simply click on the title of this post. You will then have access. I apologize for any inconvenience; I am working to remedy this (WEIRD and most ANNOYING) issue.)

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Embodiment This Week: Ending March 14th

That is a picture of the altar end of my friend Julie's Dharma Yoga studio, where I taught an explosively fun and personally transformative yogadance class this past Saturday.

I've been teaching a very tiny class at a local dance studio (and believe that that will keep growing). Teaching small classes takes much more energy. I was starting to think that teaching, perhaps, was not my thing.

Which is fine. I have lots going on. Books to write. More dancing to study.

Then I taught a larger class on Saturday, and wow! I probably got more than I gave. The energy exchange was amazing, and I can't wait to do it again.

As much as I try to be a witness for the people around me as I teach, I felt very witnessed in return. I am thankful for this life, these people, this space...all the love and the beauty and the shiny.

I am thankful. I am ecstatic. I am totally in love with this.

Like I said to Marcy after my first ballroom dance class, "My life is FUN now!"

Who would have thought?...

Saturday, March 13, 2010

The Revolution of Neuroplasticity

In a recent discussion of depression, the usual stuff came up. This is a sensitive area, and as I've said a hundred times, I am nothing if not compassionate about depression, having suffered from it so severely for so long.

But I refuse to believe that we cannot overcome this, just as we can overcome so much in this life. I refuse to believe that we are nothing more than chemical reactions over which we have no control. For me, this is tantamount to saying we are nothing but soul-less machines.

This is not to say that this struggle will not last for a life time, but I believe wholeheartedly, and with a passion these words cannot convey, in the nobility and necessity of that struggle.

I am also not saying that wishing for something makes it so. I have been quite clear about my feelings when it comes to such magical thinking as the watered-down, pseudo philosophy of most people's use of the "secret", for example.

As I said, this is a struggle. For a simple example: you cannot grow muscles by simply thinking about them; you must consistently DO something -- lift weights or work those muscles in some way.

It is the same with our brains. This takes sometimes Herculean effort -- over a long period of time. I am proof of that.

Though I have always approached this from a more spiritual perspective -- believing that as a manifestation of the infinite divine I have infinite potential -- science is catching up. What science is learning has been there all along, in art and poetry and theology. But when science catches up in this very western, product-oriented world, we start to see that change filter down to the masses.

This guy is not the most dynamic speaker, but he introduces the idea of neuroplasticity -- the idea that we are not limited by yesterday's chemical reactions, that we can create our brains anew, that we are more than we have ever thought we were. (And, before you ask, he's not some wacko. This thinking is now permeating all of neuroscience.)

Friday, March 12, 2010

Setting Your Bliss Free

(Me, a grouchy Lilly, a disinterested Toby, and lots of limbs)

If you've still not seen the new banner here on blisschick, click out of the reader or your email and come directly to the site.

There are a couple of things in the new banner I want to talk about.

First, when you get to blisschick, it's much more obvious what this chick's bliss is -- dance.

Yet this is not a "dance blog." It's a blog about following your bliss path, staying true to your essence, and making choices every day that are brave and big and beautiful and bright.

My dance is just an example. You can cross out the word dance and put in whatever it is that calls to you -- photography, baking, accounting. Whatever.

Second, there's a new tag line here: It's never too late to embody your bliss.

Blisschick has always been a lot about stopping the excuses and embracing the life you want. But now, I'm here to tell you that you can do this whenever. There is no expiration date. I'm sure each of you can come up with an example of someone who did something that we would normally consider them too old to do.

There have been plenty of moments when I've wondered what the heck I think I'm doing -- dancing at 40!?!? Haven't I already missed my chance?

The answer, I've decided, is no. I've come back to dance at this age, after all my experiences, for a reason, and I may not know what that is right at this moment, but if I am brave and make the choices and stay committed, each day on this path, I will come closer to knowing.

And that is enough to propel me forward.

What bliss are you holding inside? When will you decide to set it free? When will you choose to be brave?

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Dance is Magic

(Driftwood on our beach this past weekend.)

Megan from Limitless Living sent me this fabulous quote from the man who was Joseph Cambell's main inspiration in his years as a developing mythologist. That seems full circle to me, considering the first post on this blog was about how inspired I have been by Campbell, whose wife was a pioneer in modern dance, by the way.

Zimmer was one of the first Westerners to really dive into and write about the mythology, ritual, and philosophies of the East, India in particular.

"Dancing is an ancient form of magic. The dancer becomes amplified into being endowed with supernatural powers. His/her personality is transformed... dance induces trance, ecstasy, the experience of the divine, the realization of one's own secret nature, and, finally, emergence into the divine essence... The dance is an act of creation. It brings about a new situation and summons into the dancer a new and higher personality. It has a cosmogonic function, in that it arouses dormant energies which then may shape the world."

-Heinrich Zimmer, Myths and Symbols in Indian Art and Civilization

(NOTE: Again, if you can't see the comments, simply click on the title of this post. You will then have access. I apologize for any inconvenience; I am working to remedy this (WEIRD and most ANNOYING) issue.)

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

A New Look for a New Attitude

(If you're reading in a reader or email, you're missing the new look part of this post! Go directly to the blog to see what's happening.)

This blog and I have come a long way in almost two years.

What started as an experiment in blissful living, including posts about the environment and our car free lifestyle, has evolved, as have I. I can give a lot of credit for my defeat of chronic, life-numbing, sometimes precariously-close-to-death depression to this blog.

I did things I would not have done, and I'm a bit embarrassed to admit, it was all for the blog. I did things to get photos and content. For the blog.

It turned out that doing for the blog was the same as doing for me.

The experiment here is still about blissful living, but now it's for real. You more hiding the truth of where I've come from. There's more glitter than ever, yes, but that's due to the Truth.

This year's experiment theme is Embodiment. As I find my way deeper into my body, I find my way deeper into my spirit. This is exciting to me and I want to share what I find with others. I want to leave behind a trail of breadcrumbs.

And I want people to know that it's never too late.

I agree with a wise woman of Canada that age is unimportant. She doesn't tell her age or ask people theirs. I agree with her so much that I think it's important that you know how old I am so age does not become your excuse ever again.

If I can go back to dancing at the age of 40, you can certainly get out that camera or those paint brushes or that pair of roller skates.

Dancing has brought me back my precious and glittering soul and so I thought it appropriate that the look of Blisschick be altered to reflect that.

Peace, Bliss, and Ageless Grace & Beauty to All of You, Dear Readers!

NOTE: If you can't see the comments at the bottom of this post and want to leave a comment, please click on the title of the post. This will open a new window and allow you comment access. In the meantime, I am trying to figure this out.

EmBody Talk: Mystical Mommy, Lisa Erickson

(For an explanation of this interview series, go here.)

Lisa Erickson writes the awesome and always thorough blog, Mommy Mystic. I love, in particular, some unique thinking and writing she does around the Chakras, the lower three being particularly relevant to this interview series and the issues that arise around our relationship to our body.

What is the first story that comes to mind when you are asked how you feel about your body?

The first one that pops into my mind is not really a positive one, but one about facing vulnerability for me and learning to take care of myself. About 6 weeks after giving birth to my first child, I had a severe gall bladder and pancreatitis attack and had to have emergency gall bladder surgery. Then I had a severe reaction to some antibiotics I was given and had to be readmitted to the hospital (on Christmas Eve!) It took several months for me to get my health back, and the entire time, I was dealing with being a new mother, which for me (like for many women), came as quite a shock to my body and energy all on its own.

Up until that point, I had not been sick in many years, and I had always been able to 'count on' my body. I had danced growing up, and then studied martial arts very seriously, combined with some yoga, and was an avid back-country hiker. I was used to pushing through physical challenges. I had had a pretty smooth pregnancy and birth. So this sudden collapse of my health - I took it very personally in some way. I thought I was doing something wrong. I felt betrayed by my body, and angry with it.

Now I look back on that time, and see it was just part of a larger transition for me, part of learning to adapt to the energetic bonds of motherhood, and a much needed lesson on taking care of myself. I needed to learn how to balance my own needs with those of my family and others in my life. Ironically, I had already been doing chakra meditation for many years, and balance is one of the major themes of working with them, but I had lost sight of that lesson for myself. As someone recently said to me, "We teach what we most need to learn."

Do you weigh yourself? Why or why not?

In general, no. I do have a scale and may pop on it occasionally, but overall I no longer relate to my weight through numbers on a scale. That took some time, though. Since I did study dance quite seriously when I was young, I was pretty obsessed with the scale at one point. And I have balked at times during the last few years as I have seen my body begin to sag and paunch. I have never quite taken off all my baby weight, and I would like to, or at least some of it. But I'm not willing to get into a 'diet' mentality to do it. Like for many people, it just never works for me. So I am trying to focus on health rather than weight, on my body as a wonderful vehicle for so many things I love, rather than on what it looks like.

How do you like shopping for bathing suits and/or jeans (or any article of clothing)? How do you feel during the experience and after? What do you typically do about the feelings that are brought up?

Well, this question really made me think, because I am a lazy dresser and therefore a lazy shopper. I tend to just grab things that have fit before in the same size, rather than actually doing the dressing room thing. I could say I am just unconcerned with my appearance because I have bigger things on my mind, but that is not completely honest. The truth is, I don't really like seeing how I look these days in certain clothes, so I avoid it. This is something I would like to work on. I would like to indulge in some clothes that I truly love, that fit my body now, and completely let go of any lingering comparisons I have to my past body or a media-based image.

What unattainable/unrealistic Rules do you have for your body? (For example, some women believe that only a certain size is acceptable or that certain foods are “bad.”)

I did have unattainable weight and size goals for myself at one point. I think I have finally accepted that I am never going to be the weight or size I was at 25, and that is OK! I have also accepted that I do love sweets, and coffee, and chocolate, and wine, and that banning them entirely from my diet is never going to work for me (all of which I have tried.) So I am focused on balance - filling my diet with lots of healthy foods that I love, but not banning any foods outright.

When have you felt best about your body? or When do you currently feel best about your body?

Three things popped into my mind when I read these questions: dancing, pregnancy and meditation. First off, I love to dance, although these days it is mostly around my house:-) And for the most part, I was fortunate to have good pregnancy experiences - I had my share of annoying symptoms but nothing too uncomfortable. Overall, I was awed by what the female body can do, and pregnancy really changed my relationship with my body in a positive way.

And finally, meditation, especially chakra meditation - this is probably my main doorway into my joy, my bliss. I relate to things vibrationally, and for me, exploring energy studies and meditation have helped me integrate the physical/emotional/mental/spiritual aspects of being human in a profound way. I love feeling my body vibrating with joy. I don't really know how else to describe it.

What kind of movement does your body crave or do you not notice this craving?

Sun salutations! Although I didn't list yoga in the last question, it is a critical part of my life. And I love a good sun salutation series. There is nothing like it for me, in terms of releasing and expanding. And hiking in nature. I walk in nature regularly, and sometimes, I just really need a good long hike to clear out. There is nothing else like that, either.

What story would your body like to tell if you were able to listen?

I think it goes back to that idea of physical/emotional/mental/spiritual integration, and that everything is vibration. Lately, I am very into mandalas, and the idea of our body as a mandala, our lives as mandalas. I think of mandalas as the structures through which we experience everything, including our so-called 'highest' spiritual insights. So this is what I am exploring, my body and life as mandalas, and that is the story that is unfolding for me.

Oh! I love that idea of the body as a mandala -- a container for the experiences that are our lives. Beautiful, Lisa!

I wonder in what ways that could change how we think of our bodies? Any ideas out there?