Monday, May 31, 2010

A Trip to the Strawberry Patch

That, my dear friends, is the first strawberry of the year from our little backyard, and as soon as this photo was snapped, it was popped into my mouth.  There is nothing quite like a sun-warmed strawberry to make my day start out right.

Things are really starting to explode in our tiny yard, including the rabbit greens' beds, for which I am extra thankful due to the recent addition of Bun #2, otherwise known as Blueberry, or Blueb, for short.

Rabbits are small but they eat a lot and our rabbits only eat organic -- like every single mammal in this house, whether skin or fur suited.

We are in the middle of Marcy having a four day weekend, and we are likely sitting out back, near that strawberry patch, with brains turned down to low and simmer, perhaps with a drink in hand and binoculars to the face.

I hope everyone is having a Stupendous Long Weekend and that many such strawberries come into your life over the coming Summer months.  (I apologize to you Southern Hemisphere readers...the sun has already begun its yearly frying of my brain and strawberries are all that I care to think about...)

Friday, May 28, 2010

You've Lit a Fire. Now What?

Purchasing the Fire Starter Sessions was a big act of faith in the business venture aspect of my teaching.  It was a huge deal for me to spend money on that, to admit that I needed to.

Another act of faith that I committed just this past week was to sign up for an advanced yogadance teacher training.  This teacher training is all about targeting special populations.  Our illustrious leader, Megha, is at the front of the pack in terms of devising movement paradigms for Parkinson's patients, for example.  We will be looking at creating dance/movement/yoga experiences for people who need to be sitting in chairs or have restricted movement.

How is this an act of faith, you ask?

Something as simple as signing up for this training took a lot of fear obliteration.

Luckily, I had stoked my Fire and was able to throw a bunch of fears on it as fuel.

First, as you may or may not know, I hate to travel.  So there is that.  I have gone to Kripalu before and that helps, but I still hate. to. travel.  Hate it.  Did I mention that I really dislike traveling?

This is proof-freaking-positive that I am living my bliss -- I am willing to travel for it.

Second, I kept thinking that there was another training I should go to rather than this one.  I had that whole Grass-Is-Greener-Elsewhere-Or-Possibly-Maybe-Could-Be syndrome going on.

I was totally commitment phobic about this.  To the point of neuroses.  Ask poor Marcy, who from day to day had to hear:  I am going; I am not going; Wait! I am going; Oh, I'm not going...  And on and on ad nauseum.

Third, it turns out that this was all about money fears and scarcity mentality.

In the back of my mind, there was this little banker guy sitting surrounded by all the stacks of our pennies.  He would just SHAKE with nervousness when I would start to think about signing up for anything at all.

Sometimes he would just have an out and out FREAK session.  He would start screaming and pushing over the stacks of pennies and lighting dollar bills on fire and yelling at the top of his lungs:  "THIS IS IT!  DO YOU HEAR ME!?!?! THERE IS NO MORE MONEY ANYWHERE IN THE WORLD FOR YOU!!"

What?  He is just Crazy.  Like certifiable.

No more money?  That just doesn't even make sense.  I mean, he is talking to a girl who has done it all -- well, besides pole dancing and now that I am in better shape that could be a real...

Anyway, there is always more money.  There is always enough.

I picked that little dude up, kickin' and screamin', and yep, threw him on that fire.

Now I am sure his ghost will haunt me but whatever.  He's not taking up physical space in my brain and heart any more.  I don't have the time or energy for that.  I have dancing and teaching to attend to and dreams to build.

What do you need to throw on your fire?

(For a great fire ritual example, visit here.)

Thursday, May 27, 2010

The Fire Starter Sessions & My Inner Hawk

(Note: I am NOT an affiliate for Danielle LaPorte's Fire Starter Sessions, so when I write about this, I have absolutely nothing to gain.)

I have been, for quite some time, completely tired of all the Big Bloggers out there who try to sell the rest of us all those e-books and online classes about "How to make money from blogging."  They are making money from blogging by blogging about blogging. The circular nature of this makes me downright dizzy!

Or they give e-books away for free, which is usually a big red flag that has the words "Full of Nothing!" written on it.

And I get super tired of bloggers who write about blogging in general. (Warning: Irony alert.)

This tiny rant is just so you know where I am coming from when I tell you that I bought and downloaded Danielle LaPorte's Fire Starter Sessions.  This is not like me at all.  For me to do this, a couple of things had to be going on.

First, having decided to dive head first into my passion, I have realized this makes me officially an entrepreneur or Solo-preneur.  Teaching yogadance is a calling, a vocation, to be sure, but I still need students in order to be a teacher, and this means coming face to face with the somewhat difficult reality of marketing and advertising and running a business.  (This "reality" can be extra hard for those of us who tend toward the Granola end of the spectrum or those who think they can just "envision" students and they will come. This is NOT the field of dreams.)

Second, being a fairly discerning reader/learner, these Fire Starter Sessions had to pass some tests before the purchase.  I read about them, keeping in mind, of course, that most of what I read was by affiliates, but you can still sense an underlying truth or sales attitude.  Then I watched Danielle's little promo video.

She had this whole thing going on about approaching this as a WOMAN.  You can watch that little video here.  Anyway, I was immediately attracted to her angle.

I bought them.  Then I proceeded to go through that gargantuan amount of material in two days.  I do not recommend this.  Unless you are like me -- a Girl of Extremes.

It totally fried me.  But one session of Solar Power Kundalini Yoga with Ana Brett and I was completely back to normal -- or as close as I get.

I digress.

What was my point?

Oh...right...I watched and read those sessions and worked on the little worksheets and talked to Marcy and talked to Marcy some more.

Those Sessions lit a freaking fire under my ass, people, and there are going to be BIG changes around here.  That is the point:  Big. Changes.*

(*This is totally a tease. Big Changes take some time; we are working hard behind the scenes...)

Those Sessions reminded me that I am not some fluffy, soft chick of a blisschick but that I am really a BlissChick of the hard-edged variety.  I am a chick who has had to CLAW her way to this bliss and is not afraid to show her scars.  Actually, I will gladly show you my scars if I think the grossness of them will move you to take some freaking action.

I am not at the Granola end of the spectrum at all.  I am not some soft voiced, walk gently, hippie yogini.

No, in the world of birds, this Chick is a Hawk.

Watch out!  And cover your head if you at all resemble a dove or anything equally delectable.

(Thank you, Danielle, for the big brick to my head.)

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Internal Alignment

My realizations about being true to my passion by allowing myself to be completely immersed in it came early in my second retreat week.  So I stopped.  I stopped the retreat, meaning I stopped trying to be something I am not, said thank you to the process, turned to the left, and dove head first into my work, my life, my love.

I am still adjusting to this idea that I am "allowed" to just be who I am.  I am 41 and wonder if I will still be doing this when I am 61 and...well, yes, I think that is pretty much life, right?  The every day decision that has to be made to be true to ourselves.  The constant realigning.

There are times when we are really in the flow and the questioning recedes to background noise, and when those times happen, we are grateful.  Or we should be grateful.  I think we are so caught up in simply being that we don't necessarily notice.

How about you?  Are you in that flow right now or do you need to schedule an appointment for an alignment?

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Out of the Maze

I've written a lot lately about how even positive change can be difficult, that even with positive change, there is still stuff that will bubble to the surface and get in your way and you will find yourself slipping backwards, blah blah blah...other sentences, as a good friend of ours says when she gets bored with what she is saying.

During my "second retreat," I learned something really central and important about myself, and I am here to say now that all that stuff about change being difficult, in this very specific case of mine, was just bullshit. I was dazzling myself with bullshit so that I didn't have to figure out this Very Important Thing, so that I could stay in near my comfort zone -- that of, at the very least, Once-in-a-While SlightlyDepressedChick.

I was trying so hard to fix this problem that I did not notice that I had defined the problem incorrectly.

Finally, I could not sleep one night early last week, and I went downstairs, and in the middle of the night, I wrote Marcy, who was upstairs sleeping, a long email of the stream of consciousness variety.

I didn't want to stop typing until I had nailed this. I started with all the blubbering about change being hard and having to adjust. I just kept going with that until the tune got boring and started to change.

I got to the tune of "I have too much social media in my life," and I sang that for a bit, packed it up on a scape goat, slapped its ass, and sent it out of town.

But that's all that was -- a scape goat -- because I could feel deep in my bones that there was something, well, deeper going on.

I could feel that there was something about my essence that was being held back.

As soon as that feeling hit my nervous system, my brain sent me some memories. Before I knew it, I was writing to Marcy about the couple of months that surrounded my two YogaDance teacher training sessions at Kripalu.

And then I had my Big Epiphany!

Finally. Thank the Gods.

I have been trying so hard to fit in everything, to be good at everything, to not get rid of anything, to define myself as well rounded and all of that.

But I had the happiest time of my life when I was ferociously single-minded. This is not the same, of course, as narrow minded. I will always and forever be interested in many things. That, too, is my nature.

But...BUT now that I am living my bliss path, I find that I am a deep sea diver. When I am deep sea diving, everything is clear and calm and quiet and organized in this brain that can sometimes, dangerously teeter on the borders of Crazy Land.

When I am single minded, I breathe in this life so deeply. When I am single-minded, I have energy and passion and I am excited from the moment my feet hit the floor.

I have a routine and I follow it -- because I am single-minded. I have things to do and I do them -- because I am beautifully, happily, sparkly single-minded.

I wrote in that email to Marcy that I am like a spinning top, and as long as I am spinning super fast (being single-minded), I stay standing, and from the outside, there is a stillness to that.

Marcy said it's the centrifugal force: without the magnetic pull of a central object, things simply float around the center. When I start whirling around the center (being single-minded), everything becomes cohesive. As soon as I slow down to start poking at other subjects, as soon as I get distracted, I start getting all wobbly and off center, and then before you know it, I am laid up with a bruised ankle and ass bone. I am DOWN.

This is my way out of that self-made maze: Allowing myself to completely give in to my bliss, my passion. Never again being apologetic for that or thinking that I need to be anything else.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Still in the Maze

One of my absolutely favorite people from my yogadance training posted this very insightful comment on my facebook update a little over a week ago when I wrote that I felt my (first) retreat week had been a Big Fail. (I was a bit too close still to see all that I had gained from it.)

hahaha i like how you are looking for immediate, active, results-oriented change about being less immediate, active, results-oriented :)

This is someone who "gets" me, that's for sure.

Part of the reason that the initial retreat week happened was that I was exhausted and felt dangerously close to real burnout.

That ankle injury inflicted some serious rest on my body. Rest that I knew I needed, right? Because I was on "retreat."

Wrong. I was on a movement retreat and did not plan to rest my body at all. I planned, actually, to do more than ever in terms of dancing, yoga, weights, and all of that.

As my friend above points out, I was looking for results.

As Marcy would say, I was looking for a way that I could do more without feeling like I was doing more.

HA! I was caught red handed!

I was looking for a way to squeeze more out of myself without feeling stress. What!?

I often harp at you (yes, HARP at you) on this blog about how to accomplish anything truly remarkable in this life that sometimes part of being brave and choosing bliss is the NOT choosing of other things. The Un-Choosing, as it were, of things that you tell yourself you "also love."

I go on and on about how choices can be hard but that we can't have it all and that to have something meaningful we have to create boundaries and priorities.

And you see, as usual with a know-it-all, I am just preaching about the very thing that I most need in my life.

I don't want to let go of anything but I want to add so much more when I know perfectly well that I can't. I am an Introvert, for god's sake. I need a lot of down time, a lot of processing time. That is a fact that cannot be ignored but I have tried very hard to do so.

HOW will I ever figure my way out of this little maze?

Do you hear me trying so hard? Can you hear all the grunting? And the little screams of frustration? I am thinking you can...

Friday, May 21, 2010

Seeking Guides in A Pathless Land

Truth is a pathless land, said Krishnamurti, meaning, of course, that we each are left to find our own way.

Yet I still think there is much to be said for looking to guides. Anyone can teach us a bit about our own truth if we are open and listening.

This week, while I've been retreating, I've been looking to Isadora Duncan and other dancers who blazed trails before me. She was quite the rebel, actually.

And I am looking to Shakti...

...and Kali for some help.

In other traditions, you may look to Morrigan or Joan of Arc.

Yes. Strong women not afraid of a little blood and gore. Not afraid to cut down some of that jungle as they work their way through it. That's what I need -- some of that fierceness.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

EmBody Talk: The Healing of Heather Plett

I have been blessed to meet Heather Plett in person (in pale purple in the above photo, attending a workshop I helped to facilitate), and let me tell you, that voice that she writes in so honestly and bravely over at Fumbling for Words is the real deal. Now, to help her celebrate her birthday, she has agreed to answer my questions about embodiment, my theme of the year.

As usual for her, Heather bares her soul and her pain and her joy here, so read on and open your own heart to her wisdom.

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

I wouldn’t say that I detest my body, but I have certainly had an uneasy relationship with it for as long as I can remember. I don’t obsess daily about body image (I’m not one of those yo-yo dieters, for example), but instead I just try to avoid thinking about it or looking at it. I don’t like being naked and I avoid mirrors as much as I can.

Not long ago, I read a book called “Writing Begins with the Breath” by Laraine Herring. In it she mentioned how she had, at some point in her life, separated herself from her body and let her mind become her guide and the way she framed herself in the world. When I read that, I realized “That’s ME! I’ve done the same thing!”

Mostly I think I’ve treated my body as a neglected vehicle whose sole purpose is to get my mind to the places it needs to go. I don’t value it or honour it in the way that I should. I also don’t really trust it.

Do you weigh yourself? Why or why not?

Our scale broke a couple of years ago and we haven’t replaced it. Except for the odd time when I get a little anxious about my weight, I don’t pay any attention to scales. That being said, though, there’s a scale at my work place and when I’m hopeful that I’ve lost weight (like recently), I find myself stepping on it at least once a week because I still equate “progress” with “pounds”. I’m trying to tell myself the pounds don’t matter and I’m gradually getting better at believing it.

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?

Bathing suits? Blech! Jeans are not quite as horrible (because not much will be revealed when I wear them), but bathing suits make me sick to my stomach. I am naturally a very large breasted woman (double H), and I absolutely hate seeing my big sagging breasts in a bathing suit (they just don’t make decent suits with support).

A couple of months ago, I had breast reduction surgery, and since then, I’ve been kind of excited about shopping for a bathing suit. I haven’t had the need for one yet, but with summer coming, it won’t be long.

I’m pretty predictable after shopping for things that make me feel icky – I try to bury the feelings in food. Cheesecake, cinnamon buns, French fries – whatever the mall food court will offer!

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 can’t really think of a lot of rules, partly because I’ve divorced myself from my body and so it’s just not something I think about a lot. Establishing rules would be like saying I have rules for my car – I don’t because it’s just a functional tool that does what it’s supposed to do.

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

I have a photo of myself taken toward the end of the summer I turned 22 that I just love. I’d spent the whole summer biking so I was muscular and tanned and really healthy. I’d been training to be part of a triathlon team where I would do the biking and my teammates would swim and run. It was probably the most athletic moment in my life.

Unfortunately, that was probably also the summer that I began to leave my body. Two days before the triathlon, a man broke into my apartment in the middle of the night and raped me. I was determined to still do the ride, and I drove out to the town where it was being held the next day, but he’d injured my neck (trying to choke me), so I just couldn’t do it.

If I’m honest with myself, I think that some of my issues today, 22 years later, are still related to that summer.
The last few months, though, I’ve found some new healing for those old injuries. It started with the breast reduction surgery which, in a strange way, felt like a pivotal moment where I was giving myself permission to finally want something different for my body.

Since then I’ve read Geneen Roth’s book Women, Food, and God and it had a pretty profound impact on me. After I read it, I became more determined to start honouring my beautiful body and so I’ve started a little morning and pre-meal practice where I say to my body “what can I do for you today? What foods do you need? What activity do you need?” It’s been a wonderful awakening for me.

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

I’m getting better at noticing this craving, especially since I started talking to my body and asking her what she needs. After the breast reduction surgery, I realized I’d had a long craving to start running but was limiting myself because of all the extra weight I carried in my breasts. I bought new shoes and ran a couple of times this past weekend and it was wonderful. One of my oldest body-loves, though, is cycling. I absolutely love the feeling of my legs pumping as the wheels spin and the breeze cools my face. I feel powerful and at peace when I’m on a bicycle.

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

Yesterday, after I’d started writing my responses to these questions, I went for a walk by the river. I was still mulling the questions over in my mind as I stopped to lean on a stone wall overlooking the river. Feeling the cold stone beneath my hand, a flash of a thought came to me that I’m sure came directly from my body. “Of all of my five senses, I trust the sense of touch the least.” Wow! What a powerful realization of the way I’ve limited myself! After that thought came, I closed my eyes and started running my hand over the rough, cold stone and it was quite a magical moment.

I still have to more deeply explore that thought and what I need to do to change it. I think my body is starting to feel alive again and is so glad to be welcomed back into my life, she wants to give me all the blessings she has to offer. Experiencing touch in a new way is one of those blessings.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

With the Help of Wind & Rain

It has been extra windy around here lately. Extra. We live on a Great Lake so there is always a breeze, some wind, especially in the Spring, but it has been exceptional. During my retreat week, we lost power a couple of times for many hours. One of those times was while I was teaching a yogaDance class -- two and a half songs in, to be exact. So I got to learn that I was capable of teaching without music.

I have learned over the years that the wind often has a lot to teach us.

I found myself telling another yogaDance class last week about my belief -- the belief of many pagan/wiccan types -- that the wind brings change.

It's not a stretch, of course. Not something mind blowing. But we tend to anthropomorphize the weather and take it very personally. As if the weather is somehow out to get us, out to ruin our day or week or life.

As if we are that freaking important.

I used to be like that. The lack of sun, the rain, the wind...any "weather" at all was here to piss me off. Now when it's really windy, I imagine it blowing away all my cares or blowing in some new way of doing something.

When I left that yogaDance class last week, it was raining. Steadily. I was on my bicycle, which was parked and waiting...with an already soaked seat.

Normally, the profanities would cascade from my lips in a torrential downpour as ferocious as anything Mother Nature could conjure.

Not that day.

I had twisted my ankle a few days before but was recovering. I had purged a lot of grief barely 24 hours earlier. I was feeling a general lack of groundedness.

Prime moment for me to just lose it.

Not that day.

I walked over to my bike, put my dampened helmet happily on my head. Sat my tush on that seat without even attempting to dry it...what was the point...gripped those wet handles and took off into the rain, smiling.


And picturing how that rain was washing away the Ick of the week. Washing away the last remnants of that grief.

Even as the sun teased and it continued to rain, I did not get angry but was thankful for this grounding, sustaining Water of the Big Sky.

Yep, my retreat was definitely doing something.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010


The fall that I wrote about yesterday happened because I was trying to do too many things at once, but that happened because my mind was heavy from something that happened earlier in the day.

Remember, it was the first day of my "retreat." I was trying to do something so simple -- change some habits, create better ways of doing and being for myself.

I have come so far from depression and anxiety as my norm. I have finally gotten to a point in my life where I awake in the morning and feel...excited to be up and about and engaged.

Yet I have retained a lot of old habits from the days of DepressedChick. Just muscle memory type stuff, ingrained ways of approaching the day that I know are holding me back from so much more Good and Happy.

Last Monday afternoon I was getting pretty nervous to teach my new Kundalini Energy Yoga class, but now that I have defeated severe and chronic depression, I am able to remember that my nervousness is my partner in this particular dance. It gives me energy; it reminds me that the work that I am doing is super important to me.

Instead, then, of allowing it to "put me down," I now have ways to use it. Typically this means I will put on some of my favorite music and just dance. If I get really sweaty and lose myself for about a half hour, I completely remember myself and then I can tell that the nerves are mostly about excitement.

After dancing, I went upstairs for a bit. When I got back downstairs, there was a pile of moving boxes on my front stoop.

Now this would be a great metaphor but it wasn't that. It was real.

A pile of boxes from my parent's house containing all sorts of random things from my childhood, including all my report cards that so painfully show the results of a childhood like the one that I had.

Teachers now would ask themselves (and the child) why they are capable of A work but suddenly are getting C's and D's and why this roller coaster happens over and over. Back then, teachers didn't think about those things.

Looking through those report cards brought up a lot of anger and then a lot of grief.

That was why I fell after class: I was still trying to hold that anger and grief inside. Tell myself that I was "fine." That I was so past all of that.

But we never are.

We can work hard. We can get better. We can build lives full of love and beauty and purpose and joy.

But we will always and forever be unpacking boxes.

Wait! Before you protest!

I am not saying that we are stuck forever in the past. No WAY! You know ME! I believe 100% in the possibility of healing or I wouldn't be here.

But grief is not on a time line. Grief does not follow any set of rules. Grief can come back to you in a box on your front stoop, catching you completely unawares.

It's what you do with it that matters. I tried not to look at it and my body immediately told me, "No, that will not do. Sit your ass down and think and feel this through."

See? Body way smarter than Brain!

It took a day of sitting with that ankle, of being pretty quiet in myself, before I could let it out, but the purging was good.

My ankle, my ass, and my heart are all healing, and because of the strength I have built lately, they are all healing much more rapidly than I ever could have imagined before.

Monday, May 17, 2010

The Fall that Started it All

Last Monday was the first day of my at-home retreat. The reason I was attempting to enter "retreat mode" was to change some habits from okay to good. I was not trying to retreat in that ambiguous, nebulous, silent, meditation way. I wanted to simply retreat from too much busy.

For example, I know that taking my morning espresso outside with the birds and my journal is a much healthier way to start my day than taking my espresso in front of the computer. Alas, it was a rainy week and thus challenging with regards to that particular goal.

It was challenging, immediately, in other atypical ways. Retreats have a way, I think...being a newbie myself here, of being what they want to be as opposed to what we want them to be.

My week was atypical in that these challenges were not the normal day-to-day distractions I was attempting to work with. It was atypical in that I was met with some challenges that are rare for me to encounter (or more rare than they used to be, to be more precise).

Last Monday evening, I went to the yoga studio where I teach yogaDance to teach my first Kundalini Energy Yoga class. This class is a combination I put together of yoga and movement that is drastically different from yogaDance. Anyway, the class went really well. As is typical with a Kundalini based experience, we all left the building feeling pretty Shiny.

I stood outside for a bit, talking to a friend and getting my bicycle ready for the ride home.

At one point, I was checking for a text from Marcy while at the same time talking to our friend while at the same time stepping toward my bike's back basket near a curb...

Yes. Recipe for disaster.

My foot hit the edge of a curb that I was not paying attention to because I was doing way too many things at once. It wrenched. I tried to catch myself. It wrenched again.

It was like some agonizingly funny slow-mo Steve Martin fall or something.

I landed right on my right ass cheek.


My ankle swelled instantly. But my phone survived! (Isn't that the important part? ha.)

As a dancer and a yogini, I am so careful with my body -- when I am dancing and doing yoga. At other times, I am a true klutz.

Believe me, I got the message here loud and clear.

Pay attention all the time! Be mindful out of the studio and off the mat!

Also, take time to rest your body, which was necessary because my mind and heart had gotten a jolt earlier on Monday, and I'll write about that tomorrow.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Retreating Into Ourselves

Obviously, teaching yogadance is part of my Work and so daily movement is not just for me anymore.

Yet dancing and searching for authentic movement is still the main way that I come back to myself and it's mainly what I'll be doing all this week.

Try this: Put on some of your favorite music. Stand in place. Stand softly. Breathe deeply. Close your eyes. See what happens.

I promise...Something will happen.

Here are some favorite movement videos:

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Retreating from Being Too Connected

According to the tradition of Ayurvedic medicine, I am a pitta dosha. My constitution is all about fire and water, so when I am out of balance, it's because the fire has taken over. Water cools me down.

We live on Lake Erie. A Great lake. A lake that looks like an ocean. Other lakes are just ponds to us.

I love this body of water.

I do not spend nearly enough time with her and why? It often comes down to anxiety about being disconnected. What will happen if someone emails something important and I'm not there? What might I miss?!

Admit it. Many of us are struggling with this very issue.

What do you give up in favor of the computer or social networking or gaming or any kind of technology?

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Taking the Time You Need: Your Life Can Depend Upon It

Last week, I read this post about the concept of retreating over at wise and wonderful Christine's Abbey of the Arts.

I realized -- and was quite startled by this though no one I know would be -- I realized that I not only never take a retreat but I don't know what it even means to do so.

I am just always pushing through.

I will start to feel better for a bit and think, "see...I don't need breaks..."

But everyone needs a break.

I'm taking one. For this whole week. I have scheduled some small posts but I won't be around.

I am getting too close to real and serious burnout. I need to get this under control. I need to figure out what is truly important and what I want to give my energy to.

How about you? Do you just keep pushing yourself, regardless of the consequences?

Monday, May 10, 2010

Meditation Monday: Let Go of the Grippy & Dream BIG

I ran across a tweet or post somewhere last week where someone quoted someone else (do you love my ability to remember sources here!?), and essentially, they were saying that we all have to dream and plan much bigger. We make ourselves way too small and then we sit back and wonder why nothing Sparkly Fantabulous is happening to us.

You get what you give in action there.

I have a word for what they were talking about: Grippiness.

It makes us act all tight and fearful to not dream big, because we allow the scarcity mentality to have a foothold in the most precious and exciting aspects of ourselves -- our hearts and imaginations.

I am guilty of this just as much as the next Chick.

I have Big Work to do and instead of Getting To It, I've been settling for small dribs and drabs and thinking that is enough. I don't want to be greedy, blah blah blah.

That insults the Infinite Divine, which is what instilled these dreams and hopes and visions in me to begin with.

One of my new heroes is Anna Halprin, a visionary in the field of dance. If I told her what I wanted to do and what was holding me back, I think she would have a thing or two or ten to say to me.

Here's the trailer for a new documentary about her.

Are you being Grippy and not Dreaming BIG enough? What are you gonna do about it!?

Friday, May 7, 2010

Moving Within the Eye of the Storm

(Toby is the sniff-iest cat ever. I think he was a puppy in a previous life.)

I have this framed quote in my orange writing room:

Discipline is remembering what you want.

I think that the first part suffices:

Discipline is remembering.

As I've been writing about, I have been feeling out of balance. I am struggling to find a way to be writer/teacher/dancer, and lately, the solutions have been proving rather illusive.

We all have this same struggle in our lives in different and varied ways, and it's ongoing, morphing along the way. Perhaps you are struggling to balance wife/daughter/painter or mother/head of household/yogini.

We get so caught up in the struggle that we forget.

We forget that we have basic needs, and that if we meet those needs, things tend to fall in place or at least, things feel a bit less chaotic.

For many of us, the most basic need is some form of prayer or meditation. My prayer and meditation both come most naturally to me while dancing, but the dance has to be one of simultaneous focus and freedom. My ego has to be set aside.

I find stillness within movement -- the eye of my own hurricane, if you will.

In my quest to be the Most Amazing Teacher Ever, I have not been meeting this basic need. Eventually, this will degrade the quality of my teaching, not to mention the overall quality of my life.

So the other day, I remembered.

I remembered to Just Dance.

I went downstairs and put on a guided movement CD by Gabrielle Roth, and I noticed all these amazing things.

First, I noticed how important it was that I keep my eyes closed. The second I opened my eyes, I could see my body and my internal dialogue would start up. "Oh, that's a 'good' move...oh, wait, that looks silly...oh, I need to do more thigh isolation work..."

Having my eyes open when I am working on choreography is one thing, but this reminded me how much time I spend being critical of my body and its movements and how much I need to nurture a less self-conscious approach.

Second, even with my eyes closed, my monkey mind was Busy. I would get a few seconds of direct experience of heart and body and then my brain would chime in with some running commentary.

Of course, this is the work of meditation.

And this is why remembering is the truest discipline. I must remember day to day why this meditation is important. I must remember that it heals me. I must remember that I am worth the time and the effort. I must remember that this form of dance is the most important form of all.

What have you done for yourself lately? (To paraphrase Ms. Jackson.)

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Does Sharing Your Art with the World Always Change the Artist?

Right now, I am consumed by teaching. I am constantly thinking about new playlists and new moves and ideas for workshops and on and on. When I am moving, it is either in a class or as I search for the right choreography for this or that song.*

(*NOTE: This post has little or nothing to do with being paid money for my creations. I have NO issue with that. Artists should be paid and paid well. Period. I've written about this before.)

I have realized recently that I am not dancing just for me.

This is distressing. "Free dancing," as I refer to it, is vital to my well-being. It refuels me. It centers me. It is my Practice and my Prayer.

I had a discussion with another artist about this recently, and she said it seems to be The Great Struggle. That once you put yourself out there, in whatever way -- teaching or performing or selling -- it changes everything. Whenever you approach your instrument -- your guitar, paintbrush, body, whatever -- you find that your relationship to it has been altered.

You tend a garden for others and soon you find that your Secret Garden is filled with leggy, overgrown plants that are no longer blossoming.

An extreme self-consciousness has grown like a noxious weed.

Have you had this same experience? How have you dealt with it? Do you have a favorite weed killer?

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Creating Youth: Going Back to the Garden

Have you spent some time thinking about the definitions of adulthood that have stopped you from living a life that you are totally passionate about? Definitions that make you feel like it's too late or "this is it?"

It's time to get rid of any patterned thinking that prevents you from fully embodying who you were born to be.

As Marcy and I discussed how so many people associate aging with giving up on their dreams, we also talked about what it felt like to be young. Think back to when you were 15 or 17 or 6...

There was Big Passion, I'm sure. Everything felt Giant and Super Important. We weren't numbed yet.

Our schooling goes to great lengths to numb us. Sometimes I think the main point of high school and college is to turn you into a cog, strip you of your individuality, and melt away all the dreams of making this world a better place in your own unique way.

How many of us entered college with a major that completely turned us on and came out with a degree in something that would get us a "career."

Screw careers. I want a life.

I want all of us to ask ourselves, what would our 15 year old or 19 year old self think of us right now?

What would they remind us of?

They would tell us we could do anything, be anything, create anything. They would tell us that nothing is impossible. They would tell us that the only thing worth anything is doing something you love that pushes all your buttons, makes you a bit afraid, feels like the Biggest Risk Ever, puts you in the center of your own movie, turns your life into an adventure!

At that age, we didn't realize that what we wanted to do -- create World Peace, become an innovator in Dance, feed the hungry -- was Impossible.

This is where "Ignorance is Bliss" is true.

We were Ignorant of Impossibility.

At 41, I lay in bed at night and wonder who the hell I think I am. Who thinks she can return to dance at this age!? And accomplish anything!?

At 17, I laid in bed seeing the results of my accomplishments, just assuming it would all come to me.

I want that back. How about you?

I don't want to know that I should be ashamed of my naked desires. I don't want to "tone it down." I don't want to "act my age."

What can we do to change this for ourselves and others? What would you be willing to commit to?

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Creating Youth: Definitions of Adulthood

(The most deeply colored Angelique tulip that has ever graced our yard!)

Last week's final post on aging, in which I discussed surrounding yourself with things of your youth in order to create youth, Marcy and I continued to talk about the differences between being in a teenager's state of mind and an adult's.

We feel we have managed somehow to avoid many of the negative aspects of aging (while also gaining a wee bit of wisdom).

I see this physically when I look at photos of my classmates from high school and wonder when they turned into middle aged people!? Or when I look up an actor, assuming he or she is a good ten years older than me only to find out they are my age or younger.

I know there are genetic considerations, but as the CDC says about disease, your genes still have to be turned on or they can be left off. Environment and choice plays a large part in getting sick (or not) and in aging in general.

Marcy and I did not spend the weekend talking about wrinkles, of course, but instead, we were fascinated by the Aliveness aspect of being young.

Marcy pointed out that she understands why some people, for example, get caught in that one golden moment in high school. Like the bald, overweight jock who still wears a jersey from the football team and walks around talking about that all important touchdown. That moment was His Single Best Moment.

Many of us have, I'm sure, made fun of that jock, but in light of the experiment I wrote about last week, he's onto something.

Onto something...He hasn't actually gotten it. If he really got it, he would be moving on to even better things.

What is there to get, you ask?

Though we all gladly leave behind pimples and angst, the one thing too many of us leave behind is our Faith and Hope and Belief in Dreams and Possibility.

Think about this for a minute...How do you define getting older? How have you (consciously or not) defined Adulthood?

Take a minute and fill in this sentence:

An adult is someone who ______________.

What did you come up with?

Here are some beliefs that I think are common in our culture about adulthood. I think they are the main ones that kill faith, hope, and belief, and finally, us:

Adults are practical. They make money to pay bills.

Adults realize that the dreams of their youth are silly.

Adults know that failure is inevitable.

Above all, as an adult, you learn that Big Success comes to Certain People.

How have you been defining adulthood? Is it working out for you?

Monday, May 3, 2010

New Healing Movement Class Schedule Available

I will be starting to teach a brand new class, Kundalini Energy Yoga, on Monday, May 10th, from 6:00 PM to 7:15 PM. Go here for more details about my teaching schedule and a description of KEY.

I will also be adding another new class and a new time for YogaDance over the next couple of weeks! Life is good!