Wednesday, June 30, 2010

In Which I Speak to the Importance & Primacy of Asanas

Movement is essential for the development of all brain functions: only organisms that move from one location to another require a brain; organisms that are stationary do not.  (Paraphrased by Pat Ogden in Trauma & the Body, 2006, via A User's Guide to the Brain by John J. Ratey, 2002)

This quote is not intended to be metaphorical, though, like anything, it can be read that way.  Rather, it's intended to be quite literal in that it's representative of some of the best and most recent understandings we have of our physical brains.

Of course, I am a Chick who does not believe we ever know what we think we know when it comes to the human body or the larger planet or the universe for that matter.

I think we are, actually, 100% prone to making asses of ourselves with Statements of Certainty.  We won't know we are making asses of ourselves, most likely, as this decree will be pronounced after we are all ashes.  History will, inevitably, make fun of us.


The reason this particular quote seemed important to me was the possible proof it provides in terms of the genius of yoga asanas.

Asanas often are looked down upon by yogis who consider themselves more spiritual than some of us.  Be that as it may, asanas are still important to the Indian culture, the birth place of yoga.

(I will also point out, though, that all this rigmarole over the age of yoga and the "purity" of it is as silly as the same type of arguments in fundamentalist bible squabbles.  Furthermore, yoga is NOT as old as and never will be as old as natural movement, otherwise known as dance.  All forms of formal, structured movement come from this oldest, easiest, most natural movement of all.  As soon as we could stand up, we started pounding drums with our hands and the earth with our feet. But I digress...)

Back to asanas.

Without movement, this quote scientifically asserts, our brains would not be what they are.  Without movement, a toddler would not develop.  There is a reason that walking and talking start to happen at similar moments. (For more of this, see the sources.)

Without brain development, of course, we could never sit in meditation and experience a Self, as illusory as some of us may think that is or not.

There would be no Spiritual Quest without highly functioning brains.

And there would be no highly functioning brains without moving our bodies.  First.

Asanas are never, ever wasted, and though there are more ideal situations, I don't even care if you are doing them in a freaking GYM or in a park with logoed mats.  All I care is that you are doing them.

Really, all I care about is that you are moving that beautiful body in some way that washes that beautiful brain in some freaking joy, because otherwise, we are just swimming in grief and anger in this world.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Chick on the Loose!

This is Daisy.  She is the newest addition to the Lilypad Family.

She's about 7 months old and came from our friend's amazing "free range" cat "store."  (If you are local to Erie ... or not ... please consider donating time and/or money. Eileen does an amazing service for our community.)

I've had Daisy on my mind for some time, but I did not want to disrupt Scottie's life when it seemed he was on his way out of his suit.  His comfort was number one.  Now he is at Sparkle Pond, so we inquired about Daisy and here she is.  She is named after Scottie in a way, since his full name is F. Scott Fitzgerald and Daisy was a main character in The Great Gatsby, of course.

To read more about Daisy, go here.


In other news, I was interviewed for Out Impact right here.

I do not think of being lesbian as anywhere near my core identity.  It is just something about me, like being hetero is something about most of you.  My relationship is the center of my life, but only because that is the way I wish it were for everyone on this planet -- that they find a love that strong.

So I don't hang out rainbow flags or consider myself any kind of activist, but I liked this site immediately and thought it was a great place to explore some of these issues.

The woman who wrote the piece, I think, did a great job at distilling my VERY lengthy responses.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Skorts & Thighs & Bikes, Oh, My!

This is my new workout skort.  I love it.  I love the fabric and I love how cool it feels on these oppressively hot and humid days.

I hate, on the other hand, taking and showing you a picture of said skort as it rests on my body.  I cannot even fathom showing you a clearer, better, more-body-involved photo, so this is what you get.

I hated the thought, also, of wearing this out in public.  I thought, for the time being (read: Until I lose more weight), that I would just wear it inside to dance and do yoga and all of my house...with the curtains myself.

You get the idea.

"You have the thighs of your mother's'll never get rid of those..."

A relative started saying that to me when I was about eleven and kept saying it every summer as I was growing up.  She didn't speak the words so much as spew them and they would slap against me before dripping to a puddle of toxic self-hate at my feet.

I look in the mirror and fixate on those thighs.

I curse those genes.

Here's the thing:  I have dropped FOUR sizes in about ten months.  Four.  And not because I was doing the whole psycho eat-nothing thing.  Oh, no...this dropping of sizes has totally been from the Joy of Dancing.  Dancing...this is what I do now and my body has been all like, "Thank YOU!!"

My body has always been super fast at responding to physical activity -- if not just to push home the idea that physical is what I am supposed to be.

Back to the bike:  I am not ready to share my thighs with the whole world.  Nope.  Not ready at all.  BUT...

BUT...I did take my ass out of this house, wearing that skort.

I walked across the front lawn, all the while hearing whispered voices coming from the houses around us (or more accurately from inside my brain): "Look at her! Why? Why would she wear that?!"

I got on my bike and rode.  I rode past all the cars and trucks and people walking their dogs and people crossing the street and I kept hearing those voices.  I rode through a tunnel of those voices coming at me from every freaking angle.  I rode into them and pushed harder, as if into a stormy headwind.

"Look at her!  Look at her thighs!"

My legs pumped up and down, and I tried with all my might to focus on the feeling of my muscles working so much stronger than ever before in my life.  I thought about the balance and the grace with which those muscles gift me.

I am not ready to show you, the Wider World, my thighs, but I took them for a ride on Friday in my smaller world, and I think that is a big First step.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Why Living Your Bliss is So Important

Because it is about life and death.

My depression has been so bad in the past that I did not want to live.  There are still days when I feel my brain fighting to return to old, negative, self-destructive thought habits, and living my bliss is the antidote.

Immersing ourselves in our Purpose makes us bigger than any momentary circumstances, including life-threatening illness:

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Instinctive Eating & Why I Won't Ever Pay Attention to Numbers Again

You know my feelings about numbers when it comes to weight scales, and now I have some things to say about calorie counting.  A couple of weeks ago, before Scottie Cat was sick, I came to some realizations that I have been wanting to share.

I've long understood that to get in really great shape, to seriously increase my fitness level for dancing, I have to eat enough -- not cut how much I eat.

If I don't eat enough, I simply do not have the energy I need to dance hard almost every day or to lift weights or to focus on whatever physical skill I am currently focused on.

Yet, thanks to my past filled with disordered eating and body image issues, I also have this nagging desire to just get thin, damn it.

I am constantly struggling to keep all of this balanced in my mind -- to remind myself why I am getting fit and how it has nothing to do with smaller clothes.  Though I am human (and female and American) and I enjoy those smaller clothes no matter how much I try not to.

Back to a couple of weeks ago:  I realized that I do not have any freaking idea whatsoever of what "good and proper" eating amounts even look like.  I have no clue how much I should be eating to eat enough to workout as much as I do.

I decided, in my limited wisdom, to start counting calories.  But! Wait!

I explained to Marcy that I was counting for good reason!  I was counting to make sure I ate enough.  She was not convinced at all and went into some (annoying at the time) speech about how this was still representative of my warped relationship to food and that if I would just listen to my body...

Blah blah blah!!!

I was convinced I was right.  And that I was "good."  I would count calories for a few weeks until I learned again (or really, for the first time) how to eat correctly.

It took me a couple of days (as usual...sigh...) to catch up to Marcy's Wisdomosity.

It happened while I was dancing.  I realized that because I have a great diet in terms of content (we are very "clean" eaters) and because I am so physical every day that if I would just trust my stomach and my body, I could never really over eat.

Sure, I splurge like anyone.  I eat chocolates and goodies but they are high quality chocolates and goodies, and if my body wants those things there is a reason...and I listen closely enough now not to eat them until I could POP.

This is my New Lesson:  Intuitive Eating.

I have never trusted my body and this is another way to learn to do that.

Our bodies know best.

Our brains get in the way of that so we end up relying on external things like calorie counting and scales.

Those numbers are not the solution because they are part of the larger problem of disconnect.

Our disconnect from our needs and our mistaking our wants for needs...that is the core issue.

Now I just ask:  what does my body need?  Is this food making me feel good?  Is this intake giving me the energy I need to dance?  Is it satisfying my basic human sensual needs?

Part of a good "diet" is appreciation.  If we would just become connoisseurs of excellent food and drink, we would never put junk in our mouths.  If we would just let ourselves be playful in this life, we would never again have to exercise.

No more numbers!  Listen to your body and your heart and have fun and ENJOY!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

That Donation Button to the Left

I have been writing Blisschick for over two years now and have never added advertisements to this site besides the occasional Amazon widget displaying books and DVDs that I love.  I have never made money off of those.

To write every single week day (and for much of that time, even on the weekends) takes time and commitment.  I am happy to give both, because I think this work is important and I love the relationships I have developed because of it.

But my time and energy and words and experiences are also worth something, I think, so I have added a very casual donation button, which you are free to ignore.

Symbolic Acts & Piles o' Hair

I've written rather recently about how I use tactile notes to remember things.  For example, I have a necklace that I wear almost every day that reminds me of  something essential. The first time I put it on, I said that something essential out loud and told myself that I would recall it with each subsequent fastening.

This works for me.  The use of a talisman and the performance of symbolic acts are all part of my "religious" nature.  Yep.  I have one of those.  I like ritual.  Metaphor floats my boat.  And like I said, a talisman here and there (and over there and more under here) works for this heart and soul.

Cutting my hair yesterday seemed like it was about freeing myself from the heat and weight and sweat of all those very long and heavy tresses, but it turns out, it was about a whole lot more.  Or, at the very least, I have figured out how to make it about more!  HA!

Imbuing things with meaning is a human instinct, right?  I mean, think of all the original Gods.  They were just our attempt to explain things like lightening.

Back to my hair...

As it was being cut, it felt natural.  It felt "original," if that makes sense.

Good, right?  I didn't cry.  Which I kinda worried about.

Then I stood up from that chair, and immediately, I felt something wonderful stirring.

By the time I got home, I was downright giddy, excited, energized, hyper.

Here is what I've decided:

My new hair is about strength and confidence and NO FEAR.

That's right.  No Fear.  My hair is like the opposite of Samson's -- cutting it has given me my strength rather than taken it away.

Every time I look in the mirror now, I am going to remind myself of that -- I am strong and fearless because my hair is my Note and it says so.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Something So Small...

Sorry...I keep making titles that are song lyrics.

The hair is CUT.

This seems so trivial to me, but this new hair has a story to tell, ya know?  It's a story of my commitment to dancing and it's a story of my confidence in myself and it's a story about my ideas of beauty.

I thought I might kinda like this new hair, but LOVE is not a strong enough word.  I FEEL like this hair is ME.  Who knew?!?!

Two views for those of you who aren't on Facebook.  First one without glasses and then one with.

(Oh!  And I got this done by the Amazing Dawna with some advice from the Amazing Judy at Studio Hue, a local place that uses all good/clean products and donates all cut hair to oil spill pick-up mats.)

Changes (and Cue the David Bowie...)

Photo: Toby and Lilly, ages 9 months and 2 years, best friends.

(Oh, I think time has been really wonderful to this man.)

I am emotionally and physically exhausted from our last couple of weeks and the subsequent transitioning of Scottie cat from fur to Sparkle Suit.

As I have learned from taking care of two other elder cats during their transitions, the process is so hard but so worth it -- and it clarifies things.  This process teaches me the same things over and over -- that love is It, that there is no Fear, for two examples, but it also teaches me something new each time.

I am still sorting out what Scottie was teaching me.

Right now, this soon after the fact, I am contemplating some big/medium/small changes.

First and most trivial in nature (drum roll), I have finally freaking decided to Chop. Off. All. My. Hair.  It gets in the way; it clogs every drain in this house; it is HOT.  I am overly identified with my ballerina-like bun.  Here is what I am going to have done.  I can't wait!

Second, I have not been tweeting at my usual frequency during all of this.  I am having a hard time even contemplating getting back into twitter, and each time I visit, I feel like an alien -- or it feels alien, whichever.  It feels...wrong.

The Geek in me is disturbed by these feelings and having a hard time translating them, but my heart tells me to just let it go.  I communicate with people via email and blog and facebook so much anyway.

Third, I just ordered one of these, and not to be some Organizer Nazi but for really totally different and bizarre reasons.  Reasons I'm not ready to share.  But if it works, I will force myself to face the fear and share because I think it could be seriously helpful to lots of people.  (Does that sound dramatic enough?)

A lot of my changes have to do with the context of number three now that I think about it.

Fourth, I have to spend time having more fun.  I tend to be a Serious Animal, as Marcy would say.  This is tiring.  I think it's why I often feel drained.  I never take or give myself a break.

For now, this is all I am able to articulate about necessary changes and lessons learned.

(POSTSCRIPT:  I didn't include this and should have.  Gala Darling wrote a great post about her new filofax here, and though I won't be using it exactly the way she does, it opened up a gate in my mind and led to my new idea...that I may share later, as I have already said.)

Monday, June 21, 2010

Scottie's Story

Like every person, every cat has a story, and here is Marcy's telling of Scottie's.  He picked this chick as she visited a shelter 16 years ago.

A Sparkling Summer Solstice Tribue to Scottie, Sparkling Cat

Saturday at approximately 2:30 A.M., our eldest cat, Scottie, passed from his Fur Suit to his Sparkle Suit, as we like to call it.  It was easy; we were with him; we were at home.

It was his time.  We will miss that Fur Suit, that particular incarnation of that precious soul, but we know all is as it is meant to be.

Today, then, we celebrate this Summer Solstice not with sadness but with an optimism that is born of acceptance.  We accept the fact of his love and know that comes with loss.

But not really.  The only true loss would be not having known or loved these beings that bless our paths.

Opening our hearts to the momentary feeling of loss, we open our hearts to an infinite amount of love.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Music for My Heart

Here are some of my favorite songs right now from a current teaching playlist.  These songs lift my spirits and constantly remind me what is most important:

Thursday, June 17, 2010

What My Days Look Like Right Now

My days right now are cut up into two hour chunks.  At least every two hours, I am checking on, feeding, petting, doing whatever needs to be done for our sweet Scottie the Elder Cat.

This leaves little room in my brain for much else.

We are privileged to do this work.  We do it out of Love.  We are lucky I am home so much and we are able to provide this care.

He is happy and comfortable.  That is all that matters.

Somehow, in the midst of this, I am still managing to dance a bit.  And while I dance (and afterward), everything is perfect and as it should be.

I am so thankful for this path.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Bloggy Love!

I don't often participate in this whole "award" thing any more, but I really totally dig the Chick who gave me this one and I want you to dig her, too.  So here we are.

The Versatile Blogger Award was gifted to me by Medicinal Marzipan.  Read her.  (That was said in my "bad cat voice.")

I think I am supposed to reveal secrets about myself, but I have been blogging for over two years and feel like I got nothin' left.  HA!

Though these may be known to some, I will share two little ones anyway!
  •  I have the mouth of a sailor.  Seriously.  I swear like Marisa Tomei in My Cousin Vinny.  I use f**k in place of "very," very often.  I don't write it.  My writing voice is just different than my talking voice.  That's the way it is.
  •  I LOVE TOOTSIE ROLLS!  There.  I am "out."  I would like to eat them every single freaking day but I do not.
Okay.  Now to pass this on to some blogs that I don't think I have ever linked to...or maybe I have.  Whatever.  Check 'em out:

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

What the Lake Had to Say

One of the greatest advantages (and there are so many) to buying our first car in nine years is complete access to my good friend, Lake Erie. On a whim, even, which is pretty out of the picture with bikes.

Marcy has (for some bizarre reason that I will never understand) decided to return to...ugh...jogging.  Blech.  (Smelling something bad face inserted here.)

I am teasing.  Sorta.  I don't get the whole running thing at all.  Never have.  But I am glad that she loves it and I am glad that my dancing is encouraging more physical activity on her part.

So on Sunday evening, after a day of rain and gray, the sun came out and Marcy heard the trails of our Peninsula calling to her feet, for which we had just purchased her new, very cool, very light, orange accented running shoes.  I mean, those babies were aching to get out of their box.  So we loaded up Seven (the car) and headed out.

I was not going to run, obviously, so my gear included a beach chair and a bag with book and pen and journal.

It was still breezy and a bit chilly by the water.  The lifeguard was sweat shirted from top to bottom.  The wind was making some excellent waves which, of course, was making excellent sound.

I love this sound.  I love the sounds of the lake.  They soothe me.  No matter what is going on.

I put my chair very close to water's edge and sat with pen ready.  Listening.

And as usual, Lake had a lot to say.  Besides Marcy and all the cats (Fur and Sparkle variety), Lake is one of my greatest teachers.

This particular "class" was about to kick my arse.

Scottie Cat is sick.  He is OLD.  He has had a beautiful life, and Marcy and I are very good, I think, at helping cats to transition.  It is difficult work, but I have always seen it as privileged work.  This is Love.

My grief issues that I wrote about yesterday, my lack of trust in this all comes down to one question:

How dare I use this beautiful cat's last moments or weeks or months to feed my dormant depression and anxiety issues?

How dare I lay this load on his sweet back?

How dare I say such a definitive NO to life when the passing of Jobie and Ernie have taught me all about saying YES?

Being sad, missing him after he is gone...these things are natural.


That is still all about me.  It is his time.  It is appropriate.  It is right.  It is natural.  This, too, is Life.

He was never mine to begin with.  I was sharing in a momentary manifestation of his Spirit and that Spirit will never be gone.

Lake is not an Easy Teacher.  She tells it like it is, especially when it is difficult.

One wave after another crashing near my feet, the setting sun, the migrating birds...all of this reminds us of the cycles, the permanence of the impermanence, and the beauty and inherent intelligence of it all...if we can trust enough to walk around with open palms and open heart, letting land and letting fly free the gifts that grace us moment to moment, breath to breath, heartbeat to heartbeat.

Monday, June 14, 2010

If I am Quiet...

Marcy and I will have been together for 16 years this coming October, and at the same time, our eldest cat Scottie will turn 17.

Or maybe not.

Here we go again.

When Marcy and I first met, we very quickly (and it's a long story how) acquired four cats.  All of them were approximately the same age, so we would occasionally talk about how we knew...some time in the distant future...well, there would be a cluster of Very Difficult Years.

Those years have come.

Scottie is the last remaining cat of the Original Four.  In the meantime, we've also taken in Crazy Miss Emily and we have no idea how old she is.

Now we've been joined by Lilly, 2, and Toby, 8/9 months.  Fresh Cats, we call them.

Scottie, F. Scott Fitzgerald, is ill.  He's never been ill and this illness will be his way out of his Fur Suit and into his Sparkle Suit.  We have no idea how long this will take.  It could be two days or two never knows, right?

We are sad.  Marcy has come to a good place, a place of understanding, a place that I say I, too, understand, but I am struggling.

Marcy points out, rightfully, that it has to do with my inherent distrust of Life.  I don't trust it and here's my proof.  She is right.  I am more trustful than ever, but I have a long way to go.

If I am at all quiet, you now know why.

Friday, June 11, 2010

The Cure for the Danger Zone of Forgetting

Last week's post about my gluten cleanse and my Danger Zone seems to have hit a nerve.  Medical Marzipan wrote a response post that was full of insight (and if you haven't found her yet, this is a good reason to).

Though I was writing about gluten's effect on my body, my Danger Zone is always in the Land of Forgetting, regardless of the issue.

Now and then, I forget a little something about all the wonderful in my life and I forget about how I Cultivate Wonderful.

I forget...
  • ...that moving vigorously every single day is how I stay pain free;
  • ...that not being a news junkie keeps me sane and more compassionate;
  • ...that dance is my spiritual path;
  • ...that bird watching puts me into my center;
  • ...that eating enough protein keeps me energized to do the work I love;
  • ...that taking down time quiets my brain enough to hear new ideas.
This list could go on for miles.  The point is that anything that adds to my happiness, that increases my joy is susceptible to Being Forgotten.

The "why" of this is somewhat irrelevant.  I don't think we can ever untangle all the threads that go into it.  Trying is important, but we can get stuck in that Trying to Understand, which can become as unhealthy as Not Understanding at All.

Movement and action are what matter here.

We must take action.

I think that the Buddhist principle of Constant Effort is the clearest and most direct route to not forgetting.

"Constant effort SUCKS!" You'll hear me brattily retort when Marcy brings this up to me, but it's only because I know she is right and I need a moment to be WhineyChick before I move onto working toward BlissChick.

There are many ways to employ Constant Effort in your daily life.

I think that writing is important here.  I think that we need to keep a journal that is specific to that which we tend to forget.

For instance, when you are emerging from a time of forgetting, keep notes about how you felt, what effect the experience has had and is having on your body and your life.  This is important for later -- for when you are about to slip back into forgetting.  You can reread how awful you felt, how lethargic, how sad, whatever it was.

I also use Tactile "Notes."  For example, I have a necklace I wear, and every time I touch it, I remember something specific.

Why?  Because when I first got it and first put it on, I said aloud as I held it, "I will remember (this) every time I touch you."

It works.  Try it.

I use tactile notes all the time to remember all sorts of things, and as long as I say what I want to remember aloud to the object, I never forget.

Finally, to employ Constant Effort is to be Checking In with Your Body and its reactions.

Ask yourself what it is you really want or need out of your life whenever you feel compelled to do something that you know, eventually, will put you back to sleep.

Because that is what Forgetting is.  It's choosing to go back to sleep to our lives.  Living in Remembering can be difficult.  Awakening is difficult and it does not become easy...ever.  It is a constant result of your every day actions.  It is an ongoing happening that never ceases.

There is a reason we are surrounded by sleep walkers.

Our Danger Zones exist because there is something we would rather Numb ourselves to, but the fact that we are aware of these Danger Zones, that we see how they play out in our lives, tells me that we are also Full of Courage and that we are Warriors on this Path.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

On the Road Again...

As Marcy wrote about last week, we are no longer car free after nine years of being pretty much reliant on our feet, our bikes, and public transportation.

We are having SUPER GIANT FUN, as you can imagine.

To show what homebody geeks we are, the first thing we did with that car was drive to a garden center and pick out some new plants.  HA!  Par-tay!

The purchase of that car is totally related to my no longer Shying Away from Happy.

Not that I wasn't happy over the years of not having a car.  Far from it.

Now I am happiER, like pretty much ECSTATIC much of the time.  And that car is just adding to the YUM of this life.

This may not seem like much in the way of news to some of you, but I really thought that I would have Massive Buyer's Remorse of the Gargantuan, Eat-At-My-Soul (HA!) variety.


Within a broader context of being mindful of our daily choices, we are expanding our wings and taking flight in so many new and exciting ways here at the Lilypad (headquarters to Rabbits, Inc., Cats, Inc., Miscellaneous Mammals, Inc., and Writing, Dancing, & Painting, Inc.).

One of the things that gets me daydreaming is the small trips I could make to nearby cities to teach yogadance and meet readers.  So let me know (email me!) if you are interested in this idea at all.

We waited nine years, but now was the time and our choice was right.  Phew...

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Shying Away from Happy, the Sequel

Yesterday's post about shying away from happy, I could imagine, may have seemed contradictory to Monday's post about honoring a promise to my friend to live this life fully and with generous amounts of glitter.

But you may have noticed that I said that flinching/shying away was a random and occasional occurrence, as opposed to the Norm that it once was in my life.

I also asserted that my brain and my body are part of the solution -- a solution I work on every single day, as I walk this path.  Some days, I am surely better at this than others.

After thinking about the first two posts of this week, I realized that I want to pause at this time every year and evaluate how well I am doing in relation to the promises I have made to Ken and thus to Marcy and to myself.

At this time every year, in his honor, I will reevaluate those promises and renew my vows, so to speak.

Here is what is truly exciting to me:  When I wrote out that list of promises to Ken, I had no freaking idea what the next few months held for me.

I had no idea how much my life was about to change.  I had no idea of the Voluminous Capacity for Happiness which lay waiting inside of me.

Therefore, as I write these new and updated vows, I shiver a bit (with excitement) at the thought of their power to call forth, by which I mean: their power to unleash within me the power and the will and the fierceness that is necessary to accomplish anything truly wonderful in this life:
  • I promise that when Happiness walks in the room I will no longer crouch in the corner and hide my head and say, "Oh, you are not for me!  You must be looking for someone else...I think she is in the other room."
  • I promise that when Happiness walks in the room I will have flowers and balloons and champagne at the ready, and I will say, "Welcome!  I LOVE YOU!  Thank you!"
  • I promise to never, ever wear another piece of boring-ass clothing that is meant to hide my cute.
  • I promise to try my damnedest to never again apologize for my Big Emotions and my Big Passions.
  • I promise to seek out challenging adventures and to put my sense of who I am at risk in healthy ways that grow my Soul and Heart.
  •  I promise to Put Myself Out There in a Huge & Sparkling & Daring & Joyful manner.
  • I promise to honor the dreams and desires of this Dancer's heart.
  • I promise to nurture the Dancer in all other women.

How about you?  What vows do you wish to make?

(Place them in the comments or feel free to link in the comments to a post you write about this.)

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Shying Away from Happy

(Tomorrow I will explore this post's relationship to yesterday's about my friend, Ken.)

Our cat, Miss Emily, who could be as old as Methuselah for all we know, was a stray in our backyard when we took her in.  She is a bit on the crazy side, just like her namesake, Emily Dickinson, for whom she was named due to her color...only later did we realize their mental states also matched.

Miss Emily suffers from PTSD, most certainly.  She goes through definite times when she is "triggered" on a regular basis.  She has times when she seems completely calm and content, but then, for no reason (no reason we can see), she will start to bite a bit when we pet her.  Or when you reach for her, she flinches.

That is heartbreaking.  To see a cat flinch when you have only ever loved and petted and fed and taken care of her.  She had a life before us and I can't bear to think what it must have been like.

Marcy says that I am a lot like Miss Emily, and I think I could see that in her from the first moment I looked in her green eyes.  I had always told Marcy not to look in a stray's eyes (because I knew we would end up with 500 cats), but Miss Emily's eyes were magnetic to mine.

I also have times when I am more likely to flinch and to bite a bit.

These times get further and further apart and they tend to be a lot less severe and much shorter in duration, but they still visit.

Never more so than when I am really starting to feel truly happy.

I shy away from Happy.

It has smacked me one too many times.



Those smacks...they were so long ago.  Another life.

I am reading an academic text right now about trauma and the body, and it turns out that when my brain is triggered, it cannot distinguish whatsoever between past and present.  When I am triggered -- like Miss Emily -- my brain places me firmly in the Past.

This is not a matter of me thinking about or wallowing in the past; no, this is physiological.  Our brains do not know "time."  That's the invention of a human mind.

And yet, our brains are a huge part of the solution.  Not quite as huge as our bodies, though.

This is why dancing cures me.  My body, when she is dancing, is firmly in the Present and my brain goes right along with her.

There is no flinching or biting in my present life.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Honoring the Memory of a Friend

Today marks the one year anniversary of the passing of our dear, sweet friend, Ken Honard.  I wrote about him here.

As I reread that post, it struck me how much his life and his passing have affected my own life.

I promised in that post to honor him by more fully living this life I have been given. I promised, in his memory, to wear more glitter and to not avoid adventure and risk.

I am proud to say I have kept my promise and that I  have done so beyond my wildest dreams.

That post was written mere days before I had my epiphany on a dance floor.

It goes to prove the Rumi quote true, doesn't it?  That cracks in everything, including our hearts, is where the light gets in.

That crack left by the seismic activity that was his passing let in the light that warmed the seed that had been lying dormant in my heart for far too long.  That little seed was able to finally sprout.  That seed that was my True and Real Life.  That seed that was Happiness and Bliss and Joy.

Thank you, Ken, for my Sparkling Life.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Beauty After Dancing

(This post is inspired by Heather's.)

As someone who has, for her entire life, suffered from various body image disorders, I have never been friends with the mirror.

While using the mirror at home to fix my hair, I would avoid eye contact with myself.

In a public bathroom, I was always careful not to look up from the sink for fear of catching a glimpse or for fear of looking like I was looking at myself.  You see, I assumed that other women would say, "Look at her, checking herself out..."  I don't know what I thought they were thinking about themselves then, since most women have no problem looking in the mirror.

Even now, Marcy and I have a small mirror in the bathroom, and I placed a cheap, long mirror for checking the basement.  There is no mirror in the bedroom.  (There is one in the living room but it is one of those mirrors meant to make a room feel roomier and it is easy for me to avoid and not notice.)

Looking in the mirror has always unleashed a litany of imperfections in my mind (sometimes out loud):  this or that or all things are too fat; my ears stick out too far from my head; my eyes are too small; my eyes are not blue "enough"; my lips are too get the idea.

Admitting anything but imperfection was conceit.

Since I have returned to dance, something is changing.  It is not all Starlight and Fairy Dust; there are times when I flap my arms and say "oh, no...gotta go lift some weights."  These habits of self-loathing are the hardest to break, I think.

I can remember the first time it happened, though, that the mirror and along.

I had just been dancing my ass off.  I was covered in sweat.  I was exhausted and exhilarated, and I walked into the bathroom, flipped the switch, and saw myself.

Really saw myself.

And I thought, for the first time in forever, "Well! You are quite beautiful!"

Now, though I am embarrassed to admit this (and yet should not be), I find myself seeking out a mirror after I have danced extra big and bold, because I relish the opportunity to look into my own eyes and see them sparkling with joy rather than self-judgment.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

The Yoga of YogaDance

(Disclaimer of sorts: these are my own musings on yogadance. I do not speak for every teacher of yogadance, obviously.)

When I have a new student in yogadance class, I have this one line summary for them:  The yoga of yogadance is about bringing yogic breath and mindfulness to dance and natural movement.

If you come to yogadance from a dance background (as I do), this sentence holds, I think, extra power and meaning.  So often young dancers were taught to hold in their stomachs and they certainly were never reminded to breathe.  Oh, no, what did breath have to do with anything?!  Too often, they were taught implicitly or explicitly to ignore signals from their bodies that something was wrong.  A pain!?  Get over it!  There is dancing to be done!

If you come to yogadance from a yoga background (which I also do), this sentence makes immediate sense.  (Putting yoga into my dance was a miracle in my life.)

In my class, we start with floor work that is focused on warming up the spine.  I use a lot of Kundalini yoga here.  I believe too many yoga teachers do not warm the body but just slam it into postures. (A sun salutation is not a warm up to this dancer's body!)  The spine is often ignored all together except as the pathway to forward bends and folds.

But a heated and strong spine is a healthy and flexible spine and from that flexibility comes the flexibility of the limbs.

Nothing happens without a healthy and happy spine.

Once we are warm -- and by warm, I mean to the point of sweating profusely -- we really start to move, really start to explore natural movement as it comes to each of us.  We explore the body first in segments and then as a whole.

This system of healing movement is for every body type and it brings not only physical fitness but experiences of profound and deep joy.  For me (and others), it can also lead to moving meditation.

But again, it's important to bring yoga to the dance -- including mindfulness of one's own limitations, which I cannot know for you as the leader of the experience.

If you know, for example, that you tend to have joint problems, it is your responsibility to listen for warning signals from your body.

If you are unfit when you first come to class, this can exacerbate all sorts of issues.  Obesity, for example, wears on your joints even when you are just walking so extra care must be taken when you first start pushing your body in new ways.

This is the Yoga.  This is the true Dance.

As the first Sutra says (atha yoga nushasanam), Now the Inquiry of Yoga...

(For my most recent teaching schedule, go here.)

Wednesday, June 2, 2010


For some GIANT news about this Chick's life, read here today.  (She did a better job explaining than I could have, AND there are rabbits, which is always a good thing.)

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Gluten & My Body or How I Don't Care to Care for Me

It is said that some dogs, given the opportunity, would eat themselves to death.  Whether or not it's true, it reminds me of...Me.

A couple of months ago, I embarked on a gluten cleanse.  I know from past experiences that I just feel better without gluten in my system, but I am also a believer that this woman COULD live on bread alone.

I am of German heritage and there was always bread on the table...even if there were already doughy dumplings and starchy potatoes.

So I blame my genes, in part, though I know that is excessively whiny and pretty much a pathetic cop out.  Poor dead ancestors who cannot defend themselves!

My main symptoms besides some of the digestive sort and lots of joint pain are (yeah, besides those):  an overall muscle fatigue that is deep and depressing in every sense of that word and what I call Brain Fog, which seems pretty self-explanatory.

After about a week without gluten, I feel myself to be more awake, more alert, processing information clearly and efficiently.  After about two weeks, I have crazy energy.  Marcy knows the gluten cleanse has really kicked in when I start cleaning above and beyond the call of duty.  If I have the time and energy to clean like this, I am feeling Stupendous -- when you consider that normally, just standing at the sink to wash a few dishes causes severe lower back pain that turns me into Queen Grouch.

About a month into the gluten cleanse, I hit my Danger Zone -- otherwise known as the Land of Forgetting.

I forget how Crappy I felt.  I forget the lack of motivation, the feeling of pushing through thick mud to do the simplest things, the feeling that I am somehow inherently flawed as a human being because I don't want to do the things that I say mean the most to me.

All of that is some vague, shadowy memory and I become Stupid about myself.  I start saying things like this:  "Oh, I could have pizza once a month!  That would be fine!"

Once a month pizza is a JOKE!  It is equivalent to once a week PLUS bread, heavenly bread, and BEER!  Before you know it, in a matter of days, my entire cleanse is out the window.

I refuse to accept on some basic level that I need this special diet.  Being raised by a person who saw even a common cold as a weakness, this makes sense.  I must not be strong enough...I must not be good enough...I am a wimp, a wuss, some new-age nutritional hippie type who really only knows enough to be dangerous.  That is what some voice says in the back of my head every time I get close to taking excellent care of myself.  Care that was not taken of me as a little person.

It's why I use the term "gluten cleanse," as opposed to just saying that I am "gluten free."  That would be admitting that I am worth taking care of, that I am in need of care, that my body is more than a freaking machine.

Even while writing this, I am having a major aversion to making any sort of declaration, like "I am a gluten free chick."

No, I am still thinking that I can have a little pizza, a little beer just once a month.

I am still acting like that Dog that I mention at the beginning.

This is most definitely my internal NeglectChick, who wields the Weapon of Ill Health to keep me stuck in feeling badly about myself...oh, the webs we weave...

I will defeat her.  I have no choice in the matter, because now I know what my BlissChick needs, and in order to dance for a long time to come, I have to be healthy, inside and out.

I will move through and into this way of being one day, one week at a time.  And I know that I have all sorts of help and cheerleader chicks on my side, right?