Thursday, October 6, 2011

New Website

If you're looking for my new website, head on over to Girl on Fire, the official site for my writing and my movement studio.


Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Final Post Here but Not the End


We are at the end of Blisschick, but the beginning of something that I find extremely exciting, Girl on Fire.

Please head on over, and if you like, subscribe.  (The subscribe button can be found at the bottom of the blog page.)  Also, if you like, please share!  Starting over like this is feeling very intimidating, to be honest!

I've written different pages over there about my own story, the concept of the studio, how I think about movement and teaching, and of course, the classes and schedule for my teaching in Erie.

One of the things that has been amazing here at Blisschick has been the quality of my readership. I could count on one hand the amount of times in the 1,089 posts that I got comments that were anything but kind, smart, inquisitive, and engaged.

Thank you!  Now goFind your passion and light up the world!

Monday, September 26, 2011

As Blisschick Comes to an End, True Bliss Blossoms


That little clump of roses is possibly the last of the roses for the year. I went outside yesterday with scissors to cut some flowers to put beside my Our Lady of Guadalupe statue, and I could not bring myself to cut these last few. Everything else was just done, and this made me a bit sad.

"No more flowers for Guady." I said to Marcy as I came inside.

But then, looking toward the park from our kitchen window, even through the window that I can see from here, where I type, I notice hints of red in the leaves of the trees.  A little bright yellow here and there.

I love fall, I remember, and the last of the roses doesn't feel quite so sad. As summer ends, fall begins.

I am going to be launching a new site that is connected to my real-life work more directly. I am excited about this. I have felt...a bit of restriction with blisschick for some time now.

But I am also sad. I have written here for over three years, starting on April 15, 2008 with this post that has within it so much foreshadowing it almost takes my breath away.

I may be announcing the new site as soon as tomorrow, maybe not until Wednesday. Blisschick will stay right here, all the archives accessible, but I will not import it into the new blog.  I want a really fresh, clean slate.

Like the green, muddy earth of Spring.


Thursday, September 22, 2011

"Things change, Kundun..." or How Did All of this Happen in Under Two Years?!


I am writing content for a new site (coming soon!), and I wrote a new "about me" page, in which I told the story of my transformation in the last few years.

Few. Notice I said "few years."

I wrote in my "about me" story that three years ago I was just getting ready to go to Kripalu and change my life forever.

Nope. It was TWO years ago.  Here is one of the pre-Kripalu posts.

On the second day of October, year 2011, I will be teaching my first class in my very own studio space.

On the second day of October, year 2009, I was just getting ready to embark on this amazing journey.

So fast!  Breathlessly fast!

And when I left for Kripalu, I could not have had any freaking idea what lay before me. I thought it might be...fun.

It turned out to be transformational in so many ways that to describe it just sounds like crazy, over-hyped nonsense.

But it was that big.

So I have to wonder, as I embark on this next leg of this journey, what lies ahead? I cannot, as evidenced by the past two years, have any clue.

Just opening this studio is a dream come true but I know that even more awaits me.

In two measly years, so much as happened.

Let's make a list!

Pre-Kripalu:
  • I was still having a hard time getting out of bed on most mornings. Anxiety and depression ruled my world.
  • I, in no way, felt fulfilled. I felt stuck. I felt like I would never ever meet any part of my potential as a human being.
  • I felt lucky to have all the love I had in my life, but I was not living in gratitude for it, that's for sure.
  • I mostly felt frightened and superstitious.
  • I thought if I dared to ever want more than comfort and safety, that all I cared about would be taken from me as punishment for my greed.
  • I was drowning in stories of my past.
  • I would get moments of relief, but mostly, I was in emotional and mental pain.
  • I could not see how this was hurting Marcy -- that's how lost I was.
  • I had very few friends and the ones I did have...many of them were toxic or highly needy. You know, people I could "take care of" so that I could feel an ounce of good about myself.
  • I was physically so out of shape and uncomfortable in my body that, for a while, Marcy and I talked about how I would need a CANE soon! YES! A CANE! I had hip issues and was lucky enough to find an amazing PT in Cleveland...but IMAGINE! I thought I needed a cane!!
Well...sadly...that list could go on and on, but so could this one:

Post-Kriaplu and Presently:
  • If I ever have a hard time getting out of bed in the morning, it's because I AM SLEEPY! From being so ACTIVE and ENGAGED in my life!
  • I feel constantly and wonderfully challenged. I feel that I am able to experiment and push myself and experience the edges of my potential as I push them further and further.
  • I have so much love in my life and now the people whom I love ALSO feel loved and seen and taken care of.
  • I mostly feel interested, intrigued, awe-struck, and faithful.  Those are my predominant states of mind.
  • Now I see fear and anxiety as something to walk through.  As an invitation to learn more about myself and NEVER as something to STOP me.
  • I am no longer mired in my old stories but making new ones every day.
  • My brain is a tool. It is healing. It no longer works against me.
  • Marcy is now able to be more HERSELF, since I am not sucking all our energy.
  • I am surrounded by so many friends! This is a HUGE MIRACLE. I HAVE FRIENDS! And they are interesting, engaged, open, loving humans! We have an amazing community.
  • I am stronger, more graceful, more balanced, more creative in this body than I even was at 16.
Two years.

"Things change, Kundun," his teacher tells him in the movie. And then, he snaps his fingers.  Things change and they change fast.

If we are open to the possibility and willing to do our part.

I have been scared shitless through most of this, but I did it anyway.

So can you.


Wednesday, September 21, 2011

A Peek at the Process


A tiny step that feels significant...I thought you would like to see these!


Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Rewriting the First Noble Truth to be the First TOTALLY AWESOME Truth


I just wrote about how I almost killed all the new awesome in my life with anxiety, and I have been trying to pay closer attention to my approach to the current challenges of starting a small business since I discovered that basically I was approaching it via FREAKING OUT.

Part of how I got myself into a more grateful approach to my challenges was by filling my brain with the work of people who focus on that, like this guy and this guy in particular.

I have said it in the past and I will probably say it again a million times to myself and to you: I would rather be happy with the freaks than sad with the cynics (who mistake themselves for the intellectuals).

One of the things that has come up for me is the Buddha's First Noble Truth, translated in a couple of ways, including "Life is suffering" or the softer, lighter attempt, "Suffering exists."

Well, no shit, Sherlock.

I realized, when thinking this through, that using the First Noble Truth as a foundational belief is really getting us nowhere.  Or at least, a lot of us.

It can easily be used as an excuse for staying stuck. (Notice I did not say, "It is ALWAYS used as an excuse for staying stuck.")

I know too many people who have crap happen, and they throw up their shoulders and say, "Well...Life IS suffering after all.."

Really?

REALLY?

Let's think this through.

If your foundational belief is "suffering exists," (which is really like a no-brainer), what does this do to your outlook?  What does it do to your approach?  Do you then tend to see more suffering because you expect it?  Do you hold onto suffering like a badge?  Do you become "too comfortable" with your suffering?

I certainly was approaching a lot of good in my life expecting eventual suffering.

I could barely be happy about having my own studio, for goodness sake, waiting for a shoe or a hundred to drop.

I wonder what "suffering exists" as a continual mantra does to our hearts?  What does it do to our willpower?

I have decided not to say that anymore.

First of all, I do not agree with it in a fundamental way.

I think life is beauty, truth, love, joy.   I think shit happens -- some really difficult shit -- but I also believe our Joy is so big that we are quite capable of finding good even on our worst days.

For the most part, we wouldn't survive if shit happening were the day-to-day norm.  We wouldn't even want to get up in the morning, much less feed ourselves or...breathe.

Second, I also believe that, in large part, you get what you expect.

So it seems uber-important to make sure our internal mantras are in alignment with what we want from life.

So let's rewrite the First Noble Truth, shall we?

The First TOTALLY AWESOME Truth:  Life is Joy. Joy exists.

Repeat that over and over and see how you feel at the end of the day.


Thursday, September 15, 2011

How I Almost Killed Awesome with Anxiety

I was invited to teach at a wellness event in wine country!

If you've been reading here over the last few weeks, there is a lot of AWESOME happening in my life right now.

In person, though, you wouldn't know it to be around me.

Until yesterday when I finally noticed what the heck was going on and put a quick stop to it and made an about face in my approach and attitude.

I realized this thing I was doing and I think it's rather Big and that a lot of us tend to do it:

I was using Big Happy as something to be anxious about rather than something to feel grateful for.

Yep, instead of walking around grinning like an idiot about this amazing thing that has somehow kinda just happened to me, I was walking around with a frown and a forehead crease, picking at my cuticles like I was digging for gold.

This approach, of course, has to do with fear.

I fear that this will not last.

I fear that something will go wrong.

I fear that I will fail.

I fear, I fear, you fear, we all fear...

Those fears are about control and the illusion that we have any.

Here's the thing: I left a situation a short while ago that was not working out for me.  I took a risk. I could have stayed, but it was bad for me physically and it was hurting my students.  I left.  I didn't want to.  Staying would have been easier and it came with a certain level of...certainty.

Within days, though, of showing even a small amount of belief in the work I do, someone was already thinking of me and how much my work would be perfect in this space we are going to move into on October 1st, the Girl on Fire Movement Studio that is currently being birthed on paper.

Did you notice something there?

I barely had anything to do with the Awesome that happened.  I put out some serious intention, took a really simple risk, said Yes to the Universe in a rather whisper-y, wimpy way.

And then...AHHHH!!!! ((cue the angel songs and the bright lights))

The studio was pretty much dropped in my lap.

Not "pretty much."

The studio was totally dropped in my lap.

What did I do about this?

I started gripping, that's what I did.  I started believing I had the Control and the Power.

Ha!

This studio is happening and it feels like it's happening without me because it is.

It wants to be born.  Like a human baby, it's coming whether I think I'm ready or not.

I can freak out (which is the approach I have chosen thus far) or I can enjoy the miracle of this unfolding.

I can just say "YES!"

I can...wait for it...because it is, like, totally revolutionary...

I can opt to just. have. fun.

And DANCE.


Tuesday, September 13, 2011

A Tiny Glimpse at Kundalini Yoga


Intro to Short Spinal Series/Kundalini from Christine Claire Reed on Vimeo.

Ta-Da!  A tiny, one-take video of me and three of my committed students practicing a short spinal series plus a little extra something that I would normally do later in the class.

Even when I am teaching something like the new meditative ballet fusion class that I have created, I always start with Kundalini yoga inspired spinal movement.  It strengthens the core, creates fluidity in the spine, and is just generally a great warm up for any movement to follow.

I highly recommend this as a quick warm-up series before hatha yoga classes.

Enjoy!

(OH! If you love the music that is in the background, it's by the amazingly brilliant avant-garde cellist, Zoe Keating. Buy her stuff!)


Monday, September 12, 2011

Door Number One



That is the door to the steps that lead up to my new studio.  We still have a couple of weeks before we can get in there and get to work, but there is plenty to do in the meantime.

The first time I walked through this door, I had no idea what lay beyond. I had no idea that the space I had dreamed up in my head was through a door in the side of a graffiti-ed building.  I had no idea that my ideal studio would be above a tattoo place.

If I had allowed preconceived notions and fears to guide me, I don't know if I would have even opened this door.

What door in your life do you need to open and walk through?

For what reason are you hesitating?  What fear keeps you waiting for what looks like the perfect door?


Thursday, September 8, 2011

One Thing Leads to Another

Steps up to the studio/Graffiti will stay!

I am very uncomfortable right now.

Yesterday, we got some things from a helpful and generous friend for the studio. We loaded up the car and headed home, where I proceeded to lift something quite heavy.

I am strong, for sure, but that does not mean I am built for heavy lifting (yes, I do it "correctly"). Also, as Marcy is constantly reminding me, I make my art and my livelihood with this body; it is my instrument and I must take better care.

I torqued my lower back a bit. I am okay; it will be fine. I am sore today but this is not the discomfort of which I am really speaking.

My lower back...it makes sense.  This is the first chakra area, and I am certainly feeling unstable, uncertain, wobbly, out of control.

Out of control.  That is the big one.  As if we ever are in control...

It seems as though I take one Big Step and then I am asked to take ten more.

My voice that likes to yell, "Stay small! It's safe!" is at it again.  It is whining up a Whiny Storm of grand proportions.

And in all of this, I sit and wait, knowing it will pass, but in the meantime, I am so damn uncomfortable.  I want to scream, "STOP!" and listen to the Whiny Chorus and do as they say.

I keep getting back to, "Isn't it Big Enough to open a studio, to have a space, but now I have to open my mind to Ideas about the space that are different and much bigger and more challenging!?"

Yes.

I do.

Ick.

But yes is my word.

Damn it.


Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Wine, Chat, & (Paint) Chips: The Next Step in Building a Studio



This Friday, we are having some of my movement students over for a brainstorming party. There will be wine and snick-snacks and lots of giggling and chatting.

This studio is happening because of a bunch of women who are committed to the practices and who are courageous.  If not for them, I would not be living this life.  The studio is really theirs, and I want them to feel like that from the first moments.

One of the very fun things we will do is have them mark the backs of paint chips, and above you can see the color palette we will be working with.

The peacock range is for the main teaching/moving room and the pink range is for the tea and chatting room.

Yes! You heard that right!

There will be an actual separate room for sitting around and talking after class. I am so excited for this. I am so very excited to think we are not just building a studio but a special place for connecting and bonding on a much deeper level.


Monday, September 5, 2011

And So It Begins


It is blurry but I think you can see my excitement. (And it's blurry due to my wiggle-osity not Marcy's photo taking techniques.)

I am sitting in the stairwell that leads up to my new studio.

My. New. Studio.

That graffiti behind me is staying, because I like how wacky and unexpected it is. Also, the artists who did the graffiti in the stairwell are considered to be quite awesome and I respect their art enough not to mess with it.

And so it begins.

At this point, I am making lists lists lists of ideas and strategies. I have been contacted by a few women who, I think, will make great partners in this endeavor, who bring interesting and different.

My studio, you see, is not a yoga studio but a movement studio.  The differentiation is important to me, because I think "yoga studio" brings all sorts of assumptions and expectations with it.  There may be some yoga here but it will only be a fraction of the offerings.

Girl on Fire Movement Studio is a women's space for "passionate play and fearless fitness."

Here we go!


Friday, September 2, 2011

NERVOUS!

Toby likes new kitten Rumi just a little

At 7 this evening, I go to sign my lease for my new studio. I am feeling so very nervous.

The story making, anxiety ridden part of my brain keeps trying to convince me that somehow this is all going to fall through, that it is most certainly not meant for me to be this happy, this lucky, this fulfilled.

So today is about a morning full of teaching and then hours of petting cats to soothe my inner negative beasties.

If you are feeling at all nervous or anxious today, I thought a kitten photo would help.


Thursday, September 1, 2011

A Week of Firsts, Fears, & Freaking Fun


If it weren't for the fact that a lot of the "firsts" of this week had to do with relaxation, I would be one overwrought, freaking-out introvert!

Somehow...this week fell into place in the weirdest way.

I visited my dear friend, as I already wrote about, and she, unbeknownst to me, scheduled us for pedicures. Which I have never had. (And those are my tootsies up there enjoying the warm soak.)

I can get pretty freaked out about people...touching me so this was one for pushing buttons and boundaries (more to come of those!), and yet I am at a place in my life where I know that boundary pushing is not only good for me but tends to turn out Great!

Which this did. It was amazing. I wanted everyone to just shut up and not speak, because my feet were in HEAVEN and they wanted the rest of me to join them. Wow. This seems like such a super awesome bit of self-care for a dancer or movement educator since we ask so much of our feet.

Then I got home and the very next day, I had a full body, real-deal massage. Again, TOUCHING!  ((startled face inserted here))

And it, too, was amazing, and I am so thankful that I now see Fear as a Guide so that I know when Fear rears its ugly head, I should either talk to it or chop it off. Either way, I should not ignore it or run the other way.

I then had a meeting with two wonderful women that pertains to my new studio space coming in October, and THAT went so well.  I felt super BIG. Like a total adult in ways I have never felt.

Continuing with the TOUCHING theme...yesterday, I experienced Thai Yoga, which is, I think, quite possibly my new FAVE.  (If you live in Erie, I highly recommend these women and they are running a special right now.)

And now...DRUM ROLL...the biggest FIRST of all...

Tomorrow evening, I go to sign my lease for my studio space. I could VOMIT. Really. I am this sickening awesome mix of totally fearful and completely excited.

Wanting to vomit with fear and excitement!? I think that means I am on the right path!


Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Going Home Again

Sunday morning at a friend's

They say you can't go home again, but I think there are different ways to think about this concept that make it untrue.

This past weekend, I went on a very short trip into Ohio to visit with a person who has known me since fourth grade.

As I drove south, I had this feeling that I was driving into the past, and it didn't feel good. It felt creepy. It made me anxious. I wondered what the hell I thought I was doing.

But then the second that my friend and I started talking, I realized that I had kinda sorta driven into my past but into a really wonderful part of it.  This was a part of my past that had helped me to make it to my present.  Though my friend was my own age, she was someone (like my great aunt) who had witnessed me.  She saw the real me and she encouraged the real me to pursue her dreams.

I did not. I got way off track for a very long time.

Now I am back, and it seems so very fitting that at the time of my life when I have finally gotten around to being the real me that she witnessed, my friend re-entered my life.

She has been asking to see me for a while now...during my process of transformation she has been in the background, and this past weekend, when I told her stories of what felt like new self discoveries, she finally got to say to me, "Well...that is who you have always been."

You can go home again.  You can and must go home to your real self.  Regardless of your age or the time of your life or how stuck you might feel, it is never ever too late and it is imperative that you take this trip.


Saturday, August 27, 2011

Bits of Bliss

This week a few new things entered our lives here at the Lilypad.  Of course, first I got my very own, beautiful, amazing, how-did-this-happen-to-me movement studio, for which after this weekend, I will be frantically planning (it opens October 1st).

Then I re-painted the front door:


Oh...

Right...

Then this came to live here:


I know...we already have FOUR cats, but you see, for many of our years together, Marcy and I had FIVE. Then within about four years, we lost all of those elder cats and they went to live at Sparkle Pond.

I told Marcy, "Never more than TWO ever again."

Yep.  Whatever.

Then I told her, "Four is perfect."

Yep. Whatever.

For us, it seems that Five is the magic number.

As soon as Mister Rumi entered the house, it was like we were complete. Finally.  I didn't realize it, but we were missing one small, blue eyed puzzle piece.



Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Exciting Update!

I GOT THE SPACE!

The landlord is super awesome friendly and we just instantly agreed on everything.  I felt comfortable with him right away, so that was cool.

Starting on October 1st, my movement work and teaching will have its very own, huge, wooden-floored, light-filled space.

And here's the really wacky serendipitous thing: you know that Great Aunt who was my main witness when I was little? The one I wrote about here and elsewhere?

Her house used to be about three buildings away from my new studio.  When I walk in that neighborhood, sometimes, I can still smell her...

Yep.  This is where I belong, truly.

I think she helped.

Now I am off to make LISTS!  Glorious mountains of LISTS!

If any of you dear readers have any suggestions or ideas or anything at all to share with me about this process, do tell. I am all ears!


Puppy versus Big Dreams


Note: This story does not end with puppies. A necessary spoiler so you aren't disappointed.

A few weeks ago, Marcy was suddenly enamored of the idea that I have a puppy. She got it into her cute skull that I would do really well with an "emotional support animal" that I could take everywhere with me.  I think she had an image along these lines in her head.

Fast forward a couple weeks and suddenly I am presented with the most perfect space EVER for a bricks and mortar studio of my very own.

I am, right now, in that wait and see stage of things that I hate.  I am waiting to hear from the landlord, who, I think, is already pretty settled on me, but I will not go into high gear with planning until I have signed a lease.

After first seeing the space, I was nothing but excited, and then the fears started to kick in.

For the first time, I could clearly hear the voices of my fears. I could clearly hear what they were saying.  Usually, my fears are more nebulous.  They are mostly feelings, body stuff.

But my level of awareness has increased a ton over the last couple of months and so this time, these fears took on a solidity that they have never had, and they kept repeating the same thing to me over and over:

"Stay small. Stay small. This is too scary! STAY SMALL! You should just get that emotional support animal..." (Insert images of me and cute dog with cute outfits having cute, but small, times together...ahhh...soft and simple and....SMALL...)

"Don't get big. It's too scary. You cannot possibly take on such responsibilities.  Small is super SAFE. You have always chosen small for us before and we like it."

On and on, these voices droned for a couple of days.  And I let them.

I let my fears have their say and I did not respond.  Little did my fears know, they were making no headway. I was listening but I was not taking their advice and I had no plans to.  I was just listening.  They were there; they had things to say. Telling my fears to "shut it!"...well, that just makes them yell things even louder.

Instead, I just continued to listen.  And you know what? They must have gotten tired, lost their voices, because there is the echo of what they had to say, for sure, but I don't hear fresh material coming from them any more.

I am still afraid, for sure.  Acting on Big Dreams should be a bit scary or you aren't dreaming big enough.

But fear, schmear. I am moving forward regardless...and without that puppy who would have kept me acting way too safe.


Monday, August 22, 2011

(Slow) Media Fast Failure...and Back to It

Photo by Marcy/Amusement Park on Our Lake

Last week, right after I wrote the update post about my negative media fast, I fell off the wagon.

It was quite accidental. Someone posted something on facebook that looked rather innocent and I clicked on the link and landed on something that instantly and thoroughly pissed me off.  (It doesn't even matter what it was.)

This sent me into a rapid descent.  In no time whatsoever, I was angry at the WORLD.

This does me no good. This does the world no good.  This anger is not, in any way, productive or justified.

It is anger for anger's sake.  A sort of "entitlement anger."

This happens to the best of us and it is the worst of us.

It does not lead to good deeds or world change or even very localized change, for that matter. It is that sort of anger that lets people THINK they are doing something when they rant on facebook, for example, but in reality, they are just adding to the River of Ugly and Ick.

This anger, otherwise, completely feeds on itself.

There is anger out there that feeds on com/passion and social justice, and it fuels works that need to happen, but most of us do not experience that sort of anger or this world would be very different indeed.

How did I deal with falling off this wagon?

Like any addict, I started over, with day one, with the "next right thing."

Here are some more sites to help replace the negative ones in your life, in case you are feeling the pull of all the nonproductive crap out there:





Thursday, August 18, 2011

Discussing Chronic Grief & Healing Over at Svasti

A while ago, the wonderful Svasti asked me to be a part of her interview series, Chronic Yogi, about yoga teachers who suffer from chronic illnesses of all sorts.

Since she asked me, I have been thinking about this idea of "diagnosis" and how exactly I would label what I suffered from and finally, in the last couple of years, overcome.

I started answering her questions before I knew.  Her questions were very thought provoking and I ended up sort of, well, vomiting copious amounts of words!  Poor Svasti!

But I think it turned out to be my best interview ever, where I really articulate this journey.

And I did finally come up with my "label:"  Chronic Grief.

Go here to read.  And be sure you have a few minutes, because it's, umm..., a little long.


Wednesday, August 17, 2011

(Slow) Media Fast Now


One week and one day.  Eight little days.

I thought it had been much longer since I wrote this post and declared myself on a (Slow) Media Fast.

I am much more of a negative news addict than I thought. I have only been "dry" for eight days. What?!  How is that possible?!

Sigh. I really thought it had been at least a couple of weeks.

I have only been tempted, though, a couple of times.  Thanks to Facebook; I almost just automatically clicked on someone's negative news link.  I caught myself just in time.

If you are attempting to participate in this Fast, how have you been doing?

And have you found any alternatives? Any more happy?

I have!

I think I first stumbled upon Hug Nation many months ago, but still being a negative news junkie, I didn't take it all that seriously.  I mean, COME ON!  HUG NATION!?

Then, just recently, thanks to Google+ actually, I stumbled upon John Halcyon Styn's work again and I am just in love with this guy's videos. (And his hair...and his style...)

I don't listen to a lot of stuff like this. I find it too sugary. My sweet tooth is not that big.

Yet...there is something about Styn's delivery of the material that makes it more like a meal than the typical dessert cart fluff that is floating around out there.

If you haven't yet joined in the negative news fast, what's stopping you?

Join us and see what happens.

One day at a time...


Monday, August 15, 2011

Do You Have a Play Plan?


If you can make that photo bigger (and you should be able to, because I never "lock" them), you might be able to see how relaxed my face is. I love being near the water and that day at the beach was extracoolawesome. It was windy and she was really stirred up..."she" referring to the lake, of course.

After attending the trauma workshop, I was out of sorts, as I have mentioned. Finally, late last week I had an appointment with my favorite energy healer.

She put me back together again with the aid of singing bowls, which she kept placing on and around me, inviting them to sing their songs of health and happy into my physical and subtle bodies.

At the end of the appointment, she asked if I had been to the beach lately.

Um...no...

I have, most ashamedly, barely been to the beach this summer at all.

Water is my main healing agent and this lake...if it weren't for this lake, who knows where I would live, because she is truly my anchor to this place.

Marcy took me immediately and then we got these great pictures.

Going to the beach reminded me of my favorite day at the trauma workshop. We were lucky enough to have a guest teacher, Steve Gross, Head Play Expert Extraordinaire of the organization Life is Good Playmakers.  (Watch this; it's so well done.)

We played with a colored parachute, beach balls, music. Steve has this way about him that just opens you up.  (I, and another girl at the workshop, discussed how we were nervous for this particular segment, and that as soon as we saw him, we were all like, "Oh, we LOVE him."  Instantly.  That is the power of his energy.)

The main thing I learned from Steve is that play is not always about being silly.  Play is about experimenting, exploring, connecting, and doing all of this in an environment that feels safe and allows you to make your own choices.

He also emphasized the idea of a "Play Plan."

As adults in this culture, we plan plan plan for everything, don't we?  But it is predominately the sort of planning that is about "controlling."  We hope we can control all the bad things, for example, or we hope we can control what would happen after a bad thing.

But a PLAY PLAN?!  Who makes a play plan?  That sounds, well, TOO FREAKING FUN!

And as adults, we should really be having as little fun as possible. There is work to be done, weeds to be pulled, meals to be cooked...

BLAH BLAH BLAH

Play is what makes life worth living and not just for your toddler.  Play is creative and stimulating.  The very act of play is an assertion of optimism over dread, grief, fear, darkness in general.

Play is the most important work you can do, really.

When you are thinking about your play plan, you can think about a couple of things:

First, what did you used to do when you were little, a teenager, last week...that would make you lose all sense of time.

Second, what sorts of things do you say "Oh...I could never do that..." to?

Third, how could you leak play all over the people around you?  How could you include the people you love?

My Play Plan


I vow to play more in general. To not take everything so damn seriously.


I will go to the beach MORE MORE MORE.


I will take more day trips to see and experience new things.

I will not worry about looking silly, even when I am wearing my tutu in public.


I will wear my tutu in public.


I will save up and buy pink glitter wheeled roller skates and stop talking about pink glitter wheeled roller skates.


I will do more things with no point or goal in mind...

You get the idea.

I will be working to make my plan plan more specific over the coming days and weeks.

Here's what you can do:

Create a play plan for yourself.

Leave it here in the comments.

Or write a whole blog post about your plan and then come back and leave the link in the comments.


Friday, August 12, 2011

Unconditional Love for Self or Others is Never Bad but Maybe Your Definition Sucks

At the lake on a VERY windy day!
There is a wider conversation going on here, of course, about loving the body, thanks to a very damaging Glamour article entitled, Loving My Body Almost Killed Me.

(To read more about the many ways that that article is misleading and quite horrible beyond the title, go here and here.)

What?

That is how sick we are in this culture, that we can write a title like that, but what does one expect from a magazine whose existence is predicated on the thesis that you are not happy with any aspect of your life? But wait! "They" have the answers and it all has to do with being thin and finding the right man and wearing sexy jeans.

Hurray for answers!

Not.

We are very messed up about love in this culture, in general. We think it's okay, for example, that people who "love" us, treat us badly. We don't see anything wrong with the way some parents abuse their children and we tell the adult child, "they loved you as best they could." No, actually, they didn't.

Let's stop using the word love in such filthy ways, shall we?

If you need a  brush up course on what unconditional love actually looks like in action, read this book. Like, right now.

For this post, let's focus on the body stuff, 'kay?

Unconditionally loving your body, as the author of that piece does not seem to understand, has two parts -- like the sides of a ladder.

She was trying to climb a ladder that was missing one side and that is always dangerous and well, stupid.

She understood that one side of the ladder was made up of "Acceptance," but she was missing the other side, "Care."

This is the magical formula:

Unconditional Love for Your Body = Acceptance + CARE

You cannot just take care of the body, either, because if you are not accepting, then "care" becomes as twisted as our twisted versions of what masquerades for "love" in these parts.

"Care" becomes that woman on the elliptical who has that dead look in her eyes (you know you've seen her) and the only light in them comes from the calorie counter in her head.

"Care" becomes the dude who thinks if his shoulders only get an inch bigger, he can finally have the life he always dreamed of.

"Care" becomes hording, vomiting, binging, lying, obsessing, hurting.

But if we accept our bodies as in this love equation, then care becomes feeding nutritious foods with that occasional yummy treat.

Care becomes dancing til you sweat buckets and fall over in a tumble of giggles -- from good tired and not from exhaustion.

Care becomes taking risks that push you past your comfort zones but are still safe and kind.

Care and acceptance.

Acceptance and care.

If you don't have both, you don't know what love is.

And that is what will kill you.

Because love is always good. Love is always the cure.


Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Set Point: Do You Even Know What Your Body WANTS to Weigh?


As you may recall, I have not owned a scale for many years due to the fact that it was an object of extreme obsession. I would weigh myself multiple times a day, including after exercise and after tinkling. I was ruled by that thing for all of my teen years and quite a few of my adult years.

Other numbers, of course, can take the place of a scale, and I have since learned not to cave into counting calories or believing in the arbitrary and very bad (practically NO) science of the overused (as in "should never be used") BMI.

In the two and half years since I have returned to dance and my body has shown its thanks and relief by being healthier, stronger, and more creative than ever in my life, it is impossible not to notice the number that is the size of my clothing as it shrinks. I do not have any clue how to stop being somewhat mesmerized by that, but I have come so far and expecting perfection of any kind is the basis of the problem to begin with.

So this past weekend, Marcy and I visited a house with a scale in the bathroom, and I, thinking I have come so far, stepped on it "out of pure curiosity."

There is nothing PURE about that particular curiosity. It is pure bullshit. I wanted to see if my number was "small enough," if I could be as happy as I feel.  Pure and simple self judgment, that.

The number on the scale, big surprise, was not what I wanted it to be. It was downright disappointing. It was the number I used to get stuck at in high school.

It is that sort of number that most of us refer to as "the Wall."

It was the number that I would be feeling kinda healthy at and someone in my family (or more than one someone) would say, "you could really stand to lose ten or fifteen pounds..."

Every time. And I would drop into my cycle of starve and binge and starve and exercise, and stave and self hate, and starve and...  You know all about it, I'm sure.

Sometimes I would dip down to the number those people thought was more ideal (and at one point, I went far below it but that is another story) and I would stay there for a wee bit but I was always hungry, always thinking about food, always trying not to think about food.

That number?  That number is not a Wall; that number is called my Set Point, people, and it is what my body wants to weigh. It is what she likes to weigh.

And my body knows better than me and yours knows better than you, because this set point is determined by more chemicals and genes and circumstances than you can even imagine. (Read this book if you are wanting more.)

Here's the really ridiculous thing: if you saw me, if you hugged me, you would only notice how small I am, but I was raised to believe that small is only small when it is almost gone.

The other thing? If you saw me dance, you would only notice how graceful, strong, and flexible I am.

So I am learning, right now, to deal with the Beautiful Reality of Set Point Weight.

Think about the Body Wisdom that this Set Point demonstrates!

And think about how we denigrate and deny and destroy that wisdom every time we give in to all the hateful energy of the media, every time we let someone (including the medical community) judge us based on how we look, every time we step on that scale and a litany of curses rolls off our tongues as we lash ourselves to tiny, bloody, broken bits.


Tuesday, August 9, 2011

(Slow) Media Fast

Tuppy & Lilly

I have had enough. My full is beyond filled. My head feels like it is stuffed and close to ex or im-ploding.

Here is the main thing I have learned: that no matter how "informed" I am, it doesn't matter to my life, except that it makes my life more anxious, more fear-based, less joyful.

The "news" does nothing for me but bad things. The "news" makes me sit still and worry, when I could be doing something good for myself and those around me. The "news" makes me make decisions out of fear rather than making choices that are about growth, expansion, learning.

So I am declaring a long-term Negative Media Fast.

I am slowing down and fasting.

I am hoping you will join me.

Stop reading* how terrible everything is and start working in the right here, right now of your life to make everything beautiful and joyful.

(*This includes not just hard news sites but facebook and twitter feeds and blogs that are filled with, what people think, is "essential and informative" or even just their negative attitudes that do nothing but feed the already unhelpful, wider dialogue out there.)

Stop believing that we are going to hell in a hand basket and weave something better in your local, immediate life.

Think outside the Box of Ick.

Part of the issue for me is Morning Routine. I read emails and look at headlines. (I already do not have television in the house and have not watched tv news for many years.)

So I know I need New & Better Morning Routines, and for that reason, I looked for some Positive Happy News sites and found a few to share.

If you know of others, please link in the comments.

But for now:
Positive News (our of the UK)



I am putting these on my toolbar so I can go to them even more easily than "hard news" sites, which I am getting rid of and would have to "search" for.


Friday, August 5, 2011

Choose Your Side Well


If I were one of those fear-mongering, apocalyptic types (whether disguised as "religion" or "politics" or "news"), I could certainly come up with a list of reasons to be afraid of life right now.

But I refuse to give into them.

Life can always seem scary. Every generation has its trials and difficulties. We are just way more informed now (and I assert way too informed, for that matter).

Every generation also has its victories and its beauty and its truth and its spirit and its faith and its love.

Which do you choose?

Which side are you on?

Which monsters or angels are you feeding?

What are you contributing?