Thursday, March 31, 2011

More Old Stories Given the Boot

Shadow Portrait at the Beach

Here's another old story I am having to call into the office and hand a pink slip: I do not like having company.

Part of that story is that I can't stand people in my space; I don't want to have to entertain them, etc.

A deeper part of the story is that I have never been that great at having friends.

This past Friday, Lisa came up from Dayton, Ohio to stay until Monday lunch time.  She wanted to attend my classes and my special Sunday workshop on depression and anxiety, but she also just wanted to visit. I had last seen her for dinner when I was in Yellow Springs, Ohio at an Erich Schiffmann retreat last late summer.

I wanted to see her but I was also functioning through that old story and therefore, partially dreading having someone in our house for three nights.

Oh, my!  My insides are truly changing, because Monday rolled around, and I actually felt sad that she was leaving; I actually was wishing she had planned to stay longer.

Talk about a shock to my system!

Furthermore, I realized that the "not good at having friends" story is pretty...dead.  I keep trying to give it life, trying to tell it to myself, but it's no longer holding water, as I currently find myself surrounded by people  Some of whom I even adore.

Remember, when I was little we were isolated a lot and we moved a lot.  This was a perfect cocktail of circumstances to train me in the "Friend Release" technique that I became adept at.

No longer. I am attached to people.

There. I admit it.

(And yes, if you are wondering, Marcy's head in the center IS wearing a hat with EARS.)

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Stories in Need of a Pink Slip

Lake Thawing

I just had my very first Skype experience today.  I have put off using this technology, telling myself (and anyone else who asked) that I am not  a "phone" girl in whatever form that might take.

It's one of those stories...

I am an introvert. I do not like people in anything but micro doses. I talk too much. I am too loud. I am too opinionated. People do not like me that much; they just put up with me.  I need a ton of downtime. I can only put out so much energy a day...

You get the idea.

Guess what? (And Marcy would yell, "Chicken BUTT!")

Guess what for real?

I loved my time on Skype today.  It was very likely the excellent company, but I also felt...okay afterwards.  This is a big deal.

After something like that (and it was recorded for your eventual viewing), I go through all the "dumb stuff" I said or how I let my hands fly around too much and that will "look stupid." I would start to panic, wondering "what will people think?"

I started to feel that happen. I started to feel those old stories waking up and stretching and preparing their assault.

And then I just decided, Nope, Not gonna do it.  Buh-bye.

Those old stories are OLD. Crusty. Dusty. Musty crap.

They no longer serve me so they are given notice as of right now.

I am processing more Pink Slips as I write this.  Thinking about, for example, how much my introvert story is not...very true.  That when I teach, I am like a desert nomad finding water in an oasis and I just drink and drink and students offering up cup after cup of beautiful, clear, clean energy.

What stories are redundant for you? What stories need a pink slip and a boot kickin'?

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Nutrification Vacation

Lake Erie's Breaking Ice

As a preface to this post: If you know me in real life, you know that there is a seriousness to my demeanor that is balanced, I think, by a deep silliness.  For one thing, I love to just make up words.  I love to turn phrases and words into verbs.  Whatever gets my point across!

This Sunday after teaching a long workshop about depression and anxiety, I then had to also teach my regularly scheduled Kundalini yoga & movement class.

On Sundays in particular, I talk a bit at the beginning.  Sometimes I start with a quote, but a lot of times, I just talk about what's been on my mind.  The synchronicity of this, of course, is that it often matches what has been on many students' minds.

On this Sunday, after that workshop, I realized that I was thinking about how we do (not) take care of ourselves.  How I, in particular, just keep going, pushing...

I had been getting lectured at with much love by not only Marcy but by Lisa who had come for a long weekend visit (which was wonderful!).  Now, I can ignore Marcy (ha!), but with Lisa, it was a tag team.  They were both concerned that I never take real down time, and Marcy has decided she wants to send me here for a couple of nights all by myself without a computer (!!?!?!).  It is off season so it will be very quiet.

During my Sunday talk all of this was coming out as I was still mulling it over.

I asked the class how we "nutrify" ourselves.  Nutrify!  What a word.  (It turns out that it's a word for real... who knew?!?!)

What kind of nutrification do you offer yourself?

I am a few days into an 18 day stretch of no full days off.  How does this happen?

This post is a bit all-over because that's what my brain currently feels like...

How to "nutrify" this body and mind and spirit?

That question has led to more questions.

Like, what work am I really doing?  What work deserves better attention?  More focused attention?  What am I trying to accomplish and why?

This is just more of the hamster wheel conversation.

I don't see any answers to these questions in my near future.  I have decided to attempt a period of discernment where I am just sitting with the questions.  And then in late April, I will obey Marcy and Lisa and take that Nutrification Vacation.  Perhaps amongst those old trees, near that small lake, in all that quiet and solitude, I will finally be able to hear what my heart needs to say.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Round & Round the Hamster Wheel

Almost time for this...


Lately, I feel like I am always just pushing.  Trying. Grasping. Reaching. Running. Yes, running, round and round.

Do you ever feel like this?  Like all the effort just keeps getting recycled and there never seems to be any pause, any let up?

This is extra frustrating to me right now, because I feel like it shouldn't be the case. I feel like... I have found this work that I am meant to do, shouldn't there be some sense of least, some of the time?

How is it possible that I can still feel like a damn hamster?

I know that there must be something I am resisting...that it is me who is making this harder than it has to be, but I am having a difficult time stepping off that wheel because it's spinning so fast.

Thursday, March 24, 2011


I am feeling quiet.  Which is funny because on the inside I am buzzing like a bee, building nests like a frantic bird, awakening to spring like a hungry bear.

Today, I am working on my depression and anxiety workshop which takes place this coming Sunday.  If you are in Erie, join us!  No need to sign up...that can wig people out, especially people who aren't feeling great about things in general.  Come Sunday, a little before 3 PM, to Dharma Yoga, 722 West 8th Street ($25), and we'll work on feeling a little bit better.  You'll leave with a whole array of methods to deal with all the ick.

There are people coming from out of town for this workshop -- and to visit with us -- so there are a million things to do to prepare.

On top of this, my new website is swimming around, darting back and forth in my head, like one of those bright tropical fish that never pauses to check out the coral.

New ideas about how to do this work that I love are popping up like crocuses.

And I am obviously high on some simile-making drug...

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Of Two Minds

Daisy and Toby

I am recovering from a kick-my-ass flu.  I rarely get sick, and this time, my body decided it was time for me to be knocked down, so that I might get some real rest.

It is no wonder that I caught this bug.  My stress levels have been at all time highs.  All my own doing.

Struggling with chronic depression and anxiety disorders can get ugly, obviously, but lately, it has been the ugliest.  I am only writing now, because I am definitely seeing the light at the end of this very dark tunnel.

And, of course, I have learned so much, but...I do not wish to go back -- ever -- to this particular school.

Here's something BIG that I have figured out:  If you suffer from chronic mental health issues, you are of two minds.  There is Sick Mind, a deeply embedded set of patterns and habits.

If you are still alive, though, somewhere in there is Healthy Mind, constantly trying to get your attention, constantly begging to be chosen over Sick Mind.

Dancing, yoga, eating right, getting enough sleep...all of it...the real reason for it is to feed this Healthy Mind, to make her strong enough to finally eclipse Sick Mind.

Here's the really hard part and this will piss some people off (just a couple weeks ago, that would have included me): This is all a choice.

A speaker from a local mental health organization came to the library once.  He and a patient both discussed the fact that no matter how "crazy" someone seems, somewhere in there, they are making choices about their behavior.

It's hard to admit this about ourselves: we are choosing.

Lying in bed all day, crying, instead of getting up to take a walk?  That is a choice.

Yelling at your loved one instead of simply discussing your pain?  That is a choice.

Not living the beautiful, gift-filled, love-filled life you are meant for?  A choice.

Always there is a choice to be made.

There are reasons, for sure, that we have made bad choices.  We were hurt; our inner resources were not nurtured; love was not a priority.

But once you see these Two Minds, there is no longer any excuse.  Healthy Mind is calling, yelling, begging.

Time to get moving...

Monday, March 21, 2011

How Justine Got Her Sparkle Back

Tomorrow is the official launch of the Sparkles e-course designed by Jamie Ridler.  I am one of the instructors you will receive a "lesson" from over the 31 days.

As part of the launch, Jamie has generously allowed each of the teachers to give away one free registration.

The rabbits in this house have spoken and the winner of this registration is:

Justine, if you could email me at pinkyogi at gmail dot com from the email address you'd like to use for Sparkles, I can pass that information onto Jamie and get you signed up!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Five Minutes to Fool Your Brain: Try it!

I was lucky enough to be asked by Jamie Ridler to be one of the instructors for her awesome and shiny Sparkles e-course, and yesterday, she posted a piece by me that is a free sample of the sort of stuff in that e-course.

Go here to read.  It's about how five minutes can make all the difference in your creative life.

Remember, too, that you can win a free registration to Sparkles by commenting on this post.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

When "Good" is Not Actually Good

For Lent, I am reading a guide by Richard Rohr, an amazing Franciscan writer.  One more thinker/writer whom I adore and who is often on lists of "dissenters," lists I would be proud to be named on, lists created by people who do not get it, who see life through a lens of fear, who see God as Judge. Christ came specifically to speak to these people, but as he said, "the poor shall always be with you."  Poor of spirit, for sure.  (Sigh. I am in a bit of a desert right now, feeling surrounded by ignorance, intolerance, hypocrisy.)

I read this particular passage before a yoga class this week. It is something that has been on my mind a lot -- this idea that there are many "good" choices to be made, but what is the "right" choice?  How do we discern true good from false?

"...let me point out something we almost always fail to notice. We can only be tempted to something that is good on some level, partially good, or good for someone, or just good for us and not for others.  Temptations are always about "good" things, or we could not be tempted... Most people's daily ethical choices are not between total good and total evil, but between various shades of good, a partial good that is perceived as an absolute good (because of the self as central reference point), or even evil that disguises itself as good.  These are what get us into trouble."


I think this is exactly what eventually binds us to regret, obligation, bitterness.

Where do you do this in your own life?

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Blisschick is 3!

My favorite tulip, Greenlander

For some reason today, I thought, "How long have I been blogging?"

And it turns out to be three years.  EXACTLY.

Today is the 3rd Anniversary of Blisschick.


Focusing on the Cure (rather than the Symptoms)

Paint Chip for Writing Room Re-Do

The photo does not do that color justice, even though I did some "deepening" of it.  Still not deep enough but the name of the color gives you a good clue.

I have had a beautiful, energizing orange writing room for a few years now, but I was given this vision of immersing myself in an ocean colored room and it felt so peaceful that we are going to make it a reality some time in the coming Spring.

I think this particular vision of peaceful ocean blue was the beginning of an epiphany about health and happiness.

I have come to realize that I focus too much on symptoms and dis-ease when I should be focusing on the cure.

Which is Love.

Love is the Cure for everything, and I know this, but I do not act on it.  I do not integrate that knowing into my every day life, in particular in the way I treat myself.

For instance, for Lent I am giving up mistrust, but that, turns out, is really the wrong lens through which to look.

Rather than giving up mistrust, I must give up barriers to love. I must increase my awareness of love.

The metaphor I came up with that works for me is a scab.  (I hate scabs.  Like, hate them.  I can watch surgery but I cannot stand the sight of a scab!)

Focusing on getting rid of symptoms is like picking at the scab.  Pick Pick Pick and then it falls off...but it bleeds and it has to re-scab. Eventually there is a scar.

Instead of pick pick pick, apply vitamin E cream.  The scab will fall off, yes, but in its own time and naturally, leaving no scar, creating no new bleeding. You won't even notice. One day, you'll go to apply the vitamin E cream and the scab will just be gone.


So the question that remains is: What is your Vitamin E cream?

Monday, March 14, 2011

Some Inspiration for You (and Me)

Right now, I am processing some really big stuff.  Feeling broken open, hopeful, but also tired.  So no big writing today.

I am in love with this choreographer's work and find his methods so inspriational:

Friday, March 11, 2011

Giving Away Sparkles

Sparkles is this amazing e-course designed by the lovely and effervescent Jamie Ridler.

She is smart enough to know that women want to be more creative but have some blocks, and one of these biggest blocks is time.

If you register for Sparkles, for 31 days, you will get assignments in your Inbox.  Here's the genius of Jamie's approach: these assignments are designed to only take five minutes!

Five minutes to explore your creativity and to create health and vitality of the heart and body and mind.

Five Minutes to Set Your Soul to Sparkle!

I was lucky enough to be asked by Jamie to participate and so you will receive, in those 31 days, an assignment from me that is all about the hips!  (ooh la la!)

And because I am one of the 31 guides in this e-course, Jamie is letting me give away one free registration!

Here's the deal:

In the comments, tell me a story about your Sparkle.  How you lost or maintained it.  Where you think you left it. Where you last saw it. Why you want it back.

Anything.  Just tell me a story.

Some time before March 22nd (when registration begins), one of the rabbits who lives here will pick a winner.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Ashes, Ashes...

Toby in Ukulele Box (from one of Marcy's Bday presents)

Yesterday was the beginning of the Lenten season.

I go to the Cathedral here in Erie, a large, amazing, stone block structure.  But during Mass, the winds were so strong that the building was being played like some out of tune instrument.  Even in that building that feels like it has risen from the earth, I felt worried and anxious.

"Be Free from all Anxiety..."

Umm...nope.  Haven't quite gotten to that level of trust yet.

I went to Ash Wednesday Mass thinking that I wasn't going to "give up" anything for Lent, per say, but that I would just mindfully and closely follow the season and see what happened.  I had a guide at the ready.  I was set!  GO!

But as often happens in Mass, I got some clarity about my approach.

There is nothing wrong with just following along closely and being more mindful day to day.

But I most certainly do have something that I need to work on giving up and this 40 days before Holy Week is just the time.

As this wind blows away the Winter and blows in the Spring, I too have things to release so that other things might grow.

For Lent, I am giving up mistrust.

You heard me.

It's not supposed to be easy.  Sugar is easy.  Mistrust.  Not so much.

HOW will I do this?  By watching for and then routing out those impulses that tell me, Oh, NO! Something Bad will happen!  Oh, No, everything can't be okay, right?

This Lent, I will attempt to release my basic sin -- as in Aquinas' view of sin, meaning that which blocks us from love or that which is misdirected love.

Mistrust has held me back from fully embracing and giving myself over to all that I claim to love.

Time to say buh-bye.

If a strong wind could blow away something that you no longer need, what would it be?

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Feminine Wisdom: A Gift and A Challenge

My friend, Heather Plett, a woman whom I have had the privilege to meet in person and to sit with and talk deeply from the heart over a good glass of wine, has birthed a most beautiful project that she is now, with generosity and love, offering to you all for free.

I am honored to be a part of this project, and the piece I wrote about the way we treat our bodies being reflected in every human-created institution made me think more deeply than ever about the healing movement teaching that I do on a daily basis.

So I thank Heather for asking these questions and asking me to go with her on this journey of exploration and discovery.

Go here to download your copy of Sophia Rises: Changing the World through Feminine Wisdom.

This e-book could be used in a million ways.  The material in it is varied and thoughtful.

I imagine it being used by teachers and mentors in every setting.  I imagine using pieces of it myself in my movement classes.

It could be used to start a woman's wisdom and leadership circle in your own home!

Pass it around!  Print it out!  Gift it!

Let me know what you think it could be used for.  It is not meant to just sit on our desktops; it is meant for the wider world -- as is the feminine wisdom of which it speaks.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Small Change = Big Change

When I first purchased this Filofax many months ago, I thought I was getting it to keep track of myself.

I was feeling very overwhelmed at the time, having finally really figured out what my individual mental health symptoms all added up to.  I was also feeling very determined to overcome all of it once and for all so I saw this as part of my "program."

I got the Filofax to track symptoms, triggers, things that helped, ways to distract myself when my brain was acting up (or out).  I was even tracking my food, because when I am in the midst of a downward spiral, I forget to eat.

This tracking lasted a short time, because I discovered some things that quickly made a huge difference in my life.  I also was teaching dance and yoga more and more.

Otherwise, I was really starting to live the life I was meant to live.

Tracking symptoms was becoming less and less of an imperative.  More and more of some obligation to an old version of myself.

This past Thursday, I made a big change.

I tore all the tabs out of my Filofax that had to do with my disease, and I replaced those tabs with My Life.

Those tabs are now for tracking my ideas, my passion, my dreams, my goals.

Those tabs are now all about YES!

Monday, March 7, 2011

Witnessing Women's Beauty

Painting by Heather Plett

I have always felt judged by other women.  No matter my size at any point in my life, there were woman telling me I was either too heavy or too thin.  No matter my hair color, there have been women who think it's their obligation to point out my mistake.

For every man who might have complimented me, there were women waiting in line to cut me down.

We are a catty crew.

We are raised to see each other as competition.  We are raised to believe we are never good enough and not nearly as good as that one over there.

We are raised that beauty is our only measure but that we will never, ever measure up.

A mother, a sister, an aunt, a school teacher, the woman at the counter, our culture, a "friend."

Someone, somewhere has taught us our lessons well.

And so we have become blinded by this measuring stick that is stuck in our eyes.  This pointy stick of perfection.

We walk around thinking we are seeing each other but we are only seeing all our own self-loathing, all our desperate wanting, all our own unfulfilled desires, our own feelings of invisibility.

We treat each other based upon these blinded visions.

We see only parts stuck together rather than whole people.

We do no look past our disgust over her fat because we are afraid we could be just like that or that we are already; we do not look past her "perfect body" because we can't see that she is suffering deeply and only desires love.

We see only parts.

We do not see because we do not look for we are so afraid of having that look be returned.  We are so afraid of our own vulnerability, our own naked cravings, and to really see someone, to truly witness another is to automatically be witnessed ourselves.  And that feels way too scary.

We see only parts.

Heather Plett at Sophia Leadership is asking an important question to celebrate the 100th anniversary of International Women's Day.

How can women change the world and
how can we change the world for women?

This is how:

We can witness each other for the uniquely beautiful expressions of the Infinite Divine that each of us is.

We can see the Whole Woman and her Heart rather than just her stomach or her ass or her hair.

We can tell her that her beauty shines from her like the sun.

We can care for one another as we have never been cared for.

We can stop cutting each other down, looking for deficiencies with eyes like butchers.

We can stop searching for imperfect parts and start seeing the Perfect Whole.

Here's a new game you can play every time you see another woman:  Witness Her Beauty.

(It's not too late to have your say; go here and you can link your own answer post to Heather's question.)

Friday, March 4, 2011

True BlissChicks

I have a new favorite blog that is so totally inspiring.  All of us need to read it every day to remember that we have no excuses and that the only time is right now.

No more excuses for staying small or allowing ourselves to act from an intentionally shy space. No more excuses for not letting out your Glitter Queen, if you happen to have one inside.  No more excuses for not vocalizing from deep in your belly.  No more excuses for allowing anyone to ever make you feel shame for your bright and beautiful self.

No more excuses ever again for holding back in any way.

Check out Advanced Style.

And right here is my current favorite.  I LOVE HER!  She is amazing and beautiful and I am now on the look out for a skirt like that...

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Muscle Release for Back Health -- or How I Got Away with Shoveling Heavy Snow

Rabbit Altar by Marcy

In the world of traditional dance, I am "old."  That is, of course, why I have nothing to do with "traditional" dance, but rather choose to forge my own path.  I am not "old," by any stretch of the imagination, and if you saw how I could stretch, it wouldn't matter your age -- you'd be impressed.

I am more flexible and a lot stronger than I was at 16, when I was strong and flexible by anyone's measurements.

The biggest difference now is that I know I have to take care of this body, that I have to treat her well, that I have to be smarter than I was at 16 when injury seemed like a badge of honor.

I want to be doing what I am doing until my last days.

Marcy wouldn't let me help shovel the driveway a week or so ago, because, as she said, my body is my instrument, my art medium, and I must treat her with the respect due to any piano or easel and then some.

But then a storm hit and Marcy was at work and she was not going to be able to get the car anywhere near our driveway.

I shoveled.

And this made me really take extra care for the rest of the day, including instituting a new nighttime routine.

The next day, I felt fantastic.  Actually?  I felt the best I had felt since my workshop, when I was completely pain free for an entire week.

I tend to suffer from some back issues (due to some spinal stuff), but the MORE I move, the better I feel.  I tend not to move nearly enough if I am at home.  So workshops are when I feel best.

Not anymore!

What I did only took about ten minutes and I did it at the foot of our bed on the floor.

First, I noodled.

Then I used these.

That was it.  Ten minutes of some deep muscle release brought about with a couple of simple tools and some deep breathing.

Of course, I think these simple tools are more likely to work if you are also doing some sort of daily something -- like yoga or walking or dancing or whatever it is that makes you feel happy and sweaty at the same time.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Gluten Free is Not Depression Free or Other Ways I Help My Brain

Lilypad, February 2011

The snow in the above photo is starting to melt, and hopefully, that is the last big storm of this Winter.  But it might not be.  We tend to get snow here on our open, bright yellow forsythia, and sometimes it is not just a few flurries but a giant, wet, heavy amount of white -- the kind where we fear all the budding things will be killed, though they never are.  Spring things are tough fighters.

I hope that the gluten I ate last week and had to struggle through a purging of was the last of the last of that for me.  Most likely it's not.  Accidents happen and yet I am a tough fighter and optimistic like that forsythia, the daffies (as we call them), and the tulips.

Things outside of me, like weather, even when they are inside of me, like gluten, never get the last word.  I do.

But that's because on top of learning how to help myself through my diet (and here is the post that explains the connection between gluten and depression), I have a whole arsenal of weapons that I employ in this battle.

Don't like the "war" metaphor?  You probably have been lucky enough never to have the depression that I and others have experienced for a large part of our lives or you would know that this is all about war and that we are Warriors.

Gluten free means that I can think clearly.  Thinking clearly means that I can see that my depression is not who I am.  Thinking clearly means that I can make better choices.  Thinking clearly means that I can choose Life and Happy.

Gluten free means that I am not lethargic and I have energy.  Having energy means I can do the things that I need to do -- like dance, yoga, writing, reading, relaxing, petting the animals, taking walks, having fun, playing, taking photos, and the list goes on and on.

Above all gluten free equals dancing.  When I have Gluten Brain, I can barely get out of bed.  Hours go by and later I have no idea how I spent them.  I get caught up in unproductive stories and judgments.  I languish, weighed down, about to break, like the forsythia under the wet snow.

Gluten free equals dancing.

Dancing equals happy.  Dancing equals my Ultimate Weapon.  But with gluten in my system, I can't even remember where I put that Weapon much less how to employ it.

See?  Inextricably tied together.  It is never One Thing that will Magically Fix You.

Anyone who tells you it is one thing?  They don't know what they're talking about.  We are too complicated for One Thing, including One Pill or One Procedure or One...(ring?...GEEK!).

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Art Helping Animals

As many of you know, my partner Marcy is an amazing painter.  Fun and whimsical and full of happy -- her and her art!

She loves to paint and she loves bunnies and cats and wants to help them.

So we've decided to start donating 50% of the proceeds from animal paintings and sending that money to two no-kill shelters from whence a boatload of our Precious Animals came.

You can read more about it and find out how to participate here.

This is an ongoing, forever sort of project.

Wouldn't an animal portrait make a great gift?!  (Which reminds me: March is Marcy's birthday month and the best gift you could ever give her is to order a painting and help with donating to these animals -- or even just make a direct donation!  It's all about the helping!)