Failure to Bloom: Childless at 49

It would be more technically correct to say failure to reproduce, or to flower, but failure to bloom is the phrase that keeps coming to me. At age 49 my periods are still hanging in short term memory buds, and my womb aches from time to time, teasing my body, pulling toward the next phase. My cycles have become unpredictable, and my body feels like uncharted land where there are caves, stone walls, storms, and expanses of desert inviting me to listen longer. Feeling my existence somewhere in the balance between being more discerning and more carefree.


I feel my final eggs drying up inside my womb. Reminding me of my failure to reproduce, my failure to bloom. The one biological imperative I have not, and will not manifest this lifetime.  It’s specific and finite. There will be no babies born from my body. There will be no labour pain. There will be no further continuation of life with my genetic code. I will bear no grandchildren for my mother to hold.


Defective. That’s the other word that comes to mind as I contemplate my existence as a childless middle aged woman in this world. The earth of my body like clay, rolling water and sunshine. Mud awaiting a lotus that never appears, and never will. I can be specific in this case. There’s no maybe here, there’s no power of prayer possible, or hard work that will change this fact. There will be no baby born from my body. There can be no dispute. This one thing I know for sure.


What is my value? And in what currency? Looking to the past I see evidence of my ancestors crimes. The crimes of my spirit ancestors. Looking to the future I see a vast open space like a view from a cliff over the ocean at night. The sound of the moon and water moving that I cannot see. Air in pockets deep in my lungs, called forth by the wind. Star light holding still behind shifting clouds.


In the 49th year I find myself working very hard at the seemingly never ending internal investigation of crime scenes. Tracing figures, calculating distances, time frames, sorting through images and drawing connections in my mind body, body mind. If x, then y. Why? Why this quest? Why this constant internal audit?


I believe the answer has something to do with the barrage of information flooding my system since birth. The sensory experiences known and unknown, the accumulation of currencies and contingencies. Taking in all that can be absorbed to build the case, connect the dots, render the problem solved, rest my case. Simply rest.


So is that the next step? Rest? Rest in the present moment? Trust all is as it is destined to be? See the past as a series of present moments, many of which were focused on the future or past, now with the option to stay in the present. Tune in. Deeply in.


Be clear with my yes’s and no’s. Even if it means leaving a group of people because my senses say go, when social graces would say stay. Trust my own knowing even when it’s not convenient for others. I won’t keep people in false relationships, just because I’m afraid I might hurt their feelings. I commit to that now. Better to be true to me first and invest my energy, my currency, my attention, my most valuable commodity, where the blend results in a higher frequency, greater currency mass, expanding the power of us as individuals and emanating to the field around us for the greatest good. The image that comes to mind is a bow touching down on violin strings, vibrating sound that hits the ear of the cello player who then places bow on cello strings, both previously recorded and now playing through speakers in a car I drive at 60 miles per hour up a curving mountain climb and through a tunnel. Breathing it all in. Present to the unknown magic of being alive in a 49 year old body, present. Here.



The Friendship Breakup

Breaking up with a friend, sucks. And it happens. As I’ve grown and changed over the years I’ve had to move away from and let go of relationships, and I’ve been moved away from and let go of.


I feel compelled to write about my personal experience with friendship breakups as it feels so present for me today. I’ve been reflecting on this for a while and wanted to lay out a few specifics for my own review and contemplation. Join me in my overactive brain….


As a Bay Area community dancer, I have consciously avoided dating anyone in the local dance community because I didn’t want to lose my sacred space, my healing space, my community, if we were to break up. I’ve witnessed so many people that have had to stop going to dance because they needed space from the old partner, or they have to check in with each other to choose who can dance on which dates. I’ve been grateful to not have that concern around dance. Until now.


Several months ago I broke up with a friend in the dance community and have noticed my discomfort in the space when we’re both there.  We’ve talked, and I’m at peace with the decision to not be friends. I’ve grown in a different direction that feels absolutely true and right for me, and staying in that friendship was out of integrity for me. I realized I was staying in relationship, a friendship, with someone that I hoped would someday change. Instead of hoping they might change, I chose to pull my energy out of that relationship and be more focused about whom I share my time and energy. I am more consciously choosing to share my time with people who support my growth and share some basic values, rather than the shadow of someone that I hope might change.


Over the months I’ve noticed how I feel when we’re both in the same space. My desire to avoid conflict becoming nearly intolerable to the point where I almost cave and reignite the friendship just so it doesn’t feel so uncomfortable to hold this boundary. The best analogy I can come to is something like when an addict decides to cut back or quit and has to start saying no to certain friends, and the peer pressure hits. That’s a strong example, but there are similarities. I feel the desire to just break the boundary so that I can be less uncomfortable in this social community dance setting, but I know this boundary is important for me to hold.


It’s ok to not be friends with everyone.  Can we peacefully coexist? Yes, we can peacefully coexist. It’s just dance. And I feel the “peer pressure” which makes it challenging for me to fully relax into my body, and get out of my head. My attendance in the Marin dance community may start tapering off for a while, so that I can land in a sacred space, a healing space where I can dance my dance, get out of my head and into my body fully. I am telling myself, “Sometimes you really just need to go someplace else, this is a MOVEMENT practice, it’s ok to MOVE somewhere else.”


All afternoon I’ve been reflecting on other friendship breakups over the years, and a few stand out. I feel like I want to get them off my chest somehow and into my writing, so here goes. Deep breathes…...One of the earliest and most painful friendship breakups happened with someone I thought I’d be friends with forever. I had to make a hard decision to try to help a friend who I believed was in life or death situation, and while I believe my decision saved their life, they never forgave me. This friendship breakup had a ripple effect as we were part of a circle of friends who took sides. Over the years I have tried to make amends, and this person has refused my every attempt.


There are three others that stand out in my memory where I notice a pattern having to do with their significant others. Two who were enmeshed in relationships with non-polyamorous, committed, married people, and one who was in a relationship with someone who was racist. Here’s where I get clear about values. I tried to be a supportive friend, and at some point I felt like my support was a lie. The lying thing, especially when it’s a man lying to a woman, or pitting a woman against another woman, has just become unbearable for me. I just can’t do it. The friend that married the racist person almost pushed me over an edge. I remember being at the wedding and feeling numb. I couldn’t celebrate this union. I know no one’s perfect, but these were values I couldn’t support. I know in all three of these cases these friends felt like I was being judgemental and acting superior. I can’t deny the judgemental part. I tried to quiet my mind, but I couldn’t. The jury’s out on being superior. I’m still single, so perhaps there is a lot I don’t understand about compromise in relationship. I admit to that.


One other friendship breakup that has been very difficult for me was a friend who was convicted of a crime (a lot of editing happened here), went to jail, did their time, and as far as I know is living freely. I supported this person through the trial, wrote a letter of support to the bench, visited them in jail, and for a while continued to support them after they were released.  I wanted to believe this person, and believe that I was able to love someone unconditionally. That was their request of me before telling me what the crime was. I tried. I did. For a long time. And then I realized that a voice inside me didn’t feel safe in the friendship, felt manipulated, tricked. In my solidarity with this person I was making a statement of energetic agreement with this person and their values. This one was very difficult for me. This was a very dear and close friend. I didn’t want to see the truth that was staring at me. I wanted my old friend back, the one that on some level had been hiding and lying to me. I stayed in this very uncomfortable place for a long time. I made excuses when they wanted to get together. I delayed returning calls.  Finally I wrote a long letter explaining my feelings and closing the door, for now. The letter was received and understood.


These doors all remain closed, for now. At some point they may open back up, and a new friendship might be negotiated. But for now, I’m holding these boundaries as I honor my growth and freedom of choice.

Note: Click here for a friend link to read this article for free on MEDIUM.


All things pass

Since publishing the last blog post on feeling lonely, sad, and depressed I feel it’s time to blog about the experience of having published those thoughts and feelings. Being open with the truth of being human with a range of emotions.

 

I am struck by the number of people who replied by sending me a ❤️. I am also moved by the people who contacted me privately wanting to help or make it all better. I am amazed at the fact that I can track the blog post analytics. I get a thrill out of knowing someone on the other side of the planet read my words. And I love knowing that my writing is seen most by people living near me. 

 

Why do we have the need to regulate emotion? Find a way back to a norm? Who determines normal? What’s the cultural implication? 

 

In truth, and I believe this is the truth for most humans, I have a wide range of emotions that are constantly changing, and include sadness. I also experience joy, delight, anticipation, fear, love, curiosity and awe. These seemingly positive states appear to be the more acceptable emotions to share openly on social media, and I share those more frequently. They feel like safe points of connection. Bringing up emotions like loneliness and depression feel like more dangerous points of connection. Like I might be seen as weak or needy, versus balanced and expressing valid need. The balance of strength and vulnerability, and the real need for human connection.  

 

Grateful for my practice, for finding the way to companions who support my growth, appreciate who I am, and knowing how to set boundaries and hold them.  

 

 

 

feeling sad, lonely and depressed

Even when I’m with people I sometimes feel sad, lonely or depressed. It just comes over me. Like a sneeze or an avalanche.  Craving connection in a very specific way that I convince myself is impossible to achieve, so I don’t speak up. I don’t ask for it. I collapse. Shoulders in, spine folds, head facing a screen.  

 

On some level I know it will pass and I just need to allow it, and on another level I am so frustrated that this is my lot on life. I’m one of these people that can’t stay on the surface. I can’t be content with superficiality.  I punish myself more internally when I notice I’m doing it and can’t wait to escape. Is it better/worse to be stuck on the surface or alone and sad? 

 

Sometimes when I’m in this place I instinctually start sending little red hearts to people I love, or have a beloved memory of. You may receive one of the random ❤️‘s, or just “Hi” and get a little jolt from me. This is my way of condensing the ocean of emotions and topics I want to swim in  with you and the universe and saying something like, “I’m out here, swimming in the deep end alone.” Sometimes is a cool backstroke, sometimes it’s a crawl, sometimes it’s treading water, sometimes I have a raft, and in truth I’m often on a luxury liner. 

 

My newest incantation:

I honor my past self with kind words and usher her into the future with grace and presence. 

 

Oh, the dance of transformation continues.... 

 

 

I Was A Mountain: The Journey of Apprenticeship

About a week ago, I rose up out of bed and had the felt experience of growth. Something in my spine felt longer, taller, straighter. As I inhaled, I felt my rib cage expand as the top of my skull lifted up and slightly back, shoulders at rest, arms loose. In the early morning darkness, curtains drawn, light pushing through the seams, I sensed the energy body surrounding me, growing up and expanding. It felt light and good.


I was waking up at Fort Worden, a beautiful old military base in the Pacific Northwest converted into a State Park with dormitories and meeting spaces. I’d slept on a firm mattress in a room that had been home to medical personnel in an earlier incarnation. I was there for a Movement Medicine workshop called The Alchemy of Infinity.


My roles for this workshop were organizer and teaching assistant. I’m about four months into the Apprenticeship Program with the School of Movement Medicine, and this workshop was the second in a row I’d organized and assisted within the last two weeks. I love and feel deeply honored to hold sacred space for transformation, and in this role of teaching assistant I get to live my life on purpose.


On this day last week when I truly felt growth, I stood next to my teacher and the other two teaching assistants and felt like a mountain. I felt solid. I felt strong. I can’t say I have had such a clear knowing of this feeling state in the past. As an apprentice I am practicing interoception with regularity. Checking in with my body and asking what I’m feeling, where I’m feeling it, what are the feeling tones, shapes and qualities, getting clear about it, the good, the bad, the stuck, the pain, the flow, the radiance, the lightness, the darkness, etc. Last week I was a mountain.


I was also the wind, the waters, and the fire…..


Feeling the echo of this statement that I said in front of my community in San Rafael, “I have a dream to grow Movement Medicine community in the United States.” I had said the same statement a month earlier at the end of the Realizing Our Full Potential elective in front of the group of apprentices and teachers there, and also on Facebook.


What do I mean when I say I want to grow movement medicine community? Little m’s or big M’s? How has it landed? What did I mean by that? When I said it in San Rafael I imagined every dancer with a seed planted at the place where their body connected with the floor. Knowing it takes time for seeds to grow, and sometimes seeds just get blown away in the wind, or sometimes they don’t get enough water or sun shine, or love. Sometimes they grow fast and in groups. Sometimes they grow in a single bowl alone, tended, fed and loved by the organic nature of the elements.


Another inquiry I’m sitting with in the echo is about what is it that I actually am wanting more of, dreaming of? Is it about the specific teacher/ego/personality, or is it about the teaching/curriculum content, or is it about the community of people that show up for the work? I can say I’m 100% mountain next to/behind Ya’Acov, his and Susannah’s teachings, and the community of people who show up to learn from him. And I wonder if the teachings stand on their own in the way that Gabrielle Roth’s 5Rhythms stand as a solid framework for me that I know in my body quite well. Map upon map. Can I go into a Movement Medicine class or workshop taught by someone who is not a Darling Khan and know in my body that the container is backed by mountains, and that the teacher has been steeped in the wisdom of their own journey? How long and what will it take for that to be an embodied yes? I’m even struggling to write this since I am still in this inquiry and can see that I have many more miles of discovery ahead of me. I will leave it here for now….


Snapshop lessons learned/reflections:

  • It’s challenging organizing a residential workshop from a distance, and I can do it!

  • Better to have the craniosacral session before or after a workshop I am assisting.

  • Showers and baths are grounding.

  • Walking on the earth with shoes that allow me to feel the textures of the earth is healing and nourishing.

  • I noticed the pattern that has repeated in my life since childhood where I’m perceived to be “bright” and therefore accelerated and/or given more responsibility than average, and missing out on some basics, expected to catch up. Managing to perform very well at high levels, and feeling like a failure at some basic levels.

  • Sometimes growth hurts in very real ways. Breaking out of a pattern of guarding my knee with a series of contortions in my hip and toes, yielded a new pain in my shin, while my knee looks and feels better than it has in years.

  • Working with the infinite pattern of giving and receiving this past week, much of my personal focus was about money.

  • I can do less.

  • I will fuck up, water will spill, and it’s ok.



Epilogue: Last night I decided to register for the Syzygy Facilitator Training which began THIS MORNING. FUCK!  I recall some teacher saying something about how it’s a good idea to study at least two other things while doing an apprenticeship, so here’s the first other thing. While on one hand it seems last minute, in truth, it’s taken me several years, and multiple conversations with Sylvie Minot to be a yes to this training. So after this Sunday, if I find myself a monastery and people ask me to lead them in dance, I will be able to say yes. That is all.


Am I Safe To Be Beautiful?

At dance today on the Open Floor in Sausalito I noticed that when I had the awareness of a man that I know and trust, who I believe would cut the balls off of any man that harmed me, I suddenly felt safe to be beautiful, to truly shine from my heart, with my body in all of its majesty.  

One of my intentions for 2019 is to be with beauty. Yesterday at an Open Floor workshop I went into the center of the room for a dancer/witness exercise with the intention to scan the environment for beauty rather than pain or blockage. Often when I dance I scan my body for where there’s a pain point and use that as leverage for my practice. Yesterday I decided to look for the beauty instead. Could I reprogram my mind to be in a state of beauty or grace, rather than criticism or fear? How flexible is the neuroplasticity of my brain, and how long will this rewiring take?


As I moved into the center of the circle, with my witness watching, without thinking, I began caressing my wrists together, feeling the softness of my skin. Letting my wrists move to glide along my inner arms, luxuriating in the beautiful feeling of my skin on this part of my body. I could feel a smile forming on my face, and my hips begin to sway. I felt a deep relaxation melt my shoulders and neck. At some point I realized my eyes were closed and I wanted to be more conscious, eyes opened. As my eyes opened somehow, something in the music or the energy of the space made me feel sad. I could feel the tears coming, and my initial attempt to fight them back. “Not here, not now, I’ll get to those tears later,” I thought. And then I surrendered. No, this sadness, these tears are coming now, and with them my hands pressed to my lower jaw. Let the body cry. Free the tears. I stood there with a very slow sway as the tears formed like huge lakes in my lower eyelids and flowed down my cheeks like little waterfalls slamming into rocks.


“No, it’s not safe” was the message coming through the lake of tears, flowing into waterfalls, hitting the rocks of my present moment. “Thanks for asking again, and no, it’s still not safe to be beautiful.” Bam. That was it. Moments later we did a closing dance and circle. Thanks for coming and hope to see you again. Bam, water hitting rocks, flowing around and down to the next series of present moments.


Which brings me to today and the fire that has been burning in me for some time now about inclusion, care, and safety on the “conscious” dance floor.  I am aware of too many people who have come and gone from so-called conscious dance spaces because their boundaries were crossed, or their boundaries were crossed and they didn’t have a place to go for support in the moment, or they didn’t want to admit to anyone that they couldn’t handle what had just happened so they simply sent themselves into isolation.


This brings up many questions for me that I don’t have answers for. Please know that I’m not asking these questions of the Open Floor or 5R faculty or staff here in ways I haven't also asked some of them in person, and that what I’m really curious about is what is our role as a community member that includes them, but isn’t reliant on them for everything, in the way that we have a government, but we also have other organizations that have impact and provide support.


Join me in my very busy brain as I ponder these topics….

  1. Are you and I in a community together? If so, what are our values? Do we have a code of conduct? Is something like that too rigid? What are the unspoken norms, rules?

  2. If we do have rules (more than just no talking) about caring for each other and ourselves on the floor, whose role is it to make sure the rules are maintained, and what is the process for maintaining it and keeping the community apprised that it’s working?

  3. Is the Saturday and Sunday morning Open Floor dance purely social or also a practice? If it’s mostly social, is there a place to go for a purely practice dance group? If not, can we create a container like that? Am I the only one wanting a regular safe group dance practice space?

    1. Can we have some signals like they do in other dance communities? For example, wrists crossed at the heart in the LA 5R dance symbolizes a non-verbal “no thank you” and this is part of their official orientation.  At dance camp, teaching assistants with years of dance practice and comfort in providing emotional support wear a colored wrist band. Practical assistants/crew could wear a different colored wristband.

    2. Why don’t we have teaching assistants (or some other name) in addition to crew? In the Movement Medicine community there are always teaching assistants, at least one near the DJ/facilitator available to support the facilitator and handle any questions coming from the floor toward the facilitator, as well as keep an eye on the overall space. This is someone with years of dance experience and training on holding space for process. At Burning Man consent culture is brought in as training to all camps through the Bureau of Erotic Discourse, and the RhythmWave dance camp takes this conversation very seriously. I feel very safely held by the men leading that community, I like believing they would cut the balls off any man that violated me, at least metaphorically.  

    3. Could we make sure everyone coming to dance has read over some kind of rules of engagement before entering, and a verbal one-on-one orientation is given to new people?


I LOVE movement/dance practice, this community, and believe in it’s healing qualities. I want to invite people in to it, and find myself afraid to bring people who might not have a strong enough body to handle the weight of someone doing contact, or trying to lift them, or the self esteem to handle being ogled at, thrust at or upon, or touched in ways that feel violating.



I’m not advocating for a ton of rules, but a few solid rules that I witness consistently being maintained would make me feel a whole lot safer to be beautiful.  I go to deep vulnerable spaces when I dance, it’s not purely social for me, and there is a social aspect. I have danced enough hours in enough circumstances to now know how to take care of myself, physically and emotionally.  It’s not just about me anymore, it’s really about community.


Here’s an example of how a dance container was created that made me feel safe. It was during a Movement Medicine Initiation workshop I went to a few months ago in England.  Before going into a dance party atmosphere, where we were encouraged to feel into our adolescence and play with sexual energy and gender, the facilitators first said something like this…..”If you came here with a partner or you have a partner at home, we expect you have discussed boundaries and have agreements about what you can and cannot do with others while dancing. If you have not yet had that conversation, you have three hours to have that conversation before we dance.” They then demonstrated what this conversation could be like, including specific examples from their own experience. They then said something like, “If any of your partners asks us if we saw you doing something, we will tell them the truth.” WOW! That made me feel very safe! As a single person, often in a room full of partnered dancers, it felt really good to know that this particular pool of dancers would all have agreements with their respective partners, and that I could ask them about it, and that this community and it’s leaders expected that of its members. Yeah, that feels safe. That feels really good for me. As a single person I like knowing that all of the partnered dancers around me have agreements with their partners and I can ask them where the boundaries are to keep me, them and their absent partners safe.


Perhaps everything goes in the Marin dance community, and that’s just our flavor. Perhaps we are a community where only the strong continue. Perhaps I’ve got a particular lens on right now that is more of the critic, and it’s still early days of scanning the environment for beauty.  I am coming to terms with the predator shadow, as well as the accomplice. It’s been a sobering experience for me, and it’s ongoing. In my silence, am I complicit? When is it my place to speak up and about what? Who am I protecting with my silence?


While these questions come up for me, and I frame them above in terms of the Marin dance community, really this is a reflection of the larger world around me.  What do I stand for? What does our community stand for? What actions reflect these truths?


Recently a male movement teacher gave me praise and then told me that he found it difficult to make a heart connection with me. I smiled, and in front of a group I explained that he was feeling my boundaries. I’m not always open for deep heart or body connection, and for me, I need to establish a sense of safety before I let someone into connection. It doesn’t matter if you’re the official teacher. Sometimes that sense of safety is immediate, sometimes it takes, hours, days, weeks, months, years. It’s my territory. Just because you’re the teacher or you’re another dancer that paid your entry fee at the door, you do not have permission to touch me, or the right to expect a smile from me. Because I show up (t)here, you do have the right to see me, my truth in motion. If you’re not sure if you’re getting a yes or no to get close, take that as a no. Period. If you’re not feeling a hell yes from me, back the fuck up. He then understood and used me as an example of good boundary setting for the group.


To be clear - #me too

Which means specifically, I have experienced a series of physical, sexual and emotional abuses by men, including being physically attacked when I was 17 by two men, complete strangers on a public path, speaking a foreign language I could not understand. I have also been attacked by  men I knew and trusted. In both of these examples I was feeling safe to be beautiful. My heart was open, and I felt free to shine. I was walking with my chin up, chest open, hips moving freely, dressed in ways that complimented my features and made me feel good. I could go on and on with examples of violation, or you could just watch me dance. Yeah, that’s what a lot of my dances are about. Healing this wound upon wound upon wound, for me, my ancestors and the generations that come after me.


In our silent dances, we are all hearing the story we want to hear, and it’s all just stories. At the end of dance today when I approached the man who I believed would cut the balls off any man who harmed me, and I shared this story with him. He was like, “That’s a great story you got going on. Well maybe metaphorically, what did he do, do I know him?”  


So if you see me at dance and I don’t greet you right away or give you the response you were expecting, consider that I might be putting salve on these wounds when you bounced up, or that I might be working very hard to stay with my practice, knowing I feel predatory energy around me, even when it might not be true, it’s one of the many stories I’m working with.











Resistance to Teaching

Early 2018 one of my movement teachers said something like, “It would be beneficial for you to master the the craft of teaching.” It wasn’t those exact words, but something to that effect. This was said to me in the presence of three other people who are teachers and therapists. They agreed, and I went into internal panic. “No, no, no, no, no”was my response. I could feel my pulse racing, and my face blushing. It took me a few minutes to notice that without thinking I had grasped one of my wrists and was twisting my own arm while not being able to hear what was being said to me next. I imagine what was said was encouraging and kind, and gave me an instant headache on top of the self-inflicted arm twisting and body contorting.


I got into a bit of debate with my teacher about it at that time. I explained that once upon a time, many years ago, in a distant land, I was a terrible teacher and did not ever want to do it again. In recent years when people in the movement community context ask me if I’m a teacher I have a standard cheeky reply to get out of the discussion, “Did you learn something?” I say with a big grin. That seems to be enough to get a grin in reply and buy me  time to mysteriously float away from any additional inquiry.



From 1993 to 1996 I taught English as a foreign language in Eastern Europe. The first teaching job was in a high school in Prague. I was 23 and the kids weren’t that much younger than me. They were open minded and excited to meet an American. They were generally good students, and I felt terrible that I was completely unprepared to teach them, had no idea what I was doing, made mistakes in grammar and spelling constantly, blushed and trembled my way through every class.


I had graduated from college in 1991 with a BBA from a good school, got a good job in advertising right away. I was following the path of expectation, accomplishment and praise. I realized very quickly that I had a long time to wait before I could move up the ladder in business at that time. I was going to age behind office doors while my youth faded unless I made a change. I opened a world atlas, closed my eyes and put my finger down on Prague. I bought a one way ticket, sold my possession, gave up my DC apartment, and flew away from expectations.


Snow covered Prague charmed me immediately. A few days after arrival I walked into a busy Czech employment office on Václavské náměstí where no one spoke English. I handed my resume to someone and walked out. A few minutes later a woman came running down the street after me and pulled me back into the office and put me on the phone with Mr. Macek. “You can start tomorrow. You  can live at the teachers housing, and we will handle your employment papers when we see you. Here’s the address.” What’s happening? I think I got a job. Teaching? Teaching English? I said yes. I needed money and a place to stay. I went.


Being in Prague at that time was magical. I also worked as a waitress at a Chinese restaurant where tourists and locals came to be served this exotic food served by American waitresses and chat with the Chinese lady owner who also spoke Hebrew. I was young, had energy and was happy to hustle for cash and fun. My social life at that time revolved around Obecní dům where the restaurant and several other social establishments operated by day, and a night club erupted underground at night. Occasionally my Czech students would show up at the club or one of the bars.


At school during the day the staff were permissive about my lack of teaching skills. They just liked having a native English speaker on staff. It was like a status symbol for them. They didn’t care that I knew nothing about teaching. It made me nervous and panic stricken constantly. The kids didn’t take me seriously, and honestly, I didn’t take myself seriously either. I enjoyed hanging out with the kids as equals and felt uncomfortable with the power dynamic.


About a year later I ended up back in the US for medical reasons, and worked a series of odd jobs to get by while I tried to figure out how I could again fly away from America. I figured out that since I had the teaching experience under my belt I could apply for the Peace Corps, and if I got in that would be a ticket back to Eastern Europe. I did and it was.


Peace Corps sent me to Hungary. I still wasn’t taking any of it seriously. I just wanted to have fun and float through life.  Peace Corps offered actual teaching training as well as Hungarian language training. Many of my PCV friends were already established teachers with experience, skill and enthusiasm about the job ahead. I felt like I was a faking it, an imposter. I was happy to get the training, and enjoyed learning a new language.


I was sent to a small village in southern Hungary to teach at an all boys technical high school Most of these kids would never leave the region, and weren’t motivated to learn English. At the beginning I was a dedicated teacher, followed the text books, did some lesson planning, but I didn’t enjoy teaching English, and these kids were not interested at all. There were constant disruptions, and miscommunications. Word spread fast that I wasn’t disciplining my students. The school sent one of the teachers to my home to speak with me about my lack of discipline and the unacceptable nature of my teaching. The wanted me to use the dictation method of teaching. I hated that, but it’s what the kids were used to and what that system expected. I tried it, and the kids revolted. In one of my classes boys played catch with a full bottle of soda which exploded. Since I and several of the boys in that class had a bad reputation with the administration we tried to handle the situation without leaving the room. The boys convinced me that one of the large machines in the room functioned like a clothes dryer and they proceeded to take off their clothes and put them in the machine. This sort of chaos was the norm in my class room. At another point I told one of my afternoon classes that I would no longer hold class in the building and that if anyone was truly interested in speaking English they could meet me at the pub instead. A few took me up on it. At one point I tried to re-commit myself to the craft of teaching and put time into lesson planning and went back in with an open mind and positive attitude. The class was going well, I was starting to think, “wow, this lesson planning stuff really works, I might actually be able to do this.” And just as soon as I had that thought I started to smell smoke. I turned around to find a fire burning on a desktop, boys huddled around in laughter. All I could do was laugh. I could not discipline these kids! I also thought it was funny. I stopped trying after the fire incident and just showed up hoping someone would make it stop.


I would occasionally bring in newspapers, and the boys seemed interested in the advertisements for Nike shoes and Levi’s jeans. They would laugh at the prices. I came to realize that the American educational import these kids really needed was economics, not English. Their world had changed, and they didn’t have the tools to understand the world market or how to compete in it. I decided that it wasn’t up to me to decide if the capitalist system was right or wrong, but I did believe it was right to create access to education about all economic models. I stopped teaching English, and became a PC Business volunteer working to bring economics education curriculum into Hungary. This role felt great, and I experienced a lot of success on behalf of my Hungarian colleagues, schools and students across the country. We even took the model to Albania. It was such a relief to be off the teaching stage, and I promised to never do it again.



Flash forward 23 years to 2018. I find myself in a conversation one evening with a Czech dancer during the Movement Medicine Initiation workshop in England. I pull out a few funny phrases in Czech that I still remember, and shared the above stories with him. He then said something to the effect of, “so are you here to work through your resistance to teaching?” Ha! What a good deep belly laugh I had then. Maybe I am, maybe I am....

Later that evening I shared that moment with my teacher, and he took my hand and said something to the effect of so maybe you’ll see what everyone else can see about you....or something like that....I’m getting a headache just writing this now....


He said he’s here to support me and will continue to support my practice as long as he breathes. Wow, sounds like a long term commitment, the likes of which I am unfamiliar. I’ve now heard Ya’Acov and Susannah say multiple times that they are into long term commitments with their community and the Apprentices. I realize that is a statement that has stayed with me and held my attention. And so here I am, sitting with my many understudies that prevent me from teaching and simultaneously keep me in this movement community. Lump in my throat growing. Had to just lean back and stretch my arms, roll my neck back.


Here’s a quote from the School of Movement Medicine’s website description of an aspect of the Phoenix workshop:


As we develop, life provides us with the perfect challenges through which we can evolve. On the Phoenix Retreat, we work with what we call the ‘creation story’ you have inherited and lived from, whose characters we call ‘understudies’. In the theatre, an understudy is a person who learns another’s role in order to be able to act as a replacement. On the stage of life, these understudies often take to performing nearly all the time, while the real stars wait hidden in the wings. They shouldn’t be blamed for this; they came into being with the intention of protecting your essence. However, without your attention, they will continue their performances for your entire lifetime, even if it no longer serves your deeper interests.


In my Co-Active coaching work we use the word “saboteur”, which used to be known as “gremlin”. In Movement Medicine we talk about “understudies”. All of these words are merely frameworks for looking at the mental constructs that prevent growth, change, removal of obstacle, movement of stuckness, repetitive story, individuation.  Here are some of the understudies I may be taking into the first Movement Medicine elective, where we will dive deeper into the Insight Council practice and SEER process.


Understudies to examine:

I’m a shitty teacher

I don’t like being an authoritarian

I don’t like exerting power over anyone

I’m a reluctant public speaker

I can’t speak in front of people

I’m not an expert on anything

People shouldn’t listen to me




Footnote: I happen to be sitting in the Phoenix cafe at Findhorn writing this essay on Thanksgiving Thursday. Dorothy Maclean was brought in with her assistant and sat down beside me. She is wearing a red down coat, a rainbow knitted hat and gloves. They are currently chatting about favorite colors, coffee and maple syrup. She’s had her hot chocolate and is up on her walking sticks and heading back out into the cold. As I turn I see and confirm that the voice in the back of the cafe is that of Jonathan Caddy, son of Eileen Caddy. His presence also strongly felt everywhere here.    Aware of my quiet anonymous presence here. Grateful to be able to dip in, get what I need, give what I have and soon move on. What a gift it is to be held and received by this gentle community. So grateful.

How was Burning Man?

(Note: This story was written and published on a previous blog on December 10, 2015)

How was Burning Man? Expansive, transformational, affirming, challenging, surprising, fun, funny, magical, divine, creative, nourishing, healing. It was many things. Many stories. Here’s one story I hope to never forget, and would love to share. It is just one thread of many which were woven over the last week, but it is one that has surely changed my life.

One afternoon after lunch I took off my boots and socks, and for the first time decided it was ok to walk around in flip flops through the dust. It felt good. I figured, I’m just walking to the port-o-potty what could possibly happen. Well, I ran into a friend on the way back, and we decided to check out a tower not too far off in the distance. We climbed up to the top so we could look out over camp. Of course, I’m in my little rubber flip flops climbing on a metal tower with no water or snacks in the high heat. We decided to hang out on the second level from the top where there are mattresses, pillows and couches. A bit of shade. I position myself to face the staircase and have running commentary on everyone’s outfits as they climb the tower. One guy looked like a pirate, and I complimented him on his garb. He corrected me, and explained that he was a captain (side note: many men dressed as captains), and he then pulled out a big box of Captain Crunch and gave it to me. I had a handful and passed it on to a guy playing a xylophone on a nearby couch. We eventually left the tower, and made our way to a hammock camp where they had karaoke and ice cream. The hammocks were small and uncomfortable, and the hangover singing was painful. I didn’t last long there. We made our way out and I realized that I was very thirsty and my throat was really sore. We started walking, and I saw a camp offering hot tea. As I started going for the tea, my companion disappeared into the dust. Of course, they were out of tea, so I headed back for my camp. Filled up my water bottles, grabbed my bag, goggles and mask. I hopped on my bike determined to find Dr. Bronner’s camp for a shower (it was closed the day before). I hadn’t showered in days and was prepared to wait five hours in line if that’s what I had to do to feel water on my hair.

I started pedaling, and pedaling, sun beating down. Rode up and down and around. Had consumed all my water. Found myself at the edges of camp and couldn’t find the shower. Feeling frustrated and lost, I tried to head home when the first big dust storm hit. The wind was strong, and I could hardly see. I ran out of energy, and was struggling to string together ideas. I didn’t have the energy to pedal or even to walk. I looked to my right and saw a camp with a big jug of water and reggae music was playing. I wanted to go there. Suddenly and gentle arm was around me, guiding me to refuge. That was Jason. He had me stand in front of the misting fan while he filled up my water bottle. He had me drink the entire bottle and then filled it again. He sat me down and tried to talk to me. He filled the bottle again, and gave me a salt tablet. He showed me the bottle first to prove it was safe. I asked where I was and what the camp was about. He said the camp was called Ganesh and their mission was to remove obstacles. My throat was killing me. He gave me a cough drop and more water. And then snacks, food, and space to catch my breath and work on putting thoughts together. We talked a bit about some of my obstacles, but I wasn’t completely coherent, not truly myself. The dehydration had gotten to me. Or maybe it was the Captain Crunch (Have you ever really looked at that character? Looks like he had some acid or shrooms, I digress). Jason and his friends nursed me back to health and I went on my way. It wasn’t until I got back to my home camp, had dinner and some time to rest when I realized how ill I really had been. My brain was not functioning. I really believe that Jason and his camp saved my life.

Next day, I wake up and put on my Ganesh t-shirt in honor and thanks to Jason and his camp. I step on to the dance floor for what would be the most profound dance of my life to date. I was dancing out some frustration (related to another thread for another story another time), feeling into my strength. A lot of painful emotions coming up on the floor around me. A woman on her hands and knees in the center of the room wailing. I kneeled down with her and pounded on the floor, goddesses encircled offering support and movement (Side note: Wailing woman came to me later in thanks for support around her grief. Her partner had recently committed suicide). I stepped up and back. Felt like I needed to be elsewhere. Holding my feet firmly on the ground, feeling into the strength of every muscle in my legs and back body. My dear friend Thomas Hartner until he gives permission for use of his nama few feet in front of me grounded into the masculine, holding the ground. The floor was packed. The energy was palpable. Behind T I could see a man slowly making his way through the crowd toward the center where we were. He looked to be native american, and carrying a small person. The crowd let them through, and he placed a small man on the floor between T and I and a few others. The man’s limbs were shriveled, and shaking. He was wearing a machine to help with breathing. A voice nearby told me to move his arms. He wants to be touched. If I ever thought I had any healing in me to give or receive, THIS was the moment. I reached out for his left hand. I bent over and placed my face in his hand so he could feel my face. I then kissed his fingers, hand, and arm. Then lifted his arm and shoulder in rhythm with the music. I guided his arm to touch others. He was smiling under his clear plastic mask. Several of us around him made contact for a while, until he was lifted and carried away. I have no idea who he was, or why he was there. I will probably never know. After dance at lunch, T and I looked deeply at each other, forever changed by this experience.

After lunch I was determined to find a shower. I didn’t care how long I had to wait. Someone gave me the address. I was sure I’d find it. Again, I got lost, and couldn’t find it. It wasn’t at the address I was given, and it was getting hot. I started thinking about Jason and camp Ganesh. How grateful I was that they saved my life. I look over to my right, and there it is, Ganesh. Pretty fucking amazing, considering I had no idea what their address was. I jumped off my bike and skipped in to thank Jason for saving my life. He was behind the bar, and said, great to see you, I’ll be with you in a few minutes, I need to make a sandwich for this young lady. I look over and there is a young woman sitting like I was the day before, haggard. He gives her the sandwich. I give Jason a big hug and tell him how grateful I am that he saved my life the day before. I really wanted him to see how I am truly a full of life kind of person, and neither of us knew how bad off I really was the day before. I tell him that I had a great morning on the dance floor, supporting many people in their healing, particularly young women, which I wouldn’t have been able to do without his support the day before. I turn to the young lady with the sandwich and tell her, I was you yesterday, you’re in good hands and you’re going to be fine. She reaches out to me and asks me to stay. Of course! I sit next to her and offer comfort and support. She explains (a lot, but I will condense it here) that she had just come from the temple where she delivered something in memory of her mother who had died. She left the temple missing her Mom, angry at her Mom, wanting a Mom. She asked me if I would be her Mom. OF COURSE, I say. I proceed to spend the rest of the day with her, making sure she’s ok and nursed back to health. All around us a big dust storm is raging and it looks like the place where we are sitting is the only place on earth. Ganesh becomes our home away from home. We got matching (henna) tattoos on our hands, we talked for hours, we were invited to stay for dinner. It was the only evening I missed dance and dinner at my home camp. It was the only time in my life that someone across the room yelled out for Mom and they were calling for me.

Notes: I camped with RhythmWave - danced about four hours a day. It was a phenomenal home. Many stories about that, which I hold close to my heart, and consider a beginning. Like any home, it was filled with mamas and papas, brothers and sisters, cousins, neighbors, friends and lovers. Overflowing with love.

I acquired a few other children at Burning Man. The story of my new Son is sweet. I will write about it another time.

Miraculously, the people of Ganesh, as well as my new Son and Daughter, all live in the Bay Area.

No - I did not take any hallucinogenics at Burning Man. Certainly no alcohol. Being present was more than enough.

 

My first daughter

Your Coach was dancing in public Saturday, and part of a businessey web summit today...

First, let's do business. I'm part of a GoTime Business and Tech Summit, where my interview airs for free today, Monday, June 18th, 2018. Check it out by clicking here.

I'll be talking about Co-Active Coaching, the Coaches Training Institute (CTI) model. I do a little sample coaching with Kim, and talk about Speed Coaching.  Click on the link, sign up, scroll down to me, click again, watch.  I'd love your feedback and referrals!

And now on to the art. THAT DRESS! Me and my new dress want to dance in galleries all over the globe! I'm in awe of how a carefully designed work of art dress can make me so happy and allow me to connect with so much and so many. I've attached my favorite video from the series in this blog post, and you can see more videos of me dancing here

I realize how much shifted for me since this dress has come into my life, just a few days ago. A little thing can have a huge impact! It has allowed me to show up as a work of art myself, my energy, just being me. Delighted, swirling, daring, exhilarated. 

With this share and these videos, as a coach, I aim to inspire you to take a leap to do that crazy thing that your heart and soul want to do. Do it NOW! If you're waiting for permission, this is it. Permission granted. If you're looking for a sign, this is it. Listen to your heart and move <3

 

@beyondthestreetsart

#beyondthestreets

#danceeverywhere

#danceeverywhere

Networking Event Attended - Box Checked

I went to a great networking event in San Francisco last night,  She Geeks Out sponsored by Pivotal. I went as part of a challenge by a sister coach to attend a networking event, and the extra challenge I gave myself was to go to a networking event for a tribe that is totally new to me, and for whom I might be a bit of an outsider with coveted wisdom. I definitely resonate with the geek element, but I’m a Gen Xer, not a Millennial, and my background is more hi-touch than hi-tech. I know I bring wisdom to this group and I have a lot to offer as a coach and collaborator. Allowing myself to go with a sense of excitement and mystery made it a fun anthropological study for me. I made two contacts for potential collaborations and now know about three employers that are looking to hire. I felt bad monopolizing time chatting with people who are hiring when I know there was at least half a room full of women seeking jobs.

 

I was also thrilled that the third speaker, Cheryl Porro, a powerful woman from salesforce.org stated that one of the things she does to stay on top of her game is to find a coach for things that she wants to do better. I wish I had been taking notes so that I could give you the exact quote, unfortunately I had to dash off and didn’t get a chance to tell her in person how much I appreciated this comment and the power of her voice and presence. Happy to see her standing up and speaking as a model of feminine wisdom, strength, humility. Thank you Cheryl!

Here are some photos from Cheryl's presentation...

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One of the collaborations I am exploring is facilitating speed coaching event with partners in San Francisco and the East Bay.  She Geeks Out would be a great partner, and I’m open for collaborators in terms of hosting space and membership groups. I’ve got a posse of amazing coaches that are enrolling clients, and are happy to offer free sample sessions. In a speed coaching event potential clients would be facilitated through 10-minute speed coaching sessions with several coaches to really feel into right fit for a committed partnership. There are as many unique coaches out there as there are clients, and it makes sense to meet as many coaches as you can until you find the one that’s right for you. I love all of my clients and will only accept clients that I truly feel are a right fit.

 

What I learned about me from this networking event?

I learned that I’m a good at meeting people and connecting. I like gathering a lot of bits of information and matching up win/win situations. I have strong feeling about women supporting each other and uncovering their unique gifts along the way to success in whatever way they define it. I’m confident about what I know and my ability to love and support strong women in leadership.


 

Ideas generated?

Wouldn’t it be fabulous to bring in some of the embodied leadership experts from the conscious dance community into the sphere of young tech? Help people learn how to connect with the wisdom of their bodies through mindful awareness and conscious movement (THAT’S WHAT I GEEK OUT ABOUT!).

#shegeeksout

#pivitol

#coachingleaders

#networking

Coaching tip for staying focused on long term goals

Here’s a tip for keeping focused on goals when you work from home, don’t have a private consistent dedicated office space, or you are on the move a lot. This came to me while working with one of my clients this morning, and she suggested I write a blog post about it. In an effort to share tools and support the greater good, I want to pass these tips on as they come through. Here’s the tip: put your annual goals on the screen saver on your computer, make them visual and easy to see on a regular basis so that they are literally the wall paper.  Take the time to write them on a document where you can play with the font and color. Spend a few minutes making a visual that feels right. Once you land on the font and colors that feel right, save it and load it. Here’s another tip, visualize yourself achieving your top 5 goals, find images that represent those achievements, and make them revolving wallpaper images on your computer or phone. For example, if your goal is to do more public speaking, find an image of a seated crowd from the podium view. If your goal is to take a hike once a month, find an image of the next place you can realistically go for a hike.  If your goal is to negotiate a higher salary, find an image of how your will feel at the moment of getting that higher salary. You get the idea.

 

I’d love to see what you come up with, and are willing to share with others looking for ways to stay focused on long term goals.

30 FREE 30-minute coaching sessions in 30 days!

I’m enrolling ten lucky new coaching clients to go on the CTI coaching certification path of a lifetime with me. In an effort to magnetize the right clients, I am offering 30 FREE 30-minute sample sessions in the next 30 days to determine if we are a match for a six-month commitment to coaching. Click here now to send me your contact information and set up a session.

 

What’s involved in a sample session? All coaching sessions are confidential. The sample session will be over the phone, totally painless, often enlightening and energizing. I can work with clients in every time zone, every industry, every age.

 

Many clients initially come to me for career coaching which can turn into work/life balance coaching or health maintenance coaching or overall life coaching over time. I love working with entrepreneurs, consultants, artists, healers, techies, Millennials, Gen Xers, grad students, PhD candidates, female business leaders, high achievers seeking excellence, and anyone going through burn out. I’d love to work with politicians and policy makers, particularly in the field of health, welfare and social justice.

 

If you know me or have worked with me in any capacity you have a sense of who I am, and the supportive energy I have to offer.  If you don’t already know me, you can take a look at my reviews on Simbi, my new coaching website, or my LinkedIn profile for my academic and professional experience. Please pass this offer on to your friends, family, colleagues and post on any lists that you think need to hear the echo of this offer.

 

If we both feel that we’re a match at the end of the FREE 30-minute session, I will invite you to go on the 6-month coaching journey of a lifetime with me. What’s involved with the 6-month commitment? We will agree on timing, and I’ll send you some paperwork to make the relationship official.  We will begin with a 60-minute discovery session to dive deep, and four 30-minute sessions per month, or two 45-minute sessions per month (2 hours of coaching per month minimum).  During this six-month certification period, the first ten clients that sign on with me will get the added benefits of my coaching plus the oversight of two master coaches, and a greatly reduced rate of $50 per 30-minute session. Great benefits for the lucky ten that get on this journey with me! I’ll be learning and growing with you, trying new things and sharpening my skills.

 

Many employers support coaching and have a coaching budget, check in with yours.  I have several colleagues who are going through the certification process, and I’m happy to refer you to one of them or another certified coach if I feel that would be a better fit.  I’m invested in my growth, learning, success, joy, and fulfillment. Come along with me.

 

If you are receiving this as a forward from a friend or colleague, I imagine that they see something in you that wants to be embodied, grow, shift, play big, or move through an obstacle.  I trust that the drumbeat of this message will be carried by my dreams for fulfillment, abundance, clarity, happiness, love, joy, success, and peace deep within every being.

 

 

Epiphany Fatigue

I don’t have epiphany fatigue yet! It comes in cycles so I’m enjoying the wave of epiphany after epiphany right now. I love meeting people as a coach at the place where I can practice listening.  For me, it’s like being at the movie of somebody’s life as it’s happening. Holding a thread, and simultaneously holding many threads, weaving through the fabric of our lives. I sense the electrical impulses of life and enjoy feeling the metaphors as they appear. I’m amazed at the insights I stumble upon or break through me in service of the other. For example, consider the saboteur voice as a wake-up call reminding you to be mindful of the situation you want to change. Use that moment as a Zen teacher reminding you to breathe and just notice.  Make noticing a habit. Changing your life and breaking through obstacles takes time and practice, just like building muscle. Mindfulness is a step toward creating new neural pathways to behavior change that is sustainable. As a coach, I can point out patterns and offer reflections, perspectives, and sensations.

 

Gratitude for my teachers, coaches, family, and friends who have been listeners for me over the years.  Thank you for giving me space to unfold and be loved. Please know that I am paying it forward <3

 

I am thrilled to report that I completed training with Coaches Training International (CTI) last week, and am preparing for the certification journey beginning in March. I will soon be enrolling new clients to join me on a magical journey of discovery and breakthrough.  If you are eager to start working with me or refer someone to me, let me know. I seem to be accumulating badass business ladies, and other women’s husbands…..I love coaching, everyone, on most topics, particularly people who are high achievers, too smart for their own good, and reluctant superheroes to name a few. Don’t box me in!

Stay tuned….

PS - I’m producing an event January 26-28 in San Francisco for the School of Movement Medicine called 21 Gratitudes, taught by Ya'Acov Darling Khan. If you are interested in one of the practices that fuel me, and a teacher that has had a profound impact on me, please come join us.

2018: Take a position and commit

2017 was the year of saying yes to everything, going and doing all that called, especially loving and supporting my friends and communities that align with my values. It was a time to let go of all of the critical thinking programming, and listen deeply to my intuition. I even let my intuition pick a new home that my heart loves, and my brain is catching up to.

 

During a coaching training a few months ago I had the realization that I have commitment issues. This isn’t a shock to my close friends who actually laugh when I tell them. They’d seen it all along, and have been enjoying watching me with my new found issue. My INFJ/9/Aquarian nature has kept me in a state of motion, like the wind, in a way that feels great for me, and I realize hasn’t always made others feel like I was dependable over the last few years. I got so good at the whole American independence thing, and suddenly realized that I have been missing the nourishment of healthy interdependence. While I felt happy and grateful roaming the world and felt simultaneously and deeply connected to people on different continents, I also longed for my community and a home base.

 

I am reminded of a particular lesson of 2017 that I received during the School of Movement Medicine Summer Long Dance. Susannah Darling Khan instructed us to take a position, and commit.  I shook my body for a while, tried a few different positions, and felt into what it means to take a position and commit. Reflecting on my body’s rejection of position after position, and inability to commit for more than a few seconds last summer. I am reminded of this lesson now, as 2018 comes into view from the place of my new home nestled in beloved community. I’m taking positions and committing. This is a new edge for me. I’m committing to my coaching business, I’m committing to my clients, I'm committing to my home, I’m committing to loving myself and reflecting love to all those around me.

 

As I call in a robust coaching practice, I notice how much I like having the first meeting magical dazzle when I touch the place that wants change. How will we stay with when things get tough, or worse, boring? Stay with. Keeping the magic alive. Commiting.

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On noticing the behaviors of my inner board of directors/allies/crew

Challenging myself to shift my personal blog focus from travel to coaching, and make weekly posts for the next three to six months, with the option to continue.  To begin I’d like to share this noticing that came up for me, which I imagine many can relate to. Feedback encouraged.

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My Observer noticed how during intellectual pursuits and challenges, learning a new professional skill, moving toward unconscious competence, I have a Rule Breaker and a Competitor on the crew, and the Competitor often beats the Rule Breaker in these scenarios.

 

Recently at the gym for physical therapy, my observer noticed that at the gym the Rule Breaker was in charge and the Competitor was hiding.

 

I brought it up with my trainer, and while she’d never thought of it that way, she instantly got it. She elaborated on the concept by sharing that high-performance athletes often move through physical therapy faster than the weekend warrior or casual exerciser.

 

My Observer is the mindful one, the zen master on my crew. I’m now curious about how my transition out of physical therapy/personal training will unfold with this new awareness. What would it be like to invite the Competitor to the gym with me, and ask the Rule Breaker to stay home?

4 Days in London

June 10, 2017

Feeling into what I want to express about my sense of London. Reaching for words with care while sitting at Luton airport after four hours of sleep. Soon getting on a flight to Inverness, Scotland. Still London, let’s talk about London. This was my first time outside an airport in London. The taxi from Victoria Station on a rainy Tuesday afternoon to my AIRBnB room zoomed through city streets, I saw most of the sights from the taxi window.  Lots of black leggings, dark blue suits, gorgeous architecture, clean streets. Landed in Shoreditch. Got a phone card at the corner shop, popped it in, and now I’ve got a UK number. Easy walk to multiple Vietnamese restaurant options, hip cafe’s and public transportation. Kept myself awake to force the time change. Slept long and deep. 

Shoreditch street art

 

Wednesday, the first full day. Breakfast on the corner at the Long White Cloud. Perfect. Love this spot. Organic. Vegan options. Fresh juices. Home made soy milk. Free wifi. Easy vibe. Short walk in the sun over to All Our Friends. Did some work at a table for a few hours with a pot of tea and great music. Met by a sweet friend from the playa, great to see the first familiar face full of love and connection. 

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She went back to work and I got an oyster card. The underground opened up. Made my way to the Tate. Met second familiar face, full of love and connection. Giacometti exhibit. Feeling the humidity. Went for a walk along the Thames. Past the Globe, and then by Borough Market. 

 

Hard stop. Wait. Go back. Was that where? Yes. 

 

Walked back to where the police had the road blocked off. No flowers. People walking by. I wanted to feel it. We stood there. I waited for something to land in my body. Some connection to what happened in that spot days before. My friend felt it. And I felt like we weren’t meant to stop, like we had to keep moving. We then made our way up on to London Bridge, to the spot where a van crashed into pedestrians days before. I was told the barricades are new, just up in the last few days. People walking past briskly on their way to station, offices, shopping. It took some searching to find a spot where flowers and a flag were gathered, across the way. I felt like I needed to get close. Stood there a while, waiting for the feeling to land in my body. It arrived, softly and briefly. People moving past. Occasionally stops. 

 

<3

I hadn’t intended to go to major tourist spots, especially not this one, and there I was. Not once, but several times in my short stay in London. It just happened that way. We walked briskly along the Thames, and I really started to feel/sense into this foreign land. They may speak the same language, but it feels culturally very foreign. Where is the soul hiding? I can’t feel the people. 

 

As luck would have it, one of my teachers was having an event in Regent Park that night. So we rushed and arrived sweaty and a bit late. Ya’Acov Darling Khan was reading from his new auto-biographical book and then took us on a shamanic journey. Jaguar in the Body, Butterfly in the Heart. There in the center of London…again, the soul of the people felt hidden. Or was it the jet lag? I tried to get on the journey, maybe I tried too hard. Ultimately I felt I needed to lie down on the floor to feel a breeze. And I finally had open floor to stretch and roll on.

 

It was great to be in a room filled with alternative types. It was sweet to see Ya’Acov, meet Susannah Darling Khan and Kim McCabe of the Rites for Girls project. That felt like exactly the right place to be. My friend and Iwalked back into the night, landing on the street known for the back drop of Oliver Twist’s life. Oh how it’s changed…..

 

We stayed up talking. My friend took out treasures to fill in the imagery of his stories. I was introduced to a glorious beaded phoenix necklace from Goa, and an 8-sided Rubik’s cube. Would it be Ok to spend the rest of my time in London locked in a room with this new toy? 

Are you part of my Spirit Family? Show me with words. Show me with a donation. 

I’m taking a leap into the exploration of family of choice, what I loosely refer to as my “spirit” family. Last week I sat in a sanctuary of listeners as Michael Meade sang, told stories, beat the drum, waxed poetic, lifted the collective spirit and reminded me of the collective soul connection through the earth. With this in mind, I have been contemplating what it means to be a part of family linked by spirit, linked by soul. Biological children are not part of my fate in this lifetime. That’s a fact. With that knowledge how do I perceive future generations? How do I imagine my experience matters? How do those that witness connect with me? 

 

This year I invited four of my spirit daughters to join me at Motherroot, a gathering to explore the vision of Mother in all forms. One daughter is half a world away and can’t make it. One daughter is on a road trip across America and reminded me about this event, but can’t make it this year. One daughter can’t commit to the weekend, but lives close by and can connect in person on another date. One said YES. 

 

I am feeling into what I mean when I say “spirit” with reference to my daughters. I sense that I am feeling for the right term to legitimize these relationships. Is “soul” a better word? Is “friend” enough? 

 

As I move into this exploration I invite you to add your voice to this thread with how you perceive your family relationship with me or someone(s) in your life that are not blood relations. 

 

Questions I sit with and invite you to respond to:

 

What qualities does your spirit/soul family member have that differ from the blood family member? So for example, if you experience me as a sister/mother/daughter, how is that the same or different from your blood sister/mother/daughter?

 

There are many women in my life that fill in Mother spaces for me. This does not diminish the value of my relationship with my biological mother at all. In fact, I feel that these spirit/soul relationships have strengthened my biological family relationships. Do you have this experience? What’s it like for you?

 

*    *    *

 

The Soul Mother I feel farthest from and most curious about is Mother Earth. I got a very clear message that I need to put more effort into that relationship, starting right now. Feeling into my yeses I got a clear yes that I need to be part of the Summer Long Dance. It’s a three-day ceremony that feels a bit crazy to me now, and somehow when I ask myself if it’s right for me right now, I get a clear yes. The ceremony will take place at the end of June in Glastonbury, England. 

 

“It’s an opportunity to spend some time remembering that our own personal wellbeing is connected to the wellbeing of the planet, and to dedicate our dance to all our relations, past, present and future.”

 

 

I dedicate my dance to all of my relations, past, present and future. 

 

Feeling into the future, I call on you as my family to support my dance, this planet, and each other. The School of Movement Medicine created this dancing ceremony as a fundraiser to dedicate our dances to causes.  To participate I must raise at least £300 for charity, that’s $388 at today’s exchange rate. As an organization, the School of Movement Medicine chose as it’s primary beneficiary a project that covers the areas of social justice, environmental sustainability, and spiritual fulfillment and felt that the Pachamama Alliance met all of those criteria. In researching the Pachamama Alliance I realize how much I have to learn about Mama Earth and how I can support her.  Participating in this ceremony and taking on this fundraising project is a step in that direction. In solidarity with the School of Movement Medicine, I have decided to make the Pachamama Alliance the primary beneficiary of my fundraising efforts. 

 

There are many causes that are dear to my heart, difficult to choose one or two, so I’ve decided on three.  I have decided to add The Thich Nhat Hanh Foundation and the Plum Village Hungry Children Program as beneficiaries of my Summer Long Dance fundraising efforts. My spirit and soul feel deeply intertwined with the people and land impacted by war in Vietnam. I feel that the lessons of that experience must be echoed for generations. I believe that work of Thich Nhat Hanh and the Plum Village monastic community around the world is vital for spreading the message of social and environmental justice, peace, love, harmony, and compassion. 

 

I wholeheartedly and financially support all three of these organizations and invite you to join me in circulating support in the form of money. Lynne Twist, Co-Founder of the Pachamama Alliance, and author of “The Soul of Money” states… 

 

“The happiest and most joyful people I know are those who express themselves through channeling their resources – money, when they have it – on to their highest commitments.  Theirs is a world where the experience of wealth is in sharing what they have, giving, allocating, and expressing themselves authentically with the money they put in flow.”

 

 

So, let’s let the money nourish us, and return it to the flow…..

 

I will need to make a declaration of funds raised when I arrive at the Long Dance ceremony. If you make a donation to these organization as a result of reading this and your connection with me, please let me know which organization and how much so that I can make a presentation of my fundraising efforts upon entrance. You can contact me privately at jencoffey@gmail.com, or leave me a comment below. 

 

Thank you for being in my family in all of the ways that we are connected <3 <3 <3

 

*     *     *

 

HOW TO DONATE

 

You can donate to The Pachamama Alliance directly in a number of ways:

Go directly to their donation page, located here:

www.pachamama.org/donate

Please note: In the ‘Dedicate your donation’ section, you should check the box ‘this gift is in honor of’. Then in the personalized note section, type ‘School of Movement Medicine’ or ‘Summer Long Dance Fundraiser’. This is important as it will enable us to connect your donation to the Long Dance Fundraising!

 

Checks payable to ‘The Pachamama Alliance’ with ‘School of Movement Medicine’ in the memo can be sent to the following address:

The Pachamama Alliance

P.O. Box 29191

San Francisco, CA 94129

 

 

You can donate to the Thich Nhat Hanh Foundation directly in a number of ways:

To learn more about the efforts of the Thich Nhat Hanh Foundation, please click on this link:

https://www.thichnhathanhfoundation.org/

You can make a donation via the web page above or If you would prefer to make a donation over the phone, please feel free to call 760-291-1003 ext 104. 

 

Checks payable to the Thich Nhat Hanh Foundation can be sent to: 

Thich Nhat Hanh Foundation, 2499 Melru Lane, Escondido, CA 92026

 

 ** A free subscription to the Mindfulness Bell magazine will be given for

monthly donations of $50 and above or one-time donations of $500 and above 

 

You can donate to the Plum Village Hungry Children Program by clicking on this link:

https://plumvillage.org/giving/hungry-children/

Let's Move!

Let's Move!

My dance practice is my healing practice. My dance practice is my spiritual practice. The dance floor holds my community. I can travel to any conscious dance space anywhere in the world and step into a space where I know I can be me fully. Where I will be welcomed, where I can stretch, unfold, expand, express, experiment, love, be loved, connect, slow down, rest, relax, even hide. All of me is invited and welcome when I allow my self to fully embody each breath as it travels. 

Be Beautiful * Be Yourself * Be Your Non-self

Be Beautiful * Be Yourself * Be Your Non-self

24 degrees this morning

32 degrees fahrenheit last night. Took a long nap instead of writing in the afternoon. Felt good. Took a smaller portion at dinner. Aware that I need less food than I think. Went directly home after evening meditation. Revealing in the full sky of stars. Orion watching over me. Made a quick call to Mom standing in a cold field, trying to keep my voice down, and the conversation brief. All is well with Mom.