What happens when you return to the same spot 20 years later?  Here I am again.  The base of Mount Whitney, the eastern slope of the Sierras rising everywhere that is west, straight up and out of the 5,000 foot plains of the Owen Valley.  Who was that in 2001 just beginning a crazy rambling month long odyssey in that red bus?  The one we bought for $9,000 the week before.  Barely six months along a 5Rhythms road beginning to be paved with all my neuroses, flagstones crumbling, re-arranging.  My life shifting around me, tumbleweed wheeling over arid sand.  Moving relentlessly toward wholeness.  Fostering way dormant creative urges, letting them finally have more say.  Carving out space for a more authentic emergence.  A place where surely less and less is needed.  Enough to live this given life exactly as it is.  A place I just could not settle for twenty years ago.  A place that doesn’t feel like “settling” at all.  But rather arriving, surprised at the welcome mat to a life that was always laying right at my feet.

What happens when you return to the same spot 60 years later?  Who was that trusting ten year old, dutifully keeping pace behind mom and dad and my little brother?  As if these wilderness total newbies knew what they were doing.  Their parental daring astounds me.  A left turn out of Lone Pine in that Oldsmobile 88, a trailhead winding into the eastern Sierras.  Laden with a mish-mosh of re-purposed backpacking gear, way before REI was your one stop shop.  Steel cups looped to our belts, scooping water out of icy streams.  Gathering down wood, roasting dinner over flames.  Imprinting a novice fire-tender who single-mindedly hones that skill to this day. No tent for this family, cocooned in red plaid flannel bags, fearless under boundless sky.  Building memories right along with the capacity for innate wonder: sapphire lakes, sterling granite, the potency of time stretching empty.

It feels like a parental spell cast in 1960, the family’s return to this sacred spot every year through my teens…well, it has steadily worked it’s magic. Through the random lifetime rhythms until 2021, a year that has stripped away any remaining ties of binding.  For me, for you perhaps, for so many.  Out here on my mat, the exploration of internal landscape feels like a match for these majestic surrounds.  An embodied sense of  bhanda ties that bind us, utterly released as the inhale moves prana through over and again.  What I am sharing on the mat continues to clarify: the intersection of breath, bhandas/chakras and release. Re-orienting to the shushumna as central touchstone.
Body Joy: Unbound Workshop

Incorporating the mat onto the dance floor unleashes the mythic questions. How has this year rocked our home/work world/balance/reality?  Ways that the lockdown has played with our authentic expression in the world.  Are we listening? Are we being heard?  This is the essence of Unbound: moving from lockdown to freedom online May 8th.  It will be so natural to hold this exploratory space for three hours with Erik Iversen, 5Rhythms teacher from Montreal.  Between us we draw from a combined 140 years of embodied wisdom, each of us deeply embedded in a life of internal landscape exploration.  I love dancing with Erik; his invitations are offered in the accessible language to which my body responds.  I hope you can join us for this three hour experience as each of us, in our own unique way begins the tentative moves from lockdown to freedom.

Moving relentlessly toward wholeness.  Fostering way dormant creative urges, letting them finally have more say.  Carving out space for a more authentic emergence.  A place where surely less and less is needed.  Enough to live this given life exactly as it is….❤️Bella

January and February…quietest months of my life, on mute.  Undoubtedly.  Taught online classes, showed up live for the garden dance each Sunday, Coop shopped once a week.  Saw friends and children outdoors time to time, talked on the phone, read an insane number of books.  Gardening and cooking—saving graces. Too cold to camp.  There was no to-do list.

In this moment, it feels like there was life before vaccination…and then, life since.  Revelations in bits and pieces unfolded over the long winter.  How adept at slumbering, my heart and mind. How effective hibernation can be as a route to survival.  How patient I am when push comes to shove.  How quickly bursts of anger and frustration pass.  How boredom often paves the way to a creative burst.  How life affirming physical sensation is.  How skilled I am at remaining curled up.

Since mid-March my life has slowly been unfurling.  I learned just how extroverted I really am.  Back in the 90’s, when Meyers-Briggs was all the rage, I tested 50/50 on the extrovert/introvert scale.  Change happens.  The medicine of real time connection, hug doses, loved ones in close contact.  Healing in fits and starts, slumbering parts of me stretch open.  I did the best I could this past year—most of us did. I stayed connected to myself and in many ways, sweet hubby and I have never been closer.  But I thrive in the spaciousness of multi-dimensional connection.  I love being out there in public spaces, nourished by the breathing, pulsing, vibrant mass of us.

Spring metaphors have never seemed less trite.  The world bud is poised to blossom.  Maybe.  Everything tentative.  Always has been, just feels more sketchy these days.  We’ve rested dormant through a long Winter and now we enter a Spring that may or may not lead to Summer growth.  Or Fall harvest.  Be that as it may, I feel re-birth rumbling all over me.  Mulched by this year of radical shift in how I work and move in the world.  Compulsory shifts I resisted and railed against and whined about.  Evolution that totally fertilized my work.  You’d think by now I’d trust the inevitable transformative power of change.  I acknowledge a lifetime of initial resistance in response to change.

Yet here’s what’s changing…

 ESSENTIAL RECHARGE: live this month at Clara 10-noon Monday April 19. For those of you fully vaccinated.  I’ve never in the flesh met some of my on line students.  Can’t wait to practice together in that big light-filled room.  Letting class evolve naturally from what I witness.  Offering hands on assistance.  Music gently flowing out those big JBLs.  You’re welcome with or without experience in the essentials for a soft focus on the bhandas, the natural breathing way our bodies move life force and create power.  A bit of rolling, stretching, asana.  Just bring your mat, roller and curious self.  Pre-enroll, no drop in.
WORLDWIDE RAVEN WAVE:Catch this global 5RHYTHMS offering Thursday at 11:00 PT.  Or on demand anytime until May 8.  It is Dance Essentials—roll, dance, stretch—going out virtually into the world, available to the vibrant breathing global pulse of us.
UNBOUND: Stay tuned for this May 8 11:00-2:00 PT collaboration with Erik Iversen, my 5Rhythms compatriot in Montreal.  Between us we offer 140 years of embodied wisdom. UNBOUND: moving from lockdown to freedom is a Zoom in your room episode. Erik is a master of his own unique blend of body play.  Wrapped up, armored, protected for a year…bound.  We’ll co-facilitate to free us up: guided foam roller play to unravel those fascial kinks, a very personal unlocking of your vital essence, your unrelenting life force.  A communal exhale as we dance, connect, collaborate. Inspired and moving together on the breath…unbound.  Must have supplies: your willingness and curiosity, a foam roller, paper and pen.  Web link available soon.

And here’s what’s staying the same…

Essentials: 10:00am Thursday and Friday
Wednesday Waves:  our re-started committed group moving live together at Clara for 4 more weeks.  Masked, ventilated, distanced.  Pre-enrollment only, no drop in.  Stay tuned for tentative next group starting Mid-May.
Sunday Sweat Your Prayers: 10:00am, live or Zoom.
Physical Therapy LIVE: oh my.  The real deal.  Real hands on real bodies.  Up there in my East Sac in the trees studio.  Let’s.

Whatever.  Let’s take a breath together right here.  Let it go and feel kumbhka baya, Sanskrit for breath retention after the exhale.  I have been feeling into that space a lot lately.  The emptiness feels so full of potential.  A momentary lockdown guarding the gates to freedom until we are good and ready.  Everybody at their own pace, their own timing.

Unfurling in fits and starts….❤️Bella

“Not even an inch.” This mantra, established immediately, oft-repeated throughout the reunion week-end. Emphatically, joyously, giggly—over and over. Marveling how crazy close we were to each other.  A vaccinated release from an entire year of no physical contact with my children and grandchildren.  After three glued days it still felt utterly strange, weirdly verboten.

Preview of coming attractions, eh?  This slow shift into shedding spatial and contact vigilance.  We are so in need, so ready, so yearning.  We know the beaucoup science around health benefits of touch.  We’re first hand experiencing our neurological wiring for connection. Where touch is deprived, humans cease to optimally thrive.  Not just physically and emotionally, but mentally, soulfully, spiritually.

It’s a weird coincidence how this year of touch taboo arrived on the heels of #MeToo. We were attuning to appropriate touch in new ways.  Feeling the cultural pendulum swing far enough to right years of wrong.  This unfolding drama abruptly closed for the pandemic season.  And because “so on the dance floor, so in life” this new perception of old behavior was playing out on practice floors around the globe, too.  Who knows if such hard won, freshly developed discernment will survive.

So when the door slammed shut a year ago, none of this went away.  Lack of touch and the longing it creates; graceful/awkward maintenance of physical distance; pandemic-enforced touch taboo concurrent with #MeToo sensibility—unfolds right before my eyes each and every Sunday in Sacramento.  Cuz somehow we’ve been moving together in that spacious garden through three full seasons now: summer, fall, winter.  The intrepid pioneers who initiated this miracle and do everything it takes to keep this practice alive are amazing. Courageous, inventive, respectful.

Now it is spring, things are slowly shifting. Participants are newly venturing out, some are emerging from the singular safety of Zoom, some are vaccinated, some are less than aware.  The territory is changing yet again and we just keep negotiating the unknown.  My partner Majica and I are charged with holding this sacred ever-evolving space. It is a responsibility we have not shouldered lightly.  And since health care delivery continues to be my highest calling, I’m grateful for CDC guidelines.  Especially now that this government organization appears to have re-joined the ranks of integrity.

It feels consummately clear that in a public setting, until we hear it is safe to do otherwise, we need to honor those CDC guidelines.  No matter if you’re sick to death of it, vaccinated, or just feeling rebellious we cannot touch each other out there.  The need to remain physically distant and/or masked is a communal imperative and demonstrates an embodied understanding that unless everyone wins, no one wins.  There are many among us unvaccinated and/or immune system challenged.  It is the wrong time to be selfish. It is the right time for us all to rise up together, as one.  And I cannot imagine a better practice setting for life than dancing out in that garden.

If we can keep the maturity bar high, I truly believe we’re offering some of the best specific medicine out there.  Health care that insures that, if not physically, we persist in connecting emotionally, mentally, soulfully, spiritually.  Strong in our communal desire for everyone to win. We’re practicing it on that dance floor every week.

Soon I’ll be considering how and where to have that first live communal Essentials class—just a one off for now.  But stay tuned.  No need to wait though.  That Zoom thing is established and awesome.  And we are in the introductory phase of feeling into the breathing benefits and subtle core toning available from an accurate practice of uddiyana bhandha.  If you are intrigued with the video below you might read about it in that highlighted link. I am loving how it feels in my body and I am starting to hear the same from you.  This week?  10:00am Thursday, Friday and/or Saturday.  The touch of the roller and the balls?  Not nearly as good as human touch…but an awesome massage just the same…and some of the best specific medicine out there.  Looking forward to that time when we can all be “not even an inch” and until then staying…

in service…Bella

LINKS to classes:https://bodyjoy.net/

By and by the events that pepper our days fall into place.  Our minds, hungry to create meaning, chew on personal stories.  Eventually interpretation breeds perspective.  Which the dictionary defines as the “true understanding of the relative importance of things.”  Sometimes that perspective awakens in a flash.  Which is what happened to me last Thursday.

Minding my own business, doing that Zoom dance thing up in my studio, guided by a Montreal teacher I adore.  Zoom dance, an animal with which I maintain a love-hate relationship.  I’ve learned more about my distraction patterns than I ever wanted to know this past year.  But something clicked that morning.  A kinesthetic memory stirred by the pure joy of my body in fluid motion, a fleshed out perspective of 2019.  2020 had clouded that memory, never allowed it to even fully emerge.

2019: a year that began in the worst of health—post-surgical, a month of radiation, unrelenting bronchitis that morphed into 15 days of unexplained fever.  I was one sick puppy.  I danced on and off through it all.  The loving care of an integrative medicine doc combined with my indefatigable spirit teamed up for healing that commenced mid-April.  I kept dancing.  By summer, feeling good felt brand new, amazing, vital. My dance was taking new form, a springy lightness that had never been there before.

Through the balance of 2019, in closing circle after closing circle, I listened to participants share their dance floor experiences: deep meditation, break through insights, personal transformation.  Variations on all the revelatory truths I had occasionally shared and witnessed in others for twenty years. I intimately knew the territory since my own practice of corralling attention to body, breath, mind often (not always!) yielded juicy personal insight or deep drops into the mystery.

I silently listened during most of these 2019 closing circles.  At the end of each practice I was empty in a way I had never felt before.  Week after week I was dancing two hours of unadulterated joy in motion.  My whole body grinning.  Extreme pleasure was the summation of my experience.  Each and every precious time.  I did not know how precious, even during the last dance at Clara March 11, 2020.

The events of 2020 completely wiped out that barely born experience that was revived Thursday.  Pleasure, foreign yet familiar, felt like it was missing in action, like a long lost friend.  I began to suspect I was not alone in this rusty relationship.  That the events of this long year have placed pleasure on our collective back burner.  On Sunday I invited us to feel how easy it is to be flesh and bone, the simple miracle of an arm winging through space, moving with the space around us as if it were a lover.  Music that allowed the beat to have it’s way with us, a beat we could feel deep and close to our bodies.  The pleasure of release, the savor of surrender.   From the group field response, I gauged I was not alone in this longing.

And so, dear reader, an inquiry.  Your own investigation.  So what’s your  pleasure?  Is it on the back burner?  What would it take to bring it to the front burner for a bit? So curious about us.  What has gone dormant during this collective trauma?  How can the classes I offer be in service to explore, to nourish, to awaken?

Well, the opportunities are all on line for you.  I was actually gonna write about immigration this week, how unless we’re North American native, we’re all immigrants.  How one hundred years ago my grandparents were immigrants.  These thoughts spurned by St. Patrick’s Day and how the Irish were immigrants.  The inspiration for this month’s fundraiser, Dance Essentials, donating all proceeds to the Sacramento chapter of International Rescue Committee  .

Well, so be it.  I had to write about pleasure.   And you can bet there will be a whole lot of pleasure in store for you on Saturday morning as we roll and release kinks, feel the beat deep and close to our dancing bodies and then, like cats in the sun, stretch long.  Plus, the pleasure that comes knowing that 100% of your tuition is helping an immigrant put healthy roots in our community.  Can’t make it Saturday morning?  Just send me your receipt of donation  and I’ll send you the recording.

It’s been a pleasure….love, Bella

A year ago today I matched each rise and fall of my breath with my father’s.  I didn’t know his breath would end the next day.  We never know exactly, do we?  Yet even as I remained bed side attentive, I was aware of fear and restlessness, a longing to know woven with denial, this wondering how long side by side with the wonder.

Within a week of his passage, wrestling with the emotional buffet grief delivers, surrendered to sorrow, a universal version of this feeling state was arising on the heels of the emerging Covid-19 reality. Laced as it was with each of our unique cocktails of inertia and resistance and denial and fright.  It did not stop Spring from arriving: tender grass shoots, buds promise-full, my fingernails creased with dirt wet from nesting seedlings.  What universal good fortune to feel earthly new beginnings, life a-sprout as we daily digested so much strange and dire news. Little did we know this was the beginning of a whole year.  Care to dance into a sense of that fullness on Wednesday or Sunday?

I’m remembering those Spring days tinged with the innocence of the east.  The east?  Why the east? I’ve been deeply rooted in the energetic qualities of cardinal directions for a long time.  My indoctrination is Native American, though cultures around the world have their versions. I’m willing to stand accused of cultural appropriation because I feel this deeply in my bones; there must be an Eastern European version.  Some day!  This year I’m monthly new moon reading Jamie Sams’ The 13 Original Clan Mothers.  Sams delves into Native American grandmother lore.  It mesmerizes me.   East?  In Native American lore, east signifies Spring and birth and new beginnings.  After sensing east, we cycle south to summer, to the innocence of childhood growth.

Last year, in the Northern hemisphere, as spring gave way to summer, we were witness to raging heat shimmering off protest-filled pavements.  Memorial Day slid into July 4th.  For the first time, we gut-felt what a spike was.  Little did we know these were small harbingers of spikes to come.  Summer: time for seeds to set fruit and for children to grow faith and trust and humility.  A period when, according to the Native American crones, we ripen into the primary lesson of childhood: that unless everyone wins, no one wins.  We began to wear masks.  We began to think in terms of months, not weeks.  Grateful for isolated moments of faith or trust.

As we turned west, US elections and wildfires raging, Autumn blew us away with crestingThanksgiving and Christmas spikes.  And even though there was promise of a new administration and expectation of vaccination, it felt risky to even hope.  Faith and trust were all we had.  We turn to the grandmothers again, they tell us Autumn is when dreams are born.  Dreams that will manifest only when we learn to honor the equality of all life forms.  Truly this is when many of us understood that individual dreams and desires don’t manifest in a bubble of alone-ness.   This lesson of inter-dependence has never been more palpable.  The season that began in such chaos turned into utter surrender to that “only one of us here” reality.  Every day another practice in being with what is.

As winter dawned, as the world in unison turned north, those of us lucky enough to have lived through to this point in the cycle, each in our own way…perhaps much the wiser through this life experience.  Or not.  Bring on an insurrection just in case we have not felt enough.  The grandmothers say that in winter we are heart to heart, soul to soul, face to face with eternity.   If we are paying attention to the moldering leaves, the silt pouring from river to sea, the big and little deaths peppering each day…then we know damn sure change is a constant, everything cycles.

Astoundingly, nothing is lost as it/as we continue this journey throughout time.  Every time we welcome winter at our door, every time we are witness to transformation, we step closer to wholeness.  Perhaps our spirits live forever.  Is there any doubt that we are all part of this great mystery?  A full year now. With this under our belts, I feel us taking tentative steps forward into the loom of Spring.  Perhaps a bit wiser.  The fear and restlessness, this longing to know woven with denial, this wondering how long, this wonder…still here.

We never know exactly, do we?  But a couple years ago, when we had conversations about acceptance and peace and hope we did not have the wisdom this year bestowed.  Now each of us, in our distinct way, have matriculated to maybe a fuller possibility.  Did we want this?  Need this?  Ask for this?  Don’t know exactly.  Do know this:  I’m on the journey, you’re on the journey, we’re all on the journey from here to eternity.  It’s more do-able together.  ❤️Bella

I’m old enough to remember the 1955 polio outbreak, the long lines of kids waiting for their vaccine sugar cube.  I can only imagine my parent’s fear. But they had already lived thru scarlet fever, mumps, diptheria, whooping cough.  They had already lost friends and family and felt gratitude for the science behind vaccine.  We’ve all been enjoying a human experience relatively devoid of survival-based fear, which has been part of the human story since we peeked our heads out of the cave.  Perhaps we’ve become pleasantly soft.  What an under-appreciated gift this chapter of softness was.  Now we’re smack dab in the reality of what it has meant to be human for eons.  Everything repeats.  Nothing is certain.  Everything changes.

Take a look at this week’s sessions.  Being embodied is one way to support a challenged immune system.  And learn to be with change.  Links HERE

Wednesday Waves
Feb 10   9:00am & 6:30pm

Basic Essentials
Thursday Feb 11   10:00-11:30am

Deep Essentials
Friday Feb 12     10:00-11:30am

Dance Essentials
Saturday Feb 13   10:00-11:30am

Sunday Sweat Your Prayers FUNDRAISER
Valentine’s Day Feb 14 10:00-11:30am
Zoom in your home
Live in the garden

Essential Recharge
Saturday Feb 27   10:00am-noon

Physical Therapy
(916) 267-5478 for appointment

Reporting from the vaccine front line here, first injection doing magic more than a week now.  Local soreness has dissipated and there is this other-worldy fluctuating lassitude. Chalk it up to the relentless emotional and mental suffering we are all riding?  Maybe.  Almost a year, folks.   Really though…what is my body up to?  How is it building a viral defense wall?  Since most of us will eventually end up waging this internal battle and because I’m a certified science geek, I’m gonna break it down here.

The new buzz technology with this vaccine is messenger RNA.  MRNA is already found in human cells, genetic material our bodies use to produce protein.  Both Pfizer and Moderna vaccines use a synthetic mRNA.  True to it’s messenger calling, it instructs the body’s own cells to create a coronavirus protein called spike.  Our intelligent bodies recognize spike as an invader and mobilize antibody forces against it.  Here’s the magic: if these same antibodies encounter COVID-19 later, they recognize and remember.  And then they whip into action to destroy it before it can cause illness.

To make sure mRNA slides easily into cells, they’re greasy bubble coated with lipid nanoparticles. These weird bubbles alert the fast-acting immune cells which are on constant look out for foreign matter. Once the immune cells spot the greasy bubbles, they sound the alarm with cytokines.  The cytokine commanders recruit other immune cells directly to the injection site.  A swollen sore arm is sign #1 your body is doing exactly what you want it to do.

A healthy immune system is a quick but not very long-lived first responder. It sputters out a couple days post-injection.  But not before it passes the baton to the adaptive immune system.  This network creates antibodies for the long run.  These soldiers stay on the alert, ready to attack if Covid-19 enters the body again. This system needs a few days to study the spike and get ready. By the time the second injection happens, it’s totally amped up, itching for a fight, ready to react way faster.  Check out this incredible intelligence—some of the soldier cells are suspicious and hang out at the injection site, waiting for the invader’s return to the scene of the crime.

And when that second injection arrives, our brilliant immune system remembers and takes it even more seriously this time around.  Our body’s reaction to dose #2 varies greatly but can be flu-like—fever, aches, chills, exhaustion, the works.  Side effects are usually short-lived and pale in comparison to the real deal.  Remember COVID-19 can be utterly debilitating.  Just as alarming as the 2 million deaths is the sometimes months-long, sometimes unresolved ongoing constellation of hanger-on symptoms.

Fear of side effects is not a good reason to forgo the vaccine.  Injection side effects insure us our immune system is activating, though some will feel no side effects at all.  Rest assured…body still working!  We are each so unique in our response.  Nevertheless, first shot stimulates immunity, second one reminds the system the threat is big time.  Let’s the body know in no uncertain terms this peril will require the strongest immune soldiers for any upcoming battle.

Given this incredible internal deployment, it’s no wonder I’m a bit tired sometimes.  My body is hard at work ensuring my future safety.  Grateful it can just do it’s thing and continue to support me in doing mine.  Short video describes the heart-based sessions that span this week, culminating in Valentine’s Day Sweat Your Prayer’s fundraiser on Sunday.  Give your precious body what it needs and come practice with me if you’re able.

Fifty years ago I kept a 20 week standing date with a cadaver.  Without fail.  Every Monday, Wednesday, Friday, eight to noon, scalpel in hand, trusty Gray’s Anatomy propped at my side. My original oft-referenced fifty year old text pictured above.  Me and three intrepid lab partners dived in, layer by amazing layer.  For sure squeamish-get-me-outta-here on Day One…but then curiosity took the reins.  One day all the organs were stealthily removed for the pathology students and on another day the head disappeared, gone in service to dental students.  This absence didn’t faze us; our focus was laser-directed on muscle, bone, tendon, joint, ligament, nerve.  Plenty remained. If you want to consider moving from squeamish to curious check out YouTube anatomist Gil Headley splaying open the heart basket below.  He’s quite the character.

And so began a life-long love affair with this particular aspect of anatomy, a surrender to a working bias for many years.  Thirty years to be exact.  A good chunk of time to steep, long enough to start making connections, drawing meaning from the physical. What does my body know about spirit?  What is the sensation of a feeling arising?  Where exactly do thoughts originate and translate to action?  Where lives the voice of my soul?  The last twenty years have been all about that.

From time to time I love to dive into the organ body those pathology students absconded with.  It fascinates me.  Last week was one of those times, an exploration from diaphragm to pelvic floor.  Heart and lungs will have their turn soon.  Here’s what I notice: when we bring our attention to organ body we invite the parasympathetic nervous system to thrive.  The sympathetic—in charge of adrenaline-based fight flight freeze—quiets.  Focus on the organ body naturally moves us into a field of rest and restore.

Wanna feel?  Take a full inhale and exhale in honor of each organ: left thumb resting under rib cage, hand covering stomach. Under stomach the worm of pancreas. Right hand, same place, other side, overlapping left—liver is way bigger.  Let hands stroke downward over 22 feet of small intestine taking space all the way to pubic bone.  Stroke outward and rest over ascending and descending colon.  Make two fists as you move them under last rib back body; two kidneys. Now one hand sacrum, other pubic bone.  Rectum rests curled in front of sacrum, bladder nests under pubic bone, womb space reclines in between—the sacred protected lineup.  Rest here.  Breathe.  Summon up gratitude.  Restore.

As fate would have it, in the midst of this series of classes, I listened to a Katherine May podcast on how “wintering” replenishes.  We are deep in wintering right now.  Maybe the deepest wintering many of us have ever experienced.  Darkness, rain, cold…it gets under my skin sometimes, feels limiting, depressing, leaves me longing for “summering”.  Yet now is when we might follow the lead of rest and restore body wisdom.  How do we take in nourishment, gather up what is needed to sustain life, digest?  And then what do we do with that?  Our miracle vessels know how to convert that nourishment.  How to assimilate, incorporate, utilize—create life force.  And then?  Hah.  The body innately knows what and how to eliminate. Release what it does not need.  24/7.  Over and over.

Katherine May went on to expound on the power of rest and retreat to remind us that our lives are deeply cyclical.  That everything repeats.  That nothing lasts.  Wintering asks us to wonder what change is coming…  because it always does.

Take a deep breath in.  Open the window between your rib cage and your pelvis.  Feel the deeply cyclical nature of your organ body as it gathers, creates and eliminates.  Take a rest.  February 5 is the exact middle of winter.  We will be Springing in six or seven weeks.  Here are a few ways to support your February wintering….
On the mat: 
Essentials Thursday/ Friday 10:00am moves into heart basket.  All month feeling the unique thoracic spine, how ribs connect it with breast bone. How collar bone delicately marries scapula.  The fluid scapula hovering on back body.  How  diaphragm and lungs and heart team up for aliveness.  Loving our journey.  Until February 5 you can pre-enroll in all February Thursdays or Fridays to save $, commit and have the ease of a single Zoom link.
Dance Essentials Saturday February 13 —combining mat and dance floor. For sure we’ll be dancing that heart basket somehow.
Essential Recharge Saturday February 27 will summarize, integrate, culminate this heart basket journey.

On the dance floor: 
Wednesday Waves 9:00am and 6:30pm…either or both—same link. Loving this one hour double dip whether I teach or take.
Sweat Your Prayers Zoom or live in the garden every Sunday 10:00am.  This month’s fundraiser is Valentine’s Day Sunday February 14.  All proceeds, Zoom and live in the garden, go right back to the farm land we’ve been moving on since June.   Deep gratitude to Ray and Judy Tretheway who have generously offered space where we have been able to safely move outdoors through three seasons. All proceeds will help replace trees being removed for levee restoration.  Wanna join us?  Eventbrite ticket purchase holds our capacity upper limit at a very safe thirty.

Bottom line?  Here’s what we’re up to wherever, whenever you land.  Dedicated time to take in some nourishment.  Feel how it supports and generates creative life force.  Lighten your load, release what’s superfluous.

Let’s keep wintering together.

Gil Headley and the heart basket…..https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rY_7-UgM3Mw

I’m totally indifferent to any debate about science validity.  For me, it’s a given.  Neil Tyson said, “The good thing about science is that it’s true whether or not you believe it.” Totally resonate.  Given the fact that science just is, what intrigues me is it’s intersection with the sacred.  The co-mingle of science and magic.   The marriage of science and art.

Perhaps this possibility, this mysterious sense of magic, paved the way for politically-motivated individuals to cast this recent science-doubt-spell.  In this time of critical national need, when the very best public health can offer is desperately required, so alarming to feel the practice of medicine compromised.  It was heartening this week to hear Dr. Fauci, longtime head of NIH, address the dangerous partisan games played at the upper levels of CDC.  Shocking.

Religion is a culture of faith.
Science is a culture of doubt.
Richard Feyman, physicist

Science is born of a fertile imagination, from the depths of mystery. Curiosity hypothesizes.  Comfort with the unknown is the first step to evidence-based research and treatment. I grew up steeped in this fusion of the known and the unknown, literally dancing my way through childhood in the home of a scientist father.  Who also loved to dance, by the way.  My fluid body in motion has always been my preferred artistic way of being in the mystery.  But science knocked on my little girl door via the written word and I fell headlong into the medicine world of Clara Barton, nurse.

The life sciences and healing took hold of my mystic moving body and disciplined me. Kept asking me to meld matter and spirit. Find ways to negotiate between reason and intuition.  Look for common ground between logic and wonder, determination and destiny.  I’m still at it.

Medicine is a fusion field.  Many patients expect or would like it to be pure science-based.  Some practitioners pretend that it is.  Case in point: this week I treated a patient in Chicago with recent onset heel pain.  Yes, I’m still working on Zoom, vaccination end of this week!  It was science that taught me the route of the sciatic nerve, how to stress it, how to hypothesize heel pain originating in spine.  But it was artistic intuition guiding me to create ways to release the hold this neural tension had on her body and spirit.  Science teaches me about the inner workings of body.  It is the ground my work rests upon.  But facts and data will never be enough to shape the warm fertile field in which healing happens.

Inviting you to be in that warm fertile field 10:00am this week: Thursday, Friday or Saturday. What’s the diff  ‘tween Thursday’s Basic and Friday’s Deep Essentials? We always roll and release, power tone and stretch.  They’re interchangeable.  Deep is 15 extra minutes, time for a bit more classic yoga asana.  Saturday’s Essential Recharge is two hours, once a month for students who want to deepen and new students who want introduction.  This week the science guides us through the organ body, the vital biological structures that keep us ticking. And the magic happens when we feel the energetic space between heart basket and pelvic bowl, stay present with our breath and welcome insights that percolate through our soul and enliven our spirit.

Closing with Albert Einstein, wizard of magical science, who said: Science without religion is lame.  Religion without science is blind.
Loving being in the mystery with you….bella

My children, constant source of inspiration and wonder to me.  I feel them so deeply, mid-life stream, transforming through adulthood’s unrelenting lessons. Juggling more than we prepared them for, showing a maturity of utter grace, ever-thoughtful skill and consideration.  This pandemic year has crystallized a slow change in our relationship.  The children they were always palpable beneath these astounding adults.  The parents we were a fading memory overlaid by the elders we have become.  Who worries more about whom is now a toss up.

My daughter’s work world has given her a much needed voice in this rapidly changing globe. And she is my guest author today, writing about a neighbor our family endured for twenty years.  Last week an avalanche of text messaging between the four of us unearthed all these buried stories…and then some.  I could have written my own version The White Supremacist Next Door, but why?  Sonya Dreizler tells this timely story so well:

“I grew up next door to a violent white supremacist, who regularly threatened my family. When I was a kid, he was just the scary, mean neighbor. And, as often happens with childhood experiences, they seem normal without the context of more years of life experiences.

I also didn’t have the language to call him a white supremacist, or even know what that was. We didn’t talk much about race in my house. We had friends of other races and ethnicities but – as was pretty common in the eighties and nineties- our house took a “colorblind” approach to (not) talking about race. And we definitely didn’t talk about whiteness, white supremacy, or broader issues of racial justice- though my parents are fluent in all of that now.

That is all to say I did not have the context to know then that the sum of his actions and talk would clearly point to him being a white supremacist. I don’t want to name him here so let’s just call him Mr. Davis for the purposes of this article.

*Mr. Davis used a CB radio, and his communications would sometimes  interrupt my boombox radio. His call name on that CB radio was a racist and offensive white supremacist slur, that I do not want to name in this article.
*He made sure we knew (or at least believed) that he kept guns by the front door.
*When my brother and I played in our front yard, Mr. Davis would spray us with a hose if we neared the invisible property line where our lawn met his.
*He’d hose our cats too. Our older, wiser cat knew this and stayed away.
*But when our kitten went missing, while my brother and I made “missing” posters, my dad braved knocking on Mr. Davis’s door and when he did, he found the neighbor had kidnapped our kitten, for “trespassing on his property.” He had her caged in a small hamster cage.
*Mr. Davis would flip us the bird every single time he drove by, which was a lot, since we lived next door.
*If my brother and I were playing with a ball in our back yard, and it went over the fence, we knew we’d never get to play with that ball again. Mr. Davis would slice the ball down the middle before throwing it back over. Sometimes, when he was being extra menacing, he would draw a bleeding cat’s face on the ball, then slice it, then throw it back to our yard. I still remember the drawings vividly, despite the 20+ years since I’ve seen one.
*He would video tape my brother and dad playing catch in the street.
*He called the police to report my brother skateboarding on our block.
*When we got a cordless phone he would eavesdrop on our conversations, and sometimes chime in with crude remarks. He stopped when my dad said he would report him to the FCC.

Why did he threaten our family? I think it was because he disagreed with my parents’ vocal anti-war views. But maybe being a Jewish family was also a contributing factor. I am left to wonder- if he could be that horrible to our family, his white next-door neighbors, how terrible were his interactions with people of color? I’ll never know the answer.

Because I was a kid without context, he was just the scary neighbor. I knew he found ways to make us scared, including inside of our own home. What I now know, and didn’t realize until just last week, was that he fit into a larger group of people that insisted on their supposed racial superiority, and that menacing behavior often comes with that territory.

Mr. Davis died 20+ years ago. I hadn’t given him much thought in recent years. But last week, in the aftermath of the mob storming the capitol, something I read jogged my brain and I could almost feel the memories and stories tumble out, ready for inspection under the context I now have. For the last 9 years I’ve been actively engaged in unlearning what I thought I knew about race in America, and relearning more accurate narratives, as well as learning to speak out on the topic of racial injustice. Now I have the context and the language to call my neighbor what he was- a violent, threatening, white supremacist.

With that context, now I’m left to wonder- how did that experience impact me, my childhood, my adulthood, and the work I do now?

*Despite the decades that have passed, I still won’t go near his lawn when I visit my parents’ house.
I don’t let my kids walk on other people’s lawns, anywhere.
*In my current home, even though we are friendly with the neighbors whose back yards connect to ours, I still get nervous when my own kids’ toys go over the fence.

Racism and sexism are about power and control. When I write and speak on those topics, I often draw on my own experiences with white men exerting their power. I never considered the awful interactions with Mr. Davis to be among those experiences, but now that I think about it, I imagine those formative years must have had a tremendous impact, one I can’t quite articulate yet.

I’m searching for the lesson here, but I haven’t found it yet. Usually writing is a clarifying exercise for me. When these memories came back to me, I felt so compelled to *write this down* so I could make sense of it. But I’m afraid there’s no sense to be had, no finding reason from the actions of someone so cruel.

Perhaps there are lessons for finance from the national political upheaval. Lessons about naming and examining whiteness and power issues. Lessons about whether we can “move on” from harassment, assault or discrimination in the workplace without the healing that comes with attempts at justice. In my own experiences, and collecting stories for Do Better, I saw a pattern that in instances of conflict in the finance workplace, there is a rush to smooth things over by silencing the victim (including with NDAs and arbitration agreements) and pacifying the aggressor. While moving on from the event may give the temporary appearance that things are back to normal, what it actually does is enable the aggressor to continue abusing other people, at the long term detriment to your workforce and business reputation.

In respect to what is happening nationally, with white supremacy invading our capitol- I hope our country can focus on justice and accountability for those people that stormed the capitol, and those who enabled and encouraged them to do so. Without accountability, the rest of us- the ones not committing violent seditious acts- live in fear of a fresh wave of violence.

May we seek safety, and justice in all of our systems – including our workplaces – and continue to listen to the voices of those people our systems have historically excluded. Not just “for the next generation.” Let’s do it now.”

Thank you, Sonya.
Grateful, humble mama

The ground of current events, the shifting backdrop of threats to our well-being, the hypnotic media messaging…it just keeps crashing on our shores.  I wake each day and wonder what it will be.  Spiking pandemic and vaccine news, wildfires waiting in the wings, protests and boarded buildings, chaotic politics and disputed elections.  And now?  In case that was not enough?  A riptide of violence, raging humans who are so dispirited and desperate.  People who are armed with weapons and values that I struggle to fathom.  I have no answers, only questions.

For one hour yesterday I forgot.  It was cold and foggy damp.  My feet were squishing in trampled grass, Sunday Sweat music was moving through my bones and waking my dulled spirit.  Lately I come to practice for two reasons: to forget and to remember.  When I take the bait, fall completely into breath, body in motion, I abandon that shocking list up there.  For a precious while I forget.  And then invariably I remember.  My essence, my fortitude, my capacity for joy, my connection with all my relations.  The walnut tree, the emerging sun, the other human right in front of me, the soggy earth.

This week I am teaching/holding space for us to forget and to remember on Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday.  Interested in the thread that will string all those teachings together?  A short video today that makes it come alive for you in the way that it is so alive in me.

So….this is for you if, just like me, you feel like you need to forget in order to remember.  Take the bait, allow yourself to fall completely in love with breath, body in motion…feel essence come alive in you.

So much deep caring….❤️Bella