In a year when much has been lost, we turn to gratitude Thursday.  We give thanks for all we still have.  Which is what I really want to write about this morning.  But first this invitation.   I bet you have food on your table.  Probably in abundance.

“It’s such a critical time in food access.
Food security is a top priority for every community.”
Nicole McNeely, executive director of a food bank

Everything about food moves me and the suffering due to lack calls me to action.  Please join me Thursday morning at 10:00 for Basic Essentials…to feed the hungry.  While we practice, while we remember all that we still have, 100% of proceeds will go directly to Run to Feed the Hungry. So where food is critically needed, there will be food on the table.  Thank you for joining me.  And now a word about what we still have….

The Holidays.  A phrase layered with a weird combination of joy and foreboding in this special year. Traditions steeped in childhood and layered through ensuing decades usually shepherd us through these coming weeks.  A time of year when each day dawns darker and colder than the last.  Checking in…how you doing with all this out there in weird-ville?

This is where I turn all Zen on you, since it appears we’re all enrolled in the same unique school.  A school repeatedly testing us on our connection with form.  A task-master demanding we watch the forms we have counted on dissolve.  Again and again and again.  I’ve had more practice letting go and being with disappointment than I ever dreamed possible.  Take something as straight up as The Holidays.

Don’t gather with your family indoors.  Don’t gather to worship.  Don’t get on an airplane.  Don’t go to parties.  Don’t go shopping.  Re-think how to cook and share your favorites with loved ones.  Wonder about gift giving.  Don’t even think about intimate gatherings to sing or dance or just hang out by the fire.  In other words: give up tried and true forms.

I’m not addressing those folks who think all these new fangled rules are political in origin, meant to infringe on precious personal freedom.  That would be a different essay.  I’m talking to you intelligent but exhausted people.  Am I the only one who feels this undercurrent of desperate spinning wheels?  This anguished struggle to hold on to old forms, even if it means risking the health and life of people we love the most?

In the absence of tried and true old forms, what do we have left?  Maybe my vision is clouded but from where I sit, I see only two possibilities: create new forms or get comfortable with the formless.  We can count the amazing array of ways we’ve invented new forms.  You only have to look as far as Zoom space to see something we never would have envisioned a year ago.  Multiply that by a hundred.  The creative juices have been astounding in so many areas of our lives.

But in our rush to keep going, in our American can-do-it-ness, we could miss a big lesson offered in the curriculum of this mass cultural Zen training.  Perhaps this is our time to viscerally learn what formlessness means. Not the hypothetical notion of emptiness, but emptiness itself.  Not the intellectual understanding about being with things exactly as they are, but the nitty-gritty experience of equanimity.

So my question today is this:  what has value that is also formless?  When we strip away exterior constructs, some really juicy stuff patiently awaits.  Ineffable, ephemeral, indescribable….maybe this is the surprise blessing of living in weird-ville.  When we peel away the hoopla and tinsel and razzle-dazzle from The Holidays we find the formless treasures that were always there. The foundational sensibility supporting the spirit of this season.

Breath is formless.  Presence is formless.  Love is formless.  When we release our slavery to form, these jewels can really shine.  Can’t you feel this?  Isn’t this what we want to share with each other?  In whatever way is safely possible?  And so I ask…what is hidden underneath all the complex structures and forms historically laid down over our lifetimes?  What remains?  What is formlessly asking to be recognized?

When we get quiet enough, when we bring our focus to the internal weather, when we bravely stay with…the formless is revealed.  Come practice with me on Thursday and Sunday this week.  It’s so close right now you can touch it.

Love, Bella

On my way to an inquiry about fully inhabiting the power of being, I was kidnapped by the word fluency. I’ve taught classes aplenty on the rhythm of flow.  I wanted another way in, a quality more all encompassing than feminine, circles, receptive, earth, interior, dark, inhale, continuous, weighted.  I kept obsessing on the word fluency, felt like a somatic expression of the power of being.  A being deeply in touch with their internal weather—breath, sensation, shifty feelings, looping thoughts—and fluently able to enter the external, the slipstream of human and earth events. You’ve seen beings in full possession of this quality.  They confidently glide through any space they occupy, 360 degree aware of the full surround. Fluent.

This delivered me to fluency in language.  Which is the ability to both express AND understand. And this notion transported me to influence.  I had us partner on the dance floor.  From the power of our own being, one person influential, the other being influenced.  A conversation.  Fluency is essential for true give and take dialogue. In this process our bodies grasped something sorely needed in this crazy polarized culture.  The ability to be influenced or be influential depends with whom you are talking these days.

This personal love affair with words was mined a couple days ago by Holly Holt , friend and fellow teacher.  She’s passionate about writing and is all about fostering the writer in us all.  To help meet that vision, she’s talking to women who write.  Women who cannot help but write.   I agreed to the interview because I adore that mission and 100% support her in it.  But I also knew there might be some pearls from this guided conversation.  I was not disappointed.

My first poem was penned at age seven, a plea to the tooth fairy. A poem that initiated a lifelong stream of verse.   And there was that diary I kept from eight to eighteen, relinquished to the trash bin in a raging fit of embarrassment.  Sigh.  And forty years of journals dating from 1970. A woman who cannot help but write. In 2005 I started this newsletter as an informational communication of my offerings as I transitioned from clinical practice to brave worlds unknown.

But toward the end of 2011 those private journal entries ceased. I must have sensed that lodged in all that off-the-record vulnerability there were musings to reach an audience I cared about.  This crossover to more personal disclosure was never a conscious decision, just a slow roll over. Didn’t start saving posts until 2013.  I just finished categorizing some of them for the new web site in Recent Revelations.

But the interview set me to wondering. Has my writing changed, lost its candor through its link to my public work in the world?  Has utilizing my writing to beat the drum about my work altered it?  In some weird way this question relates to my soup restaurant dream. Will monetizing my love of cooking change how I feel about being in the kitchen? The interview floated me all around this question and also showed me how tightly woven word love and embodied practice are confluent in me. Confluent.  Love of word, love of body…inseparable.

This age old word love of mine.  Its inextricable tie to embodiment.  This compulsion to pour sensation, feeling and thought into the written form. The revelations that come down the pike as word meets movement, as movement meets word.  Language interwoven with bones and breath and blood.  I’m dropping the worry about my writing being adversely affected.  Of course it’s impacted.  And that’s a good thing.

My private journaling was always about documenting experience and exploring what I was feeling.  I needed to write to know.  This here?  Same.  Except that because you are out there reading, the writing adventure is amplified, deepened, enriched.  Thank you for that.

I absolutely adored being with you last Saturday to trial run Dance Essentials: roll, dance stretch.  So much so that it’s re-scheduled for December 12.  If you have yet to enter the world of Essentials, this coming Saturday is perfect: a slow two hour cruise through release, tone, stretch.  Opportunity to feel so much…including fluent.

Love, Bella

P.S.  An inquiry about foot pain motivated the short video below.  Physical therapy via Zoom works amazingly well to address this oh so common challenge.  Don’t suffer with that one! Let’s do it.

All last week I waited.  Paralyzed.  Obsessed by a future hanging in the balance.  Where were you Saturday when the election news came down?  I bet we’ll always remember.  I was buying poblano peppers at the Ferry Building Market in San Francisco.  A sun drenched crowd erupted in spontaneous acclaim.  I love California.

The three day time warp that has since passed highlights a recurring personal reality.   Though I wish I could be a more transcendent being, the dread of waiting never spontaneously shifts to the joy of get-up-and-go.  I watched the impromptu celebrations across the globe, an observer of elation.  I could not feel it.

I danced in the garden Sunday morning, utterly present to moments of community jubilation.  I could not authentically get on board.  I wept into the grass. Four years of tonnage, magnified by the massive load of these last eight months, has talons firmly hooked into my back body. So much weight pulling me under.  It was blister cold out there, wind plucking leaves off ever-willing trees.  I did my best to surrender like that, released a big hunk of burden under a witnessing sky.  As much as I could through the power of practice.  It felt infinitesimal compared to the millstone remaining.

I know I’m not alone in experiencing the effects of unrelenting trauma.  Trauma that is not going to resolve itself just because the current political drama has potential to improve.  When a tidal wave of world and human events is this formidable, what’s a body to do?  How do we honor the truth of our internal experience and not resist or hide or freeze?  How do we stay in the moving current and continue to ride with the flow?

I wish there was some magic bullet to offer here.  Time.  It will pass.  And as it does we do what we must.  Breathe.  Stay present.  Feel.  Tell the truth.  Move.  Connect.  Repeat.  I have a fair degree of discipline, yet I cannot do this alone all the time.  I also need to do all this with you.  I need both.  This week we have five times to do this together.  You know about virtual Essentials Thursday and Friday morning.  You know we have a committed group moving together live on Wednesday night.  You know about Sundays, virtual and live.

What you don’t know about is this Saturday morning’s Dance Essentials (info at page bottom).  I’ve never done this on Zoom before.  This is a total trial run, a free offering, a let’s give it a whirl and see if we like it kind of thing.  This is 90 minutes of what is often my personal studio practice.  Awesome music playing, foam rolling and tennis ball-ing, breathing and feeling together.  Then we get up and dance awhile, enjoy fluid, expressive, shaking it all out bodies, hearts, minds.  Then we stretch it all loose and long together and finally drop into full surrender rest.  Details on equipment for class. Yum.  I hope you can join me.

So, O.K., no magic bullets.  But check this out: take thirty seconds to open your mouth and make some random sound as you wiggle your jaw around. Add in vigorously shaking your hands and stamping your feet.  Pause.  What is that remarkable sensation?  That is life force.  And it’s moving through you.  Imagine a 90 minute practice.  Let’s do it.

Love, Bella

Friday morning.  Sitting fireside.  Feeling more hopeful than I have in a week.  Sensing how long the road is in front of us.  Mega healing and repair.  Uncertainty.  Despair.  Exhaustion.

So many presidential elections under my belt…never have I felt like this.  Closest memory is when my youthful exuberance suffered a head on collision with the landslide defeat of McGovern in 1972.  Echoed by the shocking blindside four years ago.

But this.  We arrived at 2020 already weakened by a multitude of increasingly numbing onslaughts peppering the previous three years.  I don’t need to hash over all that’s come down since March.  We are all wading through it on a daily basis.  Dare we hope?

Waiting.  Waiting with my loved ones.  Waiting with you.  Anchoring myself in the only ways I know.  Deeply leaning into and fostering daily human connection.  Practice on the mat, on the dance floor…especially with community.  Cooking more than I ever have, from scratch every day.  Obsessively tending my garden and yard.  Walking the neighborhood, tracking the seasonal changes.  Immersing in nature with regularity.

Since July I kept some of my energetic creative fires burning by designing a new website that includes this on line world.  It finally rolled out last week.  In twenty years, its probably my fifth site.  Feels like the culmination of a lifetime of work that for maybe the first time fully represents who I am and the work I do in the world.

Maybe because for the first time that feels entirely clear to me.  Inspired medicine through movement.  Online and in person physical therapy, yoga and dance sessions for deep healing.  In a nutshell.  Please cruise around this easy to navigate landscape.  Let me know what moves you.  I sense that these next few months are going to continue to be challenging to bear.  Somehow the burden is light when we are together.

Love, Bella

Jeanne Lohmann’s poem What The Day Gives inspired me, gave voice to what has been astonishing me all week. I hope this serve as inspiration for you this morning. Her poem is interspersed in this musing:

Suddenly, sun. Over my shoulder
in the middle of gray November
what I hoped to do comes back, asking.

Hope snuck in the back door, boldly laid claim to a place on my lap a couple weeks ago. At first, and more than once, I booted her off from this valuable real estate, territory that despair has occupied for months. Every Buddhist bone in my body warned about the sneaky seductive power of hope. The wily way she steals the present moment from the indulgently unaware. The way she woos her worshippers into wasting time in the milky way of the future.

Across the street the fiery trees hold onto their leaves,
red and gold in the final months of this unfinished year,
they offer blazing riddles.

Hope persistently crept back in. So I resorted to denial. I know what it feels like to have hope dashed. And I did not want to go there. Ever again. But each time she reinstated herself in the crook of my hips, a flush of delight warmed through me. And that sweet rush of optimism? That was not happening in the future. That was a feeling totally present in the current moment.

In the frozen fields of my life there are no shortcuts to spring,
but stories of great birds in migration
carrying small ones on their backs,
predators flying next to warblers they would, in a different season, eat.

And so in classes every day from Wednesday until Sunday I explored this possibility with you. And you. And you. And it seems I am not alone in this wishful sensibility. What arose from the collective in the Sunday closing circle is that everything is changing and it is reasonable to believe that things could get better. Why not? Rebecca Solnit, exploring this theme in her book Hope In The Dark, feels that “hope is a function of uncertainty, of not-knowing …a longing for change, experienced in necessary ignorance of when that change will come or what form it will take.”

Stunned by the astonishing mix in this uneasy world
that plunges in a single day from despair to hope and back again,
I commend my life to Ruskin’s difficult duty of delight,
and to that most beautiful form of courage, to be happy.

When I returned home Sunday, sweet hubby was creating the lawn sign pictured above. I let hope rest in my lap for the balance of the day. She’s still hanging around this morning creating a glow of warmth on this cold and windy autumn morning. She took this poetry out of her wonder pocket and reminded me of words from Emily Dickinson that I offer in closing.

“Hope is the thing with feathers that perches in the soul
and sings the tune without the words and never stops at all.”

Let’s take a deep breath in together right here. Inspiration as vehicle of hope. Inhale once more, invite possibility. Maybe hope can sit right next to despair. But I bet that only hope is the one singing a tune without words. I hope we can practice together somewhere this week. Space for a couple more to be live with us at Clara this Wednesday night. Essentials Thursday and Friday morning. Live or Zoom for the Sunday Sweat.

Love, bella

Six months ago on Mother’s Day my daughter gave me a special gift: StoryWorth.  Every week a question comes to my in my inbox and I write a story, often a family memory.  At the end of the year 52 stories will be compiled in a book.  I’m half way through creating this family heirloom.  It has been delightful.  This week’s question was “What are some of your special talents?”  I know you readers have them.  How would you answer this?  My writing here has seemed so heavy of late.  These are hard times.  Since my response was pertinent to my current work, and it felt light and easy, I decided to share it here.  I hope you enjoy.
 
I was gifted with a few special talents.  A natural ability to find my way with ease around any kitchen and produce something yummy to eat.  An instinctual understanding of the inner workings of my own body and therefore other bodies.  An organic dance response to just about anything with a beat.   A natural sense of direction and a trust in my earth connection that yields total comfort with the great outdoors.  These are skills I’ve taken for granted nearly my whole life.  But the talent that surprised me late in life, the skill that is only twenty years new, is my ability to DJ.  Who knew? 
 
Within a few months of dancing 5Rhythms I became super-curious about what music at home would support my practice.  I started to notice what tracks worked in each rhythm.  When I asked my local teacher about how he chose music, his answer was so simple. Anything he loved to move to was game AND counting beats helped him categorize songs.  With those two sage pieces of advice I was transported to a world I never knew existed. 
 
It was all about CDs back then.  There was a man in my community with an incredible world music collection.  Every Tuesday night I came to dance he’d gift me another handful he’d meticulously copied.  Each CD was encased in a sleeve handwritten with all the tracks and artists. He methodically journeyed me all the way through Africa, Europe and Asia and then ended with a Native American dive.  I am eternally grateful for his patient, freely given education. I ended up with four giant black notebooks chock full of hundreds of discs.  
 
It was a new kind of heaven when I entered our front bedroom with the emptiest floor.  While I listened, moved, felt, beat-counted and catalogued, time stood still.  Three or four hours would pass and I would emerge bewildered about where the time had gone. It was as close to obsessed as I have ever been.  My lifelong avid reader habit completely halted for five solid years.   In my spare time, all I wanted to do was music immerse.  I would spend hours at our used CD store, The Beat.  It was such a satisfying thrill to discover new artists, new genres, new tracks.  
 
It wasn’t long before I realized I was not alone in this passion.  As I dove into a steady Bay area workshop diet I met other budding DJs.  Pretty soon all those CDs were history when it all switched to mp3 files.  We would gather with our laptop computers and pass memory sticks around.  For me, there is great joy and satisfaction in dancing to something brand new, something I have never moved to before.  This semi-addiction keeps it’s energy alive by generating a sense of never enough-ness.  Can be a bit crazy-making.  
 
It still keeps me super-engaged but it has definitely lost the compulsive hold.  My ears, my heart, my hips are finely tuned by twenty years of collecting.  Once I started using the music to support facilitation it got more organized.  My library is arranged into folders: each rhythm, transitions between rhythms, body parts, tribal, repetition, voice-over, lyrics, instrumental, drumming.  I used to count beats but now I have a beat counter.   There are FaceBook pages for teachers to virtually gather and share their new favorites or ask for music to support particular themes.  
 
Even though all these years of development make pulling together a playlist second nature, I adore this work.  It requires me to be still, feel what is alive inside me, start moving with whatever it is to formulate a theme, a thread that holds the wave together.  As I begin to piece it, I feel it develop a life influenced by music I select.  Like a detective,  I seek just the right next track.  So satisfying to land it and routinely surprising when live with it, you realize it doesn’t work.  The folders allow me to create 100% on the fly and more importantly, this organization allows me to change “plans” (hah!) in the moment. I never know about the group animal beforehand.  The adrenaline rush is phenomenal sometimes. 
 
I’m so grateful to have been given the opportunity to cultivate an embryonic talent.  I truly believe we have many gifts that lie dormant.  I would love to know what you personally know about this topic.  What are some of your special talents?  Is there something you sense emerging?  Something that begs encouragement?  Maybe this unique hiatus, everything thrown up in the air, rearranging in a free fall—maybe this is the perfect time to consider this question.  Destruction and creation are so powerfully intertwined.  Let me know what you find.
 
Love, Bella
 

 

Seated with friends around a big table, sharing food, laughter, conversation.  From the outside, a scenario that appears entirely normal.  But now there are visible signs of change: this physical distance thing and safe dining etiquette and masks on-off and pandemic talk.  But still it pretty much looks like it used to.
 
On the inside, for me at least, things have radically shifted.  And from what I sense, social awkwardness is sharply rising for us all.  If you’ve been in the company of others and felt a queasy anxiety, maybe an alarming lack of tolerance, an unusual degree of hyper-vigilance, an adolescent oversensitivity…well, you’re not alone.  Social interplay is a complicated human skill.  In the course of even a short conversation we make multiple under-the-radar decisions based on language interpretation—both body and verbal language.  And we are getting rusty.
 
Maybe you’re lucky and not completely isolated.  You have a partner or a bubble or you’re an essential worker.  But we benefit more than we know from casual interactions: banter at the coffee shop, exchanges at the market, greeting the postman.  In our understandable quest to stay healthy, we’re developing social skill atrophy.  Not to mention the ways we’re routinely imprinting generalized fear around contact with other humans.
 
We are neurologically wired to crave company and human touch.  It’s a biological survival thing.  We were never meant to do this alone.  So we’re trying.  We reach out with our tech devices—Zoom or FaceTime—but we miss the whole body view and its barrel of meaningful social clues.  And these masks…I have new appreciation for the expressive genius of the bottom half of the face.  And texting.  Grateful for this convenient communication magic. But even pre-pandemic, it felt like wishful thinking, so far removed from real time, real heart-body presence.    
 
Loneliness is confusing and threatening to our nervous systems.  The isolation we are all experiencing manifests in ways we don’t even nail as loneliness.  Our response to this prolonged solitary confinement can come out sideways—irritability, melancholy, inertia, fury.  If we were hungry or thirsty we would do something about it.  But most of us are simply not getting the full range of human interaction we need for optimal health.  What to do?
 
I’m grateful to live with a good and understanding partner. I thought after fifty years our relationship had weathered every possible storm.  But this has challenged us in ways we’ve never experienced.  Leaning in to only one person does not work for me.  I try to insure some form of nourishing communication with someone other than this partner daily.   I take a squirt of WD-40 whenever wherever I can get it.  Masked eye connect and muffled hellos with strangers.  Luxurious phone chats with girlfriends. Funny or poignant text threads with my children. Zoom contact with dance and yoga students.  Unfortunately I find social media minimally satisfying.   And then there are those vibrant physical health boosts from face-to-face human connection.  The contrast with the tech-connect is stunningly obvious.

If you have found Zoom classes unsatisfying in comparison to the real deal, I’m with you. But it’s all we have right now and personally, I can feel the health benefit that is not just a product of the physical practice.  I feel so connected to those of you showing up.  With you I am learning how to harvest whatever is possible out of this beast.  And I am buoyed by every single session, even the ones with moments awkward or impossible or fraught.  Because I can feel how we are in it together and my nervous system thanks me each time.   I’ll be Zooming four times this week and I’m reaching out to you here for the sheer health of it.
 
Nobody knows what the future holds.  But there is a ton of research about prisoners in solitary confinement, soldiers on long deployments, scientists isolated on remote expeditions, astronauts circling for months in space.  All the findings indicate that re-entry, whatever that might mean here, will be unpredictable at best.  Return and adjustment following social isolation is universally problematic.  Isolation is one way our lives are in the process of being upended.  There are so many.  We are all changing in fundamental ways.  
 
In this holding zone period, in this nether world, we might prepare for the day we finally begin to gather.  With ourselves, with those we have the fortune to interact with on a regular basis: patient steadfastness, expansive curiosity, maybe the deepest well of kindness you have ever cultivated.  We need it now.  We’ll need it tomorrow.  We’ll need it for a long time coming.

Practicing right here: my fingers on this keyboard reaching across the ethers to yours.  Can you feel it?  Love, Bella

 

I opened the leather console abutting my driver’s seat and spied a lime green pouch I’d forgotten.  I knew what was in there.  I zipped it open and somberly withdrew three keys, each haphazardly labeled with the door it opened.  One for Centered—closed, another for Epic—-closed, a third for Clara—?.  Sigh.  Evidence again.  Everyday there is change.  The new normal is that there is no normal.
 
Studios in Sacramento where I used to teach have forever closed their doors. Each key in my hand represented an incredible bucket of love and energy and soul. Centered and Epic closed in the same week, their owners so beloved by me, dismantling everything they had painstakingly built.  Goodbye also to Yoga Solution where I taught every single Monday morning for six years.   Goodbye to Yoga Seed where I helped usher in countless new teachers through their training program. The third key is to Clara, hoping against hope it can survive, yearning to grace that floor again. Really feeling grief today around all this pervasive and overwhelming local loss.
 
In that puddle of loss, hoping to be lifted by Wide Open Walls, the local annual mural project, I meandered through downtown Sacramento.  Instead of a boost, I walked weeping on J Street surrounded by boarded up windows, litter and ash, the burgeoning homeless population.  More grief about how much we have lost in our hometown, utter sense of what I have taken for granted for nearly fifty years.
 
In the midst of this very personal, myopic erosion, I feel us on the national scale, ailing with deep and pervasive wounds, gaping in the light of this pandemic. From here, it takes only a moment to go global—7.8 billion of us, each with our own painful response to the massive changes happening on our planet.  I sat up in my studio with these changes, these symbolic keys that no longer open doors resting in my warm palm.  I tweaked the “fear of change and courage” altar from last week by carefully laying those keys with the rocks—pictured above.  I pulled out that Osho card deck again and asked, “What does it mean that all the spaces we moved in have vanished?”
 
I was stunned but not surprised to pull the Completion card:
 
“…In the finishing, we can either be in despair because we don’t want the situation to come to an end, or we can be grateful and accepting of the fact that life is full of endings and new beginnings…Use this interval to celebrate both—the end of the old and the coming of the new.”
 
Deftly shuffled in to all this change is completion, ending, conclusion.  Along with much that will begin, be initiated, arise.  And then there is this interval, time for us to be aware of both, feel the undercurrent of celebration even as we grieve.  Me?  I need dedicated moments to let all this in.  Otherwise the seductive distraction that can fill my days creates a barrier of numbness to this truth. 

A fellow 5Rhythms teacher reminded me of a forgotten moment.  Gabrielle had us gathered thirteen years ago in training, the field quiet, enraptured as it became at times.  She took a long pause and looked out seemingly at each and every one of us in that uncanny way she had.  “You’ll each have your moment when you realize that teaching is your salvation.”  I have felt that in different times.  This is definitely one of them.
 
On the mat, I’m leaning us into the yamas and niyamas, yoga’s ethical guidelines: last week non-violence, this week truth-telling—courage boosters bringing us together in practice.  Let’s dedicate some mat moments this week Thursday, Friday and Saturday.  Some of those moments available Wednesday night—flesh out the heart: closed, open, half, whole, clear, doubtful, weak, strong.  Sweat some prayers Sunday morning.  I don’t know.  Maybe some of these dedicated moments will feel like your salvation as well.
 
Love, Bella
 
 

Moving on my mat, the Tahoe earth held me last week.  When I rested, stretched out looking at trees and sky, a thought dropped into the empty space.  How does that happen?  But there it was: I’m smack dab in the midst of one crazy initiation into the eighth decade of life.  What a friggin’ absurd transition: decade change + pandemic.  I’m a meaning-making animal.  Maybe you are, too. What in the world could this juxtaposition signify? 
 
I continued to breathe. Soften. Open.  Until a precise teeter-totter balance came all over me, echoed in this ending line from Birdwings by Rumi:
 
Your deepest presence is in every small contracting and expanding,
the two as beautifully balanced and coordinated as bird wings.

 
We spotted four eagles in our time there.  The teeter-totter of bird wings.  On one wing the vibrancy of life force moves through me, an omni-present will to live, dependable, energetically unstoppable.  Poised on the other wing? Utter willingness to let go, deep trust in the perfection of endings, curious lack of attachment to continuing this life.  Beautifully balanced and coordinated as bird wings.
 
This foundational sensibility was paved two years ago.  Six months of dancing with illness instigated a realistic partnership with mortality. An alliance that fundamentally shifted me.  The confluence of this decade change with the no-end-in-sight pandemic has delivered mortality front and center again.  But this sense of will to live perfectly balanced with willingness to let go…that feels new and peacefully accurate as summer moves to fall. 
 
The teeter-totter of the seasons is on the horizon, fall equinox’s perfect balance of day and night.  All this corona trouble began at the other end, the last equinox. We’ve teetered together through two full seasons of trial and challenge.  I asked my Osho Tarot deck to offer guidance for the totter into these next two seasons.  And I drew the trust card. 
 
“There is a tremendous sense of exhilaration if we can take the jump
 and move into the unknown, even if the idea scares us to death…
the leap is the thing, the thrill as we free-fall through empty sky.”

 
Perhaps balance emerges side by side with trust.  What does it mean to trust my gut, hear the impulses that arise low down, align with them?  Can I trust this beating heart, tune into the whispery voice, not just the noisy one?  When’s the last time intuition guided me, do I trust those surprising thoughts that drop in the empty space?
 
I’m taking a couple weeks off from teaching.  Going to the Lost Coast.  Somehow that feels appropriate.  Sunday Sweat Your Prayers goes on without a break.  Thank goodness.  Wednesday Waves starts again September 9.  I’m excited, filled with that energetically unstoppable life force about what Majica and I are brewing up around that…more later.  Loving how we have travelled together through two full seasons and ready for Essentials to begin again September 17.
 
May this next week unfold beautifully balanced and coordinated as bird wings.  Trusting that we’ll fly together soon….love, bella
 
 

On Mother’s Day this year, my astute and thoughtful daughter gifted me with StoryWorth, an ingenious writing program  encouraging family elders to tell the stories that comprise a life.  Each week I get a new prompt.  After 52 weeks StoryWorth binds the responses into a book.  Last week it was “How and when did you decide to have children?”  A few weeks before it was “Are you more like your father or your mother? In what ways?”
 
This mother/father inquiry was deep and long.  Offering a bit of an excerpt here because what emerged from this inquiry helped nudge me toward a process I have been steeped in these last few weeks.
 
“From my papa I received a fiery drive and the ambition to be successful. He modeled it 100%. It took him a decade while working full time to graduate with his engineering degree from UCLA. I remember sitting on the curb in the dark waiting for him to come home. He was gone so much of the time. Then he went on to USC, earning a masters in ocean engineering. Measured in time-devoted, his profession was more important to him than anything else. I have that tendency and have to pro-actively seek balance….

From my papa I am blessed with insatiable curiosity. It knows no bounds. The littlest things can intrigue the hell out of me and create desire to know more deeply. I think his drive was nourished by curiosity. His many re-starts and do-overs taught me that it is possible to start over, be interested in something new and follow it, change directions, turn on a dime, be spontaneous, trust your gut, go for it….

From my papa I not only learned how to teach but he gave me the leg up to become masterful at it. So many memories of him lying on the couch with one of my math or chemistry textbooks, patiently guiding me toward understanding. He just knew how to logically sequence any subject so that learning just happened…..”
 
The way our relationship healed over time, to be present with him as he passed in March, to receive a modest financial inheritance…to remember his qualities of curiosity, professional ambition and natural teaching ability…all of this led me to seize this strange moment to (once again) re-do the website.  It is five years old.  It amazes me to look at it, realize how much has changed—in me and the world—and feel the way what I do is not clearly defined by it any longer. 
 
And what do I do? Reality is one thing.  Articulating it is another.  Slowly the fullness of this picture has been emerging.  For twenty years I’ve been offering service rooted in  this sacred triangle:  you can meet me on the dance floor, on the mat or one-on-one.  And now it can also be virtual.  It does not matter where we meet…the journey is always moving in the same direction.  Aware.  Awake.  Alive.  Presence happens with practice. 
 
I offer transformative movement sessions that guide you on this path to presence.  A journey that always begins with your body.  You learn to listen to its language: breath and sensation.  This attention delivers you to your authentic emotions and thoughts.  With the support of moving meditation sessions, alignment of body, heart and mind come naturally.   And as this alignment unfolds, a portal to soul and spirit opens for each of us.   Soul?  Our unique purpose for being on this planet in this lifetime.  Soul speaks to why we are here, what we are meant to do in this precious lifetime.  Spirit?  Our connection with something way more vast than soul.  The power, the life force that connects and unifies us all. 
 
Our world is changing so rapidly.  A practice of presence is not only revelatory, it can be revolutionary.  Feeling lately that it could be a matter of survival. So I am inviting you to come with me as if your life depended on it.  Because maybe it does.   

See the links below to join me on this path to presence for three more August Essentials: Tuesday 18th Essentials, Friday 21st Deeper Being and Saturday’s two hour intro/refresh: Essential Recharge August 29 10:00-noon.  Essentials re-starts after Labor Day, the week of September 13.  Sunday Sweat Your Prayers is ongoing, does not miss a beat.  It was so beautiful to be, move, dance with you yesterday.
 
Embodied, feeling what is arising, noticing the narrative, clear about purpose, connected with spirit.  On the path to presence…
 
Love, Bella