dad and me

Buddhist teachers, existential philosophers and hard knocks college all hammer away on the same topic: old age, ill health and death are coming to us all. If we are lucky. If you’re like me you might hit the delete button right now; I wouldn’t blame you. I like the sand. Especially when my head is in it.

But the last five days with my almost 90 y/o mother-in-law and almost 91 y/o father have me looking around wide-eyed alive. Despite way too much airport time. Last night when my sweet hubby and I were finally on our own, I followed my urge for a glass of wine (not entirely surprising) and then lapsed into an hour of mindless TV (totally out of character). This behavior put me squarely in the 50% enlightened realm, according to Pema Chodron. I know I’ve been quoting Pema lots lately. In the last 15 years she’s been my main teacher other than Gabrielle. If you haven’t taken advantage of her incredibly accessible Buddhist sensibility…maybe now’s your moment.

Paraphrasing here…well, you can wake up in a New York minute. Say your doctor tells you death is coming with the next cigarette, so you quit smoking immediately. Cold turkey. Instant enlightenment 100%. No looking back, no slippage, no second guessing. But the 50% place, the status for many of us for so long, lifetimes perhaps, is to know what we are up to and make less than optimal choices. Time and again.

I could have sat in that sterile Hyatt room and stayed with the rich array of all that was arising: newly soft and exquisitely tender father love; acute despair about the downward turn in his ability to communicate; belly fear that I might never see him again. The 50% place is not for the faint of heart. I indulged in that wine with 100% awareness of the way it erected a wall of safety between me and the utter complexity of all my feelings…this too is a very uncomfortable place in its own right. Especially since I was not willing to drink an amount that would take me completely away from it all.

That’s more the choice for the 5% folks. Awake enough to have an inkling that there are better choices, but taking every available measure to actively avoid them. If you have read this far you probably remember those days. Or maybe it’s your current main hangout zone. Noticing those vague stirrings and whispered misgivings, and then quickly turning the other way. This can go on a long time as well. Lifetimes. Less painful than 50% territory in many ways.

Here’s the good Buddhist news. All three places—100, 50, 5%—are rich and entirely workable arenas. Every place on the continuum is a launch pad for wakefulness. So before the flight whisked me home, I called my dad and basked in mutual delight for the awesome memories we had just created: side-by-side hand holding in pool inner tubes, Texas BBQ on butcher paper, hours watching all the activity at the bird feeder. I let his voice stir up my just below the surface joy, trigger those right there tears. All at once. And here on the plane (being a very marginal flier), welcoming moments of turbulence, entry zones for generic flat out scared. No walls of safety this morning. Recognizing a bit more about my particular strategies for being with intensity. Maybe a need for a bit of a break before I’m ready to let it all in. Remembering that I used to not let it in at all. Grateful to be on the path and feeling so very much.

Pema 3

Wanted coffee. Walked into Chocolate Fish. My window seat was taken. Took the middle seat I didn’t want. Didn’t even notice the gorgeous ocean photo on the wall. Decided what I really craved was a latte. The music is too loud in here. Hate that. So wrapped up in myself, I didn’t spot the full-in-bloom white oleander out the window. Didn’t even notice when the guy in the window seat got up and left. And so it goes. Want, don’t want, doesn’t even register.

Picked up Pema Chodron again a few weeks ago. Start Where You Are was the first of her books I ever read and this is time number three circling back. Captivated by so much of her straight up, easy access writing. The Poison as Medicine chapter lays out the humorous and tragic messy (klesha) stuff we spend our time mucking around in. I loved reading this once more. When we lose sight of how spacious life truly is, we fall into being tight little humans, looking out at everything from our it’s-all-about-me lens. We assess everything that comes our way as I like or I don’t like or we just miss it completely.

I laughed out loud when I re-read about Mortimer. The guy who works in your office. The one who walks by person #1 and, unbeknownst to him, triggers juicy fantasies about connection, relationship, desire. Strolls by person #2 who can’t stand Mortimer, eyes averted, praying he doesn’t come near. You guessed, saunters by person #3 and they don’t even see him, like he doesn’t even exist on the planet. Passion, aggression, ignorance…our three habitual tendencies. In a nut shell.

And what, pray tell, if we actually observe ourselves engaged in these messy habits, are we supposed to do about it? Well, witnessing is a great way to start where you are: painfully, eye-opening-ly funny. Relax, we are indeed human. If we actually notice, we might continue to watch ourselves and see what we do next, see if it’s true we tend to do one of two things when Mortimer triggers us. We act out on our craving or aversion…we actively get his attention or we run and hide under the desk. We act out. Or we repress: we want to connect with him so badly but we tamp down all our rampant desire or he bugs us so much we focus all our attention on him and seethe with disgust. Or of course, in total ignorance, we don’t even notice there is a human being incarnate worthy of honor passing by our cubicle.

Curious lately about my own go-to, my own preferences in this department. Well, there’s no good answer on this one. The embarrassing truth is all there is. I, like you, do all three, all day. But my lifetime programmed response is head-in-the-sand. Thank you very much while I just hide in this cave and nurture my ignorance. If I don’t know about it, surely it won’t bother me, does not apply. And if I actually do notice it and it bothers me, well I’ll stay true to form and repress all that messy stuff as quickly as humanly possible. Which can be amazingly quickly. I’m good at it.

So if by now you’re thinking…forget it, I’m O.K. with skating along surface-happy. You just might have the same conditioning pattern as me, preferring ignorance and repression as life tactic. And that can work, perhaps even for a long time, until some bomb drops in your lap making that game plan non-functional. The unforeseen wake up call that delivers many of us to practice. I haven’t found the other easy, magic way around this and it’s not like we get somewhere and then we’re done. Inconveniently, practice seems to need to occur regularly, without fail, especially when we don’t want to go. So this is just a kick in the butt to find what that practice is and stick with it. Especially when it gets hard. Oh, did I already say that?

You don’t have to practice with me. And if you are inclined, multiple opportunities to exercise that regularity this week: Tuesday morning for Rock & Roll at Seed, Thursday and Friday morning and Friday night at It’s All Yoga, Thursday night and Sunday morning 5Rhythms at Coloma Center. All info in sidebar. Extended practice? Even better. Three days at Harbin Hot Springs, one more scholarship available, June 19-21.

So, yes, relax. We are indeed human. And then get up and do something about that. Love, bella


About six months ago, I was phone-dreaming/collaborating with Jenny Macke about Harbin Hot Springs, throwing ideas, visions, intentions into the juicy soup pot between us, stirring it up. We both want to lift us out of the sticky day-to-day ensnaring web that consumes us, creates a barrier to truly knowing who we are and what we really need. Words were flying all over cyber-space until, almost in the same nano-second, we uttered “cultivating space”. That just nailed it: cultivate space, inside and out. It’s always there, inside and out, it just gets obscured in the daily fray.

In the months since that phone call, this intention, in small ways and large, has been manifesting everywhere. If you’ve been reading here, you know about the “good little soldier”. I’ve been super-tracking this ego character. Following his well-blazed trail alerts me to where the day-to-day web ensnares me. Since the start of the year, tracking has been bolstered by a self-declared monthly day of silence, Friday is my next one. No big rules around this day, just turn off the phone and computer, meditate a bunch, be quiet. Each dedicated day has had a different flavor. I have danced and been on the mat. I have cooked and gardened. I have read and wrote and soul collaged. I have been outdoors a lot. I have been silent, I have been singing. I have done nothing. In short, I have been cultivating space.

And then three weeks ago Vojin Kopuz, a 5Rhythms student from Bosnia, came to stay with me. He needed housing and wanted to learn about teaching by being in an established community.   Really, only a vague idea why I said yes to this request; I figured he could be here a week and then housesit while we travelled to N.Y. When this 26 year old enthusiastic, joy bundle arrived, I was still quagmired in a hard place; I was cultivating but felt anything but spacious. I was stuck in a hole and ready to make some changes but barely seeing my way toward the light.

His passion being perma-culture, he stepped into my yard and said “what shall we do here?” Within a few hours he had me shovel in hand, sweating and dirty, pulling weeds and turning dirt, breaking up hardpan and separating good mulch from bad. Together we cleared and nourished a completely weed-choked area un-farmable and fallow because of an overbearing redwood. The tree came down last year and now the land it choked and shaded has been re-vitalized. When I returned from New York, I planted it with fledgling vegetables. In short, I have literally been cultivating space.

In the long view, it’s been only a moment since I climbed out of the quagmire, started to make some changes. From this vantage point, in this new cleared out space, beyond the sweat and dirt, after separating good weeds from bad, there is spaciousness, inside and out, clearly palpable. And it shouldn’t surprise me, but, of course, several new fledgling plants have begun to emerge out of the emptiness. I am randomly watering and fertilizing and who knows which ones will thrive. I know very little, but I do know this: when we cultivate space, we create room for something new to emerge. And it may simply be more space. And the good little soldier, who, by the way recently was promoted from infantry to the calvary (it is so much easier on a horse…) is learning that more space is a very good thing.

So if you can carve out three days, if you want to dance and stretch and roll and soak in support of clearing things out that obscure your connection to the essential, bona fide you…come cultivate space with Jenny and me and the rest of this beautiful community June 19-21. Come see what emerges, it will probably surprise you.

no internet dayc3

We all need deep personal support and sometimes it comes from sources way less visible. There is unspoken sustenance that may need to come out of the closet: stillness, withdrawal from the exterior world, turning inward. Heartened by my three days of silence at the end of 2014, I made a resolution. I never make resolutions. But I did. One day a month in 2015 for complete and utter unplugging. The only rule? At home with no screen time: no phone, no computer, no TV X 24 hours.

So far each experience has had it’s own flavor, a unique self-crafted container. But here is the common thread: the support and tender touch of following my own undistracted flow nourished me for several days following. It fueled a memory of slower time gone by when this was closer to the norm. Until 1998 I steadfastly refused to own a computer or join the email thing; I saw the writing on the wall, or on the page, I guess. I guessed the way it would utterly change my world. And it did. And not all of it is a bad thing. But something has been lost and I feel like I’m finding it again. Here’s one piece of it.

Time outdoors is a big draw for me and on these no-tech days I easily go there. Nature deficit disorder, described in Richard Louv’s Last Child in the Woods, contends that human beings, especially children, are spending less time outdoors. This is resulting in a wide range of behavioral problems and the lure of the screen is one of the biggest factors keeping children (and the rest of us!) inside. I’ve lived on this quiet residential street more than 40 years. It used to be a veritable playground. My kids grew up roaming with the neighborhood posse: children of all ages playing ball and hide and seek and games born of their wild imaginations. Now they are all grown and gone and there is a new crop of kids here. I sit on my porch and it is eerily quiet. I miss those rowdy calls, their visible playful energy, the general alive chaos of it all. Mostly I know there are children because I see them scuttling from door to car and back.

“Something’s happening here…what it is ain’t exactly clear.” This week I actually have to make a sign to put up at Coloma Center about turning off your cell phone during practice. Don’t ask. Right here, in this precious moment, I’m inviting you to find some clarity around this one. Will you join this dialogue with a simple (but not easy) challenge? One 24 hour period, just one…to turn it all off…at home. You might begin right now by noticing what this request brings up for you. Maybe that immediate gut response is enough to get you intrigued, perhaps watching the way you resist, find excuses for, laugh right out loud at this challenge, let alone actually consider taking it on. My next dedicated turn off day is April 21. If you’re game, please respond by letting me know what 24 hour period in April you are willing to pull yourself out of this morass. Be brave, make a commitment, maybe even let me know. But for sure write to me and let me know of your experience, even if it’s just about your no-way response to the challenge.

What are you waiting for?

Love, bella


I first heard the term “holding space” when I dove into dance as a moving meditation. Curious how this phrase tenderly moved through me and informed every bone in my body. I knew immediately that this was the ineffable language for what I had been doing as a medical professional all my adult life. I just didn’t know there was a name for it. It’s a skill I’ve honed over a lifetime and still I fall short time and again, get up, dust myself off and keep learning. It comes most naturally for me when I’m at work one-on-one seeing you for physical therapy. It is more challenging to refine in the classroom setting, for me, easier in yoga than dance. Actually it’s a life craft we all practice, whether we know it or not. For most of us it shows up in our work lives and in our personal relationships as well.

An article entitled What it Means to Hold Space by Heather Plett is currently circulating in cyberspace. I encourage you to read her essay

( that distills eight tips in the most stellar way. Here they are verbatim along with my own rambling commentary about how this plays out in one-on-one treatment sessions with you:

  1. Give people permission to trust their own intuition and wisdom. I love listening to you relay your history and describe your unique challenges. So easy to feel your particular brand of innate wisdom and immediately reflect it back. So inspiring to witness your intuition operating, what you inherently know already and where you know you need help…why else would you make an appointment? Always throwing the ball back in your court: how does that feel? love how you made up that creative move! how are things different now that we did that? In fact, it is way more than permission…it is recognition and celebration.
  2. Give people only as much information as they can handle. I cringe to remember my early eager years, all that academia spilling over, way too many explanations and expectations about how self care should look. Now I don’t say much, I just listen lots, wait for questions, pass on volunteering that extra bit. You usually leave with maybe ten minutes of home follow through to do each day for two weeks only. Just enough to make a positive change that will be its own reward and motivator.
  3. Don’t take their power away. I love to capture and capitalize on each emerging moment you create a gain, where you figure a new way to move, where you have taken the wheel. I am so not the all-mighty healer type, the professional you surrender to in order to be fixed. For me, it is all about being a coach and witness and celebrating as you take the driver’s seat.
  4. Keep your own ego out of it. Easier said than done, for sure. I know I am in trouble when too many words are coming out of my yapper. I continue to learn to come back to the most important person in the room…you.
  5. Make them feel safe enough to fail. This is so important. I love to tell you about the Sanskrit word prajnaparadha, the natural human tendency to turn away from what we know is best for us. Because this is how we all fall down. We know what we need to do and we all lapse. Period. It is such a relief to know this is totally normal. Whips and chains don’t really serve and I am always here to serve independent of where you fall on this spectrum.
  6. Give guidance and help with humility and thoughtfulness. Nobody needs a know-it-all. I love to share my own misgivings, lack of answers, acceptance of the unknown. We are in such a beautiful place when we hold hands and face the mystery together.
  7. Create a container for complex emotions, fear, trauma, etc. We start our work together on the physical plane. It is, after all, physical therapy. As we delve into the body channel, all the rest opens. Your heart is in the room, your thoughts, your soul, your very spirit. This vulnerable fact is what moved me out of standard health care delivery, inspired me to face my own depth more completely and prompted me to create a tender receptive environment where every part of you is welcome. That word container goes hand in hand with holding space.
  8. Allow them to make different decisions and to have different experiences than you would. I have lived in a body with its own diverse share of challenges for nearly 65 years. The decisions I have made on how to deal with trouble and the experiences I have had around this territory are vast. Of course, you have your own unfolding story. It is not my story. It is yours. Looking at expectation and prejudice is really alive for me right now. Shedding their insidious layers keeps me on my own edge, just the place I need to be in order to have your best interest at heart.

So there you have it. I could re-write this through the lens of teaching…the joy and challenge of holding space for students. We could all re-write it through the window of relationship, the way we hold space for the people in our lives. We are all holders and we all need to be held. What a soft-hearted world it would be if we all found ways to bring this more alive in our own lives.

Maybe this is the moment to make an appointment to be held in healing whatever is giving you trouble lately: (916) 267-5478. Be held in practice this week: Thursday night for the last of Winter Waves, Friday night for Let it Roll, Sunday morning for Sweat Your Prayers. And stay tuned to the next newsletter for the results of fundraising from Movement as Medicine.

For me, holding you is one sweet form of being held….bella

freedom and liberation

Wind sheds chaos in the trees, light is a subtle shade of brilliance and 67 people are acutely aware of how precious the time remaining is. For that I am humbly grateful. I am one of them. Very few are privileged enough or even see the point in carving three days out of time to focus on the biggest perspective. Most of us are so busy making a living it is easy to forget what a sacred and rare thing living is.

For AGE, in addition to Kate Shela, a multitude of teachers from each decade—20’s, 30’s, 40’s, 50’s, 60’s, 70’s— shared their wisdom. Together, we dwelled in the past, relished the present, wondered about the future. Hour after hour, day after day we danced and drew and wrote through a particular lens: how life liberates us and how it can freeze us as well. There was refreshing liberty in personally clarifying the meaning of this by choosing random life experiences to investigate.

As an adult, I know liberation is an inside job. It has nothing to do with what life throws me and everything to do with how I choose to respond. It begins with unequivocal surrender and is stymied in the presence of certainty. It has vulnerability and humility and utter presence at its core. My head likes to obscure it and my heart has its back. It happens when I stand on my own two feet and trust…trust myself, trust the circumstance, trust the mystery. Liberation is slippery in challenging moments and sometimes the most radical change in perspective is required to create it.

What I know about freezing is that, as a child, it was instinctual, a survival response to threat. But then, at a certain age, it shifted into the habitual. In the light of mature awareness, it too has everything to do with how I choose to respond. And what is really exciting is to feel how, at the far end of the age spectrum, it happens so rarely and, when it does, I am able to witness it in current time. And usually it is not freezing at all. It is more like rolling. “Oh that….yes, I know that one…I’ll just roll with it or maybe it will roll over me or through me or under me.” It moves, it doesn’t freeze.

By the end of three days the shapes and flavors and stories of liberation and freezing went hand-in-hand, felt totally related, informed each other with the stamp of my personal style, magically and fluidly morphed from one to the other and back again. When it came time to write a letter from my elder self to my current self, the words leapt onto the page. My ancient self implored: don’t forget this sacred time of honoring the deep. I know you: quickly you’ll busy yourself, distract yourself, bury yourself in triviality. There is no time left to waste. Remember to ask for help when you need it. You are not doing life alone and are foolish when you pretend you are. Wake up. This is no rehearsal.

Stay in service….to yourself. Tend to that tender heart, that increasingly vulnerable body, that wandering mind. Nourish your soul with work you love and know spirit will manifest if you get out of the way. Surrender to the mystery. Stay in service…to the people you love. Find the fullest expression possible. Capture, foster, make the most of each moment. Do not wait for love to come to you; extend yourself to love. Reach out, make the first move. Be sorry, forgive, be wrong and own it. Trust, be steady, be vulnerable, be real. Stay in service…to your community. They are your life-blood, they are sometimes the reason to rise in the morning, they expect your best. Give it to them. They will hold you and back you and support you. Show up. Be honest. Be open. Be empty. Be….

Continuing to move toward liberation…, bella


I had opportunity and loving support to bathe in deep silence for a long-short two and a half days. Long enough to know my busy and future-oriented mind, which is not new information. In the quiet frigid days there was beauty sprinkled, as well. I walked across forest floor meditating into an eternity reflected in plant decay at my feet, enjoyed the pure and intense physical pleasure of just breathing, marveled at delightfully easy heart access. And for about an hour, well into the second day, a clear sense of teaching territory spontaneously revealed itself.

To welcome this with me, ground yourself, enjoy the pure and intense physical pleasure of just breathing: Receive the in-breath into left side body, feel your feminine earth body roots. Express the out-breath clearly into the world via right side body, know your masculine fiery heart nature. Repeat several times until it feels true.

Collect the next in-breath through entire back body, let your watery nature dissolve feminine-masculine into a degree of union, backed by community, past and present. Breathe out front body, grateful for air, aligned with your soul’s presence in the world. Repeat several times until it feels true.

Breathe in through the soles of your feet down deep in earth. Draw breath up through center and out crown, as high as you can manifest. Feel the still center of your being awaiting. Greet spirit as you exhale down the same route. Repeat several times until it feels true.

That middle piece, the territory of back body, capability to dissolve into a degree of divine feminine/sacred masculine union…this landscape calls me. In 5Rhythms practice we’re talking chaos. No surprise this community (including myself here!) has a maturity that demands a deepening of this domain. Integration of these poles – to feel, to understand, to appreciate, to utilize – develops in fits and spurts over a lifetime. There are times we are quite at odds within, more battleground than happy union in there. And the unique way this manifests within is reflected in all our outside relationships. Including how we show up on the dance floor.

So it was with a bit of trepidation I gently invited us to dance this question Sunday: “Sometimes this is what comes up for me about being a man/woman on this dance floor.” You had a lot to say and then you moved with it. And then you had a lot more to say. Many of us can airy-fairy talk about the “illusion of separation”, we can glibly intellectualize about one-ness. We glimpse possibility. I’m totally interested in the mechanics of this so-called illusion, because it does not feel like an illusion when we suffer about not belonging or we are unsure about when, where and how to draw boundaries or we have very complicated rules around trust or we would choose any route other than the intimate one, or we are quite sure that life (or the dance floor) would be perfect except for this one person or when being triggered has become a predictable outcome, excuse or default. None of this separation feels like an illusion.

I’ve been married 42 years, two friggin’ thirds of my the same man, no less. I remember past monumental battlegrounds in our relationship; truly they were reflections of my interior world. I am not going to tell you I have it all integrated now. Sorry. We still have our skirmishes, still paralleled on the inside. But to a certain extent, a quiet peaceful truce has developed over the last decade compared to the early ones. That’s why I need your help. This Thursday we’ll dance (of course!) and expand what we did on Sunday…a little more talk, a little more fleshing out.

I want to hear from you, I want to co-create with you, I want to shape our practice to serve whatever we feel our needs are. I know we need to ground, be fluid, receptive and I know we need to be clear-hearted in our expression. We need to shake it all out and land in a real place of integrity, not some look alike, feel good, reasonable facsimile of alignment. I know this is a tall order. Other than posing the question, I’m pretty unsure about how to create answers. But I trust our practice. And you. I invite you to come out and create this for yourself, for each other, for us.

And check out that sidebar. January 22 is the early bird deadline for AGE. Promise to write about that in more detail next week. Movement as Medicine March 15 is moving to the front burner. Ditto on more detail next week.

Of course, this would be Rumi: “…How much longer do I have to wonder apart? Take me back to love’s first place where we were in union…”

Inching toward union….bella

“We are the ones we have been waiting for…”

The origin of this phrase is controversial but its inherent, powerful truth resonates deeply. Hopi elders used this expression to conclude a well known metaphor: a river flowing swiftly, letting go of the shore, seeing who is with you and celebrating…creating your community, being good to each other…and to not look outside yourself for the leader. This timely perspective on leadership is becoming increasingly clear to me.

I’ve been gifted with several incredible teachers in this lifetime. And for that I am very grateful. They showed up in fortuitous moments, providing exactly what was needed. Some of these relationships were challenging, their value unapparent until history proved otherwise. The student-teacher connection is a tricky one. There is a built in invitation for the student to “look outside yourself for the leader.” There can be a surrender of power in service to the greater good of learning. This negotiation requires skillful awareness that sometimes is lacking in one party or both. Despite these tricky dynamics, I have been blessed with a lifetime of learning from teachers.

And now, in this 65th year, I know I am the one I have been waiting for. Don’t get me wrong…I will never be done learning. Remember? I am enrolled in the school of life. You are my teacher, the way the sun is glistening on the bamboo right now is my teacher, the driver who cut me off yesterday is my teacher. Teachers abound. But for me, at this later rather than sooner chapter in my life, to turn to an authority, to seek advice from someone who knows more, to ask how or what or when…this actually denies me a golden opportunity to go in there, root around, listen deeply, cultivate wisdom and find out for myself. Truly, at this point I am more interested in gathering with my peers and sharing wisdom than sitting at the feet of one who knows in order to receive. And, of course, this is only right now, this moment…and we all know what happens when now morphs in to later.

You may or may not know of the many shifts and changes in the world of 5Rhythms since Gabrielle’s death more than two years ago. It is a universal story: charismatic leader passes, disciples scatter in many directions. As it should be. See above about not looking outside yourself for a leader. Gabrielle did her job, created a hardy bunch of practitioners solid enough to rise up and choose their own way of being in the world. My northern California teachers, women I have turned to for answers for twelve years, are going in a new direction. Some 5Rhythms teachers are going with them. For months I wondered if I was going, too. And in this moment I have settled into the fact that, at least for now, I am not.

I love these teachers and wish them well and they know that. And I know I’ll continue to learn from them, taking classes as I am able, offerings that call me in and support me. But to add yet another title to my name, to become certified to teach another practice…this is not the time in my life to pour my energies other than where they are currently pouring. I am dedicated to continuing to develop as a solid witness and coach in this community. The three practices I am skilled in sharing provide infinite possibility for our co-investigation. That’s the kind of teacher-student relationship I love, we are so in this together. The integration of physical therapy and 5Rhythms and yoga is so ripe. Most days there is more to do and more moving through me than I feel like I have time for. I am abundantly overflowing. And truly, I have you to thank for that. What a beautiful ride we are on.

This is the last newsletter for 2014. It’s time for me to get quiet now, celebrating with family and spending some precious time in retreat. At this turn of the year, I invite you to take this topic on as a personal investigation. What are you waiting for? Are we the ones we have been waiting for? Know that I am here to support you in becoming your own best leader. The best possible outcome for me is when you rise up and do your own inspired thing. Nothing makes me feel more blessed in my teaching life. This is my time, this is your time, this is our time. Let’s do it together.

So much love…bella


This morning I took my 90 year-old stooped papa to the airport so he could fly home. I didn’t want him to go. And I felt the profound shift this simple statement indicates. I grew up watching shows like Leave it to Beaver and Donna Reed and Father Knows Best. I ached to have a normal family like that. Where you can count on Dad to be politely reasonable and Mom wears an apron and pearls and everyone gets along and, most importantly, no one yells. We all have our family of origin stories and quite clearly, mine had been way messier than my T.V. viewing.

I spent years putting distance between that rumpled reality and the new improved adult version I was creating. Until I woke up one day and realized that could only get you so far. And then I spent more years finding my way back home…going through instead of around. Which was actually much more difficult. Coming to grip with how fate and circumstance, rotten luck and random choice, history and destiny had shaped me for better or worse. But even with this hard won perspective and intellectual forgiveness, I could not be with my papa with any kind of ease. Memories would persistently well up and darken my heart.

Maybe time really does heal all wounds. Maybe all this awareness finally added up. Maybe we had both mellowed. We played with the grandbaby and visited with the kids. He told the same old stories again and again but also some new specifics about the horror he experienced in WW2, as if he needed to purge something festering. We took him to the USS Hornet in Alameda, the aircraft carrier he actually flew from, and he saw the Avenger plane with the turret that held him as he gunned down the enemy. We played gin and drank Scotch and cooked his favorite food and got a pedicure. We took him to the high country in Yosemite, looked down into the deep granite valley, slept on the sunlit shore of Tenaya Lake…the same Sierras we travelled together when I was just little. He talked a lot. I listened.

My heart just stayed open all on it’s own. There were a few sticky breathing moments but nothing that reduced me to being ten years old. When I dropped him off this morning I knew I might never see him again. I am remembering all the years that prospect would have felt like relief instead of sorrow. I am so grateful the two of us have lived long enough to arrive in this place. And I guess I am offering up this personal saga to inspire us all to stay on the healing path, it is never to late. Miracles happen.

Right before he arrived, I completed one week of dancing in the new/old territory of Open Floor in Sausalito. Spent time with my old teachers in some new ways. Everything is a re-mix really and Open Floor seems beautifully conceived and well thought out. And I am a weaver, been weaving for years…physical therapy, yoga, 5Rhythms. I’m intrigued with what I learned and the potential of incorporating this new shiny yarn. More about this in the weeks to come.

Looking forward to all that will arise after Labor Day:

Fall Waves begins September 11, a 14 class series, running through December 18. Done with the complexity of managing early bird, so sign up on line or on the first night of class. Scholarship available; by September 1 to apply. Why not just drop in? When you sign up for the series you save $ and pave the way to commitment. My all time favorite Gabrielle quote? “It takes discipline to be a free spirit.” Showing up delivers us…

Sweat Your Prayers begins again Sunday September 7.

Attunement November 21-23. A big yes began to pulse last spring when I investigated bringing Maniko to Sacramento. This longing was tied to the emergence of my own authentic voice, words that arise from the ground, circulate in my belly, get bathed through my heart and glide out my throat. Feeling this, allowing this, sharing this…well this has been a long and winding road, still ongoing. Maniko and the skill she brings to this arena was part of that emergence. I want this kind of medicine for our community and I would love for you to dose up with us. I’ll be supporting her with the music so we can ignite the dance of our voice and free the voice of our dance in this dynamic, experiential workshop. Scholarship available; by November 1 to apply.

Introduction to 5Rhythms Saturday Oct 18. Calling all practitioners to come home to the basics. If you haven’t experienced the beauty of The Yoga Workshop space, you are in for a big treat!

Tending Your Moving Body Saturday Oct 25. Three hours to roll and dance, the easy glide from self-care to each rhythm and back. Pure joy.

Transcendence Oct 3-5. O.K. New venue, new festival. But guess what? Right here in town on the old Boy Scout Camp Pollock grounds by the American River. Music, yoga, dance. What’s not to like? Check it out. I’ll be there.

Movement as Medicine Save the date: Sunday March 15, 2015. No, this annual fundraiser did not go away. We just moved it to the spring. So stay tuned.

Until we meet again…love, bella

Book Club last night, intrepid women fearlessly tackling sticky issues, personal travails, the obstacles on our common journey to our birthright home, our essential goodness. Last night we dove into Getting Our Bodies Back by Christine Caldwell, a somatic psychotherapist working with the seeds of addiction that lie in the body. Recovery that focuses on cognitive treatment alone will miss a big boat.

Connecting the loaded word “addiction” with over-the-top substance abuse allows us to think of it as something bad that happens to other people. Her broader definition fascinates me. What if we sat on the bench with a heroin addict, curious about what we might have in common? If we are willing to look, we might recognize our brotherhood lies in the oh-so-human ways we skillfully and not-so-skillfully avoid feeling emotions. The strategies we habitually employ to cover up the difficult and even the joyful messages from our hearts.

There are the obvious habits, the ways we use food and alcohol and drugs that we deem socially acceptable. But how about those other times, if we are awake and honest, that we consume in order to turn the volume down, to take the edge off, in short…to not feel the intensity of our sometimes fiery, challenging and painful emotional world? The heroin addict puts it on mute, but perhaps we turn the volume down.

“He who feels it, know it more.” – Bob Marley

What I love about this read is that Caldwell goes beyond the obvious addictive qualities associated with ingestible substances. She explores the fascinating world of unconscious movement “tags”, and this is where it gets really interesting to me. You know these moves: hair twisting, shoulder hunching, nail biting, nose pulling. If you don’t know your signature movement tags, just be curious in the next hour. As you track, you may notice these self-comforting moves triggered in the moments things get a little stressful, a bit uncomfortable: some conflict, some boredom, some uncertainty. Perhaps these habitual movement tags are body arrows pointing toward addiction, toward not being willing to feel. Our own little convenient safe, numbness harbors. If we are willing to witness, track what is up in that very moment, shine the light of awareness…well, that is always the first step on the journey home.

This week we build on the stepping stone of attention to breath and sensation. Caldwell says, “By staying curious to a sensation rather than squashing it, we access our ability to let it inform and change us…This is me feeling this, doing this.” IIn the internal world of breath and sensation we claim supported time to listen to heart talk and witness emotion flow. And travel upstairs to watch mental rambling, catch the pauses, be gifted with insight flashes maybe. “This is me feeling this, doing this.”

On the mat, on the dance floor, we continue our exploration of relational belly instincts. In the Enneagram world, this internal self-knowing instinct is called self-preservation because we need to know what is going on in there in order to survive. For some of us, the invitation to stay inside, to not take a partner, to station ourselves within, will be so welcome, so easy. For others, staying internal for five minutes is a huge challenge. For some of us, this instinct might dominate, making intimacy or a sense of belonging relatively challenging. For some of us, this instinct is a blind spot, making basic grounded physical survival more difficult than it needs to be. For all of us, practice shines the light of awareness on this relational instinct and brings it into balance with the other two.

Eleven days until Movement as Medicine. I am inviting you to the social media world to help us spread the word. You can use Facebook to invite your friends to this event. So easy: click here: then click on Invite Friends and do it. Please. Purchase your ticket on line now to save $5.00 off the door price. Entrance for a family of three or more is $40 at the door; students/low income $15 at the door. The raffle is becoming a big draw! In addition to great bodywork sessions, we have two weeks unlimited at It’s All Yoga & a 10 class Sunday Sweat Your Prayers Card, a Lululeman yoga mat and (are you ready?) an iPod Nano full of Bella Waves. Come enjoy an afternoon of spirited FUNdraising. Can’t come? Please DONATE here.

Rumi says “Why not wake up this morning?”

This is me feeling this, doing this, sending you love…bella