The altar space pictured above organically emerged in my studio in 2020 right along with Covid.  Just know that visual creativity is not my artistic go-to expression.  So it’s intriguing that installations, the visual imagery that sets the tone for 5Rhythms sessions, have ramped up in fascination for me over the years.  Just recently personal time in this studio suffered a too long hiatus.  Travel, a nasty cold, heater on the fritz…I yearned for self care moments up there that sustain me on the regular.  Sigh.

But finally, on Saturday, I turned to the west wall, where all my salvaged treasures await: bones and shells, rocks and wood, textured fabrics and feathers, little sculptures and hearts of all kinds.  A lot of this and plenty of that.  Sometimes something moving in me calls for concrete form.  But this time I created right out of the empty space, trusting what emerged each step of the way.  First a branch turned into a white cave.  Then a rock became a throne for a reclining goddess from Santiago.   Moss from New Brighton Beach.  Bird spine perfectly echoing goddess spine.  Bird skull meticulously fastened to branch with chunk of glue stick.  In my utter trance I knocked over a full tea thermos. I threw the toweled wet mess off the landing and glanced down to spy last year’s Halloween raven mask.  Of course.  Sometimes it happens just like that.

And sometimes I pull a card from the Osho deck and ask, “What do you have to tell me about this creation?”  I already had my own thoughts on that question, but I spread the cards face down on the floor, hovering over the choices with my receptive left hand.  Finally I zeroed in on one card that just did not want to come out of the deck, avoiding my finger grip with a tenacity that made me double down my effort.  Clearly that was the one!

And there it was: the Completion card, final image in the Major Arcana. I just about lost it.  A few excerpted words here:

“… in the ever-changing flow of life there are moments we come to a point of completion….we are able to perceive the whole picture…either be in despair because we don’t want the situation to come to an end, or we can be grateful and accepting…that life is full of endings and new beginnings.  Whatever has been absorbing your time and energy is coming to an end.  In completing, you clear space for something new to begin.  Use this interval to celebrate both—the end of the old and the coming of the new.”

Indeed. Isn’t this exactly the time of year we dial ourselves in to those flow of life seasonal shifts?  The heavens gift us with transitions based in the whole picture eternal. The sun so south-low blankets our northern hemisphere in darkness, a twilight that reflects all that is ending, in completion, finished.  Damp ground moulders and incubates all that has been shed. I trust that mouldering, this interval, this gestation.  It was Tolkein who wrote:

“All that is gold does not glitter,
not all those who wander are lost.
The old that is strong does not wither,
deep roots are not reached by the frost.”

A Zoom call this morning included a meditation to engage in active wishing.  Wishing felt a bit exotic, like I was granted permission to be in youthful delight.  Yet in this child like reverie I noticed the notion of inspiration arise.  Not just for me, but for you, for us, for this needy planet.  Inspiration fueled by wonder, stoked by an imagination released from the need to take immediate action.  Inspiration fueled by wander, by playful meandering, by casting about without fear of disappointment or failure or expectation.

“The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious.
It is the source of all true art and all science.
He to whom this emotion is a stranger,
who can no longer pause to wonder and stand rapt in awe,
is as good as dead: his eyes are closed.”
Albert Einstein

And so, as this year, this season, this whatever draws to a close, the perception of conclusion, of endings, may surface for each of us in its own distinct way.  My wish?  May we open our eyes to the mystery inherent in this moment of completion.  May we grant ourselves a proper pause.  May we be gifted with revelations nourished by un-tethered wonder and the joy of haphazard wandering.

May it be so….and bountiful wishes of healing and holiness to you and yours.

Love, bella

It was autumn ’72 when I graduated from UCSF medical school, clutching a degree in physical therapy, pretty much clueless about the journey to come.  It would be another thirty years before persistent dabbling in yoga and dance would begin to fully inform this chosen vocation.  I had no idea that the nature of this work was evolutionary.  No notion that it might look different fifty years down the road.

A few weeks after graduation I landed in pediatrics in Sacramento and my boyfriend, hard at work on the McGovern campaign, joined me here. We were footloose and ready for about anything, thrilled to move into a big house on 7th Avenue after living in a string of small apartments.  We had some nebulous plan about staying in this cow town three years and then moving to where we really wanted to be.  We had no idea we would still be here fifty years down the road.

On Thanksgiving Day we married in that 7th Avenue house. Twenty-five people witnessed this relatively spontaneous ceremony and joined us for a veritable feast of giving thanks spread on a ping-pong table.  Many of those people are gone now, but I wonder how many present imagined that those two hippy-dippy kids would still be married fifty years down the road.

I was twenty-two!  When I’m around twenty some-things—even my own children are way past that point—I’m uber-conscious of the launch this moment portends.  How the innocent choices made in trusting naivete wield such power.  And I’m also aware that 2022 is different than 1972.  Maybe growing up in the 1950’s hoodwinked me into believing my life would echo my parent’s.  And that my children’s future would look like the one I faced. I likely harbored an assumption that things would kinda stay the same.

But change was all around me.  New concepts whispered their way into the vernacular: ecology, feminism, racial justice.  Radical events spilled in black and white into our living rooms.  Watergate and riots and protests were daily news. The war on drugs ran concurrent with the war in Vietnam. And rock and roll, a continual backdrop to my life, so incredibly revolutionary.  Lots of twenty some-things were actually fueling this change.  I did my share.

The future….maybe always feels tenuous and unpredictable.  We can guess, but we never know what it holds.  But the past—looking back and recognizing how we arrived here—that’s a known. These fifty years have held so much loss and grief, buckets of joy and surprise, oodles of nose to the grindstone, keep on keeping on.

“There is something that happens to us when we practice:
we find we have a bigger perspective on our lives.
This feels almost like a blessing or a gift.”  Pema Chodron

I suppose I’m having a bigger perspective moment.  And this golden milestone, this pinpoint in time, has me reflecting.  There’s been fruition alongside the pain, serendipity in the wake of mistakes, crazy synchronicity and plenty of near misses.  A surprising amount tracks back to those wet-behind-the-ears choices made fifty years ago.  So much has been given as a result of those decisions.  You know, it’s the work of a lifetime to just keep harvesting what we’re given to keep waking up.  Indeed, this golden anniversary feels like a reaping, a gift, a true blessing.

Feeling enormous gratitude for what I’ve been given.  All of it.   This season of darkness might be a good time to reflect on just that.   Quiet moments to cultivate a big perspective, recognize what we’ve been given.  Consider that it might be exactly what we need to awaken.

Blessings on you and yours….Bella

Dear Bella,

Oh those body tales of woe…our stories.  Myriad chapters spread over time.  My current troubles began as many do.  Insidiously.  Which the dictionary defines as “proceeding in a gradual, subtle way, but with harmful effects.”  Right?  A shadowy ache in forearm, there one day, gone the next.  Elusive then lingering.  Lifting a full tea kettle: ouch.  Tenderness in elbow.  Not  debilitating, but unpleasant, worrisome.  And after wishing it away a bit too long, I deeply massage forearm and that definitely helps.  But right hand starts to complain about so much tedious work.

And then magic happens.  A déjà vu moment that’s regularly recurred in this life dedicated to treating body ailments…mine AND yours.  So I’m minding my own business, tennis ball rolling out my shins when the bulb lights up.  Shin.  Forearm.  Same!  Two parallel bones spanning knee and ankle just like the two bones that connect elbow and wrist.  In a posture of utter supplication, I roll the forearms just like the shins, cruise up into elbow and dig into triceps. Which are, of course, part of the drama.  Such a tearful moment: relief, gratitude, awe…all wrapped into one juicy sensory experience. Quick video:

Here’s the rest of the story.  A variation on this synchronicity has occurred countless times in my work.  The very next morning a young cello player comes to my studio with chronic left forearm pain.  We had work to do in her thoracic spine, scapula, rib cage.  It’s all connected.  But we finished the session with this very technique.  I kid you not.

I am not a traditionally religious person. But every so often I feel god working through me.  Bestowing me with ailments to feel into, move through. And then this gentle nudge to pass the healing magic on.  Is this forearm thing behind me yet?  Well, no.  Just like you I do the self-care I need and then get busy or neglectful or fate-tempting or downright stubborn.  Resistant to the obvious: this body needs consistent care and attention and love.  And then I come back.  Just like you.

It’s that coming back that I am here to support.  Read on a bit about these two juicy things if you want a leg up:

  • About Yoga: a triplet of free videos to inspire you. Pull out your mat and jump start your practice. New offerings on this page as the spirit moves me.  This triplet is to help you foster a rib cage loose, long and strong.
  • Release and Realign: we finally named this Friday morning drop in class that officially begins January 6.  But don’t wait…come out for the free class December 16 10:00 Clara and meet the “we”.

Who is this “we” of rotating teachers?  Kim Wagaman and I met in 2007 at Yoga Solution.  Her openness, attention to alignment and breath and balance and asymmetry, her sparky curiosity and sprinklings of poetry utterly moved me.  Ever since those early days we’ve been mining possibilities.  We’ve taught workshops together and went parallel online when Covid came to call.  Jeanne Munoz was in my teacher group at It’s All Yoga 2012.  As soon as we completed training we collaborated on a Friday night Roll & Release class.  Until she had twins and we had to take a pause.  We knew we’d be back together someday.   It was meant to be.  That day has finally come.

If you have a body tale of woe–a current story or multiple chapters spread over a lifetime, maybe something insidious that is proceeding in a gradual, subtle way, with harmful effects—I’m right here for you.  Did you know that back in my clinical era I used to see 12 patients a day?  That was hecka training.  Now?  One a day.  Love it.  Because it is so nourishing relaxed, focused and creative, spontaneous yet individualized.  So utterly uncompromised.  I adore this work.

No matter where we meet—on the dance floor, on the mat, on the treatment table—-please be welcome.  Join me for a tearful moment: relief, gratitude, awe…all wrapped into one juicy sensory experience.


Recent travel immersed me in the duality of moving with continual change: joy and exasperation, craziness and wonder.  Planes, trains, automobiles (remember that hysterical film with Steve Martin and John Candy?) only began this journey.  Every time I turned around another moment of transition was at hand.  And really…how is that any different from a same-old, same-old day?

All those daily under the radar transition moments: we wake from sleep, we stand from our chair, we open the door and go outside.  It’s sunny, then overcast. The wind is blowing, then it stops.  The mid-level transitions: we’re in one city then another.  Relationships and jobs begin and then they end.  We move from one home to another.  It’s a new day, the next week, the following month…the year turns over.  And then the Big Passages: a pandemic emerges, wars flare up and die down, elections alter the course of history, regimes come and go.  The climate changes.  Babies are born.  People die.

You know the Buddhist axiom: all things rise and fall.  But every transition, from the micro to the mega, has one thing in common.  The in-between phase.  The mystery betwixt before and after. Building skill at recognizing that moment is the work of a lifetime.  Because in that precise moment we have opportunity.  Sometimes an active choice can be made.  We can go right or we can go left.  We can turn toward or turn away.  We can speak or be still.   And sometimes we can make a choice to be passive.  Simply surrender to the way the wind blows, the direction the water flows.  Yield to the shifting ground, submit to the prevailing momentum.  We can surrender to being with things just as they are and patiently wait for time to pass.

Faster than ever, small and big changes happen all around us.  We can cultivate our responsiveness muscle during that pause between moments.  How?  Feel inside: breath, sensation, instinct, emotion, intuition.  Look out and tune into the big picture, the broad perspective and, at the same time, attend to the devil that lives in the details.  Awareness and attention, our allies in transition, paving the way to action or surrender.

Class practice invites honing that skill.  On Sunday we paused in the ready made transition between songs and I had a total aha moment.  I’ve spent twenty years growing my DJ-ing ability, part of which involves making the transitions as seamless as possible.  What’s that about?  What kind of preparation for life is that?  I was all about abrupt on Sunday.  Challenging the habitual is definitely a means to boost awareness and attention.

Cultivation of awareness and attention is a thread weaving through all Body Joy offerings.  This web page is a vision of change in progress; scroll down to see all three listings:

Tend Your Aging Body:  New people have shown up every Saturday for this 90 minutes of pleasure. They slide right into this slow gentle practice.  Since I have tons of prop options available and a great ability to articulate the practice and lots of knowledge on how to modify so its just right for you and clear visuals and divine music…well, it’s a good thing and this Saturday Oct 29 is the last chance to indulge until January.  Treat yourself.

Wilbur Hot Springs:  Do you know this oasis 90 minutes from Sac? I’ll be on the enclosed deck November 19-20 offering 3 Roll, Release, Align sessions (all props included).  These classes are included with your day pass or overnight stay. Come soak, come hike, come let go. I love this Northern California gem. Please join me! You need to reserve your day pass or overnight stay soon with Wilbur Hot Springs.  They sell out  on weekends.

Roll, Release, Align:  Actively in transition: name is a draft, description is a draft.  But a free class on a Friday in December is in the works.  Stay tuned!  Clara is definitely rented. Us three (from left to right: Kim Wagaman, myself, Jeanne Munoz) are totally excited, committed and ready to rotate Fridays 10:00 beginning in January.

Each way-experienced teacher puts her spin on loose, long and strong.  When I’m not teaching I’ll be on my mat out there with you.  It’s a bring-your-own-props class. I’ll be retailing what you need out of my trunk in the parking lot before each class in January.

And, of course, all things 5Rhythms:
Wednesday Waves tonight Oct 26 6:30pm.
Sweat Your Prayers Sunday Oct 30 10:00am with guest teacher Rachel Jordana from Santa Cruz holding it down for a Halloween celebration. Come dressed up!! Alter Egos are welcome.
Moon Lodge  Dec 5-9 at Esalen with Lucia Horan.  I’ll be assisting at my favorite place on Planet Earth.  Wanna come with?

Closing with this quote from Leon C. Megginson:

“It is not the strongest of the species that survive,
nor the most intelligent,
but the one most responsive to change.”

Let’s build that responsiveness together…❤️Bella

Sitting on an edge, far north Monterey Bay, Capitola tucked behind an echoing bluff.  Her old wooden pier an offering to the sea, Pleasure Point capping the farthest reach of land.  Here I’m gently held by the horizon, that asks nothing in return, just bestows silent comfort as it surrenders, softly circular, to the duet of earth and sky.  I find myself yearning for this, quintessential wide open space, whenever I’m hemmed in by urbanity.

I wish I could remember the name of a book read in my early twenties.  The young protagonist was newly embarking into the work-a-day world.  Her alarm rings on Monday morning and in that dream ‘tween state she imagines the 8 to 5 week ahead.  She fully awakens, stunned by the agenda she has unwittingly agreed to.  Trading her life away for a mere two days on the week-end.

At this same age, this realization slowly dawned on me as well.  It’s what spurned me to chuck it all before I turned thirty and crazy travel for four months.  Not once, but twice.  But life has a way of tumbling forward and all that brilliant awareness was buried under marriage and children, home ownership and careers.  The middle class American dream-come-true. And yet…so much beauty, not one regret.

But wide open spaces never stopped calling me out.  And what I am coming to understand is that the natural landscape/urban world dichotomy is a physical one, yes, but the metaphor of it lives inside us.  And I’ve been an eager student unknowingly soaking up the tutelage of wide open spaces my whole life.  Two decades ago my 8 to 5 shifted into something much less predictable but actually just as time consuming.  I appreciated the change up, barely knowing what the day might hold.  Time off was weirdly interspersed and, as the years went by, slowly became more plentiful.  Covid totally boosted that down time.

Interesting phrase: down time.  Because mostly I am finding it very uplifting.  Very seductive.  Very about time.  There certainly has been more travel to the landscape of wide open spaces, especially in the form of camping.  Which I’m up to right now.  But the fact is, I am increasingly tuned in to the wide open space when I’m home.  An agenda-less afternoon here; a list-free morning there; an evening with nothing in particular to do.  This feels new, at times interesting, curious, exciting.  At other times weird, frustrating, frightening, boring.

There are many emotional scales like this one.  Which is not particularly fabulous, but caught my attention this week:

You can look at it for general attunement to what you feel right in this moment.  Pretty limited, but a good starting point.  What captivated me more was where I generally hang out these days.  And it’s fascinating how that has shifted of late.  Because to tell you the truth, I am mostly, and most simply, content.  Pretty even keel.  Lacking of melodrama.   A little nostalgic for the old roller coaster at times.

Notice that right beneath content is boredom.  And here’s what I’m noticing: boredom is sprinkled throughout the field of wide open space.  Frustration and doubt are scattered there as well.  Travel up the scale to see all the other juicy feel-good inhabitants co-existing in the wide open space.

However, those challenging ones—boredom, frustration, doubt—can often turn out to be uber-rich fertilizers of that field.  These sentiments can be so exquisitely uncomfortable that we doubt the beauty of the field and do anything to steer away from those wide open spaces.

With all the changes in my work life, with all the ways I am working with younger people and willingly taking steps back, it sometimes feels like I’m putting myself out to pasture.  And I suppose I am, partly cuz I’m intrigued with this wide open pasture.  Willing to move with boredom, dance with frustration, be face-to-face with doubt.  Content to breathe and be.  Satisfied to sit for awhile, right here and now, and see what authentically arises of its own accord.

It was good, that life in the fast lane.  But you’ll find me way over in the right lane now. Falling in love with noticing, appreciating and harvesting the complexity and simplicity of an endlessly transformative scene slowly passing by.




Me and Leonard Cohen go way back.  He and my mom were born in Montreal around the same time so I’ve always felt this strong connect.  And it was a thing of beauty to finally get out of the Covid-house and see this film gem in a theater.  Plus it was with my friend who is just as gaga about this incredible songwriter.  I never knew the whole story behind his most famous song, which took him seven years to write and longer than that to become known for the masterpiece it is.

Poetry is a form I’ve played in on and off since I was just a wee one.  I can feel the way regular writing in essay form has pulled me away from the virtue of verse.   I suppose inspiration from this film immersion after so many hours of silent isolation was the fire that ignited this poem.  By the time you’re reading it I’ll be resting in the Sierras, looking out over Tahoe’s Emerald Bay.  It is my offering.


No longer searching, said Leonard Cohen.
Just softly alive, befriending myself,
off the record.

Feeling the urge to activate rise up,
then nimbly sidestepping,
as the impulse fizzles
in the absence of outcome or documentation
or Brownie points.
Letting the itch die of its own accord.

There’s liquid mass melting off my bones,
sensory tides that ooze porous on erratic currents.
I’m adrift on the ebb flow of theta waves.

Slow is an elusive rhythm
that seduces then repels us,
that promises then lies to us,
that tempts us, then asks for restraint.

He also said, I reside in the foothills of old.
Practice death little bit every day,
K Pattabhi Jois said that.

Every moment we opt for a stop,
cease fire to pause and be chill,
take the silent stand as witness…
we shed gestures of testimony,
smack dab love arrows aimed
right into our weary hearts.
And, in an act of concurrent genius,
we infuse the needy breast of this planet.

May you be inspired this week to opt for a stop, pause and be chill, take the silent stand.  Send love arrows just where they are needed.  And let’s be together soon.


Well, I’ve joined the ranks of Covid initiates.  So many of us in this no longer exclusive club.  And that is a good thing, feel like I’ve contributed to the possibility of herd immunity.  No cake walk for me though; it was pretty challenging, even given the ingenious medical boost.  So grateful for that and for the return of breath as each day brings a bit more energy.  The isolation may have been an amazing retreat if I had only felt well.  But in the quiet challenge a bunch of long view reflection kept surfacing.  This writing is only a pie slice of that.

Fifty years ago.  Berkeley. Rented a walk in closet just big enough for twin mattress and suitcase.  A place to lay my head when I wasn’t finishing my physical therapy internship. The last hoop to jump through before being set free in the world.  Back when a bachelor’s was all you needed to practice.  A doctorate required now and I’ve been grand-mothered in.  Most of my expertise never came from books anyway.  In such a hands on profession being thrown in the deep end is the best education.  I certainly had plenty of deep water.

Except for one thing.  The hours invested in anatomy education never cease paying huge dividends.  Those 20 weeks in lab, 8 hours a week…forever imprinted on my soul.  11th floor, UCSF.  Huge windows overlooking Golden Gate Park, bridge in the distance.  10 cadavers stretched long on plinths, breathlessly waiting.  Me, three classmates and one dead body…bonded for the duration.  At first, it took everything I had to hold back the gag, not sure if I was going to make it.  The formaldehyde alone felt like a deal breaker.  But it’s strange what you can get used to.

After week one, my curiosity got the best of me.  I was totally hooked.  All the other lab-learning required X-ray vision to imagine what was happening below the skin.  And what a world it was underneath!  Sectioning out each unique muscle and life-giving blood vessel, teasing out those message-sending nerves, peering directly at origins and insertions on white bone.  Me and Gray’s Anatomy were one.  That fifty year old dog-eared copy is still my every day go to.

In 1992, twenty years later, after touching countless live bodies—hands a bit more enlightened now—I was invited to return to that same lab.  In the company of other intrepid seekers and my original teacher, a now wizened Mrs. Nordschow, I spent all day deep in exploration.  Asking questions about deep rotators and flexors and joint spaces that only a hands-on adventure could answer.  I surprised myself by slipping right back in, like no time at all had passed.

Could be that the intensity of these experiences account for my utter obsession with all things anatomy.  It is so friggin’ geeky.  And I totally indulged that geek-iness this year in a way I absolutely never thought I might.  On September 20, 2021 I taught a Roll, Release, Align class on feet.  Prepped by spending all the time I desired diving into bones and muscles and joints, what it means to weight bear, mechanics of gait, trouble we get into, solutions for the most common owies.  A 90 minute class initiated with screen share so students could actually see what was underneath the skin.  It was a full body class but we just kept bringing our attention back to feet.

Since that day, every Friday morning, I’ve let my geek flag fly.  And I’ve adored this year of systematically working through the entire body.  A few more classes remain to wrap up the shoulder, arm, hand unit.  Then a unit on the head will bring the year plus to a close.  All in all, when complete, a fifty plus class library is available.  Feels like kind of a legacy and I’m really proud of the work.  But more satisfying really is how a whole lifetime, beginning in that cadaver lab 50 years ago, led to this endeavor.  And I am so grateful that the shape of my relatively cushy life has allowed me to indulge this depth of investigation.  And beyond thankful for the students who actually came along for the ride and appreciate this embodied path of learning.

“I’m feeling better, walking better, my posture is improving, my spine is more flexible, my body awareness has increased exponentially, and I can actually sense and activate the psoas muscles for the first time ever!
I am very grateful to you!”   L.N.

It’s interesting that Covid came when it was relatively convenient: cancelled a camping trip, no dance until September, a handful of re-scheduled patients.  Thank you universe.  Also, in case you didn’t hear, Ritual/It’s All Yoga has closed.  So I had some quiet time to re-imagine the venue/date for Tending Your Aging Body.  It will be live at Clara, four consecutive mornings in October.  Whether you are an on line experienced practitioner or a novice curious one…you’ll love this series.  Because it covers all the best self care bases and will inspire you to no end.  Promise.  Trust the geek.

Yours in quiet reflection.

My grandson wants to hike the 16 mile round trip to the top of Half Dome in Yosemite.  And he asked if I would come with him.  An immediate “yes” emerged from my lips, totally surprised me, flushed me with surging memories of the 90’s.  The decade I climbed to the top of Half Dome not once or twice, but three times.  My possible claim to fame.   Co-led a very large group of women twice and, sandwiched in between, fit in another ascent with hubby and son.

“I like it on the edge, and I take others with me.”  Gabrielle Roth

I have my own unique set of fears but being on the edge is not one of them.  I trust that place both physically and metaphorically.  It’s where my most potent learning happens.  Grant me a clear container, a space held with consummate skill, and I’m entirely willing, eager in fact, to go right up to my edge.  Sometimes I fall off and precious gold is almost always mined in the recovery. For me, experience turns to wisdom in that space of re-finding ground, realigning with center and integrating something new.

Last newsletter focused on a most interesting organ: the bladder.  I wrote about how in the field of limited awareness, this opportunistic creature can exert perhaps some unnecessary control over our lives.  How it can demand release before release is needed.  I gave some informational norms so readers could feel into their own relationship with this organ.  The response was heartening.  Many of you wrote, grateful for the information and curious about checking out habits long-engrained.

I received one response from a reader triggered by the content.  The language felt shaming.  It brought up anxiety issues. A request for an apology. Which I readily proffered.  And I extend that apology to anyone else who may have had a similar response.  Totally.  This, of course, was never the intention.  Deeply sorry.

And there is this to consider.  Triggered: having a negative emotional reaction to something, usually something connected with past trauma.  Fact: everyone reading these words has past trauma.   This is one reason holding space for transformational learning and healing can be tricky.   Because even though we all have past trauma, many of us (not all!) learn best by working on the very edges where triggering is likely to occur.

I’m grateful that the common knowledge base regarding trauma continues to be filled out.  We know that a painful destruction of old habits, those pesky unviable ways, often precedes the possibility for a life-changing creative healing process.  We know that after the demolition, a space must be held for settling and integration in order to complete a learning cycle.

But here’s the truth: I like it on the edge, and I take others with me. And creating a 100% safe, trigger-free environment is just not the way I work…or write.  That being said, I’m gratefully aware of how the years have kindly softened and gentled me as I continue to work in this potent field.  But do consider yourself forewarned.

With all due respect….❤️Bella

Maybe this musing about the mystic is spurned by current loss.  Beloved mother-in-law of fifty years.  Did we really first meet when I was 19?  Matriarchal moon holding six siblings in her orbit, so many grandchildren, great grandchildren.  And now, the shape of this long-standing constellation shifts.  A few days later Robert Ansell passes, steadfast partner to Gabrielle Roth.  Did you know he was a high power criminal attorney in NYC?  Until he met Gabrielle.  Until he ditched all that, dived head first into playing bass drum, deeply supported her in the work.  She had that effect on people. The wheel turns again as the next aging generation steps up to the plate.

And I suppose that includes me.  The evidence as such softly blankets my existence.  And there it is again: I catch myself making a repeating request.  “Please don’t ask me the ‘when’ question.”  As in, “What year did we take that trip to Mexico?”  Or “When did we last paint the house?”  Or “How long has it been since we’ve gone to Yosemite?”  Or “What year did your uncle pass?”   I totally remember all these things happening.  Please, just don’t ask me when.  Because my senior memory function has alarmingly shifted over these last couple years.

Is it pandemic-induced?  Is it a natural aging process?  Is it more dire than that?  I really don’t know.  I just have this sense of sailing off into the mystic.  Of existing in a space unbound by time.  As if all memory has been surreptitiously moved into an un-catalogued container.  What happened last week exists right next to what happened last year.  A story from my fifties cozies up to a thirties story.   1970?  1990?  Who knows?

Rest assured:  this has nothing to do with my brain’s ability to function in other ways.  I drive my car like a champ.  Curiously, I take patient histories, plan treatments, create home videos more fluidly with each passing year.  I listen to and catalogue new music like a pro.  I’m masterful in the kitchen.  I could go on.  But this strangely altered relationship to time.  What choice is there but to sail off into the mystic?  Surrender to the reality of memory that shifts like desert sand.  Give up on time as an organizational constraint.  Thrive in this revised zone.  There’s a breath of freedom here.

But I am a meaning-making individual.  And I wonder what to make of this in the big picture of a life.  Well, of course, there are neuroscience facts.  For every decade after age 50, the brain loses 2% of its weight.  But this is also true: some cortical neurons become more abundant after maturity, actually continue growing in healthy old people.  In an essay entitled Memory: Short-Term Loss, Long-Term Gain, James Hillman postulates that the “gathering of old images to the exclusion of recent events seems imposed on the aged, as if the soul insists on this review.”

Well now…this sweetly rings of meaning.  My brain no longer auto-pilots into organizational mode.  At 2% loss per decade, something has to go.  But how about those new cortical neurons?   Here’s the poetic way Hillman frames what they are up to:

“Life review yields long term gains that enrich character by bringing understanding to events.  The patterns in your life become more discernable among the wreckage and the romance, more like a well-plotted novel that reveals characters through their actions and reactions.  Life review is really nothing other than re-writing—or writing for the first time—the story of your life, or writing your life into stories.  And without stories there is no pattern, no understanding, no art, and no character—merely habits, events passing before the eyes of an aimless observer, a life unreviewed, a life lost in the living of it.”

Wow.  This just rings true.  Perhaps we break free from tracking the mundane so that we might probe the past.  Make order from the myriad wild and strange events that transpire over a lifetime.  Let go of the details that no longer serve.  Surrender to the truth of what remains.  Take refuge in the privilege of arrival at the dock: of art, of pattern, of understanding, of character. If this is the journey of sailing into the mystic, I’m a grateful passenger.


The name Body Joy and I have had a tumultuous relationship.  That name came on a whim in 2005.  The sale of Dreizler Physical Therapy—name, logo, community standing —was imminent and I was suffering a hiccup moment.  An ego-busting realization that my so-called identity was soon to vanish.  I had no more than a fuzzy sense of what was next.  This domain name was free and felt like it proffered a ton of leeway. I took Body Joy and fashioned a logo to go with:

We walked into the county fair yesterday kids and grandkids in tow.  It was everything your senses can conjure up:  smell of corn dogs and human crowd-sweat, carnies barking above ferris wheel drone, duck races right next to Extreme Dog Tricks.  You get the picture.  We hunkered down into the damp fetid air of the animal barn.

Dreizler PT sold, I melted into refreshing incognito, released myself deeper and deeper into yoga and dance.  Taking all the precious time I needed at the end of my fifties to explore the broad story spectrum held in my body, your body, our bodies.  My dissatisfaction with the name Body Joy became increasingly vexatious with each passing year. There is body rage and body compassion and body fear and body love and body grief.  There is even body numb.  And so for quite some time I hated the domain name.  It felt too small, inaccurate, misleading.

At first there were the bunnies.  Angora soft sweet with their long ears laid back, noses aquiver, tender little paws. Right after the bunnies came the goats.  And I became lost in a sea of sensation.  My hands took on a life of their own, so drawn past the steel bars. I let those precious creatures sniffle my fingers and permit me the pleasure of scratching between emerging horns, stroking a cheek here, a rump there.  Feeling the mutuality.  The way this gentle caress provided the goat with pleasure and the way the feel of their fur and the observation of their response fed me back ten fold.  Body joy.
Over the last few years I’ve just let the name be what it is.  Its functional alliterative brevity is a safe harbor for the three services offered.  The newish logo—heart nested into a palm—settled me into it, since I know how a heart shelters the full spectrum of what we embody.

So it’s been interesting to feel myself kerplunked into the essence of Body Joy so clearly of late.  Octavia Raheem writes:

“Joy is an act of rebellion. And so is allowing ourselves to feel our grief.”

In the face of all we are being with right now cultivating joy is not a pleasant default.  Rather it feels revolutionary. Because joy and grief are two sides of the same coin.  A focus on pleasure and joy and laughter, the experience of reaching for the sky, this can free us, can allow us to fall back to earth and truly feel the rage and the fear and the sadness.  But if, in a misplaced sense of solidarity with tragedy, we let the depths of despair take joy as prisoner, we’re walking down a dangerous road.

When I came home I felt that same pleasure applying a thick coat of olive oil to my warm moist skin post- bath.  There it was as I snuggled down tween two clean sheets.  And there it was again rolling around on two soft release balls on the floor.  Before summer break, I’m teaching three more Wednesday nights at Clara June 1, 8, 15.  The  focus is on taking pleasure.  Taking: such a pro-active verb.  Not receiving, not seeking, not basking in.  Taking.  Because cultivating joy in this moment is an act of rebellion.  There will be music that invites us in taking pleasure in our god-given bodies in free form motion.  And in the break tween those two music waves some free form taking pleasure: the sensation of balls and rollers on skin. Just like petting those goats.  Maybe you feel called to join me in this act of rebellion.