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.

Been thinking about resiliency.  The way we desperately need it right now.  What it takes to build it.  This gratitude-filled surprise to feel the most resilient I’ve ever felt in my life.  I kid you not.  Curious musing here about why that might be, starting with the dictionary definition.
Resilience: the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties; toughness; the ability of a substance or object to spring back into shape
Maybe this ability to recover quickly builds (or not) through negotiating the challenges and trials of childhood and young adulthood.  In middle age some of us tap that resilience reservoir and buckle down, get with the program.  Me?  I took the traditional road.  Before I could snap my fingers, I was immersed in the traditional trappings of mid-life: discovering how to live in a marriage, stumbling and fumbling through parenthood, signing my life away to a thirty year mortgage, negotiating career moves that morphed to entrepreneur-ship.  In retrospect all that doing looks daunting.  In the midst, I just kept moving through, deeply tapping reserves I didn’t even know had accumulated.
Perhaps resiliency multiplies in response to being mined.  Anyway, making it all the way to now wasn’t just resiliency; I had a ton of luck and an equal amount of privilege delivering me past the bounds of middle age.  It surprises me every day to be here.  And in this current crisis, the huge demands of middle age are magnified while ease is expanded for some elders.  I put myself in that category.

Still, when someone asks how I’m doing, what it’s like for me these crazy days, my answer depends on the moment.  If they really want to know, if they have a bit of time, I speak a truth full of ups and downs, suffering and freedom, struggle and surrender, anguish and surprise. To live in this chaos, to be present with this level of unknown, can exhaust us.

If you’re more tired than usual, you’re totally normal.  Our nervous systems are pushed beyond their comfort zones.  I’ve had my share of weariness.  But these months have been illuminating my ability to lean into a deep well of personal resilience.  A reserve built over a lifetime, and not just through the sheer act of making it through.  There is something more: the way I’ve consistently cared for myself over time is serving up a wallop of endurance, a stamina that feels uber-essential for survival in this chaos.

This Saturday’s Essential Recharge offers a practice for building resilience.  All these “R” words keep tumbling out of what’s in store for us in two hours of Recharge:
Reflexes: instinctual response to the moment, heightened with practice
Resilience: built through finding balance between power and fluidity
Release: step one, key to unleashing all that power and fluidity
Resourced: by the dynamic duo of subtle strength and soft surrender
Reverence: connecting us to a greater power than our own
Two hours to gently receive an introduction/refresh of all the essentials.  You choose how to follow up at home with access to real-time recording.  Bits and pieces you can dive into in the privacy of your home, on your timeline.  Here’s a quick YouTube video-shot of the territory we’ll cover on Saturday. 

If all this intrigues you and you want additional support, on-line classes begin again every Thursday and Friday morning starting September 17.  And I’m listening.  You have been talking to me, telling me the positive effects you are feeling from this practice.  Wow…who knew resiliency could feel this good.
Come feel with me…..❤️Bella
P.S.  Link to pre-enroll/donate for Essential Recharge is at the bottom of this page: Yoga On-Line.

There’s a narrow plot south side of my studio, the only remaining place receiving full sun in a yard purposefully forested over the decades.  Twice a year I double dig the earth-wormed soil, add nourishment, cultivate hope.  This year those little optimistic seedlings sprout as teeny prayers for a harvest chapter currently unknowable.  Besides nourishing my belly and soul, this biannual activity gauges my own physical health.  Exactly five years ago I couldn’t turn the soil on my own, surrendered to a severe bout of left hip pain.  Four years ago I could shovel fifteen minutes at a time before needing a rest.  Two years ago I worked this land two hours non-stop, no problem.  Today I’m third day into a sore right hamstring from this very same chore.

This is what it is to be human.  To be incarnated in a body bound to go on the fritz time to time before it eventually comes to its final halt.  We’re surrounded by news shouting of our mortality right now.  Yet even our everyday aches and pains serve to sense our kinship with and compassion for the suffering of all sentient beings.  My aching hamstring had me in this frame of heart when I saw I was tagged in a Facebook post (see above).  So I let my curiosity investigate.  The author reaches out to his friends for advice about the most common human travail: low back pain.  When I last checked 69 people had advice for him.  Why this huge response?  Because we have all been there and we have all moved through this human dilemma with varying degrees of success.

Over 80 percent of us will experience a LBP episode some time during life.  Most of us will recover within a few weeks or months with or without treatment.  In the physical therapy world we name these recuperated folks symptom free (yeah!) but unfortunately not sign free.  Lay anyone on my treatment table and my hands will go right to the restricted tell-tale soft tissue that takes up residence after painful sensation disappears.  On literally every one of us. And that’s what sets us up for chronic or recurring problems. 

So yes to the myriad of answers on this gentleman’s FB post: ice, heat, CBD oil, chiropractic, massage, this stretch, that stretch, this gizmo, that traction.  It all works for symptomatic relief.  Which we need when pain is super-acute.  It’s when things calm down, its when we think we’re finally done with all that…that’s when I want to be with you.  That’s when returning the injured fascia to a more supple condition, subtle toning the deep core and gently lengthening the clenched tissue can lay the foundation for non-recurrence. 

The quickest way through this residual quagmire is with expert physical therapy one-on-one help.  Which is what I do, currently without the treatment table part.  It is pretty amazing what we can create together on Zoom.  But you can also come to the floor on your own 15-20 minutes daily and systematically address the most common areas that need your help.  And that’s what we do in Essentials on Tuesday morning 10:00.  Fascial release in the spine, shoulders and hips, toning deep core and stretching of key regions that tend towards tightness on all of us.  Loose, long and strong is the ultimate answer for our Facebook friend up there.

I hope you can join me tomorrow and revel in the pleasure a supported hour session like this provides.  I hear you….please, can we focus on neck and shoulders?  Of course, all these hours with our devices is friggin’ hard on us.  So, that’s the focus tomorrow.  You need a roller and a single small ball and two tennis balls taped together or put in a sock.  And your knowledge that I’m a phone call away if you want some individual help. Oh yeah…and your willingness, patience and sense of wonder.

It is my pleasure to be with you in this healing way…❤️Bella  

Exactly a year ago I was moving through a gloomy health chapter.  Post-surgery, post-radiation, lengthy bronchial infection,15 day unexplained fever.  Each exacted their toll pressing me to build back my decimated immune system.  If some prescient angel whispered in my ear, foretold the scenario we are moving through exactly one year later…well I would never have believed.  Would you?

Even that health crisis didn’t slow me down much.  But this?  Every piece of me is decelerating.  Speedy pieces I didn’t even know about are easing on down.  Recent talk about “re-opening” the country makes these tender slow pieces balk.  Cry out “not ready yet.”  Not eager to jump up and move at the speed of light again.  Just like you, I’ve had to cancel thing after thing.  Stuff I thought I was looking forward to.  And I’m feeling this paradoxical, even a bit guilty, sense of relief with each scrapped plan.

I don’t want people to die.  I don’t want anyone to suffer—physically, mentally, financially.  Yet I find myself rooting for emerging wildlife.  Celebrating clean air.  Honoring this drop in fossil fuel dependence.  And sensing our communal appreciation for this new-fangled stillness, this break, this pause.  And I really don’t know what to make of it. 

Will we look back at this episode two years hence, three years, five…with a sense of wonder?  Will things radically shift from here on in?  Will we return to the speed of light?  Finding comfort in Rilke’s counsel:

 “…at present you need to live the question. 
Perhaps you will gradually, without even noticing it,
find yourself experiencing the answer, some distant day.” 

And so we languish in the question.  Personally grateful for time afforded by my privileged circumstance.  A gifted opportunity to be witness still and offer intriguing containers for healing and practice.  Amazed by the options and rapidity of this technological shift to on line, aware of its limitations, living with lots of questions.  Today, some random musings about the altered healing and practice containers that make up my world of work.

On line Physical Therapy:  Hands on, on line?  Really?  Yup.  Over the years, when geography created obstacle, I’ve been in service to friends, family, colleagues.  Certainly has limitations, not the best way to provide…yet very effective in a pinch.  And in a pinch is where we are right now.  
How does this work?  A session begins exactly as before.  By the time I complete a history and visual movement assessment, even when I have the treatment table option, I often guess what my hands confirm. I know…hands on care, expert release…the best part!  But if you have a roller, massage ball, double-wrapped tennis balls, I can absolutely guide you to treat yourself.  Then we re-assess the impact on your motion and symptoms.  This co-exploration creates your home self-care, which we Zoom record for easy follow through.  If we’re on the right track, 15 minutes daily on your mat will create steady improvement. You’ll know if you need another appointment or can continue on your own with Essential class support. It starts with a phone call to assess possibility.

On line Essentials Yoga: Tuesday 10:00; bookmark this page (link changes weekly for optimal Zoom security) and register anytime before class.  Slow moving, gentle introduction or refresh for anyone wanting to develop an effective self-care/self-reliance mat practice.  Anyone with a body that yearns for supple flexibility, quality muscle tone.  Anyone who wants to believe that 15 minutes most days can give their body exactly what it craves to support optimal well-being.  Deeper Being is the advanced version of this class.  Friday morning, by invitation only.

On line 5Rhythms: Wednesday 6:15pm & Sunday 9:45am.  The cyber-evolution of this has been slow and wondrous.  With Majica’s youthful aptitude we keep moving into new tech-territory.  Join us this week for a 15 minute Zoom opening circle.  Then click Soundcloud to dance a 45 minute wave.  Option to keep Zoom open, connect with those little dancing boxes or turn Zoom off and move in solitude.  Or a little of both.  Zoom closing circle balances the intimacy of breakout rooms with full group sharing.  We are all adapting together in this unique environment.  Stay tuned for the next evolution on the horizon.

The current format of each of these offerings is second best to the real deal.  They vary in their translatable nature.  5Rhythms? One third of this practice is about our interior dance.  For those willing to stay the course with this moving meditation a unique dose of strength will be gained.  These abundant internally focused moments are still held in the context of the full group’s energetic connection. Physically missing you!  Aching for the spontaneous way each class flows, created by the palpable chemistry between dancers, facilitator, music.  Sigh.  But I can still feel the medicine delivered in only the way a community can deliver it.  Showing up for ourselves and each other…we will never forget this practice chapter.

Physical therapy?  It is what it is.  Second best, but available.  The few I have worked with were so grateful for the help in this time with no other alternative.  Less complex problems are more successfully do-able. Multiple involved body regions, surgical complications, symptoms that radiate into the extremities—a bit more challenging.  Can’t wait to re-open my studio!

Essentials?  By far the most translatable.  It’s always been about you and your mat.  If you’re a visual learner, the close up demos are priceless.  If you’re an auditory learner, clear articulation of physical instruction is my forte.  If you’re a kinesthetic learner, everything you need is readily available.

All classes offered freely with option to donate. We move through this current situation each with our own challenges.  If you’ve been unaffected financially, thank you for your contribution.   I am just grateful to be of service, truly no one turned away if times are tough.  My deepest wish is for you to take advantage of these healing practices made so available during this interlude.

More of that same Rilke piece to close:

 “…Have patience with everything that remains unsolved in your heart.  Try to love the questions themselves, like locked rooms and like books written in a foreign language. Do not now look for the answers.  They cannot now be given to you because you could not live them. It is a question of experiencing everything…” 

Experiencing everything with you….love, bella

Esalen…land of alternate reality…Day 6.  By night I nestle in my bunk bed cocoon, synchronous dreaming with the assistants with me in this workshop.  By day I soak these bones, revel in beauty, seek alone space, drop into connection, dance my heart out.  Daily chapters in the dance dome with fifty souls: witnessing, caring for, playing music for this practice of presence. 
My morning ritual here is long standing, anchored to my first visit in 2002.  I wake in the dark, amble down hill to the tubs.  Bathe in silence, scan the horizon ‘til the stars disappear and the sun rises. Hot from the inside out, I enter the empty massage room, bag of toys in tow, churning sea beyond the glass beckoning to my internal waves.  I roll my spine, heart basket, bowl of pelvis, well-used legs.  I double tennis ball more deeply into back body, then  gently trace and inquire into psoas front body.  I roll pokey ball ‘round hips, shoulders.  I softy awaken my subtle core and stretch the big players that attach pelvis to legs.  I fold forward, back bend, twist.  I breathe and I feel in.  If I’m in a hurry, 15 minutes will do, most days here it’s more like forty minutes.  Whatever, the day is ready to unfold out of this moment.
This act of total pleasure, focus, pure self-love is my sacred calling to share.  Come to The Essentials at Clara 10-1 next Saturday, February 15 and feel the tender joy this provides.  An hour reviewing the foam rolling from January, then a dive into the balls, a deepening dabble in psoas and lengthening out.  So much peace to breathe and rest and feel.  Pre-enroll and I’ll send you the lat session’s home support video.
Mr. Fix It is an ego character I inherited from my father.  Finally I’m old enough to understand how the energy of this character directed me to this body-based passion.  When I was younger, this trait manifested in less than skillful action sometimes.  But now I bless the painful early learning that steeps me in deeply compassionate service.  Service that bubbles from a deep well of my history, my heart, fuels me to offer what I feel and know in the healthiest of ways and create change in a suffering world.  Utter vulnerable moment to close with yesterday’s writing that fleshed out Mr. Fix It.  Writing that deepened my acquaintance with this life long companion.

Dad’s Repair Shop

Random Saturday mornings calmly doing business
atop the scratched formica table. Just the night before,
its rosy surface fraught with meal time chaos.
Dislodged sandal straps, transistor radios gone wonky,
bike flats to greasy chains—if it was broken, Dad could fix it.
But when it came to my little sister’s funeral,
the plaintive echo of his repeating mantra, still a felt sense:
“There’s just no way I can fix this one.”
The harrowing ways he played a hand
in her misery were out of reach to remedy.
And the shame my folks carried
from that epic unraveling,
well, some of it landed in my bed,
where my tender eleven year old soul
forged secret ways to be with all those tears,
so deeply laced as they were with shame.
This dusty story, attic corner relic near sixty years,
only now am I ready to reckon and release
this shed-able inheritance,
this shift-able fragment in time.
Truly we are never broken, just so very tender human,
our parts and pieces continually re-arranging, 
until the circle is complete.  

So fixing it is just not what it’s about anymore.  Being with, breathing, making space for healing, compassion…this is what creates the spacious field of presence in which things are bound to change in their own sweet time.

Love, bella

A regular visitor to my home hobbled in on one of those awkward walking boots this week.  I had no idea she’d been struggling with foot and ankle pain for six months.  She recounted a familiar sad saga.  Slow onset; chiropractic visits to no avail; sports medicine doctor for non-helpful cortisone injection; and finally, a podiatrist, who fitted her with the clunky boot.  So she could “rest”.  Inside, my eyes were rolling in frustration. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been with this story.  I asked if any of these medical practitioners had touched her foot, her ankle, her leg.  You guessed.  Not a one.

She was open to me doing a five-minute investigation with my own hands.  It was no surprise to feel really nasty fascial restrictions in the posterior tibialis inside the shin on the affected side.  I dug into the other side for comparison so she could feel the difference.  Then deeply massaged the gnarly zone for three minutes.  She could feel how much the pain had diminished when she took weight on the foot.  Then I showed her how to do it herself with the famous double tennis balls.

Eighty percent of the patients I see in my current practice are straight up simple like this.  She has some work to do, releasing first and then learning how to lengthen and strengthen the tissue once it’s not gnarly.  Many of the physical ailments that challenge us fall into the easily self-treatable category.  That’s why this winter I’m offering The Essentials 10:00-1:00 at Clara, third Saturday January, February, March.  Because for many of us, some body part on the fritz is the norm.  And sometimes that fritz really cramps our style.  What if we could suffer less? 

So who is this workshop series for?  Anyone who loves to move AND wants to continue being mobile and active until the end.  Because it really doesn’t take much time to give your body the support it loves.  Really.  If you have 15 minutes most days to whip your mat out at home, you’ll absolutely enjoy this simple body-tending.  Bonus: we’ll be rolling and releasing every session…so leave at 1:00 feeling like a million bucks.

Pre-enroll or drop into any one Saturday or, better yet, sign up for the series.  A review of the previous session is built into #2 and #3.  YouTube video support comes to your inbox following each session.  Makes your personal mat time so do-able.

And now a word to:
Dance and Yoga Students: 
I love dance and I love yoga and how I wish they were stand alone practices for maintaining optimal physical health.  But really, they are not; they need support.  In fact, in the presence of fascial restrictions and poor core tone, these practices can be risky.  Sustaining an injury while practicing is an unfortunate reality. Take it from someone who has been there.  More than once. Tightness won’t magically heal with stretching; it needs massage-like release.  Basic core tone?  Happens optimally with a deep listening, subtle awareness. And tuning into psoas extraordinaire is so integral that we’ll be delving into the tender loins in each session.

Yoga Teachers or anyone who teaches embodied practice:
This series, chock full of info and technique, is easily integrated into your own practice and into your specific way of teaching.  I have zero proprietary interest in this body of work.  At this point in my professional life, I only want the value of it spread as widely as feasible.

Massage Therapists:
Consider a possible shift in your practice: when you learn these basic skills you can teach them to your clients.  They will love you for sharing this way of maintaining all the goodness you create for them on the table.  See above about zero proprietary interest.

Runners, cyclists, rowers, golfers, tennis players…sports enthusiasts:
The awesome cardio-vascular capacity and great power in specific muscle groups you have developed comes at a cost.  Asymmetry and imbalance in fascia, length and strength are remediated with just the right dose of self-care.

This is expertise I’ve garnered over a long lifetime of treating patients and working with my own physical challenges.  It is intimately informed by my hours on the dance floor and the yoga mat.  Being fluid and feeling powerful are our natural birthright. The Essentials is a very small investment of time that supports a very vital life of optimal health.  Come feel it with me.

Love, Bella

Broad perspective and a long life: double whammy needed for revelation of often astounding patterns.  Our physical body is so uber-familiar, so basic, so much a seamless part of our 24/7 experience.   Understandable how we can be blind to the obvious: fascia and bones, muscles and ligaments, breath and being self-organizing over the decades.  This below surface domain fascinates me—in myself and in you.  And this year has brought me full circle on one of these patterns.

In ‘74 a whiplash impacted my left neck. For several years it would annoy and then go dormant.  If I knew then what I know now, I would have paid more attention.  Very insidiously this injury progressed in frequency, intensity and duration.  This is how human bodies communicate change.  After a decade, the increasing bouts became more debilitating with neurological pain and numbness in the left arm.  In my quest to heal this trouble, I landed squarely on this incredible path I still tread.  Fate.  No regrets.  Fifteen years into this whiplash, the turning point arrived; frequency, intensity and duration began their downward spiral. 

It was another five years before I was symptom free.  Twenty years total.  Wow.  During those remarkable years I certified in orthopedic manual therapy, the branch of physical therapy that treats just this type of challenge.  This education schooled me in so much and also made me aware that I had become symptom free, but not sign free.  In other words, there was a profusion of hidden underlying dysfunction, it just wasn’t expressing in pain.  I’m an active gal and over the ensuing years I dealt with other physical issues, moving methodically through each with the knowledge that this original injury set the stage for all that followed.  By 2000 it was apparent that all the ensuing compensation and adaptation had created an asymmetrical body, a functional scoliosis.  But, like an old twisted oak tree, I was alive and thriving and quite adept at managing periodic bouts of pain.

Then came twenty years of diving much deeper into yoga and dance, which ironically compounded some of the dysfunction.  And, at the very same time, illuminated what I could deeply sense and imagine about my body in motion.  Some kind of passage I needed to move through.  In the last five years I’ve addressed the asymmetry in some fundamental ways that have definitively brought pelvis more into balance.  Through all these years of change, that original left neck injury remained virtually dormant.  But it was no surprise when it re-emerged this last year, although the way it manifested fooled me for a bit.  Left hand pain coming then going.  Intermittent left earache or headache.  Sharp left elbow pain on again, off again.  Took me awhile to realize that my left upper quadrant was not really down for the shift created in alignment down below in the pelvis.  This dormant dysfunction had actually adapted and compensated quite nicely, thank you.  How dare I rock the body boat?

Lately I’ve been curiously exploring left head and neck, jaw and armpit, upper arm, forearm, hand in ways that were inconceivable to me 45 years ago.  Energetically, this left side holds the quality of feminine reception, a pulsating connection between my heart and my hand.  A hand that has perhaps given more than it has let in.  And so it goes…the twists and turns of a human life.  Bodies: the master recorders of it all.   A broad perspective and a long life: double whammy for revelation of some often astounding patterns.

In ways direct and convoluted being with this body in evolution has led me to create the two weekday morning offerings that truly excite me this fall:

  • After a trial run this summer, Body Joy comes into its own.  Finally.  You can read about it at this link but you have to be there to get it.  So come out on a Tuesday morning at 10:00 and luxuriate in the 90 minute experience. Drop in or pre-enroll in the ten sessions.  We are moving together at Centered 700 Alhambra at G Street.
  • Deeper Being is my invitation-only yoga class for those of you I’ve treated in my physical therapy clinical practice. An intimate revolving group of five who come to be supported in their own home practice.  It’s juicy and there are some openings this Fall.  If you have been a patient in the past and are interested in home support, let me know. I’ll send you the link to enroll.  If you are experiencing a body challenge, please consider a one-on-one .  After which you may want to check out Deeper Being.

Did you know they just discovered that the universe might be only 11 billion years old instead of 13 billion?  Inviting us all into a broad perspective….love, bella

Delivering health care.  It’s what I do.  What I’ve done my entire adult life.  This calling has morphed and evolved in such a way that some, as they survey my working field, would not call it health care. I beg to differ.  Through this morph and evolution I‘ve been challenged, bent sideways, shaped, pushed, grown….and ultimately divinely supported and nourished.  Today I’m writing about three ways women can be pro-active about their health.  Not excluding you men readers, read on.

Hysterectomy and women’s rights:  My eyes were forced wide open last November when I joined the sister-ectomy club.  By the age of sixty, one in three women have undergone this major procedure.  Not going to tackle the bigger question: “Is this really necessary?”  Because the littler question is what I’ve been living with: “Why is the post-op care so incredibly puny?”  Sum total of rehab advice I received: walk. 

Seriously ladies, I needed to do much more.  Every woman will have different needs.  So much of it depends on the pre-existing body challenges brought to the operating table.  The troubles other than the reproductive organ issues.  Post-surgery, I had profound weakness of right psoas and strain of the right adductor muscles.  My surgeon blew it off.  After six months of subtle self-directed care I’m probably 80%.  This would not be the case if I had followed the walking advice.

Why is this a women’s rights issue?  Much current research points to the lack of investigation surrounding women’s health.  You better believe that if one in three men had their reproductive organs removed by the age of sixty there would be a different standard of rehab available.  Invisible Women: Data Bias in a World Designed for Men by Caroline Perez dives into this realm.  The story about Viagra research is amazing.

I absolutely know many women undergoing this procedure will look back and feel that this surgery marked the beginning of some type of decline.  Since my surgery I’ve had the honor of treating two other women who will not be feeling this decline.  So this is a direct call to my sister-ectomies out there.  A single visit will enable you to address the often subtle changes that, untreated, will slowly manifest as trouble.  Come see me for that assessment and education.  Head home with a personal cell phone video of your very own specific 15 minute mat program.

Food first: That’s what my doctor said when I asked about boosting my immune system. After one month into this new way of eating, I wrote in April about time-restricted eating or intermittent fasting.  It goes by both names.  A super simple approach that is basically 1) late breakfast  2) early dinner  3) STOP.  I’m now four months in and pretty much astounded by the shifts that have nothing to do with my immune system: weight loss, mental clarity and the return of all night sleeping. 

Same doctor encouraged me to complete a fasting mimicking diet for five days, four times a year. There needs to be more research, but the current indications are that this is a stem cell (think immune system) booster.  This diet is not as simple as intermittent fasting, but I was surprised how mostly I breezed thru each day on 500 calories.  Well, breeze may not be quite accurate.  There was some cranky and some  hunger that felt entirely emotional, no small thing for sure.  Definitely easier than anticipated.  The equinox will find me there again.

This whole quarter year investigation brings Gabrielle Roth to mind.  She was big on renunciation, asking us every year to write and tell her what we were giving up for one month.  It was a big deal for me.  It cultivated some discipline needed to free spirit.  Anytime we work with the habitual, it’s gonna be a life changer.  Food is huge in everyone’s life.  In mine, it is homogonous with strong generational ties to restaurants including cooking in my son’s café, big hearted love for all things cooking, joy in feeding people, love of gardening and harvesting and eating food right off the vine.  This habit- changing experience has brought all of this proclivity into a new light.  It’s a good thing.

Putting bodies in motion: My life’s calling. I stand for the value of this work.  An instructional class is the best route to support people in developing a movement habit.  When that class is nourishing and pleasurable, invites creativity and curiosity and leaves you feeling like a million bucks…well this is exactly what I’m aiming for.  I adore teaching 5Rhythms. I am incredibly moved teaching yoga.  I am in a love trance when turning folks on to releasing with the toys.  The fact that I’m finally teaching a 90 minute class with all three woven together and people are really responding…well, this is making me very happy.  While we share this enjoyable experience of free flow movement, the skills we’re practicing totally translate to home practice.  Bingo.  I truly feel I’m exploring a health frontier on Tuesday morning.  There are four mornings left if you care to drop in.

Your health:  I deeply care about it.  Join me in this care….be pro-active.

Love, bella

Thank the good lord ninety percent of folks coming for physical therapy in my current practice are garden variety.  Because atypical requires deeper investigation and the prognosis is more dicey, less definitive.  We don’t imagine our own pain might follow a predictable human pattern.  We’re pretty convinced we’re weird or special.  And we are. But luckily most of us are garden variety, presenting with constant or come & go discomfort in hip or low back, shoulder or neck, knee or foot.  Maybe jaw, elbow, wrist, hand.  Perhaps with accompanying headache or sensation that radiates into arm or leg. 

Once I hear your history, my eyes and hands almost always lead me to feel how it’s worse on one side.  Often this comes as a surprise.  Luckily most of us are able to feel that confirmed as my hands gently explore. It might all be one-sided or run on the diagonal.  It’s always fascinating to feel the gestalt of it, to have some of the mystery unravel in the light of understanding. 

I love how the elements—history, observation, palpation, hands-on treatment, responsive change—lead us to the mat together.  This magic moment distills the process.  The question becomes what might you do at home to reproduce what worked on the treatment table? I do good manual treatment…but not so that you can come back a gazillion times and hand your power over to me.  In my little world treatment provides temporary relief and insures a prescription for self care at home that is effective. Looking for someone to fix you? I’m not your practitioner.  If you have the time and finances to be treated lots and/or you are just not interested in getting down on the mat, I can refer you to some good people. 

I carefully screen incoming patients for this desire to learn, this wish to be in the driver’s seat.  The big ask is a devoted 15-20 minutes per day for the two weeks following treatment.  That’s the only way we both know if we’re on the right track.  Each patient leaves with a cell phone video we create on the spot for home support.  After nearly fifty years of handouts and stick figures, even the Letting Go book with its awesome photos….well, the videos have been brilliant. Despite this careful screening, some version of this conversation often ensues:

Patient:  (tone ranges from embarrassed to defiant) I know there will be days I won’t get down on the mat to do this.  Even though I know I need to.

Me: (tone gently amused, totally compassionate) I get it. I’m the same.  Even knowing all these nuts and bolts and dealing with my own lifetime of challenges….I personally know this one.  Here’s the invitation.  See if you can just roll out your mat tomorrow and have a look see. Or not.  If you’re able, sit down on your mat for a minute.  Maybe watch the video.  Begin by doing just the first thing….or roll it up until the next day. 

Here’s the good news: there’s always tomorrow.  Well, until there’s not.  And us humans need spaciousness to care for ourselves with the kindness we deserve.  Love the Sanskrit word prajnaparadha.  Intriguing literal translation?  Crimes against wisdom.  Sanskrit, the 5.000 year old language of a band of wandering yogis, nailed this one.  Because these wise men observed it in themselves.  Prajnaparadha is the natural human tendency to turn away from what we know is best for us.  We just do.  And this, my loves, is a moment for kindness.  For understanding.  For space. 

I do love the Gabrielle quote about how it takes discipline to be a free spirit.  I get it.  But the older I get, the less it feels like discipline and the more it feels like a mulit-faceted curiosity.  In the spirit of inquiry, I can let discipline fall away.  What arises instead?  The opportunity for discovery, for who-knows-what-might-happen novelty.  The intrigue of imagination and metaphor.  The sensuality of sensation.  The play between the ritual and the habitual.  The soothing backdrop of music.   And all this richness usually begins with some resistance to actually getting down there.

Time to Move was born years ago in a moment such as this, a moment when I had just fallen back into dancing, after the rollers had been part of my life for 15 years.  With the music playing, rolling around on the floor with the toys, releasing the stuck….well it really didn’t take discipline.  It just felt so good.  Once I loosened up, the dancing felt so free and the music just seduced me in.  So natural to close with stretching out a body so warm, well-danced, receptive.  That’s it: roll, dance, stretch.  Ninety minutes.  And just a word about music volume.  It will not be blasting.  A morning class with opportunity for shaking it out, yes.  But peacefully in support of our overdone nervous systems.

I hope you can join me for these six Tuesday mornings as we defy crimes against wisdom.  Begins June 18, right after Wednesday Waves takes its summer break.  BTW, what an amazing 18 month evolution it’s been working heart-to-heart with Juliette and Majica holding Wednesday night.  So much individual growth for all three of us as we let go into the unknown.  To celebrate that and the close of this season, all three of us will be up front spontaneously taking turns playing tunes on the final night June 12.   Come on down and feel the magic because it is…

time to move…..bella 


Fluidity, Power & Release

Grateful sitting fireside last night, my girlfriend cooking dinner. Friendship “can be sustained over the years only with someone who has repeatedly forgiven us for our trespasses.” ***  Thankful for her immutable presence in my life, I sat quiet, peaceful, heart and soul awash with considerations, invitations, conversations garnered over a three day retreat with poet David Whyte.

At one point, my friend remarked on the observable change in my physical presence over this last year. I clearly have experienced a radical internal shift and in a long mirror, I see the marked change in alignment. But this friend, who has known me well for a long time, was naming something different, an appearance of fitness not visible to me. A genuine friend is a perceptive witness and is in a unique position to offer up what they see. It is such a tender gift. With this singular remark, in that ripe moment, I became aware that I was well into my second hour of cross-leg sitting on the floor, something that would have given me great difficulty a couple years ago. I felt the incredible ease of sukhasana, a lightening bolt moment of awareness of how deep and enduring a bodily shift has been created.

Over the last few years, I’ve stood beside my friend and watched her physical presence shift in the other direction. I’ve gently served as time-to-time witness, breathing with her through fear and sadness and frustration, fading resolve, spikes of concern. She was a gym rat but has let go of even that. Last night she asked for help. Deep breath. Working with friends is special. I learned years ago to gently listen, never to offer. As much as I love someone and want to support their healing, it is so vital to make the first step on our own.

I inquired about time and motivation. Opened the door to a home-base session: an hour daily for a year—20 minutes for loose, long and strong, a brisk walk to bring all that in motion. I described a 90 minute appointment in my studio—history, assessment, hands on treatment, self care instruction, cell phone video creation. She expressed enthusiasm. Did I whip out my calendar? No. I made the simple request I voice more and more these days: sleep on it.

Lay in that half dream state of first rising, rest in this place, in this body, at this threshold and ask yourself “how can I be the ancestor of my future happiness.” I love this fundamental question and the endless ways we might answer it with deep and very personal commitment. Maybe you want to write a novel, create a canvas, sing from the rooftops, dance your heart out, continue to dream. What can you do today that will shape your tomorrow? Maybe, just maybe, the answer is to embark on a committed self-care journey, to invest time in the temple of your body. The only one we have. Any appointment we make with ourselves and keep day after day for a year’s time, no matter the realm, will provide a myriad of dividends we cannot even begin to imagine. This I know.

If you are intrigued, read on please. I am on this planet partly to do this work with you, from “deep in the soul…the place where my self meets the world”. For sure, we can do that one-on-one. And if you love to dance, you are in for a big dose of this medicine in Fluidity, Power and Release. Reports have it I emerged dancing from the womb. To boogie, to express freely, to let go into the music…well, I want to do this right up to the end. Don’t you?

By now you know that caring for my body is primary in my world. To continue to dance and be as active as I want to be, I keep negotiating the slippery slope of tending this moving vessel. Rollers & balls, subtle core centering, focused release: these are tools that make a difference—to injuries, in dance, in life. Plus I’m endlessly fascinated how the fresh & creative in our dance lurks beneath the comfortably habitual. This is one way into that magic place. We’ll travel back & forth between the worlds of dance and self-care guided by this body of work that fuses all I’ve learned on dance floor, yoga mat and treatment table. You’ll leave feeling like a million bucks and we’ll have a ball getting to that place. Money back guarantee.

This is restorative, inspirational, emboldening. What do you want to create in 2018? Let’s do it together.

Love, bella

***all quotes are from David Whyte