The essence of the phone call I took last week rang with familiarity.  Once again, a grateful being reports the influence dance practice wielded in shaping a life.  No matter that this person attended only a year or two, the last time a decade ago.  The experience had been of great import and they wanted me to know.  I’ve had the privilege of listening to countless stories of this flavor.  Most recently, someone who’d come a handful of times attributed remarkable shifts in destiny based on the experience.  Hardly seen this individual since.

Over twenty years, I’ve witnessed tons.  Folks who cycle in a bit, out a bit, then bounce back in again.  People who show up one time and then, referencing that one time, return a decade later.  Movers who are incredibly articulate about their process and those that never say a word.  Individuals who’ve heard about 5Rhythms forever, meant to come for years, finally arrived. Dancers who’ve been with me week after week for two decades.  People whose movement vocabulary transfigures right before my eyes and those who carry on without variation year in and year out.

And then there are the big events.  We watch new life gestate and then be born.  We’re present to hook-up joy and break-up pain.  The shock of illness followed by the empty absence, the heartache of loss.  Marriage transpires out there.  And so does divorce.  The festival of life plays out on that sacred floor.

In fact, the only thing that remains constant is the container itself, which for many years I held on my own.  Which was a phenomenal undertaking.  And just as extraordinary, in a whole different way?  The positively impactful adventure I’ve had the honor of sharing with Majica Alba: partnering in this community-holding endeavor. The dictionary defines community as a feeling of fellowship with others, as a result of sharing common attitudes, interests, and goals.  By frequent report, this is one of the top reasons people show up to dance.  That feeling of fellowship, of belonging, of sharing with like-minded/hearted.

Yet here’s the ironic seduction I’ve noticed over and over: the moment it begins to feel like our community has gelled, is somehow defined, an established group consistently showing up, the illusion this is makes itself known.  Invariably what follows is a transitional period of dissolve as a new grouping takes form in the next elusive shape.  It’s like the word community is a verb.  The pandemic has created its own dynamic bit of play with this amorphous community phenomenon.

And I am so down for it.  Every last bit of it.  Because I’m in such good company with those who’ve opened their hearts to me, shared the impactful nature of this practice.  There is a surprisingly powerful dose of influence thrown in when you’re the one who invariably shows up to make it happen. No matter what.  I’ve been out there hot on the heels of my own life festival events: birth, death, illness, major life upheavals.  All the reasons students might choose to cancel and just stay home.  But here’s what’s true: those hot-on-the-heels moments hold mega-weight. The most meaningful teaching/learning excavates personal vulnerability to illuminate the all-embracing universal. Who knew that my most penetrating insights would begin to pile up after I had the audacity to step in to teach?

And so, after a bit of perspective-inducing time off—picture above, last day camping at Sunset Beach—I’m back at out there.  If being part of community as a verb calls to you here are three ways I’d love to move with you:

  • Maybe you’ve always meant to dance.  Or used to and know it is time again.  Or always come and can’t wait.  Wednesday Waves at Clara—Taking More Pleasure—is happening until June 15.  And then we break until September.  Sunday Sweat Your Prayers in the garden happens through July 31 before that break.
  • Maybe you know you’ve always wanted to do yoga but think it’s not for you.  Or you’re curious about this rolling and releasing thing.  Or you’re always there every week and can’t wait.  Roll, Release, Align on line Friday 10:00.  This week’s focus?  That incredible diaphragm, the way it creates a bottom for the heart basket and is in 24/7 service to the breath.
  • Maybe you’ve got something bugging you in that shoulder or neck, that hip or low back, that knee or foot.  Maybe you want to learn how to tenderly and expertly care for it in a healing way.  That’s my thing!  Call me (916) 267-5478 and let’s talk about how we’ll make that happen.

That feeling of fellowship, of belonging, of sharing with like-minded/hearted.  That’s what it’s about…❤️Bella

I remember a moment just like this years ago: Oregon coast, feet-in-the-sand.   Out of the blue, a notion to sell the physical therapy clinic.  It dawned all over me.  A need to bust out of confinement, something expansive demanding space for expression.  Eventually the sale came to pass.

But that dawn all over me feeling?  I heard it described by Martha Beck in a recent podcast.  I hope you know this feeling, too.  It arises when we get quiet, go inside, rest into our bodies.  Take time to sense what’s warm and fuzzy and full of pleasure.  Feels peaceful, tastes like freedom.  What really lights us up.  Because, Martha Beck says, every lie makes us tense and every truth makes us relax.  And that’s precisely how it came down that day on the Oregon beach.

Last week in Yosemite, dallying in a snow-covered meadow, sky other worldly blue, snow-blinding brilliant, air nostril sharp, I had a moment that felt like that one years ago in Oregon.  There was that tell-tale warm, fuzzy inside.  Truth instinctively generating full relaxation.  Body opening to a wave of freedom and possibility and curiosity.  It dawned all over me that I really did not have to do anything or go anywhere or be anybody.  It felt radical.

Seriously, it feels like some deeply ingrained childhood program got hacked.   Perhaps I do not have to be successful or channel ambition or push through to the next thing.   Perhaps at 70+ it’s age-appropriate to have nothing to prove. What?  Maybe this life chapter asks for something else.  Simply being and bearing witness and opening to love.  This truth makes my whole body melt.

And one might ask…so Bella, why are you writing this newsletter, why are you teaching, why are you still seeing patients?  The things I am doing, the ways I am working, the ways I attune to serve community…none of this is required.  And perhaps that’s why I love doing these things.  Because I choose them.  Because they emerge from the authentic well of my being and give me great joy.  Mostly…some days more than others!  No Pollyanna here.  Just like you I’m on this pandemic ride and continue to experience deep dips.  Just like you I’m riding the hills and valleys of aging.

And even though I do not have to do anything or go anywhere or be anybody, here’s a couple offerings on the horizon that might be of interest to you:

Moving Outside 
3 Thursdays      March 3, 10, 17      12:30-2:00
I wrote about nature deficit disorder last time.  Spring is emerging in this garden on the Sacramento River…come experience body and land as one being. Earth, sky, everything in between. Outdoor practice is a natural health-boosting opening to receive this energy.  I’ll be collaborating with the owner of this property, Judy Tretheway  Speaking of aging, we’ll combine many decades of embodied wisdom—Qigong, 5Rhythms, chakras, forest bathing—to guide this journey through dance, movement, connection and breath. Let’s feel the lay of the land…outside together.

Core Strength 
Saturday       February 12         9:30-10:30
The basic power I experience at my core is life sustaining.  Vital.  This strength allows me to be active in ways that would not be possible without quality tone down deep.  It can be yours with 15 minutes on your mat 3-4 days a week.  This short video is my invitation to join me in creating that vitality:

So I hope you can get quiet, go inside, rest into your body.  Take time to sense what’s warm and fuzzy and full of pleasure, what really lights you up. It’s one reason I come to the mat and the dance floor.  Let’s move together somewhere soon….❤️Bella

Decisions. Daily. We weigh desire against risk. Calculate probability in the face of longing. Concern for safety rides in direct opposition to our acute yearning. You would think by now we’d be incredibly skilled at judgment calls. Me? I feel lost sometimes, find myself wavering more than ever. Perched for too long and very uncomfortably on the proverbial fence. So not my style. Never has been.

Faced with yet another moment of indecision, I chose to dig underneath the fence. And lo and behold, a well-used shovel—5Rhythms wisdom— was right at hand to dredge up some truth. Have a current looming decision? Willing to take a quick inventory? Start right where you are and picture the particulars of what you are considering. As much detail as possible, put yourself in the virtual reality of “yes”.

BODY: For me, it’s all about belly and feet. How do these body parts rest in that yes? Easily? Do they feel like moving toward? Eagerly? Or is there hesitation? Queasiness? Are they congruent? Or are feet pointed one way and belly another. Breathe. Is your body a yes or a no?

HEART: Let your breath move all around the heart space. Feel the longing, the desire, the yearning. Feel for shut down, protectiveness, holding back. Is your heart a yes or a no?

MIND: O.K. Head up there. That place where all the logical overabundance of most current information is stored. Let the mind say its piece. Listen up. Really take it in. Minds are useful. Is your mind a yes or a no?

SOUL: Now it’s time to feel into one of two things: the perfect line-up of body, heart, mind…or the utter mismatch. If all three shout yes or all three are an emphatic no, your soul can rest in this alignment. Clarity and integrity are yours. If there is divergence, your soul is wading through a torturous moment. Which is even more precarious if the yes and/or no are muffled or conditional or vague. Times like this are especially bewildering if your soul—the authentic expression of who you are in this world—is not able to show up in the way it hungers to. That’s why this is so hard.

SPIRIT: Take another few breaths. Feel spirit moving right through you, connecting you with all things. Rest in the spaciousness of past, present, future. In the biggest picture, in the world of birth and life and death…how important is this yes/no? A year from now, will you remember this moment? What would God/Jesus/Buddha/(fill in blank) do?

And as long as were asking for an outside opinion, the creatrix of this very rhythms guideline, Gabrielle Roth, put it simply like this:

“There is no maybe. If it’s not a yes, it’s a no.”

Which brings me smack dab in touch with my old style, no-nonsense Bella who totally knows when to hold ’em and when to fold ’em. The rational one who knows the next hand will be dealt soon enough.

What’s coming right up?
Friday morning: Essential exploration of the spine, feeling the way it’s a connector (skull, rib cage, pelvis) AND a protector (nervous system). How it moves just like the ocean waves.
Sunday morning: Out in the garden (or Zoom) playing musical waves as antidote to despair, tapping the way this practice can actually lift us, lighten us, inspire wonder.

Feeling you all out there in this moment with me…let’s move together.

The dictionary definition of somatic is so very simple: relating to the body, as distinguished from the mind.  I hang with the body-based crowd.  Entering an individual session or group teaching through the heart channel or mind channel are generally not my go-to’s.  Because time and again, experience verifies that when we enter through the body channel, we authentically access heart and mind.  Feeling and insight naturally erupt up and through the body channel and often astonish us with the honest accuracy of truth.

All that being said, the mind is a powerful tool.  I fed that mind channel deeply over the last couple weeks with Joan Halifax’s book Standing at the Edge.  I love the subtitle: finding freedom where fear and courage meet.  Highly recommended.  And eventually, in a backward change of pace, I let knowledge inform my body.  More about that later.  But first I focused and absorbed the empathy chapter, curious to tease out the roots of empathic distress (last week’s newsletter) and how empathy and compassion are linked.  What follows is Halifax’s take on the subject, a summary, a paraphrase of that chapter.

Halifax defines empathy as our ability to feel into another.  To merge with, sense, imagine, include, identify with. To allow ourselves to be inhabited by another.  Sense into their emotions, view life from their perspective.  Walt Whitman sums it up:

“I do not ask the wounded person how he feels,
I myself become the wounded person.”

Compassion is feeling for another.  Empathy informs compassion, is often a precursor. But compassion is more fleshed out than empathy; a warm positive state often coupled with desire to benefit the other.  Compassion is intentionally generated with love, kindness, concern running concurrently with empathy. There is no such thing as compassion fatigue.  But empathic over arousal and distress are real.  Unregulated empathy can lead us to avoidance, numbness, burnout.  We can learn to recognize and harness an empathetic response to activate healthy compassionate concern.

How to?  Not surprising that the key to regulation lands us right back where we began: somatics.  When we catch ourselves standing at the edge of empathic distress we can pivot toward compassion by feeling our feet on the ground.  We don’t abandon the other, we continue to include, identify with the other AND we sense our own heartbeat, the quality of our own breath.  We seek and establish a balance, a distinction, a clear boundary between our own bones and theirs.  I love Brene Brown’s embodied phrase:

Strong back, soft front, wild heart…

And when and if we fall over our own edge, which we do, there is deep learning in the swamp of empathic distress.  And what was trauma in the past can morph into medicine for the past and the future.

On the dance floor Sunday, this wealth of information channeled its way into a somatic exploration of nimbly moving from empathy to compassion.  The physical sensation of walking in another’s shoes, side-by-side seeing from another’s perspective, bearing witness, attuning to bodies-hearts-minds.  Ultimately seeing ourselves in the other, feeling our common humanity.  Our strong backs.  Our soft fronts.  Our wild hearts.

In 5Rhythms Wednesday Waves I’ll be out there again exploring this territory a bit differently.  Before we dance, thirty minutes of somatic release with rollers and balls. Focus on our compassion-generating region: deep in the core, hips and heart.  Then connecting the core and paving the way into dance with releasing the feet.  The middle chapter? An hour wave of dance.  The ending? A guided art creation led by Majica Alba.  I am in love with this co-creative possibility: two 5Rhythms teachers, one a physical therapist, the other an art therapist.  Who knew?

Three opportunities this week to hang with the body-based crowd…

So much conversation these days about cultural polarization.  Red states and blue.  Big pharma and science.  Vax and unvax.  Righteousness abounds.  Personally, I reside in a bubble that affords me scarce opportunity for exchange with the other pole.  The issues are uber-complex, so much is at stake in this deep, barely navigable river of separation.  How do we find middle ground?

Just for now let’s drop this exhausting argument, this detached discussion out there.  Just for now let’s invite it into the realm of in-your-face personal.  The polarity waging on the inside.  Because we’ve all heard some version of this quote by Ezra Taft Benson, right?

“Some of the greatest battles will be fought
within the silent chambers of your own soul.”

Polarity: the state of having two opposite or contradictory tendencies, opinions or aspects.  And who doesn’t have that festering in some way, shape or form internally? For the last 3 months I’ve spiraled ‘round this one again, avidly tracking a personal polarity.  For a week this scrutiny supported by Esalen days filled with soaking and dancing, natural beauty and meditating, good food and expert guidance. Working side-by-side with Lucia Horan allows me to be in the sweet spot: being in service balanced with being held in practice.  The statue of Kwan Yin (above), travelled out of my studio, first time in thirteen years.  She exuded mercy and compassion and grace throughout the week.

Inside me there’s a little numb one who took shelter way at one end of the pole.  Surviving by letting nothing in, allowing nothing out. This early learning shaped me in many ways.  It affected the way I moved with deep loss. Through my middle years, chock full of family and work responsibility, grief squeezed its way into available holes in my schedule.  Truly.  Listening to those of you in the throws of mid-life, it’s a relief to know this experience is not unusual.  However greased the wheels were by my early childhood training.

But grief more toward life’s end gives me access to a different experience: the opposite pole.  Now there is time.  Here there is space and perspective. Here there is a semblance of emotional wisdom.  This other pole—letting everything in and everything out—feels like uncharted territory.  It has been liberating to feel with intensity and a relief to let out a bucket of tears.  Passion and tears that have been languishing for decades.

Now it is a sensation of a wound healing.  A somatic scar tentatively binding raw vulnerability. A developing understanding of empathic distress.  Curiosity about how empathy informs compassion.  An embodiment of how much is at stake in this river separating numbness on one shore and overwhelm on the other.  And that this great battle fought within the silent chambers of my own soul is giving birth to a more mature navigator.  More skillful at self-witnessing, self-regulating.   A capable steward of this oh so tender heart.

Sigh…this is what consistently paying attention reveals.  And paying attention with the support of like-minded community just ups the ante.  Inviting you along for three opportunities to pay attention in sangha this week:

  • Wednesday Waves in person breaks the format mold in this final chapter of 2021.  Two hours 6:30-8:30, but only one hour for dancing a wave in the middle.  We’ll open with my guidance, gently prepping the body for motion with rollers and balls (all props provided).  And we’ll integrate at closure with Majica guiding us through creative art expression. We begin with a focus on the feet November 10.  This first Wednesday is FREE if you have never done 5Rhythms at Clara.  Drop in to any session for $25 or pre-enroll for all five for $100.  Please check link for nitty gritty details.
  • Essentials Friday 10:00 on line deep dives into the pelvic floor.  This week an introduction to the geeky diamond-shaped anatomy…so beautiful.  Every week a gentle breathing variation on releasing, core toning, stretching and how this informs simple yoga poses.  The Video Library is there to dive in any time spirit moves you.
  • Sunday Sweat Your Prayers 10:00-noon in person & online.  Thanks to a generous community benefactor, we are still practicing in the garden space bordering the Sacramento River.  If you have yet to join us in this enchanted land, you are so welcome.  Check the link for the nitty gritty. I’m up this coming Sunday.

It’s in the silent chambers of our own souls where peace commences.  Let’s seek that middle ground together.  ❤️Bella

Maybe it’s this veil-thin time of year, death making the news, the anniversary of my teacher’s passage. Recurrent divination, this felt sense of spirit inhabiting us on the breath. Spirit moving us on the breath. Place hand to belly. Feel that rise and fall? Spirit inhabits belly, let it move your hips. Let hand drift to breast bone. There it is: spirit surrounding heart and lungs, moving your cage of ribs. Feel it entering nostrils, filling sinuous passages, releasing your neck, surrendering head to gravity. Spirit inhabits us, moves us on the breath.

And spirit inhabits us in memory as well, an imprint of those who came before. All day last Friday I was so clearly remembering a moment I shared with Gabrielle in 2008. It was the final day of my teacher training and we were both leaving Westerbeke when our paths crossed. Both of us were headed to Sacramento, she to visit her Mom, Jean, who had lived in my town a long time, though I’d never met her. We chatted a bit in the parking lot until the talk turned to her aching shoulder. She wondered if she might come for treatment while in town. I said yes and we set a time. I fervently hoped my space would be ready. Because when I left two weeks earlier it definitely was not complete.

Back story: after I sold the clinic in 2005, I was physical therapy homeless. I carried my treatment table around town, practicing my craft wherever I could. But in 2008, deep in this 5Rhythms training process, I decided to tear down my garage and build a place I could work. A place my treatment table could call home, a space I could dance and be on my mat. A room of my own. Construction was ongoing throughout that tumultuous year, sort of nearing completion when I left for that final module at Westerbeke.

Gabrielle was the first patient I treated in this backyard dream space. I’m ever sensitive to the way she blessed it with her presence. Spirit inhabits us in the memory. That day there were workers banging around downstairs but upstairs was empty and peaceful, the table graced the middle of the room. We had our moment together.

Before she left, she put in motion the longstanding relationship I had with her mother, Jean. At first I saw Jean for home visits, treating her aging body. But it became so much more. I played music for us to dance together, her hips sashaying as she stood in her walker. I brought her to a few classes. She was utterly worshipped. Jean and Gabrielle’s brother came to Coloma Center the night before Gabrielle died. The two of them danced with this community, shared in our closing circle. Spirit inhabited us all on the breath that evening and now spirit inhabits via memory. Jean joined the spirit realm a couple years ago. I miss her.

Take a breath or two right now. Attune to spirit breathing belly, chest, head, every cell inside. Trust the quiet. Seek the dark. Move toward the empty space. Make the leap: spirit surrounds us, connects us all, and, if we’re willing, guides us. Cozy up to the mystery; it serves to prepare us for response when spirit inevitably sweeps in and moves with us on its path.

Breathing with you….Bella

The deep cold snap last week scrapped a 3 day camping trip.  I can do rugged…but a 40 degree high is not conducive to anything.  So I woke Monday morning  to an empty to-do list.  My current schedule is a pale shadow of what it used to be.  But nothing planned? Not so much.

I pulled out my trusty Osho deck and asked, “What do you have to tell me about this stillness?”  I drew Ordinariness, a woman gently moving  through an orchard, gathering fruit in her basket.  The accompanying narrative was, in a nut shell, a call to bring your attention and delight to the ordinary.  Chop wood, carry water.

I began moving uber-slowly, especially in the kitchen.  Oozing around molasses-like, returning ceramic dishes to familiar shelves, placing well-worn pans in messy drawers, caressing slender silverware, utensils I’ve eaten from thirty years.  The laundry turned into a celebration of clean creation.  Chopping vegetables a prayer.  Really, it’s such a short hop from ordinary to sacred.

On Sunday we danced this ordinary landscape.  Wanna move with ordinary right here?  Imagine a six foot line on your floor.  Stand all the way at one end, let your chest expand.  Imagine yourself pushing to be more.  More what?  More brilliant, more remarkable, more exceptional, more clever, more extraordinary.  Dazzle the world with your uniqueness.  Maybe it’s a stretch; it may feel totally familiar.  But notice the energy it takes to maintain this posture of perform, pretend, produce.

Shake it off, let go as you walk to the other end of the line.  On this far end, let shoulders collapse, rib cage cave.  Feel the flavor of not good enough, less than, hidden.  Comparing and forever coming up short.  Overwhelmed by accomplishments of others, wishing for more.  More what?  See above.

When you’ve inhabited both ends, let yourself wander this polarized strand a bit.  Or put on some music and dance betwixt too much and not enough.  Be curious.  How does the middle feel?  Nothing added.  Enough.  Unpack this for yourself. I delight in the sensibility evoked by this timeless phrase:

Just be yourself…everyone else is taken.

I adore teaching 5Rhythms, a practice of limitless possibility. Offering this exploration Sunday anchored me into the ordinary and the mysterious way it is woven with stillness.  This week on Wednesday night I want us to feel stillness throughout a wave, serenity at hand no matter what rhythm is sweeping through us in these crazy times.  Our ability to face a sink full of dirty dishes and just peacefully, methodically render them clean.  In the most ordinary way.

On the 5Rhythms horizon:

  • Sunday Halloween Sweat  Oct 31:  Put on a costume, dance with us in the garden.  First wave also available on Zoom 10:00-11:00.  In person?  We have a surprise ritual in store for you from 11:00-1:00.  Bring your lunch; we’ll stay after and break bread together.
  • Wednesday Waves in October 20 & 27:  We have a special “dance mask” for you at the door.  These KN94’s as comfy as a mask can be.  It is amazing to be on that Clara wood floor.
  • Wednesday Waves Nov/Dec5 classes for the remainder of 2021.  Majica and are going to serve up a tasty hybrid of what we love.  I’ll start us out at 6:30 with foam and ball rolling and release BEFORE we dance a wave.  AFTER we dance, Majica leads us in an art experience.  No experience necessary for participation in these three uniquely healing practices.  We are calling you in if you have NEVER danced with us.  Just print this ticket…your participation FREE for the very first class November 10.

Richard Linklater, an American film director, producer and screenwriter sums it up for me here:

As you get older, you want less from the world;
you just want to experience it.
Any barriers to feeling emotions get dismantled.
And ordinary things become beautifully poetic.

Yours in the poetry of it all…Bella

It’s our first act as we exit the womb.  An inhale.  New, fresh, born into possibility.  Arising.  And then there is our departing gesture: the exhale.  A dissolve, a let go into mini-death.  Passing away.  Arising and passing away.  So brief, that precious time we have allotted between birth and death.  Take a breath in and pause.  Feel that sweetness.  Rumi invites us to use that time wisely:

“There comes a time when nothing is meaningful
except surrendering to love.”

It is in this surrender we suffer the inevitable loss of what and who we love.  It is in this surrender that our hearts inevitably break.  It is in this surrender that the inseparability of love and loss become an anguished reality.  Maybe your heart is like mine.  In an effort to carry on, it is capable of feigning forgetfulness.  But below this surface deceit, my old wounds smolder.  And with this fresh loss they ignite into a renewal of this perspective. This time the love/loss bond feels urgently regenerated.

I have an old tattered bookmark with a quote from Stephen Jenkinson, author of Die Wise.  A reminder, a hindrance to feigning forgetfulness:

“Grief is a way of loving what has slipped from view.
Love is a way of grieving that which has not yet done so.”

And Confucius say, “In each life there are two lives.  The second one begins when we realize we only have one.”  The moment that second life begins, the moment we heed the call to live in earnest, that moment comes for each and every one of us.  We can be so friggin’ denial adept that it comes quite late for many.  Too late for some.

Yesterday we danced in this territory and felt ourselves come alive.  It is one thing to sit here and read about loss and love as a concept.  Something quite different happens when you move with it.  I’m teaching Wednesday night again.  I don’t know what else to do but keep moving with this.  It’s how I’m built.  Maybe you can join us at Clara.  Maybe you’re not ready.  But we can all breathe.

Take a deep breath in.  Feel whatever is arising, feel born into possibility.  Hold that breath: cherish the time you have been allocated and remember what and who you love.  Let the breath go.  Feel it all passing away.  Yourself included.

Surrendering to love…bella

Remember spring 2020?  We entered this strange chapter at the Equinox, realities of life as we knew temporarily ending at the same time that signs of life renewing itself were blooming all around us.  Now it is Equinox again.  Six seasons have come and gone.  And the “temporary” feels utterly perpetual.  Somehow the Sunday New York Times helps me mark the passage of week after week and the cover article of their flashy magazine grabbed my attention:

When We Could Be Together All We Wanted To Do Was Dance

The author recalled the hopeful doorway we moved through Equinox 2021.  Remember?  The vaccination thing was working.  We cast off our masks and gingerly, or not so gingerly, began to be with each other.  Faces revealed.  Embraces relished.  The joy of gathering in public spaces.   Fear put to simmer on the back burner.  What did the author, Carina Del Valle Schorske, do in that short window of time?  In every conceivable NYC setting, including a 5Rhythms class given by a teacher I know, she danced.  And danced.  And danced some more.  And then she wrote of her experience and quoted French historian Phillipe de Felice:

“Eras of greatest material and moral distress
seem to be those during which people dance most.”

Which is confirmed weekly by our dance closing circle comments and my own experience.  The bigger question is why. One more quote from this article:  “Historical accounts leave little doubt that the boom in public dancing had something to do with the proximity of death.”  And that still leaves us wondering why.  Why dance when death is looming on the transom?  Could it be that we all have a boogie lurking inside us and the realization that this impulse may never find expression breaks us free?  A now or never thing?  The specter of our own mortality unearthing our god given body joy, the yum of beat responsiveness, our longing to feel and be with other breathing bodies, sense the common pulse of humanity in motion.

I just know what is true for me.  I’ve had intervals of loss and moral distress sprinkled with regularity throughout my life.  From the get-go.  Maybe that’s why the dancing force is so strong in me.  Lately it seems like god has renewed my subscription with grief.  And I feel the impact of six seasons of beating the drum, improvising ways for us to vibrate together.  No matter if I’m out moving with you or dancing behind the desk …it has proved to be an anchor for me.  Blessed be my family, friends and my home.  The sky, the trees, the ground.  And there is no doubt that moving in the garden on Sunday and Clara on Wednesday also keeps me from floating off the face of planet earth.  In this era of great distress dancing is a saving grace.

Not to make light of our time on the mat together.  When I realized how far we journeyed in these six seasons I knew it was time for an introduction to the landscape.  Something I used to do periodically in person.  Live.  Remember?  But since on line is working for Friday morning Essentials, an introduction on line just makes sense.  This two hour practice is all you need to know to be in class on Friday mornings and/or avail yourself of the slowly developing Video Library.  The first class on feet just landed in the Hip, Knee, Foot section.

This video gives you a quick overview of what we will cover during two hours Saturday October 2 10:00-noon.  Can’t make that time slot?  Guess what?  Enroll anyway and receive the recording.

Alrighty then.  All the way from death and dancing to the pleasure of rolling.  All over the board today.  May the balance of light and dark in this seasonal moment inspire the balance we need as we cruise together toward the winter solstice in these rocky times.

Love through it all….❤️Bella


The picture up top?  For seven days, my reality.  And now I’m back.  There is smoke.  There is Covid.  There is drought.  There is Afghanistan.  There are hurricanes.  There is loss upon loss upon loss.  My first day back felt disastrous, overwhelming.  I wondered if the time away was worth the onslaught of return. And I wonder how we continue to move through each day with a modicum of grace.

This morning it feels possible once more.  For now.  It comforts me lately to reflect on a vision of some great power in charge of The Big Plan. Holding the infant that I was in 1950 and saying, “This one. This one I am preparing for 2020.”  Because lately it feels as if the ensuing decades, regularly dosed as they were with ample suffering, were perfectly crafted to deliver me to be with these times.

And also to be with you and hold space for you in these times. The clarity I am blessed with around this calling startles me in its spontaneous arising, its unbroken feeling of connectedness.  This deep well of resonant responsive reciprocity.  And so offerings that invite us to stay present continue to unfold.  It is what I know how to do.  And some days it is the only thing I am clear about.


I want to welcome you to this world if you have yet to dive in.  Twenty minutes on your mat to breathe, roll, tone and stretch can create huge change.  And ninety minutes weekly supports you in that personal practice.  You can do that on Friday mornings at 10:00 or you can dive into the evolving  Video Library.  Calendar Saturday October 2 10:00-noon for a slow moving  introduction to the basics.

I am also holding small, outdoor in person classes for the vaccinated. Frequent pivoting required—stay tuned! If that is of interest to you and/or you have an outdoor space that would support a small class, please drop me a line in reply.


For many of us, the medicine we receive from dancing is vital and potent.  Majica Alba and I continue to wind our way through the morass of how to safely and effectively offer.  If this territory is unfamiliar, you may take a peek here.

We dance every Sunday from 10:00-noon, on-line AND in person (vaccinated). This also has required frequent pivoting; stay tuned. Please reply if you wish to receive Saturday updates regarding the in person offering—weather sometimes calls the shots on this beautiful two acres.

For the month of September we return to Clara on Wednesday nights 6:30-8:30.  Ready for the crazy details? All east doors open, masked, vaccinated only, limited participation for optimal physical distancing.  This tells you how much we love our dance medicine!


It is so good to be with you again up in my studio.  And I will continue to see you on Zoom if you are not in this geography or for any reason unable to safely be seen in person.  Our time together is dedicated to those specific unique-to-you body challenges.  You know.  That achey back, troublesome shoulder, ever present hip, undependable knee, persistent foot, tense neck.  You get the drift.  If you are willing to spend twenty minutes on your mat most days, I’m your practitioner.  Our collaboration moves from assessment to hands on treatment to home self care instruction, supported by our video creation.

The Big Plan is relentless…and so is this unbroken feeling of connectedness.  Feeling you out there….❤️Bella