Early memory:  I’m at the gas station with mom as she fills up our car.  She grumbles about how this chore is such a waste of time.  This hurry up, no time to waste way of life was a strong undercurrent in my childhood. I learned from a couple of masters.  So much so that, until recently, making the most of every moment was an unexamined operating system.  As far back as I can remember my default reality had been busy.  Very busy.  Which the dictionary defines as having a great deal to do.  Which I did.   Making the free will adult choice to fill my time more than completely.   I accomplished much.  But only in the last few years have I awakened to the cost of all that preoccupation.

There’s a single-mindedness that goes with being busy.  Speaking for myself here, but maybe you can relate.  Busy narrows my focus.  Literally installs blinders.  When the need to accomplish is the driver, I miss the full round scope of the journey.  Busy sets me up to ignore or conveniently avoid the rich tapestry of everything else happening in my environment.  Inside me as well as around me.   Like beauty.  Like feelings.  Like awful.  Like need. Like curiosity.  Like love.

“Life is what happens to you while you’re making other plans.”
John Lennon

Speaking of gas tanks and cars…I’m really noticing this tendency on our roadways.  Our streets are a form of community.  We’re so vulnerably out there trusting those around us to take care, give each other space, be patient, slow down.  Our lives depend on not being in such a crazy hurry.  What is five minutes?

There’s a reason this busyness awareness is so recently poignant.  I have less to do.  Partly by choice, partly by where I’ve landed in the life cycle, partly by good fortune.  With each passing year I have less on my plate, less need to accomplish, less stuff to prove, more spaciousness.  Time does not feel like an entity that could ever possibly be wasted.  Sorry mom, filling my gas tank can be an incredible moment of illumination.  What a metaphor.

There is a research study, so simple in design, that demonstrates how busyness tends to shape us.  Seminary students were to give a sermon based on the biblical story of the Good Samaritan.  Half were notified that their schedule would be tight; they’d have to hurry across campus to deliver their talk on time.  The other half were informed they’d have ample time. One of the researchers positioned himself on their path, slumped as if unconscious.   You’ve probably guessed where this is going.  Still it is unsettling.  Only a precious few in the hurry up group stopped to help this person in obvious need.  The not busys? A much higher percentage offered their assistance.

For me, I physically sense the direct current between spaciousness and kindness.  I’m most in love with life when there is ample opportunity to acknowledge, interact, be with, witness, extend myself toward, take a sip of each person populating my day to day.  The librarian, the student, the cashier, the neighbor, the patient, the friend.  Each of my inner circle beloveds.  Attention can so easily be sacrificed in service to achievement.  Kindness is a noun, perhaps paying attention is how we make it manifest.  Maybe the most precious thing we have to give each other is attention.

See what happens today if you slow down in order to engage in one small act of attention…let me know.  I love your stories.


P.S.  This is rich…for three days end of this week I’m a little busy 🤪.  I’ll be the teacher-in-residence for dance majors at Fresno State.  My assignment?  Move these students beyond their choreography box and also, teach them to care for their active bodies.  If you’re a reader, if you’ve known me for years…good heavens, can you feel how excited this bit of busy makes me feel?  Sigh…so not done yet.

In the northern hemisphere, autumn waits in the wings.  I’m a big fan of markers that have been tracked by humans for millennia.  They connect to something enduring about the human experience. Throughout time, fascination with the sun’s trajectory has connected us. The elegant way our year seasonally divvies up is a communal observation. Right now, all our sensitive bones feel the progressive dim of morning, the glow slip-sliding away so quickly after dinner.

September 23, the fall equinox, marks the actual tipping point, perfect balance between light and dark.  When sunrise to sunset is exactly half-way from riding June long and high in the sky to December’s low and much abbreviated trek.  This is a time of transition from yang active, sun-filled summer days to the yin moon of winter hibernation.  I’m grateful for these three months of letting go.  I take instruction from the shedding trees.

Equinox, equanimity, equilibrium…a season that, by it’s very nature, demonstrates balance.  Something to feel seated right here, rocking right to feel the heaviness and then rocking left.  If you’re like most, the two sides feel a bit different.  Totally normal.  But we can all find the middle.  Equinox, equanimity, equilibrium…that place of balance.

Balance was the topic this week when I went to buy some new walking shoes.  Who else remembers when Sally Edwards opened the first Fleet Feet in that well-worn Victorian house on J Street in Sacramento in 1976?  I was an early customer, so happy that someone was interested in foot health.  Hoo boy, they’ve gone all high tech lately.  Not only do you need an appointment to buy shoes, you receive this whole techno-evaluation of your feet.

This graphic shows what I already know.  I bear more weight on my right foot.  See above about totally normal.  I did love that Shoe Guy was impressed with my low level of asymmetry.  Testament to yoga practice, I suppose.  But here’s the interesting part.  I told him I want shoes with the LEAST support.  He looked askance.  I want shoes that allow me to feel the ground under my foot.  He asked why.  I want shoes that invite my feet to be fluid and strong while offering the least protection possible from harsh pavement or detritus underfoot.

I looked around at walls covered with heavy duty footwear.  The first three pair he offered were like vise grips with two inch plastic soles. He saw my dismay as well as the old pair I had dutifully brought with me and went deep in the back to find this “trail runner”.  Yes!  Love my new shoes.

Shoe Guy is entering medical school this year.  He asked some good questions and most of what I said was antithetical to his Fleet Feet orientation.  The bulk on display is absolutely perfect for customers with foot pain.  People who need support to make it through their weight-bearing day.  But if we have healthy feet and we cloak them in massive support, our feet become weak and inflexible.  I do not like to see us going down this rabbit hole.  Take notice!

If we have foot pain, proper support is important.  And it is often possible to do a bit of self care to re-gain our birth right of fluid strong feet.  Slowly move to less and less shoe support.  Put foot pain behind us.  After all, there are barefoot Kenyans who run across the savannah for miles on normal balanced human feet.  I love feet.  If you love yours and any of this touches you I’m physical therapy right here.  I still get this inquiry: no, I’m not retired.  I see one or two patients a day and absolutely love my work.

Equinox, equanimity, equilibrium…a season that, by it’s very nature, demonstrates balance.  I’ve been repeating this mantra often the last couple weeks, aspiring to this level of equanimity:

Thank you for everything.
I have no complaints whatsoever.

And that is all for today….❤️Bella

This morning I set out on my morning walk and, for the first time since my fall 7 weeks ago, I chose the path leading me right to The Spot.  See ominous picture above.  I willed myself to purposefully breathe.  Slowly.  So I could feel.  The cramp in the pit of my belly.  The catch in my throat.  The ramp of my pulse.  The way those very sensations translated in my heart. Intense dread. Panic tinged with a whiff of shame. This is the visceral route trauma travels to store memory in tissue.  For each and every one of us.  In the direct face of the evoked memory, how natural it feels to stop breathing.  Or turn away.  Or speed up. In order not to feel.

So I stayed with, decelerated on purpose.  Because feeling happens when we slow down to the pace of the body, which is generally slower than the pace of the mind. Feeling happens when we allow the internal experience to bubble into awareness.  There is a virtual buffet of embodiment tools to ramp up our ability to tune inward, to foster this ability.  But immediately accessible in the moment to anyone willing to pay attention is the breath. We often breathe at the slap-dash pace of our minds. Or hardly at all. When we attune to our breath our bodies gratefully respond by slowing down. When we attend to our breath we touch the raw material of the internal landscape.

And we simply have to sense what’s going on in there, feel the “issues in the tissues” (thank you Ida Rolf), before we can hope to loosen their grip.  So I’m keeping a regular slow-down-and-breathe appointment with my holy sidewalk shrine.  Having a little shake out in response to what arises.   Wondering how long it will be before I might experience neutral presence with this simple crack in the concrete.  I’ll let you know!

Just yesterday I saw a new patient with a long history of body trauma, especially in the feet, knees and hips.  Together, we talked and moved and touched and breathed.   But it wasn’t until we journeyed into belly depths that some of the emotion connected with the cumulative physical trauma began to surface.  This is such sacred work.  It amazes me how few therapists are willing to plumb the belly depths.

Here’s a simple invitation if you feel ready.  Lay comfortably on your back, knees and hips bent.  Let your soft gentle hands explore all the spaces between the bottom of the rib cage and the top of the pubic bone.  Breathe slowly.  Feel.  Gently massage in circles.  Spirals.  Zig-zags.  Go to whatever depth feels nourishing.  Give thanks for the organs that keep life force moving through you 24/7.  Greet the psoas down at the bottom, spanning the length from rib cage to pelvis.  Two hefty loins snuggling up to your lumbar spine.  Psoas—our first responder under stress.  Psoas—major storage locker for trauma.  Psoas—ready for gentle exploration and release.  In all of us.  Truly.

Well, that’s my share for today.  Tonight, after our long summer break, we begin again: Wednesday Waves.  I’m showing up with some music and a simple prayer.  That we leave our worldly expertise at the door.  Assume nobody on that dance floor knows anything…especially me.  That we slow down to the pace of the body…and just see what arises.  What does it mean to begin again?

🙏🏼 Bella

The phrase “loose, long and strong” emerged toward the end of my clinic days, a catchy descriptor for teaching patients how to follow through with healing movement at home.  Twenty-five years down the road it still fits for what I’m up to.  In fact, the perfection of it totally guides rehab of my left arm.  Six weeks now and well on its way.

LOOSE needs to come first…always.  It’s a common and risky mistake to dive into strength too soon.  Over the first few days I gingerly stroked and gently probed the intricate hand and the two long bones of the forearm: fascia and muscles and joints.  I massaged the bony elbow and all that connected it to the shoulder. Each day the sensory experience signaled the safe depth at which to work. Deeper here, shallow here, back off and wait a bit here.  A miracle in motion, feeling release and witnessing change every day.

In about a week, after a LOOSE session, I slowly explore LONG. How much can I open and reach fingers?  How does it feel to move toward a fist?  What’s possible in this wrist so achy stiff?  I can turn palm down but up is another story.  Elbow bends some, squishy at end range.  But it will not straighten, feels blocked. Shoulder creaky every which way.  Active range of motion each joint with holds at the edgy end range.  But save me from just the mechanics!   Lots of flowing motion with both arms.  Dancing signals to the nervous system that it is okay to gradually move out of protective mode and into the joy of fluidity.

In the last couple weeks, naturally I move into STRONG.  After a LOOSE & LONG session, plank is my edge.  Excited to slowly weight bear with this tender arm.  I stand at the wall, encourage left hand to copy the brilliant instinct of right hand, make full contact, extend wrist and elbow mindfully.  It takes all my concentration.  Challenging!  On hands and knees I now can take 50% weight on left.  Elbow still not completely straight. In the STRONG department, most gratifying are my functional gains.  Life takes power!  Camping, cooking, laundry, garden, driving, holding a book, typing, opening the blinds—well, just about everything. This week I held a pan in left hand and turned it enough to empty contents onto a plate.  Almost.

A shout out to three other critical supports for this healing.  Yes…I am seeing a physical therapist and massage therapist.  They are fabulous! And of course, there is the breath.  None of this comes together without it.  So synchronous how resonant breath  awareness landed concurrent with my sidewalk sprawl. Exhaling to release and to focus power; inhaling to lengthen.  And finally, add to this, no pause in caring for my whole/holy body.  Circulation is crucial for healing.  Rollers, balls, stretch to release areas injured and those not.  Core toning that flows right from my center into left arm.  On the regular, rhythmic full body engagement—walking, dancing, hiking.

If you feel a bit geeky curious about LOOSE, LONG, STRONG, check out this new triplet video , a visual of all of the above.  This is how I work.  On my own injury, on yours.  No difference if it’s a shoulder, neck, low back, hip, knee, ankle.  First we find what’s tight and release it.  After that we move on to power and fluidity.

And if you think I’m not working because of this injury…hah!   I guess you don’t know me.  I’m fully in action. Having fun with my inventive work arounds and joyful with my daily gains.  Moments like this are an amazing boost in compassionate empathy—for me, for you, for us.  Embodied reminders of our shared humanity, our basic goodness.  There is so much suffering in the world.  And there is so much ease and pleasure available in the healing process.  I’m on a mission to provide just that: ease and pleasure in healing.

Let’s get together.

First, perhaps, an update.  Three weeks since the sidewalk sprawl and healing is some kinda miracle in motion. There’s still sharp pain moving certain ways, end of day ache. Using a splint on/off because I can feel how immobility makes it worse.  Gentle movement in all available pain free range as my skilled right hand treats the fascial binding ‘tween the two long forearm bones.  Learning so much first hand!  Elbow to fingertips is a non-weight bearing version of knee to toes.  In this past week healing has included creative single-handed camping AND total immersion in breath.    Breath…that’s what I really want to write about today.

Interesting factoid: we inhale and exhale 25,000 times daily.  Give or take.  Despite this constant practice, by the time we’re 50, most of us lose 12% of our lung capacity.  The news gets worse: decline hastens with age, women fare worse than men.  By 80 we take in 30% less air than we did in our 20’s.  This is why we see some elders breathing fast and hard.  Mega-evidence links this habitual change to a host of issues like high blood pressure, immune disorders and anxiety. This factoid came from James Nestor’s 2020 book  Breath: the new science of a lost art.  I’ve literally inhaled this book. More about this extraordinary pulmonaut later.

So what’s a body to do?  Well, the good news is we can absolutely change our breath habits. Bonus: it takes no extra time.  I am all about the movement of breath and how it informs a body in motion.  Integrating this new/old information is bound to define the next chapter of my life—teaching, treating, living.  Synthesis happens when we spiral back to old ways of understanding and weave in the new.  It’s how I fly.   Like in 2015, when my left hip met a book by Donna Farhi and I spiraled back into all things psoas.

I had already been down that psoas rabbit hole (more than once) but it was new to consider asymmetry in these tender loins.  Old ways of conceptualizing merged with the new.  I had to explore this first in my own body.  And then, through years of seeing feeling listening, your body.  Psoas took me on a pilgrimage with many side roads through the nervous system, stress, emotion, diaphragm…breath.

Eight focused years delivers integration, perhaps even some mastery.  And I certainly was not scanning the horizon for The Next Thing, just minding my own business.  But it came in book form again.  Just like in 2015.  The author of Breath, James Nestor is an intrepid investigator after my own heart.  He calls himself, and a few others on the planet, pulmonauts.  For a decade he travelled the globe personally immersed in a multitude of breath practices while he researched and synthesized current science with ancient wisdom.   Want to be fascinated with this thing you do 25,000 times a day? The book is a quick 230 page read.  You will be inspired.  I promise.

I’m writing this missive on my last day of a week of camping.  I had nothing to do but fall down this book rabbit hole and breathe.  The illuminating fusion of old/new information is filtering into my practice.  No doubt it will find its way into my work in the world.  It’s how I fly.

Sample health-changing tidbit:  your nose is super-important. Nostrils are the optimal entry way for breath.  Some of us mouth-breathe 24/7.  Some mouth-breathe with speaking or exertion.  Some mouth-breathe at night (think snoring and sleep apnea).  This habit completely wreaks havoc with our blood chemistry.  There are many interventions, but it starts with just noticing.  It may or may not apply to you.  If it does, proceed very slowly, gently making a shift to nose breathing when possible.

One more tidbit.  We breathe too much.  Also a blood chemistry havoc-wreaker.  Optimal breathing is 5.5 seconds in, 5.5 seconds out.  Resonant breathing is a great practice at any moment.  The ancients knew it.  Om mani padme hum is chanted precisely with this timing: twice for the inhale, twice for the exhale.  Start simply: same count for in and out.  Then gently start to lengthen the count.  Get your stopwatch out after awhile and see if you can nail it.  Personal testimony: I’m feeling some subtle and not so subtle changes, hard to put in words.  I’m gratefully sliding down this rabbit hole.

If you’ve been with me, you already know how movement of breath and how it informs a body in motion is integral to my teaching and physical therapy.  I just want you to know that this marriage of breath and movement is under expansion.  If you want to feel this in connection with your dance, I’ll be leading at South Yuba Club, Grass Valley this Sunday August 13, 10:00-noon. I’ll be a student with you at Release and Realign this Friday and next, guided by Jeanne Munoz.  My turn to teach is Friday August 25. Come feel something new in your yoga breath.  Wondering about 5Rhythms at Clara?  Wednesday Waves and Sweat Your Prayers are on our traditional August sabbatical.   We begin again September 6.

Rumi says “there is one way of breathing that is shameful and constricted…then, there’s another way: a breath of love that takes you all the way to infinity.”  I really think he was on to something.


One moment: upright human being out for early morning walk.  Next moment: pathetic creature sprawled on sidewalk.  Just like that.  One more lesson (as if needed) on how change happens lickety-split.  I lay there, a ball of woe, gathering my wits along with the self-esteem splattered on the concrete.  A week later, still bruised and tender sore in multiple places, I’m healing.  It’s what happens.  Over the top gratitude.  A navigable left wrist sprain…could have been otherwise.

I’m not traditionally religious, but I do believe in forces greater than just little me.  A super-power presides behind the scenes providing just what I need.  Often not what I want.  I’ve treated my share of wrist sprains but never had first hand (pun intended) wisdom opportunity like this.  I was gifted not only the physical experience but also two divinely pre-arranged schemes to escort me on to the path to healing.

First, three dance days to slow explore my altered body in motion and shake out the shock/trauma of the tumble.  Lucia Horan’s guidance was stellar.  She’ll be back for Heartbeat October 27-29.  Don’t miss it!  And then, on the heels of dance, three slated Harbin days directly following.  Dedicated quiet time for initial healing, moving in and with hot/cold water immersion, releasing with balls and rollers, the skill of my good right hand massaging affected areas on the left.  I’ll be back at Harbin for 5Rhythms and Roll & Release Sept 24 & 25.

Harbin always provides lots of precious down time with all the pursuant gifts.  As I sweet-talked my body, I found myself reflecting on the name Body Joy.  A name that arose in 2005, anticipating a shift in the way I would be working. In the letting go wake of Dreizler Physical Therapy, I felt the accumulated years of treating patients troubled with chronic, often severe, injuries.  Many of them stuck in endless cycles of suffering.  The name Body Joy erupted spontaneously.  An intuitive hit, a call to pivot.

Interestingly enough, in no time, I knew it was the wrong name.  Needless to say, fostering embodiment, even in radically different ways, opens the door for so much more to arise than joy.  The full spectrum of emotion is stored in our tissues.  Went through a long spell wishing I’d named it Body Wisdom or Medicine in Motion or anything other than pigeon-holed Body Joy.

Twenty years down the road maybe I’m coming back around to it again.  More and more I invoke cultivating pleasure as the most natural way in.  How to appreciate the rainbow of internal sensations that well up as we flirt with our suffering edges.  How to bathe this juicy awareness in breath.  How to trust and follow an awakened intuitive guidance.  Suffering can deliver a big dose of presence.  And this is great joy.

What gets in our way is a tendency to avoid all feelings of discomfort.  But pain (any kind, not just physical) is an amazing teacher to turn toward, open the box, futz around inside.  I’m only finding three things in the pain box of this wrist sprain:

  1. Physical sensation: sharp zing if I turn my palm up or grasp.  Dull ache throughout the hand.  Stiffness if it’s immobile even a short while.  I could go on!
  2. A veritable carnival of emotions felt in the body but also experienced in the mind.  Fear ‘til I found there was no fracture, anger about not being careful enough, frustration about the timing, shame around falling (again!), worry about how to function one-handed.  And compassion for all of us hurting out there.   Curiosity (an emotion? a thought?) about how it will evolve.
  3. And then there’s the story.  Belly tightens when I call to mind the futile forward falling steps on the way down.  The memory of the impact.  The stumbling walk home.  The story has a past.  And the story has a future.  How long will this take?  What if it doesn’t fully heal?  How is this going to integrate with all the other issues in my tissues?  Add to this pile the mind-boggling analysis of X-rays and my too keen knowledge of carpal bones delicately nested up with radius and ulna. My obsessive measuring of available supination each day.

Look at all the stuff in this box!  The mind loves the pain story.  And then we get caught in our feelings about the story.  Can I let the story go for a moment—the past and the future and what I feel about all that.   If I can be here now, I know that right now it’s O.K.  Maybe not perfect but I can be with it.  So much of the baggage of the past and the worry about the future weigh down the present moment.  Not only am I not this pain, this pain actually changes all the time.

Impermanence is a fact…so keep on moving through.   And watch your step.  If you want a partner, a witness, a coach in unpacking that box….I am so here.

Last Sweat Your Prayers in Sacramento until September 10 is this Sunday.  Community pot luck follows at noon.  Come visit for a spell.  All is quiet for the month of August at Clara.  But I’ll do the Sweat in Grass Valley on August 13.  I’m out there one-handed teaching Release and Realign today Friday July 28 10:00am at Sacramento Yoga Center.  Come be inspired.  We continue this healing offering Friday mornings without a break.

And though it may not be exactly what you want, imagining you receiving just what you need.

Love, Bella

She described every detail of her right foot pain.  The way in 2020 it commenced in conjunction with the lockdown.  Which she dealt with by taking extraordinarily long neighborhood strolls.  Her right heel, with no specific injury, began to be painful seemingly out of nowhere.  Soon it was unbearable even to walk around the house.  She did a course of physical therapy and then saw a podiatrist.  To no avail.  Finally, in desperation, she turned to the internet and found a doc who recommended regular calf stretching.  And that was the first thing that gave her relief.  Mostly.

Key word, that “mostly”.  A classic example of “the body keeps the score” and she knew it. So she found me by word of mouth, motivated by a completely realistic fear.  Unless she stayed really careful, the foot pain might full force return at any time.  Who wants to live really careful?  Do you perhaps have any history of back pain or maybe hip pain, I inquired.  Well, yes, she said, glancing upward as if her whole history was projected above.  I suppose I’ve had about thirty years of aches and pains there.  Stiffness and tenderness.  Soreness, actually mainly on the right side.

This is the way it flies, peeps.  When the issue in the tissue is central—think spine, hips, shoulders—and it lingers and marinates over time, it tends to travel outward.  Sometimes it hitches a ride on the nervous system.  Sciatica, carpal tunnel syndrome, tennis elbow, thoracic outlet ALWAYS partner with a central issue.  Other times our intelligent bodies harness the periphery for a compensatory strategy.  The interwoven fascia is a remarkable fabric perfect for this tactic.  And since we’re weight-bearing creatures, trouble in the spine and hips especially likes to manifest as knee, ankle and foot troubles.

After listening to her history, it was simple to identify what we call in the PT world an O/E, an objective exam finding.  Some move that duplicates the symptom.  The best ones are patient-generated as in “every time I do this, I feel it”.  She had a solid O/E for the foot. So after examining her low back and right hip and gathering a few central O/Es, it was time for hands on table work.

I already suspected exactly where there would be tightness in the right low back and hip.  Confirmed and so obviously not on the left.  After releasing this region, we re-checked the O/Es. Not only were the hip and back ones improved, the foot one was better as well.  Mind you, I took special care NOT to manually treat the foot…on purpose.  This result confirmed how important the central issues were.

From all this, we created and video-taped a 20 minute, most days, two week plan for releasing those tight central areas, leaving the foot alone.  We’ll see what happens.  Doesn’t mean we won’t treat the foot eventually. We just need to clear up those central issues first or her realistic fear of the pain returning will, in all likelihood, come to pass.

I chose to tell this particular story (with the patient’s permission) because it is so friggin’ common.  Often people come to me flummoxed about their particular symptoms.  We believe what we have is weirdly unique or rare or special.  I’m here to testify, at least with my self-selected population of the last twenty years, that is very far from the truth.  Every so often I see someone new and, upon completion, have to let them know their challenge is unusual.  We’ll give it a home program go for a couple weeks, but if NOTHING changes, we have not nailed a good working hypothesis.  Highly unusual to have this conversation…but it does happen.

Most of our suffering falls into predictable patterns.  If the nervous system has become entangled, it’s a bit trickier and slower to treat.  But there are dependable triage models for neural involvement.  If all this seems quite dry and scientific…well that’s because this piece of it is.  Thank goodness some things are fairly predictable!

But the physical in physical therapy is only one facet of the healing journey we take together.  Once we attune to the incredible sensation of release and how it unites with and is nourished by the breath.  Once we get curious about side-to-side differences in our body and become quiet enough for the internal brewing to surface.  Once we commit to a fairly regular, though sometimes humanly haphazard, home practice.  Well…anything is possible.

I have powerful personal stories of the way physical healing revealed the nature of festering soul wounds.  And how the body is often ready and willing to offer a portal for tending to spirit. I have my own rich experiences and have witnessed this time and again in others.  Grateful for this cellular intelligence.

I am never about fixing.  Because we really are quite perfect just the way we are.  I love that quote up top from Zen master Shunryu Suzuki Roshi.  We may be perfect but the fact is that we all suffer.  And it might be possible to suffer less.  This alleviation creates a profound effect and not only for ourselves. When we feel good it ripples out to our inner circle of loved ones.  And that sets a goodness wave in motion out into the world.  Our own healing is the first step…and only the beginning.


I considered several juicy options to mark the momentous wheel turn at birthday fifty.  Ultimately I chose what scared me most.  And began to own up to a lifetime of consistently fear-driven selection.  Adrenaline junkie?  Thrill seeker?  Crazy woman?  Well…maybe.  In light of my precarious childhood, you’d guess I’d be a big fan of safety.  But my soul, in its maturity, knows how incredibly instructive living on the brink is.

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

When I fell head over heels into 5Rhythms it scared the bejeezuz out of me.  Especially Gabrielle.  It was years before I could form a coherent sentence in her presence.  Over and again she dangled me on personal precipices.  And then always leant a firm hand to climb to safety re-defined.  Not isolated, secure, walled-off security.  Instead, a more expansive, inclusive, courageous territory.

And guess what?  Clearly I like it on the edge and I like taking others with me.  Case in point last Sunday, a special morning at Clara.  Not the first time I’ve held space to dance in memoriam.  In fact, I officially surrender to the fact that I have some earned skill in marking the passage of a life.  In dropping us all into a field of feeling. The very particulars of what we’ve lost concurrent with the inevitable and universal tenderness of our human suffering.

I was musing about how we go to funerals, look around and recognize that many in attendance will be present for our own demise.  What I wanted was to follow an impulse that arose from this reflection.  Create a circle and welcome the elders into the center to be witnessed as the next to go.  Talk about edgy.

Edgy is one of the qualities of staccato, my home rhythm.  Lines and angles and boundaries…and edges.   Edges that were necessary to keep me defended, edges that could be excruciatingly sharp, edges that could actually be menacing.  Edges that were uber-visible early on in my dance.  I trust the physicality of this practice and the hard-earned revelations it delivers.  And it’s been a long and winding road toward softening these edges.

Case in point continued.  I took that impulse and softened it.  Found a way for every one willing to take a turn being witnessed in their grief.  And in the end, invited into the center those who looked around the circle and realized how many might be present at their own passing.  Invited those that were feeling the bittersweet taste of their own impending mortality.  And those that wanted to be witnessed, entered the circle.  Softly edgy.

Later, another teacher was talking to me about the experience, the impact, the beauty. And I found myself saying to her, “I feel like in the time I have left my mission is to let people know they are going to die.”  Edgy.  I can touch that.  I’m not afraid of that.  Just feels like utter truth.  And such a golden pathway to freedom.  Which I’m all about.  In an edgy kinda way.

There is so much out there about trauma-informed practice.  I get how important safety is.  I really do.  But when we’re ready, too much shelter can keep us treading water.  I like it out where the possibility of sheer drop heightens my senses, keeps me awake.  A precipice inspires a dynamic curiosity.  I like it out there…and I love to take others with me.

Each month Spotlight, a monthly publication of 5Rhythms Global, introduces teachers to dancers around the world.  While in West Virginia I connected with Jenelle, a southern California teacher who creates this feature. She asked if I might contribute an essay for the July issue on the theme of gratitude.  Well, you know me…I love to write…so I said yes, of course.

Many people dancing in local communities don’t realize how deeply entrenched they are in a global practice. If you’re interested in this practice, the global website is great to explore. Sometimes when you travel, you can enjoy a local class.  Ironically, the Covid Zoom phenomena deepened my connection to this vast teaching community.  I have regular meetings—administrative, soul sharing, dancing—with other teachers from all over the planet. It is such brilliant support for holding it on the ground here in Sacramento.

This is the essay I submitted for July’s Spotlight:

At age fifty, the rhythms shook me into a mid-life earthquake.  From this vantage point, with a quarter century of perspective, I can appreciate the insidious, relentless, magical peel of layer after layer.  Layers that held me in check, hid and confused me. Layers that obscured my luminous essence.  Layers that kept me from fully offering myself to life. Personally, professionally, spiritually.  Every year more is revealed.  Dance as endless cleanse.

So many changes ensued, this among many: a shape-shift of the calling that has been my profession for more than fifty years now. Twenty-five years ago Dreizler Physical Therapy was a big deal clinic: thousands of patients, 16 employees.  Blah blah blah.  5Rhythms ousted me from that tight box.  Now I see two patients a day in a light-filled studio over my garage.  My connection to patients, hands on skills, my ability to witness and coach—this holy medicine work—- has so deepened, become more sacred than I could ever have imagined.

Not only did 5Rhythms spill into my work, work spilled all over my practice.  In so many ways.  But just this for today:  stay with this practice and inevitably face your wounds. Your body just does not lie.  I have infinite passion for treating dancers with physical injuries and catalyzing the insight that unravels as we journey together.

My specialty is myofascial release and deep core engagement (love me my psoas!).  The triangle fusion—physical therapy, 5Rhythms, yoga—has been my destiny revealed through the rhythms, my soul fully expressed.  Putting my post-Covid toe back in this water with Rhythm & Release, a two hour breathing and moving journey into the dual joys of healing self-care and expressive movement.  One small example of the myriad reverberations of this practice in my life and this world so in need of healing.  So very grateful.

Gratitude: the quality of being thankful; readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness.  Indeed, this has been the journey.  Thankful for the intersection of this practice with my life.  Appreciation manifesting in so many ways.  Always forefront in my heart: kindness in the way I return what has been gifted.

Let’s move together soon…how about tonight?

“I feel you feeling me.”         
Thomas Hubl

This simple quote nails it.  When I feel you the same instant I sense being felt by you…well, that is intimacy.  Which is a crucial building block for experiencing safe relationships.  The tricky part is that this reciprocal sensing is in constant flux, a moment by moment experience fed by fluctuating signals to and from our nervous systems. The raise of an eyebrow.  A quick glance to the left.  An arm covering the heart.  A step back.  Or forward.  Our bodies make adjustments and our nervous systems detect, interpret, respond.  It is an endless data streaming service that requires one key element to remain fully operational: presence.  Oh that.

Real time presence is demanding.  Presence asks us to separate our thoughts,  judgments, agenda and expectations from our ability to just be a witness. To simply rest in pure awareness.  Nothing better to do than be with you.  Open, welcoming, receptive.  In a field of presence, our nervous system is primed to guide us into attunement with another.   We might think of attunement as our ability to be absolutely present with our own inner world at the same time that we include another.

I remember feeling this utter conundrum—stay with yourself AND take a partner—identified that first year I inhabited the dance floor.  I’ve been practicing ever since.  I do not have it mastered.  But there have been strides.  And attunement took a leap this last week under the tutelage of Sylvie Minot  at a 5Rhythms teacher refresh in West Virginia.  The dance floor pictured above set the stage for development of a physical skill set.  Because intimacy is not something we can just read about and think our way toward.  An embodied practice is the only way I know to bridge the enormous gaps out there.  Gaps that feel ever-widening and sometimes almost insurmountable these days.

We can’t give up on this.  It’s utterly crucial.  We know what it’s like when we resonate with one another.  It’s a feeling in our bodies of tenderness, kindness, respect, safety, openness.  It can have the flavor of expansion, edginess, mystery, juiciness…fill in your own blank.  And we each sense it in different body parts, at different times and in different partnerships: in the soles of our feet, the pelvic floor, the belly, the solar plexus, the heart.

You know it when it happens.  It is as important for our health as food and water and exercise. And it has the opportunity to ignite when, in the presence of another, we open and become receptive to what is happening right as it is happening.  So come out and attune with me this week on Tuesday and Friday and Sunday.  And pay special attention to these two deeper embodied attunements in July:

Rhythm & Release  w/Bella  July 5
A moving dialogue between myofascial roller release and dance.  Our channel to heart, mind, soul, spirit is through the body.  You’re sitting in the only one we have. This is expert support for 5Rhythms practice which at times leads to physical problems and at times exacerbates existing challenges. This is also total support for a yoga practice that wants to take a leap off the mat.  Come feel.

Connections  w/ Lucia Horan  July 21-23
I have been studying with and assisting Lucia at Esalen for several years.  Her ability to catalyze a room into 5Rhythms practice is unparalleled.  So.  Much.  Integrity.  She articulates the experience in a way that never fails to completely move me.  Totally about attunement:  “we follow a path that can lead us out of isolation and into connection… learn to create the conditions for healthy connections between self, partner and community.”  Read the full description.  Enroll.  Do not miss this opportunity to spend a full weekend in the presence of a total master.

And in the meantime please know that I feel you feeling me.  And it feels good.