Karma: a Hindu notion, a slant on fate, a notion that our destiny is not random but is rather the effect arising from cause.  In other words: what we do today has bearing on tomorrow.  Karma is the sum of our actions in this life and maybe even in previous states of existence. This rings with truth as I waltz with memory.  Each recollection jigsaws its way into my puzzle.  Each event had a time and a reason and a perfection.  Cause and effect.

That’s the west view in my studio pictured above.  This wall has become an ever evolving altar, a random call to visual expression during Covid.  Some days it feels like a karmic exploration of all that has moved through me to create what is now and what will be.

From different streams, folks in need make a landing in this physical therapy studio. Most float in through word of mouth.  But in this brave new world, more and more internet searchers seek me out.  The healing work I do is kinda niche and the web site communicates with an accuracy that helps us find each other. Most cyber-searchers are really good matches.  They know what they want, they’re in quest of something unconventional, physical therapy with depth, treatment that reaches beyond the bounds of the physical, cutting edge—not cookie cutter.

That first time phone connect always includes the deal breaker/maker question:  “Do you have the time and willingness to come to your mat for twenty minutes most days for two weeks after our initial session?” Because two weeks of attuned follow through is so informative.  It tells us if we’re moving on the right healing track.  When there’s an excited “yes, please”, well, then I know we are good to go.

Quite frequently they reveal they have already tried EVERYTHING or that I’m the last resort or they’re discouraged but willing to try again.  I’m not sure how I became that practitioner but the story stretches way back.  Dreizler Physical Therapy was absolutely known in this community as the top place for treatment challenges that were chronic and complex. And bits and pieces of my work before that had a similar touch. There is no doubt about this being my karma.

I have a long-honed ability to listen to complicated histories. Fine-tuned ears, an open heart, eyes that miss nothing.  And then I just clearly know/intuit where and how to embark.  And what the outcome possibilities are.  And how to move softly and gently, just the right amount.  And how to support and educate and encourage all in one breath. It is my karma.

And so is teaching classes rooted in this experience.  A group session is a nest for my patients to land for support.  It’s creative space for people to slowly explore and heal on their own.  It’s a welcome mat for folks to meet me, those who may need some individual help.  Yesterday I taught the very last on-line Roll, Release, Align class.  This was a Covid-motivated two and a half year undertaking.  It was an anchor for me and a dedicated posse.  I listened and learned and loved so much.  I will miss it.  A lot.

But it’s time to go LIVE.  Tend Your Aging Body  allows us to put our feet in these new community waters and take a reading.  See above about soft and gentle and just the right amount and support and educate and encourage.  Each 90 minute session is a luxury dive into your interior breathing pulsing vital space.  New and old ways to release what’s stiff or rigid; tone up what’s exhausted weak; stretch out, lengthen what’s tense tight; feel into effortless alignment.

Clara Auditorium is spacious, the music encourages us to let go; masks are totally O.K. Questions I’ve been answering:

  • Do I have to attend all four?  No, drop into any one that works for you.
  • Are sessions recorded? Yes, receive video by email and keep practice link forever.  Pre-enroll for four, miss a class…receive video link.
  • Do I bring my own props?  Bring your mat and 3 foot foam roller if you have one.  Roller not required.  Sometimes we are practicing with the wrong density.  Yikes, so important!  All densities there for trial.  Soft balls and tennis balls provided.
  • Can I purchase equipment on site?  Yes, after class purchase anything you fall in love with.
  • Will sessions be available in Video Library?  Yes, when the series is complete.
  • How do I know if my body can do this? Call me (916) 267-5478 and let’s figure that out together.

Maybe you also know what you want, you’re questing for something unconventional, new ways to deepen into your body, tap in and reach beyond the bounds of the physical, embark on something cutting edge—not cookie cutter.

I’m excited to be out there again.  With  you.  Let’s go for it.  We step into that healing space exactly one week from today.  It’s my karma.

Love, Bella

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

❤️Bella

 

 

Sitting here in the cool of this morning, knowing full well the temperature is set to go sky high again today.  Like everything else, the weather is just not what it was. Sounds like a refrain from a country song: “things just ain’t what they was”.  Change, continuous on so many planes, keeps us firmly entrenched in long term Zen training.  Some days it’s a big stretch to view all the chaos through a spiritual filter of surrendered presence.  It’s a big ask when it’s 115 degrees, fires burn the forest, division is the entrenched cultural norm, war & poverty are not even front page news, breathing air is unhealthy and Covid just keeps slinking around our edges.  Can we love life in whatever way it is being served up?

I keep answering yes.  Eventually.  Some days harder than others.  But the same priorities keep my yes alive.  Sowing seeds and harvesting fruits of connection to loved ones.  Coming to my mat to breathe and feel and tend. Partnering with astounding patients healing up in the studio.  Preparing nourishing food in a kitchen I love.  Dancing in this community. Watering my plants.  Breaking away for the devotion of living close to ocean and mountains.  And teaching.  How impactful holding space that supports us in movement has become.  And even though “things just ain’t what they was” all this still supports my love of life.

Teaching and practicing live is calling me.  Big time.  We are all gaining skill in personal health risk assessment.  Can you feel that?  I reached a tipping point when my physical health needs had to come in better balance with my emotional/mental health requirements. Who knows what the future holds but right now teaching, practicing and treating patients live is bringing me that balance.  The Clara venue is very spacious.  If you’re in the Sacramento region, we dance there Wednesday night and Sunday morning.  And I will be there four Saturday mornings in October for Tend Your Aging Body.  Feeling it out.  Possibilities for a weekday drop in class are beginning to brew.  If you’re feeling it, let’s be live together.

We’re aging.  Really.  And over the decades, guess what, our needs change.  There is tender self-care your body craves. This offering is so NOT boot camp! Pleasure mat skills with rollers & balls that free up tight fascia.  Core vitality accessed through breath-psoas intimacy.  Length for the tightest muscles.  Tend Your Aging Body is perfect if you want the motivation and confidence to come to your home mat to breathe and feel and tend.  It’s not complicated.  Even 15 minutes can make a world of difference.

If you’re a beginner to this way of being with your body? You’ll absorb the essentials. Experienced? Come to deepen your practice, feel the space.  Together we’ll be creating the support for a fluid body, powerful in motion.  Come breathe, come feel, come change.  Really.  Well maybe a picture is worth a thousand words:

I suppose if things just ain’t what they was, we have a chance to create whatever is next, whatever will someday be the new was, something that may even be better than the old was.

Yours in the Big Whatever….❤️Bella

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

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

Hush

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

❤️Bella

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Yours in quiet reflection.
❤️Bella

I love historical novels.  Just finished The Dictionary of Lost Words by Pip Williams chronicling the decades long effort that created The Oxford English Dictionary.  In addition to the mix of fact and fantasy, it was a language exploration, how words are derivative of experience but also shape our experience.  Dictionary definitions—spring boards into a huge language pool.  I often use them in writing to illuminate how our interpretation of each word is shaped by our unique experience of a constantly evolving reality.  It’s a miracle we can communicate this way at all!

So take the definition plunge with me.  Today I’m curious about how our needs for self-care change over the decades.  Consider the word care:

1) provision for the health, welfare, maintenance, protection
of someone or something
2) to have feelings like concern, responsibility or love
for someone or something

Many of us are quite skilled at bestowing care for others. Pointing the finger right at myself.  But what happens when we personalize this meaning:

Concern for and taking loving responsibility for my
health, welfare, maintenance and protection needs.

There are so many ways self-caring might manifest.  In the best of all possible worlds, we minister to the needs of our vulnerable hearts, tangled minds and wild spirits.  But you know where I’m headed: caring for our tender bodies is foundational and naturally opens the portal to all these other realms.

Some examples of how NOT to care for a tender body:

  • some habitual drill we latched onto when that first owie desperately needed attention years ago
  • some routine drilled in ad nauseum by a personal trainer in the last century
  • a latest and greatest internet guru series
  • a pre-fab list your medical provider handed you as you walked out the door
  • fill in your own version

Here’s what I know from direct experience, with my own body and a virtual multitude of bodies: our needs are super-personal and our needs change.  This is just plain common sense.  Each new body trauma reshapes us and begs for re-calibration of care.  As does the passage of time.  I so very often work with folks on the brink of a decade change intuitively sensing this.  They come in with an almost instinctual need for a shake up in self-care.  What we need in our thirties is very different than what we need in our sixties.

So after Labor Day when you’re ready to rededicate, recalibrate, restore, renew…and receive, come for expert guidance. I’m returning to Ritual (the old It’s All Yoga) on 6 Saturday afternoons for live-in-the-flesh classes that help you suss out what you need. Limited to 12 participants for optimal spacing and personal attention  Six exploratory chapters: tender, gentle, pleasure-filled.  Each session filmed for supported home practice.  Tending Your Aging Body: stay tuned, enrollment link active soon.

It’s all about the shoulder lately in Roll, Release, Align.  You can be there on line this Friday morning to feel, breathe, move, change. What the heck is a latissimus dorsi?  Did you know this power house muscle connects your pelvic bowl to your arm?  Look at this big boy…amazing:

And this Sunday morning is literally the last dance…until after Labor Day.  Majica and I share the mixing, back and forth to offer up two waves on the fly in the garden.  After we move together, let’s eat together.  Come out of your cave…bring a potluck offering…feel the joy of connection, the support of community.  It’s a good thing.

Grateful for all our tomorrows and the human way we are able to rededicate and renew….❤️Bella

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

With all due respect….❤️Bella

Now I’ve been all about letting go lately…more about that later.  So it was fitting for my teaching to focus on our organs of elimination: kidneys and bladder.  In case you don’t know, we systematically roam all around the body in Roll, Release, Align.  Fascination on a different anatomical region week by week.  Shoulder’s up next.  There’s a lot of talk talk talk about embodiment.  This weekly approach brings it home at the most fundamental level.

Anyway, did you know your bladder is so incredibly expert at letting go that it can completely rule your day to day world? Here’s just one indication you are an unwitting slave to your bladder: is your habit to enter unknown territory and quickly locate the nearest bathroom?  If I’ve captured your attention, listen up, I’ll share two simple urinary norms.

  • First norm:  if your fluid intake is optimal—# of ounces equal to ½ your body weight—you will need to pee 5-8 times in 24 hours.  It actually takes 3-4 hours for bladder to fill, but this tricky beast signals fullness at quarter tank.   Hmmm.
  • Second norm, so easy to check: it takes 15-30 seconds for a full bladder to empty.  A 10 second dribble is a slavery indication.

Pretty easy to ascertain if you fall in the range of normal.  If not and you’d like to reclaim some freedom, I have physical therapy skills to assist you with that.  It can be a life-changer.

These bodies.  Oh my.  They can be such metaphors.  Wouldn’t you know this bladder fascination arose concurrent with a personal episode of letting go.  I hear you.  Many of you have experienced the incredible post-death duty of emptying a home.  My mother-in-law lived in the same home for 56 years.  Family has been sorting through a very long lifetime of memories.  Random correspondence, check registers, cards, house repair bills, community service awards…all boxed willy-nilly.  Collectibles of butterflies and peacocks and southwest art.  Ancient magazine stacks and leather dusty books.  I’ll stop with the details. All six kids and families pitched in to complete this heart-wrenching work.  Hubby and I did three intense days deciding what to dump, what to give away, what to keep.  Over and over and over.  The house stands empty and ready to sell.

But that was not the end of this letting go saga.  I came home, looked askance at my own home of forty years and could not imagine my children facing this daunting task. We have already taken three big loads to dumpster/Goodwill.  There is more to go.  The sense of release, of lightness, of freedom…it runs satisfyingly deep.  I don’t have any intention of leaving the planet soon, but when I go, I want it to feel like I’m just slipping out.  Unfettered.  Free.   Airy.  Spacious.  Empty.  I still long for more but I want it in the shape of experience, love, learning, connection, wisdom.  Not stuff.

Back to LA for the memorial service and then off to Esalen to assist Lucia Horan with Resource and Renew (full up).  This is a fact: every day your body automatically releases everything it does not need.  Feel in…what are you letting go of?  Why?  When you actually let go, what is the sensation, the emotion, the meaning on the other side of that release?

We don’t have to do it alone. Always so nourishing when we let go together….❤️Bella

The word feminist was an ear chime in 1968, a sound that every cell in my body registered.  I was standing in history’s crossfire. Transported from a childhood home steeped in traditions forged by an unyielding father figure and literally dropped right into the hurricane eye of uber-radical UCLA. Talk about frying pan to fire.  The notion that equality—political, economic, social—could be a reality was an alluring fantasy for someone with two considered career choices (once ballerina was out of the picture): nursing or teaching.

Despite this liberating environment, this incredible awakening from deep slumber, all those youthful years of conditioning wielded an entrenched authority that kept me on track.  Although I did manage a slight left turn from nursing to physical therapy.  By 1973 I was a brand new hireling in the halls of health care delivery right when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled to protect a woman’s liberty to choose her reproductive fate.   It was a timely ruling, a logical outcome of feminist sensibility.  Why would anyone believe that the US government could hold sway over my body?  In what cockamanie world does that make sense?

In that same moment, Watergate was blasting over the airways and  religious fundamentalism was weaving church and state in totally disturbing ways. Official policy seemed to be steadily moving to the dark side.  And this, my friends, as it turns out, was only the beginning.  At the same time all this was coming down, I was an eager novice in varied clinical settings, growing a foundation in healing skills to serve patients.  In clinics similar to mine, in other quiet rooms dedicated to the relief of suffering, bombs were exploding.  This siege has never abated.

And now this. Fifty years down the road, Roe vs. Wade overturned. It is inconceivable.  Even an imagination as active as mine cannot conjure what it means to be 14 years old, poor, newly pregnant and living in the foreign territory of Texas.  All the rhetoric I can hurl from this white tower of privilege doesn’t touch the outcome for this wrong place, wrong time needy human being.  I want to be outraged.  I really do.  I know it’s in there.  But right now all I feel is utter exhaustion.  Clawed into place gains….lost.  We are pedaling backwards toward an abyss that is frightening.  The only hope I can summon is that just maybe this is the final gasp of a way past the expiration date dysfunctional patriarchy.

I don’t have anything else to say here except that it’s your body.  Every human being deserves the right to choose what to take into their own body—physically, emotionally, mentally.  Each of us needs support in finding our own unique way to process and assimilate those choices.  And every body is entitled to let go, to release that which does not serve.

Please vote.  And if you can afford to give, National Network of Abortion Funds is a good recipient.  And the only thing I know for sure to do right now is to keep moving.  That, too, is a choice.  Let’s do that together.

🙏🏼Bella

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

❤️Bella