dy dead46

The Mohawk people, in their indigenous wisdom, practiced condolence ritual, “where they tend to the bereaved with an elegant series of gestures, wiping tears from the eyes with the soft skin of a fawn.” This poignant image and so much more from an interview with Francis Weller, author of The Wild Edge of Sorrow: Rituals of Renewal and the Sacred Work of Grief. He told of the Southwest Pueblo tribe with their “crying songs to help move grief along.”

For sure I’m no expert here, just life slapping me upside the head on a regular basis, confirming that denial and avoidance and distraction is a one way ticket to flat line living. When we don’t feel grief and fear and despair, we don’t feel joy and love and compassion. Key phrase: we don’t feel. The losses suffered in my early tender years were dealt with in the American Way. My family didn’t know any better. They too had been cut off from traditions handed down through generations from time immemorial. As a young child I mastered the twin skills of bucking up and moving on.

Now you might be thinking, Debbie Downer is at it again. If so, you’re a good fit with the current feel good at all cost culture where being cheerful, staying optimistic and avoiding the dark is rampant. In the face of loss, this culture prefers us to go it alone and then expects us to get over it, get on with it, get back to normal. But in the long history of the world, this is way off base and Prozac for the multitudes is like something out of Brave New Worlds. No thank you.

We’ve all lost. We lose what and who we love, we lose our health, we lose our way. It’s part of the planet package. When it comes to losing people, societies have a wide variety of communal rituals for moving through, some more, some less effective. “If we have both an adequate level of companionship in our sorrow and periods of solitude that aren’t about distraction or avoidance, then grief will transform itself into tender melancholy…the ability to be present with the bittersweet reality of life, which always includes loss.” So we can avoid it OR we might use grief as beautiful and powerful transformative experience.

And that brings us to tribe. I did a lot of personal work reconciling the losses of the first fifty years. Good work, no regrets. Yet it wasn’t until I started moving this grief in an embodied way in community that I first began to savor the taste of “tender melancholy…bittersweet reality…joyful sorrow.” There is head-in-the-sand denial and we can exist there for a long time.   Then there is intellectual understanding and we might believe that we have finally dealt with it. But beyond denial, beyond mental gymnastics, there is the healing salve of embodied awareness in the cradle of community. And I’m pretty sure there is no substitute.

Sometimes I wonder what we are doing out there on the mat, on the dance floor. I doubt the value, I lose my way, I fumble. And then I remember: embodied awareness in the cradle of community. Come bathe in this medicinal balm. Many cultures have an annual day of remembrance in the Fall, a communal appointment to let go just like the leaves, a time to let the grieving process continue. November 1 is All Soul’s Day, the Christian version. Latinos call it Dia de Los Muertos, or Day of the Dead. In Thursday Waves we’ll utilize the bones of 5Rhythms to explore ritual and release. Sunday Sweat Your Prayers will feature an altar to place images of those who have passed, to feel them with us, to remember, to practice embodied awareness in the cradle of community.

We are so very fortunate to have this type of tenderly evolving container. It is sorely needed in these hurry up times. Thank you for being there with me….bella


Adam Barley

Just off the phone with a local yoga teacher calling for an appointment for her ailing body. She talked about what it was like to stand in front of her class last night and name it. What it was like to watch the class do what she could not. What it was like to have a hard time accepting the sympathy extended after class. What it was like to be real. My body is no different than hers. My body is no different than yours. Lately I have been quite challenged. Hard times, whether they are mental or emotional or physical, come and go in life like that. No one is exempt. And through it all, the easy, the difficult, the neutral we are called upon to simply be real. Of course this is the topic of the upcoming workshop: Being Real with Adam Barley November 6-8. I asked Adam to speak in my place today and so these words are from London….bella

P.S. Since he’ll be here, I asked him to teach Thursday Night Waves November 5. So whether you are joining us or not for the workshop….do drop in.

Back in 1991 just before I really got into the 5Rhythms, a psychic told me he could see “America” written above my head in neon lights. I’d never been drawn to travel to the States so I was quite taken aback, but within a year I was dancing in California with Gabrielle, and I’d fallen in love with the place as well as the dance. I am delighted to be coming over the water again in November, and to dive into the roots of this incredible practice with all of you.

Here’s a recent blog post I wrote titled The Tyranny of Authenticity

I often have people asking me, clearly troubled, about how they can be more authentic in their movement. They’re seeking total authenticity in their movement as a goal.

I empathize. Been there.

What I’ve found is that seeking authenticity like this as a goal quickly becomes a monstrous inner tyrant.

Fuck it! Dance! What if it didn’t matter?

What if in fact, you cannot ever be anything other than authentic in your movement? Your body is the one part of you that is reliably 100% present and 100% real. It never goes anywhere other than here /now, and it is incapable of being inauthentic. All that stuff about being honest etc is to do with your feelings and thoughts. But the body itself – it’s always right there being itself. It’s not even a question. So if you find yourself straining to be authentic, or head-tripping about that, you could just shift your attention to the body and let it lead the way. Let the body come first. If you let go of all those ideas about who you are in this moment and how you can embody that, and simply trust your body with all of that, you don’t need to think about it.

Or another way around: if you’re divided from yourself, fighting yourself, etc, that’s what’s going to show up in your dance. How about being interested in that state of division rather than striving for some idea of how you should be? When did you last investigate in-authenticity with genuine curiosity and artistry? Fascinating……

“The body doesn’t lie” Gabrielle Roth

Being real is a no-brainer of course when we’re moving. It just happens. There’s nowhere else to go. Move, breathe, and be present with what arises. That’s enough.

See you there?


Sixteen hours of airline travel, coming home, excited? Yes…and surprised at this feel of reluctance, the tug of Paris still strong, time carved from the norm, daily adventure, wandering with abandon. Wondering about “the norm”, the possibility of not falling back into it, the magnetic pull of habit, the comfort of the familiar. How to maintain freshness, awaken each morning wondering what might happen, do something different. 

Break free, drop the same old same old, move out of the box.

So at the heart of a 5Rhythms practice. Travel inherently holds this practice possibility. Take the rhythm of flow: how many ways can we let things in? Travel just invites weirdness: long luxurious bath looking down Tuscany hill slope, circling and turning 360 degree on high ground, feet meandering narrow shadowy passages, brutally affected by immigrant beggar in Metro, letting Monet in through thin skin, harp on the steps of Sacre Couer piercing heart..flowing with whatever comes. Or watching overwhelm turn to stubborn inertia, taking a deep breath, waiting for it to pass.

So much opportunity to do something different lifted from the guiding realm of staccato. Following directions, maps, GPS. Tracking the sun and orienting to the compass. Turning left, turning right. Watching rigidity develop around all that, exhaling, dropping it. Feeling guarded, internal, shy…new people everywhere, odd customs, strange language…letting ourselves out anyway. Making connections wherever possible: waiters and clerks, park benches and bus seats, hotel staff and guides. Watching the heart close. Opening. Getting uber-tense. Shifting to a softened clarity.

Many moments of chaos. How about the time we completely lost our way hiking and ran out of water as well? Breathing fully, gathering and assessing, trusting intuition…in the psychic empty space, someone appears who knows the way. Or that time, unbenownst, failed to properly validate train ticket. Mean spirited conductor, $120 Euro fine on the spot. No confusion, just a quick and total knowing to let go, shake it off, move on. Another moment: on the Metro, deep in the earth bowels, train stops, lights off, pitch black, interminable. What else to do? Keep releasing, shifting weight, surrendering. Apparently a cat on the track. Every bone tells us to get off at the next stop and do something different. We listen.

All this awareness and attention just sets the stage for utterly long stretches of lyrical existence, following our feet and hearts, knowing when to pause, when to go, treasuring the smallest of things: a cobblestone crack for yellow flower so alive, grapes pregnant with promise, children on skateboards speaking perfect Italian, arugula so fresh it makes your whole mouth pucker, heart melted by hot tears, sharing such a timeless experience with someone to whom a glance is the only necessary language. Feeling spacey, coming back.

Long stretches of complete stillness: a bench in Luxembourg Garden, a cafe chair in filtered sunshine Montalcino, a let’s not get up yet in more places than one. A day after day lesson witnessing the unified field: going to work, dropping the kids at school, caring for infants, giving up a seat for the infirm, shopping, enjoying food and drink, worshipping and celebrating in community, burying and honoring the dead, building up, tearing down, inevitable warring, the struggle for peace…we are the same everywhere.

And now it is time to come home and do all that in my own community again. Return to a formal practice that opens the door to freshness, invites us to actually follow our own feet, the deep belly, vulnerable-ize our heart, clear our mind for the juicy stuff. Pave the way for full expression of this once-only soul. Hollow us out for spirit to move on through. Tall order. Come practice. 

Missing you. Ready. Maybe. 

love, bella

dad and me

Buddhist teachers, existential philosophers and hard knocks college all hammer away on the same topic: old age, ill health and death are coming to us all. If we are lucky. If you’re like me you might hit the delete button right now; I wouldn’t blame you. I like the sand. Especially when my head is in it.

But the last five days with my almost 90 y/o mother-in-law and almost 91 y/o father have me looking around wide-eyed alive. Despite way too much airport time. Last night when my sweet hubby and I were finally on our own, I followed my urge for a glass of wine (not entirely surprising) and then lapsed into an hour of mindless TV (totally out of character). This behavior put me squarely in the 50% enlightened realm, according to Pema Chodron. I know I’ve been quoting Pema lots lately. In the last 15 years she’s been my main teacher other than Gabrielle. If you haven’t taken advantage of her incredibly accessible Buddhist sensibility…maybe now’s your moment.

Paraphrasing here…well, you can wake up in a New York minute. Say your doctor tells you death is coming with the next cigarette, so you quit smoking immediately. Cold turkey. Instant enlightenment 100%. No looking back, no slippage, no second guessing. But the 50% place, the status for many of us for so long, lifetimes perhaps, is to know what we are up to and make less than optimal choices. Time and again.

I could have sat in that sterile Hyatt room and stayed with the rich array of all that was arising: newly soft and exquisitely tender father love; acute despair about the downward turn in his ability to communicate; belly fear that I might never see him again. The 50% place is not for the faint of heart. I indulged in that wine with 100% awareness of the way it erected a wall of safety between me and the utter complexity of all my feelings…this too is a very uncomfortable place in its own right. Especially since I was not willing to drink an amount that would take me completely away from it all.

That’s more the choice for the 5% folks. Awake enough to have an inkling that there are better choices, but taking every available measure to actively avoid them. If you have read this far you probably remember those days. Or maybe it’s your current main hangout zone. Noticing those vague stirrings and whispered misgivings, and then quickly turning the other way. This can go on a long time as well. Lifetimes. Less painful than 50% territory in many ways.

Here’s the good Buddhist news. All three places—100, 50, 5%—are rich and entirely workable arenas. Every place on the continuum is a launch pad for wakefulness. So before the flight whisked me home, I called my dad and basked in mutual delight for the awesome memories we had just created: side-by-side hand holding in pool inner tubes, Texas BBQ on butcher paper, hours watching all the activity at the bird feeder. I let his voice stir up my just below the surface joy, trigger those right there tears. All at once. And here on the plane (being a very marginal flier), welcoming moments of turbulence, entry zones for generic flat out scared. No walls of safety this morning. Recognizing a bit more about my particular strategies for being with intensity. Maybe a need for a bit of a break before I’m ready to let it all in. Remembering that I used to not let it in at all. Grateful to be on the path and feeling so very much.


There was something about teaching every Thursday night that kept me grounded, providing an anchor in a strange and variable schedule. Unhooked for more than a month now, I find myself never quite sure what day of the week it is or whether it is the weekend or not. Factor in travelling east and west on 80 for the past week and it adds up to a bit of very welcome befuddlement. Just returned from San Francisco and looked at the next few days: patients to treat and teaching to do: Rock & Roll Tuesday morning (wow, loving this…) and my last time to hold the Sweat this season at Coloma on Sunday.

So what, pray tell, is happening on Thursday night this fall and why is there a flier called Breaking Waves? Well, the name came when Juliette and I sat down at Old Soul one morning to dream up something new, something to crack open the way things had been and pave the way for emergence. So this is breaking news about Breaking Waves. Which will be at the same time and in the same place and will offer up the same great music variety. But that’s about all we can say will be the same. Because when two people are co-anchoring the wheel, things have a way of becoming less predictable. Not that I was ever a big fan of predictable. But after ten years I certainly had some inevitable ways.

You know you can drop in any night to this Thursday class. But we are big time inviting you to pre-enroll and here’s why:

  • SHOW UP: Commitment is love in action. Commit to a weekly date with yourself and your practice. You are worth it. Commit and contribute to sustaining this precious community, built from scratch by awesome people like you.
  • SAVE: Geez, do the math. Pre-enroll by Aug 3 for $13.90 a class.   Pre-enroll by Sept 10 for $15 a class. Can you still drop in? Yes, $20 a class.   Four partial scholarships available: email bella@bodyjoy.net.
  • GUEST TEACHERS: Pre-enrollment of 35 or more? We invite guest teachers.
  • DO IT: on line City of Sacramento.org-dance (code 14404) OR  pre-enroll at the door September 10.

Thursday Night Fall Waves is all about 5Rhythms and runs September 10 through Dec 17. Gabrielle Roth says, “free your body, express your heart, empty your mind, awaken your soul, embody your spirit.” Who doesn’t want this juicy movement medicine for connection: within, with others, with community.   Come hone and refine your skill in full-fledged authenticity and fly-by-the-seat-of-pants freedom. This is a possible outcome when you learn to meditate in motion. Are you edge-y enough to commit to that prospect?

Do it….love, bella








The Guru Room is where the teacher sleeps at Harbin. This makes me gag. Don’t get me wrong…there are gurus that sleep there, I’m sure of it. It’s just, I’m not one. Me? A down-in-the-trenches with you teacher, just another bozo on the bus facilitator (thank you Kathy Altman via Firesign Theater). Just as confused and curious and shut down and broken open and trying to put two and two together as you. Honored to be entrusted to hold space so we can do all this messy stuff together.

This was an incredible workshop weekend and if you think for one moment that Jenny and Juliette and I were the ones who had it all together…know that we were in that 57 person stew right with you. Doing a practice and teaching it are separated by an extremely thin line. Making mistakes right and left, dragged by the hair into learning and growing and changing because everything that happens turns into a platform for just that. Take Saturday. It put me right on my own edge.

After body diving Friday, Saturday was about cultivating heart space. If you’ve been a reader for a while, you know this personal I-don’t-do-that theme. Totally in my comfort zone teaching the body stuff. And, though I am full of emotions, leading investigation around feelings…just not my strong suit. The day began with this lazy drifting through that potent twilight zone twixt sleep and wake…clink, clack, clunk—the roller and ball work for Saturday just landed in me. Walking my own edge, I offered a practice pairing emotions with release zones. Twenty-five years of working just landed into some new unexplored, never quite articulated map. This often happens when we are willing to be down-in-the-trenches and surrender to not knowing what’s next. Not a Guru strong suit.

After two hours exploring this map, I was a student in Jenny’s field, struggling to name what I was feeling in any given moment. Later (in the Guru Room) I unraveled with my two co-conspirators. Angry, frustrated…is there a general assumption that everyone can communicate this information on demand? I am continuing to unfold this life-ability and it is slow and trembling and sometimes impossible and sporadically available and always unpredictable. Before we dove into evening ritual theater, I stood up before the entire posse and out-ed myself. No problem naming the fear and the shame arising from that radical act. And I asked for a show of hands for anyone else out there who often finds it literally impossible to give a name to what the heart is whispering. I was relieved, reassured (there’s another emotion!) when at least ten people raised their hands.

I could keep writing about all that transpired as a result of this vulnerable share. But my point is about that Guru thing and how grateful I am to be among you and not have to be that and how much I keep learning by just standing up and saying what is true for me and how awesome it is to have community around me that wants to do that to. Thank you, truly, from the bottom of this quivering heart.


Back in the day, I taught a mat class in the clinic called Loosen, Lengthen, Strengthen. When the opportunity arose to collaborate for a six week series focused on strength at It’s All Yoga, I perked right up.

Power Up! ( https://clients.mindbodyonline.com/classic/home?studioid=4333) begins today: Tues/Thurs 12:00-12:45 six week series. You can drop in anytime and check out this high energy opportunity for “personal training” without strain. No mirrors, no meatheads. This is territory I know and love and have a pretty unique spin on.

So the recent newsletter from Michelle Marlahan, owner of It’s All Yoga (http://www.itsallyoga.com/), about being appalled at advice given by a fitness M.D. hit a deep nerve. Pointers on “braced neutral standing posture” to protect your spine in daily living were boiled down to this list, verbatim:

  1. Squeeze your butt as hard as you can.
  2. Pull your ribcage down.
  3. Get your belly tight.
  4. Set your head in a neutral position and screw your shoulders into a stable position.

I was as appalled as Michelle. This is no way to live a fluid and relaxed life. And yet there are times we go to the gym or power train or just lift that 90 pound bag of dog food when intelligent bracing is called for. So I decided to write my own list of four, called operating instructions: what to pay attention to in those training AND everyday moments when being careful is called for.

  1. Take a body side view: feel the line that drops through earlobe, shoulder, hip and ankle. The gentle neck curve and low back sway fall in front of that line. The back curve of ribs and hook of tail lay behind. These curves are needed! This is neutral alignment, the safest and most efficient base for arms and legs to lift from.
  2. Take a body front view: notice that face, shoulders, hip points and feet are pointed in the same direction. Unless you are intentionally training in a diagonal plane (a bit trickier!) this orientation provides maximum safety and efficiency when legs and arms are lifting or carrying a load. Even your body weight can be a load when training in repetitive activities, like squats and lunges, curls and presses. Combine twisting and lifting with extreme caution.
  3. Feel your breath: tune in to the natural way to marry breath and motion. We are built to exhale during heavy exertion, like exhaling up from a squat or breathing out while curling a weight to shoulder. Seek and engage the natural breath and motion pattern. Notice where and when the habitual tendency to breath hold appears and quit that. BREATHE!
  4. Feel your deep power: feel what the body already does naturally with each breath cycle. 1) Exhale and gently draw pelvic floor up and deep abdominals back. Key word is GENTLE. 2) Inhale and tenderly lift breastbone as shoulder blades glide down and back of neck lengthens. Key word is TENDER. Harness this natural occurrence effortlessly by focusing attention on the marriage of breath, motion and power. This is a 25% muscular contraction, no gripping, squeezing or pulling allowed. This activation does not change the side view curves or the front view orientation.

Besides feeling so darn good, strength training is such an effective way to improve bone density and core stability. And daily life requires strength sometimes. Think gardening, cleaning the garage, lifting groceries from the trunk, caring for infants and elders. The list is long and includes all the ways we often sustain injury. This “braced” advice can truly be useful. Gently practicing these four operating instructions—integrating alignment, breath, power and motion— creates a field of safety, effectiveness and mindfulness.

Wanna learn some more? Come down some Tuesday or Thursday around lunchtime.

Pema 3

Wanted coffee. Walked into Chocolate Fish. My window seat was taken. Took the middle seat I didn’t want. Didn’t even notice the gorgeous ocean photo on the wall. Decided what I really craved was a latte. The music is too loud in here. Hate that. So wrapped up in myself, I didn’t spot the full-in-bloom white oleander out the window. Didn’t even notice when the guy in the window seat got up and left. And so it goes. Want, don’t want, doesn’t even register.

Picked up Pema Chodron again a few weeks ago. Start Where You Are was the first of her books I ever read and this is time number three circling back. Captivated by so much of her straight up, easy access writing. The Poison as Medicine chapter lays out the humorous and tragic messy (klesha) stuff we spend our time mucking around in. I loved reading this once more. When we lose sight of how spacious life truly is, we fall into being tight little humans, looking out at everything from our it’s-all-about-me lens. We assess everything that comes our way as I like or I don’t like or we just miss it completely.

I laughed out loud when I re-read about Mortimer. The guy who works in your office. The one who walks by person #1 and, unbeknownst to him, triggers juicy fantasies about connection, relationship, desire. Strolls by person #2 who can’t stand Mortimer, eyes averted, praying he doesn’t come near. You guessed, saunters by person #3 and they don’t even see him, like he doesn’t even exist on the planet. Passion, aggression, ignorance…our three habitual tendencies. In a nut shell.

And what, pray tell, if we actually observe ourselves engaged in these messy habits, are we supposed to do about it? Well, witnessing is a great way to start where you are: painfully, eye-opening-ly funny. Relax, we are indeed human. If we actually notice, we might continue to watch ourselves and see what we do next, see if it’s true we tend to do one of two things when Mortimer triggers us. We act out on our craving or aversion…we actively get his attention or we run and hide under the desk. We act out. Or we repress: we want to connect with him so badly but we tamp down all our rampant desire or he bugs us so much we focus all our attention on him and seethe with disgust. Or of course, in total ignorance, we don’t even notice there is a human being incarnate worthy of honor passing by our cubicle.

Curious lately about my own go-to, my own preferences in this department. Well, there’s no good answer on this one. The embarrassing truth is all there is. I, like you, do all three, all day. But my lifetime programmed response is head-in-the-sand. Thank you very much while I just hide in this cave and nurture my ignorance. If I don’t know about it, surely it won’t bother me, does not apply. And if I actually do notice it and it bothers me, well I’ll stay true to form and repress all that messy stuff as quickly as humanly possible. Which can be amazingly quickly. I’m good at it.

So if by now you’re thinking…forget it, I’m O.K. with skating along surface-happy. You just might have the same conditioning pattern as me, preferring ignorance and repression as life tactic. And that can work, perhaps even for a long time, until some bomb drops in your lap making that game plan non-functional. The unforeseen wake up call that delivers many of us to practice. I haven’t found the other easy, magic way around this and it’s not like we get somewhere and then we’re done. Inconveniently, practice seems to need to occur regularly, without fail, especially when we don’t want to go. So this is just a kick in the butt to find what that practice is and stick with it. Especially when it gets hard. Oh, did I already say that?

You don’t have to practice with me. And if you are inclined, multiple opportunities to exercise that regularity this week: Tuesday morning for Rock & Roll at Seed, Thursday and Friday morning and Friday night at It’s All Yoga, Thursday night and Sunday morning 5Rhythms at Coloma Center. All info in sidebar. Extended practice? Even better. Three days at Harbin Hot Springs, one more scholarship available, June 19-21.

So, yes, relax. We are indeed human. And then get up and do something about that. Love, bella


About six months ago, I was phone-dreaming/collaborating with Jenny Macke http://presence-studio.com/?page_id=204 about Harbin Hot Springs https://bodyjoy.net/5Rhythms-workshops-sacramento.html#harbin, throwing ideas, visions, intentions into the juicy soup pot between us, stirring it up. We both want to lift us out of the sticky day-to-day ensnaring web that consumes us, creates a barrier to truly knowing who we are and what we really need. Words were flying all over cyber-space until, almost in the same nano-second, we uttered “cultivating space”. That just nailed it: cultivate space, inside and out. It’s always there, inside and out, it just gets obscured in the daily fray.

In the months since that phone call, this intention, in small ways and large, has been manifesting everywhere. If you’ve been reading here, you know about the “good little soldier”. I’ve been super-tracking this ego character. Following his well-blazed trail alerts me to where the day-to-day web ensnares me. Since the start of the year, tracking has been bolstered by a self-declared monthly day of silence, Friday is my next one. No big rules around this day, just turn off the phone and computer, meditate a bunch, be quiet. Each dedicated day has had a different flavor. I have danced and been on the mat. I have cooked and gardened. I have read and wrote and soul collaged. I have been outdoors a lot. I have been silent, I have been singing. I have done nothing. In short, I have been cultivating space.

And then three weeks ago Vojin Kopuz, a 5Rhythms student from Bosnia, came to stay with me. He needed housing and wanted to learn about teaching by being in an established community.   Really, only a vague idea why I said yes to this request; I figured he could be here a week and then housesit while we travelled to N.Y. When this 26 year old enthusiastic, joy bundle arrived, I was still quagmired in a hard place; I was cultivating but felt anything but spacious. I was stuck in a hole and ready to make some changes but barely seeing my way toward the light.

His passion being perma-culture, he stepped into my yard and said “what shall we do here?” Within a few hours he had me shovel in hand, sweating and dirty, pulling weeds and turning dirt, breaking up hardpan and separating good mulch from bad. Together we cleared and nourished a completely weed-choked area un-farmable and fallow because of an overbearing redwood. The tree came down last year and now the land it choked and shaded has been re-vitalized. When I returned from New York, I planted it with fledgling vegetables. In short, I have literally been cultivating space.

In the long view, it’s been only a moment since I climbed out of the quagmire, started to make some changes. From this vantage point, in this new cleared out space, beyond the sweat and dirt, after separating good weeds from bad, there is spaciousness, inside and out, clearly palpable. And it shouldn’t surprise me, but, of course, several new fledgling plants have begun to emerge out of the emptiness. I am randomly watering and fertilizing and who knows which ones will thrive. I know very little, but I do know this: when we cultivate space, we create room for something new to emerge. And it may simply be more space. And the good little soldier, who, by the way recently was promoted from infantry to the calvary (it is so much easier on a horse…) is learning that more space is a very good thing.

So if you can carve out three days, if you want to dance and stretch and roll and soak in support of clearing things out that obscure your connection to the essential, bona fide you…come cultivate space with Jenny and me and the rest of this beautiful community June 19-21. Come see what emerges, it will probably surprise you.

no internet dayc3

We all need deep personal support and sometimes it comes from sources way less visible. There is unspoken sustenance that may need to come out of the closet: stillness, withdrawal from the exterior world, turning inward. Heartened by my three days of silence at the end of 2014, I made a resolution. I never make resolutions. But I did. One day a month in 2015 for complete and utter unplugging. The only rule? At home with no screen time: no phone, no computer, no TV X 24 hours.

So far each experience has had it’s own flavor, a unique self-crafted container. But here is the common thread: the support and tender touch of following my own undistracted flow nourished me for several days following. It fueled a memory of slower time gone by when this was closer to the norm. Until 1998 I steadfastly refused to own a computer or join the email thing; I saw the writing on the wall, or on the page, I guess. I guessed the way it would utterly change my world. And it did. And not all of it is a bad thing. But something has been lost and I feel like I’m finding it again. Here’s one piece of it.

Time outdoors is a big draw for me and on these no-tech days I easily go there. Nature deficit disorder, described in Richard Louv’s Last Child in the Woods, contends that human beings, especially children, are spending less time outdoors. This is resulting in a wide range of behavioral problems and the lure of the screen is one of the biggest factors keeping children (and the rest of us!) inside. I’ve lived on this quiet residential street more than 40 years. It used to be a veritable playground. My kids grew up roaming with the neighborhood posse: children of all ages playing ball and hide and seek and games born of their wild imaginations. Now they are all grown and gone and there is a new crop of kids here. I sit on my porch and it is eerily quiet. I miss those rowdy calls, their visible playful energy, the general alive chaos of it all. Mostly I know there are children because I see them scuttling from door to car and back.

“Something’s happening here…what it is ain’t exactly clear.” This week I actually have to make a sign to put up at Coloma Center about turning off your cell phone during practice. Don’t ask. Right here, in this precious moment, I’m inviting you to find some clarity around this one. Will you join this dialogue with a simple (but not easy) challenge? One 24 hour period, just one…to turn it all off…at home. You might begin right now by noticing what this request brings up for you. Maybe that immediate gut response is enough to get you intrigued, perhaps watching the way you resist, find excuses for, laugh right out loud at this challenge, let alone actually consider taking it on. My next dedicated turn off day is April 21. If you’re game, please respond by letting me know what 24 hour period in April you are willing to pull yourself out of this morass. Be brave, make a commitment, maybe even let me know. But for sure write to me and let me know of your experience, even if it’s just about your no-way response to the challenge.

What are you waiting for?

Love, bella