Bellingham sky

Cold early morning, snug toasty looking out at coated mountains that have hugged me all through the week. As soon as I landed here in Washington, an early snow cascaded out of the sky, carpeting grounded orange leaves with giddy surprise. I’m a rare and awe-filled visitor to snow. It’s fleecy sheen turns the mundane to marvel and, when I’m out in it, the bite in the air and potential slip of each step forces me into constant wakefulness.

So grateful for my friendship and professional association with my hostess, Jenny Macke. She has given me permission to share her very personal story. But first a little context. I’m here to co-teach with her for the third time. We met at Esalen in 2003, 5Rhythms dancing path maniacs. Moved in concert for years and then entered teacher training together ten years ago. We share a passionate renegade nature and a powerful space often emerges between our bodies in motion. I treated her one-on-one in those early years and she was intrigued with this aspect of my work in the world. Since then, we taught together twice, me holding the therapeutic pieces of self-care that prepare and support a body in motion and Jenny, transitioning and facilitating the group in dance. Our easy flow in teaching is as natural as breathing, pure delight.

This year my friend followed her fascination and certified in therapeutic massage. She is just setting up her office now and readying to teach something akin to my Tuesday morning class right here in Bellingham. And so I came up here to teach with her one more time, partly to do the work I love, and just as much to support her in this transition. We never know how our own passion in the world will ripple out. I’m allowing myself to feel and celebrate the waves I have set in motion. But here is the story I want to tell.

The year of massage training, running her business, raising two teen-agers and moving her residence took a toll. For the last nine months her left hip and knee have been offering that painful challenge we all know too well. She is a courageous being but her confidence in her own ability to create change spiraled downward. She was the first to own that her motivation for self-care spiraled downward as well. This is the natural course of being human. I experience these cycles myself and it is critical for body workers to be in these deep dark holes, fully feel the desperation and hopelessness of chronic pain. If you are looking for compassionate, personally informed care when you are in need, seek out your wounded healers.

When I arrived on Wednesday night, she rested on the couch, her knee wrapped in ice.  She did reach out for help on several fronts without palpable success. When nothing is changing, diagnostic technology can sometimes help us name a condition that may need surgical intervention. She scheduled an MRI for Friday, coincidentally the morning I was scheduled to see patients one-on-one before the workshop.

Thursday was our dedicated day for her to experience every piece I wanted to offer in the 3 day workshop. This session would give her a sense of where she might take the group into dance. I wished for hands on treatment table time with her. I wanted a better sense of what was going on in her body…maybe Monday. I took a brief history, observed her in motion and we dove in together. Fluidity, power and release via rolling and deep core stability, conscious breathing, awareness and length.

For many incredibly focused hours we reveled in this juicy world. By the end of our time, her leg was way less painful. In fact, it was the best it had felt in months. I wasn’t surprised. The releasing work on the left was intense and there was super-obvious deep core weakness on that side that she could now feel and recruit. Her incredible level of long-term embodiment gave her immediate access to healing.

The next morning, shortly after she dropped me for my studio work, she texted that her insurance had denied the MRI procedure. Was there time for me to fit her into my schedule? So instead of an MRI, we were able to do full assessment and treatment. The irony of this timing, the way it solidified and illuminated her life path, the clear message of affirmation…well, it was not lost on this beautifully realized human spirit. Over the weekend her hip and knee continued to improved as she rolled and stabilized with all the other amazing spirits present for the weekend.

Now it is Monday morning and the snow is melting. The sun, which I have not seen one time yet, is poised to rise over this eastern range. Today my compadre and I will bask in our friendship, hike and sit by the river, laugh and cry and remember. We’ll rest in the soft sense of all the ways our work together this weekend is rippling out in the world. By Sunday night, each person present was aglow in a way that is always fostered with dedicated time for deep breath-filled listening, masterful self-tending and the way that informs authentic self-expression for a body in motion. I can feel it: next time this workshop happens in Bellingham, Jenny will be at the helm, holding both pieces with a confidence born in this year.   And for that I am most grateful.

Hope to see you on a breath-filled floor sometime this upcoming week: Wednesday Waves, Dancing in the Light on Saturday, Sunday Sweat Your Prayers ….bella