Sunday, December 16, 2012

What We Can Do

This week an unspeakable tragedy occurred in our state.  I have no words to express the grief and outrage all of us feel that such a thing could have happened – to children and to the public servants who are custodians of our children.

All of us are searching for what we can do to help.  We feel helpless.  What can we do?  Some say that prayer is useless.  I don’t agree.  I believe in the idea that we all spring from the same source; we are all connected at the deepest level.  If that is true, it follows that when we send our love and our wish for healing to those who have been shattered -- I have to believe -- it is not in vain.  And sometimes it is the only thing we can do.

When we are lost and don’t know how to help, we can at least do this.

I would like to use this blog today to, with all my heart, express my sympathy and compassion for all those who are suffering such horrible loss.  My deepest wish is for your healing. 

Somehow, together, we will find a way to better protect each other.  

President Obama said it best.

All of us can extend a hand to those in need to remind them that we are there for them, that we are praying for them, that the love they felt for those they lost endures not just in their memories, but also in ours.” ~ President Barack Obama 12/14/12

Sunday, December 9, 2012

When You're Ready....

In dance, I always want to try something new.  Maybe I’ll attempt to do as many turns as I can without hurting myself (or others) or I’ll try a different kind of leap.  I always have to work my way up to what I am imagining in my head.  

Doing things differently requires strength.  You need core strength to do just about anything in dance.  If you don’t have that foundation, it is difficult to leap or turn.  Emotions drive the movement, but you have to have strength if you want to truly express yourself.

Sometimes, I’m just not ready to try something new.  Maybe I feel intimidated by experimenting in front of a big class, or I just feel like I can’t do it yet.  

In the end, I just have to trust that I am strong enough to let go and see how it works.  Often, it does and just as often, I still have work to do to make it look the way I want.

This reminds me of my relationship with a beloved relative.  I knew I was enabling him, but I couldn’t stop myself because I felt the stakes were so high.  I wasn’t strong enough emotionally to let go.  

So I would continue behavior that I understood was wrong, because I thought the consequences of not enabling were way too scary.  Underneath this was the realization that I had to start saying “no.”  And just like building up my core, I had to reinforce my inner strength.

What happens when you are an enabler is that you think, “OK, I’m really only doing x, so if I only do x, it’s not really that bad.”  That’s a lie I used to tell myself.  It was like thinking you could give an addict only one drink, or a single pill, and it will stay at one drink or one pill forever.

Enabling is like an addiction—you do more of it and the person needs more of it.  So you need to give more and more until the situation is even more dangerous and out of control.

What I now understand is that even though I knew I was wrong, what I did, I did for myself.  I was not ready to be tough and change my own behavior.  Then, when I was ready, I put up some boundaries that I could get behind and stick to.  Over time, I built a stronger core.  It was from this hard-won foundation that I was finally able to stop the enabling.

Looking back, I believe that I couldn’t stop my addictive behavior until I was ready.  I had to get to the place where I knew there was nothing more for me to do, realizing that I was hurting my loved one -- not helping.  In a way, it was a selfish thing.  I couldn’t tolerate my fear of what would happen if I stopped helping, so I “helped.”  I don’t believe that’s wrong.  I couldn’t let go.  And maybe my relative wasn’t ready for me to let go, either.

Who’s to say what might have happened had I awakened sooner?

The good news is that my story has a happy ending—miraculous, really.  Once I hit the wall and stopped “assisting,” the person began to express who he always was beneath the crazy.  And he did it himself.

I am grateful every day for this.  And I try to remember that letting go creates the space for miracles to occur.

When you’re ready.

Sunday, December 2, 2012


Dance has been with us since the beginning of mankind.  There is archeological evidence of dance among humans dating thousands of years ago.   That people want to move their bodies to rhythms, internal or external, is as old as the human race.  Dance is used as ritual, as a call to mate, as an expression of joy, and in older days to make magic occur in the form of rain or making the sun shine.  

Movement is truth; it is part of who we are.  Whether you consider your movement to be dance doesn’t matter.  Movement is life and life is a dance. 

I was watching an excerpt from the movie Lincoln.  Daniel Day-Lewis as Lincoln was talking to two young men about abolition.  He said, “If two things are equal to the same thing, then they are equal to each other.”

This is a statement of truth, in math and in life. 
Any two people who dance, even if they’re using the same choreography, are expressing their individuality differently.  On a personal level, who can say that one’s deepest expression through movement is inferior or superior to another’s? 

Years ago I heard another teacher telling a new client that my class was not really a dance class.  As if there is some narrow definition of what dance really is that only a few can know and achieve.  

I don’t understand it when someone looks disparagingly at others because they don’t fit into a common mold. 

I don’t understand how a person can look at another and say, “This person should not have the same rights that I have.”  Often this denial of others’ rights is justified by saying that this opinion is God’s opinion.  


Is this a veiled statement of the royal we?  As in, “God and I think you are not as good or important as I am.”

Obviously, some people are better at certain tasks than others.  We all have our own talents and passions.  But we enter life on the same planet.  Everyone is human and an earthling.  We are equal to the same things.  We are all human. 

We all want to love and be loved.

We all have our own dance and the right to express who we are in that dance.

That’s the truth.

Sunday, November 25, 2012


When we turn in dance, we must “spot.”  That means to pick a spot on the wall that you keep your eyes glued to while you are turning.  Then you whip your head around immediately to find the spot again.  In this way you can turn many times without becoming dizzy and you can end up where you want.

If you focus your eyes all around the room as you turn, you will get dizzy and disoriented. 
The metaphor here is pretty simple -- what we focus on is what we experience – but sometimes we focus too much on what we think we desire, and when we end up there, we’re not really sure it’s where we wanted to be after all. 

Maybe you are the kind of person who can focus on a goal without limiting your expectations.  I really admire that.

I have not been able to expand my view of what I believe is possible for me to achieve.  Somehow I get stuck in the painfully familiar place of feeling “not good enough” and think it might be better not to focus on my goal at all.   I tend to make them smaller as time goes on, anyway, inadvertently limiting myself.  

Every now and then I think I should just let go and make an uncontrolled turn and see where I end up.  It’s not pretty.  And I can end up on my ass. 

However I know that there are certain things that I can focus on while I’m “turning” that are important to me and can be accomplished immediately.  Although they are simple, it’s easy to succumb to fear and forget my intention.  I guess that’s why it’s called a “practice.”

I can stay present in the moment and choose to do what brings me joy.  I can decide to trust my process and be open to every opportunity.  I can remember to be kind to myself and everyone else.  I can remember that love is all that matters. 

So I feel that if I can make these things my “spot,” then no matter how uncontrolled my turn is, I’ll end up in a place that’s probably pretty good.  And maybe even better than I could have imagined.

Have you found your spot?

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Love Song

Once you are sick of a song -- or if you can’t remember why you first fell in love with it – you just don’t want to dance to it anymore.  If that music doesn’t inspire you to move, you start to feel as if your shoes were made of lead.  It’s hard to tread lightly or to even pick up your foot to go forward.

However, sometimes you can change your perception of the song.  You might hear a drum or sax thread in it that you really hadn’t noticed before.  Or you can perceive a depth in the music that at first you may not have appreciated.  You might try to do a new movement to an old song that makes it fresh again.  

You can’t force yourself to love a song.  There is a certain chemistry between you and the melody that’s ephemeral and not explainable.  Once you get tired of a song, if you can’t appreciate different things about it or re-capture your synchronicity, it is difficult to move to its beat.  If your movement supports the song and the song supports your movement, there is mutual reverence and love, so your appreciation can grow.  Repetition brings familiarity and familiarity can breed deeper understanding, love and respect.  

If you don’t listen to the music while you are dancing (or feel its beat) you will be either ahead of it or behind it—you will not be in sync.  This is like thinking about what you are going to say while the other person is trying to communicate – you just won’t really hear what he is saying.

Familiar songs can evoke deep emotions.  Listen to Louis Armstrong singing “What a Wonderful World.”  I defy you to be unemotional.

Old songs that we love go deep into our hearts.  We may forget to appreciate the songs we are familiar with, but the experience of hearing and appreciating them again, can renew us.  

Love never dies; it’s the only thing that’s real.  

It’s the same with relationships.  Sometimes it’s essential to go your own way, but it is also healing and inspirational to remember why you first fell in love – even if you’ve moved on.