High atop the Hot Springs Mountain Tower, I did some qi gong moves to help free up my spine and open up my creativity. Whew it was hot in Arkansas, but a stop at the old world Buckstaff Bathouse was a tremendous way to spend an afternoon.
This past week, I had the golden opportunity to attend a NIA White Belt training at a crystal farm located just outside of Little Rock, Arkansas. I chose this instead of driving to East Austin every day for 7 days, as this option included a free stay at the farm. I discovered NIA dance several years ago, well after I had trained years earlier in Gabrielle Roth’a dance, and felt its principles were speaking to me now as I prepared to deepen my practice. As of last Friday, I can now teach NIA and will be doing so at the end of September at two studios in Dripping Springs, Texas.
It’s an intense training; the days are long and obviously, very physical. I loved every sore-muscle minute of it! The farm was absolutely beautiful and I am completely grateful to have had this opportunity to learn and get certified in Little Rock. I especially enjoyed the early mornings with my roommates; I so rarely get the opportunity to have coffee and spirited conversations with such diverse characters, well before the sun’s day break. I feel a bit smarter and a dollop stronger for having completed this week on the farm. I’ve made some awesome new friends and hope to know hem for years to come.
It was a tremendous experience — including the few days I arrived early to explore Arkansas. Who knew this state was so gorgeous??! They call it the Natural State, I had no idea! Arkansas is an easy target for hillbilly jokes, and while of course I made many, I also learned an awful lot, and that’s a beautiful thing. Arkansas has quartz crystal mines, so there is quite an influx of people in search of said crystals; I even found myself in a mine and spent an afternoon digging. Amazing!! I explored the hot springs of Hot Springs, climbed a few mountains, greeted the rising sun from some breath-taking perches and spent an afternoon in the William J. Clinton Presidential Library; it moved me to tears more than once.
I’m thankfully out of hillbilly jokes because I have seen “the purdy” side of Arkansas. It was an amazing week and I’m excited to start teaching NIA!
A quick 9-hour drive home, a few loads of laundry and then Reed and I were off to Aspen, Colorado to stay with his Aunt Lucy and see the high country burst into the autumn season. Oh what a gorgeous country it is!
I think back to where my life was one year ago — it’s completely different today and thank God for this. I was working a corporate job (or two!) in Chicago and really thought that would be my path, but obviously I kept falling flat on my face. Losing so many jobs — okay being FIRED from so many jobs, having to sell all my belongings and then eventually moving out of Chicago, was extremely painful and has deeply changed me forever. The cake-froster was my mom’s death. Only one year ago I was crawling out of the mire and uncertain about where my life would go next. It was, in a word, terrifying.
Reed came back into my life last Thanksgiving when he invited me to Mexico for Thanksgiving. I never thought I would see him again after our divorce in 2008, but alas, never say never. I never felt right about how things ended between us; so I am grateful to have this opportunity to get right with him — but mostly to get right with myself, because I cannot help others until I help myself.
When we were married, I was restless and had absolutely no direction. I was adrift in my pointless life and unmotivated to change it. I had lost that sparkle in my eye, that spark that had enabled me to endure almost anything in my life. Reed had offered to let me do anything — yet I could not decide and chose to do nothing instead. Can you imagine? We did a lot of traveling and moved into many houses, yet I became increasingly annoyed by it all. “Unattractive” is the word I would use to describe myself. I was once an artist! Not anymore; I would pick up a paint brush and cast it aside, feeling literally nothing except a dull pressure to be something I was not anymore. I blamed the world and especially blamed Reed for my injustices.
Injustices. How outrageously arrogant of me.
I have never been more focused in my direction, nor more excited to live an adventurous and colorful life, than I am today. I have pangs of guilt for not currently having a job, but I’ll get over it. I am working toward an entirely different career experience and how lucky I am to have the opportunity to explore these new heights. I start teaching NIA later this month, but that is only the beginning. I am aiming high!
I believe we cross paths with people who are meant to teach us something, even if it is delivered through a painful, one-two-punch lesson. Upon arriving in Aspen, Aunt Lucy completely nailed me to the wall, ridiculing me, wagging a finger in my face, wanting to know why I am so happy and what is my secret because she DOESN’T UNDERSTAND. It was scary and unsettling — this is a very angry woman who is deep in her Stage 4 cancer battle and is duking it out with her demons. Lucy has everything and more than the “American Dream” would suggest, yet her heart is cold and empty. And scared. She does not like unicorn-chasing, skip-to-the-loo-tree-huggers like myself, yet she is surrounded by them and pursues them here in Aspen. She went above and beyond to hurt me and succeeded.
I was a wounded pup for a few hours but quickly recovered. The fruits of my emotional labor; I now pull myself out of the hole, rapidly, with very little drama.
I composed myself in all that is gorgeous and illuminous in Aspen, Colorado and it dawned on me that no matter who we are, we are all searching to get out of our pain and to know what love is all about. It can take a lifetime. Thank God we all have one.
(of behavior, performance, or appearance) in accordance with the highest standards of propriety; faultless.
During my NIA training, we were asked to be impeccable. Impeccable in our words and actions. Interesting! It has caused me to think before I speak and I am now acutely aware of my impeccability — even if I am anything but impeccable at times. I am responsible for my happiness and my involvement in life. I am not expecting a doctor to hand me a happy pill, nor do I feel that anyone owes me anything. My life has become impeccably easier to navigate since I lost everything last year and re-discovered my true self and a deep desire to be helpful. I have that spark in my eye once again.
My research continues, as it is not over… xoxo
I have dabbled in meditation here and there over the years but it wasn’t until this past February that I found myself sitting in the local buddhist temple, which is a strikingly peaceful oasis to sit and soak in the silence. And to begin my foray back into mediation. These Buddhist Monks hail from Sri Lanka and I can’t pronounce any of their names except I have recently learned that the equivalent of “Father Sujatha” is “Bhante Sujatha” so I find it’s safest to call each of them “Bhante.”
A few months ago it was all I needed to sit in the beautiful temple to attempt to quiet my mind, which ping-ponged all over the place like a mad chicken on crack. I was all over the place so the silence did my mind and body good, and I probably tweaked and twitched as I sat there in the silence. It doesn’t matter, any and all are welcome at this temple and I totally appreciate the warm welcome they gave me.
As the weeks unraveled and I began to recover from everything that had happened over the past year, I was having more and more questions for the Monks and requiring more direction. Three nights per week they host silent mediations, followed up by a talk from Bhante Sujatha, if he is in town or one of the others. When Bhante speaks, he refers to the benefits of his mediation and how he is able to allow things to bounce off him and not bother him and is accepting of most situations in life; he is always harmonious with life. These are my words and not his; he would never say something so arrogant as this. I’m sure of it.
My questions during class hover around, “so in order to get to this place of acceptance, can you suggest maybe five or six ways to achieve this through mediation?” No, just continue to practice and you will see. “But my thoughts stampede out to the wildest situations, usually sexual in nature or something along those lines, but it is never still, always racing.” Just keep coming here and you will see.
This worked for a few weeks but I knew that I was in need of some direction, because I really want to reign in my thoughts and quiet the mind. I’ve had glimpses of this in the recent past and know it’s possible, so my desire led me to search for more. It led me to google things!
Another benefit of the exploration years in San Francisco is that I used to take T’ai Chi lessons in the park in the early mornings and I remembered how calming it was for me. I googled t’ai chi and soon stumbled upon Qi Gong, another Asian healing art I studied briefly a long time ago and was drawn to it because it’s referred to as the Mother of T’ai Chi.
It didn’t take long for me to have an A HA moment and realize this is where I wanted to spend my time. I googled deeper into Qi Gong and discovered Lee Holden. He has a few free youtubes and I was hooked with 7 Minutes of Magic that was filmed in Sand Harbor Beach in Lake Tahoe, as well as taking a class at the Temple. I knew I was starting to wake up because for the first time in a very long time, I was ready to go some where. I went to South Lake Tahoe. I climbed a mountain. I did Qi Gong. T’ai Chi. Yoga. Mountain Biking. Hot springs. Ate organic salads. Had a blast!
Since returning home I signed up for Lee’s online classes because his world head quarters are in Santa Cruz, California. Or perhaps it’s his studio! I am going to give myself 30-days to stick with it — and if I do, I will pursue taking more IRL classes. So far, the lessons have been wonderful and my QI is starting to wake up!
No seriously, this is serious. I am enjoying every minute of this. After this morning’s meditation I felt the qi rising in my cheeks and shins like I had never felt them before in my life. Who’s body is this? It’s mine! xo
Here’s Henry the day I came home from Lake Tahoe, he was soooooooo excited to see me, he went airborne! His qi is incredible too …