How to spend a week in Mexico

A wee testimonial about my week in Mexico.

When I met Sarah (developer of Selfistry) in the small village of Molyvos, Lesvos last summer I was struck by her calming, centered presence. An immediate sense of kinship washed over me, we were connected as Nia sisters. But soon after reading parts of her book Being Selfish: My Journey from Escort to Monk to Grandmother, I’d discover we had more to share and learn from each other.

There is power in understanding and telling our own stories. How *did* I become “me”? As well, personal power arises when I am clear about who or what is driving my life. From the broad perspective that often comes through a connection to something greater than me to a close examination of all the characters that animate me over a lifetime, Sarah’s work invited me to look at myself from many angles and all its stories. Selfistry taught me a three staged approach to connecting to and loving myself and my life with an artistic and loving eye/”I”.

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The Selfistry practice gave me the permission to meet all the “selves” that make up “me”. There are roles: daughter, friend, teacher, lover, activist. There are judgements: anxious, fearful, obsessive, pushy, unworthy. There are desires: sensual, sexual, powerful, safe, confident.

Through this work, the witness with a driving and deep sense of purpose is also refined. The aforementioned words describe parts of me that can be observed and witnessed separately in a beautiful twist of perspective and perception, yet they do not, when added together, necessitate the “whole” of me.

Practicing Selfisty created in me a dynamic activation of tonicity in my *whole being* by training my awareness to consciously shift through the three stages: from mindful meditation designed to connect me to a “source” or love-lifeline to a somatic movement component of trying on the “selves” that ride my bus to standing in quiet witness of all the me’s.

Through the practice I was able to create abundant space in how I respond – versus react – to all of life’s dynamic circumstances. With a simple breath I could stop, observe and choose how to proceed, a skill desperately in need of sharpening. The toggling work between the three stages gifted me a sense of ease and non-attachment that feels right for my heart, kind to my body and forgiving to my mental state.

I love how Sarah weaves her story into her teaching and connects her personal journey to how this practice was birthed. Sarah confidently and calmly guides a dynamic group of people through many different exercises and conversations and holds the space with steadfastness and clarity. In addition to the specific Selfistry practice, we were lead through a variety of exercises that gave us room to experience fun, challenge, insight and self-reflection without coming off as an uncomfortable group therapy session.

I think every person I know could find value in spending time with this work. My mother, a bestie – or two, and my colleagues all seem like great fits. There’s something reassuring about having a safe space to address the monkey-mind/busy-body outside of, and not on, a leather doctor’s couch.

The past week was  like no other retreat I’ve participated in before. I appreciated the focused “work” involved. The retreats I generally have chosen in the past have been more about escape, play, joy and occasionally a tinge of risk-taking. I usually only take “Vacation Erin” on retreat. But this retreat, literally, chose me and it included this beautiful practice that pushed my perspectives and challenged my assumptions about myself and others; it also helped me tap into my connection to something greater than me. It has given me immediate tools to use at home and work.

I would definitely spend focused time at a retreat in this practice again. I fantasize about one day facilitating this work in my community. Also, an itinerary that handled the usual quotidian necessities (read: meal prep/planning) added to a gorgeous natural setting (read: sand, water, palm trees) gave us ample room for being creative heart–storming witnesses of our lives. I am touched and inspired by the lingering sense of curiosity, liberation and creativity that was nurtured over the past week. A simple phrase to sum up my Selfistry week at Mare de Jade? Moved – from scared to sacred.

For more information about Sarah and her work, Selfistry, visit https://selfistry.com/.

Movement Variety! Spice up your summer regime...

I'm excited to announce the "Community Movement" schedule at Studio Sway for this summer for the 5:45 pm Wednesday night class. This special series is being offered at a $5.00/class rate.  

June 24, 2015 @ 5:45 pm - Nia with Kristine Susco
July 01, 2015 @ 5:45 pm - AfroDansAsana with Nadine Desormeau
July 08, 2015 @ 5:45 pm - Ecstatic Dance Elizabeth Cervantes
July 15, 2015 @ 5:45 pm - Nia with Maureen Small
July 22, 2015 @ 5:45 pm - Therapeutic Yoga with Anne Woods
July 29, 2015 @ 5:45 pm - AfroDansAsana with Nadine Desormeau
August 05, 2015 @ 5:45 pm - Nia with Maureen Small
August 12, 2015 @ 5:45 pm - Nia with Kim Lane from New Jersey
August 19, 2015 @ 5:45 pm - Ecstatic Dance Elizabeth Cervantes
August 26, 2015 @ 5:45 pm - Therapeutic Yoga with Anne Woods
September 02, 2015 @ 5:45 pm - Alexander Technique with Darci Lobdell
September 09, 2015 @ 5:45 pm - Alexander Technique with Darci Lobdell
September 16, 2015 @ 5:45 pm - Nia with Kristine Susco

As a reminder class is ALWAYS a $5.00 drop-in and Sway and Groupon cards will be accepted.

AFRODANSASANA

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AfroDansAsana is an exhilarating movement workshop fusing Afro-Caribbean dance with yoga asana taught by Nadine Desormeau. Nadine earned a Bachelor of Business Administration with a Minor in Dance and found herself in education at the secondary level for the past 10 years. As a registered yoga teacher, she holds a number of certifications in yoga including Prenatal and Vedic Thai Yoga Bodywork. Nadine is known for her eclectic brand of movement which she attributes to her dozens of teachers in the dances of Africa, Haiti, Cuba and Brazil in addition to Flamenco, Contemporary and Ballet styles. 

 

ECSTATIC DANCE

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Ecstatic Dance is an authentic, spontaneous, expressive, meditative movement practice  that incorporates elements of various body - mind - movement practices.  Go beyond the limits of your habitual movement patterns and explore your inner dance.  We typically dance barefooted without verbal interaction.  There is no choreography or instruction.  Ecstatic Dance is facility by Elizabeth Cervantes, who has been a partner dancer most of her adult life and is an avid golfer. In 2000, she Nia and ultimately earned her Nia Brown Belt in 2009. Then she took her first 5-Rhythms class. From that moment she knew that ecstatic dance would become her dancing path. Her spirit resonated with the freedom of choreography-free movement. Elizabeth has been facilitating ecstatic dances in Albuquerque since 2010. She also serves as a guest facilitator for EmbodyDance in Santa Fe.  No experience needed, just a willingness to move and be moved! 

THERAPEUTIC YOGA

Anne Woods is an occupational therapist specializing in personalized, approachable movement-based treatment for chronic tension and pain. With her experience as a medical professional, a certified yoga therapist, and with specialized training in craniosacral therapy, she aims to help people get out of pain and back into life.

 

NIA WITH KIM LANE: TRAVEL THE TURNPIKE DURING "UNDER THE BOARDWALK"

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Visiting us from New Jersey, Black Belt Kim Lane presents the routine 'Under the Boardwalk' which celebrates all things 'Jersey! Kim has been a member of the Nia NJ community for the past 9 years and is thrilled to be in ABQ to share a uniquely NJ routine. Two years ago 9 members of Nia NJ got together to collaborate on creating a routine that celebrated our often maligned and unsung 'Garden State'. The soundtrack draws from some of our musical royalty: Whitney, The Boss, Miss Ella Fitzgerald as well as some of our more recent popular culture: The Sopranos and Garden State the Movie.  Kim says, "I have been blessed with living on four different continents; born in Australia, raised in South Africa and nurturing my family in the UK and the USA. I found Nia 10 years ago through friend in the Burning Man community. Ever since, Nia has enriched my life and invigorated my relationship to my body. I'm so excited to dance with your community in Albuquerque!"

ALEXANDER TECHNIQUE

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Darci Lobdell is constantly exploring the joy, grace, and expression of the body and voice. She is currently in her last year of Alexander Technique teacher training with Alexander Alliance Southwest. Alexander Technique is a hands on study of coordination, movement, and injuries or habits in the body and mind that may be causing blockages. Through the study of Alexander technique one can rediscover ease, joy, and grace in their daily activities and lives. As a yoga teacher and professional singer, Darci teaches and uses Alexander Technique as way experience embodiment and joy in movement and all activities of life. She is also Chair of the Voice Department at the NM School of Music. 

 

let's don't talk about that...

let's don't talk about that...

I'd hoped watching football in my husband's absence would be a good distraction. It hasn't been. The Steelers won, as expected, and even Rooi put himself to bed long before the game ended. My desired distraction hasn't eclipsed the other distraction of needing to process more. I've been keeping thoughts in my head for weeks now and well, that's just not a good place for them.

My 8 Truths in 8 Weeks

I’ve felt equally enamored and annoyed by the popularity of “lists” these days. Though lists make me feel comfortable and give me an “end in sight’, their popularity and constant presence online being passed off as “news” is downright exhausting. But, in the end, they tell us something interesting which we know is digestible and finite. As Maria Konnikova wrote in a December 2, 2013, New Yorker article “A List of Reasons Why Our Brains Love Lists”, lists “create an easy reading experience, in which the mental heavy lifting of conceptualization, categorization, and analysis is completed well in advance of actual consumption—a bit like sipping green juice instead of munching on a bundle of kale.”

So, I wrote my own list in an effort, honestly, to process my life as a woman (and my other roles) over the past couple of months.

It's hot. Yep. The days are long. Sweet! And...

And like clockwork the skies turned wild last night to welcome July and her fiery self. How are you feeling about this? Are you still coming to class? Shining and sweating your way through these dog days of summer? No??? Yeah, I have my moments too, where the heat has drained me and all I want to do is lie naked under the ceiling fan eating fruit popsicles.

But, and fortunately, teaching and sharing Nia is one of my "jobs" and I have to show up and shine and sweat. If it's been a while since I've seen you, come get your sweat on. I've extended my sale (see below) through the 11th and now accept credit cards, if those are tempters! 

Nia: A Sacred Healing Container

I discovered the concept of "show up, shine and let it go" from Danielle LaPorte. I use this as mantra still, especially when I head out the door to teach or meet with a bodywork client. Danielle recently wrote a short and sweet post about healing and one night stands tantalizingly titled:

"One night stands and other sacred containers not always meant to be breached".

Healing, she deduces, can happen in unique, unanchored spaces -- like vacations, workshops, intensives, classes, chance meetings with strangers. The trick is to release the social decorum that can make us feel obligated to maintain or further nurture that temporary relationship (even though it may well have had a powerful effect) and simply stand in the magic of the experience as is. Sometimes it's necessary to simply "show up, shine and let it go." It's a one night (unique) stand (moment in time)!

A similar teaching also arrives to me from that sweet dog of ours, Rooi. Rooi approaches life with a willingness to "converse with strangers"; what a lovely expression of compassion to approach every experience, person and dog as a potential friend! 

How does this apply to Nia you ask? Well, each class is a unique experience and essentially a stranger to us before it's components are introduced. First, we hear the music, we are introduced to movements and then we are asked to befriend our bodies through awareness and presence. That's a tricky one. Let's face it sometimes our bodies feel like a stranger to us for reasons like injury and trauma, depression or exhaustion and "new normals" like being post-partum or menopausal. 

With this in mind, come down, meet yourself and try on a new version of a "one night stand". Get moving and experience what is always a perspective shifter for me: a Nia class!

Moving your movement from "work"out to "fun"out...

Many times a New-to-Nia student reports back to me that they had "so much fun!"

Recent research indicates that how you perceive or categorize your daily movement habits (exercise/working out vs. fun/pleasure/hobby) can impact how you eat subsequent to that "workout". People come to Nia for lots of reasons and, yes, losing weight is one of those reasons; so, it pleases me to no end to read such results as those reported in this NY Times article. The summary of which is this: "...study suggests that people’s attitudes toward physical activity can influence what they eat afterward and, ultimately, whether they drop pounds."

So, with that in mind, bring a friend for some fun to a Nia Class. I teach both at Studio Sway and Maple Street Dance Space. Find my class calendar through this link.

My dad, left, and his brother having FUN! running together...back in the day!

Choose and Soften

Vacation Reflections: Nature and Technology

I spent eight days in Mexico in March. It was a desperately needed "disconnect" with rest and solo time with my sweetheart without the demands of our "regular" lives. We sat on the beach and watched the endless in and out of the ocean waves beating upon the shore like a steady heartbeat. We had fun speaking our best broken español. We had cerveza and guacamole by the pool. We shopped for frutas y verduras from the local produce truck. We kayaked a lovely estuary. We surfed the long wave at Saladita (well, Damon did!). We napped, a LOT!

And, we had wi-fi access. We had a "connection" to the place I call Not Here Not Now. I spend a lot my regular life in this place (I am as I write this.) Most poignant for me during this trip was the very palpable physical and emotional  sensation of disconnecting that occurred whenever I got online. It felt especially noticeable in a place where we had to communicate in a different language. It was a bit distressing.

One of my greatest take-aways from this vacation was learning to becoming aware of the influence of choosing to "connect" to technology on my feelings, actions, behaviors, even beliefs. Having access to the world outside our immediate surroundings was both reassuring and devastating. How quickly I was no longer here, now. But also, how quickly I could connect to a loved one not with me. 

Have you seen this recent TED Talk about bionic technology? I recommend wading through the whole thing; there's lots to consider and bad jokes to endure, but it gets to the heart of the matter around 15:00. Technology is valuable in many ways, as it can help us connect back to our humanness. And, I must remind myself daily that while its value can be strikingly clear in videos like the one above, it also removes me from softening into the lessons of nature. Lessons I want and need to learn. I want to feel and experience what becomes imprinted on me when I spend time in the here and now: in the dirt, amongst the plants, my nose filled with essence of flowers, humid air and wood smoke with the time and space to simply observe, following one bird's purpose with my eye and attending to the details of the earth as she nurtures and provides -- day in, day out. 

Boogie boarding on Troncones Beach, Mexico. March 2014.