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Daring Greatly, an excerpt

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better.

The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again,

because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who know great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause;

who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly…”

excerpt from Theodore Roosevelt’s speech “Citizenship in a Republic

(Daring Greatly by Brene’ Brown)

The “W” Word

When we last spoke, we were on the precipice of opportunity…

An opportunity to explore the much feared wrong-being; mistake-making; failure-doing. Otherwise known as the opportunity to learn new stuff.

The opportunity might be that as humans, we are wrong possibly more than we’re right – that is simply a state of our existence.

As young children we don’t give a fig about being wrong. We ask tons and tons of questions all the time. I never talked so much as I did when my children were little! When kids get into school other kids don’t tell them they’re wrong, they tell them they’re stupid. That’s a little different, but it’s a start on our way to wrongaphobia or atychiphobia, the fear of failure.

As we grow up the color drains from our lives and experiences and decisions become black and white, right or wrong and the only answers are yes or no. It also becomes less socially acceptable to ask questions. So, we’re kind of screwed: we can’t ask questions when we don’t know something but we also can’t be wrong.

I would wager a very large sum of money I don’t even have that everybody who reads this or anything like it would agree that the idea is ludicrous. So now what?

Now, will you forgive yourself for being wrong? Even if others do not?

Will you ask questions so that you continue to learn and grow?

Will you forgive others for being wrong and give them the room to learn for themselves?

Telling someone something they don’t know doesn’t really help them much, unless they’re about to step on a live mine. Making it “easier” for someone doesn’t make anything easier. They don’t have he information through the experience or the muscle memory.  Unless you’re willing to be with them for every second of every day, this might not be such a great idea.

Are you willing to stand up and be wrong?

I’ve heard it alot, “I’m willing to be wrong” – not so. “I’m willing to be wrong about stuff I know I know” is what has been proven in behavior.  Assumption? Not exactly, but the line is a bit blurry.  “I have no ego.”  My knee jerk response is then how did you get out of bed this morning?!

At first, coming out of the wrong closet smacked the hell out of my ego. And it felt pretty lousy (it still does when it involves someone with whom I am not comfortable and safe). It was tempting to retreat into habitual behavior. Let’s not. After a time or two, it loses it’s sting and I found I could regain “normal” function much more quickly!

So! Ready.



Do It Wrong.

What if you spent the entire day doing everything wrong?

“Wrong” might give you results you didn’t even know you were after! But I’m getting ahead of myself.

We, as a culture are seriously into perfection. The funny – really poignant and sad reality is that perfect doesn’t exist. Like so many of our other social constructs – it is conceptual hell.

Perfection only exists in concept or in theory and exists to make us miserable. Before we go any further, I feel compelled to provide the following disclaimer: concepts cannot make us do anything. We are responding to a lifetime of conditioning and we do have a choice. End of disclaimer.

For myself, there are certain areas in which I hear my ego yelling things like, “why can’t you do that already – you’ve seen somebody do it once”, or “your supposed to be a dancer…”, “what is taking you so long?!?!?!”.

Through my Nia practice and my experience as a mother I have learned to accept some things. First, every different piece of information I received is processed in a different way and in relative time. Second, I might be able to do it the first or second time around but to be able to do it and dig it takes time and a beautiful concept called embodiment.

Every time I define myself I put limitations on the future. The “I ams” put me neatly in the box, slam the lid and tie a pretty bow. To Robyn, for that, I am eternally grateful.

My point, is that being wrong is completely out of the question – for anyone – at any time. Anyone see a problem – or an opportunity here?!

Share Your Thoughts

What is the value of life?

Let’s make this interactive.

I’m going to leave it here and give you time to leave an answer in the comments, in an email or on Fb – wherever you’re comfortable.

Unless you specify otherwise, I will not share your name, though I may very well reference your response. If you leave a comment on this site, it will be public – just so you know for sure.

If I get no response, I will write anyway.

What do you say?

Heart Dance – Today Is A Good Day To Dance

Wanna save the planet?

If you know me, you had to know this was coming!

Wanna save the planet?

Then dance!

People are starving everywhere. A minority of people own the majority of the world’s assets. Discrimination, prejudice and political irresponsibility are rampant. And that’s not all of it.                                                                                                                So I’m asking you to dance (I’ll define ‘dance’ towards the end).

Dance alone. Dance with your pets. Dance with your kids (if you’ve got babies and toddlers they will LOVE it!). Dance with your heartthrob, your partner, your spouse, the love of your life. Dance with your neighbors. Gather your friends and co-workers and dance every week. Don’t have a group, find a group to dance with.

Not just any Dance. Dance your heart.

As you begin to dance, bring into your heart and mind Compassion, Gratitude and Appreciation. If you’re having a really nasty day and those words are not getting you anywhere – think of bunnies (thank you Gregg Braden!).

Stay with it. Hang on to the feelings and sensations that come with those words or the bunny!

If you’re dancing in a group, become aware of how it feels to dance in the room with Compassion, Gratitude and Appreciation ( and/or the bunny, ofcourse). Share this focus with the others in the group, give it a few minutes to gather and feel what happens. Keep it going for as long as you can.

If you’re dancing on your own, keep doing it. Stay connected to those feelings and sensations and know that they are radiating out into the world. Nurture your own dance with it, keep feeding your Heart Dance.

Can I save the planet dancing by myself? Unlikely, although the feelings that arise from this practice may very well change the lives of those around me and that’s a lovely start. Just like any other big project, big goal or deep desire, it’s made up of smaller pieces. If everyone takes a piece (only what is manageable), change happens.

What do I mean by “Dance”?

Your Heart Dance is what you love to do more than almost anything else in the world.

Your Heart Dance may be going out for a run, meditation (anyway you do it), a yoga practice, rock climbing, writing music, playing music, rocking your child to sleep, traditional or non traditional dance, song, teaching, volunteering. If you’re not sure what that is, start with the mini meditation of Compassion, Gratitude and Appreciation and let that be your guide .

Whatever it is you do, combined with Compassion, Gratitude and Appreciation, will change your environment and the environment around you. It will touch everyone who comes into any sort of contact with you. You become the embodiment of Compassion, Gratitude and Appreciation.

Let’s save the planet.

Dance with me today.

Awareness of Healing

I am present. I am quiet. I am still.

I am present to the knowledge that every move I make is made up of smaller, micro moves. I slip through every moment, mindfully, consciously – with Awareness.

I invite my Spine to float softly upwards, creating Volume and Space in all of my joints for Ease, Relaxation, Functionality and Pleasure.

With quiet precision, I am present to my structure – my framework. I am conscious of where my Body is in space. I am connecting to the Wisdom and Intelligence of my Body.

Stillness and Strength from within. Organic, and tactile I am soft, supple, open and curious. Awake to sensation, I am within the subtle, the reflective and the gentle that leads to Healing.

I feel. I hear. I taste. I touch. I smell. I see. I sense. I receive. I transmit. I know. I adapt. I grow. I heal.

Movement As Medicine


That word is everywhere. For myself I mention awareness in every class I share and I’ve been writing about it since this site went live.

We’re told it’s so important. It can takes us to higher levels of performance by creating a deeper relationship with our bodies. Through awareness we get to discover what our bodies enjoy; we get to uncover how we do what we do. Through awareness we can create, play and explore the pleasure and Joy of movement.

What happens when we connect to awareness and we don’t like what we find?

What if, instead of having fun, you want to cry? Instead of the Joy of Movement, you want to leave right now? What happens when awareness shows you a body that brings memories of shame? What if, when you connect to awareness you also connect to the “reality” that your body won’t do what you want it to – what it used to – what everybody else seems to have no trouble doing? What if certain moves cause you to feel alarmed and fearful?

What would happen if you cried in class? No flippancy here. Seriously. Letting oneself cry in public can be a very frightening thought. Are you in class with a group of people you know? Has a foundation been established for emotional expression? A conversation with the teacher will give you some insight as to how your expression may be handled. In a Nia class it is the class who creates the space and the teacher who is responsible for holding the space and every Nia teacher is going to hold the space in a way that is grounded for him or her.When you speak with your teacher, do you feel safe? If not, try another class.  Maybe there isn’t another class. If this is the class, you can give yourself a private moment by leaving the space until you feel more settled and then return.

What if you want to leave? Leave. Don’t leave the moment, though. Once you feel more comfortable and less overwhelmed, go back to that moment. Can you identify what it was that brought about your desire to leave? If you felt completely lost and frustrated that you weren’t “getting it” – you’re not alone. Not only has every teacher been where you are right now, there is a very good chance there is someone else who is or has had feelings very similar to the ones you’re experiencing.

Let me be absolutely clear: if you ever have an experience in class or anywhere that leaves you considering or with the desire to hurt yourself or someone else – get help immediately. If you don’t know how to get help, you can contact    the National Institute for Mental Health, for information or the National Alliance on Mental Illness, or 1800-950-6264 to find a professional to help you through.

 Nia was designed to do two things: guide you into fitness and encourage you to find your way into movement in order to arrive at fitness. This makes Nia a very personal practice; an individual practice within a community of individual practitioners. Nia accomplishes this in two ways: Form and Freedom.

What if, when you go back to class, you go with the intention of not trying out for the Olympics this afternoon or the San Francisco Ballet company later in the month! What if you go into class and leave the notion of “keeping up” at the door? Invite your mind to be curious about what’s giving you trouble. “Mmm, ok, I’m going to slow things down so that I can take a look at where I don’t have movement clarity.”

Like missing a word in a sentence can create confusion and misunderstanding in a conversation, a missing step or transition can create similar confusion and misunderstanding in your body. “Hey, how did they there get there?!” For myself, on more than one occasion in the middle of a class I’ve come to a complete stop to watch what the teacher was physically communicating. I was missing some foot work and I kept ending up in a different part of the room from the other students. Stopping was my way of re-booting my system. Instead of getting caught up in the confusion and becoming more and more frustrated, I came to stillness, giving my nervous system got a chance to regroup. Usually then I see what was missing and go on. There have also been times when my body didn’t know how to process what I was seeing into being able to do what I was seeing. Those times, I do my best and know that after a few repeats I’ll eventually learn it as it was shared or I’ll learn it in my body’s way.

In movement practice, the only “wrong” way to do it is if it hurts. Every body in motion will look different as they move – that’s the idea behind the nature of your body and your body’s way. Moving without judgment.  A movement practice is intended to reconnect your mind and your body so that you may have a balanced and sturdy foundation for emotional access and spirit expression.

This is movement medicine.

And there’s the fitness aspect. Some will seek movement practices in order to get fit and receive the gifts mentioned above or they will go after the gifts mentioned above and become fit.

We carry our history in our bodies. Everything we’ve been through has left something behind. Movement is a way of increasing circulation – the circulation of blood and the circulation of energy (a word later about if you ‘believe’ in energy or not). What this means is that when you move, muscles contract against and around blood vessels of all kinds and that helps to move blood and therefore oxygen throughout your body. When you experience an emotional response to an event, there is always a corresponding sensation and motion that occurs. That sick, sinking sensation that accompanies news you don’t want to hear. That fluttery sensation of “butterflies” when you’re about to give a speech or do something for the first time. Both of those sensations occur in your abdominal region. If you don’t move your abdominal region freely, you may not be moving those experiences and accompanying feelings and sensations through. Where am I going with all of this? If you feel the need to cry or to leave; if you suddenly feel anger – these are your emotions doing what they’re meant to do – they are telling you that something is going on. You may have moved a part of your body in a new way so that feelings and sensations are resurfacing on their way to diffusion. A concrete example: in the case of sexual abuse, the survivor may resist moving the pelvis as it brings the mind back to the event or events. If this individual begins to consciously move the pelvis, the feelings that may come up can be overwhelming. Neither blood nor energy was being moved freely and in a healthy way.  Sensation was stifled and energy backed up. When movement finally is initiated, the dam is broken down (a little at a time or all at once).

Movement is not all about physical accomplishment or physical accomplishment. Our bodies are designed to move. Discovering the movement that is fun, and brings pleasure, ease, and allows for a creative outlet is vital to creating overall balance. To be a competitive athlete is great but you are more than a competitive athlete. You are also a soulful artist, a lively and expressive communicator, a playful child.

Movement helps you to reconnect the competitive athlete with the soulful artist, the expressive communicator and the playful child.

When you connect to all parts of yourself, you connect with the world.

This is movement medicine.

Why Are You Thinking Straight?

Are you thinking straight?


Would crooked thinking be more fun?!?!

How about no thinking at all?!?!

What if, you spend an entire 60 seconds not thinking?

While you’re not likely to stop your mind from thinking, you can put Mind Muffs on. That way your thoughts are muffled enough so that you can pay little or no attention. Instead, listen to your “gut” – or your heart.

You haven’t stopped thinking – you’re just thinking from a different place. Are you giggling?!

Thinking = information. Information generally requires some sort of conduit to get from origin to insertion. Is mind thinking our only conduit? Since our mind cannot think pain (that’s a brain thing), how about “No”. What about that feeling about someone and the phone rings and they’re on the other end? Take a look at your child or someone you love more than yourself – heart thinking? We are more than mind, skin, bones and muscle.

It is different “thinking”. It is thinking without ‘reasoning things out’. It is thinking without excuses. It is knowing because you know.  This is Body Thinking.

There is no indecisiveness, unless you mind horns in and starts telling stories.

There are no ‘what ifs’, ‘I wonder whys’ or ‘guessing’. Once you trust this different thinking, life looks simpler. Life isn’t complicated.  We get in our heads and make it complicated.

Body Thinking.

How about Body Talking? Yea, fine, also known as Body Language!

Have you ever paid attention to what your body does when your mouth is going? Pay attention the next time you’re having a conversation. Don’t change anything, just observe. What did you notice? Is your body and mind in agreement? In other words, as you were saying “yes, ofcourse, we would love to have you for dinner”, were you shaking your head as though indicating ‘no’? Were you leaning into or away from the person? Were you inviting this person for dinner with your entire being – or just your mouth (or mind that tells you, you “should”)?

Our communication is frequently unclear or we may say things that we don’t mean. Our mind speaks from lifelong conditioning. It’s not appropriate, it’s conditioning. It’s no surprise then that our relationships are unclear, without deep truth and fraught with misunderstanding.

What is the sensation in your body? During your next conversation, pay attention to the sensations your body is sending you. Pay particular attention to the primary sensation. In other words what’s the big thing you’re feeling? Is your heart pounding? Are you about to vomit? The uncontrollable desire to run like hell – and maybe even scream some as you do the running?! Is something telling you not to give this person the information they’re asking for?

We are conditioned to be polite, often at the expense of our emotional and physical safety. As children, it is expected that we are obedient and do as we’re told.  Even when it feels wrong. When we are young it is our bodies that tell us we are not safe. We don’t yet have the real life experience for our minds to draw from. Our bodies are telling us that sitting that close to Uncle Roy isn’t safe, but mom is telling us that it will hurt his feeling if we don’t. Our feelings are invalidated. It is clearly communicated that what our bodies tell us isn’t valid, true, acceptable, worthy. It isn’t polite.

Very shortly we believe it and we stop paying attention to our Body Talk.

We put duct tape over and around one of our conduits so that the sparks are no longer felt.

We begin to rely on our minds to tell us what is safe, what is the wisest decision, who we should have in our lives. Our mind, that creates and imagines and dreams and processes constantly. The same mind that tells lies as easily as truths – and we can’t tell the difference. They’re our thoughts so they must be true – we thought it – is it true? Your body will tell you if it’s true. The body doesn’t lie.

Spend those 60 seconds with Body Thinking.

Then spend the duration of your next conversation with your Mind Muffs on and just listen.

During the conversation after that one,  listen with your MMs on while also paying attention to the sensations in your body.

After that, notice what your body is doing as a result of those sensations. Is what your body’s doing in agreement with what you’re saying? If not, why not?

Begin to go longer with your MMs on. Once volume of your Body Talk is equal with the volume of your mind, you won’t need the MMs anymore. You will be more fully engaged. When you are in conversation with another it will be with your entire self as opposed to a lax body under moving jaws. You are activated. Aware. Alive!

So stop thinking straight!

The Nature of the Body

Voice. Disposition. Intelligence. Wisdom.

Four traits that offer insight into the Nature of Your body.

It’s 7:55pm central time – do you know where your body is?

Seriously. Quick, without looking, where is your body in space? How do your parts and pieces feel? Are you holding tension? Where?

Now that you are in your body…

No matter how much energy we are prepared to put into an endeavor, it is always a pleasant surprise to discover  that we can move forward with less effort than expected.

What do you think would happen if, the next time the energy output was as high or higher than expected, you put forth less effort than your mind told you to deliver. You would come up short, right? Maybe not.

Your mind is always active, processing. moving forward with information it may or may not have with any degree of accuracy. What I’m saying is that everything the mind says is not necessarily accurate or true. Especially if you find yourself “wondering”, “figuring” and making decisions based on information yo don’t actually have.

You know the charming expression about making assumptions, right? That little gem is not only referring to people around you, but also about making assumptions about your body. We cannot be in someone else’s head, so we must ask questions if we want to have their truth – their story and we must rely on them to speak from a place of truth rather than a place of defensiveness, fear or mistrust. The upside is that we live in our bodies every day so knowing how we work and what works for us is available all the time and should be easy (assumption!). The downside is that culture encourages and even demands that we disconnect from our bodies for a myriad of unhealthy reasons in order to fit in.

There is a danger in disconnection. If no relationship exists, we are less likely to protect, to defend, to empathize, to love or to care for. Abuse is far more likely when there is little or no connection – with our bodies, with our spirits, with others and with the world and the Earth.

Relationships rely on communication. Kinesthetic, intuitive as well as verbal. Any relationship is only as strong and healthy as its communication. If one is speaking and the other not listening, there will be difficulty. Pay attention to your body and listen for comfort. If your body is not comfortable, make a change until it tells you it has reached comfort.

In any relationship there is give and take, transmitting and receiving.  And like any relationship, it is important to those involved to feel heard and to trust what they are saying will be received with respect and love. Agreement is also lovely. If you and your body agree, you might be surprised at what happens.

The language of the body is sensation. The sense used to realize sensation is awareness. Pay attention.

When you’re moving your body, take a session and feel your way through the moves. You may have to slow down. You may have to turn off your iPod, or tv so that you can hear. You will possibly have to stop moving here and there to hear deeply and to digest the information your body’s giving you. You must move for yourself. If you’re producing movement according to the rules of others or if you’re concerned about how you look to others, you will not hear.

I’m asking you to do two things we don’t much like doing: be quiet and be still. Very yin.

You listen. You hear. You act.

Your action can be to either demand what you want from your body and create an adversarial relationship or you can let your body tell you how to get the best from her or him (I really struggle with using “it” when referring to the body in a personal way).

Demand. Force. Dominate. Grind. Overcome. Transmit only. Punishment. Struggle. Pain as pleasure. Effort. High level of energy required.  To be successful this way more often than not requires that we disconnect from sensation in order to be able to tolerate what is being done to the body and how that feels. We disconnect more often then we might think. Am I being judgmental? Yep. I’ve been working in fitness for almost 20 years. I used to teach people how to do this. I used to put my body and the body of others through all of this in the name of fitness, performance and even health.

I have a very high threshold for pain. In the past it was an egotistical source of pride. It’s a  fabulous trait for getting through alot of pain that must be endured, like childbirth, but for living in a body constantly alive with sensation, a high threshold for pain is an obstacle. Just because I can endure it and even function through it – should I? Why should I? Will enduring pain really improve my performance? Will damaging my body improve my performance? What’s it doing to my body in terms of continuing to move as I get older? How will damage affect longevity? Why is it ok to damage my body – to be in self-inflicted pain much of the time?

What if? Instead? We…

Listen. Wait. Collaborate. Explore. Soften. Transmit and receive. Cooperate. Pleasure as pleasure. Less effort.

What’s gonna happen?

Systemic Integration – Systemic Movement

If you wiggle your toes long enough, your calf muscles will get tired. If you don’t want to wait that long, you can stand up and releve’ until your calf muscles won’t let you rise anymore. Unless you’re a ballet dancer, chances are good it won’t take as long.

Why am I suggesting you perform weird exercises?

Those weird exercises are easy examples of how one part of your body, your feet, are connected to another, your calves. If you don’t feel like getting up you can squeeze and release your hand in and out of a fist until your forearm gets tired. Either way, watch what happens. To make the experience richer, place your other hand on your forearm while you squeeze and release your fist. To further integrate your nervous system, as you did when you added sight and touch, sense for pressure as your fist tightens or your calf muscles shorten as you rise to the balls of your feet.

What do you hear?

If you’re releving (is that a word?!) – you may begin to hear your breath. And, or,  the creaking of your ankle joints.

If you pay attention you may notice that once your calf muscles begin to fatigue, the larger muscles above begin to contract more noticeably than they were before. You may not have felt them earlier. Not only that, but your core – the muscles that support your spine all the way around your body will also begin to work in order to keep you upright. If you find that you are struggling to maintain perfect upright balance and you are leaning forward a little, the muscles in your upper back and neck will also kick in to prevent the weight of your head from causing you to topple. All that from some little movements in your feet!

Ok, now right after your finish one releve’, bend your knees and sink closer to the ground. The muscles that surround your upper leg are going to begin to make a statement. You’re using some of the largest muscles in your body, so don’t be surprised if your heart rate increases.

After you rise again, pretend you’re holding a basketball in your hands and “shoot” it into a basket high over your head and in front of you, making sure that the ball rolls off of your finger tips as it leaves your hand.

Put all of those moves together. Make sure your eyes are following the ball. Ok, now just one more thing: when you’re finished with all of that and the ball is in the basket, look over your shoulder as though someone standing behind you just called your name.

Repeat that same sequence in ssssloooooooowwwwwwww motion. How did that feel? Different from the faster version? Keep it super slow and your releve’s can alternate so that your rising on one foot at a time. Repeat the same movement pattern in slow motion 4 or 5 more times.

Now move it at your natural pace. How does that feel? Is it a relief to have momentum working with you instead of fighting against momentum? Faster is easier… Interesting…

You may have just integrated more of your body’s systems than you usually do


You created systemic movement!

Why did I just bother with all that?

First to suggest that moving systemically is not a foreign concept. It might help to think of systemic integration and movement as the relationships that occur between your body parts. Second, to add a little dimension to the idea that fitness has to be fast. For variety, for balance and to train your body in a different way – to truly cross train all of you – keep your attention on your entire body and change your speed.

What if you put that pattern, fast and slow, to music…