Tag Archives: Fear

“Use Your Words!” Awareness of Fear?

IT by Stephen King

Last week I delivered my first prepared speech. I had the opportunity to talk for 4-6 minutes about myself. I went prepared with a Leg of Skeleton in my backpack. No, really, I borrowed one of Shelly’s legs as a prop in case I fell apart and my index cards were suddenly written in a language I don’t currently speak. (“Shelly” is the full-sized skeleton that stands in my living room. Poor dear, he’ s but a shell of a man…)

Twice a month, I attend Toastmasters and gather with others who want to hone their speaking skills, overcome their discomfort with speaking in public or enjoy speaking and have a desire to share their skills.


I’m talking to one of my students; someone who comes to class regularly and has supported my work. In other words, I’m talking with someone who appreciates what I’m doing and gets it. We’re talking about form and technique and it’s all good. Then she asks what Movement Alchemy is.

One of two things happen.

Either I hit one of my “cue” words and I’m off and running and well-articulated thoughts are just pouring out.


I suddenly develop a nasty case of Sludge Mind.

Without warning, I’m in the mental equivalent to an unfamiliar, pitch-dark room and I’m looking for a light switch. I’m all starts and stops (if I used “uhs” and “ums” – I’d be all that too!) as though I just forgot what I was about to say. If I’m lucky, I see the work in my head running like a movie, but my words have abandoned me. In moments like this morning, it’s as though the processing upstairs is grinding to a thick, mucosal  halt. All the while inside my head, I’m screaming, “I know this! I know this!”

This used to happen to me when I was a child (mostly in math class) when I would be called to the board. I’m standing there, in the spotlight (which, for those of you who know me know this is not my happy place) and the light will not come on. I knew the answer 5 seconds ago, sitting at my desk. Like I knew the answer 5 seconds ago when I was teaching class!

I’m an introvert – definitely. Emotional baggage? Yup. Fear of public speaking. It’s in my way.

I’ve learned from experience that if I can’t talk about it, no one is going to come asking. I could be totally crazy and have no chance of building a financially via business, but if I can’t tell anyone about it, I absolutely have no chance.

My first speech went well, especially since throughout most of the experience, I couldn’t feel my face. As someone who spends much of my time in my body and developing whole self balance, this was an uncomfortable mental exercise. I lost my body. I don’t even remember feeling the pounding of my heart. I do remember feeling ungrounded. Eventually I began to float back to earth. Next, I found myself with enough presence of mind and body to check the clock. As I felt a small part of myself begin to regain consciousness, I decided to leave Leg of Skeleton for another time.

Someone recently told me that even after the many, many years Johnny Carson spent on the Tonight Show, he still got nervous before every show.


Awareness of Living: The Fs and the Big P

Wings Black Large by blangtv

Juicy f-words.

As I go through my life, creating, writing and developing ideas willy nilly, I was reminded by today’s Daily OM of a word I have come to accept – failure.

If we accept society’s narrow definition and use of the the words, “success” and “failure” we have one chance in every endeavor we attempt to be happy. If things don’t go the way we planned then it’s a failure. End of story, right?

Consciously I have redefined “success” for myself. Like my Body’s Way of moving, success is specific to what I want out of life. Interestingly, by redefining of “success” I didn’t alter my definition of “failure” at all. My definition of “failure” has evolved on it’s own.

Discomfort and Failure are signs of growth. If I’m not uncomfortable I’m probably not learning anything. If I haven’t failed, I certainly haven’t learned anything. From all the Ds and Fs I got in school until college, I should know everything!

Failure, Fear and Fight-or-Flight – my amygdala (the primal, instinctive part of the brain that kicks in when we’re “threatened”) couldn’t tell the difference for far too long.

During my movement practice out in the sumptuous spring morning, I found myself devoid of inspiration. Spine-pulsing, pleasure-sparking, joy-eliciting music and I found myself wandering aimlessly around my deck. At the time I thought to myself “mmm, ok, I’m not responding to the music the way I think I should, so just listen. Be with the music. Be in the music. Be part of the music.”

In retrospect (gotta love hindsight), I know now that I was running on a low hum of adrenaline. As much as I enjoyed dancing outside, I couldn’t truly be in the experience – I was uncomfortable and not comfortable with being uncomfortable. Snowball building…

Dancing with fear and failure is a release for me. I’ve stopped attempting to chase the fear away. Instead I invite fear to tell me its story. What brought it to me this time? Is its presence a new story or an old one? Is the story true? The most important aspect of this experience is not the process but the understanding that in being with fear I am no longer present. I have allowed myself to leave my body and get distracted by stories of the future created by my mind.

In terms of choreography I got nothin’ so that could be considered a failure. I didn’t get anything I can use for movement patterns by doing. In the being, I received information about myself and what I’m doing to develop choreography. Doing, doing and doing more doesn’t ever guarantee cool, fresh movement patterns. As often as not, it is while I’m just sitting and listening to the music that will bring something new. Being. Not a finished product, but honest inspiration.

Awareness gives me wings.

Fear is only a creation of my mind pulling my presence out from under me. Failure no longer troubles me. With its new definition as ‘an indication that it is time to stop DO-ing and BE’. It’s coming in through the back door. With this fresh awareness, why not begin my personal movement practice – or any movement practice with BE-ing?!

Wings, baby!

Photo from banglatv.ca

Sensation is Truth

Celebration on a Blue Backgrd

As a child, it is firmly ingrained, how wrong it is to lie to others. We are told repeatedly the importance of being honest and that we should always tell the truth.

What about when I lie to myself?

When I refuse the truth. When lying to myself keeps everybody else happy, or at least at bay. Story 1, I must sacrifice my life and purpose for the sake of others. My badge of self-importance – damn, that thing is heavy.

What happens when I lie myself into a life that is unrecognizable?

Story 2, I had the best of intentions. I meant well.

What is that old saying about intentions…

I meant well. But I knew better. My body shared in every decision I have made. My body, through Sensation, gave me her           “2 cents worth”. I gave my mind free reign and easily slid into the quicksand of stories and agreements. I thought in ‘rational’ terms. Truth: I rationalized the agreement. I played it ‘safe’.  In essence I agreed to live my life through everyone else around me. Truth: I let fear have it’s way with me.

My mind agreed. Once that agreement was signed in blood, I only had to let the leash lead me. My mind was willing. My body has been fighting every step of the way.

My body has been fighting every step of the way. The sinking feelings. The aches and pains. The fears that seemingly comes from nowhere. The sudden grief materializing out of thin air. The inability to get out and live for months on end.

Sound a little like depression? No kidding.

Truth: It’s taken me quite some time to learn that there was nothing well-meaning or healthy about it.

None of the agreements I made and the stories I held onto served the world. Nothing improved due to my choices. If anything, the happiness I professed to trade my purpose for, was a figment of my imagination.

Invariably shift happens, right?! The anvil of impeccability.

My body is excited! Despite the fact that I am sitting on the floor with a laptop on, well, my lap, my body is doing it’s little sitting-on-the-floor-with-a-laptop dance!! My body knows truth when she is in it.

I do not believe in destiny, though I feel with certainty that I have, as we all have, a purpose.  Perhaps I am not here to become a Nobel laureate, sports star, genocidal political official (that’s a relief) or whatever else defines grand. At the same time, I do have that grand purpose – not my role to play – but meaningful possibility.

My purpose has been here all along. Somewhere along the way, I agreed not to see it. A beautiful example of creating my own suffering.

My body knows this too. For this I don’t need a test or a counselor. My body is my barometer. That’s not to say that I will allow myself to realize and manifest my purpose. Through the forest of Fear and the bogs of Shame tread I.

Learning to recognize what is mine and what isn’t and why I lay claim to the agreement of others. There is more than conditioning at work here. To heal and grow will take more than letting go. Giving myself permission to actualize my purpose.

The lies, stories and the agreements (which include stories I may tell myself) helped me to design and build the obstacles with which I have paved my yellow brick road.

(Thank you, Ken, for sharing your wisdom and truth that is helping me to uncover mine.)

Where am I going? How am I going?

Here comes the next post…

Awareness of Secrecy

Hiding Snake in Wallpaper

I’ve never been a good keeper of my own secrets. I can keep my mouth shut for others, but if you know what to look for, you can see my life on my body.

I don’t like keeping secrets.

The “keeping ____ close to the vest” – hate it.

When I am keeping secrets, I can’t say how things really are. I’m greatly uncomfortable with that. When I live like that I stop talking altogether. (I’ll bet some of you can’t even imagine that!!) What’s there to talk about? Everything is connected. Ripples everywhere. For me, secrecy is akin to lying. Then, if I lie about one aspect of my life every relationship I have is based on fiction. My mother was a phenomenal secret-keeper. Ironically now that she no longer recognizes me she is both unable to keep any more secrets while keeping the secrets that would help explain how she  got to this place. When I was a teenager we were friends. Now, as her life comes to an end, I realize I never knew her.

I hate secrets.

Why would I keep secrets?


Is there another reason for keeping secrets?

Playing games instead of open and direct communication.

Snow came today and it occurred to me that if it snowed long enough, it would hide everything. We would no longer be able to see what is beneath the snow.

The world looks sparkling, clean and beautiful. Snowflakes fall gracefully; fearlessly floating into relationship with what is below.

We have outrsnow too. That which hides what we fear to have seen.

Somewhere along our journey we learn to hide what is unique. We learn was is acceptable and from there we filter what we allow to be seen and heard. We conceal what we believe will not be tolerated.

What we only share with a select few – if anyone at all. Experience lives and breathes in the body. Experience manifests as sensation. It can become locked in when we become stuck. Locked within, it passes through a metamorphosis until we choose to perceive what has been internally digested as the “way we are” – part of us.

On this path we choose illusion over truth. When truth is so uncomfortable that self-deceit is a relief – the metamorphosis is complete.

It turns us inside out, this metamorphosis; this constant burning of fear. Misguided vigilance makes a sacrifice out of our truth to serve our secrets. We sacrifice who we are – our ability to show up – to serve fear.

We will preserve our secrets/fear and secrecy/fear at the risk of all else. We lose our selves and the ones we love and who love us.

Fear of scarcity.

Fear of abandonment.

Fear of loneliness.

Fear of failure.

Fear of looking foolish.

The steps we take to prevent what we fear are the very steps that ensure the nurture, feeding and manifestation of what we fear.

What we deem unwanted:








Is both Unique and Collective.

We so often feel alone in what we keep secret when the reality is that we are not alone at all. For being unique in ourselves, how we experience life and what we fear is remarkably ubiquitous. Ultimately the walls we build with our secrets are walls that keep us from ourselves.

If I can’t connect to myself fully then how can I ever hope to connect to another?

Hiding Monster Under the Bed

Oceans. Moats. Walls.

                    Wall West Berlin Side wGraffiti

They define.

They delineate.

They reflect boundaries.

They are natural and built by human hand.

They are a visual communication of beginnings and ends.

They are edges.

They can benignly segregate us.

Or they can stand as confrontational lines in the sand; sentinels patiently and blindly waiting for a threat, real or imagined, to manifest.

They can stand between us and prevent us from seeing one another.

Their existence may become so taken for granted that we don’t even bother looking outside or beyond them.

They can protect us from the cold or they can prevent us from growing and thriving.

Real or imagined.

Protection or separation.

Natural topography conveniently shifted into a natural barrier.

Ocean Middle


One “man” professed to cross oceans of time to be with the woman he loved.

We may have oceans of love to share.


Is your back up against it? Are you ready to climb the walls? Or is there a climbing wall to be scaled?

“He puts up a wall every time we get to the heart of the problem.”


“I want a big house with a moat and dragons and a fort to keep people out.” Victoria Adams

Defense or isolation?

Moat of Krem Austria

Can what separates us; what keeps us apart, also be what connects us?

There may be an ocean between us, but the sound of waves crashing on the shore might be what we both know.

The walls that we choose to build are also walls we can choose to bring down.

Murky, algae-laden, monster-filled hazard or toy boat harbor…



West side of the Berlin Wall, Austrian Castle and Moat from dreamstime

Why Work when You can Play?

PlayWhen I started teaching Nia in 2003 there were some who would take class (or part of class) and leave. Every now and then they would tell me why: they “felt stupid”.

At first I responded to this comment with deep discomfort. I’m pretty sure there was quite a bit of blushing involved. Once I got past that (a moment of two) I began to notice how the message was delivered. Once or twice it was thrown over a shoulder as someone was leaving. It would be spoken with eyes down and head down and maybe an uncomfortable laugh as the messenger was moving in the opposite direction as me. The most interesting was when the message was delivered in a head-on confrontational way. When a student would look me in the eye, square off and spit the words. For whatever reason it was that delivery that was the easiest for me to manage. I always wanted to ask them why, but after asking once I discovered that my concern is not appreciated one bit!

 I think about what “appropriate behavior” means.

I observed my kids, who were 13 and 9, as I went through the process of learning to teach Nia and then teaching regular Nia classes. There was quite a bit of snickering. That passed. I can only guess that they figured out that Nia was going to be around for awhile and that I was very happy teaching Nia. At 22 my son tells me that while he appreciates the work I’m doing he just doesn’t gravitate toward moving that way. My daughter at 18 prefers the structure of a ballet class, though now and then will take a walk on the wild side and come to class or a Nia event. Free dance is not a favorite.

I often consider the demographics for my classes, labs and workshops. Who are the people I will or want to be teaching/sharing/guiding?

Then I think about if what I’m doing is group appropriate. Is it hard enough? Is it accessible? Is it interesting? Will it connect with them so that they can get the full benefit? How about the music? Am I keeping it fresh? Is it fun?

Carlos AyaRosas (who co-created Nia with Debbie Rosas Stewart) referred to play quite a bit. The routines he designed and much of the music he chose had some element of play or playfulness.

Are we playing?

Are we too dignified to play?

What will happen if someone sees us? Sees us doing something outside of our carefully prescribed “adult” play?

Like actually playing… with no children present… doing something that isn’t painful or competitive…

Is play supposed to be painful? Do kids look like they’re in pain when they’re playing?

If organized sports comes to mind, often it is us, parents or the adults that insist they “suck it up”, “man up”, and tell them “no pain no gain”. Children don’t choose to invite and endure pain in play. (Yes, I’ve said this before and I’ll keep saying it until it changes.) Somewhere along the way, “winning” and “success” got wound up in all sorts of pain.  Even our attempts at fitness, health and wellness are resulting in chronically painful, damaged and even broken bodies.

Hopping off the soapbox (for now)

Play is Play. It’s a place where we don’t mark time. A place in which we don’t need a reason for being there in the first place. And we do it because it genuinely feels good. When we’re finished, we feel energized. We’re not over-wound, nor are we so exhausted that we need to go right to bed. Our spirits are high and light and we can hardly wait to play again.


why work out when you can play?!

The Sensation of ‘Follow-Through’ – Also known as FAP!

I may as well call this ‘The Sensation of Fear, Anxiety and Sheer Panic’!

As a creative human I am grossly prolific. If I had a dollar for every concept, vision, theory I have in notebooks throughout the house, I wouldn’t have to worry about money for quite some time. Some ideas are good and go on to be developed, some are ok and begin to break down before they ever see the light of a studio and some are in-the-moment shots of adrenaline that make me cringe when I look at them later.

No matter the quality, they all have one thing in common: follow through. If I don’t commit in some way I will never find out what is truly possible. This is why I have gone so public with as yet embryonic Movement Alchemy. The potential for me to actualize my gifts in what is coming with Movement Alchemy is strong. For the first time, I’m not pulling an idea into manifestation, it’s pulling me.

Why am I regurgitating what you could easily read from authors such as Seth Godin and Hugh McLeod?


In development for January:

No drum roll, please, it will just increase the nausea from terror…

(Thank you, Julie, for the breathing exercise!)

Movement Alchemy, the Class: Dance of Life