Scared or Sacred?

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I remember as a child being terrified of the dark; most likely due to nightmares from watching movies like Dracula and Frankenstein…or it could be from my two older sisters telling me that monsters lived under my bed and in the closet.  What are sisters for if not for giving one a reason to grow strong and courageous??l!!

When I was very young, I’m thinking 7-9 years of age, as I lay in bed after mom kissed me good night and closed the door, I would focus on the light coming from beneath the door from the TV and the living room lights.  As I focused on that light, the door would shrink to the size of a stamp and everything else in the room (including my body) grew very large.  I don’t recall having what might be called an out-of-body experience but I do remember that shrinking the door and becoming big made me feel safe and strong.

At the current youthful age of 66, I’m still not fond of going to bed and having the bedroom door totally closed.  I leave it open just a titch so that there is a bit of light available and knowing my husband, my knight in shining armor, is only a few stairs away from me should those monsters under the bed decide to show their ugly heads.

My experience with tarot has been immensely helpful in my journey through being scared of the dark — I used to see the Devil, the Tower and the Death cards as ominously foreboding. Now I know that when the Devil card appears in a reading (my own or someone else’s), it is a reminder to acknowledge and incorporate the dark side (we all have one); when the Tower appears, I know not to put all my eggs in one basket so to speak, that a major collapse of something held dear might be just around the corner; or if the Death card appears I’m actually jubilant!  Something is about to change drastically and letting go of things that no longer serve Life will aid in the transformation.

I have found that my journey has been more about seeking and embodying the sacred — rather than being scared.  It’s about seeing things with new eyes.

My Awakening the Tarot: Embodying the Cards classes are on Tuesdays at 6 p.m.  I’ve found the best way to awaken the awesomeness of tarot is by telling a story using the cards. We follow the cards as they are presented in Theresa Reed’s “The Tarot Coloring Book” (available at the Really Cool Gift Shop inside The Nutman Co. USA and other fine book stores).  Ahead of time, my normal (if there is such a thing) process is to shuffle the cards, cut the cards and draw 4 cards off the top.  Those 4 cards, along with the Significator card (this next Tuesday the story will be around the Death card) allow me to create a story.  I also add music that speaks to the energy of the story so that we can dance (I use Nia choreography) and then I end with a 20 minute meditation.

I’ve also been teaching Nia for 16 years. I searched most of my adult life for some kind of dance or exercise that allowed me to express myself.  I didn’t find it in the traditional dance or aerobics classes.  The first time I stepped into a Nia class in Dallas, Texas was in 1999. The experience was phenomenal and I knew I needed to find a Nia class in Wisconsin…and I did, and the rest as they say is history. Nia allows my body’s story to unfold. Nia uses 9 movements forms within the Dance Arts, Healing Arts and Martial Arts, all blended into an hour cardiovascular and spirited class.  Nia invites the realms of the Body, Mind, Emotions and Spirit to play with movements, steps and stances.

Manifesting a class that blends Nia and Tarot has been personally and creatively satisfying! Life led me from being a little girl scared of the dark to an older and wiser woman utilizing my experiences of the dark to shine a light into the lives of those who come to Sacred Space Studio.  Many come just to dance or just to find out more about tarot and ultimately find that their own life’s purpose and inner light unveils itself.

Has your life’s purpose unveiled itself?

The Spaces Between

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I just celebrated my 15th year of teaching Nia!  I’m in the 4th week of Chakradance™ training!  I’m continuing my Tarot Tuesday classes which are so much fun and so insightful!  I’m opening up shop for one-on-one Tarot readings!  I have an abundant Reiki practice!  I’m also the co-owner and bookkeeper for The Nutman Co. USA, Inc., the Really Cool Gift Shop, Java Dancer Coffee Bar and Sacred Space Studio.

But my full time job is living life to my highest vision…being in place to receive what life has to offer — opportunities and challenges that I meet head on and with an open heart.  Focused living.  Focused radiation of love into the world.

I like to set a focus in my mind’s eye for each day after awakening (and after a cup of coffee!).  I didn’t used to do this, but after 15 years of teaching Nia it’s a welcome habit that I enjoy.

Setting a focus before each Nia class is merely one of the things that sets apart this fabulous cardio fitness lifestyle practice from any other on the face of the earth. My focus for this past Saturday’s morning class was “The Spaces Between.”  This could relate to a good many things in life, but I narrowed it down to the spaces between our thoughts and our actions.  There is a SPLIT SECOND between a thought and the choice that follows — to act or not act — and what type of action if that is the choice.

And once an action has been taken there is the need to accept the consequences. There don’t seem to be many consequences in the human world these days with actions taken that cause harm.

There is always the Universe to which we are all accountable.  My mom used to say “what goes around comes around.”  I believe this to be true.

So those spaces between our thoughts and our actions are profoundly important.

I enjoy living and learning.  How about you?

 

 

Transformational Movement

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Nia is transformational movement.  Was it my subconscious that led me to Nia?  Perhaps it was through the wisdom of the Universe that I found Nia.   I originally thought I was drawn to Nia because it is done barefoot … or maybe it was the music … or perhaps the invitation to express creatively while moving.  Whatever the case, I am infinitely grateful for the opportunity to teach Nia…to share the wonderous benefits (which go waaaaay beyond the physical realm) and to become part of a world-wide community of people who share the love of dance…who actually embody conscious transformation.

Marilyn Gordon, Director of Life Transformation Associates, says, “The divine art of conscious transformation can happen in the flash of a moment and can change the entire outlook of our lives. Even though we set ourselves free at one moment, doesn’t necessarily mean that we set ourselves free the next. We have to keep working on it, keep at it, keep on remembering the transformational work we came here for and keep on bringing the light to every aspect of ourselves.

It is for this reason that I found Nia.  To be a shaman, a healer, a catalyst for others to find their way in this crazy world; to invite others to “remember the transformational work we came here for” — and what better way to bring that invitation than through the expressive, creative art of dance and movement.

A Nia class is not just a cardiovascular fitness practice — although it is definitely that!!  Nia is a lifestyle practice as well.  One begins to feel good about themselves and begins to notice the little things in our lives that keep us from stepping fully into our greatness.  We have within us an inherent “greatness” gene.  It’s always there…sometimes it gets hidden or tossed to the back recesses of our beingness; nevertheless, it is there.  

In a Nia class — at least in MY Nia classes — there is an hour filled with love and laughter and moving the body in ways that perhaps it has never moved in before and in moving the body, the mind and heart awaken to a different voice…a unique and expressly personal voice that beckons the invitation to rise up my love, my fair one, and come away.  So many people in the world have a less than divine sensing of who they are, yet the divine self waits for the layers of self-denial, self-doubt and low self-esteen to fall away, revealing the beauty and grandeur of Being.  

This is my purpose…my sacred livelihood.  To engender change, to be a transformative force in my world…and thus in THE world.  Nia is my platform, my mode of transportation…transformation is an ever-moving destination — one that brings me much joy as I dance through life.  My Life As Art.  Won’t you join me in the fantastic journey?  The first stop along the way is “Love Your Body.”

Patterns of Movement

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Interesting to me that 8 days have passed since my last blog post.  Time is a-movin’ and there’s no time like the present moment…so here I am.

What is your reason for exercise?  If it is guilt or shame, I’m offering an invitation to come out of that pattern of thought and/or feeling.  If your reason for exercise does not contain the essence of joy, then I would suggest that it’s a deep and dark hole that has been dug (by no one other than yourself I might add quickly, lest blame be cast outside of one’s self).  

I’ve experienced the ecstatic dance of Gabrielle Roth’s 5 Rhythms; I’ve attended the initial training of Eurythmy.  Eurythmy is the movement form created by Rudolf Steiner, cultural philosopher who was way ahead of his time.  Waldorf Schools and Biodynamic Farming are all aspects of Rudolf Steiner’s genius, as is Eurythmy.  

I retired from the corporate world in 1998 and moved to a spiritual retreat center housed within 320 acres of an organic farm in Indiana.  My dear friend and spiritual mentor lived there.  Long story short, nine months after moving to Indiana (a birth cycle, eh?) I found myself moving to Wisconsin to marry my long time friend and newly discovered soul mate.  My love of dance survived it all…I was of course, dancing through life!  My soon-to-be husband knew of my love for dance.  His sister, who lives in Texas, invited us to visit in the fall of 1999.  She had been telling me about this exercise called “Nia”; she thought I would really love it.  Understatement of my lifetime.  She took us to the healthclub where we took off our shoes (really, an exercise done barefoot? Who knew?) and I found myself in a large room filled to capacity with excitement and anticipation.  Fifty plus women (and my soul mate…perhaps another man or two as well) eagerly awaiting…the music started.  Ahhhh, Kenny Loggins.  Really?  We’re going to exercise to the music of Kenny Loggins?  

I tasted this thing called “Nia”.  At that time Nia was an acronym for Neuromuscular Integrative Action (or as I remember someone telling me later in my Nia career, “No Inhibitions Allowed).     Yes yes yes!!!  This was for me.  At the end of the class during the cool down we moved on the floor to Whitney Houston’s “The Greatest Love”.  Wow.  Powerful.  I could sense the energy and passion from the dancers in the room.  Or was it my energy and passion I sensed?  Probably a bit of both.  I was hooked.  Oh, but I’m in Texas…is there anyone in Wisconsin teaching Nia?  

Those of you who live in Wisconsin can have a major chuckle.  Who knew that besides Texas, Wisconsin had the greatest number of Nia teachers?  Well, maybe California, New York and Colorado were up there in numbers, too.  But really, Wisconsin?  HA.  It took me another year and a half before my own Nia mentor kicked me in the butt one day by saying “You should really take the White Belt Intensive; Debbie and Carlos Rosas (the founders of Nia) are coming to Milwaukee.”  Before I could muster up any resistance, I found myself saying “ok”.  And, “the rest is history” as they say.  I’ve now been teaching Nia for 12 years.  I’m proud of my White, Blue, Brown and Black Belt experiences.  I’ve never stuck with ANYTHING this long — including my marriage.  Nia is “Now I Am.”   I love that…those words contains spirit, confidence,  bold and creative beingness.  

If you haven’t sought out a Nia class yet, I would strong encourage you to do so.  It may not be a household word (yet) like Zumba, but Nia has been around for 30 years now.  There is a science, a craft and an art to Nia.  There is a purpose and design to every move in Nia.  Ahhhh, objectivity.   And within the purpose and design, there is also the invitation to move “your body’s way”.  Ahhhh, subjectivity!!  I love it.  Objective/Subjective. Yin/Yang.  Sun/Moon.  Day/Night.  Batman/Catwoman.  

You can check out http://www.nianow.com for classes near you.  My classes are listed to the right of this blog post…an open invitation to experience body awareness, movement and dance as you’ve never before experienced it.  There are 4 classes that I teach and 1 class taught by Kathy Rink, another fabulous Nia teacher and good friend.  Five opportunities per week for you to get your groove on — your body’s way.  It’s sublime.  It’s creative.  It’s expressive.  Nia invites change.  Nia creates the opening for you to fill your life with joy…not just for an hour in class, but in all aspects of your living.  YES.  Now I Am dancing through life.  The essence of joy runs through everything I do.  There is form and freedom.  There is structure and improvisation.  You choose.  No guilt.  No shame.  Pure joy.  Love your Body.  Love Your Live.  Right here.  Right now.  There is nothing like the present moment!

 

Vibe-rations

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I taught the Nia routine “Vibe” today.  I love the music.  My personal focus was to be in the moment with my movements.  As with all Nia routines that are produced by Nia HQ, this one has specific choreography that goes with each song; choreography that was developed with a specific focus and intent by Debbie Rosas (co-founder of Nia) and the Nia Trainers.

The focus I set for my class was “Conditioning and Confidence in Possibilities”.  Conditioning in this case was using different levels of intensity with the 52 Moves or choreography.  Sometimes I used speed as a reference for conditioning and also the planes (high, middle, low) of Nia; and sometimes both.  So many ways to utilize conditioning, too.  The “possibilities” piece had to do with where each person was individually with their energy level, their body sensitivity, etc. and their choices along the way.   I also added to my conversation “in the circle” (I always start my classes in a circle to set the focus) that choosing NOT to participate in the “speed or planes” of a move did NOT constitute a lack of self-confidence…more so it was an indication of listening to one’s body.  The invitation is always there to explore if it’s the right thing to do.

As soon as the music started, I knew — I sensed — that I was not going to follow the original choreography.  My spirit realm spoke quite clearly that it was time to really allow my personal focus of “being in the moment with my movements” to manifest in truly creative ways.

And truly creative it was!  I found myself surprised by some of the interesting “pearls” that came forth from my Physical, Mental, Emotional and Spirit realms.  I had such a great time, and I do believe my students did as well.

Have you ever found yourself compelled to create in the moment?  Did you allow yourself the space to do so?  What was your sensation at a physical level?  Did your mind want to distract you or did it relax and go with the flow?  Is it possible to use words to describe your emotions around creating in the moment?  I found myself to be “giddy”, “delighted”, “radiant”, “sassy”.  My mind allowed no distractions.  My cueing was with the language of the 52 Moves.  “Grapevine, Lateral Travel, Slow Clock, Cross Front Cha Cha Cha.  Double-time.  A physical sensation of being grounded (which never left me) seduced me into being in the moment.  It was pure passion…my sacred livelihood manifesting with each movement…each translation…each smile on my students’ faces.  

Endless gratitude for Nia and all its wonderous possibilities and conditioning! 

Nia — Home for My Body

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It was in the fall of 1999 when I first discovered Nia through my sister-in-law, Dee.  Many of you who know me have heard this story.  I moved to Wisconsin in September of 1999.   In October, my husband and I (we were not married at the time) went to visit Dee, who lives in Ft. Worth, Texas.  While there, she invited me to go to a Nia class with her.  WOW.  My body immediately fell in love…I was not as in tune with my body then as I am now, but I do remember distinctly sensing that my body felt “at home”.

Seems like yesterday.  I recall thinking that it would be a definite long shot to find a Nia class in Wisconsin; however, once I was back home I looked on the http://www.nianow.com website and found several Nia teachers in Wisconsin — must’ve been at least 30 teachers.  I was amazed!  YES!!  The closest was about 20 minutes away.  Barb Wesson, who is now a Nia Trainer, was my first Nia teacher…and the one responsible for my taking the Nia White Belt Intensive — the first step to becoming a Nia teacher.  Who knew?  Me, an overweight introvert whose dream from an early age was to be a dancer, now stepping into the spotlight of being a dance instructor.  The thought of it petrified me.  

In June of 2001, I took that first step into my greatness…I became a White Belt Nia teacher.  In July of 2001, Frank and I were married.  Two of the most powerful, life-altering events of my life…my two passions.  How lucky can one girl get?  I’m not sure luck had anything to do with it.  My sensing is that Life had a plan and it was unfolding with graceful, dynamic ease.

I’ve been teaching Nia for 11 years and have journeyed through the entire Nia Belt System:  White Belt in 2001 — focusing on the body, the joy of movement and sensations; Blue Belt in 2003 — focusing on communication, relationship and intimacy; Brown Belt in 2006 — focusing on energy dynamics in all 4 realms — physical, mental, emotional and spirit; and Black Belt in 2008 merging the other Belt information into an alchemy of the unknown, allowing a truly unique creative adventure to unfold.

I am so blessed.  I not only share my life with my soul mate, I share my love of dance and my own creative spirit through the lifestyle practice of Nia — the premiere cardiovascular fusion fitness/dance exercise on the face of the earth.   It’s more than just cardio, dance or exercise.  Nia creates space for change.  And as we all know, change is the only constant in life…

The Odd Duck

I’m not sure how many Nia students, or Nia teachers for that matter, view Nia as a lifestyle practice.  For me, Nia runs so fluidly parallel with my own spirituality and way of living that it just IS a lifestyle practice.   I never questioned it.

Along with Nia inviting me to be more aware of my physical health…muscles, ligaments, tendons, bones, the way my body moves, etc.,  I’ve also become more aware of my eating habits.  I’m a choco-holic.  I love a good glass of cab.  I like my red meat on occasion.  My husband and I follow the Weston A. Price Foundation nutritional guideline and since doing so (we started about 7 years ago), my energy has remarkably increased.  We don’t eat out alot since many of the restaurants do not have gluten- or dairy-free options.  However, we ate at a restaurant last night that is unparalleled, IMHO, in food preparation and in customer service.  The Odd Duck is located in Milwaukee on Kinnikinnic Avenue, not far from the Lake.  Many of the items on their very unusual menu can be prepared gluten free.   We had ourselves a feast, ending with GOAT CHEESE cheesecake AND french press coffee (my favorite).  My husband is lactose intolerant, so cheese (which he dearly loves) is taboo.  However, goat and sheep cheese — not being dairy — he can have.  We have never been to a restaurant that actually offers a goat cheese cheesecake dessert.  This was a first for us.  And it was divine — the whole experience actually.  From the moment we walked in the door, being greeted by the owner, Melissa, to being served graciously and attentively by the ultimate server, India, we were impressed.  Being impressed didn’t stop for the entire time we were there.  I don’t know that we’ve ever said that about any other restaurant experience.  Sublime it was.

So, for all of you gourmet foodies out there in Milwaukee and surrounding areas, please give the Odd Duck a whirl.  I doubt seriously that you will be disappointed.

And now, the day after such a sublime dining experience, it’s time for me to prepare for my Nia class tomorrow morning at 9:00 a.m.   I absolutely believe that I imbue my Nia classes with the same care and love that Melissa, India and the entire staff at the Odd Duck imbue into their restaurant experience.   I want my students to leave feeling not only satisfied with their experience, but truly feeling loved.

Thanks Odd Duck for being one of a kind.  It’s my experience that Nia is one of a kind, too.

Give your body the love it desires … through the sacred essence of life itself — wholesome, delicious food for the body, mind, emotions and spirit.  Nia…and the Odd Duck!  Quite a pair!!!l