Scared or Sacred?

WarriorI

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?

Entering the Gateway to 2014

abundance

 

If you follow my blog, you know that I teach Nia — it is my sacred livelihood. My Nia classes are full of creative expression, an invitation to live and dance the truth of who you are — spirit in action, clothed in an extraordinary physical manifestation.

I love ceremony, I love creating a space where others are invited to step into their greatness, their divinity. Everything in this world needs to be lifted up.  The Universe awaits the opportunity to manifest that which we wish to dream into reality…and it will…it does…now and always — the Universe responds to our call. Every thought, every word, every action creates our world. What is it that YOU wish to dream into reality? Be cautious and CONSCIOUS of your wishes. They do manifest. There is no one to thank or to blame but yourself for what is revealed.  Wouldn’t you rather be grateful for what comes forth rather than accusing, blaming or criticizing? Afterall, it’s your creation.

On the Winter Solstice, Dec. 21, 2013, a gathering of 13 (one of my favorite numbers) celebrated with a ritual of gratitude and forgiveness for our journey through 2013.  Although Midnight on December 31st in the Gregorian Calendar is normally celebrated as the ringing in of the New Year, in some cultures the Winter Solstice brings forth the new journey.  I recognize both as holy and sacred.

We began our time together in an empowering circle…the room was dimly lit.  There were blank pieces of paper and a crayon, a stone and an “Angel” card for everyone.  The invitation was to enter the space intuitively, sitting where one was drawn to do so.  The first offering to the Universe was to jot down three things we were grateful for in 2013, there was no time to think about it, let spirit guide. The second offering was to jot down one thing in 013 for which we wanted to receive forgiveness. Gratitude and Forgiveness are BIG MEDICINE. Each stone had a word carved on it. The specific word represented our something for which we were grateful and the word on the Angel Card contained our individual “energy” for the dance we would be participating in shortly.

And we danced…beautiful dancing bodies (12 women and 1 man).  The playlist contained the “mantra of joy”, a beautiful song about dreaming, a melodic song of winter, a song of “together as one” and then we gathered back in our circle to dream in 2014.  No time to think about it…let the crayon hit the paper and stream of consciousness take over. Fill the paper if necessary, or just write a few things.

Our time ended with hands in prayer position at the heart and the words, “Let Love Radiate” (words that I use to bring all of my Nia classes to a close).

The Universe is waiting to respond…that’s what it does…respond.

I sense a unique shift occurring…it is time to put the cards on the table. What’s in your hand? What are you dreaming into 2014?

Movement as Prayer

The body says...

I’m currently reading a book entitled, “Help, Thanks, Wow: Three Essential Prayers” by Anne Lamott.   Ms Lamott, for this book alone, has risen to the top of my favorite authors list.  

Three prayers:  Help, Thanks, Wow.   Lamott describes in real life situations how a simple prayer of “Help” or “Thanks” or “Wow” to the Universe brings about change.  Ahhhh…change.  No wonder so many prayers fall short of their mark…not many folks are willing to change or make changes.   When I was little I thought if I prayed everything would be alright.  But things weren’t alright, not always.  Perhaps it was my bartering that made my prayers a little less substantial.  “If you will only do this one thing for me, God, I promise I’ll never….(fill in the blank).”  Tsk. Tsk. It was my end of the bargain that always fell short.  The Universe more often than not answered my prayer.  What was I doing wrong?  Could it be that I wasn’t taking responsibility…that I was assuming that all I needed to do was ask the Powers That Be to do something and I didn’t have to do anything in return?  Well, gee.  I was young.  Come on.  Give a girl a break.  HA.  How about 10,000 breaks?  

I’ve grown up to some degree since those days of  bartering…of long lengthy prayers about what I would do “if only”.  These days there’s no bartering.  I just need to move my body. My movement becomes my prayer.  Simple.  When I find that I’m desiring something…I move my body.  Help — in the freedom and form of Nia.  When I want to express gratitude …I move my body.  Thanks — in the freedom and form of Nia.  For those awe-inspiring magical moments (which happen more often than not)…I move my body.  Wow — in the freedom and form of Nia.

“The body says what words cannot”.  — Martha Graham

No words are necessary.  Just the passion, the love for moving and dancing and wiggling and shaking, for making shapes and the love  for expressing the unique spirit that inhabits and animates this human form; the love for using my mind to imagine and visualize, the love for using my emotions to feel.  Movement as prayer.

Help.  Thanks.  Wow.  Thank you Anne Lamott for simplifying prayer.  Thank you Debbie Rosas Stewart and Carlos AyaRosas for allowing Nia to come through your bodies, minds, hearts and spirits into the world so that Life could set me on a path of discovering the Joy of Movement and that Movement As Prayer…IS ceaseless prayer.  Now I Am ….  Sacred.

 

 

 

 

 

Crow Woman – Realization, Boundaries, Creativity

Image

It’s New Year’s Day!  I welcome the abundant blessings and opportunities available in 2013!

It is up to me to manifest the reality of my focus and intentions in 2013.  The best way I know how to bring creativity into the world is through my sacred livelihood, Nia.  It is the dance of life for me — and the powerful agent of death — the letting go of all that does not serve my unique spirit.  

In honor of stepping in to a new cycle, I drew from the Mythical Goddess tarot deck four cards that surround my focus and intentions for 2013.

“Crow Woman is the Guardian of Sacred Law, wielding true justice and the highest principles of right and wrong.  Crow Woman shape-shifts and is unattached to the affairs of this world and the drama of human experience.  Crow Woman asks that you honor your boundaries.  Shift your life to be in synch with your own sacred nature.  Be true to yourself.”   

  • I intrepret that as:  The world’s ways are not my ways — true justice and the highest principles of right and wrong have nothing to do with man’s laws and justice system.  It has everything to do with integrity and living to my highest vision in any moment.  

 Remaining unattached to the filth, degradation and mockery that imbues this world on a daily basis is paramount for health and healing.  

  • True identity is key.  For those of you who know me, I think you would agree that this is how I live my life…I couldn’t have drawn a more perfect card!  Except that I drew 3 more perfect cards!!

 

Astara, Ace of Wind; Four of Earth (the goat mandala); and Creativity, Mother of Wind.

Astara, The Ace of Wind has to do with Realization, razor sharp mental clarity, conscious understanding.  Realization is the first step — conscious awareness.  Nia is the dance of conscious awareness and goes beyond just mental clarity — physical and emotional clarity are also a part of my process of Realization.

The Four of Earth portrays the Goat Mandala as a powerful shield of unity and strength that creates clear boundaries.  My sun sign is Capricorn and my 13 Moon calendar signature is White Planetary Mirror — both have to do with being grounded AND living with spiritual intent.  I am being invited to keep safe and sacred my boundaries and the space around me.  Conscious choices create safe boundaries and sacred space.  Not all of my choices have created a safe and sacred space for me.  One of my intentions is to have less of those occurrences in 2013!  

Creativity, Mother of Wind embodies the abundant, fertile creativity of the mind.  Her flow of ideas come into the Earth as beautiful manifestations of heavenly creations.  She brings inspiration and new realities to come.  Nia allows for creative expression that goes far beyond what I dance in the classroom.  I am lifted up to heights unknown when I am in that place of creativity — I am the dance of life.  

So it would appear I have quite a year ahead of me — having the Guardian of Sacred Law as my guide, I have no doubt it will be an exciting, adventurous journey.

A big thanks to beautiful Mythical Goddess tarot deck!

 

 

The Most Imaginable Lightness of Being

Image

I moved from Missouri to New Jersey in 1991.  My job had been eliminated in Kansas City and my two options were Atlanta or New Jersey.  I opted for the east coast.  It was definitely an experience.  I had just turned 40; I had wiped the slate clean and was ready to start anew.  From the beginning of my time on earth, at least as far back as I can remember, I wanted to be a dancer.  I had natural rhythm…I could keep the beat.  What I fell short in was learning dance steps.  Somehow my brain and my body did not connect.  In dance classes, if everyone was moving to the right, I was moving to the left.  As much as I loved dance, I kept it to myself and only danced in my room when I was young and only in my house or with friends as I got older. Dance classes were not for me.  

In the mid to late 80’s, I heard about this woman, Gabrielle Roth.  They called her the Urban Shaman.  She would go into the subways under NYC and dance.  I fell in love with her essence.  She had developed 5 Rhythms (Flowing, Staccato, Chaos, Lyrical, Stillness).  Then I found a book “Maps to Ecstacy” by Gabrielle Roth.  It changed my life from being a closet dancer to a profoundly grateful, grooving, free dancing, flowing, belly dancing, rockin’ out to any kind of music ecstatic dancer.  Maps to Ecstacy was my bible.  I would get groups of friends together and we would dance to the 5 Rhythms (Flowing, Staccato, Chaos, Lyrical and Stillness).  I was truly ecstatic in every sense of the word!  And when I found myself in New Jersey in 1991, my “bible” close at hand, I was directed through a friend to Gabrielle Roth’s 5 Rhythms classes and workshops in NYC.  Being from the midwest and never having gone to a BIG city, I was a bit nervous about traversing by myself into the unknown, but traverse I did.  Her workshops were intense, her classes were brilliant.  

Alas, I worked for a giant corporation and my time soon became caught up in the To Do lists and the daily missteppings of the corporate world.  My only respite was doing the 5 Rhythms; it was my healing path, my path back to sanity, to nature.  When I retired at the age of 48 and moved back to the midwest, my bible came with me.  

I’ve been in Wisconsin now for 13 years.  The rhythms of life, the seasons are all contained with Gabrielle Roth’s 5 Rhythms.  I’ve never stopped doing them…they are a part of me…perhaps not doing them on a dance floor, but certainly embodying them in my everyday life.  When I found out through a friend’s Facebook posting last week that Gabrielle Roth was near death, it jolted my reality.  I knew I needed to honor this woman who had given me my wings.  On Saturday, October 20th, my entire Nia class included Gabrielle Roth and the Mirrors music and the 5 Rhythms.

On Monday, Oct. 22nd, Gabrielle Roth took her last breath and let go of her physical presence on earth.  Her elegant spirit, her beautiful dancing spirit, remains in my heart and the hearts of millions in the world…in the universe.  And on Tuesday, Oct. 23rd, Debbie Rosas, the gifted divine feminine presence and co-founder of The Nia Technique, offered her own gratitude for Gabrielle Roth.  Please visit http://www.nianow.com and read Debbie’s beautiful gift of words.

Just as Gabrielle Roth and the 5 Rhythms opened my heart and gave me wings, Debbie Rosas and Nia’s 52 Moves provided the avenue for me to acknowledge my sacredness, my power, to honor the beauty of my body, to speak the eloquence of the joy of movement by teaching and sharing Nia.  I have a new bible and it is my body and my life.  Thank you Debbie, thank you Nia.  I have stepped into my greatness.

 

 

 

nikov

Nia — Home for My Body

Image

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