Monday, November 28, 2011

The Year I Danced, revisited.

My oh my.

What a freakin' great year. And while I'm not quite done with my year of dance, officially, I just took a stroll down blog memory lane to see some of my posts and experiences over the last year.

I was prompted by Ka-Ron, modern dance teacher and all-around inspirer, today at class. She told the beautiful young dancer Hannah, on break from Wright State, that I had only been at it for a year. Hannah was impressed. So that was like a super awesome moment for me.

Honestly, I could have not enjoyed this year more if I tried, despite some incredibly difficult and life-altering moments of loss. And you know why? For two reasons.

1. Dance.
2. You.

I have moved and stretched and contracted and leaped and turned and learned learned learned as fast as I could learn this year. Every struggle and every victory got worked out through my entire somatic being. My celebrations and my despair were equally and entirely felt. Therefore they didn't need to linger on too long as my body prepared for the next moment in full.

I have also been held up and loved up by some amazing amazing amazing people. My teachers and friends and family have been a mirror for the happiness I am taking on like a full time job. My dearest Kristin, who left this world a few months ago, was my best teacher of all. I think of her courage and her humor and her friendship (not to mention that cooking. oh that cooking) every day. I imagine her watching. Leading me. Reminding me not to be an idiot and that life is short and all there is, really, is love.

I have traveled and taught. I have laughed more than I have cried. Way more.
And I have been hoping all year that I would be able to turn the word "dance" into a euphemism for all things intimate, fun, and ... well ... you know. I'm not inclined to blog about that. But I have my finger's crossed that my dance might become a "dance" for more than an out-of-town second.

Either way, I am grateful. And stay tuned, my fellow BEST EVER DANCE PARTY EVER friends, it looks like we may have an anniversary event on tap!


Tuesday, November 22, 2011

May You Have A Better Thanksgiving Than This.

Dear Friends:

I have the luxury of approaching this Thanksgiving with hope, joy, gratitude, love, family, and health ... not to mention enough dance in my body to last me a lifetime.

I thank every single one of you for that.

One of my fictional families didn't have the same luck at Thanksgiving. I give you a taste of that here, from my novel NEBRASKA, available on Kindle. While I hope some of it resonates as true, I hope it does not reflect your current status. If it does, come to my house on Friday night and we will try not to disassemble at all. xox


Chapter 32

I tried to read the sweet potato recipe in front of me. I closed one eye to attempt to bring the page into focus to see the temperature at which the casserole needed to be cooked. I took another sip of my wine as though that would help the situation. I went to preheat the oven to the required 350 degrees.

“Shit,” I said, blinking hard, hoping to clear some of the Chardonnay from the neuro-muscular pathways between my brain and my body that were needed to orchestrate Thanksgiving dinner for eight. The turkey was in the oven and would be until at least 6 pm. It was huge, 24 pounds, so there was no extra room for my casserole. I had made a gigantic miscalculation with my menu and was not clever enough of a cook when sober to figure out how to turn a casserole into a stovetop delicacy. “Shit,” I repeated, hands on my hips, staring at the stove and praying for a solution to reveal itself.

I wished I had made friends with my neighbors, any of them. In a TV show, a half-drunk gal like me would laugh at her mistake, call or text a girlfriend (lol!), then tell her husband to go cart the casserole across the street to her friend’s house (they would be going somewhere for Thanksgiving), and cook it there. Crisis solved. But I was intimidated by all of my neighbors, so I didn’t like them and didn’t really speak to them beyond a pleasant, non-committal “Hey there!” every so often, which also was a clue to the fact that I didn’t know their names either.

“Mom, don’t swear,” Jenna scolded. She was sitting at the breakfast bar in the aptly named, ill-conceived great room in which the kitchen was open to practically the entire house, including the family room in which Johnny sat slack-jawed in front of the television playing Super Mario Brothers for the 7th consecutive hour so there was no privacy whatsoever for a bad cook like me.

Jenna was working on an extra credit poster for first grade and had been sketching all morning to perfect the challenging image of Alexander with gum in his hair to visually summarize the bad day-ness factor of the book “Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day.” Jim had left the house early in the morning to go to “work.” I figured he had gone into work for a half hour so technically he wasn’t entirely lying and now he was at a bar staring at their TV hoping that no one would bother to talk to him. His job was to pick up my equally drunk father and bring him to our Thanksgiving dinner. I tried to get my brother to fetch our father but he refused. John was bringing a new girlfriend named Elaine and he didn’t want to give her a bad impression of things before he even got to our house.

“I know everyone is going to be wasted by the time I have to carve the turkey but I am hoping for at least an hour of civility so Elaine doesn’t dump me yet. Please don’t make me pick up Dad,” he begged.

John hadn’t been too lucky with the ladies. I had only met two of his “girlfriends” ever and one of them I’m pretty sure was a bona-fide lesbian. Her name was Estelle and he brought her home with him during Christmas break from his senior year at OSU. He was aglow with dopey admiration for her. She spent the entire vacation on the phone whispering to her roommate on the phone.

“Uh, what’s up with the dyke?” was the assessment I whispered to him when she trudged to the bathroom after they arrived.

“Uh, fuck you,” he replied. “Is he drunk yet?” he had added, the usual query as it related to the status of our father.

John was good-looking enough but was all thumbs when it came to get-to-know-you banter. He was also so desperate not to follow in our father’s drunken footsteps that he was practically a teetotaler so he never got to take advantage of the lubricating effects alcohol had on the clunky machine that is flirtation.

I was still pondering the casserole problem when Millicent came through the front door. “Ding dong!” she yelled. She tottered into the kitchen like the floozy that she was, blowing air kisses and smelling up the place with too much perfume on top of too many cigarettes. “You hoo!” she said to Jenna, knocking on the top of her head. “You hoo!” she repeated to Johnny.

“Ouch,” Jenna said. “Don’t mess up my drawing, Aunt Millicent.”

Johnny didn’t say anything. He was busy trying to flatten a Goomba or to get Mario’s outfit to change colors.

“Shit, it’s cold out there,” Millicent greeted me. She took off her fake fur coat to reveal a way-too revealing sleeveless dress and nude, spray-tanned legs. “Likey?” she asked, pushing her surgically enhanced breasts together for me.

I shook my head at her. She was the original hot mess.

“I don’t know what I’m doing,” I confessed to her. “I should never have offered to do Thanksgiving. I don’t have anyplace to cook all this,” I said.

“Well then let’s drink,” Millicent offered, her solution to everything.

“Seriously,” I said. “I really am in trouble here. I should be able to do this, right?”

Millicent lit a cigarette and pulled one of the breakfast bar stools away from Jenna and closer to me.

“Seriously?” she asked me. “Seriously, how would you know how to do it? Who taught you?”

“No one,” I said.

“You’ve got a dead mom and a drunk dad so ease up on yourself, sister,” she offered. “What are you making there, baby?” she asked Jenna.

“Extra credit,” Jenna said into the crook of her elbow. She hated cigarette smoke and had spent the last year berating all of us endlessly about this terrible habit.

“I try to smoke outside now,” I told Millicent.

“Good for you,” Millicent told me, blowing smoke toward Jenna.

“Stop it!” Jenna yelled, tears in her eyes. “Mom?” she asked, imploring me to act like an actual mom.

“What is your friend’s name across the street?” I asked her.

“Why?” she asked me. She was already suspicious of my motives and she was only in the first grade.

“I was thinking maybe her mom would let me bake this casserole at their house,” I said, as though I was describing a puppy or a new bike.

“Why?” she asked again.

“Because I need an extra oven and we don’t have one.”

“You can use mine,” Millicent offered.

“You live 20 minutes from here and you store liquor in your oven,” I told her.

“Oh,” Millicent replied, thumbing through the mangled celebrity magazine she had fished from her purse. “Well I tried.”

“What in the world do you have on your ... ?” I whispered, pointing to my own breasts to clarify the noun I didn’t want to say in front of the kids.

“Sparkles!” she said, examining herself. “Tis the holiday season, after all,” she offered.

Millicent’s family had moved to Texas after she graduated from college. And while she complained every year about what a cow town Cincinnati was for smart and sexy people like her, she continued to sell wine to restaurants and pick up guys who didn’t want to talk to her after she slept with them. She never even went on vacation. Instead she tanned, complained and drank my wine. She was my only friend.

The doorbell rang.

“Can you get it?” I asked Millicent. I looked at her sparkly, tan breasts falling out of her inappropriate dress and changed my mind. Maybe this was really the girl for John. We didn’t want to blow it this early in the evening. “Jenna, can you get the door? It’s Uncle John.”

“UNCLE JOHN!” she shrieked, practically falling off her bar stool. We had such a small family that any remaining member of it had celebrity status when they visited. “Uncle John, Uncle John, Uncle John, Uncle John,” she repeated as she shuffled her way toward the door across the slippery wooden floors.

“Johnny, you’re going to have to turn that off,” I told him.

“Now?” he asked, as though it was a ludicrous and cruel request.

I didn’t want a fight. “Soon,” I threatened. “Very soon.” I would make his dad do it. I looked at my watch. It was 5 pm. Time for my husband and father to be here and time for me to figure out how to not fuck up the entire Thanksgiving meal. I poured myself another glass of wine.

“Good plan,” Millicent observed. “Wine me,” she said, as though she were still living in a dorm.

“Be nice to this girl,” I instructed. “Don’t flirt with my brother.”

She pulled her top down even further and made a disgusting gesture with her finger down her own cleavage.

“Hey sis,” my brother said, entering the room with Jenna attached to his side. “Hey Millicent,” he added. “Nice dress.”

I gave him a hug while I checked out Elaine over his shoulder. I winked at her. It was not the sort of person I am naturally: one who is filled with breezy hugs and winks for a newcomer, but I was just the right amount of drunk to come off as an easy-going hostess. I saw her clench her teeth together. Her jaw tightening into a fake smile, the kind where the outside of the mouth goes down instead of up and the eyes don’t move at all.

I hated her.

“Lovely home,” she offered. It was obvious she didn’t think this was so at all.

“Sorry for the mess in the kitchen,” I apologized. “That’s the problem with these ‘great rooms,’” I explained, using the air quotes to highlight the irony.

“Do you need any help?” she asked. It looked to me like she would rather poke her own eye out than touch anything in my kitchen.

“That looks delicious,” she observed about my sweet potato casserole. It sounded like an earnest statement.

“Thanks!” I said. “The problem is I don’t have any place to cook it,” I confessed. “Dumb.”

My brother rolled his eyes, signaling, “this is boring, I’m out,” and plopped himself next to Johnny. He tickled my son until he gave over the Super Mario controller and within minutes, they were doing battle together on the couch against all things Bowser while Elaine was combing my cabinets for ramekins in which to portion and bake the casserole.

“I don’t have ramekins,” I told her. “I promise you I don’t.”

She found that to be a ridiculous notion and kept up her search. I shrugged at Millicent who stared at Elaine’s ass and asked, “What in God’s name do you have to do to stay that thin?”

Elaine answered her earnestly, outlining her impressive exercise regime and diet while spooning my casserole into various and sundry small bowls and generally, taking over my kitchen. I went to check on the turkey and burnt my hand trying to turn the poultry thermometer so I could see it.

“Fuck!” I said.

“Mom!” Jenna screamed. “We have company!”

“Here,” Elaine said, grabbing my arm and pulling me toward the sink. “Put it in cold water, quickly.” She put my hand under the faucet and held my arm so I would stay there. “Stay put,” she commanded. “Let me get things organized here, okay?

I looked over at Millicent who raised her eyebrows, indicating an emotion somewhere between impressed and afraid. “I know,” I mouthed to her. My brother turned around on the couch to see how Elaine was doing. When I saw the way he smiled at her, I knew he would marry her.

“I have read 14 books so far this year,” Jenna told Elaine, one over-achiever to another.

“That is fantastic,” Elaine told Jenna. “Can you read to me what it says in your mom’s cookbook there?”

I heard the garage door open and went to dry my hands to prepare for the wreck that was likely to be my father. “Nope,” Elaine scolded me. “Put your hand back in the water. I promise you, you will thank me later.” And with that, she dried her own hands and went to greet my husband and my father.

“I’m Elaine,” she explained, shaking Jim and Dad’s hands like she was a presidential candidate. My father pointed to the recliner and made a weaving path to it. “Hello, son,” he greeted John. “Hello grandson and granddaughter. Well, hello, Millicent,” he concluded, sounding like the lascivious old drunk that he was.

Jim came in the kitchen and kissed me on the cheek. “Did you burn yourself again?” he asked. “Uh huh,” I said. “She seems okay,” he whispered.

“Bossy,” I whispered back. “Is it warm in here?” I asked. I felt like my head might explode. “I need some air.”

I stepped outside on the porch off the great room into the cold night air. It was a clear, crisp night and the stars were already in evidence. I held a bag of frozen peas against my burnt hand and drank in the frigid air; I tried to sober up to face the motley crew that was my family.

As much as I liked the quiet, I was freezing. I turned to come back in and slipped on a patch of ice and hit the deck hard, flat on my back. I was stunned. I had no idea if I was broken or paralyzed or both. I waited: both for someone to come see how I was doing and to assess the level of my injuries. I finally lifted my head and propped myself up on my elbows. I could see them all: Dad in the recliner, snoring, John and Johnny playing Super Mario Bros, Jenna trying to protect her poster from Millicent’s ashtray and drink, Millicent, rubbing up against my husband like a cat in heat, and Elaine, putting dishes in my dishwasher.

I lay there; cold, burnt, and down for the count on the back porch and not a single one of them noticed a thing, not the fact of my absence or the crashing sound when I fell. I slowly picked myself back up and hobbled in. I took a painkiller, poured another drink and listened to my soon-to-be-sister-in-law tell me how to make the rest of my Thanksgiving dinner while the rest of us disassembled, holiday style.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Dancing as fast as I can.

My son Nick Sharp (now in grad school for Public Health!) and I dancing in January.
Who knows what the future holds when you dance your way to happiness, right?


Holy smokes!

This year o' dance, in which I set out to dance my way into a new paradigm has definitely shifted from meditative waltz to exuberant quick step. (Yes. I watch DWTS.)

For those of you who have been following my journey, I am happy to report that in addition to feeling better than I have ever felt in my ENTIRE life, I am also engaged in a stunning array of activities that are bringing me both joy, connectivity, and financial abundance.

Let me give you a snapshot.

TRUE MOVEMENT

I kicked off the inaugural certification program on Sunday with a fantastic group of ten student/colleagues. We have two sessions coming up on Oct 23 and Oct 30 open to the public. The first session is on Spinal Health, with guest Dr. Peter Sturm, head of spine surgery at CCHMC. On Oct. 30, we will look Redefining Trauma, and see how stress and trauma habituate in the body. If you are interested in attending and of these, give me a shout at stacy@truebodyproject.org.

I also teach Wednesday nights at 7:30 and Saturday morning at 11 at The Yoga Bar. Come see me there and/or ask to set up a private to see how this simple system can change your life.

TRUE BODY PROJECT

We are on a roll!! Sedalia schools in Missouri will pilot an in-school True Body Project curriculum this fall with girls in grades 5 through 12. We are creating a 60 page workbook for girls in Cambodia and in English-speaking countries who are working to re-integrate body and mind. This workbook will be co-created with Transitions Global and marketed widely.

I will travel to Los Vegas in November to participate in a fundraiser for the Frederick Douglas Family Foundation and their efforts to abolish human slavery. My wonderful friend Marty Walsh and Trifecta Gallery will host.

I will travel back to Cambodia in January 2012, a year after I started this blog and my dance adventure. I will again work with the Transitions Global girls and deliver them their new workbooks.

We have started a column called ACTIVISTA with A-Line Magazine online. Here is a link to our first column by True Body alum Lily Raphael featuring JaHipster. Look for one a month from True Body girls and women, featuring activists we love and admire.

VIVIAN GIRLS and NEW PROJECT

Fingers crossed that a NY workshop in cooperation with the Folk Art Museum will happen in 2012. I am working on a new project with Alison Vodnoy and Heather Britt. Working title Dis(Embody).

OTHER COOL THINGS

I have an alter-ego persona chatting on a local blog with some yarn bombing women you know. May Hem is the original hot mess but she has a heart of gold. Check it out. Here.

I am also the luckiest dancer on the planet to get to assist the Cincinnati Ballet with new marketing ideas for their NEW NUTCRACKER! Buy your ticket now. I am not kidding.

I also get to do writing projects with some of this town's best and brightest minds in design, branding, marketing, innovation and the arts. Thanks to LPK, PPS, RED, Fever, ArtWorks and Lightborne for letting me play with you.

---

So for those of you who may have worried a bit when I posted about my financial situation and then about my friends who help me stay sane and then didn't say a peep for a good many weeks, I have been gloriously busy.

I dance at least four times a week. I move my body and my mind with people I admire. I sleep 8 hours a night without waking up once. I am engaged in what I love.

The year I danced is the year I reinvented joy and abundance.

More soon. But thanks for reading and cheering me on.




Monday, September 19, 2011

Who is on your wellness team?


I have the most amazing team of healers, teachers, energy workers, massage therapists, acupuncturists and chiropractors. I turn to them often to help me heal a sore spot, expand consciousness, see where I still am blocked in my mind and/or body and/or realign me for more clarity of movement and direction.

I feel like one of the greatest gifts of having a mind and body practice is that you no longer have to worry about "doing things right." I know that no matter how hard I try on my own to be a more integrated and compassionate and fully energized person, I will get stuck. We can only see our selves in one dimension and we come to believe the stories we tell ourselves. In fact, we so much want to be right about what we think, we can work to shift the entire world so that it supports our point of view.

That's why I actively seek awesome teachers who can see me better than I can see myself. These are people I trust. These are people who are cheering for me to reach higher, find more happiness, receive love, give more, sleep better, feel no pain.

Do you have people like this in your life who can direct you away from false cures and into the shadows of your mind and body to find the light? If not, check out some of mine. Here is a short list of the people who I turn to and why.

JEANNE KABENJI

Jeanne Kabenji is the thinking/feeling person's secret weapon. It is a little hard to describe Jeanne because what she does is so amazing and thorough and fast, it is like seeing a behavioral therapist, a psychic, a healer and a shrink all at the same time. You sit with Jeanne and meditate for a bit and she does her thing, which means she dips into your consciousness, your energy field, and she sees what is going on. Then she helps you see how your current behavior and struggles relate to some of your past energetic patterns: so how your struggle with your job is really your struggle with your 9 year old self, or how your inability to find love really has to do with something else entirely.

Then, she gives you homework. Ways to shift how you think and thus shift your patterns for higher and wider consciousness. It is an investment, your hour or two with Jeanne, but it is like drinking from a fire hose. When you are ready to quit bitching and get to it, Jeanne is who you need to see.

BRENDA GHANTOUS

Want a dose of magic massage and energy and compassion and healing? Brenda Ghantous is a wonderful massage therapist who has intuitively saved my freakin' life on a few occasions. Brenda is who I tend to turn to when I am really depleted and my body and mind are feeling over worked, under appreciated or whatever version of that story/life I am running. When I had a chronic cough a few years ago, one session she put her hands over my lungs and the room heated up to about a million degrees and I cried a bit and then it was gone. For real, my stupid nagging can't-leave-the-house cough was gone.

Brenda can do straight up regular massage but I like to just tell her to do what her spirit tells her to do ... so sometimes I get a Oneness Blessing and more energy work and sometimes I get more traditional massage. Every time, I feel loved and healed. She works out of Shine Yoga and Salon DeSales and private in-home appointments.

SUZANNE SMITH

My friend Susan Autran treated me to my first session with the amazing Suzanne Smith. She is a massage therapist, healer, genius, all-around-cool-person who works magic out of her Wyoming home. You chat for 20+ minutes at the beginning of the session to see where you are in your life and how she can create an intentional massage and/or cranial sacral session to help you integrate your thoughts, feelings, hopes, dreams into your body and to release that which no longer serves. Suzanne is a lovely human and you leave feeling that you have embodied some of that easy loveliness yourself. She can be reached at 513-739-3339. Tell her Stacy sent you.

JODIE LINVER

Jodie is one of my dear friends and she also happens to be an incredibly gifted massage therapist with a massive amount of training in Thai massage. She also happens to work out of Alliance Institute of Integrative Medicine so when you need some extra consultation about something that ails you, the whole team is there to consult.

(I am not kidding, if you really injure yourself get FSM - Frequency Specific Microcurrent at Alliance and save yourself weeks of hobbling around.)

But Jodie is a remarkable massage therapist in so many disciplines and she helped me discover my scalene muscles (wow!!! these are crazy muscles look them up!) and has also saved my soul on more than a few occasions. And I suggest you start now and get to be a really good client and/or friend before the holidays because you just might get a box of the most insanely delicious homemade candy ever made. Ever.

THERESE NORTHROP

I just met Therese recently and she is a chiropractor who specializes in helping integrate the body energetically by releasing blocks in the body. She also works in trauma therapy and other more sensitive modalities, looking at what patterns may be stored in the body that are no longer relevant to the here and now.

I had a session with her last week that was really pretty extraordinary. Her adjustments are not harsh or startling. It feels like she is drawing lines on your body and then sort of flicking the air near your skin with her fingers. But I could feel each time that an adjustment was happening. I could breath better. My ribs and shoulders moved to a better location. My neck and head relaxed. I thought I new a lot about re-setting the body but my session with Therese was an eye-opener. I loved the gentle effectiveness. And I am still feeling the blessings of the energy that is now really able to move through my whole torso.

She can be reached at Ruah Hai Chiropractic, 1419 Alexandria Pike, Ste. B, Fort Thomas, KY 41075. (859)441-8700.

ROBERT LETSCHER, MD

When I have someone who is interested in experiencing acupuncture, I send them to Robert. He is an MD and an acupuncturist and spends a good hour getting to know you on the most fascinating exploration of medical, spiritual, family, emotional history. Then he puts the needles in. I have known him to help people with debilitating migraines, back pain and auto-immune pain. He can be reached at 7911 Euclid Avenue, Cincinnati, OH 45243-2639. (513) 561-5958 .

BRUCE DAVIS

I haven't had Reiki done in awhile but when I did, I went to Bruce Davis. He is a gentle soul who really knows what he is doing and I recall some remarkable spiritual epiphanies in his energetic hands.


I also want to give a shout out to some of my movement teachers.

Alan Hundley - Check him out at Shine for Tai Chi and Qi Gong classes. He is a lovely human with a life-changing practice.

Heather Sommer - She is a world-class Pilates instructor with the best eye in the business ... meaning she can see where you need to work to truly grasp the concepts. She can see from across the room where I need to be working for better alignment. If you are not working with a hands-on instructor, you might question if you are really doing Pilates and/or get in Heather's hands and learn the real deal. She can be reached at sheathe3@hotmail.com for private instruction by appointment.

All Rhythm & Motion Teachers - Whether you are with Heather or Julie or Susan or Alena or Rachel you will spend the most high energy and inspiring hour of your week. Visit the Cincinnati Ballet website for more info about this as well as Ka-Ron Brown Lehman's extraordinary Modern class.

Yoga - Cincinnati has some of the best yoga teachers on the planet. Check out Meredith Hogan, Donna Covrett, Rachel Roberts, Matt Eshlemann and countless other inspirers at The Yoga Bar, Shine, Clear, The Breathing Room, You Do Yoga, It's Yoga plus newer comers Moksha and Covington Yoga. I am sure i am missing some stellar places and people.

Pilates - check out Ian Forsgren, Kristine Kolzing, Rachel Appel, Nicole Gunderman, Shannon Faith and others at Pendleton Pilates, the Yoga Bar and around town. Again, there are so many lovely teachers here in Cincinnati it is hard to get them all down in one blog post! Ooh. Susan Autran too. She teaches out of her home and has changed more than a life or two with her lovely practice.

NOTE - The beautiful photo is by my friend Ron Hamad. Check out his work here. Whenever I think "what does wellness and beauty and serenity look like?" I think of these photos. Thanks, Ron.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

A place to be loved.



I was in LA this past weekend to celebrate Kristin's life with her friends and family. More than 100 of us gathered on September 10th, one day after what would have been her 42nd birthday.

Her husband Jeffrey created an extraordinary slide show and a beautiful eulogy that explored Kristin's many lives, her early life, her professional life, her family life, her life as a mother, as a wife, and as a friend. After Jeffrey spoke, her son Simon climbed up on the step ladder and told us all how much we had meant to his mother. Not a dry eye watched that happen, I can assure you of that.


I sat on the floor in Kristin's living room with her family and friends and listened to everyone speak about her. I looked at her beautiful art books and the sun streaming in and the couch I have slept on in countless visits. Later, we danced in her kitchen, where I have spent hundreds of hours curled up on the corner couches watching Kristin cook or Simon do homework or just in silence, with Kristin, each of us reading some crappy pop culture magazine, sharing on occasion a particularly noteworthy tidbit about Katie Holmes or Lauren Graham (she loved them!!) or a reality show personality (We do not agree that they are celebrities. They bug us.)

The next day, we went through her clothes to help disperse them. So I sat on her bed where I spent countless days reclining with Kristin watching crappy TV shows. (Gilmore Girls, you are not crap TV) and in the end, holding Kristin's hand while she slept.

Kristin loved to travel. She loved to keep her ideas on the move. But more than anything, she loved place. And the homes she created became my home too.

I am a mover. You are more likely to see me breezing by on the way to something than sitting still, enjoying the quiet of the day.

Kristin gave me a world class friendship AND she gave me a place to love and be loved. For that, I am eternally grateful and momentarily sad.

For those of you out there who create warm spaces for friends and family, good on you.

It matters.






Friday, September 2, 2011

Reboot, Reflect, Recharge.


I have this notion that it is my job to be truthful, to illuminate the dark and the light in my own life so that it might be helpful to someone else.

In the 12 step rooms, they refer to it as sharing your "experience, strength and hope." That bit of indoctrination has been seminal for me. It is all I have to offer.

(A pause here. My fingers stopped typing. I took a big inhale and exhale. This next part is a little hard.)

I had my bankruptcy hearing today with the U.S. Justice Department. It sounds bad. But in truth, the hard stuff already happened. It is akin to the moment I finally decided I needed to get sober. Walking into a 12 step meeting was merely punctuation to the long and grim sentence I had been crafting for years. This feels the same. It is a truthful and examined expression of where I have been so that I may move into the future with more grace.

My entrepreneurial spirit got caught up in the cross hairs of a changing economy. The amount of debt I had accumulated to start and grow a business became unacceptable and untenable. I know many of my entrepreneurial friends know the drill. You often don't get paid in order to pay others. And you borrow a little to make it through. And over time, that little can become a lot. Especially when the bottom falls out of the credit market.

I feel lucky that I was able to leave a business intact and to help more than 10 people get their start to opening their own studios in Cincinnati and beyond and scores more find employment in a field they were passionate about. I feel lucky that I was able to work as an activist with girls and teens. I feel lucky that I was able to publish and travel and collaborate. I feel lucky I was able to see my son graduate from college and take on exciting adventures of travel and service.

I wish I could have make it work better financially. This time, I will be more careful and more accountable to all 360 degrees of wellness.

But honestly, I hope to be no less optimistic about the future and no less engaged in movement, writing, collaboration and activism.

I have a deep appreciation for the structure of wellness as it relates to the body and mind. I know what it takes to stay well. I get those practices. I am adding new ones to my life that assure me financial wellness too. It is also a practice. And it takes mindfulness.

When I was working at MOCA in Cleveland more than a decade ago, the artist Lee Mingwei exhibited origami dollars which you could take so long as you replaced it with something you felt to be of equal or greater value. Mine is pictured above. I took this dollar in exchange for a photograph I had taken from a series I did where I took snapshots in the space and time where I might be feeling inclined to have a panic attack. It was my first foray into expressing myself creatively (as opposed to drunkenly or sleepily or irritably!) I feel like it was a fair trade.

I am working on being as thoughtful as I was with my Lee Mingwei origami dollar sculpture with each monetary exchange I make in the future. I will be of service and I will be fair. I will be accountable.

And there will be enough.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

True Movement. Join me!

Hi everyone.

I am pleased to announce one of the coolest things that has emerged from this transitional year of movement: True Movement.

I have been watching bodies really closely this year and working in a more intimate capacity with individuals and small groups and have discovered that many exercise programs are not working to address some of the deeper, simpler alignment and balance issues that we all have to some degree.

Curious about what this means? Well you can either come to my class on Saturdays at 11 at The Yoga Bar (and as of Sept. 21. Wednesday nights at 7:30 pm) OR you can check out the certification program I am starting in October.

Why not take the time to learn how a well body works? Why wait until you are injured or arthritic or miserable in some other sedentary way? We spend the first few years of our lives joyously figuring out how to use every inch of our bodies and every cell in our brains. Why not bring back that exploration now?

This is the time. Do it.

(and now, note a switch to the third person in which I talk about myself as though I am someone else for "marketing" purposes)

True Movement: The Anatomy of Wellness

What is it?

A seven-part certification in True Movement – a course of mindful movement practices and wellness-based exercises. Based on the individual’s course of study, the certification test will follow in the 8th session.

You can take the course in segments if you wish to expand your knowledge of one of the weekend workshop topics. If you wish to receive a certification, you need to take the courses sequentially. Think of it as a starting place. Think of it as a Master's course. If you are thinking about it at all, then it is exactly what you need!

Who runs it and why take it?

Stacy Sims is one of the nation’s most respected movement educators. She created a Pilates education program as founder and director of Pendleton Pilates and has certified nearly 100 educators. She took a year to study movement after she sold Pendleton Pilates, practicing for a month in LA with clients, for a week with trauma survivors in Cambodia, and in small group and private practice in Ohio. She is also the founder of the non-profit True Body Project. Here is what she found:

“I am a Pilates educator, a yoga student, and have studied dance informally for several years and in a more directed effort in the past year. When I owned Pendleton Pilates, I was working with people to move them into a group Pilates program. But now, a year later, I am realizing that almost regardless of my client’s movement practices, I see that most all bodies are deficit and imbalanced in many of the exact same ways.

“Whether a long-term Pilates client, yogi, a runner, a dancer, or someone who hasn’t exercised at all or is recovering from injury, whether there is trauma from an injury or emotional event, I end up working with my clients to understand 7-10 key concepts of alignment and stability. I am working in a much more subtle and effective way to understand and embody basic principles rather than moving quickly into a series of pre-planned exercises that they may bring all their old body habits to.

“This certification will be a highly personal study of how a well body is organized for strength, agility, peace of mind and flexibility and what a body looks like and feels like when dysfunction begins to occur. I feel like most of our fitness endeavors are designed to create a sense of well being and, perhaps, a particular shape of the body but that these things often have little to do with actual wellness and function.

“I want to help people train their eye to see what the body is saying. I want to share a Movement Course that can be taught to virtually anyone AND to have extremely positive results.

Who should take the True Movement course?

Anyone who is a movement teacher or student of movement or who needs to move more. People who wants to deepen their knowledge of functional anatomy, basic neuroscience principles of somatics for wellness, and the 10 things that indicate lack of harmony and balance and the 10 exercises you can do to help yourself or your clients toward higher function.

Athletes or coaches

Life coaches

Personal trainers

Physical Therapists

Yoga students or teachers

Pilates students or teachers

Dancers

Or anyone who has ever been …

Frustrated that their body isn’t as healthy as it used to be

Injured

On a diet

In recovery for eating disorders or addiction

Trying to make a change

In a wellness field

In a leadership position

Content of Weekend Workshops

Seven 4-7 hour, one-day (Sunday) sessions beginning on October 9, 2011. Sample content.

Oct 9: Learning to see. Creating context. Functional anatomy 1.

Oct. 16: Gaze and breath and spinal alignment… what do your eyes tell you? What is the breath saying? Is the spine functioning fully? Functional anatomy 2.

Oct. 23: Pelvic floor issues, SI joint dysfunction … low back pain primer. Functional anatomy 3.

Oct. 30: Energy leaks and locks in the body. Find where the body is not in sync and techniques to restore mind/body harmony. PTSD primer. Understanding how trauma is stored/presents in the body. Broaden your idea of “trauma” to include any pattern held in the body that is not serving you today.

Nov. 7: Movement workshop. Creating a flow of exercises that make a difference. Learn to teach a True Body Movement Class.

Nov. 14: Individual work. Practicum on seeing the body and learning about the mind. Creating a flow of exercises based on the individual. Learn to work privately with clients.

Nov. 21 or 28: Integration. The class members each present one thing they have learned in independent study that broadens the context of the True Body work. Stacy will suggest several tangents of study including anatomy, typical injuries for athletes, chakra and/or other energy work. The assignment will not be to take a wide tangent but to “color in” and amplify a basic concept (i.e. “I studied rotator cuff injuries and want to show how the True Body movement system addresses this pre/post injury and to further illustrate what muscles are at work when the rotator cuff is supported” or “I studied the somatic patterns of the ‘freeze’ response in the body.

Dec. 12: Certification tests.

Fee Structure

$1250

Includes all seven workshops, 2 private sessions with Stacy Sims, Course materials, TRUE BODY CERTIFICATION

$250

Individual workshops

$50

Extra Private sessions with Stacy Sims

Where and what will I be able to teach?

In the Cincinnati area, Stacy Sims is working with yoga and Pilates studios and other wellness centers to create a demand for this type of class. There is much interest! The class will be branded as a True Movement class but Stacy will work with you individually to tailor your education to best fit the still-growing (and still learning!) mind/body fitness industry.

(And here we return to the more familir first person. Whew)

Want more info?

Want me to do a sample class for you?

Write me at stacy@truebodyproject.org.


Saturday, August 13, 2011

Feminism is F*&%#ed. Part Two.


A few months ago, I wrote about the uber popular online forum for girls called It Girl.

Now I am compelled to give a WTF shout out to Katy Perry, whose fan base is 9 to 16 year-old girls.

Here, below, are the snappy lyrics to Last Friday Night, where big-eyed Katy tells us that drunken, blacked out, sexed up, bruised up Friday night shenanigans are AWESOME!

Really?

So here's the deal. At the very least, we must promise to no longer act surprised or confused about why adolescent and teen girls struggle to find appropriate behavior.

Last Friday Night.

There's a stranger in my bed,
There's a pounding my head
Glitter all over the room
Pink flamingos in the pool
I smell like a minibar
DJ's passed out in the yard
Barbie's on the barbeque

There's a hickie or a bruise
Pictures of last night
Eended up online
I'm screwed
Oh well
It's a blacked out blur
But I'm pretty sure it ruled

Last Friday night
Yeah we danced on tabletops
And we took too many shots
Think we kissed but I forgot

Last Friday night
Yeah we maxed our credit cards
And got kicked out of the bar
So we hit the boulevard

Last Friday night
We went streaking in the park
Skinny dipping in the dark
Then had a menage a trois
Last Friday night
Yeah I think we broke the law
Always say we're gonna stop-op
Whoa-oh-oah

This Friday night
Do it all again
This Friday night
Do it all again

Trying to connect the dots
Don't know what to tell my boss
Think the city towed my car
Chandelier is on the floor
With my favorite party dress
Warrants out for my arrest
Think I need a ginger ale
That was such an epic fail

Pictures of last night
Ended up online
I'm screwed
Oh well
It's a blacked out blur
But I'm pretty sure it ruled.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Memento Mori


Kristin stayed vibrant, articulate, humorous, and loving until the end. When she lost her strength to stand and her ability to be lucid, she closed her eyes. Within a day, she slipped away. She went so quietly into the night, she didn't move an inch or make a sound.

We did shifts those last hours, sitting with her. It was a privilege. You could feel her energy slipping away. The photo above is of her bedside table. In one of my sittings with her, it was a touching still life. A few hours later, as it became more clear that she was unlikely to rally, it became a memento mori ... a reminder of mortality.

Here, in case you missed it, is Kristin's obituary. If you knew her, I am sorry for your loss. If you didn't, I am sorry for your loss. She was one of a kind.


In Loving Memory. Kristin Chambers. Beloved wife, mother, daughter, sister, friend.

Kristin Chambers, 41, died August 5, 2011 at her home in Los Angeles, CA after a long battle with cancer.

At her request, there will be no memorial service but a celebration of her life will be held at a later date.

She was born on September 9, 1969 in Livonia, Michigan to Robert and Jan Ward Chambers.

She attended Turpin High School in Cincinnati, Ohio and received her Bachelor’s degree in English Literature from Miami University, Oxford, Ohio in 1991. She attended the Art Institute of Chicago where she worked on her Masters in Art History, Theory and Criticism.

She began her art career as a curatorial intern at the Contemporary Arts Center, Cincinnati. In 1994, she worked on the team that opened the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum in Cleveland, working on major artifact acquisitions for the institution. She met her husband Jeffrey Dollinger at the Rock Hall, where he was working as the Development Coordinator. They kicked off their relationship at the 25th Anniversary of Woodstock concert in 1994.

She and Jeffrey Dollinger married on October 18, 1997 at the Roycroft Inn in Aurora NY.

She became a curator at the Cleveland Center for Contemporary Art (now MOCA) in 1996 and worked with international artists including Yoshitomo Nara, Oliver Herring, and Christine Hill. Kristin loved collaborating with artists on exhibitions and artist books and remained an independent curator when she moved to Los Angeles in 2003.

In 2002, Kristin gave birth to Simon Jackson Dollinger in Cleveland, Ohio. Her relationship with her son was the central focus of her life. Simon attends Sequoyah School in Pasadena and Kristin dedicated much of her time to the school and to Simon’s activities and interests. Before she passed, they collaborated on two paintings.

Kristin was inspired by artists like Christine Hill and Lisa Anne Auerbach who led creative lives and infused every day with artful practices. In one of the last essay’s she wrote, Kristin quoted Joseph Beuys “Every human being is an artist, a freedom being, called to participate in transforming and reshaping the conditions, thinking, and structures that shape and inform our lives.” This is how Kristin lived her life, even during her five-year battle with cancer. She made everyday gestures extraordinary and continued to practice a creative life via cooking, sailing, sewing, music, movies and friendships. Kristin was also loved travel, scuba diving, and playing the cello.

Kristin also served as a CASA advocate and was also a crucial and motivating force as a producer of the documentary Of Two Minds. The film delves into the struggles and triumphs of living with bipolar disorder. She believed strongly in the message and we know the film will live on to help people who deal with the complexities and tragedies of this illness every day. Kristin took on this role not because she herself suffered from this, but because her empathy reached out beyond that of her own world - far beyond. She infused heart and soul into this project through her hard work, spot-on insight and unstoppable sense of humor.

She is survived by her husband Jeffrey Dollinger; son Simon Dollinger; parents Robert and Jan Ward Chambers; brother Richard (Rick) Chambers and his spouse Emma and their children, Nina and Stella; sister Jen Chambers; grandmother Virginia G. Ward; aunt and uncle Shelley and Sam Beck; in-laws Susan Dollinger and Wayne Bonekemper; sisters-in-law Sara and Karen Dollinger; and grandmother-in-law Shirley English.

She is preceded in death by grandfather Richard T. Ward and his loving wife Mary Kay (Sam) Adams Ward; uncle Richard T. Ward, Jr.; and grandparents Edwin and Ellen Chambers.

Kristin requested that donations be made to either help produce the documentary “Of Two Minds” or to CASA LA.

Donations to “Of Two Minds” can be sent to:

MadPix, Inc.

2500 Silver Lake Terrace Los Angeles, CA 90039

(Please note Of Two Minds on the memo line)

Donations to CASA LA can be made via casala.org.

For more information contact jdollinger@hotmail.com







Monday, August 1, 2011

Providence.


Providence in Los Angeles by chef Michael Cimarusti is Kristin's favorite restaurant in the world and I can assure you, Kristin is both a food expert and a well-traveled woman.

So last Wednesday night, Kristin's friends made arrangements to bring Providence to her, since she was unable to make another trip to them.

And it was divine.

Chef Sharon accompanied the food and Kristin's family and friends gathered for a spirited and delicious feast. At some point during the night, I looked up the definition of "providence." Here is what it said:

"Timely preparation for future eventualities."

Yes. Indeed.

Thank you Providence and thank you Sharon. Here is a glimpse into how you helped all of us prepare for future eventualities. With mad love. And astonishing food.

(p.s. apologies to Providence and foodies everywhere for my less-than-stellar food photos. I promise you all, this was an extraordinary meal in all ways.)

























Sunday, July 31, 2011

Sacred things.


I have been in LA for the past week spending time with Kristin and her close friends and family as she navigates the end of her days with extraordinary grace and courage. She is 41 and leukemia is winning. We are not sure if we have a few minutes, hours or days left with her.

I was talking to my mom and she referred to this time, this intimate experience of transition, as holy. She is not religious but I understood her entirely. She was speaking of the word in the transcendent sense.

And today I went to a dance class at the Sweat Spot for one of my first excursions out of this house of grace in a week. Joe taught us a lovely choreography to Adele's "Someone Like You." It was filled with contractions and expansions and rises and falls and rolls and shudders. We went slow and we went fast. We remembered. We reached. Our dance was filled with moves that I have watched this week as Kristin fights to keep her dignity with her body and to understand the new dance that she is being forced to learn.

At the end of class I wept. (Thanks Joe for holding that space for me to disassemble a bit.)

Because when I was lying on the floor, curled up in the fetal position and ready to begin dancing this choreography for the last time, I thought about sacred and transcendent words, words and ideas that deserve to be elevated and honored. I thought about Kristin, hanging on to her breath and her body and her mind long after it seems humanly possible.

Here they are, my sacred words for today:

Grace ... Holy ... Dignity ... Body.
Family ... Friends ... Love.
Kristin.
Kristin.
Kristin.

And now I will return to the family room, where we will laugh and/or cry and/or sleep and/or eat. We will listen to what Kristin wants us to remember. We will do no harm.

And it will be holy. For sure.



Monday, July 11, 2011

Listening.


I'm a talker. I've got a blog, for heaven's sake. So that's how you can tell. But all the good stuff I've learned has come from developing the skill to be still enough to listen.

The last couple of months I've slowed the dance down to listen. I've listened to teachers and healers and authors and scientists and a lawyer and an accountant and broken people and hopeful people with an equally democratic ear. I'm trying to learn the next steps so I need to listen very, very carefully.

This weekend, I will do more of the same.

I have invited some awesome girls and women to join me in a circle to reflect on the True Body Project and to think about where we have been and where we might go. The True Body Project is a reflection of the collective truth of how we live today and how we might make that easier, safer and more fulfilling for more girls and women.

I can't wait. And after we have listened hard and planned long (oh not too long, don't you worry), then we'll start talking. We'll spill the beans on our awesome True Body Project plans. We'll tell you how to come be a listener with us.


Saturday, July 9, 2011

Breaking through the noise.

I've been a a bit mum the last few weeks as I've been taking care of business to keep the ship from sinking ...

(Remember my Financial Frenemy? She came knocking but I let her in and we have made a good deal.)

... and I've also been slowing down my usual high octane approach to creativity and communications to consider what, in the middle of the noisiest time ever in the history of communications, is worth saying.

I've seen close to 20 theatrical events in the last month, including theatre, opera and dance, read several books, looked at a gazillion Facebook posts about a gazillion ideas, opinions, creative expressions and a few cats. And I'm trying to be discerning about what stands out, what feels relevant, and what feels important.

I'm not sure yet of my own creative direction for the next few months. I am not sure if I will write a novel or a play or a pilot or something with others. But I do know this ... authenticity stands out. Which is why I present to you this lovely song and video by Slow Club. Thanks to Julie Rawe for finding it for me.

"Hold on to where you’re from, it’s where you heart goes when you’re done."

That seems relevant. That seems important.