Monday, February 27, 2012

The Year I Performed.

Me, the middle "cat", in my only technique class until I started my year of dance at 50.

What the what??!!

I can't believe it. I haven't been on a stage since I did a complex and nuanced dance/gymnastics routine to the "Theme from Shaft" in the 7th grade. Cartwheel, round off, toe jump. Repeat. Shaft!

But this June, I will take the stage at the Aronoff Center for the Arts as part of the Area Choreographer's Festival with Alison Vodnoy and an ensemble of dancers, led by the collaborating choreographic expertise of Heather Britt.

We are calling the piece Dis(Embody). Or maybe it is (Dis)Embody. We have some stuff to work out.

I applied this year because it seemed the right thing to do with the concept I had presented to Alison about making a theatrical, movement-based work that explores the reasons why we check out of our body and some of the things that can happen and/or not happen when one is wandering around in a dissociative state.

I have had my share of "checked" out years. I know exactly where I "go" when I want to spend time in the fluffy, easy, floating place I have created where I can fantasize, recall, project, imagine. When Alison and Heather and I first met to discuss this, we all realized we "go" to the same space. Our out of body "place" is up and a little behind us to the right. And for the three of us, it is a nice place to be.

We have started asking others about their out-of-body "place." It has been astonishing how easy this concept is for most people to grasp and how specific these unpracticed answers, never-before-considered answers are:

"It is up and behind my left eye. I sort of leave forward and then curl back up and behind my eye."

"Up to the right. It is fluffy."

"I go to a space in my childhood bedroom, in front of my bed. I sort of go horizontal and then swoop down in it."

"I go inside. To the left of my chest. It is not pleasant."

We have just started making this piece. It will be a wonderful source of discovery through movement and narrative and collaboration. We will invite others to play with us. And we will let you know when it is time to hunker down and buy tickets.

Until then, think about this:

When you check out of your body, when you fantasize or space out or whatever it is you do, can you identify "where" it is you go to? And what that space feels like?

Let us know and help inspire our work.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

How to end a journey.

How do I honor my last day in Bali?

I am working hard to stay connected here, to all that is available in the earth, air, water and breath. I am working to keep my action-oriented, make-a-to-do-list-now, count-my-pennies-once-again brain quieted for at least another 24 hours. My strategy for this had to be mapped out. Here it is. My last day recipe to honor my journey.

Listen to the water while watching the wind move the rice.
Drink another juice potion or two.
Inhale gifts, exhale gratitude for each and every beautiful soul I met.
Teach for an hour to give of myself in this land of getting.
Turn myself over to Balinese hands for one last healing.
Dance, ecstatically, in a barn made for yoga.

Thank you thank you thank you. Om shanti om.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Eat, Pray, Love, Heal, Teach, Saunter, Connect

This is my fourth day in Bali. I just counted it out with my fingers. Twice. To be sure I was right because it seems like time is expanding and I've been here forever.

Lisa and I arrived on different flights at roughly the same time, greeted by torrential rain and a CROWDED airport and street scene in Seminyak. I stayed in the area 10 years ago and it has changed a lot. It was a holiday which makes for even busier streets, but I literally could not cross the street when I took a harrowing walk to the ATM machine.

The villa we stayed in was superb and the hang out scene at Ku De Ta and the dining choices (Sardine was sublime. A million dollar dinner for real. Rupiah, that is.) remain world class choices, but the space between is hard to manage. And since I was here pre-bombing last time, it is comforting and sad to have to have your bags checked by security at entrance to a resort after your beach walk.

On Saturday, we moved to Ubud, Lisa off to the One World Retreat to do a week-long workshop with Rachel and Mer of Cincinnati and Yoga Bar fame, and me to my homestay to prepare to teach my Yoga Barn workshop.

As lovely as it was to stay in the countryside in an authentic Balinese style home, I was a bit too far off the beaten path. So yesterday I found the lovely Bali Aura next door to the Yoga Barn and have decided to call this home for the week. Easy and affordable bliss.

The workshop was amazing and ten warm souls joined me to learn about stress and trauma in the body. I have met new collaborators for True Body and for True Movement for sure. But technically, my work is now done. And now I have the grand good fortune to settle in and relax and listen and write and create and breathe and even

t y p e m o r e s l o w l y f o r a c h a n g e. M a y b e e v e n l e a r n t o l i v e i n

t h e

s p a c e s

b e t w e e n

t h e

w o r d s.

I went to a healer today. Right before the driver turned on the turn signal in the van, my left palm began to pulse like crazy. We turned left and entered the sanctuary of Tjokorda Gede Rai. He greeted me warmly with a smile and ease that made me feel my wellness work on my own body and spirit is working pretty darn good. He asked what he could do for me. I gestured to my heart. "Open this, please."

He said, "You need passion. You will be the Goddess of Amor." (pretty literally)

I said, "Yes indeed, guru healer 80 year-old Balinese man. Yes indeed." (less literally, but still accurate.)

He worked on me. We spoke in whispers. In the end, he unblocked some stuff and suggested I move the energy up from the ground to my whole being. He said that would bring me "charisma" and I would be "hot." No lie.

But he told me to be careful. Make choices. Focus.

So that's my job this week.

Move energy, make choices, focus.

A n d s l o w i t a l l d o w n t o d i s c e r n

t h i s

n e w

t r u t h.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Last post from Cambodia.

It is a quiet morning at the serene RiverGarden in Siem Reap. I loved this place so much last year and now it has been traveler tested by friends in New York who came last year, Linda Averbeck, and Lisa Stegman too. The final vote? We love love love it here.

Lisa left last night to get to Phnom Penh for her flights to Bali. I leave in a couple of hours and if luck and air transport work in harmony, we arrive within a half hour of each other to extend our adventure at Villa Pitou in Seminyak for a couple of days before moving onto Ubud.

Lisa's foot is definitely on the mend so we were able to see a few temples yesterday. They remain as I left them last year and as conceived centuries ago: magnificent and overwhelming reminders of the strength and beauty of the human spirit.

And this year, like last year, I am struck by the same thing when I spend time with Yorn Chea at the Enkosa RiverSchool.

The RiverGarden is across the river from the temple complex and free school that monk Yorn Chea runs to teach children English and other languages. The minute you wander into the open air, dimly lit classrooms, you are thrown into service, trying to remember how you learned English in the first place. It hardly matters what you do with the children. You can sing songs, practice spelling, learn the numbers or the alphabet or the colors or the names of things and they respond the same way: wildly enthusiastic to learn. They listen, they write down everything you write on the board, they repeat your words, they laugh, they try.

And you are enchanted. Luckily you can be a Facebook friend of Yorn Chea so you can stay in touch with him and follow his work. A year ago, I learned his goals. And this year, I could see that he is committed and true to his word. He has more than doubled the classroom space, found volunteers to fund and build a library and computer room. He is teaching more and more students.

I saw the future of Cambodia this week in the eyes of these children. The future has a name. It is called education.

So here is my advice. Don't wait to come to Cambodia. Start in Phnom Penh. Meet the Transitions staff and girls. Then head north to Siem Reap. Stay at the RiverGarden. See history by day and the future by night at the Enkosa RiverSchool. Experience first hand the magnificent and overwhelming strength of the human spirit, yours included.

Postscript: Lisa and I printed 50 copies of the True Body Workbook to leave for the girls and worked with the students on one of the exercises the night we taught. So for those of you who have supported this effort, know that your donations helped to bring the English language and, perhaps, some self awareness to even more young students in Cambodia.