Thirty Days of Thoughts: Day 7

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6/8/21

After pulling myself out of my little shame funk for writing yesterday it felt good to make some lovely decisions to get back some focus and positive energy in order to face the wind again. I took some time to have lunch, get a manicure and pedicure and get my eyebrows waxed. It was strange after over a year of not being able to care for myself in those ways but it was a strange return that really shifted me in unexpected ways. 

I couldn’t have realized how much NOT attending to those little desires makes one feel disconnected and oddly not proud of one’s appearance. It made me wonder how much of these little unnoticeable things that slipped by all of us so quietly but had profound negative effects that we didn’t even realize were building up? 

I for one felt like I did pretty well with dealing with the stress, isolation, lack of personal contact, intimacy, self care and the whole rewiring of our existence and experiences. What was odd after yesterday is that perhaps the warrior kicked in and squelched many of the very important “little” things that help keep us focused, grounded and confident in who we are. That was mind blowing. Perhaps I was not as balanced as I thought I was. 

Needless to say, it felt amazing to pamper myself and feel as if I was me again. I looked at my eyebrows and said “there you are”! It was rather nice actually. 

This morning I was having a profound sense of presence going through the morning rituals for me and the boys. One of the things that crossed my mind in the doing was a little whisper of “for my life”. It popped into my mind to take a moment before I do anything and ask myself or claim a moment. Is this good “for my life” or am I doing this “for my life”? 

I continued through ritual actions and felt a profound awareness and presence wash over me. Instead of being on autopilot I was present and aware of actions validating and honoring while building positive momentum. This shift opened my awareness up to do even more things “for my life”. 

It opened up an opportunity to ask the questions of myself of making all my decisions with this very small sense of awareness. I am choosing to do this “for my life”. Is this good “for my life”? Will this be something that adds to a life well lived? Are my actions even good for your life or the lives in which I touch each day? How might this simple rewiring affect all aspects of my life?

And so this is how this morning went and I am feeling strangely inspired, connected and empowered. I am interested in seeing how much this shift changes my day, adds to the goodness of the day and creates change “for my life”. I’ll be sure to let you know. 

Thirty Days of Thoughts: Day 6

6/7/21

Well it looks as though I did not succeed in writing and sharing yesterday. The day got a hold of me and just sped on by. When I woke this morning I realized I let the day slip away and my commitment along with it. I must say I had a heavy heart when I realized what I had forgotten. 

And so I write today to process the whole thing and also to own my responsibility in that failure. Of course it is not the end of the world and of course it really doesn’t mean anything or affect anything. And yet, when I am trying to rewire things in my life, it does make a difference to me. I confess I get frustrated when I am not able to keep a commitment to myself and let myself down. 

That is one of the things I am trying to change for myself as well. I would like to be a little more present and proactive in all of my practices and commitments to myself. The COVID shift and way of living has certainly thrown me off center and changed the way I engage with so many things. 

This challenge was in some ways a celebration of returning to being present and then missing just knocked the wind out of my sails. I guess that is perhaps part of the process and part of the reframing. I can still do thirty days, it will just have a few gap days or cheat days if you will. At least I am back on and riding(writing) again. 

Perhaps this is also a lesson in not being too hard on myself or beating myself up for not following through or meeting my own expectations. Perhaps I should give myself a break and let myself have the space and time to reconfigure the things I would like to shift. Perhaps I can be kinder to myself as well. 

You know I never had difficulty committing to going to class and deepening my practice. The body has always been a first priority and I always figured out how to be present and show up for class in my training. It is the things that I am uncomfortable with or uncertain about that I have the most difficult time moving through. 

I am happy that I am doing this though and working through it. In a small way it is helping to build courage and confidence in the process. Two things I need to build when it comes to writing and sharing that writing. 

Thirty Days of Thoughts: Day 5

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6/5/21

I have fallen in love with dance so many times during my adventure with it. In and out of love with the field and all of it’s dysfunction and challenges. What I have come to realize is that I have not really been in love with dance but rather a body in motion and the ability to be consciously present in the training, reshaping and organizing of a falling body through space. 

For so long I have tried to simply do this very thing and have been challenged to justify it as research, choreography, engagement, activism and outreach when all that was important for me was to simply exist in the joy of being present in this body.

I realize existing in academia all this time I have lost the soul and joy of movement by always having to assess, quantify and promote my brand. It’s no wonder the joy of movement and being in love with it has long been gone. What an exhausting relationship and unhealthy coupling it is. Certainly not a positive one to have had if dance was a person.

So in my reflections during these turbulent times I am finding out that I am remembering when it is I have been in love with my body in motion and the carving and shaping of my energies in space. I am remembering that at every turn all that mattered was the movement. I remember there is nothing else but movement.

What is delightful about this is I can return to the space of being where I am free to present and deeply committed to the conscious movement mechanics and expression of a soul inhabiting a body in motion defying space and time. 

I can be in this place again if I am capable of surrendering the justification for being driven by the ego and of the expectations of a field requiring long held hierarchies. Is it possible to exist within structures that strangle and suffocate voices that do not adhere to the same exclusive value systems laid out by a field and more specifically the archaic funding mechanism which holds so many marginalized voices hostage?

I have always struggled with this but now feel it is truly time to let it all go and fall back to being in love with falling; artfully and gracefully falling through time and space without a care for the construct which binds bodies from being all that they are and can be. 

Thirty Days of Thoughts: Day 4

Well the day has been full of creativity, physicality and healing. So much so that I find myself at the end of the day making sure I uphold my commitment. Yes, it is the end of the day and I have realized my focus has taken me so many other places other than writing.

I am feeling giddy over the idea that I actually am taking the time to keep my commitment and to sit and write. Oddly it is not out of obligation but rather a sense of commitment to staying the course and supporting myself regardless of what it takes. It kind of feels empowering really to take the time, make the time and keep the promise.

So instead of feeling as if I am falling short, it feels good to acknowledge commitment, courage and creativity. I may not be following the thoughts of the past three days, but I am following through. And quite frankly, following through is not easy but I am doing it.

Here’s to saying yes. Here’s to saying ok. Here’s to taking and making the time. Here’s to showing up and following through. And here’s to simply doing the best at this moment and going through whatever needed to be gone through to make it work. It might not be the longest post, but it’s a post.

And for that, I’m proud. Do what you can and gotta do. Then, let it all go.

Thirty Days of Thoughts: Day 3

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6/3/21

After the last two days of sharing and taking you back to the intersection of creativity and spirituality I thought it might be fun to take a walk down memory lane and share a little about the first seeds of the abundant work that followed from my first professional work called Venation. 

I was so inspired by the Tao Te Ching, Qigong and energy work in general that I wanted to research energy more and pull together the eastern and western essence in this process. So off I went to look to science, specifically contemporary physics, to see what I could see. And there went the box to the lid that has still yet to be closed. 

I researched and researched from both a traditional and contemporary perspective using imagery and concepts from both to create a men’s quartet that would gain a lot of traction by premiering at a shared concert with some of my colleagues in the Chicago modern scene and danced by myself, Raven, Krenly and Troy. It was a powerhouse premier that ended up being performed in several venues and festivals throughout the next few years. 

It was my first taste of doing that kind of in depth research and work which carried me even further down the rabbit hole of inspiration. Oddly I continue the investigation as a way of explaining my belief that “choreography is the art of shaping energy in space”. This very simple belief system for myself was the best way I could explain how I made dances or more honestly how I see dances being manifested in space by how my eyes see time falling bodies organized in an artful and poetic way. 

I worked this way for several years before deciding to run off to graduate school where I would have to really justify my process, clarify the research and be able to qualitatively and quantitatively convince my thesis panel of my beliefs. I remember Donald McKayle expressing what a unique way of looking at dance making and the way I see energy as a way of making sense and the matter of dances. 

This would continue in this fashion until the premier of Amaranth Contemporary Dance in 2006 for a concert entitled Experiment in White. This title was a nod to the company I had in Chicago, Cerulean Dance Theater, and our major concert Experiment in Blue. It is very clear my need to connect the dots, pay homage and to remember where all of the work comes from. The heart has been the energy throughout this process and will always be the fire energy necessary for the art of making dances. That and the art of using conscious movement to heal ourselves physically, energetically and spiritually. Art is really from the heART. 

The photo is from a shoot to promote Venation. Photo Credit: William Frederking

Thirty Days of Thoughts: Day 2

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There is a sweetness of awareness that has been happening over the past few months that have really been such a beautiful experience. As I dive deeper into the Five Element Theories of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), I am finding so many wonderful connections with all of the work I have been doing for the past thirty years creatively as well as spiritually. It’s nice to feel a sense of return in addition to the confirmation of what I have known and felt all along.

Coincidently my spiritual practice was revealed through my decision to dance. Back when I first started I was introduced to various movement practices through a seminar class that was required for our curriculum. It was through this coursework that Tai Chi and Qi Gong was introduced to my life.

Since then my creative and spiritual journey have been interwoven through the works I made and the philosophies that were the inspiration for that work. It seems there has always been a parallel of physicality and well-being throughout my early training practices.

dues to starting dance at a very late age all of this work and playing catch-up influenced the way I grew and developed my thinking and in many ways how I perceived dance and technique. I was never trained through the aesthetics of various forms but rather encouraged to explore, discover and play with how my body felt in motion. I felt ecstasy in movement and fell deeply in love with my soulful connection to my body.

Clearly the path I chose had a big influence on the rest of my life. I made choices to stay in motion even if there were “objects” interacting at times to thwart my momentum. The laws of motion somehow kept me moving and moving through me to allow for opportunities to keep diving deeper. It is this wonderful appreciation of fate that I owe a deep gratitude to for dance giving me the life it has. And what a life it has been!!



Thirty Days of Thoughts: Day 1

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6/1/21

After a wild ride this past year it feels as if there may be room to breathe a little more easily and to put into motion all of the “heart” work that was done during the pandemic. Perhaps even a small expression of joy as the school year ends and there is space for a great exhale making room for the next big breath. 

I have decided to use this month as a writing challenge and return to a practice which scares me. Writing has never been easy for me and has created quite a large amount of trauma throughout my education in general. So to lean into this moment of joy with a challenging journey seems to be what my spirit is asking. I am turning to face the fear in order to break through for the sharing of some very exciting research. 

I would like to invite you on this thrifty day adventure of sharing whatever thoughts seem most relevant to be speaking to. I have no focus or theme other than sharing with you on a daily basis in order to connect, release and sharpen the practice of writing. I would love for you to join me in this sharing and to also to hear your perspective regardless of your lens. After all, listening to speak has been one of the key elements that have shifted ever more deeply for me over the past year and some change. 

And lastly, thank you in advance for taking the time and giving your energy and focus to the art of sharing. On some small level I would like to even challenge you to use these next thirty days as a check in for yourself as well. Set some time aside to create space within your day when you might find yourself listening with your eyes and being open to hear how your heart feels in these moments. 

May this be a transcendental adventure for us all! 

Sending light, love and levity!!!

Where Is He When He Dreams?

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Where is he when he dreams? Where does he go when he closes his eyes and falls into the deepest of slumbers I could only wish I could have? What is it does he see? Does he see me?

I watch the movements of his breath and the movements of his legs and wonder, is he chasing something across some field in some far off land? Does he feel free to roam wherever he may choose?

I also wonder if he is happy in his dreams or if the scars of the life he lived before me linger in his night time? Would it be lovely if all that filled his slumber was the life and love of now.

All I know is that it brings my heart so much joy to see him so comfortable that he melts into the sofa, bed or my arms. I am at least grateful he feels the safety of my love and of my heart. Certainly happy he finds sanctuary in this home to.

When he is awake I do often wonder if perhaps he ever dreamed of being here, a place of endless love and kisses. I know I have most certainly dreamt of him and elated that my dreams have come true.

I Think The Butterfly Knows

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I think the butterfly knows the hardship of transformation. They know the process takes time and understand that patience and faith are its only weapon.

I think the butterfly knows what it means to be vulnerable as on is left suspended with little defense waiting for the change. 

I think the butterfly knows the inevitability of change and what it must require of ones being to accept ones individual path to beauty and well-being. 

I think the butterfly knows how to embrace temporality as their life span is but such a small blip on the radar of time. 

I think the butterfly knows the value of being present and to welcome the tumultuous and dynamic physical shift that must occur in order to take flight. 

I think the butterfly knows what most of us human beings need to know; patience faith, vulnerability inevitability, acceptance, mindfulness and peace. 

Yes, without a doubt, I think the butterfly knows! 

Small Moments/Small Breaths

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Small Moments/Small Breaths

Strangled by the separation of bodies in motion in shared spaces and the need to push forward in “uncertain” times I have finally come to a point where I no longer feel confident and secure in pushing forward. Sure, I have had to find the strength and courage to be there for the students and to be able to find the ability to keep on keeping on, but honestly, it has been a lot to carry and at times hard to breathe.

Once classes had ended I found myself a drift in these new spaces and new ways of figuring out what to do. Like so many, I struggled with not being able to be in the same space with all of these incredible bodies searching, striving and living the beauty of a body in motion artfully shaping space with incredible precision and grace. The lack of being present in the moment of transformation hurts the kinetic spirits of a community of movement. And no matter how much I am supposed to be brave, confident and courageous, alas I don’t think I am succeeding.

In  many ways this is good to be able to recalibrate and ask so many necessary questions. I believe this as well as believe that in the end this will be a moment of courageous change and a necessary shift for the field and for how dance lives in academia. Truth be told I have never seen myself as a “company” kind of artist nor one that is constantly academically justifying outcomes in an art form that, for me, is all about the process of discovery.

Within the context of this time, how do we reframe the ways in which we see ourselves within the field, within the our process and within our dreams? When being a body in artful motion has been in many ways irreversibly changed, how does one continue to find the surface of the waters of darkness to just catch a little breath to fill the lungs of hope?

Of course I am moving! I still continue to share EBAS classes with folks from all over finding new discoveries and new ways of being in communion. Sure I take long walks with Beathan and find myself in motion on so many levels. Yet, my heart is broken by the inability to be in communities of movement artists to grapple with new concepts and ideas together while watching and encouraging play and exploration.

As many know I am very much an introvert but being in a classroom either leading or collaborating is the way in which I am able to find connection, compassion and a fulfilled heart. I must say being alone isn’t lonely when the work you do on a daily basis is in community and in the love and passion for your work.

One of the things I love most about teaching is the extremely intimate hands on approach that I engage in with my students. I have healing hands and consider myself more a healer than a teacher, choreographer or artist. Certainly more so than an academic. Be that as it may, when the ability to physically connect and create a space of sensorial exploration and transformation is removed from your daily experience, it is crushing and suffocating to say the least.

So now that having to put on my big boy pants and carry on has come to a close, I must admit I am at a loss now that even the smallest amount of connection to movement and students has dried up. Now it is a matter of asking questions and spending a great deal of time accessing new ways of moving and perhaps new ways of making. Yet, I am not interested in the many forms that people are suggesting and pretending that it is just the way we have to carry on. I certainly understand that we need to move forward and figure it out, but still my heart breaks at the love lost in the ways that have meant so much to me.

Truth be told I am not a dance for camera person. It is a great field and there is so much great work happening, but it is simply just not something for me. Many of the directions we are being asked to explore are not for me nor am I particularly interested in being a part of. There are so many wonderful artists already doing this great work and exploring those avenues. I am just not one of them. No, I am one of those artists that lives and breathes the body and craves the discoveries and all the wisdom that a body in motion shares in that process. Is it so wrong to JUST want to be that? Is it a crime to not want to pretend that I am desperately afraid of losing the kind of physical corporeal wisdom that I value above all else?

So then why is it I feel I am not connecting to all of these new ways and that I am just not capable of pretending to be “going with the flow”? While I mourn the loss of contact and the physicality and exuberance of training and performing, do I still have to pretend that all of this doesn’t matter? Is pretending that the heart is broken and still carrying on a healthy thing to do or can we breathe and ask ourselves the kinds of questions we need to ask in a more calm, rational and open space?

This is the thing about calamity, we turn into very reactive individuals trying to solve problems that we have no answers for but feel we need to do it in the first place simply because we are falling prey to the corporatization of academia, the field and the prioritization of outcome or product driven models of success. Wouldn’t it be the time to breathe and ask ourselves some deep seated questions about how to move forward while truly addressing issues in the field that have continued to be overlooked? Would it be nice to stop the train and have conversations that are necessary in having to actually work in community rather than work as individuals in a community cloaked in the very models of suppression that exist?

I would most certainly welcome the space and time to share and grapple with how we are all feeling and move from a place of empathetic understanding as the beginnings of discovering the kind of field that is necessary at this time and the kind of field dance has the potential to be. If we find ourselves coupling together in the energy of survival, how are we asking ourselves clear questions through the lens of creative change instead?

In my meditations I keep on hearing the body whisper “small movements. small breaths”. It is a recurring phrase that I hear but am not quite sure how to translate. The one thing I do know is it is suggesting small and conscious steps through conscious movement with conscious breath. I also think it is a response to the broken heart missing movement, connection and the joy of that collaboration. Perhaps slowing down into the present moment of every action with the awareness of that moment is the best way for me at this time to find the courage and confidence to breathe deeply in movement again.

Perhaps this is all I have to hold on at this moment as I figure out where I wish to go next. Perhaps this is the way of asking myself the questions of my intentions within the field and the kind of artist I wish to be moving forward. Perhaps this is the moment to question whether the kind of artist I am is viable at this moment or will the way I have loved working ever have value in the same way. Perhaps small movement and small breaths will be the way in which I am able to answer these questions finding a path the brings peace back to my heart.