Friday, April 18, 2014

Are You Tough Enough for Ordinary Love?

You may have noticed that I've added a new tagline to all my banners from here to Facebook to YouTube.
Dance is the path.
Love is the territory.

It came to me weeks ago, of course, while I was chanting.

I think it's the most clear and succinct articulation of my work ever.

If you understand those two tiny sentences or the potentiality contained within those two tiny sentences, then you're definitely one of my peeps.

If you don't get it...if it seems silly or cheesy or trite...then you're not.

Since I changed that tagline, I've been thinking more and more deeply about the concept of love. I guess, too, because I just ran a workshop about unconditional love and because I've started a two to three year process of an 800 hour yoga philosophy course, which really comes down to studying the many ways we separate from and join back to the ultimate reality, which, for me, is this love stuff.

I begin to notice more and more and MORE how messed up we are about love.

How much we fall for the idea that it's a feeling...that it's something that makes us FEEL a certain way.

That's romantic "in-love."


A feeling is a passive noun.


A feeling is fleeting.


A feeling the becomes narcissistic*.

(An important note: I use this term loosely -- as in "only for self" and not as a reference to the disease model.)

A lot of us are pretty focused on things like "awakening our kundalini" or "becoming enlightened" or "tapping into our higher selves."

But really? We can't even deal with ordinary love. Which is just the starting point.

The day to day starting over even when things are hard.

The minute to minute making choices that include everyone and not just ourselves.

The breath to breath remembering of who we really are and how it has nothing to do with anything but each other.

And then Bono goes and totally explains it all in a song...

If you want to explore more deeply how to create an at-home dance sadhana (spiritual path) practice, you could join my super secret Facebook group, Inferno of Awesome. This group is invisible until you're added. FIRST, make sure you are my friend on FB, and SECOND, ask me to add you.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

The Importance of Flexibility and Love in Our Personal Daily Practices (Video)

This video is just 4 minutes. And I have no idea why iMovie decided to not sync my voice to my picture but it eventually rights itself. HA!  (And I find this thumbnail highly amusing!)

If you want to explore more deeply how to create an at-home dance sadhana (spiritual path) practice, you could join my super secret Facebook group, Inferno of Awesome. This group is invisible until you're added. FIRST, make sure you are my friend on FB, and SECOND, ask me to add you.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Blisschick Redux: Who Would You Be if No One Had Ever Told You Who You Are?

Originally posted to Blisschick on July 3, 2009:

When someone whom you've just met asks you: "What do you do?" -- what is your response?

Most likely, if you are an American, your answer will be your job title. But there are cultures for whom this would be their last response. Yes. It's true. They might say that they are a parent or that they love to read or sail or that they garden or write poems.

(Some of us are lucky, of course, and we spend our days making a living by doing things that express our very essence. I'm not necessarily talking to you!)

So it came as no surprise to me when I last wrote about this idea of who you would be if no one had ever told you who you are that a lot of people ended up talking about jobs.

Answering this question can, eventually, lead to a different work life. But it starts at a much more basic place than that and I think it's worth revisiting.

This is about internal chatter, toxic tapes that play over and over, gremlins, divas that take up all the space and suck the oxygen right out of our ideas and dreams.

For me, this Blisschick, "you are lazy" is a core belief I hold about myself. No matter the lists and lists of evidence that I and others could construct to prove this wrong, it is still there, waiting for a moment when I'm not paying attention to ruin my party.

This means that my question is: "Who would I be, what would my life look like, if no one had ever told me I was essentially a lazy human being?"

The opposite is not always the answer.

Meaning, I do not necessarily replace "I am lazy" with "I am Super Woman of Productivity." Instead, the key here is to erase the lazy tape and replace it with "I am fine and happy the way I am."

Period. And it's probably the "answer" that we are all looking for.

Being fine and happy just the way we are.

So for enCouragingBliss this week, I ask you, what core belief about yourself did someone else teach you and can you let it go to just be fine and happy?

Dig Deep. Be Brave. Choose Bliss.

If you want to explore more deeply how to create an at-home dance sadhana (spiritual path) practice, you could join my super secret Facebook group, Inferno of Awesome. This group is invisible until you're added. FIRST, make sure you are my friend on FB, and SECOND, ask me to add you.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Harmonious Bodies Interview, Part 1: The Physical Body in Natural Dance

One of my favorite sections in this 20 minute interview is when I am talking about what happens when we are little to freeze up the body. (Interviews are such a learning experience; I love being pushed to clearly articulate in words this practice that is not about words.)

Go here to listen.

And again, if you are contemplating my teacher training, this gives you even more insight into my methods.

If you want to explore more deeply how to create an at-home dance sadhana (spiritual path) practice, you could join my super secret Facebook group, Inferno of Awesome. This group is invisible until you're added. FIRST, make sure you are my friend on FB, and SECOND, ask me to add you.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Body Listening Experiment (Short Video)

If you want to explore more deeply how to create an at-home dance sadhana (spiritual path) practice, you could join my super secret Facebook group, Inferno of Awesome. This group is invisible until you're added. FIRST, make sure you are my friend on FB, and SECOND, ask me to add you.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

DRUM ROLL!!!! Teacher Training Details NOW!

From a demo in the park two summers ago.
Reed Dance Sadhana™is for all bodies and ages.
(Age range in photo: mid 30s to almost 80)

I am a little beyond excited and way past nervous to finally announce the very first ever (OH MY GOD) Reed Dance Sadhana™Teacher Training.

WHO Can Come to This Training/Workshop?

Okay...This is actually the Teacher Training Part One, OR, if you like, a very intense, totally-just-for-you, deep dive workshop exploring this process of dance as spiritual process.

You don't even need to decide before you come. You could come thinking you don't want to teach* but really need this for your sanity and health and then later you decide you DO want to teach so you just sign up for Teacher Training Part Two, which will be offered online! Distance learning for the win! (Saving you on traveling expenses and allowing me to offer part two at a decreased cost!)

(*True story: Totally happened to me. When I went to my very first training five years ago, I had no freaking intention to teach. And now? It's what I do! HA!)

OR...(See? There are SO MANY freaking options and so many kinds of people who could benefit from this training/workshop!) could come for part one because you are a coach or an art/expressive therapist or a counselor or a psychologist...just someone who works with making happier and healthier people who would like another tool in their toolbox (or needs some serious care-taking for themselves).

That's pretty much the WHO could come to this workshop.

WHAT Experience Do I Need?

But I can hear you already: What kind of experience do I need, Christine? Do I need some sort of dance background?


Do you love to move? Do you love music? Do you want to learn more ways to explore movement in YOUR OWN body? Do you think that dance can be an ecstatic experience that takes us to our best and biggest and most radiant selves?

Answer yes to those and you are someone I geek out about working with!

More seriously: Before coming to this training, I would love that you have some sort of movement practice or that you've worked with me either in person or online. How's that?

Mostly though? I love working with blank slates, and even if you DO have a dance background or a serious movement practice, this modality is all about Breaking That DOWN. We want to get to your natural, essential self here. We want to strip away the STUFF that has been put on you by other people.

HOW Do I Teach?

And that's the most important thing I can do as a teacher who is teaching other potential teachers:

  • I want to help you learn YOUR way.
  • I want to help you learn how to think critically about movement and bodies and the creative process.
  • I want to help you learn how to create your own material.

That doesn't mean I won't be teaching you structure.

OH! I will be teaching you LOTS of structure.

But the structure I teach is BOUNCY, flexible. Think of the structure I will be teaching you like a diving board: It's meant for you to JUMP OFF OF.

It's always there to support you. You go back to it over and over and over and over...but each time with the intention of diving into the unknown and finding something new.

WHAT Will I Learn?

In Teaching Training Part One (Otherwise known as Workshop Intensive!), we'll be focusing on experiential learning.

I will basically be modeling for you. You'll learn by observing and doing.

We'll be going DEEP into all the processes I've developed and use and the WHY and HOW behind it, but we won't spend time talking about how to get yourself out there or how to develop a student body or how to build a class structure from nothing or how to search for the right music or any of that teaching specific sort of stuff (that is for Teacher Training Part Two).

PLEASE Be More Specific

Okay. I shall.

(Though keep in mind, by the time you get here in late September, there will be even more of this and there will be different stuff that I can't even now imagine...I am CONSTANTLY developing new ways of doing this work, which is why after you complete both teacher trainings, you join a Teachers' Association where I will always share what I am up to and new music and everything you need to keep your classes creative and your own self challenged and happy. And in the near future there will be advanced trainings for dealing with niche populations.)

A small overview of topic areas:

Reed Dance Sadhana™ is a spiritual practice first and foremost and the spirit of this practice comes from the deep philosophical teachings of yoga, though I also throw in whatever floats my boat, so we'll spend some time each day looking specifically at these foundations.

Throat and voice work -- we'll work to open your throat to allow your true voice to emerge and we'll explore ways to use the voice to create emotional healing. We'll also play with chant.

Biomechanics and neuroscience -- we'll look at all the body and brain benefits of dance and specifically how non-led dance is the best thing out there for a healthy aging human.

Meditation/Guided Visualization -- we'll learn to incorporate these into our dance and movement practice rather than seeing them as separate.

The Emotion of Music -- we'll play with a huge array of music and explore how it feels in the body and ways to use it to create release.

Bodyparts™ -- this is my warm up modality that is constantly evolving, but we'll literally move from the feet to the top of the head, learning how to increase the mobility of every joint along the way but also becoming aware of the emotional content of each section of the body.

Levels™ -- I developed this work specifically because of my work with elders but have found that it is work that is challenging for every age group I work with. Levels™work will expand your movement vocabulary quickly. Each day, we'll work on a more subtle level than the previous.

Butoh and Modern Dance -- we will play with bits of material from the world of trained dancers, again, to increase your movement vocabulary. Butoh, in particular, has been deeply formative to my work.

The Poetics of Movement -- we will play with an entire toybox of ideas and ways to get the body moving, including incorporating actual language into our dance and the use of guided imagery and koan-like prompts that I use to intentionally confuse the body into newness.



WHAT About the Details?

Oh, right!

LOCATION: Girl on Fire Movement Studio, Erie, Pennsylvania

DATES:  Sunday, September 28th, 2014, we begin at 7 PM that evening THROUGH Friday, October 3rd and we conclude before Noon.

WHAT'S INCLUDED in the Cost: All the training hours are with me. (Some trainings delegate. Not this one.) There will be reading materials provided. After the training, you'll receive notes from the training, including music lists. (Though I encourage you to also take your own notes.) Lunch, Monday through Thursday. And one evening's dinner at the beach.

What's NOT Included: Your travel, of course. Your lodging and breakfast and most dinners. As people sign up, I will open a secret Facebook group so you can (possibly) coordinate travel. Also so you can coordinate sharing rooms (and I'll give leads on hotels that are easy to find, etc.).  Between the main section of hotels and my studio (down one long road), there is a Wegman's. If you don't know what Wegman's is, you're in for a treat. It's the best grocery store on the planet and it also happens to have a MOST AMAZING selection of eat-in or take-out meals. And it's VERY reasonably priced. VERY. (Especially if you come in from a larger city, this will shock you.)

NOTE: A wee legal thing-a-ma-jig about the payment: FULL PAYMENT is due by September 1st. No refunds after August 1st. If you ask for a refund before August 1st, it will be given minus a 10% processing fee.


NOTE:  My studio size is limiting the number of students I can take into this training, so be sure to secure your spot as soon as you can. I'm only taking 12 people! You can secure your spot with a 50% payment.

One time, up-front full payment.
$1,000 USD

Secure your Spot, 50% Payment
(Other 50% Due by September 1st)
$500 USD

IF YOU HAVE ANY QUESTIONS at all, feel free to email me or send me a private message on Facebook.


If you want to explore more deeply how to create an at-home dance sadhana (spiritual path) practice, you could join my super secret Facebook group, Inferno of Awesome. This group is invisible until you're added. FIRST, make sure you are my friend on FB, and SECOND, ask me to add you.

Monday, April 7, 2014

BlissChick Redux: Interview with Jen Lemen

As a blogger just starting out, how the heck was I so lucky as to get Jen Lemen to do an interview?! And I adore -- ADORE -- what I wrote here about what she taught me about blogging. This whole interview is just as relevant today as it was when it was first published on May 13, 2008. (Interview begins after picture.)

"The air, blowing everywhere, serves all creatures."--Hildegarde of Bingen
(Painting by Marcy Hall)

If hope is a thing with feathers, then Jen Lemen must be a bird. A bird leading a flock in a revolution, that is.

When I first started poking around in blogs beyond Neil Gaiman and other published authors, I was lucky enough to find Jen. Her writing was different. Go here to read one of my favorite posts from early on in my reading.

Jen taught me two big things: first, that blogging could be so much more than a personal diary, a personal rant, a way to tell the world how much smarter you are than them. A blog, she showed me, could be an honest and immediate pathway for storytelling that opens people's hearts -- the only kind of storytelling that I'm interested in, personally.

She has also taught me about the immense and beautiful power of this community that people still insist on calling "virtual." The internet, like any form of media or communication or linking, has its faults, can be manipulated, and used in ill-will, but it is also a revolution (there's that word again) -- a revolution of thoughts and ideas and freedom.

Jen taught me those things -- especially through her recent endeavors. Jen is headed to Rwanda this week to do a little revolting -- of love and hope, that is.

I came across a quote that reminded me immediately of this remarkable woman. You can substitute any word you want for "saint" -- visionary, leader, wild woman -- but you get the idea:

The saints differ from us in their exuberance,
the excess of our human talents. Moderation
is not their secret. It is in the wildness
of their dreams, the desperate vitality
of their ambitions, that they stand apart
from ordinary people of good will.
--Phyllis McGinley

1. Describe the PrimeBliss of your life, including how you came to discover it.

I think the driving passion of my life right now is to create community and connection wherever I go. This manifests itself these days in a deep desire to share stories that change me both in the listening and the telling. I'm not sure how this passion came to me, but I can tell you I've been weak in the knees for a good story for as long as I can remember.

2. What types of choices and sacrifices did you make to be able to craft this bliss-filled life?

One of the things I've had to let go of is other people's definitions of legitimacy and value. I could easily discredit myself as a storyteller, an artist or a writer because of my lack of training and formal education (I have very little in writing and absolutely zero in art), but I've found that forging my own path has its own rewards.

3. How does your PrimeBliss radiate out into the rest of your life?

My bliss shows up in my interactions with strangers. There's something magical about finding a way to connect with someone you don't know by telling one little part of a story that makes you both laugh. These kinds of accidental meetings make my days truly magic.

4. What are some of your secondary bliss activities? Things that make you lose your sense of time?

I lose myself completely when I'm making art. I have no sense of time in the company of fresh produce at the farmer's market. I have lost whole days in the shelves of my favorite bookstores. Anytime beauty, art or books are present, time stands still.

5. What is your daily or weekly spiritual practice?

I've never been a very regular person, preferring instead the rhythm of putting out fires and responding to calls for action. Maybe that's why I like to light candles for just about everything. It helps me distill my mini-moments of crisis into rituals of hopefulness and peace.

6. What music is your bliss?

I have a horrible, embarrassing affection for Broadway musicals. I've spent whole months listening to nothing but the music from Wicked and Rent, much to the dismay of my family. But when I'm feeling less dramatic, I must have The Weepies. Alone on a desert island, with only one band to pick, The Weepies would be my bliss.

7. Name books or authors/poets or people who are your bliss, who influenced your bliss.

I owe so much to the poet Mary Oliver. Annie Dillard and Anne Lamott convinced me to write and then keep on writing. Julia Cameron helped me see I must be an artist. Paulo Cuelo taught me that the way always unfolds before you. Garrison Keillor, Alice Walker and Flannery O'Connor made me want to tell my truth. I could go on and on.

8. What advice would you give to someone who feels they have not yet discovered their PrimeBliss?

The hardest part is thinking you have been passed over, that the gods have deemed you unworthy and forgotten. I promise that is not true. Write down all the reasons you believe you must be exempt from finding your bliss, and then look again to see whose voices are echoing there. Once you know who you are trying to love or be loyal to by refusing to move into happiness, you'll be well on your way to finding your path. Create a tiny altar to honor the voices trying to keep you safe in this same spot, and then take one baby step forward. You'll find your way by moving towards things that energize you, even if you're not exactly clear about what should happen next. With the tiniest bit of courage, the way opens and you'll notice patterns that will help you determine your next step.

9. Do you have a favorite quote you would like to share?

"Don't ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive." Howard Thurman

Jen Lemen is a woman living her convictions, a woman who is her own best example to the rest of the world, facing her fears and moving ahead with "the tiniest bit of courage."

What fear could you face? Do you have the bit of courage Jen talks about? Light a candle and see what could happen.

If you want to explore more deeply how to create an at-home dance sadhana (spiritual path) practice, you could join my super secret Facebook group, Inferno of Awesome. This group is invisible until you're added. FIRST, make sure you are my friend on FB, and SECOND, ask me to add you.