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Online & In Person

13 week series: 

November 5, 12, 19 (No class on Nov 26 – Thanksgiving);  

December 3, 10, 17 (No class on Dec 24 – Christmas);

January 7, 14, 21, 28;

February 4, 11, 18.

 

Sundays:

9:15 – 10:25 am (for Nia White Belt and higher)

9:00-9:15 am (for higher belt levels to review Blue Belt principals) no additional charge

 

Price: $130 for 13 session series. Drop-ins at the standard price ($17 on line or $20 at the door).

The series is conducted in person at Still & Moving Center as well as online via GoToMeeting (free software for online participants). All participants can be seen and heard, live time.

Dance with Nia’s Co-Founder, Debbie Rosas. Find the conditioning available in spontaneous movement on the Wild side! Enjoy the soulful music!

Debbie’s choreography is clear and approachable, and her mastery of how to give a good workout to every part of the body is in evidence in this routine.

We’ll tune into our 13 joints (one per week) to key into details of anatomy, the relevant 52 moves, not to mention the 13 White Belt principles (and Blue Belt principles for early birds at 9:00 am.)

In this series, you will:

  • learn how learn a Nia routine
  • practice taking choreographic notes
  • find the sections of the music with 8BC’s
  • match the choreography to your musical map   
  • Associate each of the 13 joints with a White Belt principle
  • Deepen your anatomy knowledge around the 13 joints
  • Get the 52 moves into your joints and brain!
  • learn to lead classes through body sensation more than your head
  • give yourself permission to progress in natural time, your body’s way
  • get clarity with your struggles and kudos for your successes in Nia!

Renée teaches you tools to unpack each song of a Nia routine, musically and choreographically. She shares insights from her 15 years of Nia practice and teaching, including life lessons from both of Nia’s founders, Debbie Rosas and Carlos Rosas.

Here we also go beyond studying movement sequences and explore how Nia practices are meaningful to our daily lives.

We enjoy time for check-in and sharing our individual Nia practices, time for experimenting with our Nia toolbox of skills, time for decoding the music, and time for moving with the music.

You will find in this mentorship program important instructional tips and a huge virtual hug of support and encouragement. Our participants can range from Japan to Canada, from Georgia to Wyoming, and of course Hawaii.

The bonds of fellowship and interconnectedness that you will share with your fellow mentees and mentors are almost palpable. Participants in former mentorships series have evolved into teaching single songs as guest instructors; teaching partial or whole classes as subs; to teaching classes of their own. Others enjoy the personal growth and don’t plan to teach.

Testimonials:

“I’m grateful to Renée and her mentorship program, and the participants from around the world. We dive deep into all aspects of Nia with our mind, body, emotions and spirit. It is healing, supportive, inspirational and truly transformative. I found my Nia teaching wings in this program and I continue to grow each week. Thanks Renée.” – Lorna Moglia, White & Green Belt, California

“The Nia Mentorship Series that I’ve attended online with Still & Moving Center has been such a great opportunity for me to stay “connected” to my Nia practice and Nia community in a way I could not have imagined when I signed up. The experience, love and appreciation of Nia that Renée  and others that have shared in the mentoring of this class and what they bring to the table and the dance floor is incredible!

Learning a new routine with the class, reviewing and diving deeper into the Nia principles and practices has been such a great learning opportunity for me.Through this Mentorship Series experience I continue to learn and grow in my confidence and ability to share Nia as a newer teacher as well as my own personal Nia practice.

I have also improved immensely the ability to put into practice my learnings as I draw from the “well” of Nia and “dance through life” in my own mind, body spirit experiences of each day.” – Mikelle Ivers, Nia White, Green & Blue Belt, Wyoming

“I continue to grow more comfortable in my instructor role. With very few Nia teachers in Alaska, I appreciate my Nia sisters from around the world whom I’ve stayed closely connected with since my White, Green and Blue Belt trainings. Nia keeps bringing me Joy.” – Linda Volkman, Nia White, Green and Blue Belt, Alaska

 

by Renée Tillotson

There’s a magical reservoir that holds all that we need at any moment. Hidden in darkness, in the stillness it quietly waits there for us. With trust, with patience, with a brief pause to take deep breath, we will find exactly what we need.
Cliff and I used to take a group of kids called Pathfinders on backpacking trips in the Sierra mountains.  One morning I woke at dawn and took myself on a little adventure before everyone else woke up. I came upon rock face that I decided to scramble up. Before I knew it, I was climbing something much more difficult than I had ever done before without a rope. There was no one within shouting distance and I was much higher up than I could safely jump down. I couldn’t see my way up or down. Panic was just on the verge of welling up and swallowing me, when a little mantra came and took me by the hand. It said, “Trust the rock.” Just that. “Trust the rock.” I looked and reached up… and sure enough, there was a handhold I could pull myself up with. Then my feet found tiny resting points as well. Now from my new vantage point, and with “trust the rock” vibing through my awareness, I managed to find a new set of handholds that I previously couldn’t see, and then another and another. When I might have plummeted to a calamitous fall, my presence of mind -preserved by the gift of that little mantra – carried me to the top of the rock face.
Years later, when I was laboring with each of our three children in natural childbirth, a different image came to carry me through the excruciating pain of the labor. As the firstborn, Shankar’s labor was by far at the craziest pain level. While I was facing

 increasingly longer, vice-grip contractions, the image of a large, serene white bird came to me. My body and my body consciousness never stopped sensing the grinding torque of labor,  then the explosive pain at the end when it took forceps and the doctor’s hand to pull the baby out safely. All the while though, my higher consciousness floated above on the wings of that white bird gliding smoothly through the heavens, with the sea of pain crashing far below.

One way I find that magical reservoir of possibility in Nia with to play with ‘the pause’. We’ve heard of a “pregnant pause” – a moment in someone’s speech that puts us on the edge of our seat waiting to hear what’s about to tumble out next. An article called “In Praise of the Humble Comma” by Pico Iyer contrasts the comma to the period, the “full stop”. It’s the humble comma, the brief pause in the sentence, that holds the mystery.
The pause is something we can easily find in any movement transition. For example, when I swing my body upwards, there’s a fleeting moment’s pause before the body begins coming back down again. That tiny micro pause is a moment of stillness, just as a blink of our eyes, is a tiny moment of darkness in the midst of our lighted vision.
Last week in my Nia classes we played with pause, we stretched the pause, and we noticed how much movement can find in one tiny pause. It was if each segment of music was filled with an infinity of tiny silences between beats, and each of our movement sequences was punctuated with infinitesimal still points. When we came to musical pause, I would sometimes invite the students to give a hand slap. The next time we came to that pause, I asked them to give two slaps, and then 3, 4 and even 5 such punctuations at increasingly fast speeds. All of a sudden, that tiny transition moment seemed to stretch longer and longer – like time seeming to go slow speed during a car accident – only this was a GOOD slo-mo! We were finding the infinity of motion within the millisecond of pause.
Nia teachers generally lead complex, choreographed routines that take me months to memorize. Last week, I pulled out an old set of songs, including a tune that I hadn’t danced in years. As the song started to play, my mind groped for clues to the choreography.  There I was with all my students waiting, in a stretching, yawning pause, waiting intently for my memorized movement to come back to me.  None of the choreography came back to my memory. Nada!
I could have frozen up. Instead, I stayed RAW – Relaxed, Alert and Waiting: the body still, the emotions at peace, the mind at rest, and the Spirit open. In the pause of blanking out on the choreography, I let myself ease into the darkness of the unknown. Sure enough, my feet began following the song’s rhythmic pattern in a way they hadn’t done before, and my hands found new ways of moving to the melody. The music changed, and another dance pattern emerged. There in the pregnant pause, a whole dance – never done before – was waiting for me to let it out into the light…just as my babies had emerged from the darkness of the womb.
The infinite pool of creative potential is always there waiting for us, deep within. That’s the place I go to when I don’t have a clue how to get through what’s next in life. In fact, it was by going there that I just wrote this letter to you!

 Moving in Stillness and Resting in Joy with you,

OK, so I believe everything is alive. Really everything. If I angrily slam a door, all the innocent life-atoms that make up the door and the walls and floor around it are all negatively affected – I’m slowing their evolutionary progress. I believe every speck of the universe is part of a grand journey towards a higher level of consciousness, from the mineral to plant to animal to human stages and beyond.

Human beings have a powerful consciousness. I make a significant impact on the life atoms around me because as a human being, my actions come from a place of self-awareness and deliberate choice. When I chew and digest a carrot in a in a cheerful or peaceful frame of mind, its atoms are furthered on their evolutionary path. [Be sure to catch the final video for visual confirmation of the influence of human consciousness on water molecules]

We have a family friend, Robert, who washes his car almost as vigilantly as he would bathe a child. He never lets it stay dusty and he keeps the interior and engine immaculate.

If I were still a life atom passing through the mineral realm (instead of the human realm that I presently occupy), I certainly would benefit from being part of Robert’s car for a while!

It’s not always easy to figure out how to live by the principle that everything is alive. I’m currently struggling a bit over how to deal with a the big Ganesh statue we shipped back from Bali for the house we’re rebuilding.

When I first saw this red stone carving of one of my favorite Hindu deities, I felt a strong pull of attraction. Many months later, Ganesh made it to Hawaii, then spent more months in his shipping crate.

We have recently encountered a number of snags in our construction process. Since Ganesh is considered the remover of the obstacles, Cliff expedited getting our stone statue into his position at the new house site. We didn’t even have our walls or a roof in place, but never mind, it was time to install Ganesh.

Transporting our heavy Ganesh down the steep, winding driveway and over a concrete
bridge to his new home was no easy feat. He almost tipped over the beefy forklift Cliff was using to transport him, and we had to counter-weight him with a few guys. Did I tell you this Ganesh weighs over a ton? The forklift wasn’t enough, We finally had to resort to using a boom truck to lift Genesh into his place of honor. 

Now Cliff thinks we should have a welcoming ceremony for Ganesh. Hmmm…I’m chewing my lip a bit over this idea. It’s one thing to honor and wish to elevate all the life-atoms that surround us. It’s quite a different thing in my book to go around worshipping idols or trying to buy favors from the gods.

You may be wondering at this point, “Why DO you have all those religious symbols and statues around your house and Still & Moving Center?” Good question to ask someone raised to be a religious sceptic.

To me, symbols from the world’s spiritual traditions are potent reminders. The lovely wooden Kwan Yin in the Still & Moving Center entryway reminds me to have compassion and mercy. At our reception desk the Saint Francis statue holding a little bird evokes love for all creatures. In the Sun & Moon room, the copper Star of David with its upward pointing triangle suggests to me that we should always strive to lift ourselves up, while the interlocking downward triangle tells me to focus and bring down to earth the light from above.

Ganesh represents that aspect of the universe that places obstacles in our way for our own good – kind of like the song, “Thank God for unanswered prayers”. Ganesh also symbolizes the removal obstacles from our path when we are ready to proceed forward. Seeing a beautiful image of Ganesh – like this very serene, grounded statue – helps me to calm down when I don’t get exactly what I want, when I want it. Sometimes I have wait years before I can look back and recognize the good in losing something I loved or in failing to achieve something I wanted. That’s an “Ah-ha!” moment when I realize the Ganesh principle has been at work.

Now back to my dilemma about a ceremony. What shall we do? In India or Bali there would be no question: they’ve got ceremonies down pat.

I was once at a puja, a religious ceremony, at a Hindu temple in California, with a very wise Indian man. When everyone else was offering coconuts, marigolds and ghee to the deity being honored by puja, he offered a half-eaten bag of Dorito chips. Of course! Why not? If all the life atoms of the cosmos are on a grand pilgrimage to becoming more and more conscious, shouldn’t we honor everything in the universe as sacred? Why not Dorito chips? And at the same time, the humor of his action showed me that he really didn’t take the outward ritual of the ceremony too seriously. He certainly wasn’t begging any favors of the deity with that bag of chips!

Thinking of our stone Ganesh and of Robert’s car, I wonder: Is there something different about the fact that the mineral atoms of stone were made into a statue representing a deity rather than the mineral atoms of metal being made into an automobile? Hmmm….I don’t know.

When Robert cleans his car, he doesn’t seem to be praying for any divine concessions from his car – other than the normal hope that it will continue to take him from point A to B. It’s just Robert’s way to care for things. In India there’s a day of the year when the drivers say mantras and honor the rickshaws that they pull for a living. What if Robert views his car as being sacred? Robert takes great care of everything he owns, from his plastic toothbrush to his leather shoes.

Curious, I called Robert this morning and asked, “What are you thinking about, what are you feeling, when you clean your car?”

Robert replied, “Oh, I don’t know. I’m just thanking my car for getting me around safely. And when I clean my shoes, I just thank them for protecting my feet and keeping them warm.”

Gratitude. It’s not an asking for favors. It’s a recognition and appreciation for what we are given. Just gratitude for the things themselves, beyond even the human beings who crafted them. Robert gave me the key to treating every ‘thing’ as being alive.

So whatever sort of welcoming ceremony we may have for our Ganesh statue, I trust that it will be an expression of gratitude. At any moment in time, we can offer thanks to even seemingly inanimate things, appreciating all the little lives that make up the universe around us.
Moving in Stillness and Resting in Joy with you,

We maintain a long-distance relationship. We have for years.

In the early days we were so close we could hug each other daily.  Time went on and the circumstances of life carried us in different directions, till now we only talk on the phone every few weeks.

What happened?  Our little daughter Sandhya grew up and became a delightful young woman, self-directing in all sorts of wonderful ways.

We knew when we went searching for colleges together that this girl was set on going places in her life. The University of California Santa Barbara, a couple miles from where we had brought her up, didn’t even get an application from Sandhya, and she only checked out a couple colleges in the whole state of California. Hawaii – where Cliff and I were mostly residing at the time – got only a glance of half-hearted interest. Instead Sandhya and I traveled together throughout New England, to Ohio, Washington and Oregon checking out schools. The campus that ended up stealing her heart was Colorado College in Colorado Springs.

Like thousands of island parents, we sent our daughter thousands of miles away for college, our heartstrings taut and stinging with her departure. Off she went to Colorado for her freshman year with a full scholarship that she had earned on merit, brimming with zest to protect the earth as an Environmental Science major. We were happy for her, we had to be, even while knowing how much we would miss her. Every parent who raises their child to be self-sufficient suffers from the success of their efforts.

Along the way of her education, Sandhya spent a summer in Costa Rica working at a sea turtle reserve (yes, she loves honu, too) counting turtle eggs and encountering a jaguar in hunt for the turtles. YES, she is intrepid! In her Junior year, Cliff delivered her to a non-profit organization in northern India with which she had worked out an internship. There for a semester, she helped villagers on the Thar desert of Rajasthan to create water conservation tanks, and taught children sanitation techniques.

To the girls and women of this impoverished area, Sandhya served as a living example of a strong, intelligent woman who had gotten herself an education and gained the independence to travel without her family in a distant land. She met with the women in the village councils and gave speeches when the non-profit organization when on marches to promote water conservation. No one had ever seen a fair-skinned, blue-eyed girl with the Indian name Sandhya – they hung on her every word.

Meanwhile, we shared emails back and forth with a few phone calls scattered in.

Not surprisingly, Sandhya fell in love with a place thousands of miles away from home, and also with a fine man who loved living in Colorado. Honestly, I never expected this adventurous girl to move back home after she left Santa Barbara, and meanwhile Cliff and I had definatively moved the other direction, buying a house in Kaneohe, Hawaii. The physical separation between us became more lastingly established.

Once I started Still & Moving Center, time got exceedingly tight on my end. We were leading parallel lives with Sandhya embarking on her new career as an environmentalist and me embarked on my new career as owner of an international movement studio. We each cheered each other on from afar.

Yet we missed each other more than we knew.

Finally, this Christmas vacation we did something we hadn’t done for years: we made time to hang out. Here on island we spent lots of family time, and she took me for brunch one morning to the Halekulani – deluxe! We even made a trip together to Kauai where we adventured for 3 days. We faced rain that was driving sideways, hiked muddy trails, chased colorful chickens to take portrait shots of them, and discovered a hidden beach. It was glorious just spending mom-and-daughter girl time together. Realizing how much we had been longing for each other’s company, we are planning a road trip from Santa Barbara, CA to Durango, CO in May, and my mom is joining us: triple girl time together!

Sandhya has always said she admires me for being my own person, for creating my vision of a wonderful place with Still & Moving Center. The reality factor is that Sandhya’s mom [that would be me!] spends most of her waking moments and some of her sleeping time focused on her work. If I was Sandhya It would have been an adjustment not to be the center of my mother’s world anymore.   Even though Sandhya is busy leading her own life, she probably feels as if she has to share her mom’s attention with a lot of other people who are in daily contact with her. And vice-versa.

I am realizing how even the strongest, most loving long-distance relationships benefit from sharing the intimate details of everyday life, spending time in each other’s spaces. I love and miss my daughter – you all probably know the feeling with someone in YOUR life. Together in the same house or car or path, she and I can laugh at the same things we are experiencing together, eat each other’s food, and give each other a hug whenever we feel like it.

Cliff’s hands weren’t hurt – but something was definitely wrong. One day he finally realized what it was, “You know, I really love building things with my hands, and I don’t get to do it much at my job anymore.”

As our younger son Govi has taken on the role of project superintendent in our construction company, Cliff has become more of the office guy, doing all the bidding and paperwork required for public works construction. While Govi has done the hands-on stabilizing of dangerous boulders above people’s houses, installing wire mesh on steep slopes and building retaining walls, Cliff has been mostly stuck at his desk.

I’m always intrigued about what it is that makes human beings human, and I suspect our unique hand/mind connection with its potential for creativity is an important piece of that mystery.

People love using their hands at work and in play. As babies we are absolutely fascinated by the movement of our newly discovered hands. As young children, we delight our hands’ abilities to create, whether painting a sun to shine on our stick-figure mom, or a playing song on the piano keys, or making a peanut butter and jelly sandwich by ourselves. As we get older, we might enjoy using our hands in shop class or chemistry lab. I liked geometry because I got to use a compass and ruler to draw lines and circles and shapes. Every day in Bali, we saw people making colorful little offerings of bamboo strips they had fashioned into tiny baskets, filled with various flowers, candies and bright bits of paper, which they place on their doorsteps and altars.

For some people, working with their hands is something done in community: the women who piece quilts together for the Iolani Fair, or the fishermen in villages around the world who patch their nets together during the off season, or the families who prepare their Thanksgiving dishes, laughing and squabbling in a crowded kitchen, and the ones who clean up afterwards, one person washing dishes, another drying them and a third carefully placing the silverware back into its special box to await the next holiday meal. One of the happiest sounds l know – besides birds chirping at dawn – is congenial workmen chatting on the jobsite as they ready their tools in the morning – sharing each other’s company with busy hands at work…

Cliff just loves the feeling of tools in his hands. He just loves the feeling of tools in his hands. Fortunately, since we started rebuilding our house Cliff’s got plenty of hands-on tasks to do when he finishes his office job! He’s been brushing various stains onto the wood we’ll be using to see which color we like. He recently worked on our bathroom floors, in which he had embedded stones and little seashells in the concrete. To be able to see the fluted shapes of the shells’ interiors, Cliff dripped resin into each tiny shell in the floor with one of the world’s most multi-use tools: a pair of chopsticks! So he’s happy as the proverbial clam now that he’s using his hands creatively again!

When our power went out with last week’s high winds, Cliff came up with a way for us to heat-up water for coffee and tea: he held a blowtorch under a pot on the oven rack. Hands and tools!

I love to cook. Something about it settles my nerves when I make an old favorite, and it appeals to my creative side when I come up with a new dish. My hands like stripping the kale leaves off each side of their thick stems, chopping onions in a grid design with a good knife blade, rolling out a pie dough crust, mixing the eggs with a wire whisk or chopsticks(!), stirring the hot chocolate with my favorite wooden spoon, spreading frosting onto a birthday cake. I also love to arrange flowers, and I have a new hand love that I’ll share with you some day: painting.

Some handwork requires acute intelligence and informed skill, such as playing a Rachmaninoff piece on a grand piano or performing a delicate eye surgery. Watching a true artist at work in almost any field, I see an amazing orchestration of the mind and hands.

‘Mind’ – ‘hand’ – ‘human’: I am fascinated by these three words being related linguistically. The Sanskrit word manas, meaning mind, is the root of our English words ‘man’ and ‘human’. In Latin, influenced by Sanskrit, manus means ‘hand’, from which we get English words such as ‘manual’ – as in manual or hand labor – and ‘manipulate’ – to move or operate by hand. We human beings use our minds and hands together to bring new things into the world, things which otherwise would not exist. Maybe this creative hand-mind partnership lies near the heart of what it means to be human.

Moving in Stillness and Resting in Joy with you,

I never believed in the Easter Bunny, Santa Claus or the stork bringing babies, even at the youngest age. On a different front, stories of an arc full of animals and of dead people coming back to life also seemed impossible and illogical to me.  My parents made no effort to encourage my belief in these things or to dissuade me in my demands for ‘truth’.

Facts and logic were paramount in my thought-processes. When my mom asked 3 or 4-year-old me one day what I was digging for so hard in my sandbox, I answered: “Dead Indians.”  Why did I think I would find such a thing in our backyard?  “Well, you said Indians used to live here, so they must have died here; if they died here, they must have been buried here, so I’m going to find ’em.”

As a young child I attended Sunday school at the Unitarian Church in Fresno, California, which my father and mother had helped to build. There I learned that people all over the world followed different religions, and that they were all part of my human family – even if they believed in things that made no sense to me. I was very curious about the Egyptians and why they would take so much care preparing for their after-death state. Why would they need all that stuff after they died?

In highschool, I couldn’t buy into the rah-rah hype of the popular kids’ Young Life bible study group, which denied much of the science that I loved, such as dinosaur bones dated over 100,000 years old. I longed to become part of my friends’ Jewish community, but the Chosen People doctrine prevented me from doing so. I WANTED to find something spiritual; I was simply unwilling to abandon my reasoning faculties to do so.

Finally, in college, Cliff passed on to me an unfinished essay called “The Religion of Solidarity” by the utopian novelist Edward Bellamy when he was about 23 years old.  Bellamy felt that he never in his lifetime exceeded the insights he captured in that early writing, and he asked for it to be read at his deathbed.

I remember my awe of recognition when I got to this uplifting bit of Bellamy’s poetic prose:

There are few of an introspective habit who are not haunted with a certain very definite sense of a second soul, an inner serene and passionless ego, which regards the experiences of the individual with a superior curiosity, as it were, a half pity. It is especially in moments of the deepest anguish or of the maddest gaiety, that is, in the intensest strain of the individuality, that we are conscious of the dual soul as of a presence serenely regarding from another plane of being the agitated personality….Often does it happen in scenes of revelry or woe that we are thus suddenly translated, looking down calmly upon our passion-wrung selves…At such times we say we have been out of ourselves; but in reality we have been into ourselves; we have only just realized the greater half of our being. We have momentarily lived in the infinite part of our being, a region ever open and waiting for us.   (read full text here)

Bellamy’s words at last struck a chord in me.  Yes, I DID have that sense of being an impartial witness of my own thoughts and emotions. There was a real me, ever-present, surveying my dreams while I slept and waiting for me whenever I woke up. It watched my thoughts and moods, and I knew it to perceive every instance of my waking and sleeping life.

About that same time in college, my brother one day carried me over his shoulder, with me literally kicking and screaming, into his pre-med anatomy dissection lab and plopped me in front of a dead body. Un-animated, it was utterly different from a live human body. It didn’t even really freak me out, as I had dreaded. It was like seeing a wax figure. What had animated this form not long ago when she was a living person, and where did that something go?

I thought of a candle, first lit with fire and then dark after the flame had gone out. The logic of science is that energy cannot be lost or gained; it can only be transformed. The spark that brought light to the candlewick cannot leave the universe; it is ready to be relit somewhere else. It made sense to me then that the light that had left the eyes and the laughter that had left the mouth of the human being at death was simply latent, ready to spring back to life.  I put that logic together with my recognition through Bellamy’s words of an inner, serene and infinite being.
This realization dawned on me: I am energy, not matter. I am a SELF that is not bound by this body, mind or world. And everyone else must be, too.

This event made a profound impact on my life view, without violating my standards of logic.

Yesterday, my mother-in-love Sue shared with me a Bellamy-type experience in the nursing home in California where she is living with and dying from bone cancer. She told me over the phone that she felt completely disoriented, as if the caregivers had moved her bed, leaving her clueless as to where she was.

When I asked her to hand the phone to a nurse, I was assured that Sue was in exactly the same room where I had visited her a couple weeks ago. Back on the phone herself, Sue further confided that she was so ashamed of herself for having yelled at her husband and at an aid a couple hours earlier, only to be told by the nurses that nobody was in the room with her, and that she couldn’t be making all that noise. It was utterly an uncharacteristic event and Sue was mortified. And now she spoke as the witness, reporting to me all these strange goings on in her head. Together, we determined that her new pain medication was the probable culprit and she decided to go for a day without taking it.

As I write, Sue is clear as a bell again today and remembers all of her confusion from yesterday. No matter what is going on with her disintegrating body or occasionally drug-entangled brain, that shining Self is present, and still reporting in. And when she stops reporting, and when there is no light in those dear eyes, I will trust that the flame has simply disappeared from view, and can never be really be lost. That makes scientific sense to me.

 

Resting in Stillness and moving in Joy with you,

Here’s the picture of our “house” when I got home last night:

Not to be overly dramatic, I must tell you that I knew that this was going to happen…someday. I just didn’t know that I’d only have 6 days to pack up and move out of our house when I returned from my Portland journey. But when our son and his fiancee picked me up from the airport in Honolulu, they said, “We’re coming to help you move next weekend!” What? Next weekend? “Dad says you guys are moving to a rental house.”

Well THAT was sooner than I thought! Cliff must be really eager to start this remodeling. Not only have the floors been sinking so unevenly that our doors and windows are all cattywumpus and won’t close properly, but our bathroom wall has been hemorrhaging from a leaking pipe behind the plaster, and rain has been pouring through the often-repaired roof of our lanai like a sieve, with dry rot and mold accelerating from a creep to a full-on sprint through the rest of the ceiling and roof. Yes, it was time for a serious remodel.

So after a call for HELP! to my mom, who at a spry 80 years young, flew over the next day from California, we began packing. This was a house where the original owners before us had raised all of their children, the house where we had generated so many fond memories of family gatherings and celebrations with friends. It was a refuge from the busyness of life in the world and a launchpad for all sorts of wonderful, crazy projects that Cliff and I have taken on.  Emptying the place of our belongings tugged on all sorts of reminiscence strings.

Waking up in our room to the sound of the birds’ orchestration for the last time, on the day we were moving to the rental house, I felt sad and anxious.  What if the new house never gets built? I had been so happy in this old house….

Cliff conducted the dismantling of the house, saving or giving away everything that was salvageable. Our neighbors even took the wall board paneling between the rooms. Out went the glass doors and windows, and now its ‘eyes’, through which we had looked out at the neighborhood and yard around us, were gone. The house had the vacant feeling of an unfinished house – kind of like we were going backwards and unbuilding it. Demolition was imminent.

Yesterday was D-Day. We’re not just talking about minor – or even major – surgery here. It was really going to be a death blow, of course with the hope and plan of rebirth.  We and the construction (deconstruction!) workers gathered around our kumu hula Malia in the early morning as she did a traditional Hawaiian oli, a chant. She chose one about the piko, the navel, about connection, new life and continuity.  I introduced the men to our pet turtle Greg, a small, friendly box turtle, who will be the sole resident staying on the property throughout the entire project. (You already know about me, home and turtles, from last month’s letter!) And that was the end of my goodbyes to the old house.

Cliff says that when the excavator dug into the old house and it fell, all of the men there were struck with a profound silence. Maybe creation begins with a song, a song whose vibration becomes so clear and resonant that some THING appears out of the resonance, and it lasts as long as that creative vibration continues. Eventually the ripples of that creative song recede back into silence, and the created thing is no more. In this pause, this soundlessness, a new song may arise. Without the pauses, the silences, there would be only a cacophony of endlessly jarring vibrations. How could there be a symphony? If all the stuff in the world stayed in its same form, cluttering up, how on earth would there be room for anything new?

So we make way for birth by freeing the old that has faithfully served its time. I hope that through this destruction for the sake of re-creation process I learn something about gracefully letting go. If I’m feeling this emotional over losing a house that I expect to get back in a new and better form some day, imagine how I will feel about losing a dear person from my life when the time comes. And what about this body of mine to which I am quite attached as it dances and plays and hugs the people I adore? Oh boy. I have a lot to learn about releasing what I love.

When the heart weeps for what it has lost, the spirit laughs for what it has found.” – Sufi Proverb

No doubt gregarious Greg the turtle will be perfectly at home in his own shell, never minding the fall or rise of a silly house, and will be there at the end to welcome us home.

Resting in Stillness and Moving in Joy with you,

 

P.S. Mahalo to Brother Dan for traveling 2,500 miles to cart heavy boxes and build new shelves out of old boards for me AND for taking his first Nia class ever!

One of the most striking qualities of the Dalai Lama is his remarkably contagious belly laugh.  It’s a heavy rumble that merrily erupts from his whole body and sparkles through his eyes, delightfully interrupting his most earnest philosophical discussions. Here’s a man of immense compassion, who has endured the sorrow of countless acts of genocide toward his Tibetan people. How can he be so emotionally resilient?

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