The power of kindness….

“Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around.”   -Dr. Leo Buscaglia

I recently came across this quote from Dr. Leo Buscaglia, and it deeply touched me. It reminded me of so many wonderful and unexpected experiences that resulted in powerful and lasting friendships.

Sometimes you just need to put yourself out there. The rest will come, as long as you begin from a position of respect, honesty, sincerity and kindness. It’s amazing what comes forth.

Woo-hoooooo!

I was invited to join a networking group two years ago. It sounded like a great idea, until I found out that the group meets once a week at seven o’clock in the morning. Which meant I had to get up at five o’clock. It took two full years to wrap my head around the thought of being fully dressed and socially functional at that time of day.

I finally decided to go, but I needed reinforcements for moral support, so I recruited my chiropractor to come with me. After all, there is safety in numbers, and at least there would be one person there that the other one knew, just in case we didn’t fit in with the group.

As painful as it was to get up at five AM, I was doing pretty well until the featured speaker was introduced. He jumped up on the stage to blaring music, waving his arms and dancing like a lunatic. The physical therapist in me admired his agility. The Feldenkrais practitioner in me appreciated his flexibility. The non-conformist in me loved his tenacity. The sleepy head in me just wanted to go home and back to bed, but it was hard to stay sleepy with all that energy exploding in front of me.

After an action packed presentation, he instructed us to pick a partner, and told us to share a highly charged, positive and successful story about ourselves to our partner in the time frame of one minute. Before we started talking we had to jump up and down, wave our arms in the air and yell, “Woo-hooo” as loud as we possible could. That’s when I started looking for the back door. How do I get myself into these things?

As I was looking for the nearest escape route, my chiropractor caught my eye. I recognized the look. “Oh no,” I told him. “I cannot possibly do this with you!” He replied, “Well, I’m not going to do it with anyone else. Let’s go. But, of course, you have to go first!” Of course I did.

Since I lost my window of opportunity to make a quick exit, I shrugged my shoulders and decided to throw myself wholeheartedly and unabashedly into the experience. The speaker gave us our cue, and I was off and running, jumping around, waving my arms, and screaming like a banshee. The flow of positive words came pouring out of me like they would never stop. Where was this coming from?

Then it was my chiropractor’s turn. I never knew he could move like that. He jumped around, waved his arms, and told me a fantastic story of personal success. Woo-hoooo! We really got into the spirit of the exercise, including high fives, fist bumps and chest bumps. Even though we missed most of the time, it didn’t matter. We had a lot of fun, and we learned a lot about ourselves and each other.

The networking group didn’t quite fit either one of us, and after about a month we stopped going. But, that’s not the point. The point is that sometimes you need to get out of your comfort zone, even if it means getting up at five o’clock in the morning. You might be surprised at how much fun you can have at that time of day. You might discover that you have a lot more positive energy inside of you than you realized. Most of all, you may learn  a lot about yourself. And your chiropractor. Isn’t that what life is all about? Woo-hoooo!

Feldenkrais(R), Mountain Peace, and human dignity….

When I heard that The Mountain Peace Shelter in Bailey was sponsoring a Shoe Drive, I felt that just cleaning out my closet and donating my unwanted shoes wasn’t enough. After all, not only will the donated shoes support PeaceWorks, Inc. and The Mountain Peace Shelter, the shoes are going to be sent to will help impoverished families in developing nations. How incredible is that? 

So, I am running a special for my June Feldenkrais class, as well as my Delicate Dojo classes. For each pair of shoes that you donate, you will get $1 off of the class fee. If you bring one pair of shoes, you get $1 off; five pair of shoes, $5 off; twenty-five pair of shoes, you get a free class, and I have to rent a U-Haul to deliver the shoes to their destination. It’s what I consider a champagne problem, and one that I look forward to having.

The truth is, it’s a small gesture for a great cause. There is a lot of dignity in a pair of shoes, especially for someone who doesn’t have any. There is also a lot of dignity in being able to work. These families repair the shoes, start-up businesses, and find new ways to be able to provide for themselves and the ones they love. That is the true essence of human dignity.

It brings me back again and again to the spirit of Feldenkrais, and Moshe’s own words. Here is my favorite quote from him: “What I’m after isn’t flexible bodies, but flexible brains. What I’m after is to restore each person to their human dignity.” I’m so glad I discovered Feldenkrais. I’m glad I can support PeaceWorks, Inc. and the Mountain Peace Shelter. But, most of all, I am so grateful that I can play a small part in helping to restore the human dignity to people halfway around the world. And, that gives me peace.

The “Year of the Horse”

Last week my acupuncturist informed me that 2014 was “The Year of the Horse.” When I asked him what that meant, he explained that it represented a lot of movement. Not just movement, but fast movement, abrupt movement, as well as sudden and unexpected changes in directions.

Well, that certainly explains a lot. I swear I could hear the sound of hooves pounding behind me, getting ready to run me over. As if my acupuncturist could read my mind, he said, “At least you haven’t been caught in a stampede.” Well, not yet, anyway.

But, it did get me thinking. Some of my most profound experiences and powerful lessons came from interactions with horses. But, the truth is, I have very little experience with horses. I have never engaged in horse-related activities, and I have never sought them out. These amazing and beautiful creatures came looking for me instead.

They simply showed up at the exact moment that I needed them. With gracious generosity they gave me their strength, sensitivity and gentleness. They gave me their spirit, and I gave them my heart. After those encounters, I was always able to move forward, with a renewed sense of purpose, focus and direction.

Hmm, perhaps the sound of those hooves pounding behind me isn’t the sound of an impending stampede after all. Maybe it’s the spirit of my gentle giants, looking  after me, and guiding me forward once again. I sure am glad it’s “The Year of the Horse.” Aren’t you?

Feldenkrais(R) Training….the morning after and the lost weekend….

The morning after the first week of my Feldenkrais training I woke up with a sense of relief. “Ahhhh,” I thought to myself, “There’s no school today!” We had been advised to get a lot of rest over the weekend, but I was certain that didn’t apply to me. I was going to go to ballet class. After all, I hadn’t taken a class all week, and that was simply unacceptable.

However, I did feel a bit odd in the morning. Two of my Italian Greyhounds jumped on top of me to greet me, but when I reached out to touch them, I suddenly stopped. Why had I never noticed how clear, deep and expressive their eyes were? I began to pet them and was startled by how soft and rich their coats felt to my touch. It was as if I had never touched them before. I could not keep my hands off of them until they tap danced their way across my bladder and off of the bed. That got me moving.

I had some breakfast and got dressed for class. I pulled my favorite tights over my bare legs. Oooooo, they felt so soft! And so warm! As a matter of fact, it was such a delightful somatosensory experience, I pulled them off and tried it again. Yep, they felt just as good going on a second time. Interesting. I did it again. Tights on, tights off, tights on, tights off. I never realized how satisfying the experience of getting dressed could be; I’d have to pay attention more often.

All of my neurons were firing when I got to class and took my place at the barre. I felt every tendue and every plie like I never had before. And the music! I didn’t just hear the music, I experienced it. My coordination was amazing, my balance was terrific, my timing was great, and my placement was fantastic. Until I hit the wall, figuratively and literally.

My hyper attentive nervous system crashed. I couldn’t stand on one leg. I couldn’t even stand on both legs. There was no way I could pirouette. I couldn’t remember any of the combinations. I was running into other dancers. Dancers don’t like that. I was overwhelmed with the desire to lie down and sense my contact with the floor. At that point I decided to go home and sense my contact with the couch.

Once I got home,  I changed into comfy clothes. Oooo, my tights still felt just as delightful against my legs as I took them off. I made my way to the couch, and my two Italian Greyhounds jumped on top of me again. Their eyes were still as mesmerizing, and their coats still as irresistibly soft and smooth. I spent the rest of the day and most of the next on the couch, marveling at my dogs, my legs, my clothes, and my couch.

I wasn’t sure what was happening to me, and I wasn’t sure I would survive another week of training, let alone another fifteen segments. However, I was quite sure that I loved the sensation of my tights against my legs as well as the look and feel of my Italian Greyhounds. But, I wondered why I had never noticed any of this before. Strange, isn’t it?

Mountain Peace, safety tips, and formal wear….

Last week I had the most amazing and rewarding experience when I was invited to speak to a small group of women and girls regarding safety tips for women at Mountain Peace, in Bailey, Colorado. Bailey is a great little mountain town, known more for its laid back attitude and spectacular scenery than it’s reputation for elegant evening wear.

Mountain Peace has a charming and delightful second-hand shop called the Mountain Peace Boutique. As I made my way through the shop to the classroom, a bit of black lace stopped me in my tracks. Right in front of me was a  stunning, floor length black dress. Oooooo, pretty!

I tried to focus on the task at hand. After all, I was there to teach a class, but the consummate shopper in me kept hearing the dress calling my name. I walked past it again, and I swear it winked at me. Maybe it was the way the light caught the pearls that were draped across the neckline. Either way, that heavenly dress looked about my size, and I simply had to try it on. It fit perfectly, and so did the price.

When I placed it on the counter to pay for it, one of the women showed me a gorgeous and elegant blouse on display behind her. With a knowing smile, she handed it to me and said, “I think this would fit you, too. And it would be perfect with your hair color.” Hmmmm, can you say enabler?

She was right. As she rang up my purchases, I noticed that the original price tag was still on the blouse. I turned it over and was shocked to see that it was a designer label priced at $208. I paid $20. The dress was $25.

Satisfied with my purchases, I moved on to teaching the women and girls simple safety tips and basic self-defense. It warmed my heart to see them find their strength, grace, and confidence over the next hour and a half. When we were done, we shared hugs, love, cookies and chocolate. Then we went our separate ways. I carefully tucked my bag of lovely formal wear under my arm and walked to my car.

On the drive back to Denver, I reveled in the memory of meeting this wonderful group of women and spending a remarkable evening with them. Not only was it a fantastic experience, but who knew that I would discover a fabulous find of elegant and sophisticated formal wear, in the little mountain town of Bailey? I even got a refund!  You never know what treasures you’ll find in Bailey, and at The Mountain Peace Boutique!

So, the next time you’re in the mood for formal wear, check it out. Tell them Cheryl sent you. I’ll just bet they’ll find something special for you! And here’s the best part….you’ll be supporting a great cause!