I love summer.

Despite its signature heat and humidity, I love the long, sunny days, all the growth and abundance and berries and watermelon. I also know that especially in the hot height of summer, I need to stay grounded. All that swirling, rising heat energy requires grounding my body, mind and heart. Summer is a time for meditation, siestas, being near water and sitting in the sand.

For me, it’s also a time for connection: gathering fresh fruit and vegetables (either from a garden, a blueberry bush or Misfit Market!), walking in the forest or near water, visiting and entertaining friends and family. (Conversely, I think this is why I winter holiday parties when my energy is quiet and attention is inward totally do not work for me.)

These dual needs for grounding and reaching, are reflected in the very design of the human body: in particular the lower legs and forearms. Take a look at the bone structure of the lower arms and legs:

On the surface of it, the two structures look almost identical: two bones next to each other, one noticeably larger than the other, the ends of which connect to similar structures — a hinge joint at one end and a gliding synovial joint at the other. But while the forms looks the same, their functions are not. The bones of the lower leg are designed to stabilize and ground while the bones of the lower arm are designed to flow and reach out.

The forearms and lower legs are the Bones of Summer.

The two lower leg bones are the tibia and the fibula. The second longest bone in the body, the tibia runs along the inside of the lower leg, attaching to the femur/thigh bone at the top and the ankle at the bottom. Run your fingers along what you think of as your shin bone and you are feeling your tibia. The fibula is another long bone but is narrower and runs parallel to and acts as support of the tibia. In the lower leg, the tibia provides strength and weight-bearing while the fibula provides mobility and range of motion with stability being primary focus of the lower leg.

The forearm bones are the radius, on the thumb-side of the arm, and the ulna that runs down the pinkie side of the arm. Similar to the leg bones, these bones provide both strength and mobility but in the arm, the focus is on mobility. The structure of the joints in the forearm allow the radius to rotate around the ulna — the only two bones in the body that cross each other! — which allows the hand and wrist to rotate more completely than the foot (thank goodness, that wouldn’t go well). This intricate design allows extraordinary flexibility and dexterity for everything from lifting heavy boxes to doing caligraphy.

The Bones of Summer remind us that when energy is moving and things heat up, we need to stay both grounded and fluid. We need to rest in the support of the earth under us but also reach out and connect to the ripening fruit of the season. Both stability and mobility are nourishing to the body in the summer heat and the same is true for the mind and heart.

To skillfully navigate a heated situation — rising anger, an intense disagreement or a hot political conflict —  we need to stay both grounded and fluid. Feel yourself present and rooted as well as open and expansive. It can help me to feel my feet and legs (maybe even feeling my feet or legs with my hands) and also breathe and reach out for connection and perspective. So when I get tangled in a Facebook morass, for example, I can feel my body and breath and also go outside, pet the cat and get a hug from my level-headed husband. This connection to both stability and mobility are what allows relaxation, a settling of stirred-up energy as well as openness to possibility and solution.

Hot summer days can be full of pleasure but they can also stir me up and get me over-stimulated. I have to remind myself to find strength and support as well as openness and connection. Walks in the woods, resting on rocks in a river and picking berries from the vine offer ancient balance to the heat of the season. However you navigate the heat, connect with the Bones of Summer in the lower legs and forearms for a physical sensation of grounded fluidity.

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“Small Choices Matter. You Matter.” ~ Cecily Armstrong

It doesn’t matter what you want to do, what you want to create, what you want to change: small choices matter. Not only do they matter, they are the only thing that will make what it happen. Big choices set the course, but it is the small choices that will get you there.

Cecily taught me this lesson about nourishment (of body, mind and spirit) but the same holds true for saving money, parenting, building a business or making the world a kinder place. Set the course, then keep making small choices in that direction.

For more information about Cecily’s 9-month transformational healing program, Love Your Body Love Your Life, see the listing below or reach out to me at sjmnia@gmail.com and I will point you in the right direction!

Cecily also turned me on to the writer Alexandra Franzen and I found this amazing story on her blog. Do read it. It is changing how I move through the world.

Below are our playlists for the week. If you’d like to listen to the music, you can find almost all the songs on Spotify (you can listen for free)! As always, please let me know if you have any questions about any of the music we dance to!

Before the playlists, here is the scoop on a whole slew of great things happening this summer!

SUMMER SPECIAL for Nourishing Movement Classes at the Studio at Dancing Water
Nourishing Movement classes with Susan on Thursdays at 9am ~~ my mix of guided and unguided movement, meditation and creativity! Now on SUMMER SPECIAL ~~ You and a friend move in the trees by the river at a discounted rate of $20! Please go to http://www.susanmcculley.com/shop for the details. Come join us in the trees by the river for grounded, flowing, spacious movement. Second Thursdays are followed by a pot luck brunch/tea/snackie! Nourish yourself with movement and bring something nourishing to share! There is space in upcoming classes so please go HERE to sign up!
* The Studio at Dancing Water is at 2370 Old Lynchburg Road ~ detailed directions at http://www.susanmcculley.com and via email when you sign up!

Saturday July 27, 9-12noon – Moving & Writing with Light: Nourishing Body & Eyes with Susan & Rebecca
Susan & Rebecca offer a morning to expand your perspective on two things that everybody has: a body and a smartphone. The word “photography” means “writing with light.” A photo isn’t a copy of something— it’s a story written *by light*! And light is weaving stories all around us, all the time. Using the simple cameras that we all carry —the ones in our phones! — we’ll play with the stories of light around us and experience how changing our perspectives can change everything. Susan will weave movement and mindfulness into the morning to practice being with light & shadow. No experience in photography or movement needed, just bring a phone or tablet with a built-in camera and your body. If you like, from 12-2pm, bring a lunch and savor it on the porch, on the bench overlooking the river or on a rock in the middle of it. Bring water shoes and you could even sit in the water. $75. Register at http://www.susanmcculley.com/shop.

Decoding Your Body’s Wisdom ~ Video Series with Cecily Armstrong
Over the past few years I’ve been inspired and energized by the teaching and guidance of Cecily Armstrong. She is so generous with her offerings ~ her latest is a three-part video workshop Decoding Your Body’s Wisdom. If you’ve ever felt confused about how best to nourish yourself and live your healthiest, happiest life, Cecily offers amazing insights. You can sign up for the video series here. And/or you can get access to a longer 1-hour on-line workshop with Cecily here! https://cecilyarmstrong.com/decoding-your-bodys-wisdom-workshop/

Decoding Your Body’s Wisdom

First Friday Freedance with Kate ~ Aug 2 at 11:25am
Nia Freedance is an opportunity to play and tap into the creative wisdom in our body, emotions, mind and spirit. For a full hour we get to dance together with the intention of stimulating our own unique movement creativity. The next Nia Freedance will be at ACAC Albemarle Square Friday, Aug 2 from 11:25 -12:25.

Nia White Belt Training with Kelle Rae Oien Aug 15-21 at SoulShines in Richmond
Whether for personal growth, developing your practice or preparing to teach, the Nia White Belt training is a life-changing experience. Join stellar White Belt Trainer, Kelle Rae Oien at the new SoulShines Studios in Richmond. Go here for more information!
https://www.facebook.com/events/796684947329568/ (NOTE: A belt can audit 3 sessions for free. (They will need to pay for classes with Kelle – not included in the free offer) A retake (anything more than 3 sessions) is $99 to HQ and $400 to Kelle. That includes all classes.)

As always, please let me know if you have questions or how I can help more.
Dance on. Shine on.
Susan sig

Monday, Jul 15, 2019, 1045am ~ Small Choices Matter

Sacred Light 4:56 Bob Holroyd
Sunday Morning, Up All Night 4:54 NYXYSS
One Hundred Lights (Grouch Remix) 5:31 Kaya Project
Blood Stud (Ray Mang Remix) 8:36 MB Disco
Little By Little 3:18 7 Worlds Collide
Torch 7:49 Bob Holroyd
Reconfluence 6:19 Bob Holroyd
U R The Answer 5:57 Stephen Bray/ Michael Beckwith
Little Things 3:51 Michael Franti & Spearhead
Mumbai Madness 4:49 Mashti + Jean Baden
Father Space 5:56 Bjarno

Tuesday, Jul 16, 2019, 840am ~ Small Choices Matter

Sacred Light 4:56 Bob Holroyd
Sunday Morning, Up All Night 4:54 NYXYSS
One Hundred Lights (Grouch Remix) 5:31 Kaya Project
Blood Stud (Ray Mang Remix) 8:36 MB Disco
Little By Little 3:18 7 Worlds Collide
Torch 7:49 Bob Holroyd
Reconfluence 6:19 Bob Holroyd
Little Things 3:51 Michael Franti & Spearhead
Mumbai Madness 4:49 Mashti + Jean Baden
The Essence Nine 3:01 Jeroen Elfferich

Wednesday, Jul 17, 2019, 11am ~ Small Choices Matter

Little Steps 3:50 Bird
Sunday Morning, Up All Night 4:54 NYXYSS
One Hundred Lights (Grouch Remix) 5:31 Kaya Project
Blood Stud (Ray Mang Remix) 8:36 MB Disco
Little By Little 3:18 7 Worlds Collide
Torch 7:49 Bob Holroyd
Afronaut 5:23 Shaman’s Dream
U R The Answer 5:57 Stephen Bray/ Michael Beckwith
Little Things 3:51 Michael Franti & Spearhead
Mumbai Madness 4:49 Mashti + Jean Baden
Little Steps 4:08 BEN WISCH

Thursday, Jul 18, 2019, 9am Nourishing Movement at the Studio at Dancing Water ~ Small Choices Matter

Relaxer 7:58 Deep-Dive-Corp.
Little Steps 3:50 Bird
Sunday Morning, Up All Night 4:54 NYXYSS
One Hundred Lights (Grouch Remix) 5:31 Kaya Project
Sometimes 4:49 Yoav
Little By Little 3:18 7 Worlds Collide
Torch 7:49 Bob Holroyd
Is Your Love Big Enough? 3:22 Lianne La Havas
Afronaut 5:23 Shaman’s Dream
Little Things 3:51 Michael Franti & Spearhead
Mumbai Madness 4:49 Mashti + Jean Baden
Little Steps 4:08 BEN WISCH

WANT TO KNOW MORE ABOUT NIA?

For more information about Nia and this rich system of training and learning? Everything Nia is at http://www.nianow.com…
If you’re traveling or moving, you can find a teacher or classes wherever you’re going.
Interested in teaching or deepening your practice? Check out the Nia White Belt Training. They are offered all around the world so you can find one near you or where you may want to go!

A NOTE about the Focus Pocus art: I am in the middle of a book project called Octabusy: How To Let Go in a Sea of Doing. I’m excited about it and want to focus my art-making energy on it. So instead of making complex art pieces for the Focus Pocus blog, I make cartoons like this one that feature characters from the book. This week, the Sea Star (an expert in small steps and choices) goes where she wants to go one tiny choice at a time.

Three years ago this month, my husband Frank and I put an offer on the land on which our house now stands. We made the big choice to build a house three years ago but what got the house built was thousands and thousands of small choices every day. Each night when he came back from working on the project, I’d ask how it went that day. Each night, he’d tell me what they’d done and say, “Little by little, sweetie. Little by little.” Three years later, we’re living in the result of that series of choices.

From September to June, I was part of the coaching team for my friend, teacher, and nutritionist Cecily Armstrong’s transformational healing program called Love Your Body Love Your Life. I loved being part of this experience and witnessing the changes that this group of courageous woman made over the time we spent together. Near the end of the program, a participant shared a story about saying no to toxic food at an office gathering. In response, Cecily said something that keeps coming back to me:

“Small Choices Matter. You Matter.”

How many times? How many times do I intend to do something (or not do something), but when I’m tired or stressed or hungry I don’t. And how many times when this happens, I hear myself say, “Gah, it doesn’t matter.” What Cecily points out is that saying this is really saying “I don’t matter.”

In her program A Year to Clear, Stephanie Bennet Vogt invites this journaling prompt:

• Telling myself that “I matter” makes me feel______ (psst, notice any weather (emotional waves) that arises as you contemplate this statement and breathe into that)

When presented with this prompt, I sometimes bump into feelings of insecurity or old stories of self-importance come up. And it’s worth investigating what is at the root of the stories. Then I can find ways of reinforcing self-worth and the impact of incremental choices on my broader vision.

When Cecily and I were talking about the “small choices” approach and she shared this genius essay by Alexandrea Franzen called Ice. Imagine being in a frozen room and raising the temperature one degree a day. For a long time, it would seem like nothing was happening but keep at it, one degree a day, the cumulative effect of those small choices would transform everything.

Whatever we do over and over, day in and day out – whether conscious or not – is the most powerful force there is. As C.S. Lewis said,

“Isn’t it funny how day by day nothing changes, but when you look back, everything is different…”

Chart the course with big choices — know where you want to go — but know that the way to get there is with the small choices you make every moment.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

For more information on Cecily Armstrong’s work including her 9-month Love Your Body Love Your Life transformational healing program, you can go to her website and sign up for her FREE online workshops
Cecily Armstrong Web siteWeb siteWeb site
Cecily’s Decoding Your Body’s Wisdom ~ 3 mini-workshops
Cecily’s Decoding Your Body’s Wisdom ~ 1-hour workshop

I took a week off from regular teaching to work on my book, Octabusy: How To Let Go in a Sea of Doing and was grateful to have a chance to move together at Dancing Water on Thursday morning. All week, I’ve found myself contemplating the creative process ~ whether you’re creating collages, cookies or kids, spaghetti sauce, spreadsheets or sculpture. We are in the midst of creating whether we acknowledge it or not. How can you approach your life with the lens of creativity and possibility? What if there were fewer rules than you thought? What would be different if you thought of yourself as an artist and your life as your art?

Below is Thursday’s playlist! If you’d like to listen to the music, you can find almost all the songs on Spotify (you can listen for free)! As always, please let me know if you have any questions about any of the music we dance to!

And friends, I am always ALWAYS looking for new music. Do you have a song that you love to move to or that moves you? I’d love to know what it is! Please respond in the comments below or email me at sjmnia@gmail.com!

Before the playlists, here is the scoop on a whole slew of great things happening this summer!

SUMMER SPECIAL for Nourishing Movement Classes at the Studio at Dancing Water
Nourishing Movement classes with Susan on Thursdays at 9am ~~ my mix of guided and unguided movement, meditation and creativity! Now on SUMMER SPECIAL ~~ You and a friend move in the trees by the river at a discounted rate of $20! Please go to http://www.susanmcculley.com/shop for the details. Come join us in the trees by the river for grounded, flowing, spacious movement. Second Thursdays are followed by a pot luck brunch/tea/snackie! Nourish yourself with movement and bring something nourishing to share! There is space in upcoming classes so please go HERE to sign up!
* The Studio at Dancing Water is at 2370 Old Lynchburg Road ~ detailed directions at http://www.susanmcculley.com and via email when you sign up!

Saturday July 27, 9-12noon – Moving & Writing with Light: Nourishing Body & Eyes with Susan & Rebecca
Susan & Rebecca offer a morning to expand your perspective on two things that everybody has: a body and a smartphone. The word “photography” means “writing with light.” A photo isn’t a copy of something— it’s a story written *by light*! And light is weaving stories all around us, all the time. Using the simple cameras that we all carry —the ones in our phones! — we’ll play with the stories of light around us and experience how changing our perspectives can change everything. Susan will weave movement and mindfulness into the morning to practice being with light & shadow. No experience in photography or movement needed, just bring a phone or tablet with a built-in camera and your body. If you like, from 12-2pm, bring a lunch and savor it on the porch, on the bench overlooking the river or on a rock in the middle of it. Bring water shoes and you could even sit in the water. $75. Register at http://www.susanmcculley.com/shop.

Decoding Your Body’s Wisdom ~ Video Series with Cecily Armstrong
Over the past few years I’ve been inspired and energized by the teaching and guidance of Cecily Armstrong. She is so generous with her offerings ~ her latest is a three-part video workshop Decoding Your Body’s Wisdom. If you’ve ever felt confused about how best to nourish yourself and live your healthiest, happiest life, Cecily offers amazing insights. You can sign up for the video series here.

Decoding Your Body’s Wisdom

Nia Moving to Heal with Rachel ~ Sundays at 330pm
Join Rachel for an hour of Nia Moving to Heal on Sundays in Studio A, ACAC Downtown. The intent of every Nia Moving to Heal class is to feel better. You are invited to seek self-healing for your body, mind, emotions and spirit as we engage in simplified Nia routines, adaptable for all. Treat yourself to an hour of slowing down.

First Friday Freedance with Kate ~ Aug 2 at 11:25am
Nia Freedance is an opportunity to play and tap into the creative wisdom in our body, emotions, mind and spirit. For a full hour we get to dance together with the intention of stimulating our own unique movement creativity. The next Nia Freedance will be at ACAC Albemarle Square Friday, Jul 5 from 11:25 -12:25.

Nia White Belt Training with Kelle Rae Oien Aug 15-21 at SoulShines in Richmond
Whether for personal growth, developing your practice or preparing to teach, the Nia White Belt training is a life-changing experience. Join stellar White Belt Trainer, Kelle Rae Oien at the new SoulShines Studios in Richmond. Go here for more information!
https://www.facebook.com/events/796684947329568/ (NOTE: A belt can audit 3 sessions for free. (They will need to pay for classes with Kelle – not included in the free offer) A retake (anything more than 3 sessions) is $99 to HQ and $400 to Kelle. That includes all classes.)

As always, please let me know if you have questions or how I can help more.
Dance on. Shine on.
Susan sig

Thursday, Jul 11, 2019, 9am Nourishing Movement at the Studio at Dancing Water ~ The Art of You

One Good Dub 8:16 Kaya Project
State of the Art (A.E.I.O.U.) 5:17 Jim James
Rafiki (Sidewalk Mix) 6:25 Bob Holroyd
Don’t Say 5:47 Deep Dive Corp.
Crayola Doesn’t Make a Color for Your Eyes 3:35 Kristin Andreassen
Oye Como Va (Latin/Trance Mix) 4:17 Celia Cruz
Reconfluence 6:19 Bob Holroyd
Sometimes 4:06 Michael Franti & Spearhead
Freedom (feat. The Mail Pilots) 4:39 Nossa Toca
Fireflies 3:31 Mofro
Shanti (Peace Out) 6:59 MC Yogi

WANT TO KNOW MORE ABOUT NIA?

For more information about Nia and this rich system of training and learning? Everything Nia is at http://www.nianow.com…
If you’re traveling or moving, you can find a teacher or classes wherever you’re going.
Interested in teaching or deepening your practice? Check out the Nia White Belt Training. They are offered all around the world so you can find one near you or where you may want to go!

Three years ago today, we saw the land that we now live on for the first time. I think of it as a birthday of sorts. Below is an essay that I wrote then and never shared until today..

Come join us at The Studio at Dancing Water on Thursday, July 11 from 9-1015am. If you’ve not been out to the space, this is a great week to do it! We’ll move in the trees by the river and then, if you like, sit on the porch with tea and potluck snacks! I would love to have you there to be part of the nourishing movement and a little celebration.

Dancing Water

July 2016

This weekend, I fell in love. Which is crazy since I’m nearly 52 and I’ve been happily married for almost 17 years and we just moved into a new house he renovated less than a year ago. But love is like that. Love sneaks up on you at inappropriate times, and takes your breath away and there is just not a damned thing you can do about it.

My husband, Frank, fell in love this weekend, too. He looked at me with wide eyes and said, “I can hardly breathe.” I said, “I know” but really, it’s not my breath… it’s my heart. My heart is beating out of my chest.

We could hear it before we could see it. We walked through the ironwood trees and over lichened rocks and skittered a little down the steep hill and then there it was. They are called the falls at Natural Dam on the North Fork of the Hardware River and they are part of a property that we now very much want to buy.

I started laughing and shaking my head. Unbelievable. Only Frank could do this. We shucked off our clothes and stepped into the frothing water. I let the cool green current swirl around my shoulders and between my fingers and I looked at Frank with tears in my eyes and said, “You did this.”

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Two weeks before, we’d been traveling with our little camper in the Great Smoky Mountain National Park. There are mountains there, of course, but what we were looking for, what we always look for, are rivers and waterfalls. Most days found us hiking along creeks and rivers, doing dramatic crossings over rocks, sharing a granola bar while perched on a miniature island, playing in found swimming holes and whenever we could being near water falling over stone.

Near the end of our trip, we were in the middle of a river on a mossy rock dappled with sunlight alternately snapping crisp bites off an apple. My shoes were off and I let my feet play on the moving surface of the water.

Frank said, “I know we just moved into our house and we both love it but we both also love water. Have you ever thought about living near water? Near the ocean or a lake or something?”
I laughed and closed my eyes and leaned against him. I smelled his rich sweaty dirty smell after hours of hiking.

“I love the ocean and I love lakes,” I said, “but the only water I would consider living near is a river. I love this sound. I love the feel of it. That’s the only water I’d move for.”

“Well, then we should manifest a piece of land on a river within 10 miles of Charlottesville for the money we have that I can build a house on!” he said, just like that, as if there are such things.

I laughed in a hard burst since it was the silliest thing to even say, let alone pretend to manifest.

“Yeah, okay Frank,” I said, closing my eyes again and feeling the warm sun on my face and the strength of him sitting next to me. “We’ll do that.”

But I should know better. After all these years, I should know that he can do it.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Since we’ve been home from the Smokies, I’ve been working like a wild thing – teaching more classes while my colleagues are out of town and working on writing and art pieces that had been neglected while we were away. Frank is looking for a house to renovate. He finds one that looks promising but it’s already got an offer on it. And then another, that could work but no, it’s got not only an offer but back up offers. He tells me he’s going to check out Craigslist just in case there is something there.

On Saturday, when I come back from teaching I’m famished and making lunch. He walks into the kitchen holding open his computer and hands it to me. “What about this?” he says.

I’m chopping an egg and I’m distracted with hunger and I lean over to see what he’s showing me. It looks like a waterfall.

“Wait, what?” I say, “What is that?”
“It’s a property. It’s for sale. It’s got a waterfall on it.”

I’ve driven to dozens and dozens of houses and properties with this man. He renovates old houses and he’s got vision. So when he sees something that looks like it might work he says, “Want to drive out and see it with me?” I always say yes. Almost always, it’s in a terrible neighborhood or built on top of the train line or it’s falling right down to the ground. Almost always, it doesn’t work.

We drive to where we think this property “where you can hear the water from anywhere” is and we can’t see or hear a thing. We wander around and we both find ticks crawling on us. Another disappointment. Oh well.

But when we get home and he calls the number on the ad. The man tells us we were in the wrong place. So we put on our hiking boots again and as we head back out. Frank drives and I hold the hand-drawn map he’s made: past the old farm house and the meadow and down the gravel road and under the power lines and there’s the turn out.

We get out of the car and I can hear the water.

It’s 9 miles from Charlottesville. It costs exactly the amount we have. And it’s got a waterfall.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Love is a funny thing. Maybe the funniest thing there is. Even after being struck with lightning-bolt love, it’s never simple. Even when your heart pounds and your breath catches, maybe especially then. Love is full of everything and drags you all over tarnation.

Two days after seeing it, less than 48 hours after we slid down the hill and into the green water, we placed an offer on the land. Early that morning Frank came into the kitchen and said, “Here’s what I think: I think we should put in an offer. My whole life, I’ve made decisions with my heart and I’ve never once regretted it. When I met you, I could have said it was too soon and you didn’t really want kids and it was too complicated, but I didn’t. You could say the timing isn’t right on this land and it’s going to be complicated to build, but I just looked at the video I took on Saturday and I saw this…”

He handed me his phone. After we’d swum in the river on that first day, after we’d stared in wonder at the woods and rocks and water, we got dressed and Frank took a video. I hadn’t realized it but in the first split second, he caught me in the frame. I was beaming.

“Look at your face,” he said. “That’s why I think we should make an offer.”

The offer was contingent on figuring out the road into the property. Maybe we could share the existing road that led to two nearby houses. The property has a right of way through a neighboring property but it would require taking out dozens of trees. Or we thought so but the actual location of not only the right of way but the property itself wasn’t clear. We knew we couldn’t build near the river or at any grade of 25% or more. We knew we needed 30,000 square feet of buildable land on this side of the river. But the deed and the county’s on-line topographical maps were full of discrepancies. The county said we didn’t have enough space to build on. The owner assured us we did.

While the owner made arrangements for a surveyor to come re-measure the property and the right of way, Frank started learning. He learned about county regulations. No, you can’t share a road with two other houses. He learned about how much tree removal and putting in culverts and buying tons of gravel would cost. He learned about how the county’s topographical maps were drawn and that maybe they weren’t particularly accurate in forested areas. He learned about challenging interactions between adjoining property owners and arguments about how the land could be used. He learned about engineered septic fields and how much it would be to dig a well. In the first week he designed and redesigned the house four times. He measured and remeasured where he would position it on the land, shifting it again and again to avoid the biggest hardwood trees. He relearned the Sketch Up software so he could see the design in 3D and how the sun would come in the windows.

He learned about chiggers. After a couple of times to the property, we both discovered our bodies – especially our most tender places – covered with wildly itchy bites. Chiggers are nymph-stage arachnids that hang out on long grasses in wet places. They hop onto birds and turtles and people. They are so small as to be invisible and can go right through most fabric. They find a tender spot, inject an enzyme that liquefies the skin which they then drink down and hop off, leaving an irritated bite that made us want to take belt sanders to our ankles and crotches.

After reading a series of alternately disgusting and hilarious sites about chigger avoidance, we determined where we were picking them up and how to stop the itching. We’d have to keep the grass by the river cut short but we figured we could even work around the chiggers.

But we couldn’t work around anything if we didn’t have enough buildable land. Without 30,000 square feet on the south end of the property, everything else was moot.

The owner arranged for a surveyor to come out to measure everything the day before we left for a trip to Minnesota to visit Frank’s family. Frank went out with them in the hopes of getting a definitive answer before we left but all the measurements had to be fed into a computer for the final results.

We’d been with his family for 24 hours before we told them about the land and our hopes to build. As Frank showed his design to his parents, sister and brother-in-law, my phone buzzed with a text. It was the owner. We had 30,000 feet and more.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

July 2019

At least a million things have happened since we got confirmation that we could build Frank’s vision. At least a million problems that looked like they made the whole proposition untenable. And yet one miracle after another kept happening: financing, a genius road builder, a hard-working creative engaged crew, materials off of Craigslist, a genius septic system installer (even if he was a teensy bit late), and Frank there all along working and creating every minute. A whole cascade of miracles leading up to today and right now. I am writing these words in the house the Frank manifested, designed, and built with his two hands. I can hear the water outside the window. And I’m beaming.

It’s Art Week! Next week, I’m taking the week from teaching at acac to focus on making art for Octabusy: How to Let Go in a Sea of Doing.

When I’m in the midst of a big project (read: up to my armpits or maybe my eyelashes), I find it helpful (and sometimes productive, we’ll see!) to take time to focus on it as exclusively as life allows. I know how slippery time can be, though, so it’s also helpful to approach time away from my normal schedule with intention.

My feeling is that it might not (who am I kiddin? probably won’t, most certainly won’t) go this way, but it truly won’t if I don’t set the intention.

I’ll let you know how it goes when I come back to acac teaching next week!

I will be teaching at Dancing Water on Thursday morning, July 11 at 9am! Please come ~~ I’ll be hankering to move with you!

Until soon, friends!

A NOTE about the Focus Pocus art: I am in the middle of a book project called Octabusy: How To Let Go in a Sea of Doing. I’m excited about it and want to focus my art-making energy on it in the next couple of months. So instead of making complex art pieces for the Focus Pocus blog, I make cartoons like this one that feature characters from the book. This week, Octabusy herself is demonstrating Octa-LOVE!

“See something in your hands that you love with all your heart. Something that lights you up. Let it sit in your hands without grasping. Let what you love feel your love and also feel free.” ~ Mia Hamza, Yoga Teacher/Genius

As we head into the 4th of July holiday weekend in the US, I invite you to notice the sensation of freedom in your own body and life ~~~ and also how you allow that freedom in yourself and others. I’d love to hear about what you notice.

Below are our playlists for the week. If you’d like to listen to the music, you can find almost all the songs on Spotify (you can listen for free)! As always, please let me know if you have any questions about any of the music we dance to!

And friends, I am always ALWAYS looking for new music. Do you have a song that you love to move to or that moves you? I’d love to know what it is! Please respond in the comments below or email me at sjmnia@gmail.com!

Before the playlists, here is the scoop on a whole slew of great things happening this summer!

SUMMER SPECIAL for Nourishing Movement Classes at the Studio at Dancing Water
Nourishing Movement classes with Susan on Thursdays at 9am ~~ my mix of guided and unguided movement, meditation and creativity! Now on SUMMER SPECIAL ~~ You and a friend move in the trees by the river at a discounted rate of $20! Please go to http://www.susanmcculley.com/shop for the details. Come join us in the trees by the river for grounded, flowing, spacious movement. Second Thursdays (that’s July 11!) are followed by a pot luck brunch/tea/snackie! Nourish yourself with movement and bring something nourishing to share! There is space in upcoming classes so please go HERE to sign up!
* The Studio at Dancing Water is at 2370 Old Lynchburg Road ~ detailed directions at http://www.susanmcculley.com and via email when you sign up!

Saturday July 27, 9-12noon – Moving & Writing with Light: Nourishing Body & Eyes with Susan & Rebecca
Susan & Rebecca offer a morning to expand your perspective on two things that everybody has: a body and a smartphone. The word “photography” means “writing with light.” A photo isn’t a copy of something— it’s a story written *by light*! And light is weaving stories all around us, all the time. Using the simple cameras that we all carry —the ones in our phones! — we’ll play with the stories of light around us and experience how changing our perspectives can change everything. Susan will weave movement and mindfulness into the morning to practice being with light & shadow. No experience in photography or movement needed, just bring a phone or tablet with a built-in camera and your body. If you like, from 12-2pm, bring a lunch and savor it on the porch, on the bench overlooking the river or on a rock in the middle of it. Bring water shoes and you could even sit in the water. $75. Register at http://www.susanmcculley.com/shop.

Decoding Your Body’s Wisdom ~ Video Series with Cecily Armstrong
Over the past few years I’ve been inspired and energized by the teaching and guidance of Cecily Armstrong. She is so generous with her offerings ~ her latest is a three-part video workshop Decoding Your Body’s Wisdom. If you’ve ever felt confused about how best to nourish yourself and live your healthiest, happiest life, Cecily offers amazing insights. You can sign up for the video series here.

Decoding Your Body’s Wisdom

Nia Moving to Heal with Rachel ~ Sundays at 330pm
Join Rachel for an hour of Nia Moving to Heal on Sundays in Studio A, ACAC Downtown. The intent of every Nia Moving to Heal class is to feel better. You are invited to seek self-healing for your body, mind, emotions and spirit as we engage in simplified Nia routines, adaptable for all. Treat yourself to an hour of slowing down.

First Friday Freedance with Kate ~ Jul 5 at 11:25am
Nia Freedance is an opportunity to play and tap into the creative wisdom in our body, emotions, mind and spirit. For a full hour we get to dance together with the intention of stimulating our own unique movement creativity. The next Nia Freedance will be at ACAC Albemarle Square Friday, Jul 5 from 11:25 -12:25.

Nia White Belt Training with Kelle Rae Oien Aug 15-21 at SoulShines in Richmond
Whether for personal growth, developing your practice or preparing to teach, the Nia White Belt training is a life-changing experience. Join stellar White Belt Trainer, Kelle Rae Oien at the new SoulShines Studios in Richmond. Go here for more information!
https://www.facebook.com/events/796684947329568/ (NOTE: A belt can audit 3 sessions for free. (They will need to pay for classes with Kelle – not included in the free offer) A retake (anything more than 3 sessions) is $99 to HQ and $400 to Kelle. That includes all classes.)

As always, please let me know if you have questions or how I can help more.
Dance on. Shine on.
Susan sig

Monday, Jul 1, 2019, 1045am ~ Feel Free

Sofa Rockers [Richard Dorfmeister Remix] 8:34 Sofa Surfers
Freedom 3:07 Madonna
Free Souls Pt 1 5:43 Nickodemus & Osiris
Freedom 2:50 Tyrone Wells
Do You Feel Loved 5:07 U2
Free 7:01 Funky Green Dogs
If You Love Somebody Set Them Free 4:16 Sting
Free 2:29 Donavon Frankenreiter
Unwritten 4:19 Natasha Bedingfield
Chimes Of Freedom 4:51 Youssou N’Dour
Thank You (ho’oponopono) 7:28 Carrie Grossman
Let It Go 2:16 Jamie Catto & Alex Forster

Tuesday, Jul 2, 2019, 840am ~ Feel Free

Sofa Rockers [Richard Dorfmeister Remix] 8:34 Sofa Surfers
Freedom 3:07 Madonna
Free Souls Pt 1 5:43 Nickodemus & Osiris
Freedom 2:50 Tyrone Wells
Do You Feel Loved 5:07 U2
Free 7:01 Funky Green Dogs
If You Love Somebody Set Them Free 4:16 Sting
Unwritten 4:19 Natasha Bedingfield
Chimes Of Freedom 4:51 Youssou N’Dour
Thank You (ho’oponopono) 7:28 Carrie Grossman

Wednesday, Jul 3, 2019, 11am ~ Feel Free

Sofa Rockers [Richard Dorfmeister Remix] 8:34 Sofa Surfers
Freedom 3:07 Madonna
Free Souls Pt 1 5:43 Nickodemus & Osiris
Freedom 2:50 Tyrone Wells
Do You Feel Loved 5:07 U2
Free Souls, Pt. 2 9:01 Nickodemus & Osiris
If You Love Somebody Set Them Free 4:16 Sting
Unwritten 4:19 Natasha Bedingfield
Free 4:09 Illumine
Thank You (ho’oponopono) 7:28 Carrie Grossman
Let It Go 2:16 Jamie Catto & Alex Forster

Thursday, Jul 4, 2019, 9am Nourishing Movement at the Studio at Dancing Water ~ Feel Free

Stretching My Molecules (feat. Al Agami & Hush Forever) 8:30 Mashti & Deep Dive Corp.
Freedom 3:07 Madonna
Free Souls Pt 1 5:43 Nickodemus & Osiris
Do You Feel Loved 5:07 U2
Freedom 4:29 Nicole C. Mullen
Free 7:01 Funky Green Dogs
If You Love Somebody Set Them Free 4:16 Sting
Sweet Freedom 5:14 Safri Duo feat. Michael McDonald
Freedom (feat. Kendrick Lamar) 4:50 Beyoncé Lemonade
Thank You (ho’oponopono) 7:28 Carrie Grossman
Let It Go 2:16 Jamie Catto & Alex Forster

WANT TO KNOW MORE ABOUT NIA?

For more information about Nia and this rich system of training and learning? Everything Nia is at http://www.nianow.com…
If you’re traveling or moving, you can find a teacher or classes wherever you’re going.
Interested in teaching or deepening your practice? Check out the Nia White Belt Training. They are offered all around the world so you can find one near you or where you may want to go!

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