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Choice

Five years ago, my husband and I bought a small camper (Le Que!) to pull behind our truck. We were excited to explore, to discover state parks around the country and to spend more time in nature. I loved the idea of cooking for ourselves (vegetarians can struggle in the Midwest), of making a home on wheels. I loved the thought of hiking and riding in beautiful new places, of going to sleep seeing the stars and waking up in the forest.

The very idea of driving this rig, however, terrified me. Driving just the truck pushed my edges and I did that as little as possible. The idea of driving both the truck AND the campe scared the bejeebies out of me.

So I got really good at riding in the passenger seat. I provided water and snacks and hand massages. I downloaded interesting podcasts. I programmed the GPS and read the maps. I was an excellent passenger.

Frank assured me that he liked driving and didn’t mind being the only one behind the wheel. The camper is actually smaller than his work trailer, so for him, it wasn’t difficult — even to back into tiny campsites and navigate city traffic.

But in the back of my mind, I knew it wasn’t a great idea for me not to be able to drive the rig. What if Frank got ill or injured? What if he was tired and we needed to cover more miles than he could go? What if he just wanted a break?

On our trip this summer, I thought about it a lot. I had long conversations about it in my head but was afraid to say anything out loud. Half way through the trip I mentioned it casually. We were leaving Itasca State Park in Minnesota, and I said that maybe-sometime-maybe-on-this-trip-maybe-next-summer I should try driving. Frank said, “How about right now?”

I immediately regretted saying anything. It was one thing to think of doing it sometime in the misty future. Another thing entirely to think about doing it now. But that’s what happened. Frank pulled over, gave me a couple of (incredibly helpful) things to think about, and I hoisted myself into the driver’s seat.

We were in rural Northern Minnesota so there was no traffic. There were hardly any towns. Hell, there were hardly any curves in the road. But I did it. For nearly two hours, I drove the rig.

At first I was tight as a wire, with eyes darting and hands gripping. But as I drove some every day, I got more relaxed, more aware, more confident. I can’t back the thing up to save my life. That’s something for another summer. But for now, I can drive the rig. As scary as it was at first, it’s one of the most empowering things I’ve done in a long time.

Who is driving your days?

Are you letting your spouse, your child, your work, your expectations, your parents, the news, your fear to drive your choices?

It can be great to sometimes be in the passenger seat, navigating, distributing snacks, providing entertainment and navigation.

And if that’s the only place you sit, if you are afraid to drive, if you are bullied out of driving, if you have a story that you can’t drive or don’t deserve to drive, it’s time to swing yourself up into the rig.

It’s time to sit in the driver’s seat.

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“Oh. Your jaw.”
I’d been dancing with enthusiasm and energy when my wise friend caught sight of me. She gently touched her own jaw with her fingertips.
“Your jaw.”
As soon as she said it, I could feel it: my jaw was stiff and locked. I felt the tension in my face, neck and shoulders. It’s a long-held habit that somewhere in my awareness is connected with not saying what I want to say.
I shook my head a little, opened my mouth and stretched it wide.
Then my dance really took off.

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

Walking up the path behind my husband, I see his familiar walk, the way he holds his head, the stride of his long legs. And his hands. I see his hands curved into the shape of the hammers and drills and circular saws that he’s used for years. Holding tools that he’d put down long ago.

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

Where do you hold tension? Do you know? For many of us, the patterns are so old that we don’t even notice them. Is it in your eyes? Your shoulders? Your feet? Your belly?

Chronically held tension in the body isn’t a bad thing. It is a teacher, an instruction of where we are stuck and where needs attention. Chronically held tension is a direct link to our growing edges.

Notice where tension gathers in you. Get curious about it. Instead of immediately shaking it out, inquire into what it has to tell you. What is it doing for you? How is it attempting to help you? What does it need? And what would happen if you released it?

On a sunny Friday morning, I rode my bike to the gym for a yoga class and a workout. Yoga was on the deck in the balmy summer air with a teacher I love. I was looking forward to a swim and then a leisurely ride home.

As I walked to the locker room, the sky suddenly went dark and rain roared on the roof. I threw my gear in a bag, ran out to my bike, and was soaked through before I had the lock off. I bumped my bike through the puddles in the parking lot but pedal as I might I couldn’t make it through the first traffic light before it turned red.

As the rain poured through my helmet and dripped down my nose, I stared angrily at the red light. I imagined riding home miserably, uncomfortably, grimly.

I’d missed my swim, but realized I was still getting wet on a summer morning. I took a breath and felt the rain on my skin. It felt tingly and alive. I wondered what would happen if I rode the rest of the way home happily. Or gratefully. Or joyfully. What if I changed the adverb to adventurously or curiously?

I felt the muscles in my face and shoulders soften. The light turned green and I turned onto the next street gleefully.

What happens when you choose your adverb with intention? How does that change the sensation? How does the adverb transform the experience?


I’m teaching extra classes and will be diving into the Adverb Dance with three classic Nia routines:
TranceVision ~ Monday 1045am acac square, Tuesday 840am acac downtown
Moodfood ~ Wednesday 11am acac square, Thursday 840am acac downtown
Fantasia ~ Friday, 6pm acac downtown (101 at 545pm), Saturday, 1245pm acac square (101 at 1230pm)
Inspired by the teaching of Brad Stoller as well as the Nia Blue Belt, we’ll explore how intention and focus changes movement, sensation and experience! Please join me.



My first book! Coming Soon!

I’ve finalized the pages and the cover mechanical is done (doesn’t that sound official and cool? I have no real idea what it means). Please join me in the adventure of the publication of my first book. Go to http://www.susanmcculley.com and sign up to be a Buddha Cat Backer! You’ll get updates, insights, goodies and discounts! Can’t wait to do this together.

It’s unclear if he actually said it. But it’s possible that Woody Allen said something to the effect that 90% (or 80%? or 99%?) of success (or maybe life) is just showing up. Or he might have been quoting someone else.

Whoever said it, I think the sentiment is genius.

Except for one thing: I would never say “just” showing up. Sometimes showing up is incredibly, dreadfully, dauntingly difficult. Sometimes it is more than I can manage. Sometimes getting there is really, truly all I can do.

Showing up is stepping in and saying, “I’m going to be in relationship with this. I’m going to be part of this. I’m going to bring myself to this in some way.”

The choice to show up, to really show up, is a big one. I know that there are many times when I literally or energetically choose to stay home and hide. Once I do decide to show up, though, then the question is how? Bravely? Kindly? Tentatively? Defensively? With curiosity? With judgement? What will I choose to bring to the relationship?

The three “showing ups” that I’m curious about are how you show up for yourself, how you show up for each other, and how you show up for the world.

What would you say if I told you it was all the same? What if I said that how you show up for yourself is how you show up for everyone and everything else?

In his seminal book, Be Here Now, Ram Dass said, “I can do nothing for you but work on myself…you can do nothing for me but work on yourself!”

What if the only way you can heal the world is to heal yourself? What if the only way you can make an positive impact on the people in your life is to do your work, do your practice? What if working on yourself is all you can do?

Coming Soon! Buddha Cat: my first book!

I’ve finalized the pages and the designer is doing a cover mechanical (doesn’t that sound official and cool? I have no real idea what it means). Please join me in the adventure of the publication of my first book. Go to http://www.susanmcculley.com and sign up to be a Buddha Cat Backer! You’ll get updates, insights, goodies and discounts! Can’t wait to do this together.

Last week, I did something I’d never done before in 18 years of teaching: I asked for someone to teach for me when I wasn’t on vacation or so sick I couldn’t get out of bed. I didn’t feel great and asked for someone to cover for me. It may sound simple, but it was a long-held habit for me to not ask for help.

And as soon as I did, I felt better.

There is a sensation I have when I’ve made a choice in the past that comes back to bite me. It might not be a big thing, it could be as simple as not getting my yoga bag ready the night before or a bigger thing like teaching when I’m sick or an even bigger thing like saying Yes to something I know isn’t right for me. Whatever the choice, I can feel how Past Me wasn’t looking out for Future Me.

Lately, when I’m making choices, I think about them like a friendship between Now Me and Future Me.

In the moment, especially if I’m tired or stressed, making the easy, habitual choice can feel like the right thing to do. Put off the task I don’t like to do. Get take out instead of cooking something healthy. Skip exercise.

When I imagine myself taking care of Future Me, it can feel more easeful to stand up and invest in her.

This week, notice what your relationship is with Future You. What can you choose to make life more fun for her?

When I’m looking to make changes in the way I do things, I need to know what’s actually happening first. Otherwise, I’m working from faulty information.

Recently, I’ve been playing with going deep into what I’m actually feeling.
Not what I’m thinking about what I’m feeling
or what I’m afraid of feeling
or what I plan to do about what I’m feeling
but what I’m actually feeling.

A freaking revelation.

Here’s my habit. I feel a little something and quick-like-a-bunny, I wrap an idea around it.

Instead, what happens if I look at what’s under the blanket?

When I do this, I can respond and take care of what’s actually happening instead of the blanket idea I’ve wrapped around it.

This happens a LOT with hunger.

In an effort to avoid the feeling and the fear around getting hungry, I quick wrap it up and go eat something. Or a bunch of somethings.

Instead, I can determine if that’s really what’s happening. Or if I need to support myself in another way. (Often, I need water.)

This “blanketing” habit happens with lots of feelings.

Distraction is sneaky and can draw me away from something I want to avoid. If I find myself doing something mindlessly like a zombie, then it’s a pretty sure sign that I’m wrapped up in the blanket.

Again, looking under the blanket tells me more about what’s actually happening and what I really need. (As in, “Ah, I don’t want to do my taxes. If I just get it done, then I will free up time and energy to do what I want to do and not mindlessly scroll through Instagram.” OR at the very least, I know why I’m doing what I’m doing so I have a choice to keep doing it or not.)

The best place to start is in the body. If you feel the blanket descending, take a moment to feel whatever physical sensations are arising (including numbness or “no feeling”).

When I drop the blanket, I can make real choices for change that get to the heart of what’s really happening.

January 1, 2018. New Years Day.

I don’t know about you, but 2o17 was a rough year for me in many ways.

I’m fine with it being over.

But I don’t want to be in a rush to change everything. There are many things that are GREAT and that I’m GRATEFUL for.

Sure, there are  lots of things I’d like to change, but before I go there, I want to focus on what’s working, what feels good, and what I want to keep.

This week, when everybody’s focused on resolutely changing stuff, let’s focus on what we love and what we want more of.

We can get to that change thing soon, but for now, start with what’s great. What do you want to keep?

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