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Gratitude


Happy Thanksgiving, friends. Thanks to all who spent some of their holiday time dancing with us this week – either in person or in the etherwebs. I’m grateful for each of you and for the chance that we have to be together in one way or another.

May the practice of approaching everything we do from the perspective of self-care and service (or both!) remind us that we GET to be here doing this life.

You can find all the playlists below. If you’d like to listen to them, you can find almost all the music on Spotify where you can listen for free! Please let me know if you have any questions about any of the music we dance to!

Before the music, though, announcements and other goodness:

Buddha Cat & More at Hot Yoga Charlottesville, December 8, 12-1pm
Join us a Hot Yoga Charlottesville (216 Water St W Ste 103, Charlottesville, VA 22902) from 12-1pm for a holiday Buddha Cat book and art happening. We’ll have books for signing and art for sale and snacks for snacking on Saturday, December 8. Come sweat and shop – or skip the sweating and just shop!

Buddha Cat & More at The Elderberry, December 8, 2-330pm
Come to The Elderberry (1917 Commonwealth Drive
Charlottesville, VA 22901) from 2-330pm on Saturday, December 8. Come have some tea and check out not just Buddha Cat books and art but the wide selection of herbs and healing products! The herbalists are putting together a relaxation package to go along with the Buddha Cat vibe.

Get 20% off Buddha Cat & More at my web site between now and Dec 2!
In thanks and celebration of Buddha Cat, I’m running my first sale ever! Sign up to be a Buddha Cat Backer (it just means you’re signing up for my email list!) at http://www.susanmcculley.com and you’ll receive discount codes for 20% any order between now and December 2. Plus, as a BCB, you always have access to a discount code for free shipping that never expires! Do check out the site for new art and thank you cards! [If you’re already a Buddha Cat Backer, you should have received an email with the codes, if you didn’t or are having any trouble with finding what you need, please just email me at sjmnia@gmail.com and we’ll sort it out!]

Buddha Cat & More at the Cville Arts Cooperative
I’m delighted to announce that my work has been accepted at Cville Arts Crafts & Art Cooperative (www.cvillearts.org) on the downtown mall at 118 E. Main Street (near the fountain and next to the mosaic sofa)! This beautiful, eclectic gallery offers a variety of art and crafts made by all Virginia artists. My display is up ~~ you’ll find it in the back gallery! I am honored to be included in this talented gathering of artists! Please do some of your holiday shopping at Cville Arts!

Buddha Cat Now on Amazon
Buddha Cat is now also available on the world’s largest retailer! You can find both Kindle and paperback editions! AND if you are already a reader and fan, PLEASE would you write a review? A review is one of the most powerful things you can do to spread the word. Find the book listing here! Thank you for your energy and support!

Buddha Cat Available at Local Stores!
If you’d rather not order online and/or if you’d like to support an independent bookstore, you can find the book at some local establishments!
Over The Moon Bookstore at 2025 Library Ave in Crozet, Virginia. It’s a beautiful store filled with great books, lovely things and chocolate and is well worth a visit. They also carry Buddha Cat postcards!
New Dominion Bookshop on the downtown mall at 404 E Main St in Charlottesville, Virginia. New Dominion is the oldest independent bookseller in Virginia, and carries books in fiction, non-fiction, and children’s literature, and a unique selection of architecture and landscape gardening resources…as well as Buddha Cat – the book, prints and cards. Please do go in, ask for Buddha Cat by name and support local artists, local booksellers and local cats.
Quilts Unlimited / J. Fenton Gifts on the downtown mall at 118 West Main St in Charlottesville. This is a great place to find contemporary American Handcrafts, artisan jewelry and whimsical (even Buddha-y) gifts.
Hot Yoga Charlottesville at 216 West Water St., Charlottesville, VA. The home of hot yoga since 2004, HYC offers a variety of heated yoga classes that heal body, mind and spirit. Join us on Saturday, December 8 from 12noon-1pm for A Holiday Art & Book happening. The perfect time and place to find thoughtful, mindful gifts!
The Elderberry at 1917 Commonwealth Drive in Charlottesville. A full service herbal shop, The Elderberry is a place to get expert advice, a full herbal apothecary and a supportive community. On Saturday, December 8 from 2-330pm, come have a cup of tea and check out the special relaxation package they are putting together to go with the book!
PawPrints on the downtown mall at 201 East Main Street near the fountain. A locally owned shop, PawPrints offers unique items for both people and pets. You can find fun cat and dog themed toys, treats, gifts and apparel – and Buddha Cat!
Integral Yoga Natural Foods at 923 Preston Ave, IY provides the foods, supplements, personal-care products – and Buddha books! – needed to maintain a healthy, happy lifestyle.
Pantops Veterinarian Hospital at 315 Winding River Lane, Suite 101
Charlottesville. PVH  is a full-service small animal veterinary facility, with practice for dogs, cats, rabbits and guinea pigs and where they celebrate the Buddha in all of our fur babies.

Yoga Retreat in Mexico with Lynsie McKeown ~ February 9-16, 2019
It’s time to say YES to you and your well-being; to put you first. Join Lynsie McKeown, February 9-16, 2019, for 8 days of daily practice, luxury villas, delectable meals and immersive experiences in paradise. This retreat is designed to nourish, support and celebrate YOU. Immersed in beauty and nature, you’ll experience the benefits of a complete practice; asana (vinyasa tantra), pranayama, guided meditation and Yoga Nidra (a deep state of restoration, relaxation, and awareness). Body, mind, heart and soul will be rejuvenated. You’ll leave feeling full—full of more joy, motivation and inspiration to carry you through the rest of your year. Find out more here.

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

Monday, Nov 19, 2018, 1045am ~ GET to: Self-Care & Service

Helpless 4:15 K.D. Lang
Dance of Sarasvati 9:07 Kitaro
Hero Dead And Gone (Discotheque Mix) 4:55 De-Phazz
I Want You Back (Z-Trip Remix) 4:35 Jackson 5
Open Your Heart 5:46 M People
Suit & Tie 5:27 Justin Timberlake
Uptown Funk (feat. Bruno Mars) 4:31 Mark Ronson
Mission of My Soul 4:09 Peter Himmelman
Hooch 3:45 Everything But The Girl
What a wonderful World 3:40 Sarah Brightman
Sweet Potato Pie 3:14 Al Jarreau
Thank You 3:50 Tori Amos

Tuesday, Nov 20, 2018, 840am ~ GET to: Self-Care & Service

Helpless 4:15 K.D. Lang
Dance of Sarasvati 9:07 Kitaro
Hero Dead And Gone (Discotheque Mix) 4:55 De-Phazz
I Want You Back (Z-Trip Remix) 4:35 Jackson 5
Open Your Heart 5:46 M People
Suit & Tie 5:27 Justin Timberlake
Uptown Funk (feat. Bruno Mars) 4:31 Mark Ronson
Mission of My Soul 4:09 Peter Himmelman
What a wonderful World 3:40 Sarah Brightman
Sweet Potato Pie 3:14 Al Jarreau
Thank You 3:50 Tori Amos

Wednesday, Nov 21, 2017, 11am ~ GET to: Self-Care & Service

Helpless 4:15 K.D. Lang
Down To Earth 5:59 Peter Gabriel
Dance of Sarasvati 9:07 Kitaro
Hero Dead And Gone (Discotheque Mix) 4:55 De-Phazz
Brown Sugar 3:49 The Rolling Stones
Open Your Heart 5:46 M People
Shoofly Pie 3:57 The Wood Brothers
Mission of My Soul 4:09 Peter Himmelman
Home 5:05 Marc Broussard
Sweet Potato Pie 3:46 James Taylor & Ray Charles
Gratitude 6:27 Jamie Catto & Alex Forster

Thursday, Nov 22, 2017, 815am ~ Thanksgiving Day ~ GET to: Self-Care & Service

Sweet Potato Pie 3:14 Al Jarreau
Down To Earth 5:59 Peter Gabriel
Sweet Pea 2:13 Amos Lee
Coolsville 4:53 Rick Braun
Shoofly Pie 3:57 The Wood Brothers
I Feel Lucky 3:33 Mary Chapin Carpenter
Brown Sugar 3:49 The Rolling Stones
I’m Alive (Life Sounds Like) 3:52 Michael Franti & Spearhead
Long Train Running (Groovy Dooby Mix) 5:07 DJ’s Brothers
Yahoo 7:33 Veeresh & The Humaniversity Sound
sugar pie 3:39 The Subdudes
Sweet Potato Pie 3:46 James Taylor & Ray Charles
Gratitude 6:27 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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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?

 

Gratitude is a powerful force. I can let gratitude guide my choices, help me make decisions and abide by them. I can also use gratitude to transform a situation that I’m resisting into one that I appreciate. Thank you to every-body who came out to dance this holiday week – in person and virtually! I am lucky to get to play with you all. For those celebrating it…Happy Thanksgiving!

The playlists from the week are below. If you’d like to listen to them, you can find almost all the music on Spotify where you can listen for free! Put the music we dance together with other pieces that lift you up, calm you, and challenge you!

But first, here are a couple of things you want to know about:

Every One of Us: A Conversation with Ruby Sales, Weds, Nov 29, 6-730pm

Virginia Foundation for the Humanities is proud to welcome civil rights icon and public theologian Ruby Sales in a conversation with Charles Marsh, professor of religious studies and director of the Project on Lived Theology at the University of Virginia, moderated by Justin Reid, director of African American programs at VFH. The event will take place from 6:00-7:30 PM at the Jefferson School African American Heritage Center at 233 4th St. NW in Charlottesville.
This free, community event has been made possible by the Office of the Executive Vice President & Provost at the University of Virginia. Additional support has been provided by the Black Student Alliance at UVA, the Carter G. Woodson Institute for African-American and African Studies at UVA, the Jefferson School African American Heritage Center, the Office of the Vice President and Chief Officer for Diversity and Equity at UVA, and the Project on Lived Theology at UVA.
Register here to receive event updates and an event reminder: [https://vfh-ruby-sales.eventbrite.com/] Seating is general admission on a first-come, first-served basis. Please arrive early to ensure you get a seat. You do not need to bring your ticket to the event.

Nia classes for people with cancer, survivors, caregivers & staff at UVA with Susan Tate ~ on Mondays and Wednesdays
Join Susan Tate, Black Belt Nia Instructor for Nia classes with a focus on moving to heal on Mondays, 5:30-6:30pm & Wednesdays,12-1pm on the 4th Floor of the Emily Couric Clinical Cancer Center. These free classes start October 16 with a kick-off celebration class at 5:30 pm.  Registration is not required. Contact Susan Tate at susan@susantate.orgfor more information.

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

Monday, Nov 20, 2017, 1045am ~ Gratitude Guides, Decides & Abides

A Thousand Beautiful Things 3:07 Annie Lennox
Pavement Cracks 5:10 Annie Lennox
Hero Dead And Gone (Discotheque Mix) 4:55 De-Phazz
Back to the Earth 5:27 Rusted Root When I Woke
Papa Dukie & The Mud People 4:39 The Subdudes
Something To Believe In 4:44 Parachute
Uptown Funk (feat. Bruno Mars) 4:31 Mark Ronson
Love Is Eternal Sacred Light 4:02 Paul Simon
Yahoo 7:33 Veeresh & The Humaniversity Sound
Kind And Generous 4:06 Natalie Merchant
Let Your Light Shine 4:06 Keb’ Mo’
Gratitude 6:27 Jamie Catto & Alex Forster

(below is the poem I shared at the end of class)

Tuesday, Nov 21, 2017, 840am ~ Gratitude Guides, Decides & Abides

A Thousand Beautiful Things 3:07 Annie Lennox
Pavement Cracks 5:10 Annie Lennox
Back to the Earth 5:27 Rusted Root
Qalanderi 7:10 Cheb i Sabbah
Legend In My Living Room 3:46 Annie Lennox
Uptown Funk (feat. Bruno Mars) 4:31 Mark Ronson
Shoofly Pie 3:57 The Wood Brothers
Yahoo 7:33 Veeresh & The Humaniversity Sound
Something To Believe In 4:44 Parachute
Let Your Light Shine 4:06 Keb’ Mo’
Paddle and Portage 3:36 Solitudes

(below is the poem I shared at the end of class)

Wednesday, Nov 22, 2017, 11am ~ Gratitude Guides, Decides & Abides

Sweet Potato Pie 3:14 Al Jarreau
Down To Earth 5:59 Peter Gabriel
Qalanderi 7:10 Cheb i Sabbah
Freedom 2:50 Tyrone Wells
Coolsville 4:53 Rick Braun
Woke Up This Morning 3:55 Ruthie Foster
Blood Stud (Ray Mang Remix) 8:36 MB Disco
I’m Alive (Life Sounds Like) 3:52 Michael Franti & Spearhead
I Feel Lucky 3:33 Mary Chapin Carpenter
sugar pie 3:39 The Subdudes
Paddle and Portage 3:36 Solitudes

Thanksgiving, Nov 23, 2017, 830am ~ Let Us Give Thanks That Life is High Adventure

Sweet Potato Pie 3:14 Al Jarreau
Down To Earth 5:59 Peter Gabriel
Home 5:05 Marc Broussard
Say Hey (I Love You) (Featuring Cherine Anderson) 3:56 Michael Franti
Coolsville 4:53 Rick Braun
Shoofly Pie 3:57 The Wood Brothers
Start Wearing Purple 3:43 Gogol Bordello
Long Train Running (Groovy Dooby Mix) 5:07 DJ’s Brothers
I Feel Lucky 3:33 Mary Chapin Carpenter
Thankful 4:04 Jonny Lang/Michael McDonald
Sweet Potato Pie 3:46 James Taylor & Ray Charles
What a Wonderful World 5:45 Eva Cassidy
Paddle and Portage 3:36 Solitudes

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!

When I get clear about what I’m grateful for, lots of other things get clear. Mindful gratitude guides me and helps me make decisions about how to spend my time and energy, what to work on, what to stand up for, what to take care of. And once I’ve made those decisions, gratitude helps me abide by them.

Gratitude Guides.

Gratitude Decides.

Gratitude Abides.

Or, said more eloquently…

Thanks to Kate Bennis for sharing this poem.

Happy Thanksgiving, everybody.

yes-111716

“…instead of resisting emotional pain, we [can] say Yes to our experience. The instant we agree to feel fear or vulnerability, greed or agitation, we are holding our life with an unconditionally friendly heart.” – Tara Brach

Imagine yourself sitting at a holiday table with your nearest and dearest. The table is set with shining glasses and dishes and is heavy with steaming, delicious food. As you get ready to eat, you ask everyone to say what it is that they are grateful for. The first person says:

“I’m grateful for my family, my friends and this food.”

The next person says:

“I’m grateful for making art with my step-daughter and niece. I’m grateful for my husband’s resourcefulness and his creative mind. I’m grateful for my friend Rebecca’s honesty and deep compassion. I’m grateful for smooth, satisfying potatoes, for rich roasted brussels sprouts, and sweet creamy pie.”

How do these two feel different when you hear them?

The first response is an idea, a thought about those people and that nourishment. The second, a more embodied gratitude, is based on noticing details and specifics about the objects of gratitude.

Gratitude. People have expounded upon it for as long as people have expounded. In this space alone, I’ve written about gratitude not once, not twice, but more more more more times than that. The reason everyone else and I write about it so often is that gratitude, if deeply felt, is a powerful transformational force. Gratitude can change everything.

Going back to our holiday table, I see that I can get stuck in the idea of gratitude instead of living the felt experience of gratitude. At its most basic level, gratitude is about appreciating what is happening now…whatever that is. We will have preferences, likes and dislikes, but real gratitude, gratitude that stretches our capacity to feel our lives, makes space for everything that is happening.

Once when I was all twisted up in my feelings about what was happening in my family, a friend said, “How do you know this isn’t exactly what needs to happen?” I sputtered around for a while about how it was obviously not what should happen, and she said, calmly and peacefully, “How do you know?” I had to admit that I didn’t.*

I think of that conversation often when I’m resisting my feelings about whatever is going on. And I recall that conversation when I read these two extraordinarily wise pieces by two teachers far more articulate and insightful than I could ever be. I recommend them highly.

Tara Brach, The Practice of Saying Yes

John Tarrant, How To Welcome the End of The World

Rumi’s classic poem, The Guesthouse, speaks succinctly of this gratitude practice of welcoming everything fully.

The Guest House

This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.

A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
As an unexpected visitor.

Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they’re a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.

The dark thought, the shame, the malice,
meet them at the door laughing,
and invite them in.

Be grateful for whoever comes,
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.

Gratitude is being present to whatever feelings are happening and saying yes, welcoming it all. My ability to fully embrace the challenging parts allows me to be fully present with the joyful, pleasurable, loving ones.

“Be grateful for whoever comes, because each has been sent as a guide from beyond.”

Happy Thanksgiving.

*An important post script: I am in no way suggesting that anyone who has suffered trauma or loss should say “yes” to the loss, only to allow for any feelings that arise. As Tara Brach says in the piece I reference above:

I do caution my students, however, that it is not always wise to say Yes to inner experience. If we have been traumatized in the past, old feelings of terror may be triggered. We might not have the balance or resiliency in a particular moment to meet our experience with unconditional friendliness, and our attempts at Yes might actually end up flooding us with fear. It would be better instead to find a way to alleviate the fear, perhaps by seeking comfort with a friend, doing vigorous exercise, or taking prescribed medication. For the time being, saying No to what feels like too much, and Yes to what simply works to keep us balanced, is the most compassionate response we can offer ourselves.

Deepest regret for my inadequate words and any resulting misunderstanding on this point.

support hand lettering project 052416

Art in Action is a weekly post: a simple, practical guide to applying the ideas and principles in the Focus Pocus posts to your body and life. As always, I love to hear from you about how you use them and how you translate the ideas into action.

When I started writing the Support ~ Seen & Unseen post this week, I was struggling some. It had rained in Charlottesville every day for a zillion days (or 24-ish, but still) and I am processing the bittersweetness of our boy’s college graduation and preparing a presentation for my 30th college reunion (?!). I was feeling the paradox of heaviness and disorientation of time zooming past. I simultaneously felt like I couldn’t catch my breath and that I needed to put my head down.

When I started thinking about support, though, my perspective shifted. I thought about support first in my body but it quickly spiraled into all the things and organizations and people that support me all the time. It’s easy to get caught in concern about what’s not working – my knee that suddenly hurts for no reason, the washing machine leaking, the person who says the not-so-nice thing – but without much effort, I can quickly see all the things that are supporting me and helping me right now.

The Art in Action practice this week is to simple, just one step: pause during the day and ask yourself,
“What is supporting me right now?”
Do it a few times during the day and see how broadly you can expand your vision for what is offering you support in any moment.

Here are a few examples of what I’ve uncovered…

Standing in my bathroom brushing my teeth, I am supported by:
• My teeth and the inventor of toothpaste
• The designers of the modern bidet
• The city water system
• The makers of soft towels
• Whoever figured out that if you put that soft stuff on the outside of an elastic band, it doesn’t get all tangled and rip your hair out by the roots.

Driving in my car to teach my class, I am supported by:
• The city for creating the road infrastructure and all the people who keep the roads maintained
• My fellow drivers for obeying the rules of the road to keep us all safe
• The library where I returned a book which helps me to continue to learn … for free!
• My eyes and ears and brain that allow me to drive and follow the convoluted signs around construction
• The fitness center that has employed me for 16 years

Getting into bed, I am supported by:
• The person who built my bed (who also happens to be next to me in it!)
• The maker of memory foam
• The writer of the excellent book I’m reading (which I recommend to everybody)
• The maker of the meditation app I use (which I also recommend to everybody)
• My autonomic nervous system which will conveniently keep me alive while I sleep
• And of course, sleep

The practice of identifying what supports me can look a lot like gratitude and I am grateful for that support. But more than that, seeing clearly the support that is around me helps me feel less alone and more connected to the world. It reminds me of the Invisible Net of Love that surrounds us all.


season of contrast globes 121915

What is up with me and this time of year? I find myself feeling all awkward and wonky like clapping off the beat and tripping over the curb.

I’m not one for organized religion but even my odd spiritual amalgam does allow me to see that this is a special season in many ways. It’s just that I feel out of sync and clumsy for most of it.

Perhaps more than any other time of year, there are a whole tangle forces at work: nature and culture, sacred and secular, light and dark, giving and receiving, grief and celebration. Life is always full of everything but in December, there is a lot more of everything. In fact, part of the reason I feel buffeted by the holidays is that this is the season of contrasts and contradictions.

For example,

  • Our side of the earth will be its darkest in just a few days. Nature’s natural cycle lends itself to nurturing introspection and healing rest now. And yet, flash-sparkly lights are strung on everything that doesn’t move and some things that do. The artificial pop and shimmer can be fun, breath-taking, delightful… and disorienting.
  • Temperatures drop (usually) into the windshield-scraping zone which makes me want to snug-bundle by the fire with an unending pot of tea and the warm, quiet company of cat and man. And yet, we have more parties and gatherings and high-heel-wearing occasions in the next two weeks than in any other time.
  • Gratitude and generosity are at the heart of the season. I love offering gifts of love to the people for whom I am thankful all year. And yet, it is also now when empty chairs are painfully obvious. Whether separated by distance or death, anger or the Army, feelings of loss stand fully alongside those of connection.

With all these wildly contrasting forces at work, it’s no wonder I feel a little scrambled up inside: I’m swinging between life’s extremes and after a while, that swinging makes me want to put my head down.

Instead of swaying back and forth between contradictory conditions, what happens if I opened enough to feel both at the same time? Appreciate the inky depths of the solstice sky and the simultaneously glowing moon. Snuggle into the warmth and nurture of company and community. Fully feel the complicated love for those who are here and those who aren’t.

Simultaneously light and heavy, bright and dark. Giving and receiving. Grateful and grieving.

A tricky balance, I grant you, but perhaps less confusing and unsettling to feel it together.

Contrasts coexisting concurrently.


 

LEAVE A COMMENT, GET A GIFT ~ ‘Tis the season of appreciation for Focus Pocus readers! Please add a comment below or at the Focus Pocus Facebook page and I’ll send you a gift for creative meditation! You can choose from the super-cool one from last week about The Gap (it’s got a hidden message!) or a new one for this week (which I haven’t made yet so who knows what it will be!). ❤


 

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