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Dar Williams’ song, You’re Aging Well beautifully articulates the intention behind both the Galactic Return routine and our focus this week on revisiting what we (many of us) were taught it means to be an athlete. She sings about how culture (the sign makers) points us in narrow directions but that we can repaint the signs! She sings about finding music, the language that keeps her alive: the chance we all have to rewrite our story and move and live in a way that is alignment with who we are. This beautiful song (thanks to Kate for pointing me to it!) is worth listening to more than once.

The playlists for classes this week are all below or you can listen to them by going to Spotify! Rock out for free at Spotify! Sign up for free, follow me at “susanmcculley” and you’ll find my public playlists ~ just click and listen!

And first the announce-y things:

• Peacemakers ~ A Special FREE class at Buck Mountain Episcopal Parish Hall on Friday, September 2, 6-7pm
In the cultural swirl of hate, fear, and discrimination, how do we become peacemakers? The unending tide of suffering is enough to swamp us into hopeless inaction. Inspired by an article by Patricia Pearce called Three Ways To Be A Peacemaker In A Time of Hatred, (I wrote about it in July https://focuspocusnow.com/2016/07/24/peacemakers/), this is a class focused on what we can do now and in every moment to promote peace in ourselves and in the world. Please RSVP and get more information here. https://www.facebook.com/events/573400429499336/ This class is FREE and open to everyone no matter your experience or fitness. All donations go to the Buck Mountain Health & Wellness Ministry.

• LABOR DAY CLASS IS AT 11AM
Monday, September 5 is Labor Day and we will be dancing at acac Albemarle Square…at an adjusted time: 11am – 1215pm

• dance. sit. create. ~ TWO SPOTS LEFT for the next delicious day-treat on Saturday, October 1, 830am-5pm
You are creative. You are an artist. Even if your elementary school art teacher told you differently. Whatever you think and feel about dancing, sitting and creativity, this day is for you. Whether you identify with the words “dance sit create.” and think, “Heck, yeah” or if you shake your head and say, “I can’t do those things” or “That’s not me,” this day is for you. Please join me for a delicious day of living at the intersection of movement, stillness, and art. If you’ve come before, come again. If you’ve never joined us, this is a great time.
Early Bird: $95 if registered by September 15. Creative Bird: Get an additional $5 off by making something (a photo! a drawing! a haiku! a kid! anything!) and sharing a picture of it on any social media with this link (www.susanmcculley.com/workshops-retreats/dance-sit-create) and use the hashtag #dancesitcreate. (OR send something you’ve made to Susan and she will share it!)
Limited to 20 participants [Two spots left!]. Questions? Please connect with Susan at sjmnia@gmail.com or between August 7-26, please call or text to 434.960.9959.

• Yoga on the Ropes at EDGE in Stonefield
While I’ve practiced yoga on and off for years, I’ve Yoga on the Ropes has had a profound effect on my body, my awareness and my practice. The EDGE Studio in Stonefield is one of the only places in Charlottesville where you can feel the alignment, support and resistance of straps under the skilled guidance of excellent teachers. Whether you are new to yoga and want to get a strong foundation or have practiced for a while and are looking for insights into your next steps, or if you just want to have a blast playing in a new way (and getting to hang upside down!), these classes are the bomb. You can check out the schedule here or contact either me or Liz Reynolds (elizabethrey@acac.com) with questions!

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

*** PLAYLIST NOTE: My playlists can also be found on Spotify https://www.spotify.com/us/ by following “susanmcculley” (no space) and look for Public Playlists. Sometimes music is not available on Spotify so I may replace with another version or skip songs . ***

Monday, Aug 29, 2016, 1045am ~ Joy Gym: Be A Sacred Athlete

Blue Rhythmic Hand 2:33 Lawrence Lougheed
Drawn To The Rhythm 4:12 Sarah McLachlan
A Go Go (Boozoo Bajou Mix) 5:47 Truby Trio
7 Years 3:57 Lukas Graham Lukas Graham
Galactivation 4:41 Shakatura Galactivation
Will It Go Round in Circles 4:29 Billy Preston
Blue 6:29 LaTour
Camioux (Biggabush Version) 4:55 Boozoo Bajou
Lido Shuffle 3:42 Boz Scaggs
We Are Circling 3:05 Buffy Sainte-Marie
Windmills Of Your Mind 4:17 Sting
You’re Aging Well 4:12 Dar Williams
Returning 7 12:27 Jennifer Berezan

Tuesday, Aug 30, 2016, 840am ~ Joy Gym: Be A Sacred Athlete

Blue Rhythmic Hand 2:33 Lawrence Lougheed
Drawn To The Rhythm 4:12 Sarah McLachlan
A Go Go (Boozoo Bajou Mix) 5:47 Truby Trio
7 Years 3:57 Lukas Graham Lukas Graham
Galactivation 4:41 Shakatura Galactivation
Will It Go Round in Circles 4:29 Billy Preston
Blue 6:29 LaTour
Camioux (Biggabush Version) 4:55 Boozoo Bajou
Lido Shuffle 3:42 Boz Scaggs
We Are Circling 3:05 Buffy Sainte-Marie
Windmills Of Your Mind 4:17 Sting
You’re Aging Well 4:12 Dar Williams

Wednesday, Aug 31, 2016, 11am ~ Joy Gym: Be A Sacred Athlete

Blue Rhythmic Hand 2:33 Lawrence Lougheed
Drawn To The Rhythm 4:12 Sarah McLachlan
A Go Go (Boozoo Bajou Mix) 5:47 Truby Trio
7 Years 3:57 Lukas Graham Lukas Graham
Galactivation 4:41 Shakatura Galactivation
Will It Go Round in Circles 4:29 Billy Preston
Blue 6:29 LaTour
Camioux (Biggabush Version) 4:55 Boozoo Bajou
Lowdown 5:16 Boz Scaggs
We Are Circling 3:05 Buffy Sainte-Marie
You Make Me Feel Like Dancing (Remastered) 3:39 Leo Sayer
You’re Aging Well 4:12 Dar Williams
Returning 7 12:27 Jennifer Berezan

Thursday, Sep 1, 2016, 840am ~ Joy Gym: Be A Sacred Athlete

Blue Rhythmic Hand 2:33 Lawrence Lougheed
Drawn To The Rhythm 4:12 Sarah McLachlan
A Go Go (Boozoo Bajou Mix) 5:47 Truby Trio
7 Years 3:57 Lukas Graham Lukas Graham
Galactivation 4:41 Shakatura Galactivation
Will It Go Round in Circles 4:29 Billy Preston
Blue 6:29 LaTour
Camioux (Biggabush Version) 4:55 Boozoo Bajou
Lowdown 5:16 Boz Scaggs
You Make Me Feel Like Dancing (Remastered) 3:39 Leo Sayer
You’re Aging Well 4:12 Dar Williams

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!
This beautiful song (thanks to Kate for pointing me to it!) is worth listening to more than once.

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When Frank and I were traveling this month, we made a practice of moving in some way every day. I noticed that when faced with an unfamiliar hike or ride (which was practically every day!), I often defaulted to an old habit of thinking I wouldn’t be strong enough and wouldn’t be able to do it.

I suspect this line of thinking started in middle school gym class. We’d be riding or walking along and I’d notice myself thinking, “I can’t do this” or “I’m not strong enough” or “I’m going to fall and break my tuchus.” I could feel myself withdrawing and contracting away from whatever we were doing physically, mentally and emotionally.

Which was a drag since I’d get sad or grumpy and we were in beautiful places together, forcryingoutloud.

Instead, I’d play with saying other things to myself like “I’m fit, I’m healthy and I can do this” or “Just focus on this step right now” or “I can rest if I need to.” It felt a little unfamiliar and awkward to be running these lines in my head like a mantra but dang if I couldn’t do more than I thought I could.

Which brings me to 4 ways of triumphing over the tragedy of middle school gym class and becoming a sacred athlete:

1. Changing it up is good.

The body thrives on variety. We found that hiking one day and biking the next felt good in that different muscles got attention in different ways. My calves got tight when I hiked and then stretched when we rode. But even if you run or walk every day, change up your route or your focus (e.g. experiment with going a little further or not as far, faster or slower, pay attention to how your feet touch the ground or how you hold your hands, shoulders or mouth). If you do Nia or yoga regularly, just changing where your attention goes can change how it lands in your body, so practice giving yourself a focus (e.g., connecting breath and movement, go more slowly, make more sound, etc.)

2. Moving a little is better than not moving at all.

As Colleen Patrick-Goudreau says, “Don’t do nothing because you can’t do everything.” When we were in the car for long stretches, I circled my wrists, did deep belly breathing, circled my shoulders, and stretched my neck (that one might have been more difficult if I’d been driving). When we stopped, I’d do hip circles (what the heck, I’m not going to see the people in that rest stop again), do some squats and stretch my hamstrings. When we got to a campground late, even a short walk around the campground loop was better than nothing. Now that I’m spending more time at my desk, I’m doing the same thing.

3. Having fun and feeling good is an essential part of healthy movement.

When I’m riding my bike down a hill or I come to a vista at the top of a hike, I get a feeling of exhilaration and joy that is an essential part of being a sacred athlete*. Find a movement that you can do that you love, rather than one that you think is good for you or that you should do. There may be things that you used to do that no longer bring you joy and there may be things that you would never have considered doing at another time in your life that appeal to you now. Whatever bubbles some joy juice into your bloodstream, go do that.


4. My body has wisdom that my mind knows nothing about.

Especially if you’ve ignored your body (perhaps by not moving it or by overriding the sensation it has given you), it can take some time and practice to know the difference between listening to your body and letting your mind talk you out of (or into) something. But when I listen to the subtle nuances as well as the more intense sensation AND feel how I feel AFTER I do something, I can start to hone in on when I need to rest and when I need to GO!

Movement is your birthright no matter what your physical condition, experience or age. Become a Sacred Athlete by starting exactly where you are now and moving with awareness, intention and joy.

* Potentially annoying vacation story: One day we drove for what seemed like hours on a dusty bumpy road, then got to a ride but found it was dusty and bumpy and rocky and not well marked. After an hour of that I was grumpy and cranky and frustrated. Then we got a road with not too many cars and long swooping hills. The first hill I road down smooth and fast, I could actually feel the grumpy crankies clear out of my head.

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Recently, I noticed that when I hear unwelcome news I say one thing – “Oh no!” Whenever I say it, I feel the resistance to whatever I’m hearing, the clench against what is happening. Since then, I’ve been playing with saying Yes. It might be, “Yes and I’m so sorry.” Or it might be, “Yes and I see I have no control over that.” Or, “Yes, that’s not what I expected and this can work, too!” There is power in Yes. This week, five mini-postlettes about just that.

How many times do I find myself all grumbly-cranky over someone’s behavior?
Many many times.

How often do I get all snarly-gnarly when someone chooses something that I think they shouldn’t choose?
Ridiculously often.

Especially when our kids were young, I spent a good bit of my time wanting them to do something they weren’t doing or not do something that they were. And it wasn’t just the kids. I felt that way about lots of people…including myself.

These days, I get tangled up in the rough, gray sheets of The ResentVille Hotel less often than I used to. And to this I largely credit my husband, Frank.

Whenever I go on a rant about how someone is doing something they shouldn’t be or not doing something they absolutely should, Frank kindly lets me rattle on about it. When I stop to take a breath (or a gulp of wine), he says something like, “I find I feel better when I love people for who they are and what they do instead of being angry with them about who they aren’t and what they don’t do.”

Yes. Right. That works ever-so much better.

The ResentVille Hotel is a wretched place to stay. I prefer Frank’s Love-‘em-As-They-Are Hostel. That’s where I’m bedding down for the night.

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Recently, I noticed that when I hear unwelcome news I say one thing – “Oh no!” Whenever I say it, I feel the resistance to whatever I’m hearing, the clench against what is happening. Since then, I’ve been playing with saying Yes. It might be, “Yes and I’m so sorry.” Or it might be, “Yes and I see I have no control over that.” Or, “Yes, that’s not what I expected and this can work, too!” There is power in Yes. This week, five mini-postlettes about just that.

I know next to nothing about improv theater except that it makes my stomach quivery and that when it’s done well, it’s amazing. I’ve heard tell that when in an improv situation, and your partner says something

“Let’s take a bus to Mexico!”
“I think I’ll wear paisley to the wedding”
“Can you believe she did that in the middle of the Kroger frozen foods aisle?”

the appropriate response is, “Yes, and….”

“Yes, and let’s take your mother! She’s always wanted to learn Spanish.”
“Yes, and I’ll wear my yellow suit with green high tops since those are the groom’s school colors.”
“Yes, and the police were very nice, don’t you think?”

In improv, NO is a dead end. NO stops the conversation.
YES, and… offers curiosity. YES, and…offers possibility. YES, and…is an adventure.

Uri Alon’s TED Talk, Why Truly Innovative Science Demands a Leap into the Unknown, tells how the “Yes, and…” that he finds works so well in theater works just as well in science. Imagine! Mad improv skillz in a research lab! You can watch it here. 

It stands to reason if “Yes, and…” helps promote innovative science, “Yes, and…” can also promote innovative living. When someone says something unexpected or off-the-wall, experiment with saying “Yes, and…” and seeing where it takes you.

And if you want to hear about an incredible (and intense) improv adventure, listen to one of my favorite RadioLab podcasts, ever.

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Recently, I noticed that when I hear unwelcome news I say one thing – “Oh no!” Whenever I say it, I feel the resistance to whatever I’m hearing, the clench against what is happening. Since then, I’ve been playing with saying Yes. It might be, “Yes and I’m so sorry.” Or it might be, “Yes and I see I have no control over that.” Or, “Yes, that’s not what I expected and this can work, too!” There is power in Yes. This week, five mini-postlettes about just that.

I have mixed feelings about the word “God.” I’ve so often heard it used judgmentally or manipulatively that I get a little twitchy when it’s bandied about. But this poem came through my Facebook feed not long ago and I loved it to pieces. If you prefer, use “The Universe” or “Spirit” or whatever you’d like to hear say YES to you.

God Says Yes To Me
by Kaylin Haught

I asked God if it was okay to be melodramatic
and she said yes
I asked her if it was okay to be short
and she said it sure is
I asked her if I could wear nail polish
or not wear nail polish
and she said honey
she calls me that sometimes
she said you can do just exactly
what you want to
Thanks God I said
And is it even okay if I don’t paragraph
my letters
Sweetcakes God said
who knows where she picked that up
what I’m telling you is
Yes Yes Yes

yes frog 042316

Recently, I noticed that when I hear unwelcome news I say one thing – “Oh no!” Whenever I say it, I feel the resistance to whatever I’m hearing, the clench against what is happening. Since then, I’ve been playing with saying Yes. It might be, “Yes and I’m so sorry.” Or it might be, “Yes and I see I have no control over that.” Or, “Yes, that’s not what I expected and this can work, too!” There is power in Yes. This week, five mini-postlettes about just that.

One of the many reasons my yoga teacher, Amy, is so awesome is that she is cheerfully honest about her practice. She doesn’t hide her own ups and downs on the mat and that helps me find the courage to practice patiently and without expectation. Her relaxed approach to her own monkey mind gets me to lighten up about mine.

After a Baptiste Power Yoga intensive a while back, she returned with her red mat autographed by her friends from the training. The people we share intense experiences with leave lasting marks on our hearts, so I understood the signatures.

But wondered about the frog.

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At the top of her mat along with all the names was the picture of a little smiling frog.

Turns out that Baptiste invites yogis to say YES to whatever’s happening on (and off) the mat. Can’t balance in Tree to save your life? YES. Slipping and sliding on self-made sweat puddles? YES. Finally nailed Crow Pose? YES.

Amy said she was down with this approach until she got into Frog Pose. It’s a doosie, this one: belly down, knees wide, groins and inner thighs intensely stretching. Someone doing Frog looks like a poor amphibian who’s dealt with the business end of a car tire.

Amy said NO to Frog. She hated it and wanted to get out as soon as she got in (before then, even). To remind her that YES was an option, one of her yogi friends drew a little frog on her mat.

Amy likes to joke that she still says NO to Frog, but she doesn’t fool me. She is a yogi who knows the power of staying in even when things get uncomfortable. Especially then. She may not like it but she says YES to Frog…usually.

amy's frog

 

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Recently, I noticed that when I hear unwelcome news I say one thing – “Oh NO!” Whenever I say it, I feel the resistance to whatever I’m hearing, the clench against what is happening. Since then, I’ve been playing with saying Yes. It might be, “Yes and I’m so sorry.” Or it might be, “Yes and I see I have no control over that.” Or, “Yes, that’s not what I expected and this can work, too!” There is power in Yes. This week, five mini-postlettes about just that.

In 1966, John Lennon went to an avant-garde art gallery in London where a Japanese artist was exhibiting.

There were all kinds of things on display that John didn’t really get: an apple, a board with nails in it and a hammer attached, a card that said “Breathe.”

In the middle of the room was a tall ladder and at the top was a magnifying glass hanging from the ceiling. Feeling a little silly, he climbed the ladder, looked through the glass and saw one word in tiny print: YES.

ono - yes

The story goes that he got it and he loved it. When he came down the ladder, he met the artist, Yoko Ono.

You can read a more complete story here.

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