A shortened week of teaching while I take a brief jaunt to West Virginia to spend some time with a friend, celebrating the Solstice and hanging out with Inspiration.

You can find this week’s Inspiration Space 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!

But first, here are some things I know you want to know about:

Free 3-Part training series of videos from Cecily Armstrong
For the past several months, Cecily Armstrong has been helping me on a healing process that has changed my relationship with food, my body and myself. Her work has helped me get a deeper understanding of nutrition and intuitive connection to what my body-self really needs and wants. She is deeply grounded in the science of nutrition as well as energy healing and other healing modalities. Now she is offering a 3-part training series called: Decoding your body’s wisdom; Stop second-guessing what to do with your diet to look and feel amazing. Please follow this link http://cecilyarmstrong.com/decodebodywisdom/ to get access to all three videos! If this resonates even a little, please do this for yourself.

Buddha Cat: Learning Awareness, Presence & Self-Care from a Teacher Who Sometimes Barf on the Bed ~ My First Book!

I’m excited to announce that Buddha Cat is in the process of publication! After months of the creative process, I’m now embarking on the adventure of production and then spreading the word! Will you join me to help spread some insight and delight with Buddha Cat? Please go to http://www.susanmcculley.com and sign up to be a Buddha Cat Backer and I’ll send you updates on publication, discounts and other special goodies! Even better: share this with a friend or two and send the ripple out even further!

Nia Love Jam for Antje Waxman ~ Friday, Jun 22, 545-7pm
Join Susan McCulley, Jeanne Catherine Gray, Mary Linn Bergstrom, and Kate Aust for a very special Nia Love Jam! Our friend and fellow Nia teacher Antje Waxman lost her husband Ken in January after a long illness. Family and friends will gather this week to celebrate his life, and we are gathering to show our continued community support and love for Antje!
Please join us on Friday, June 22 from 5:45-7pm in Mind/Body Studio A at ACAC Downtown for an uplifting hour of movement, healing, and LOVE! Members may bring a guest for free!
As you might expect, Ken’s illness was financially costly. If you are so led, monetary donations are gratefully accepted at https://www.gofundme.com/AntjeandKenWaxman .

July 4th Nia with Susan & Mary Linn ~ Weds, Jul 4, 11am/strong>
Join Susan & Mary Linn for a celebration of creativity and healing in a special Nia class on the 4th at acac Albemarle Square from 11am to 1215pm! Spend part of the holiday with yourself, your body and some extremely cool people.

Nia Freedance First Fridays with Kate at ACAC ~ Friday, Jul 6!
Every first Friday Kate Aust shares a Nia freedance class at ACAC Albemarle Square. Nia Freedance gives you an opportunity to play for a full hour moving your body’s way. We each get to tap into the creative wisdom of our body, emotions, mind and spirit stimulating our own unique movement creativity. The next Nia Freedance class will be Friday, Jul 6 from 11:25 to 12:25 in studio B.

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

Monday, Jun 18, 2018, 1045am ~ Inspiration Space

Coming Back To Life 6:19 Pink Floyd
Barely Breathing 4:15 Duncan Sheik
Good Life 4:13 OneRepublic
Drive By 3:16 Train Radical Sabbatical
Sweet Inspiration 4:41 Derek Trucks Band
Everybody Got Their Something 4:23 Nikka Costa
Ali Click Trance Mix 7:29 Brian Eno
Proud 4:30 Heather Small
Once a Day (feat. Sonna Rele) 3:58 Michael Franti & Spearhead
Let Your Soul Be Your Pilot 6:44 Sting
Breathe 3:37 The Makepeace Brothers
Father I Know (Mix 1) 3:08 Jamie Catto
Breathing Out 4:56 Shaman’s Dream

Tuesday, Jun 19, 2018, 840am ~ Inspiration Space

Coming Back To Life 6:19 Pink Floyd
Barely Breathing 4:15 Duncan Sheik
Good Life 4:13 OneRepublic
Drive By 3:16 Train
Sweet Inspiration 4:41 Derek Trucks Band
Everybody Got Their Something 4:23 Nikka Costa
Ali Click Trance Mix 7:29 Brian Eno
Proud 4:30 Heather Small
Once a Day (feat. Sonna Rele) 3:58 Michael Franti & Spearhead
Father I Know (Mix 1) 3:08 Jamie Catto
Breathe 3:37 The Makepeace Brothers
Plegaria para el Alma de Layla 3:19 Pedro Aznar

Wednesday, Jun 20, 2017, 11am ~ with Kate

Thursday, Jun 21, 2017, 840am ~ with Jeanne

Friday, Jun 22, 2017, 545pm ~ with Kate, Mary Linn, Jeanne & Susan

Kate:
Afterglow/Bob Holroyd
Plain Song/Bob Holroyd
The Territory of Thinking/Bob Holroyd
Jeanne:
Latch/Disclosure
Live Your Life/T.I.
What You’re Worth/Mandisa
ML:
I Love Baby Cheesy/Banco de Gaia
We Found Love/Rihanna
Grateful/Nimesh Patel & Daniel Nahmod
Susan:
Breathing Space/Jairamji
See the Sun/Lisa Gerrard

 

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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It happens a lot while I’m driving.
It happens when I’m chopping vegetables.
It happens often in the shower, on the dance floor and on the yoga mat.

And while I get a TON of things done in my office, those things are almost never inspired.

Creativity and inspiration, as Elizabeth Gilbert writes about in her book Big Magic, arrives under particular circumstances.
Creativity doesn’t come when we force it.
Inspiration doesn’t come when we are under stress.
Chic Thompson could have said, “Nobody ever got a good idea while being chased by a tiger or having a fight with their kid or fretting about the doom of the planet.”

We can only invite inspiration, and in order to do that, we have to give it space. We can’t make creativity happen but we can create conditions that make it more likely.

One way to start practicing making inspiration space is to notice when your insights and genius shows up. What were you doing? What state of mind and body and heart were you in? Once I notice when creativity shows up, I can start to intentionally create those situations more often. (Perhaps this is why I make so many chopped salads.)

This is one of the reasons that I’m teaching on just Monday (1045am at acac albemarle square) and Tuesday (840am at acac downtown) this week. I’m taking a couple of days away to mark the Solstice, visit my friend Zan in the mountains of West Virginia, and allow in some inspiration. Kate (Wednesday at 11am) and Jeanne (Thursday at 840am) will be dancing with you while I’m away.

And speaking of inspiration, if you missed my extra post yesterday about my first book, Buddha Cat: Learning Awareness, Presence & Self-Care from a Teacher Who Sometimes Barfs on the Bed, check it out here!

Making a book has been a life-long dream and I’m excited about sharing the adventure with you. I would love it if you would help spread the insight and delight of the project. Would you please go to http://www.susanmcculley.com and sign up to become a Buddha Cat Backer? It’s free, of course, and I’ll send you updates, information, discounts and some special goodies that only Buddha Cat Backers will get. Thank you for being one of my sources of inspiration!

PS Here is Buddha Cat herself meditating on her favorite cushion.

Exciting news! I’m going on an adventure and I want you to come.

I’m delighted to announce the upcoming publication of my first book:
Buddha Cat: Learning Awareness, Presence, and Self-Care from a Teacher Who Sometimes Barfs on the Bed

This is the cover:

Since I was little, I’ve wanted to be an artist. As I got older, I realized I didn’t just want to make lovely or amusing things but rather to offer both delight and insight. I do my best to offer both in my classes and workshops, my essays and illustrations, even these blog posts.

Now I’m making a book.

Right now, I have exactly one copy.

I’m working on changing that.

This is absolutely an adventure of I-don’t-know-what-I’m-doing-and-figuring-it-out-as-I-go-along-one-step-at-a-time-and-who-knows-what-will-happen-next-but-it-is-something-I-want-to-share.

That’s where you come in.

Please join me in helping to spread insight and delight in the world. Heaven knows we need it these days. C’mon, we’ll do it together. It will be fun!

Just go to www.susanmcculley.com and sign up to be a Buddha Cat Backer.

Buddha Cat Backers get updates and information about publication, discounts and special offers, and an inside look into the process of making the book. So please go to www.susanmcculley.com now and sign up. It’s totally free, of course, and as soon as you do, I’ll send you a sneak preview of one of the illustrations that you can print, enjoy…

…and SHARE! It would be great if you would. Will you please spread the word?

Do you know someone who loves a cat? who practices meditation and mindfulness (or wants to)? who could use some reminders to find wisdom in unlikely places? Please invite them to go to www.susanmcculley.com and become a Buddha Cat Backer, too.

Phoenix and I would be so grateful.

This is one of my favorite lines from Sophie B. Hawkins’ 1994 song, As I Lay Me Down but this week, I want the people in the song to breathe more and feel their energy and excitement. Rather than barely breathing, I wish for them lots and lots of breath. Maybe that way, it would feel less like falling in love and more like flying into love.

You can find this week’s Falling or Flying 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!

But first, here are some things I know you want to know about:

FREE 3-Part video training series from Cecily Armstrong
For the past several months, Cecily Armstrong has been helping me on a healing process that has changed my relationship with food, my body, and myself. Her work has helped me get a deeper understanding of nutrition and intuitive connection to what my body-self really needs and wants. She is deeply grounded in the science of nutrition as well as energy healing and other healing modalities. Now she is offering a 3-part training series called: Decoding your body’s wisdom; Stop second-guessing what to do with your diet to look and feel amazing. Please follow this link to get access to all three videos! If this resonates even a little, please do this for yourself.

Nia Love Jam for Antje Waxman ~ Friday, Jun 22, 545-7pm
Join Susan McCulley, Jeanne Catherine Gray, Mary Linn Bergstrom, and Kate Aust for a very special Nia Love Jam! Our friend and fellow Nia teacher Antje Waxman lost her husband Ken in January after a long illness. Family and friends will gather this week to celebrate his life, and we are gathering to show our continued community support and love for Antje! 
Please join us on Friday, June 22 from 5:45-7pm in Mind/Body Studio A at ACAC Downtown for an uplifting hour of movement, healing, and LOVE! Members may bring a guest for free!
As you might expect, Ken’s illness was financially costly. If you are so led, monetary donations are gratefully accepted at https://www.gofundme.com/AntjeandKenWaxman .

Nia Moving to Heal with Sheila Queen at The Senior Center on Thursdays
Please join Sheila Queen for Nia Moving to Heal at the Senior Center! Classes are every Thursday from 12-1. The focus of this practice is on the sensation of feeling better move by move, breath by breath. It offers a gentle, modified version of a Nia routine that is inviting for newcomers or for others who may be more experienced and are healing in some way. It is open to the public and the 1st class is always free. You can register online at http://www.seniorcenter.org (find Programs, click on Health and Fitness and scroll until you see Nia Moving to Heal) or in person. For questions contact Sheila at squeen125@gmail.com or 434-882-4129.

Celebrate Independence Day with Nia at acac ~ Weds, Jul 4, 11am/strong>
Join Susan for Nia on the 4th at acac Albemarle Square at 11am! Spend an hour with yourself, your body and some extremely cool people.

Nia Freedance First Fridays with Kate at ACAC ~ Friday, Jul 6!
Every first Friday Kate Aust shares a Nia freedance class at ACAC Albemarle Square. Nia Freedance gives you an opportunity to play for a full hour moving your body’s way. We each get to tap into the creative wisdom of our body, emotions, mind and spirit stimulating our own unique movement creativity. The next Nia Freedance class will be Friday, Jul 6 from 11:25 to 12:25 in studio B.
As always, please let me know if you have questions or how I can help more.
Dance on. Shine on.
Susan sig

Monday, Jun 11, 2018, 1045am ~ Falling or Flying

Big Sky 4:04 Annie Lennox
Down To Earth 5:59 Peter Gabriel
Breathe 4:12 Blue Stone
Fly to Bombay 7:40 Mazachigno
Freedom 2:50 Tyrone Wells
Nothing But the Water (II) 5:17 Grace Potter & The Nocturnals
I’m Alive (Life Sounds Like) 3:52 Michael Franti & Spearhead
Fall Down 3:22 Toad the Wet Sprocket
Dust in the Wind 3:30 Daughter Darling
Flying 6:13 Garth Stevenson
Falling or Flying 4:57 Grace Potter
Jai Radha Madhav 6:27 Deva Premal

Tuesday, Jun 12, 2018, 840am ~ Falling or Flying

Big Sky 4:04 Annie Lennox
Down To Earth 5:59 Peter Gabriel
Fly to Bombay 7:40 Mazachigno
Freedom 2:50 Tyrone Wells
Nothing But the Water (II) 5:17 Grace Potter & The Nocturnals
I’m Alive (Life Sounds Like) 3:52 Michael Franti & Spearhead
Fall Down 3:22 Toad the Wet Sprocket
Dust in the Wind 3:30 Daughter Darling
Flying 6:13 Garth Stevenson
Falling or Flying 4:57 Grace Potter
Campfire 2:36 Jon Hopkins

Wednesday, Jun 13, 2017, 11am ~ Falling or Flying

Wish U Were Here 6:12 Bliss
Fly to Bombay 7:40 Mazachigno
Let The Groove Get In 7:12 Justin Timberlake
What Do You Say 5:00 Haley
Oye Como Va (Latin/Trance Mix) 4:17 Celia Cruz
Cruel Summer 3:28 Bananarama
Fall Down 3:22 Toad the Wet Sprocket
Drop It Low 3:45 Kat DeLuna
Fly 3:33 Bart Hafeman
As I Lay Me Down 4:08 Sophie B. Hawkins
Falling or Flying 4:57 Grace Potter
Serengeti (Bliss Mix) 5:30 Infernal

Thursday, Jun 14, 2017, 840am ~ Falling or Flying

Wish U Were Here 6:12 Bliss
Fly to Bombay 7:40 Mazachigno
Let The Groove Get In 7:12 Justin Timberlake
Oye Como Va (Latin/Trance Mix) 4:17 Celia Cruz
Cruel Summer 3:28 Bananarama
Drop It Low 3:45 Kat DeLuna
Fly 3:33 Bart Hafeman
As I Lay Me Down 4:08 Sophie B. Hawkins
Falling or Flying 4:57 Grace Potter
Jai Radha Madhav 6:27 Deva Premal

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!


What’s the difference between falling and flying?

My intention?
My ability?
My landing?

Recently, I’ve had Grace Potter & The Nocturnals song, Falling and Flying playing in my ears and in my head. I can feel that both falling and flying are full of energy. Both falling and flying can be scary and unsettling and both can be exciting and eye-opening. So what’s the difference?

Fritz Perls, the founder of Gestault Therapy said this about that:

What if the difference between falling and flying is breathing?

Breath has the power to nourish and cleanse, to energize and relax, to ground and empower. Let your breath flow and you convert falling into flying, fear into excitement, panic into peace.

This week, whenever you feel the grip of fear, go to your breath. Do whatever you can to breathe into the tight, stuck places. Let the energy move rather than be held rigid.

Breathe and transform falling into flying.

Midlife is when the universe gently places her hands upon your shoulders, pulls you close, and whispers in your ear:

I’m not screwing around. All of this pretending and performing – these coping mechanisms that you’ve developed to protect yourself from feeling inadequate and getting hurt – has to go. Your armor is preventing you from growing into your gifts. I understand that you needed these protections when you were small. I understand that you believed your armor could help you secure all of the things you needed to feel worthy and lovable, but you’re still searching and you’re more lost than ever. Time is growing short. There are unexplored adventures ahead of you. You can’t live the rest of your life worried about what other people think. You were born worthy of love and belonging. Courage and daring are coursing through your veins. You were made to live and love with your whole heart. It’s time to show up and be seen.
~ Brene Brown from Midlife Unraveling on http://www.brenebrown.com

Brene Brown’s essay Midlife Unraveling showed up in my inbox somehow this week. I don’t know how it got there, but I was amazed at how she echos our focus: let go of the protecting and defending, feel your own strength and support. From there, soften and open your heart wide to anything, everything and everyone. (Christine Gyovai then pointed me to a wonderful interview with Brene Brown on the On Being podcast. I recommend it highly. You can find it here.

You can find this week’s Strong Back Soft Heart 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!

But first, here are some things I know you want to know about:

Cville Dance Co-Op: Falling or Flying with Susan ~ Sunday, Jun 10, 1015am-1215pm
I’m putting together a playlist for the Cville Dance Co-Op based on the song Falling or Flying by Grace Potter & The Nocturnals. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=51crtZBSWRk) I’ve been thinking about how both falling and flying are full of energy. And how both falling and flying could be scary and unsettling and both could also be exciting and eye-opening. Are we falling or flying? Are we living or dying?
I’ll be offering the music and holding the space for the Cville Dance Co-op on Sunday, June 10 from 10:15-12noon at Common Ground in the Jefferson School. The Co-op http://www.cvilledancecoop.com/who-we-are/ is a substance free, non-verbal, barefoot, 115 minutes of freedance. No steps to learn, no teacher, nothing but what’s flowing and moving in your own body. Let’s fall and fly together. I hope you’ll join us.
C’ville Dance Co-op, http://cvilledancecoop.com
Location (Common Ground, 2nd floor of Jefferson School, 233 4th St NW)
Date/time: Sunday, Jun 10: doors open at 10:15am for warming up, entrance locks at 10:45am, dancing until noon, then closing circle (come for the whole time!)
What to bring: Water bottle, comfortable clothes, optional donation for Common Ground
You can RSVP or ask questions at the Facebook event here.

Rachel’s Birthday Class ~ Sunday, Jun 10, 315-430pm
It’s Rachel’s birthday and she’s hosting a dance part! Come join her, Mary Linn, Anne, Antje, Jeanne and me for some serious play. Whenever we celebrate any one of us, we celebrate us all. Wear your party hat.

Nia Freedance First Fridays with Kate at ACAC ~ Friday, Jul 6!
Every first Friday Kate Aust shares a Nia freedance class at ACAC Albemarle Square. Nia Freedance gives you an opportunity to play for a full hour moving your body’s way. We each get to tap into the creative wisdom of our body, emotions, mind and spirit stimulating our own unique movement creativity. The next Nia Freedance class will be Friday, Jul 6 from 11:25 to 12:25 in studio B.

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

Monday, Jun 4, 2018, 1045am ~ Strong Back Soft Heart

Throw Off the Shackles 6:21 Moodswings
Moodswings Overture 5:53 Moodswings
Problem Solved 8:13 Moodswings
Rainsong 6:30 Moodswings
100% Total Success 3:52 Moodswings
Microcosmic 4:24 Moodswings
Spiritual High, Pt. 1 10:09 Moodswings
Overcome (feat. Nile Rodgers) 3:11 Laura Mvula
Climb On (A Back That’s Strong) 4:16 Shawn Colvin
Human 3:20 Rag’n’Bone Man
Show the Way 3:44 David Wilcox

Tuesday, Jun 5, 2018, 840am ~ Strong Back Soft Heart

Throw Off the Shackles 6:21 Moodswings
Moodswings Overture 5:53 Moodswings
Problem Solved 8:13 Moodswings
Rainsong 6:30 Moodswings
Spiritual High, Pt. 1 10:09 Moodswings
Overcome (feat. Nile Rodgers) 3:11 Laura Mvula
Climb On (A Back That’s Strong) 4:16 Shawn Colvin
Human 3:20 Rag’n’Bone Man
Show the Way 3:44 David Wilcox

Wednesday, Jun 6, 2017, 11am ~ Strong Back Soft Heart

All Colours Pt 3 2:50 Bob Holroyd
Factor 30 9:34 Bjarno
Sunday Morning, Up All Night 4:54 NYXYSS
One Hundred Lights (Grouch Remix) 5:31 Kaya Project
Tala Odyssey (Drumspyder Remix) 6:07 Desert Dwellers
Torch 7:49 Bob Holroyd
Afronaut 5:23 Shaman’s Dream
Free Souls Part 3 (DUBLEX INC. Remix) 5:43 Nickodemus & Osiris
Mumbai Madness 4:49 Mashti + Jean Baden
Father Space 5:56 Bjarno

Thursday, Jun 7, 2017, 840am ~ Strong Back Soft Heart

All Colours Pt 3 2:50 Bob Holroyd
Factor 30 9:34 Bjarno
Sunday Morning, Up All Night 4:54 NYXYSS
One Hundred Lights (Grouch Remix) 5:31 Kaya Project
Tala Odyssey (Drumspyder Remix) 6:07 Desert Dwellers
Torch 7:49 Bob Holroyd
Free Souls Part 3 (DUBLEX INC. Remix) 5:43 Nickodemus & Osiris
Mumbai Madness 4:49 Mashti + Jean Baden
Father Space 5:56 Bjarno

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!

At the opening of a class at Hot Yoga Charlottesville not long ago, my teacher, Julia von Briesen read this by Roshi Joan Halifax:

All too often our so-called strength comes from fear not love; instead of having a strong back, many of us have a defended front shielding a weak spine. In other words, we walk around brittle and defensive, trying to conceal our lack of confidence. If we strengthen our backs, metaphorically speaking, and develop a spine that’s flexible but sturdy, then we can risk having a front that’s soft and open, representing choiceless compassion. The place in your body where these two meet – strong back and soft front – is the brave, tender ground in which to root our caring deeply.

Right away, I recognized the false “strength” of a brittle, defended heart that strikes out in an unskillful attempt to protect.
I do this a lot in traffic.
And while reading the news.
And otherwise being a scared judgy-pants.

Since hearing this quote (and subsequently printing it out and reading it daily), this has been my practice: (1) when I find myself snapping out at someone
(as in “what do you think you’re doing, pulling out in front of me in your enormous SUV with a bumper sticker I don’t like?”
or as in “what kind of heartless, thoughtless, short-sighted politician are you?”
or any other snarky, angryness that pops out of me),
(2) I pause and say a little metta (or loving kindness) for myself
(as in “may I be safe, may I be loved, may I know peace”)
and
(3) I say a little metta / loving kindness for the person I just snarked on
(as in “may you feel safe, may you feel loved, may you know peace”)

When I do this, I feel a little taste of the choiceless compassion that Roshi Joan Halifax tells of. It’s not much, I grant you. But it’s a start.

What can you do today that will strengthen your spine, your core, and soften your heart?