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At the beginning of each year, I pick one word as my intention for the next 12 months. This has been a powerful practice that has guided and inspired all kinds of things over the years and this year is no exception.
2011 – OPEN
2012 – RELEASE
2013 – SPACIOUS
2014 — WORTHY
2015 — FREEDOM
2016 – heARTful
2017 – AWAKE
2018 – HEALING
2019 — CLEAR

There are roughly 100 days left in 2019. Whether you chose a word in January or not, whether you’ve forgotten all about it or have been aware of it all along, this can be a time of reconnection and resetting of intention. I invite you to choose or revisit your word this week. I invite you to set the intention, put it into action with non-identification and compassion.

I usually post on Thursdays, but this week I wanted to give you a chance to dust off (or find) your 2019 word and see where it takes you. Here’s the post I wrote in January about it.


The practice of setting an intention is a way of consciously making a difference in our movement, our lives, and in the world. We make a difference whether we realize it or not. Setting an intention is a way of choosing the difference we want to make. (Check out last week’s post for more on this including a genius quote from Jane Goodall.)

What’s interesting, of course, is that we are human. Even if we set an intention, we won’t be able to stay with it. Not all the time. (Even though we know that it’s impossible, writer Leo Babauta suggests aspiring to that goal in his post Mindfulness All The Time. It’s a good read and I recommend it.) We’ll get distracted, get pulled into habit, go on auto-pilot. We’ll get pulled or pull ourselves away from our intention. That’s just the way it goes…for everybody.

The cool thing is that getting off track is not a bad thing. It’s actually fantastic. The moment that we find ourselves no longer connected to the intention we set is what Sharon Salzberg calls The Magic Moment (read her wonderful blog post about it here.) In her post, she’s talking about following the sensation of the breath in meditation as the intention. She writes,

if something arises — sensations, emotions, memories, plans, whatever it might be — that’s strong enough to take your attention away from the feeling of the breath, or if you’ve fallen asleep, or get lost in some incredible fantasy, the moment you realize you’ve been distracted is the magic moment.

It’s in that magic moment that we have the opportunity to really practice. We have the chance to begin again and to choose our intention again.

Stephanie Bennett Vogt teaches the A Year to Clear course that I’m taking right now (you can check that and other offerings at the Daily Om). She says that when creating a new practice, changing a habit or endeavoring to make any change, it requires four things:

Intent
Action
Non-Identification
Compassion

Her approach is that we need all four in order to create real and lasting change. If we only have Intent and no Action, the thought or desire just stays in our head. If we just have Action and no Intent, the action is unfocused, and arbitrary. If we have intention and action but don’t have non-identification and compassion, we’ll beat ourselves up when we get distracted and we’ll tend to quit.

I see it as a cycle more than a list. I see Intent as being the first step, knowing what we want to happen. Then Action is essential for embodiment and manifestation of what we want to occur. The Non-Identification (or as Buddhists would say, Non-Attachment) is not getting hooked on the outcome. Non-Identification is an allowing for things to unfold as they do without fighting against it. And then Compassion is the recognition that we are human and that we’ll forget and mess up in any number of ways and that’s just part of the process. I see it this way:

The Magic Moment happens with the Non-Identification and the Compassion: it’s when we realize we’ve veered from our intent in some way and that it’s time to return to it and make another action.

This mindful practice that we do together is impossible. No one can do it. And that is the whole point. It’s not about being perfect or never messing up. It’s about realizing we’ve lost our intention and then gently, kindly, beginning again.


When I was a girl, my Nana had a wooden toy box in her living room full of old, unusual, fascinating things. There was an antique tin top with a plunger that would spin like crazy. There was an old set of tiddlywinks that were worth playing with just to say the word out loud. There was a classic set of Barrel Full of Monkeys.

But my favorite toy in Nana’s box was a kaleidoscope.

I could sit in the sun on her scratchy orange sofa and look through that thing for hours. (If you’ve never played with a kaleidoscope, here’s what it looks like when you look into it and turn it.)

“Life is like an ever-shifting kaleidoscope – a slight change, and all patterns alter.” – Sharon Salzberg

Our mindful movement practice reveals that all parts of the human body are connected. A movement in any part impacts them all. A misalignment in one place reverberates through your whole form. If one part of the body is in pain, instead of narrowing our attention only to that one part, the real practice and healing come from expanding our attention to the whole system. Sharon Salzberg reminds us that life is the same way.

Unbeknownst to us, when parking our beloved Le Que camper last fall, the roof got a crack in it that has left it open to the elements…for the whole winter. Which was, here in Virginia, the wettest winter on record. The inside of the framing is utterly soaked and ruined. The insurance company confirmed that it is a total loss.

It felt like a punch in the stomach. Traveling together in Le Que has been an adventurous joy. Despite the wretchedness of the discovery, I watched Frank turn the kaleidoscope of the situation. We talked about what we love about Le Que…and some of the things we don’t. We started to look into possible replacements and maybe even possible uses for the injured Le Que. What felt like a mess is shifting into a slew of interesting possibilities.

Kaleidoscope perspective isn’t necessarily one of sunny optimism (although that can be a happy side effect). Kaleidoscope perspective is about seeing the large and the small and all the ever-changing parts. Wayne Dyer suggests “if you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.” If you are in a disagreement, can you see perhaps the fear behind your side and the unmet needs behind theirs? If you are looking at a sunset, can you see both the expansive swash of colors and the details in the silhouetted branches of the trees? If your team loses in the basketball tournament, can you see the joy in the other team’s faces? (Nope, I can’t do that, either.)

Sarah Susanka, in her wonderful book, The Not So Big Life writes about this phenomenon and how the kaleidoscope shift requires a spacious attention to whatever is happening. Rather than narrowing our focus on one particular thing, we can open our peripheral vision to see more. She writes,

The flow of moments and synchronous happenings occurs whether or not we are present, but it is only when we are present that those dynamics are observable. (p. 145)

Our bodies, minds, emotions, and lives are full of kaleidoscopic changes. Nudging any situation – even a little – can change a simple handful of beads and colored glass into a fascinating, radiant rainbow. All we have to do is stay present and open and see what there is to see.

CALL FOR KALEIDOSCOPES! If you come to classes this week and have a kaleidoscope you’d be willing to share, bring it for show and tell! 

The process of putting an intention into practice — or changing any habit or pattern, for that matter — is a cycle of Yang/masculine/doing (Set Intention & Put Into Action) and Yin/feminine/allowing (Non-Identification & Compassion). Our humanness means that our minds will wander and we’ll lose our focus on our intention. It’s just what happens. The cycle of actively setting and embodying an intention and then gently and kindly bringing ourselves is where, as Sharon Salzberg reminds us, the magic happens.

Below are our playlists for the week. If you’d like to listen to them, you can find almost all the music on Spotify where you can listen for free! And in general, please let me know if you have any questions about any of the music we dance to!

And first, some announcements of things that are happening!
Mindful Self-Compassion 8-Week Course with Laura DeVault & Anna Vanhoy
We live in a world full of environmental challenges, political upheaval, and divisive rhetoric. Our sense of well-being can get worn down, especially if it is dependent on our latest success or failure. Mindful self-compassion takes a different approach. When you turn toward your feelings of distress with compassion, you can limit self-criticism and offset its negative effects, enabling you to achieve your highest potential and a more fulfilled life. (You might even get a better night’s sleep.)
Every Monday from 1 – 4 PM for 8 weeks, starting January 21, 2019. $450 includes 8 classes, plus a half-day retreat on Sat., Feb. 23.
To Register, contact Maureen Otten, 434-220-4686 weekdays 9 – 5, or email Anna and Laura at info.mscdv@gmail.com. For more, go here.

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!

Buddha Cat 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! Please go to my web site to find a complete listing of where to find Buddha Cat and more! http://www.susanmcculley.com/book-art-happenings/#/new-page/

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.

Author Fest 2019 at the Waynesboro Public Library
On Saturday, March 16 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., the Waynesboro Public Library will host its 5th Annual Author Fest. The event is free for both authors and the public. Buddha Cat and friends will be there. More information and details to come!

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

Monday, Jan 7, 2019, 1045am ~ Intention & The Magic Moment~ AO Skydancing

Passing Through 5:19 Bob Holroyd
Journeyman – AO 6:41 Bob Holroyd
Takshaka 10:42 Makyo
Drumming Up a Storm 6:01 Bob Holroyd
Denmark 5:07 Chemical Brothers
Maha Lakshmi 5:19 El Cosmo Group
Adrift in Kerala 6:07 Bob Holroyd
Dark Waters 4:35 Bob Holroyd
Lavender Hill 4:33 Lex van Someren
Ascension 4:52 Lex van Someren

Tuesday, Jan 8, 2018 ~ Intention & The Magic Moment ~ AO Skydancing

Passing Through 5:19 Bob Holroyd
Journeyman 6:41 Bob Holroyd
Takshaka 10:42 Makyo
Drumming Up a Storm 6:01 Bob Holroyd
Denmark 5:07 Chemical Brothers
Maha Lakshmi 5:19 El Cosmo Group
Adrift in Kerala 6:07 Bob Holroyd
Dark Waters 4:35 Bob Holroyd
Lavender Hill 4:33 Lex van Someren

Wednesday, Jan 9, 2018, 11am ~ Intention & The Magic Moment ~ AO AY Dancing to AO Skydancing Choreography

Out Of Town 5:20 Cantoma (Passing Through choreography)
Leaving Babylon 6:42 Bluetech (Journeyman choreography)
Back Home 5:19 Fishtank (Takshaka Pt 1 choreography)
In This Love Together 5:12 Michael Bernard Beckwith (Takshaka Pt 2 choreography)
Shadowman 6:36 Afro Celt Sound System (Drumming up a Storm choreography)
Crosseyed and Painless 5:29 Angélique Kidjo (Denmark style freedance)
Gold Dust Woman 5:02 Fleetwood Mac (Maha Lakshmi choreography)
Hanuman Baba (Dub Farm Re-mix) 7:25 Krishna Das (Adrift in Kerala style freedance)
Gravity 4:06 John Mayer (Dark Waters choreography)
Miasma 4:35 Bill Mize (Lavender Hill choreography)
10 Questions for the Dalai Lama 3:15 Peter Kater

Thursday, Jan 10, 2018, 840am ~ Intention & The Magic Moment AO AY Dancing to AO Skydancing Choreography

Out Of Town 5:20 Cantoma (Passing Through choreography)
Leaving Babylon 6:42 Bluetech (Journeyman choreography)
Back Home 5:19 Fishtank (Takshaka Pt 1 choreography)
In This Love Together 5:12 Michael Bernard Beckwith (Takshaka Pt 2 choreography)
Shadowman 6:36 Afro Celt Sound System (Drumming up a Storm choreography)
Crosseyed and Painless 5:29 Angélique Kidjo (Denmark style freedance)
Gold Dust Woman 5:02 Fleetwood Mac (Maha Lakshmi choreography)
Hanuman Baba (Dub Farm Re-mix) 7:25 Krishna Das (Adrift in Kerala style freedance)
Gravity 4:06 John Mayer (Dark Waters choreography)
Unchosen 3:54 Jesse Cook (Lavender Hill choreography)

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!


The practice of setting an intention is a way of consciously making a difference in our movement, our lives, and in the world. We make a difference whether we realize it or not. Setting an intention is a way of choosing the difference we want to make. (Check out last week’s post for more on this including a genius quote from Jane Goodall.)

What’s interesting, of course, is that we are human. Even if we set an intention, we won’t be able to stay with it. Not all the time. (Even though we know that it’s impossible, writer Leo Babauta suggests aspiring to that goal in his post Mindfulness All The Time. It’s a good read and I recommend it.) We’ll get distracted, get pulled into habit, go on auto-pilot. We’ll get pulled or pull ourselves away from our intention. That’s just the way it goes…for everybody.

The cool thing is that getting off track is not a bad thing. It’s actually fantastic. The moment that we find ourselves no longer connected to the intention we set is what Sharon Salzberg calls The Magic Moment (read her wonderful blog post about it here.) In her post, she’s talking about following the sensation of the breath in meditation as the intention. She writes,

if something arises — sensations, emotions, memories, plans, whatever it might be — that’s strong enough to take your attention away from the feeling of the breath, or if you’ve fallen asleep, or get lost in some incredible fantasy, the moment you realize you’ve been distracted is the magic moment.

It’s in that magic moment that we have the opportunity to really practice. We have the chance to begin again and to choose our intention again.

Stephanie Bennett Vogt teaches the A Year to Clear course that I’m taking right now (you can check that and other offerings at the Daily Om). She says that when creating a new practice, changing a habit or endeavoring to make any change, it requires four things:

Intent
Action
Non-Identification
Compassion

Her approach is that we need all four in order to create real and lasting change. If we only have Intent and no Action, the thought or desire just stays in our head. If we just have Action and no Intent, the action is unfocused, and arbitrary. If we have intention and action but don’t have non-identification and compassion, we’ll beat ourselves up when we get distracted and we’ll tend to quit.

I see it as a cycle more than a list. I see Intent as being the first step, knowing what we want to happen. Then Action is essential for embodiment and manifestation of what we want to occur. The Non-Identification (or as Buddhists would say, Non-Attachment) is not getting hooked on the outcome. Non-Identification is an allowing for things to unfold as they do without fighting against it. And then Compassion is the recognition that we are human and that we’ll forget and mess up in any number of ways and that’s just part of the process. I see it this way:

The Magic Moment happens with the Non-Identification and the Compassion: it’s when we realize we’ve veered from our intent in some way and that it’s time to return to it and make another action.

This mindful practice that we do together is impossible. No one can do it. And that is the whole point. It’s not about being perfect or never messing up. It’s about realizing we’ve lost our intention and then gently, kindly, beginning again.


Put enough small steps, little actions, tiny choices together and they add up to powerful change. Thanks to Mary Linn Bergstrom for dancing Step by Step on Tuesday and Wednesday. It was delicious (and what will I do without you?). On Monday and Thursday, we played with an evolving routine that I’m playing with called Step by Step, Little by Little. I’d love to know what you think.

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:

Locker Room Renovation at Albemarle Square
Renovations on the locker rooms at Albemarle Square are happening now and both the men’s and women’s locker rooms are closed. For all the information, please click on the sidebar link on the right side: acac Locker Room Renovation 2018.

Woman Bug Blog Post in Streetlight Magazine
If you’ve seen the Buddha Cat book, you know that not just black cats but Woman Bugs are full of wisdom. This week, a piece I wrote about the creative process and why I want to be a Woman Bug came out in Streetlight Magazine. I hope you’ll check it out here.

Buddha Cat: Learning Awareness, Presence & Self-Care from a Teacher Who Sometimes Barf on the Bed … Second Printing Is Here!
Buddha Cat is in full swing and on sale at my site! If you haven’t yet, you can go to http://www.susanmcculley.com and sign up to be a Buddha Cat Backer. You will then have access to a discount code for free shipping that never expires for Backers! And you can find not just the book but art and cards!

Buddha Cat & More at the Cville Arts Cooperative starting in November 8!
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 Virginia artists. My display goes up on November 8 ~~ 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 Now 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.
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.

Thanksgiving Day Nia at ACAC Downtown — Thursday, November 22, 8:15am
Start the holiday with mind-full, joy-full, grate-full movement! Please join Susan for a special Thanksgiving class on Thursday, November 22 from 8:15-9:15am (NOTE TIME CHANGE!). Bring a friend or relation! Or take some space for yourself.
acac hours ~ Thanksgiving Weekend
Wed, Nov 21, regular opening time and close at 7pm
Thanksgiving Day, Thu, Nov 22, 8am – 12noon
Fri, Nov 23, 8am opening, regular closing

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 5, 2018, 1045am ~ Step by Step, Little by Little

One Step Closer To You 4:41 Michael Franti & Spearhead
Little By Little 5:30 Groove Armada
Each Step Moves Us On [Feat. Zap Mama & Speech] 8:34 1 Giant Leap
Walk Into The Sun 5:21 Dirty Vegas
Welcome to the Journey 5:04 Cybertribe
Every Day is a Winding Road 4:23 Sheryl Crow
Little By Little 3:18 7 Worlds Collide
Steppin Out 3:44 Kaskade
Free Ziman Walking 5:13 Uman
Step By Step 4:13 Whitney Houston
Minute By Minute (2016 Remastered) 3:28 The Doobie Brothers
Homeward Journey 2:46 Satish Vyas
Journey Into Stillness 4:41 Gary Stroutsos

Tuesday, Nov 6, 2018, 840am and 545pm ~ Step by Step with Mary Linn

Stand By Me (Live from the Late Show with David Letterman) 2:49 Tracy Chapman
Caminando 4:18 Rising Appalachia
Mokil Shebil 6:28 Mashti meets Deep Dive Corp.
Put a Little Love in Your Heart 3:49 Al Green/Annie Lennox
Warriors (Album Versi 5:23 Vargo
Walk Into The Sun 5:21 Dirty Vegas
Little By Little 3:18 7 Worlds Collide
Step By Step 4:13 Whitney Houston
Minute By Minute (2016 Remastered) 3:28 The Doobie Brothers
Little By Little 5:30 Groove Armada
One Step Closer To You 4:41 Michael Franti & Spearhead
Journey Into Stillness 4:41 Gary Stroutsos

Wednesday, Nov 7, 2017, 11am ~ Step by Step with Mary Linn

Stand By Me (Live from the Late Show with David Letterman) 2:49 Tracy Chapman
Caminando 4:18 Rising Appalachia The Sails of Self
Mokil Shebil 6:28 Mashti meets Deep Dive Corp.
Put a Little Love in Your Heart 3:49 Al Green/Annie Lennox
Walk Into The Sun 5:21 Dirty Vegas
Little By Little 3:18 7 Worlds Collide
Step By Step 4:13 Whitney Houston
Minute By Minute (2016 Remastered) 3:28 The Doobie Brothers
Little By Little 5:30 Groove Armada
One Step Closer To You 4:41 Michael Franti & Spearhead
Homeward Journey 2:46 Satish Vyas
Journey Into Stillness 4:41 Gary Stroutsos

Thursday, Nov 8, 2017, 840am ~ Step by Step, Little by Little

Every Little Day 4:49 Greg Greenway
Each Step Moves Us On [Feat. Zap Mama & Speech] 8:34 1 Giant Leap
Walk Into The Sun 5:21 Dirty Vegas
Welcome to the Journey 5:04 Cybertribe
Every Day is a Winding Road 4:23 Sheryl Crow
Step By Step 4:13 Whitney Houston
Minute By Minute (2016 Remastered) 3:28 The Doobie Brothers
One Step Closer To You 4:41 Michael Franti & Spearhead
Little By Little 5:30 Groove Armada
Homeward Journey 2:46 Satish Vyas
Journey Into Stillness 4:41 Gary Stroutsos

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!

heartful-action-120516

“My wish for you is that you continue. Continue to be who and how you are, to astonish a mean world with your acts of kindness. ” — Maya Angelou

heARTful is a word I made up to mean awareness from and leading with the heart. heARTful Action posts focus on how to stand up and create a culture of health, inclusion and kindness. heARTful Action posts are calls to love warriors everywhere.

I’m doing my best to learn about positive social action…and there is a boat ton. As I open my ears, eyes, and heart, I’m committed to offering practical, tangible information so you can do your own heARTful action.

Fear

These days, I’m afraid. I don’t think of myself as a fearful person (A worrier? Yes. But fearful? Not so much.) but I keep feeling it with a clutch at my stomach and heart. Sharon Salzberg, one of my meditation teachers, wrote a helpful post about what to do in the face of fear. I recommend it highly.

She writes about feeling the excruciating pain of being seen as irrelevant in someone else’s eyes. To have someone with their actions, words or vote say, “You don’t count. You aren’t important.” She goes on,

I also [felt] a renewed commitment to never giving anyone that message of disregard. I felt the energy and uplift of remembering what has been, in a way, a big part of my life’s work — helping people practice tools that keep us from treating ourselves or others as less-than or irrelevant. To consider inclusion instead of exclusion, even when it’s hard. We can try to remember what we really care about in terms of what gives our lives meaning.

Which is exactly what heARTful Action is all about.

Focus

So today, even though I can feel the ache and tingle of fear, I’m focusing my attention on what I can do. To paraphrase Joan Baez, “Intentional, purposeful, heARTful action is the antidote to despair and fear.” Today, I’m focusing on what’s working and what isn’t.

What’s Working

See the good. Look for what’s working. If you see someone doing something that you are grateful for, tell them. When your teenager puts their dishes away, love on them for it. When your cashier finds a way to save you a couple of dollars, thank them sincerely. If a company or politician is doing something that is in alignment with what matters to you, write them a note and tell them how much you appreciate what they are doing.

What Isn’t

Some days, it feels like there is an over abundance of things that aren’t working. For today, for right now, focus on one. What is one positive step you can take toward shifting something that isn’t working toward something that is. How can I approach what isn’t working with kindness and inclusion?

This is the quote that is in my mind and heart today:

I am only one,
But still I am one.
I cannot do everything,
But still I can do something;
And because I cannot do everything,
I will not refuse to do the something that I can do.
~ Edward Everett Hale

BONUS:

Join us online in the heARTful Action group (and we’re gathering in Charlottesville on Saturday)! heARTful Action is a place to share ideas and intentions and to gather support and colleagues in the actions that matter to you. All are welcome (Charlottesville or no). You can see what’s happening at the Facebook group or tell me and I’ll add you to the email list.

decoding the details 3 013016

If you’d asked me a couple of months ago, I would have told you that Jazz just wasn’t my cup of tea (or shot of bourbon or whatever the Jazz-appropriate beverage is). I would have said it was discordant and random and long and frankly, irritating.

Lately, though, Frank’s been turning on a Jazz station in the evenings. And I like it. Well, I like some of it. A lot of it. Sometimes, I slam my teeth together and a painful noise but mostly, I like the feel of the sound.

Years ago when Green Day released their first album, I had a friend who was a huge fan. When he played their music it sounded crazy and loud and indecipherable to me. He said, It’s just unfamiliar. Once you listen for a while, you’ll get it. He was right.

With that in mind, Frank and I signed up for an online Jazz Appreciation course. We’re learning about different genres, the history, the classic songs, and we’re learning (slowly) how to understand forms of jazz.

It’s like we are breaking the code of the music. We’re listening and counting and counting and listening and confused and then, Ooh, yeah! There’s the change! It’s like understanding a different language or being in on a joke. Oh yeah, I get it.


have this feeling when I count music using the 8BC system in Nia. It’s a genius system, developed by Nia co-founder Carlos Rosas, and it creates a map for any song with a beat. With the 8BCs, I can decode the rhythm and speed, the sections, and the details within a song.

But it took me a while to figure it out.

I struggled mightily (and avoided the 8BCs) for years and it wasn’t until my friend and mentor, Helen Terry, showed me the joy and play of decoding music that I started to love the system. We call in “doing the bars” and Helen got me hooked on it.

Once Helen taught a song in class – Big Lie Small World by Sting – with the most unusual choreography. The movements made sense in my body but didn’t follow any pattern I’d ever danced before. I asked her was the Sam Hill was up with it, and she said, Do the bars.

I popped that Sting CD into my car stereo and I listened dozens and dozens of times. I’d listen and get lost and get lost and listen and count and get nowhere. But then one day (and I can tell you exactly where I was when it happened), I heard it. I broke the code. I felt like an 8BC super hero.


What the jazz course and the 8BC system is to music, meditation is to the mind and emotions. If I’m feeling a whole bunch of everything and my head is a mad house and my heart is pounding, getting still, pausing to sit can help me decode what’s happening.

Meditation allows me the space to feel physical sensation, label emotions that are moving through, notice when and what I’m thinking. Sometimes I just stay confused and upset, only calmer. Other times, I break the code: Oh, right. I’m embarrassed. I’m angry. I’m afraid. That’s what’s happening.


Whether I’m decoding music or my mind, the practice is noticing the details, becoming more familiar, more intimate with what’s happening. Sometimes (like in bebop or when I unexpectedly do something ridiculous), I’m still confused. But sometimes, sometimes, I break the code.



BONUS: Some Nia routines have codes built into them: recurring patterns or movements. Kelle Rae Oien’s Pulse routine has a code that shows up in almost every song. Here’s a hint.

DOUBLE BONUS: Tomorrow is the start of the 28-Day Meditation Challenge sponsored by one of my favorite teachers, Sharon Salzberg. Whether you are brand new to meditation or you are renewing your existing practice, this is a great way to get some support and community. I’m also blogging about my experience every day (ish) with a mandala that I’ll post on my A Thousand Beautiful Things blog (and on the 28-Day blogging site, too). Join me there!

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