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FOCUS POCUS NOTE! FocusPocus is now one complete post (art, focus, playlists and announcements) all together on Thursdays! So whether you come to the blog for the art, the information, the music or the latest happenings and offerings, you are in the right place. Every Thursday, you’ll get it all. Thank you so much for being here.

My word for 2019 is CLEAR. I’ve been practicing all sorts of clearing – from my closets and desk, from my computer, from my diet, from my schedule. I can bump up against all kinds of feelings of fear and anxiety (I might need that! I want to hold onto that!) but ultimately, when the clearing comes from a place of alignment, a Big Yes, it always feels like an easeful exhale once I do it.

I love what Stephanie Bennet Vogt says about it:
Clearing is not about getting rid of. It’s not about getting rid of things. It’s not about getting rid of worry. It’s not about getting rid of pain. It’s about letting them go.
What is something you’re wanting (even reluctantly) to let go of? Something physical, a thing? A habit? A pattern of thinking? A toxic relationship? What does it feel like to imagine letting it go instead of getting rid of it?
This meditation from Insight Timer, The Gift Of Receiving by Fleur Chambers helped me soften into the recognition that I cannot receive anything if my hands are already full. https://insig.ht/8H0sRPVs40
Below are our playlists for the week. If you’d like to listen to the music, you can find almost all the songs on Spotify (you can listen for free)! As always, please let me know if you have any questions about any of the music we dance to!

Lots of events are unfolding, friends, so before the playlists, here is all the details on what’s coming up!

ARTCHO 2019 ~ Saturday, November 2, 1030am-530pm
I’m excited to be part of ARTCHO 2019: a community art festival in at Ix Art Park in Charlottesville, Virginia (artcho.org). ARTCHO is an annual festival bringing the people of Charlottesville together to enjoy art, music, and food in a relaxed, family-friendly environment. Dozens of artists exhibit high quality artwork at prices that regular folks can afford. Local restaurants and talented musicians will keep you well-fed and entertained while you browse a broad selection of original art by Virginia’s best creatives. The festival is free and open to the public and benefiting Habitat for Humanity of Greater Charlottesville. I’ll be doing art demonstrations at my booth all day ~~ dancing will also be happening! See you there!

Nia teaching shift ~ Loring on Wednesdays at 11am, Rachel on Tuesdays at 545pm
After teaching almost exclusively at acac for nearly 20 years, I’ve been looking for an opportunity to teach mindful movement in a healing environment. I’ve been offered the chance to move with people recovering from eating disorders and in order to do it, I will let go of the Wednesday 11am class. Starting on October 30, Loring will teach on Wednesdays at Albemarle Square so I can follow this opportunity. Jeanne’s circumstances have also shifted so starting on October 29, Rachel will be teaching the Tuesday evening class at 545pm.

Nourishing Movement Classes at the Studio at Dancing Water on Thursday mornings at 11am!
Nourishing Movement classes with Susan on Thursdays at 11am ~~ my mix of guided and unguided movement, meditation and creativity! Please go to http://www.susanmcculley.com/shop for the details. Come join us in the trees by the river for grounded, flowing, spacious movement. Second Thursdays are followed by a pot luck lunch! Nourish yourself with movement and bring something nourishing to share! There is space in upcoming classes so please go HERE to sign up!
* The Studio at Dancing Water is at 2370 Old Lynchburg Road ~ detailed directions at http://www.susanmcculley.com and via email when you sign up!

November Nourishment at Dancing Water ~ 3 Nourishing Movement classes for $30!
As the holidays approach, nurture yourself with 3 classes of Nourishing movement at The Studio at Dancing Water. Three Thursdays, November 7, 14 and 21 from 11-12:15pm for just $30. Must be purchased by November 7!

Full Moon Restorative Yoga with Shandoah Goldman ~~ Mon, Nov 11, 430-6pm

The full moon is a time of completion. The fullness of the cycle lends itself to a practice of non-doing. Join Shandoah Goldman at The Studio at Dancing Water (2370 Old Lynchburg Road, Charlottesville) for a deeply nourishing practice of restorative yoga. Using props to offer support and comfort, the body is invited to profoundly let go and unwind. Rather than efforting or stretching, this is the practice of releasing and relaxing. We’ll celebrate what is finished and soften into the next cycle. Shandoah is a gifted guide for deep release and is a Shiatsu practitioner offering hands on assists during class. All bodies welcome, no experience in yoga or anything else is needed.
Monday (Moonday!), Nov 11, 430-6pm at The Studio at Dancing Water, $30

Scholarships Available for all Experiences at The Studio at Dancing Water
We have delicious experiences coming up at The Studio AND we have scholarships available for them. If finances are stopping you from joining us, please reach out and let me know (PM me or connect at sjmnia@gmail.com).

Book Signing and Art Demonstration at Cville Arts
Saturday, December 14, 11-12noon
Come see how Octabusy was made with an art demonstration and book signing at Cville Arts on the downtown mall!

ORDER OCTABUSY!
Support local booksellers by ordering Octabusy
at Over The Moon Bookstore in Crozet (overthemoonbookstore.com, (434) 823-1144, Anne@OvertheMoonBookstore.com)
and buy it at New Dominion Bookshop on Charlottesville’s downtown mall (ndbookshop.com, 434-295-2552, staff@ndbookshop.com)
You can also order signed copies of Octabusy (including discounts on multiple copies) now on my website at susanmcculley.com/shop
and get Kindle and paperback editions on Amazon!
(And wherever you buy it, please leave a review there!)

The Movement Barn offers the GYROTONIC Method
Note from Susan: I recently had the good fortune to meet, move and have a GYROTONIC session with Casey Turner. I love the circular, functional, mindful approach of this technique. And I loved doing it with a view of the mountains in a field of flowers! Please check out her beautiful offerings.
The Movement Barn is a boutique fitness studio in Charlottesville, VA offering private GYROTONIC® sessions in a picturesque setting. Located in a field of wildflowers, The Movement Barn provides a unique workout experience for people of all ages and levels of ability. The GYROTONIC® Method is designed to increase strength, agility, and range of movement. This low impact system uses flowing exercises with circular and spiral motion to open energy pathways, stimulate the nervous system, and create space in the joints. For more information, visit http://www.themovementbarn.com, email catherine@themovementbarn.com, or follow @themovementbarn on Instagram!

First Friday Freedance with Kate ~ Nov 1 at 11:25am
Nia Freedance is an opportunity to play and tap into the creative wisdom in our body, emotions, mind and spirit. For a full hour we get to dance together with the intention of stimulating our own unique movement creativity. The next Nia Freedance will be at ACAC Albemarle Square Friday, Sep 6 from 11:25 -12:25.

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

Monday, Oct 28, 2019, 1045am ~ Let Go (Not Get Rid Of)

Snakeroot 7:58 Lis Addison
Alhambra Pt 1 1:21 Natacha Atlas
Live Life Free 5:41 Rapsody
Quero Saber (fest. Orieta Pines) 6:29 Rodney Hunter
Tus Pies (Your Feet) 5:21 Nahko and Medicine for the People
Lizobuya (The Return) 5:40 Mbongeni Ngema
Get Up 4:51 Badmarsh & Shri
Got To Give It Up (long version sax solo) 6:02 Marvin Gaye
Let Go 4:11 Frou Frou
Ho Doi 13:40 Yulara

Tuesday, Oct 29, 2019, 840am ~ Let Go (Not Get Rid Of)

Snakeroot 7:58 Lis Addison
Alhambra Pt 1 1:21 Natacha Atlas
Live Life Free 5:41 Rapsody
Quero Saber (fest. Orieta Pines) 6:29 Rodney Hunter
Tus Pies (Your Feet) 5:21 Nahko and Medicine for the People
Lizobuya (The Return) 5:40 Mbongeni Ngema
Get Up 4:51 Badmarsh & Shri
Got To Give It Up (long version sax solo) 6:02 Marvin Gaye
Let Go 4:11 Frou Frou
The Essence Ten 4:24 Jeroen Elfferich

Thursday, Oct 31, 2019, 11am Nourishing Movement at the Studio at Dancing Water ~ Let Go (Not Get Rid Of)

Edge Hill 7:01 Groove Armada
Kecharitomene 6:35 Loreena McKennitt
Alhambra Pt 1 1:21 Natacha Atlas
Live Life Free 5:41 Rapsody
Quero Saber (fest. Orieta Pines) 6:29 Rodney Hunter
Tus Pies (Your Feet) 5:21 Nahko and Medicine for the People
Lizobuya (The Return) 5:40 Mbongeni Ngema
Get Up 4:51 Badmarsh & Shri
Got To Give It Up (long version sax solo) 6:02 Marvin Gaye
Let Go 4:11 Frou Frou
The Essence Ten 4:24 Jeroen Elfferich

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.

A NOTE about the Focus Pocus art: I am in the middle of a book project called Octabusy: How To Let Go in a Sea of Doing. I’m excited about it and want to focus my art-making energy on it. So instead of making complex art pieces for the Focus Pocus blog, I make cartoons like this one that feature characters from the book. This week, the Sea Star (an expert in small steps and choices) goes where she wants to go one tiny choice at a time.

Three years ago this month, my husband Frank and I put an offer on the land on which our house now stands. We made the big choice to build a house three years ago but what got the house built was thousands and thousands of small choices every day. Each night when he came back from working on the project, I’d ask how it went that day. Each night, he’d tell me what they’d done and say, “Little by little, sweetie. Little by little.” Three years later, we’re living in the result of that series of choices.

From September to June, I was part of the coaching team for my friend, teacher, and nutritionist Cecily Armstrong’s transformational healing program called Love Your Body Love Your Life. I loved being part of this experience and witnessing the changes that this group of courageous woman made over the time we spent together. Near the end of the program, a participant shared a story about saying no to toxic food at an office gathering. In response, Cecily said something that keeps coming back to me:

“Small Choices Matter. You Matter.”

How many times? How many times do I intend to do something (or not do something), but when I’m tired or stressed or hungry I don’t. And how many times when this happens, I hear myself say, “Gah, it doesn’t matter.” What Cecily points out is that saying this is really saying “I don’t matter.”

In her program A Year to Clear, Stephanie Bennet Vogt invites this journaling prompt:

• Telling myself that “I matter” makes me feel______ (psst, notice any weather (emotional waves) that arises as you contemplate this statement and breathe into that)

When presented with this prompt, I sometimes bump into feelings of insecurity or old stories of self-importance come up. And it’s worth investigating what is at the root of the stories. Then I can find ways of reinforcing self-worth and the impact of incremental choices on my broader vision.

When Cecily and I were talking about the “small choices” approach and she shared this genius essay by Alexandrea Franzen called Ice. Imagine being in a frozen room and raising the temperature one degree a day. For a long time, it would seem like nothing was happening but keep at it, one degree a day, the cumulative effect of those small choices would transform everything.

Whatever we do over and over, day in and day out – whether conscious or not – is the most powerful force there is. As C.S. Lewis said,

“Isn’t it funny how day by day nothing changes, but when you look back, everything is different…”

Chart the course with big choices — know where you want to go — but know that the way to get there is with the small choices you make every moment.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

For more information on Cecily Armstrong’s work including her 9-month Love Your Body Love Your Life transformational healing program, you can go to her website and sign up for her FREE online workshops
Cecily Armstrong Web siteWeb siteWeb site
Cecily’s Decoding Your Body’s Wisdom ~ 3 mini-workshops
Cecily’s Decoding Your Body’s Wisdom ~ 1-hour workshop

My word for 2019 is CLEAR. As part of that, I have discovered the work of Stephanie Bennett Vogt through her class on The DailyOM called A Year To Clear which is based on her book of the same name. I am loving it. I am looking at the spaces around me (and in me) with different eyes and am slowly letting go of what I don’t need and doesn’t help me move toward the purposeful life of creative connection that I envision.

Part of the reason that her work resonates with me is, well ahem, it is exactly the way I talk about movement and health and creativity.

One thing she says:

Awareness changes everything.

Yep. I couldn’t agree with that more. The more I pay attention, the more I invest in being fully with whatever is happening, the more my experience is transformed.

She also says:

Clearing raises awareness.
Clearing releases attachments.
Clearing reveals a spacious part that’s been there all along.

I would add that not only spaciousness is revealed but other things that may have been hiding in the weeds of my days and my stuffed-to-overflowing t-shirt drawer. Things like healing and compassion, creativity and relaxation, possibilities and joy.

So turn on awareness. Practice awareness and get curious about what you find. Let’s change everything.


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.

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