This was my very first foray into the world of blogging, and it is with gratitude that I officially announce the end of this chapter in my writing and online life.
If you’d like to keep up with me, you may do so here. My intention is to use that space as a hub for my activities and interests — which continue to develop all the time. As I write this, it is spring and my thoughts are on spring cleaning (letting go of stuff I don’t need) and new growth.
Thank you for reading, and for your support and good wishes throughout my explorations.
I wish you the very best, in all the various facets of your brilliant life.
The theory of evolution v. the theory of competition.
The odds may be stacked against you. Fair enough.
But what the odds don’t know is: this isn’t a math test.
This is a completely different kind of test.
One where passion has a funny way of trumping logic.
“Sorry I’ve missed class!” Marie is one of my students, and I hadn’t seen her in several weeks. She seemed almost apologetic when I saw her yesterday and asked how she was doing.
“I threw my back out three weeks ago,” she said.
She told me this story:
It’s weird — I’ve never had back problems. It started as a muscle spasm, and then it just went out. I’ve started seeing a chiropractor and physical therapist. They say I need more core strength, and they basically gave me the same exercises that we do here in class. I thought, “I’m paying for this? I should just go to class!”
Core strength. Yep, we need it.
Last year, on the Thursday before Thanksgiving, my Aunt Susie died. She had cancer.
She died at home. Her last days were round-the-clock care by family, with support from hospice. We all knew it was coming, but it still came as a surprise. We thought she had a few more days. We thought we had a few more days, with her.
I got the news beneath Market Street, as I was exiting the Civic Center BART station at 7th Street. I was on my way to dance class when my dad called.
His voice was heavy and graveled with emotion. I realized then that the hardest part for me wasn’t losing my aunt, but the fact of my dad losing his little sister. I hung up the phone and started to cry as I walked up the stairs.
I felt untethered and useless. I thought about going home, but didn’t want to be alone. I didn’t feel ok to drive down to be with my dad and cousins, and wasn’t sure what I would do when I got there anyway. So I went to dance class.
I talked to my teacher.
“I’m going through some. . . family stuff right now. Just so you know. I might cry.”
“That’s ok,” she said and smiled. “You just do what you have to do.”
She was warm and accepting, which was one of the reasons her class was my favorite.
I always felt safe there.
My body moved through the warm up, drills, and exercises. It felt good to move, and good to focus my attention on something physical. It felt like stretching an ache, moving this strange, new feeling of loss and grief through my body. And it kept the emotions from building up and coming out in messy spasms.
It was during the choreography at the end that I felt my heart swell, throat tighten, and tears come out of my eyes. A wave of emotion would move through me, and I could ride it for a bit but then it landed me back down and I’d stand at the back of the room, folded over and crying quietly. My hair covered my face, giving me some privacy.
Then, I’d take a deep breath and take my place again. I tried to bring the emotion to the dance, infusing my movement with the feelings in my body and heart. Giving the emotion room, giving it a shape and a trajectory. Not hanging on to it, not suppressing it, not avoiding it. But dancing with it, and through it.
Dance is evidence of being vibrantly alive. Dancing with my Aunt Sue in my mind and heart felt like a way of honoring her and connecting with her.
Since then I’ve thought a lot about death and dying, and about life and living. I think that life is characterized by movement: by our internal rhythms of breath and heartbeat. We are a symphony of life. Movement is sacred, the very essence of living.
There is more I want to say about all of that, but for now, it is enough for me to rest here.
This is the song we danced to that night:
My bones are shifting in my skin,
And you, my love, are gone.
Ruth Bernhard gave this out at her 90th and 100th birthday parties. She lived to be 101 years old. She was a photographer, and I think she gave some good advice here.
I’m having a hard time right now with the first ingredient. “Never get used to anything.” To me that means: don’t take things for granted, don’t get too comfortable, things are always changing, remain adaptable and flexible. I have developed some comfortable routines — and now I feel like I’m a little bit too comfortable. Not stuck in a rut — that is too unkind, and too cliché. It’s a kind of plateau, perhaps. An equilibrium or even-ness that allows me to catch my breath, take a rest. . . and now I’m restless again to wander, to explore.
It’s a very normal place to be. Like with exercise, the body adapts if it gets the same workout all the time. It needs new challenges to keep developing, to keep progressing.
So in my life, I’m thinking right now about what I want to change, what I want to let go of, what I want to explore. I often feel this way in the fall. It’s the turning of the seasons. The shift from summer to fall, and winter around the corner. Time to draw in, to reflect, and to prepare for whatever comes next.
I’m teaming up with lucy
and on November 5th I’m teaching a free class as part of their Fitness Friday program.
Find out about willPower & grace®. You will learn how to land on your feet and move with integrity.
If you have questions about barefoot running, bring those, too.
Space is limited, so call the store to sign up: (415) 765-0943.
I told my mom that I went on a barefoot run.
She seemed confused.
“On the beach?” she said.
No, in the city.
“That’s a bad idea, sweetheart. The streets are so dirty. And you could cut yourself.”
Part of me wishes I hadn’t told her, because now she’ll worry.
But another part of me thinks that’s what comes with being a mom: worrying about your kids.
So, I’ll let her handle the worry part and I’ll just handle the running part.
A lot of people worry about running in bare feet.
Here are some of the questions I hear most often:
“What if you step on glass?”
“What if you step in dog poo?”
“What if you step on a dirty needle?”
“Don’t your feet get dirty?”
“Doesn’t it hurt?”
“Isn’t it dangerous?”
These are legitimate concerns, and I’ve thought about them, too.
Here are my answers. . .
I use my eyes.
So far I’ve been successful at seeing and avoiding broken glass, dog poo, and other hazards. I don’t run barefoot in grass because I can’t see what’s there. With all the stories of dirty needles being found in our local parks, that feels too risky to me.
But running in bare feet on a city street or sidewalk? Easy peasy. I can see what’s coming, and I can avoid it.
This also means that:
I pay attention to what I’m doing.
No zoning out.
I think this is a good thing.
I tune in to my body, and to what’s just ahead of me.
I practice being present.
My feet get dirty.
They don’t get as dirty as you probably think.
After my run, I wash them.
Then they’re clean.
Anyway, I figure I come into contact with more germs just by riding MUNI and working in an office building.
(I wash my hands, too.)
It feels really good.
You know how good it feels to be barefoot at the beach, or in the grass? Our feet are loaded with sensory receptors whose job it is to give our brain and body information about the outside world.
We feel a lot through our feet.
It’s just that most of the time our feet are numbed out because they’ve been in socks and shoes — like sensory deprivation chambers.
Running in bare feet feels really fantastic to me. Feeling the texture of the ground (smooth, rough, slick, knobbly. . .), and feeling the air around my skin is just amazing.
That’s why I haven’t tried out Vibram‘s yet. I don’t want to cover up my feet. I want that skin-to-earth contact.
If it stops feeling good, I stop running.
I’m doing this for fun, so if it stops feeling fun or good, then what’s the point?
If the ground feels too hot, or too rough, or if I feel something start to cramp, I stop.
“No pain, no gain” is misguided advice and not helpful here.
Train smarter. Not harder.
Sometimes I carry my shoes with me.
The first time I went for 2 miles in the city, I felt scared.
What if it’s too far? What if there’s too much glass or junk?
What if I get trapped, with NO SHOES, out in the world?
So, I decided to carry my shoes with me.
One shoe in each hand.
I figured I was going to get looks anyways, for being barefoot. It wouldn’t really make much difference if I was barefoot and carrying my shoes in my hands.
As it turned out, I ran the whole way on bare feet.
I’m glad I had my shoes, though. Just in case.
I know how to land on my feet.
I teach willPower & grace®, and barefoot training is a key component of the program. Learning how to land on our feet is what we do.
Which is not to say that I didn’t have my own share of aches and cramps when I started running in bare feet.
Of course I did. Those muscles were not used to working that much, or in that way. There’s a learning curve.
But I will say that I’ve been working for the last 2+ years on my feet. They’re strong, flexible, and I know how to listen to them. I know how to use them. I know how to land without a sound, and how to engage my core to keep me light and on my toes.
You have permission to try running in your bare feet.
I want you, dear reader, to know that it is ok to try this.
I encourage you to go slow, and to listen closely to your body.
You might decide that it’s not for you. That’s totally cool. I don’t have anything against people who prefer to run in shoes! (Sometimes I prefer to run in shoes, too.)
But if you’ve been curious, and you are hesitating because there are a pile of things you are worried about, hopefully this will ease your mind a bit.
You have permission to try.