short story

Once

When learning how to dance with a partner my teacher told me
 '"The highest technique is to have no technique. Your movement should be the result of his movement and his the result of yours."
It took me a long time to understand what that meant.

 I've since found out he borrowed that quote!


 "The highest technique is to have no technique. My technique is a result of your technique. My movement is a result of your movement." -- Bruce Lee

(thanks for sharing the video David!)

short story

the life and (movement) times of a lefty....

 

When writing, the side of my left hand will be painted in the metallic lead of a pencil, or smudgy ink from a pen by day’s end. This makes me strangely proud.

I tend to think good stuff is on the left and bad stuff is on the right, even though consciously, explicitly, everything in language and culture is telling me the exact opposite.

My Grandad used to tell me left-handers benefit from their unexpected left hook…maybe I should take up fighting…

If I played the guitar, it would be like Elizabeth Cotten . Born in 1895, she was a completely self-taught guitarist. She was left-handed, but played a right-handed guitar that wasn’t even re-strung to be played lefty. She simply turned it upside-down, which meant she played the bass strings with her fingers and the melody with her thumb.

I have trouble opening/locking locks, organising files “back to front”, tying ties, using rulers, working out wind-up toys, writing cheques out, undoing wine corks anti-clockwise, using knives, veg peelers and scissors that were made for your right hand,

I have momentary problems being greeted with a handshake or a kiss on the cheek, hugging, crossing others path on the pavement, being helped to put on a jacket, receiving change…unless the other person is a lefty too.

When I interlock my fingers, my left thumb always sits proudly ontop, I nearly always put belts on ‘upside down’, I'd cup my left ear to tell you I couldn’t hear what you are saying, I start with my left hand to count, I hold my phone to my left ear and would look through a telescope with my left eye and feel much more comfortable seated to the left of someone. If I played the guitar I'd do so like flick through magazines from back to front, line dance on the wrong foot, prefer to start my vinyasa’s on the left and visualise things the opposite way around (it seems to me).

But, perhaps to make sure I fit in, I favor the right side of the bed, when i clap, my right hand is on-top, I scroll with the mouse, brush my teeth and my hair with my right hand, my right eye does all the winking at strangers and if i have an itch to scratch on my back my right hand will be first to the rescue.

My body is less than total in its devotion to my favored side, but I still think my skeleton would give it away. I like to think someone could discover this about me from the writings in my tissues.

overheard

'Whenever I feel disappointed, disillusioned or uncertain the best remedy throughout my life has always been to do something active. This morning I woke up feeling all of those things so I went for a run. Then @carmenzsf and I dipped out of our normal @mahfia_tv office hours and went skating and talked about how crazy this is. Then I had a conversation with Molly the inspiring founder of @theunsungheroines book and I was reminded that at the core, we as humans, male and female, are designed to overcome and persevere when faced with challenge and uncertainty. When presented with a situation we've never been in before, or trying something that we've never tried before, even one that we can barely wrap our head around, our body and brain is designed to figure it out and overcome. The way that happens is through compassion (love and support), communication, confidence and literally moving your body. So to all my game changers out there, find your compassion for all humans (whether they are like minded with you or not), be generous in your speaking and actions, muster up your confidence and GO OUT AND SHRED. You will feel better and the world will keep turning and great things will happen. I don't know everything but this is what I do know. ❤️'

-- @mahfiaboss on Instagram post the US election, shared by the brilliant Molly @theunsungheroines (this is the book)

survey

Submitted by Anon, 23, Female.

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part 4 - me and others

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With whom do you talk to most about movement? my dance teacher and others that I dance with, I'm not a professional, but I've been going to class once a week for a couple of years.

What is the most trans-formative conversation you have ever had with someone about movement?  I don't know about the single most trans-formative conversation, but there are things my dance teacher says that stick with me and change the way I view everyday objects. I find myself relating the movement of 'things' to the movement of my own body. I feel like I'm building a tool box of inspiration for ways to move by looking at everyday things. I like that. I'll list some, they are funny out of context:


'move your arm back like you are winding up one of those elastic band airplanes and then let it go through space!'

'when you come back up move like your are a bottle opener, as arms come down head goes up'

'as you dance see what you can see in the room, make it a point to look. see see see.'

'you are a clock going anti-clock wise'

'as you move your spine forward in space imagine someone is pulling you tail bone back to earth'

'like you are bending forward over a railing, leave that space'



 

short story

I am shy. I also have a big ego. Practically speaking, that means everyone is looking at me, and it makes me uncomfortable. Actually, "big ego" has a negative connotation. I'll say "healthy ego." Which, sadly, for women, still has a negative connotation. We aren't supposed to have an ego. It's unseemly. It's arrogant. It's not ladylike. Serena Williams was called cocky when she said she wanted to be the best in the world. Well, what the hell is she training so relentlessly for, to be the 37th best in the world? (No disrespect to the 37th best in the world.) A poster of Serena in mid–epic scream should be required on every little girl's bedroom wall so they can be reminded daily how beautiful it is to be a badass....

Click HERE to read on and find out how Sports gave Director Gina Prince-Bythewood swagger...

 

(image and quote form Lenny Letters)

overheard

'I'm 85'

'I still climb, it's hard work on my knees nowadays, but it's worth it. The freedom is worth it. I'll find somewhere to climb and walk everywhere I go. This will be the last trip to Europe, I don't know that i'll find any hills in Amsterdam.'

-- American man on the train from Brussels to Amsterdam

survey

Submitted by Janey Moran, 38, Female.

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part I- I am

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What do you do for paid and/or unpaid work? I am a Cultural Economy Development Manager based at a Local Authority. I support arts organisations to develop and deliver projects and also work across council departments, like Public Art with the Tegeneration Team.

What do you do in your spare time? Yoga, Pilates, Pole Dance and reading

What do you like to do for fun? Walking, eating out, going for drinks and dancing

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part 2 - my movements

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What is your cultural background and do you think it has influenced the way you move? If yes, how? I attended ballet, tap and jazz dance classes as a child as is prevalent in British culture for girls.

What does the word 'movement' mean to you and do you consider yourself a 'mover'? Movement can be pedestrian every day life - walking, talking, typing, breathing but probably the term is more often thought of as more structured sessions like dance, yoga, tai chi etc. Also mechanical movement - machines, cars etc

Do you think you have something 'characteristic' about the way you move?  I have a very straight back, I tend to round my shoulders and often look down.

What are some of the things you like about the way you move? I am open to looking, seeing, engaging with people, I smile a lot, I like that I move regularly

What is your earliest memory of moving?: My tricycle Christmas present when I was around 2 or 3.

Do you have a movement philosophy? I enjoy contemporary dance - graham, cunningham, limon, Humphries. And the philosophy behind Pilates and yoga to.

 

Do you have a favorite movement mantra or quote? It's a cliche but I love 'dance like none is watching' - it gives me a sense of freedom in movement.

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part 3 - my body

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What does 'self-care' mean to you?: Body, mind, soul

Good food, good friends/family, positive self-talk, loving and being loved, exercise, fulfillment, happiness, time in company and time alone, respect, kindness, challenge, learning, being active, caring for other people.

Which phrases do you use often to describe your body? Where do you feel or locate these words on your body?

Strong - my stomach, arms, legs
Disproportionate - thighs
Big - ears/nose
Pea - head
Wobbly - bum

What kind of surfaces does the skin on your feet and hands come into contact with through-out an average day? Carpet, socks, shoes, paper, keyboard, phones, car door, steering wheel

Which side of the mouth do you chew with more? Right - I have a sensitive baby milk tooth on the left

Are you right handed, left handed or ambidextrous? How does this affect your movement choices in daily life? Right, I am very right sided and when I notice I try to use my left side more

Have you ever been injured? How? Does it still affect the way you move? I think my broken collar bone affects my movement / flexibility.
I suffer with a niggle in my SI joint which I think may be from my lack of hip flexibility but I'm not sure.
I have a middle back injury that swells on hard floors and especially when I do backward rolls

Do you take naps? If yes whats an ideal nap length and place? No, I try not to so that I sleep better at night although I sometimes drift in savasana!

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part 4 - me and others

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Did your Parents/Grandparents/Carers teach you directly about exercise, care for your body, posture, and/or ways of moving?  Walking outdoors, fell walking, playing outside (not sitting watching t.v), baking, always take the stairs not the escalator/lift. My mum went to keep fit, line dancing and reflexology, and studied Alexander technique for a while. My Dad went fly fishing and mum and dad went to learn to make the flies and it is actually requires quite a dexterous technique.

Are there things that you just picked up from your carers through observation? Consciously breathing in, stretching, standing up straight...

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part 5 - me and the world

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What do you find yourself sitting on most often and how do you like to sit? Office chair on edge of seat with ankles crossed or with a leg under my bum

How often do you sit on the floor? Can you describe how your body feels when you sit on the floor? Not very often, floor feels cold and uncomfortable

However in class - dance /yoga/Pilates the floor feels supportive, acts as a springboard, grounds me.

Many people say they want to feel 'confident' and 'comfortable' or that they admire people who look 'confident' and 'comfortable in their own skin'. What do these words really mean to you and can you describe them as a way of moving?  Standing tall, being grounded, being OK with people looking at you or talking in front of people, welcoming feedback and taking it as learning without feeling you may have offended someone or that what you have said is 'wrong'. Moving slowly, stature, filling the space, standing ground, striding, an open posture, breathing (I know that sounds weird but when I speak publicly I'm nervous and don't breathe!)

overheard

You have to use your entire body weight when you are rolling out clay slabs...unless you have a press...and it is important to move the clay around as you go so that you roll it out in different directions and also turn it around at different intervals so that you roll both sides; otherwise tensions might occur in the drying or firing process leading to cracks. It’s like the clay has a memory for the shape it began in and it’s always trying to get back to that form. Like us! We need to move and be moved in all different directions to prevent tensions.

-- at the studio

on moving

"My mother loved walking barefoot in the snow. And also having snowball fights with me, or building igloos. She also liked climbing trees. And she was tremendously frightened during thunderstorms. She would hide in the wardrobe behind the coats."

-From a speech held by Pina Bausch on the occasion of the Kyoto Prize award ceremony in 2007.

short story

What my missionary mother taught me about movement

By Jennifer Gleeson Blue.

When I first started studying alignment and movement, my mother told me I came by it naturally, by which she meant that she grew up wanting to be a doctor and my interest in the way the body works reflected her own desires. ; ) Unfortunately, she didn't really know how to become a doctor in the 1960s and didn't receive any help when it came time to go to college. She ended up at a teacher's college; unsurprisingly, she became a teacher.

After a long career teaching and doing missions work "on the side" and with all five kids out of the house, she sold her house, packed her bags and moved to Guatemala to pursue the life that brought her the most meaning. She formed a religious organization with several Guatemalans and set about teaching prostitutes how to sew for a living, feeding and clothing the poorest of the poor, teaching English to those who wished to learn and sharing the truths she held dear to her heart. 

Here's my mom in classic missionary mode:

 


But lest she seem one dimensional, I also offer this pic of her swinging at the pinata that was bought for her 65th birthday (and I think that's her badass truck in the background):


My mother was a serious evangelist for most of my whole life and I saw repeatedly how she navigated a really basic problem: when people are hungry, they cannot hear anything you have to say. And what you say is irrelevant because what they really need is to eat.

To some degree, this went for all aspects of the way she approached her missionary work. She had what she considered to be the answer to the highest need (this is what she would preach on), but she saw that there were more fundamental needs that she wanted and felt called to meet first or simultaneously (the need for food, physical safety, education...). 

My mom and I disagreed about a lot when it came to religion and how that intersects with other people. But for the sake of her religious convictions, she could have turned a blind eye to the full scope of a person's needs. She didn't do that. 

She believed in the dignity of each human being and in the importance of meeting them where they were, be it in a need for tortillas, a need for clothing, a need for job skills or the need to believe in something bigger than themselves. 

She was intentional about helping people meet their basic needs first.

Are you wondering what this has to do with movement? 

I'm getting there...   :)

Understanding that there is fluidity (and limitation) within any framework, we can look at Maslow's classic hierarchy and explore our motivations, our drives toward change and growth. And what are the most basic needs that we seek and need to meet? Physiological ones. 

My mother understood this. She wanted to speak to the parts of the brain evolved to construe meaning and follow curiosity, the parts that were interested in the exploration of ideas about God/Spirit; however, she needed to ensure at least some of those basic physiological needs were met first. 

In watching her tend to this principle in her work, I have learned to apply it to myself. I really, truly need to tend to my basic, physiological needs if I want to fully engage in explorations of meaning and self-love and community and personal development. 

If I am not ensuring that my basic, physiological needs are being meet, then I can expect to move more slowly and more superficially in these other areas of my life. 

Have you felt this in your own life?

How when you are hungry (not even literally starving, but just in need of some calories), you lose some of your rationality?

How when you are worried about your physical safety, you are not available for explorations of meaningful work?

How when you don't have enough money to pay the bills, your relationships suffer?

Here's what you might not have fully grasped, however: 
 

Movement is a basic, physiological need.


In most conversations about meeting our basic needs, we forget about movement. If you're reading this, my guess is that, on the whole, almost all of your physiological needs are generally met. But what about movement? Even if we skip the part about aligned movement (which is REALLY important) and exercise (which helps us get aligned!), almost all of us are simply under-moved.

Our bodies ache.

Our lives are busy.

We have too much pain.

We aren't sure where to turn.

We are given poor information about our health.


Our lifestyles don't support more activity.

We are out of the habit. 

We lack basic knowledge about our physiology.

We are scared. 

We are indoctrinated to be sedentary.
 

None of this changes the fact that you need to move. It helps you meet your basic biological needs. And enhance your relationships. And deepen your sense of community. And grow in love. And be available for the big questions in life.
 

Are you meeting your physiological need for movement?

How can you know if you are or are not?


I'm going to leave you with these questions to ponder. As you think of them, also consider what you want for yourself. Importantly:
 

How would meeting your movement needs support other areas of your life?


I hope you'll share with me what comes up for you, what emerges as you think about these questions.

*******

Jennifer Gleeson Blue is a certified Restorative Exercise™ Specialist, having trained extensively with the the Restorative Exercise™ Institute. The wonderful story above originally went out as a newsletter to her community. You can find out more about Jennifer and her varied and brilliant practices in the links below.

www.restoreyourwild.com

www.theresilientbody.com

www.heartbodymethod.com

www.launchyourresilientlife.com