A Twenty-Twenty…One Contemplation

1-1-2021

What a poetic number, the first of the first of the first.  May we choose to see the “One” that is all of us.  One of the images I remember well from my yoga teacher Per Erez, is how we are all of the ocean, the wave reaches out of the ocean, each individual droplet of the wave is each of us, flying through the air, and returning to the ocean.  A celebration of our individuality and our oneness. 

Yes, what DID happen this year.  I asked my students, what needs of theirs surfaced more powerfully this year.  Which ones of those were they able to meet with more intention and which ones do they look forward to nurturing more in the coming years.  I assume most of us felt the need for human face-to-face interaction and touch as a need that we look forward to nurturing more in this new year.  As for those needs requiring nurturing in order to make it through, I found the biggest one for me was the need for purpose.  When my work as a massage therapist became ‘non-essential’, and the realization that all my work is touch based, or in-person based, I felt a great loss.  But with the help of the talented and patient Trey Donovan, an online yoga school was born.  As early as April I had reconnected with students and friends from Chicago and Santa Cruz and began to nurture new friendships in Taos by way of livestream classes.  The miles in-between us didn’t stand in our way.  This has been a gift that no words can express, but every sweet note and every smiling face has!  

Although my physical body danced a little less this year, the creative exploration blossomed.  I logged over 60 movement classes which I look forward to sharing in person through classes, performances and mindful movement retreats.  I get so excited over the prospect of welcoming others to the Mesa to hear the silence, soak in the hot springs, and embrace the intentional off-grid living that puts the planet first and our impact of gently treading to the forefront. 

For New Years Eve I received the first of the two vaccine pokes, which changed the perspective of my work from non-essential to essential.  The relief that glinted in people’s eyes when they were able to receive massage this year was so palpable I didn’t need to see the whole face to know it was ESSENTIAL!  Of course for many reasons, many massage therapists did not return to work this year.  I trusted in the precautions, I spent more money than I made this year to create as safe an environment for all as I could, and I so gratefully accepted a new massage position with the mother/daughter team at Colonias Chiropractic this past year.  My need to feel “purpose” was greatly nourished by sharing these healing practices with Veterans, chronic pain patients and those who have experienced various life hardships.  

After leaving the hospital where they gently poked my arm with the first vaccine shot, I walked past the line of those waiting for their vaccination, health care providers, police officers, all with a gentle smile in their eyes, believing in a brighter future, accepting that this New Years they would not be allowed the usual alcoholic beverage to toast the new year, post-vaccination.  Why did it make me teary eyed? Because of the weight we all carried for this intense year, no matter what sense of loss we experienced has been monumentally heavy.  The tears of exhaustion for the losses, the work to “hold it together”, the intense fears of ‘how will we survive this’, the global compassion we feel more than ever before, the hate that spilled out from every dark corner reminding us of the greater need for compassion.  And tears for the compassion given, for us showing up for each other, and for the “need” for us to continue on that path so that, a future, we may indeed have.  

That everyone came to class, donated to the yoga school, the little messages, texts, snail mail, phone calls and smiles that we shared;  it’s these things that helped nurture my need for a sense of purpose.  I so look forward to nurturing the future togetherness.  I am so grateful for every single person, each droplet of the ocean that we are.  Not just a catchy phrase… we ARE truly in this together.  May we keep this awareness as a very bright light through all the days, and continue to learn to tread ever so gently on our sweet planet Earth

Create Space

What are we doing? What’s it all for? Why do I get up in the morning.  Being out of work, running around in circles, banging my head on the wall, I’m searching for solutions.  I exhaust myself by 9am by thinking thinking thinking.  So, did I come up with anything?  

 

Well, the one thing that keeps returning is rather simple.  And doesn’t need “thinking” or head banging to be accomplished (unless it’s of the “dance style” kind of head banging then it might be okay…except we can’t get massages right now, and every time I head bang I need a neck massage).  But I digress…

 

I come up with… “create space”.  

 

Just make space in your room.  Put away the toys, the projects, the undealt emotions into their properly labeled bins, and clear the floor, open the windows.  

 

Relax your eyeballs, breathe in and out.  Listen.  Let whatever arise that wants to arise. Move or be still.  Draw or sing.  Cook or clean.  Laugh or cry.   Without expectation or judgment.  Take what comes, give full attention to that thing, don’t multi-task.  

 

The more we tune in to conscious listening, we open the flow.  Then we follow it.  It may or may not make us money, it may or may not check things off the proverbial list, it may not fall in line with society’s “should’s”.  But I’m pretty sure it’ll make us smile.  And make others smile too.

Bend as the Bamboo

I’ve always had confidence that with my skills, discipline and adaptability, I would always be okay financially.  I’ve never not been in debt, I sometimes shake my fist in the air, will I ever get ahead?!!   But rent has always been paid, bills on time, food on the table.  I’ve enjoyed life even within the sensitivity towards spending.  I have life goals and I also try to keep perspective that a “future” time may not come, and enjoy the present moment as the only true moment.  

The last 30 years I have focused my education and practice on learning about the body, the moving form, how it finds balance, how pains come and go, the process of healing.  I explore and witness the physical, mental, emotional and energetic self as one beautiful conglomerate of an animal that needs love, support, knowledge, gentleness, empowerment, and flow to flourish.  

Through awareness and movement of this physical form, we move all of our self, not just that which is physical, it is a door from which we can enter global (whole self and other) awareness through.  Why do we benefit from yoga, dance, massage?  These practices help us connect the dots. What beautiful play between action and letting go, knowledge and intuition, trust in another and in oneself, togetherness and individual expression.

My daily living is dependent on interacting with others, sharing what I’ve experienced and learned from my school studies, my work with others, and through my own personal discoveries in injury, stress management, and somatic inquiries.  But here we are, how long will this current situation last? Without that knowledge, we are left to make choices to prepare for today and for the next day.  Being in the independent contractor boat, I am faced with the reality of no support from employers or the government.  All of us in this boat are watching closely to any new information coming in to support us.  But now, together in this boat we ask, how will we survive if this were to last longer than a week or two? Devoted to practices that require our interaction, many of us have turned to connecting online, offering classes, recordings, live-streaming.  Seeming the best option, I have been making videos, editing, exporting, uploading…my goodness that takes a lot of time!  But I am enjoying it too, because I love sharing the teachings and I know that someone is benefiting from it.  

So I am putting in the action, the discipline and adaptability, and if what I am offering excites you to participate, I thank you ahead of time for signing up for the subscription.  I am offering two or more live-stream classes a week, and a video library that grows weekly.  The classes range from level 1 and 2 full hour classes, to compressed classes, and area specific classes (hips, low back health, shoulders, inversions).  I am open to any suggestions as to content, and I will upload my recorded yoga nidra meditations as well.  You can cancel anytime, just let me know.  It is $12 for the month for all the things.  It is set low so that you won’t feel the financial burden.  Nowadays that’s less than one yoga class, meaning you can also sign up for online classes with your other teachers and benefit as much as possible.  There are alternative pay structures including one for those under more financial strain, and a donation option for those who may have a little more to give that can help offer this to more who cannot.  

If we can continue to help each other, offer our skills and passions with each other, we will all flow through this.  We have the opportunity to practice versatility, compassion, to bend like the bamboo and creatively welcome change to the table.

With all this in mind,  I have not canceled The Meadow, a somatic and eco-living immersion for August 8-14 of this year.  The “need to” cancel date is set for May, so in the meantime let’s see how things unravel.  I would really like to bring you here to the high desert of Taos.  The open sky and land, hugged by mountains, breath in silent air, could be just the respite needed after these coming months.  So let us keep that in our dreams and come back to it as the weeks come and go.

Thank you always for your support, and know I am here to support you as well. 

To the yoga website:  yoga.movementlab.dance

Blessings all around.

A pause, a meditation, a reflection

Please take pause with me.    

Best if done in the presence of the wind, the sun, or water.  But wherever you are, may I ask you to take pause.  Become completely still, standing, seated or lying down.  Close your eyes unless you feel quieter with them open.  But look only in one place, relax and still.  Completely.  So that the wind or the distant bird or honking horn for the city folk, can be heard.  So still that you can hear the creak of the floor as your body sways to keep its natural sense of balance.  Relax your forehead and your tongue.  So still you can feel your heartbeat.  Stay for at least five minutes, if its easier set an alarm that when it goes off its a pleasurable sound.  Or have a clock, not your phone, near by to glance at the minute hand.

First just listen. To everything.  Nothing taking up more space than the other.

Then start taking slow deep quiet breaths.  Notice the pause in-between each in-breath and out-breath.

What happens next?  After your timed pause, if you want to cry, then cry.

If you want to dance, then dance.

If you want to sing, or draw, or cook a meal, then do it.

Keep your phone and computer off, resisting the urge to respond or react.

Just for a few more minutes to reflect on taking pause.

May we resist responding to each other with hate, particularly on social media.  We may be mad, we may be scared, people say things that heighten our anger and our fear.  But we each choose how we live and act, and how we respond to each other.  May we educate and learn even with the most difficult people and most difficult times, from a place of compassion, empathy, and equanimity.   May we take pause, reflect and choose action instead of reaction.  We are teachers and students at the same time, always.

Who am I?  Am I this body? This soul? This breath?  These senses? This fear?  Who am I.

Thank you.

How does yoga help us deal…

How does yoga help us deal with strong life emotions?  We all know it’s easier to work on ourselves, to find peace and positivity when nothing is challenging us.  But they say, that is our training ground for when times do get rough, when emotions rock the boat.  Pema Chodron’s words stick in my head, the ones about that we may still be just as angry, distraught, confused, etc, as ever, but that it is just in the act of awareness that the success lies (majorly paraphrased).  So, maybe we breathe in and out calm in our meditation and then have a terrible day managing our anxieties. How we react to those anxieties is going to be our meditation then, not that they don’t come up because we gained some great calm inhaling and exhaling this morning.  

I am beginning to learn (as I feel I am always at the beginning when I get socked in the face by emotions), that I cannot remove these rough parts about myself, I cannot cut them off like a rotting limb. But I won’t be ignoring them and letting them run away with my good intentions either, I will have my outbursts, may they be less intense and shorter lived, and I will use them as fuel for the fire.  They are my manure to which I will make magic out of (thank you Tom Robbins or whomever else said that, I thank Tom Robbins for everything).  

So I am going to pay attention.  Welcome to the table, yoga. The practice of awareness, and entering through the lens of the physical body.  For me, using the physical form to teach my swirling mind about itself has been of great use. I feel that I have better control of my mind when my body exerts effort in way dance, hiking, a yoga pose.  I’ve been able to set aside shyness, anger breakouts, fear of the unknown, when I exert my physical form. Now that’s just me. And I am always on the search for others who share in this similar salve, to use the physical form to help cope with life inside of me and my projections outwards.  But it’s not just that my mind gets a break as it focuses on the burn in my thigh.  I gain confidence through the practice that I am capable of being able to get back up when I fall.  That I can change my perspective on the moment, and that scary pose I am about to attempt, or the fatigue I am beginning to feel, is easily changeable by changing my perspective on it.  And using my breath and my smile to move through the emotions that attempt to block me from even trying. And good news, it works! So I come back to it over and over again for more lessons in not letting the emotions override the moment, that there is more in that moment than just their big heads trying to block my view of the sun rising.

How does yoga help work with big emotions? For one is the offer to relax the body.  There’s the the brain, chemicals, neurotransmitters…. On a form and function level, all sorts of chemicals are produced when we are freaking out.  So we need to alter the chemicals. We need to send in the calming ones to push out the freaking out ones. So we need the body and the mind to work together on this one.  Yoga gives us the tool of observation, awareness, which brings in objectivity, a stepping out of our intense I am drowning in this freak out.  How can we notice what is happening and get relief from it?  Sometimes to stop moving and talking, deep breaths are enough.  When I’m really freaking out, I have to give myself a little talkin’ to… I tell myself with the kindest mother voice that this isn’t all there is in this moment, that I can get passed it, that this feeling is going to pass and I will once again be able to cope with being a human being in this made up world.  And why can I even attempt to mother myself like this? Because I do get to the other side of the world is ending, and we all do.  And when I’m in a more calm state, I get back on the mat or the dance floor, and practice riding the wave of the small rises and falls of emotions that occur with the challenges I meet to prepare me for the bigger life ones.   

Did you see that cow by the side of the road? Ah, the smell of sage brush! Did you ever contemplate the thin line of sunlight that frames the mountain, is it that thin line that allows me to see the mountain as separate from the sky? Where do you feel the emotional pain in your body, can you move that limb around and see where the pain travels to? If we awaken our observation skills when we are not blinded by the massive cloud of life upset, can we use those awareness skills to help us see the upset as upset and not as this is all I am, I am terrible, this is terrible, and will never not be terrible.  Then maybe we’ll be able to send in those calming molecules to offset the panic ones, change our chemistry to get the brain back into parasympathetic breathing, quiet the voice, waiting through the passing storm from under the shelter of the bridge, and learn something about ourselves and how we relate to the world.  Yoga gives us tools to practice awareness, so when the going gets tough, we can be aware of it all, not just the pretty flowers and not just the gnarly storm clouds.  But all of it, and responsibly play a part in the observance that the pretty flower will wither and die, becoming fodder for the next plant, and the storm may destroy a couple things in its path, or at least require you to change your clothing, but the sun dries it all back out, and beams on through. 

Yoga teaches us to cure what we need not endure, and to endure what we cannot cure.  BKS Iyengar

Form and Formless

Today I ask myself: how does dance help me live more gently? In some ways I’d rather not try to explain it. It is so beautiful I don’t want to ruin it with charts and diagrams.  Sacred things may be best left across the bridge from words. But also, I can speak a few things. 

I always have the words of purging, cleansing, release that come when dancing.  Burning things up in the fire of the sweat, the hit into the floor, the slicing of air.  It’s through the cycle of a dance that I exit with relief, with the sense of arriving back to my gentle presence.  The journey can start out slow or faster paced when I enter the dance depending on my energy of the day.  But soon I start digging in, consumed by the beats and song that sync with my vibrations, letting my body ride the wave of the room, the people if it’s a group, the music, the musician, the altar of intention alchemizing the air particles.  

Is there a preparation, are there tools that help me take my body and mind through this experience, this meditation, this exorcism? For me, there seems to be.  We prepare our minds for the journey as one would before walking across burning coals. We choose what we want to wear based on how we are feeling and make sure we’ve eaten and drank appropriately.  We set intention and we enter the dance. We mentally choose to be moved by whatever arises, while of course keeping sensitive to others who may be in the room, and also to our own safety.  When we decide we feel safe enough, we may close our eyes and let the body move without telling it who to be or what to do.  We open our heart.

But still….what else resides in the movement vocabulary, the pedagogy that helps move emotions out of the deep recesses to exit the skin? I have a movement toolbox that seems to arrive in the same way breath arises.  There was a time I was drilled on foundations of movement and was introduced to movement as therapy that guide my current path of discovery and healing.  I recognize that I use these practices while I dance, they have a vital role in catalyzing expression, helping me live alongside my mind and arriving into the present now, again and again and again.  

Can I share my toolbox with you? What are your tools?  

As I continue to excavate these tools, I also hope to learn more from those around me.  I see the importance in viewing the journey as teacher more as sharing than being the knower.  So stay tuned as MovementLab and EarthLab 33 bring more offerings for creative sharing, learning and living.  See you in the dance, in the perpetual classroom and sacred space.

photo by Katie Graves, dancers Lyndsae Rinio and Nadine Lollino PosterchildArt

Following the flow, a reflection on 2019

Wow, how did it become the end of the year? Reflecting back, this has been a huge year.  In November of 2018 my eczema began a massive flare up that consumed my days for seven months.  I confronted stored emotions, traumas, I changed my diet multiple times, I received potent healing treatments and an outpouring of support.  I was forced to slow down and take a real good look at where I’ve been, how I handle stress, and how to practice equanimity with myself and my life situation.  I had to step a toe into the modern medical world which offered pain and relief, I met a wonderful human to be the caretaker for my cats when none of us could take it anymore as my allergy to them presented itself as a real problem, and their demand to be outdoor cats needed listening to.  

 

I danced 4-6 hours every week in a freeform practice, I journaled endless pages scripting movement classes that help unlock the spirit from the ego.  I found great joy in letting my guard down and dancing with others, I discovered that accepting the gifts of community was more necessary than scary for this scorpio introvert.  I learned to ask for help. I gave myself permission to not always present my “best self” in the company of others, as growing pains are not always pretty.  

 

I’ve accepted to walk beside Trey Donovan, a lovely layered human being that has common life passions, a teacher in his similar good and bad habits, a willingness to till the path of waking up.  Through endless talks and many travels, we focused this year on where to live that would sustain our beliefs around treading lightly on this planet, support our small bank accounts, and stoke the desire to dance and share the movement arts with others as a form of celebration and healing. 

 

When we visited Taos at the end of August, I finished the folding of 1000 cranes.  I began the project of folding with the move to Santa Cruz, which will eventually be sewn into a full length dress.  I trialed many kinds of paper, and fell in love with some patterned paper from Japantown in San Francisco which concluded my material search.  I folded less as my skin got worse, went back to it in short spurts with fervor. I shared cranes with those I met at coffee shops, with dear friends, with dying loved ones.  I kept the question open, if the completion of 1000 cranes brings your wish to truth, what is my wish? Sometimes it was for my skin to get better, sometimes it was to make enough money doing what I loved without making exceptions, sometimes it was to bring joy or hope to another.  Every crane was like its own little wish coming true, each containing a lesson or insight. So it seemed I had 1000 wishes granted, or truths uncovered. I folded for comfort, to ease my mind, as a challenge of how many I could fold in three minutes, a game of how many folds I could do with my eyes closed.  I folded instead of looking at my phone, I wrote messages inside the cranes and burned them in the fire and invited others to do the same. I had an intention of having others help me with the folding, but came to realize the 1000 cranes would be my effort, but the journey would include folding many more cranes with new and old friends along the way strengthening my community.  

 

When that last crane was folded I wondered what now? Three months later Trey bought an earthship in the Greater World community in Taos with the generous financial and emotional support of friends and family and we moved in on the last full moon of 2019, December 11th.  All the fears of moving to a new town bubble up, the worries of starting over again with work and community, but at 7am every morning, the sunrise is silently epic, and every evening the silent stars smile on our decision along this wild and mysterious ride.  

 

The flowing changes in location is expanding my view of community.   I miss you Chicago and Santa Cruz, those I saw daily to now once or twice a year.  But I recognize more and more the river we all swim in, bumping into each other from time to time, checking in on how we are doing, sharing in ways that bring fulfillment and support.  We are certainly in this together, and I am excited daily by the actions we each take to bring in joy and share joy. Once Trey and I get settled into this earthship life and the Taos terrain, we will begin hosting movement retreats, continue building the performance and teaching company of MovementLab, and welcome visits to experience the silent beauty out here on the mesa. 

 

Thank you 2019, hello 2020!

What’s the self-practice yoga class all about?

I started an early morning class at the yoga studio not because I’m an early bird, but because there was something I wanted to share. I used to enjoy going to Mysore classes from 7-9am, when I was practicing Astanga. At that time the class was also a “self-practice” class that meant it didn’t have to be the Ashtanga series, just a place for the student to come work on things with the eyes of a teacher nearby to ask questions of, receive feedback on alignment and any hands-on assisting.

I love teaching in the group setting, but I also am devoted to helping each student with where they are at, and creating an atmosphere that is more experimental, workshop-like, where the exchange between student and teacher is more fluid and interactive. I’ve been teaching a three hour workshop monthly for the past 13 years or so which is geared towards a more experienced student, one who can sit still for 25 minutes, and has an understanding of where they are at in their practice so to personalize their practice. I wish all classes could be three hours long, or maybe all classes could be one-on-one sessions. But alas, the time and resources are rarely there for such commitment, and so in remembering how much I benefited from the weekly self-practice classes I decided we’d give that a try.  The class is called The Art of Practice.

I’ve made some highly artistic stick figure drawings (not really) of poses and sequences that you can follow if you are not sure where to start. I’ve made one for low back health, one for a focus on twists, arms, and I’ll keep making more. I’ve got yoga flashcards (also handmade fantastic drawings) and a book of poses at your disposal.

Why is this an important class to consider attending? For me, it’s that this world is moving too fast, causing classes to be shorter, teaching to lack personalized attention. It’s that although we all have a humerus bone and a bicep tendon, we have vastly different stories. Different tightness, different injuries, different weaknesses, and yoga is a beautiful path to learning about ourselves and growing stronger, healthier and more grounded, and I’d love to participate in promoting that kind of yoga practice.

It’s okay if you don’t know how to sequence poses (good news, I’ll be there to help). Your practice doesn’t have to be clever or flowy, you can just do the poses. It’s okay if your scared because we always are when something is new and unknown, but the benefits are great.  And lastly, the small group in attendance are all there with the cohesive intention of being in their practice, working on their world, and are always supportive of the group impulse to get up so early in the morning to face their practice.

Classes resume once back in person!

Stop being in love with fear

I started reading  Make Me One with Everything by Lama Surya Das, and I weekly read an astrology newsletter by Rob Breszny…. and the idea that stuck with me yesterday was to stop being in love with fear. Who would agree they are in love with fear? So I thought about how many moments in life are surrounded by some kind of fear. Fear of things not going well, not making enough money, fear that someone doesn’t like us, fear of not being happy… we might agree more with the word attachment, that we are attached to fear. Well, don’t we usually cling to the things we love and push away the things we don’t like? So maybe we are in love with fear.

Living life with awareness, wakefulness, consciousness is the opportunity to see things as they are, meeting them with equanimity (mental calmness, an evenness of temper). Meditation on and off the cushion is a choice to stay awake. To not just let ourselves fall in the patterns of fear but choose to stay present to the now that is happening. It doesn’t mean that things will feel nice, that bad things will just go away, it just means that instead of pushing at them to get away, where the strain makes things worse, we instead choose to just meet it all where it is which develops compassion. And we all know, once we can find it for ourselves, we are open to share it with others.

Different tools help us to practice this, seated meditation, taking a long walk, dancing til you fall over with exhaustion, drawing, singing, cooking, therapeutic bodywork, whatever works as a “salve” for you helps relax you and open up perception. So more of it! Get in in the calendar and make it as important as making the coffee in the morning. And so hard it seems, but easier the more we practice it….take it with throughout the whole day. Catch yourself falling back into fear, pause, smile at yourself sweetly, and carry on.

The Crane Dress

I decided about a year ago to make a dress adorned in 1000 cranes.  The story of the 1000 cranes is of Sadako Sasaki, who was two years old when the atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima August 6, 1945.  Exposed to the radiation of the bomb, at the age of twelve she was diagnosed with Leukemia and would die a year later.  She folded 1000 origami cranes in the effort to grant her wish for life.  At the Hiroshima Peace Park, remembering those who died from the effects of the bomb, a plaque reads, “This is our cry. This is our prayer. Peace on Earth.”
To complete 1000 cranes your wish is granted.

What is my wish?  In folding the cranes, I feel this story of Sadako Sasaki, the need for peace, for us to recognize the preciousness of all human beings, of all beings, is imperative.  May this dress represent peace.

The making of the dress

Paper:

 

Creating this dress has proved to be an extensive process.  I needed to choose materials and colors.  I decided on the colors of a Koi, red, orange and black.  I am still playing with white or yellow.  The paper needs to be strong enough to withstand being sewn onto the dress and also last through multiple wears and hopefully through travel.  My first inclination was tyvek, like the folded wallets you can buy that feel like paper but they are strong tyvek, very hard to rip.  I am still working on finding colored tyvek, as the process of purchasing and printing on tyvek seems an expensive endeavor.

So in the meantime, I decided on using paper and then making the paper stronger.  Regular inexpensive origami paper is pretty cheap in feel and look.  The more expensive paper feels more like fabric, but firstly, too expensive for the amount of paper I will need, and the normal designs on them were not in my vision of the dress.  I wanted solid colors with a little pattern mixed in there.  Since I normally work just with fabric, I did want the paper to look textured like fabric and rich in color.  So I’ve been buying paper from the art stores and hand cutting 4×4 squares.  I was advised to try spraying polyurethene on the cranes once they were folded to make them stronger and water proof.  So I did an experiment with three different products, a drawing fixer spray, polyurethene, and gel medium (mod podge).  The only one that was less ripable was the gel medium.  And so this was the winner.

The dress structure:


I see the dress as having a strong structure and a full skirt.  Like a ballroom, prom or wedding dress kind of shape.  Since there was a lot of work ahead of me with this dress, I figured I should be able to thrift a dress and maybe just need to alter it for sizing.  Well, without looking too long, I found myself on vacation in Nevada City and spotted the perfect dress for $25 that fit me perfectly!

The process continues:

Cutting, glueing, sewing, stay tuned for the next phase….

UPDATE 9-24-18: Just beginning work on this dress again, but waiting to see if I receive a grant from the Santa Cruz Arts Council to help pay for materials.  Will find out in December, so progress is slowed til then.  But I have many cranes already cut and folded so I’ve begun sewing them onto the dress again.

 

UPDATE 2-4-19: Happy Chinese New Year! Year of the female brown pig.  Ready to work hard and step into leadership.  I didn’t get any of the grants I set out for, but that’s just fine, except for putting me behind schedule.  I went and bought the rest of the paper in Japantown, San Francisco.  I found a large stack of the most beautiful paper, hand printed.  Here’s a photo of the paper.  I have decided to make all the 1000 cranes before I do any other steps.  I had originally decided to only use solid colors…until I found this paper.  But now I’ll have 500 of solid colored paper and 500 of printed.  I am not sure how I will want to pattern them out on the dress so better to wait til I complete them to lay them out in the best pattern.  Attempting to fold 100 a week..the drawers are filling up.  Oh, also realizing that the peace to come from the folding will benefit others, but it is creating a peace within myself, as the act of folding is very therapeutic.  I look forward to what else comes from this journey.

 

UPDATE 11-14-2020: Wow, been quite awhile since my last update.  Well, life was being life, I did my best to continue on with this project.  I folded cranes in coffee shops, next to loved one who were dying, in times of physical and emotional stress, to calm anxieties.  Each crane became a moment of peace manifested in physical form.  August of 2019 I completed folding 1000 cranes, while visiting Taos NM for the first time.  This was the trip that decided I would move to Taos.   Settling back into this project took me many months and then with quarantine from Covid, I was able to finish the glueing process on all 1000 cranes.  I finally began sewing the cranes beginning with the skirt.  I am just at the beginning stages of this and although the sewing has become a comforting practice, each row I complete I still wonder if this is going to work out.  

 

June 2021

The Crane Dress completion August 17, 2021

After six hours of continuous sewing, watching the cranes in the bin become less and less, counting to assess how many were truly left, surprised at each count that so many were still in there, but one by one they made their way onto the dress.  Tears filled my eyes. 

It all started as an idea for the Tokyo 2020 grant proposal, bringing artists from around the globe to the Olympics.  That proposal was not accepted, viewing my statement of peace as a political statement,  the Olympics were postponed a year, and who knows if the chosen artists ever did get to show their work.  I went forward with the dreams I created in that proposal.  At each step of this creation I knew it was a process, and one that I would give permission to take as long as it needed.  The process included a major life transition, a healing episode that lasted a year and a half, through two moves around the country, and many interactions with fellow humans.  At times I thought I might never finish, and was it even worth it.  At times it scared me that the task was too big, whilst knowing that that fear stoked the fire.  The dress was my mirror, my moods and perceptions on life staring back at me through the pile of cranes.  When distracted I learned to step away, when I lost perspective I learned to step back.  Reminders in the resourcefulness of taking pause.  

But today it is completed.  This dress looks back at me and says, see we did it! One step at a time, one crane at a time.  One moment at a time.  Most poignant is this lesson through big life transitions and certainly through our Covid years is this an ever true life lesson.  With the changing information of the pandemic, each day has truly felt unknown, requesting grace in our movements, surrendering to the unknown as we wake up to each days’ changing currents. 

May the lessons learned through this artistic process stay with me.  May I continue to ride the waves of life with gentleness.  May this dress inspire you and your journey through life.  Our wishes can come true, peace and hope can get us up in the morning, calm our mental chatter of worry, and greet the day and each other with a smile, a willingness to be in the here and now. 

What’s next for the dress?  With the Paseo Festival canceled, the “what’s next” has found itself in the air.  But the future journey of this dress is to travel it, create short and evening length works around it, incorporating it into residencies, taking students on a creative healing journey and into performance, and to someday, honor in person the Hiroshima Peace Park through dance with this devotion to peaceful living. 

“Her death gave us a big goal. Small peace is so important with compassion and delicacy it will become big like a ripple effect. She showed us how to do it. It is my, and the Sasaki family’s responsibility to tell her story to the world. I believe if you don’t create a small peace, you can’t create a bigger peace. I like to gather those good wishes and good will and spread to the world,” said Masahiro Sasaki.