Pick up a paintbrush,
your running shoes,
the yoga mat...
Just begin somewhere with something that calls to you.
Yes. You. Can.
Create before you consume.
Be a priority in your own life.
This weekend I will dance.
In fact, I’m dancing right now!
The genius of movement....in praise of our MASTERPIECE, the human body.
[Movement; joy, healing, strength, grace, expression, personal power, dance.]
Our body, yes: everybody's body, the human-machine, was built to move. Even the perennial couch potato's.
Writing this, I have recently returned from a white belt NIA dance teacher training held in the majestic BC coastal mountains. This has been a decade long dream since I was first introduced to the inventive hybrid of NIA dance. Marrying yin/yang effortlessly, it is a joyful expression of what Nia calls, ''the body's way''. The most natural way to find strength, coordination, and well-being while preventing injury and burn out. Not to mention the secondary rewards of kinship, delicious music, and personal creativity. It is the frequent longing for more creative movement and physical expression, not just 'fitness' that has led me on a lifelong journey to find Nia.
Dance of course, gives you a bit of all of it. S l o w intimate dances, fuNky swing, break dancing, martial moves, yogic balance, jazz attitude, tap, modern dance - at times as indecipherable as abstract painting; yet freeing, captivating, cathartic. It is the energetic steps dissolving into the stillness, agility snuggling playfully with strength moves. And the intensity, of course, depends on the player.
The theatre of dance tells our story. Dance expresses so many levels of ourselves; our spirit, our longings, our physical reality, the material poetry of our body. Perhaps physical intelligence lives most fully in dance. The gifts of movement, and the sheer genius of our body design, maximized through the marriage of all elements in NIA; strength, agility, flexibility, speed, and stability; collected artfully in the moving sculpture of your own making.
It's true that sometimes I love and need the power and strength of running, the independence of the trail, the unending road. The sheer simplicity of a solo run. Sometimes I need the calming beauty of the forest or the daunting challenge of the mountain terrain; the uninterrupted eagle view is always your reward at the top, as well as the camaraderie of fellow hikers.
At other times, I need quiet. Rest. Stillness. Healing from various emotional and physical ailments I have often turned to chi gong, yin yoga, or Tai chi; for the wisdom, gentleness, and grace that comes with slowing down.
Rather contrary to this quiet, centered wisdom then, there are also the POWER fantasies of being an unstoppable gymnast/ martialartsesque 'time and space bender' with parkour moves; crouching tiger, hidden dragon style, feeling 100 ft. tall and IMMORTAL. (I know you can relate!!) But alas, that I have never mastered this level of adeptness and athleticism goes without saying.
It is truly the celebration of the movement of any kind, that I feel called to share.
The strength and power one feels lifting weights, or the supple, toned, and stretched results of pilates. The peace and beauty of kayaking under a full moon, and the utter relaxation after a swim in the pool. The crazy fRusTRatinG learning Curve of surfing or the thrill of downhill skiing. There is also the kick-butt, sweat generating, 'heat up a winter day' on cross country skis (or snowshoes) kinda workout. The array of gifts and experiences movement brings is rather infinite and astounding. The JOY, the friends, the community spirit when you join a race or a fund-raising walk; sometimes even the pain, setbacks, soreness, the sprained ankles and wrists from basketball, The fear of ''not being good enough'', but the growing confidence and opportunity to test these things and trust trying is enough, winning is fun, but showing up is what counts! The tension of relay races and people counting on you, the excitement of shooting out of the blocks when you hear the starter pistol.
Tripping your partner in three-legged races, families cheering at summer camp picnics. I cannot emphasize enough, the joy being in this mechanically brilliant body has afforded me.
To say nothing of the sensual pleasures.......
How can you not give back and take exquisite care of your temple that breathes all day long to fuel your thoughts, your activities, your work, your entire miraculous moving life?
It is the vessel through which we experience our very existence.
Yes, it's true, you caught me. I do get caught up in the petty complaints, the years agonizing over big arms or bumpy thighs, a few extra pounds, motivating oneself to get out the door, tripping over big feet and the sometimes indignities of say, mmm....a bout of food poisoning. Sometimes just sheer fatigue and being overwhelmed weighs us down. Cycles of chronic pain can interrupt good intentions.
Meanwhile, the fuller reality is still that the human body is just phenomenal and gives us so much while asking so little in return. The empowerment of movement never ceases to amaze me and raise me up! You don't have to be an Olympian, just shake your booty, because even small movements are fun and energizing. Just take a good long look at that amazing mechanism at the end of your arm called the hand, and thank it for all it does for you day in and day out; writing, holding a cup of coffee, typing...these are movements.
If you don't Love to move then learn to move. Just shake it off. And I promise you, if you pay attention, you will fall in love with your ability to move, over and over again.
Even the frail elderly, declining, and vulnerable will come to life with music; feeling the beat, swaying heads, and snapping those digits. We, all of us, (even those that haven't figured it out yet) love to move. The body was built for it. The brain requires it. Movement juices your brain, energy, and mood in such a vital way that AHA! Moments become more frequent, problems find solutions, and creative ideas F L O W.
Walking is famous as a method for blasting creative blocks throughout the centuries. Composers, artists, writers, and inventors have used it as a natural balm since the dawn of time. Aristotle, Edison, Brahms, Beethoven, Monet, Dickens, O'Keefe are all fine examples. Julia Cameron speaks of walking as a spiritual rite of passage into a deeper creative life in her well-loved tome, 'the Artist's Way'.
Francine Shapiro, an American psychologist, discovered the portal to her groundbreaking trauma tool EMDR, by taking long walks in the woods when she was upset and observing changes that occurred in her well being and processing.
Walking is our birthright.
It's just plain good for us.
And really, pretty darn cool when you spend some time truly honoring the mechanics of the body and its elegant design. The fuelling system, alignment of 206 bones and 640 skeletal muscles; our motor, speed, and cadence that quietly coordinates itself for us during an afternoon summer stroll for ice cream!!
Even when ill in bed, circle those ankles, stretch out your arms, or focus on deepening your breath. do your best, from where you're at, to keep moving. Honor your body.
If you were perhaps plagued growing up by clumsiness, oversize, illness, general awkwardness, thick glasses, bad balance, and felt all of this has ruined your connection with movement forever...... I encourage you to try again.
Try differently. Try inwardly.
You are amazing! OF this I am certain.
Whatever your circumstance. Whatever your shape or skill or fitness level. IF you have never fostered a healthy or loving relationship with exercise, due to bullying yourself through self-loathing or at the hand of others;
Lest I say again, just Shake. It. Off.
(insert Taylor Swift dance video here for inspiration)..
Shift into loving, gentle moves. (It's sooooooo much less arduous).
Scrap the idea of exercise and fall in love with the miracle of movement.
It is one of the greatest gifts you can give yourself.
We have perhaps become too banal about the miraculous. A side effect of our times brought on by constant inundation with knowledge, advancement, and over-exposure to, well, everything. We have the bad habit of lulling ourselves to sleep on autopilot. Wake up the W O W factor.
Back to basics.
The slow movement from Italy, the sexy resurgence of minimalism; reduce, reuse, recycle...these all hold the same core value of doing it yourself with less gadgetry and fuss. Nike was on to something big when they came up with their tag line, 'Just do it. '
I remember many sublime moments of inspiration in my own life afforded by my body in motion. A remote canoe trip in my 20's in the beautiful lake of the woods region, complete with the challenge of portaging, the splendor of encountering owls, a near-miss with a mama bear and cubs, an otherworldly full moon, a huge turtle, and birds I had never seen or heard. These things, these beauties, and connections I would never have known or touched without the capabilities of my body. I have mountain biked up remote trails in beautiful Deutschland, in search of Ein Schloss, and jumped for joy upon the newly toppled Berlin wall in 1990, as well as many nights danced away until dawn, one of the few, rare ways I witness sunrises.
What are your top 5 experiences your body moved you too? Needless to say, it is remarkable to tally your exquisite experiences brought by the joy and sensations of movement. And oh yes, sex most certainly counts.
Do something. You don't have to look good doing it, you don't even have to know what to call it, just wiggle those toes. They are anxious to lead you out the door to a new version of you in motion. Use some elbow grease baking that cake, leave your mixer behind, remind your body of the muscle and coordination of beating a meringue that has all but been completely erased from your modernized, techno gadgety mind.
Stretch the parameters of your cramped, tense animal body.... r - e - a - c - h ...and see the rewards and magic manifest. Joy is to be had by the simple pleasure of tapping your foot in a cafe to tunes.
If you are feeling stuck, and you're reading this and still distracted by an internal discouraging voice, start small. Flutter those eyelashes, loosen your jaw, take a deep breath.
Then take ten steps. Be creative. Be playful. Tiny Tippy Toes....then giant, exaggerated steps.
Break it down. Start small. Build from there. You, yes you, not just that gym rat over there or that svelte young thing, are in an amazing body. We are all powerful beyond measure and frankly, we are sheer genius in motion.
It is after all dialogue with your body to be nurtured; a relationship that needs attention as any does. It is communicating in sacred simplicity with the cells of your body to honor your life force.
Your personal divine poetry.
Just show up, WAKE UP and r I S E UP!
THANK YOU for being here with me.
Check out my Youtube Channel here:
Norma Hoeppner - Soulbrush - YouTube
When I discovered the Amazon rain-forest was burning I wanted to scream from the top of my lungs while I still had breath. I wanted to recoil in fear under the blankets with my purring cat lulling me to unconscious slumber-waiting for our expedited demise.....
BUT there I opened my eyes instead,
slowed my heart rate and my exhale,
and realized it was a beautiful calm day.
Where I stood, on the other hemisphere, it was quiet.
Maybe I could be more value if I enjoyed the day?
Redirected more funds to eco-causes? Raised awareness? If i simply Tried to help others by doing my job--live my best life loving this planet and my precious breath by not allowing despair to bury me alive. This idea began to penetrate, my wiser self nudging me toward more inspired action.
I would need to find a different strategy to navigate climate crisis--seemingly the WWlll of our time against ourselves. Climate crisis and environmental poisoning has been going on since the industrial revolution in the well disguised name of progress. I cried about acid rain as a kid, worried endlessly with nightmares about nuclear war and did science fair projects on how to clean up oil spills. I was distressed at the frequent oil spills in the ocean at that time. I won trophies and contests and my first air travel with pride to the Canada Wide Science Fair . I was 13. That was the 80's.
Now, I live on a little island in the Pacific Ocean next to mainland BC, Canada. This is one of my strategies to stay connected to nature and grounded in my skin and keep my sanity. It's pretty and rustic and tourists flock here every summer like migrating birds. I stay away from the crush of market crowds and demands in the heady days of summer and rather retreat to my near acre of trees sheltering various animal folks that keep me well entertained.
Among them this summer, a posse of comical baby racoons tumbling after their bad ass mama, a collection of hummingbird world class fighter fliers vying for the feeder and the vigilant deer wandering through in search of safety and good grazing. Visitations from the animal world never disappoint. They always help me feel more deeply connected to nature, honoured and in awe of their tenacity, wisdom, stamina and inventiveness.
I was a bird once,
high above -------------with an eagle eye, floating on the rafters,
I weighed nothing-- my flesh body clinging to the skinny strings of the glider--
yet my spirit flew unencumbered,
'rise above, rise above. ' the mountains cheered me on as I soared.
It was the most sublime experience of my life. I remember this in my exhale, in my marrow, my mind forgets but my heart never does---the freedom known...
Birds now find me--
since then, they must see me as their own--
Ravens skim the crown of my head,
drop gifts at my feet
watch as I unwrap them...
Owls serenade me to sleep after they accompany me in the woods
A hummingbird flew right up to my cheek this summer, minions of delight, I felt like a storybook Queen under a magical spell, it hovered so close I could feel the draft of its beating wings kiss my cheek....a gift from the heavens.
A little darling wren with the sweet brown eyes and tousled crown bed head --alighted on my laptop a week later, (my cat in close pursuit), his little wren head turning this way and that, intent to speak to me he had flown inside the living room, sat a few moments and then as quickly as he arrived--he flew safely straight back outside. He left no further instructions.
(and no, for the doubters, I am not kidding you I was just a gob smacked by these visits!)
The gentle earth and creatures we are all responsible for and must cherish, they do try to get our attention, to share resources, to cohabitate peacefully. They must marvel at our strangeness.
Honouring them and protecting what is rightfully theirs is another strategy, to be consistent with our actions; simple things, less plastic, more organic choices, more vegetables, no straws that aren't metal or compostable, using recycled building materials, sugarcane paper, planting more trees. We must. We must love the earth the way she loves us.
I've held a dying bird in the cradle of my hands--wept as I was split in two when it passed.
there are millions of annual bird casualties to our cold metal and glass architecture....
The flock of seagulls skimming morning shimmer on the ocean,
the acoustic Raven calling us home
robin song announcing dusk
these elements of you,
in this gratitude
I dared kiss the dawn and it embraced me as a favoured lover
let us love our way out of collective despair.
I would love to hear how you counter anxiety and despair within our climate crisis? Please share your
a short and sweet visit to London and Liverpool in May primed the creative pump with art and inspiration! xo
'How do I surrender?'
Hostage to the overwhelm, simply turn your back, step away.
A heavy snowfall muffles the incessant buzz of collective anxiety
stillness settles in like a large heaving beast
Resistance shows up. Tension and anxiety arrive; yammering and gripping bags of disaster supplies,
bickering, as they do, urgently tapping toes and watches;
'no time, no time!' they urge.
whistling tea kettles announce boiling temperatures while too many balls in the air juggle treacherously through the pages of an appointment book; fighting gravity, cancellation emails shoot their infinite vectors furiously across the ether.
Finally, it's done.
The willfulness collapses.
Ego's tight red corset strings let go
releasing the illusion
my animal body softens
the belly tension melts like an ice cube to a puddle
finding this sudden ease
I surrender to nature's barricade.
......there i breathe again.
Simplicity has arrived and swept up the harsh shards left by broken expectations. She is a steadfast ally like that, elegant and wise.
I Surrender. Nothing matters if nothing can be done.
There is another slow exhale..........
There is joy to be mined, after all.
There is beauty to be admired.
'I surrender.' (I whisper this).
There is a quiet to deafen us with it's rare splendour.
Without the tension there is e x p a n s i o n.
I SURRENDER. (arms open, my voice is jubilant.)
I wave my white flag as snow angel wings.
There is awe.
Ms Ngh/c. Feb 2019/
AH! Nothing like Beginning of a new year enthusiasm, rife with juicy expectations, lofty goals and laser focused energy.
Fast forward 30 days; one long, purple nosed, rib dislocating cough, several debilitating chronic migraines and a scotch infused, tear soaked tragic funeral.
S Q U A S H the river of enthusiasm down to a rather erratic trickle.
Wait! I'm still here, still trying...hang on, back it up!
"Please slow down 2019.”
So, if you too feel off course, fear not, for you're not alone.
In this PUMP it UP zeitgeist, 'be your best self' 'lightness and love' culture,
it is extra hard to be fuzzy brained, ugly tired, ill, velcroed to your sofa in a dinosaur onsie and under functioning.
But it's all temporary.
The pitfalls. The success. The failure. The enthusiasm. The malaise.
Everything changes rather constantly. 2019 won't slow down despite my bribes and pleas.
I don't think it's an act of malice, it's just the universe has its own intention, which , as far as I can tell, no one, including academics and scientists, is clear on.
SO finding one's own intention and sticking to it, despite the slings and arrows disguised as paper shredder fires and broken salad dressing bottles on what was a just washed kitchen floor---take heart.
Life is still like that. No matter the new calendar year. It's not personal. It will always be full of tensions and setbacks. I keep forgetting that...Clear sailing is only a fantasy we fuel on glossy instagram accounts.
Not real. So in case you are worried, full of self doubt or suffering with sniffles and heartaches, I'm here to say, go team!
You still got this, it's going to be okay; just never as easy or smooth as we hope.
VIva la crazy ride, 2019!
courage and vita d,
xo Ms NGH
I hear a phantom knock
After heavy ghost steps resonate throughout, no one appears
waiting for the dead of night
'is it only 4 in the afternoon?'
it's delusion or derision
strange things creep in the long night
wind threatens to cut us in half
trees thrown about like toothpicks by some callous GIANT--
I hear you knocking--
I am trying.
I am listening to your call-
but when I rise
you blast me in the face so hard i bruise
the light whimpers one last meagre flicker
before the return to cold blackness of original time
gravity plays tricks
marbles bounce, the animals vanish,
buildings tumble like the last careless round of jenga
The cat sniffs the imaginary stranger that has settled in my bones,
taking uncomfortable residence
poking at my discontent.
I serve it cold tea.
c. Dec 2018 n.hoeppner
Unexpected Conversations lighting the way...
‘Enlightenment. It’s a strange concept most will never understand,’
I was told by a middle aged man on the ferry yesterday, on my long commute home.
He had approached cautiously, gestured whether he could join me. I prepared for the unwanted possibilities but decided to remain open and non assumptive. Why shouldn’t we welcome engagement and conversation in public? Community is one of my alleged values I need to embrace.
So he sat down.
And we talked.
And he opened with, “I wanted to talk to you because you are a stylish woman who appears intelligent and educated, and as a heterosexual male...” (okay, so I am tensing up at this point waiting for the other shoe to drop, )and he continues,
“... how do I be a man now? It used to be fun. Talking to women used to be fun, now everyone is so tense about what to say, how to be.”
And my younger self might have been angry, defensive, righteous; but I chose to listen and offered my counterpoint and we engaged in a conversation as strangers across the gender divide. I believe this needs to happen far more often now as part of the antidote to the poison atmosphere in the world. I believe it is our collective responsibility to change the conversation. To invite conversation.
I shared that it wasn’t just the news that made us tense, these weren’t isolated incidents of a handful of individuals, but rather (tragically) the everyday commonplace experience of almost all women at some point.
We discussed how men generally don’t communicate well or in-depth. How they often don’t risk challenging each other in group think either. I suggested it was high time they did.
He spoke of his choice for a zen lifestyle, an American who moved to Canada for 6 months of the year many decades ago. He spoke of his own choices working toward enlightenment, and although my critical mind questioned his bold statement, I held his sharing as respectfully as I could, recognizing I also felt envious and interested about his spiritual exploration and experiences with ‘all life as light.’ He described that his belief was all life came from the same light source and how much darkness was present merely indicates how attached we are to ego.
In other words, pain is largely manufactured I added.
He was respectful, pointed in his personal questions, curious and interested.
Still, it would have been much easier to disengage. A v o i d. Politely decline needing to go to the loo.
I noticed waves of tension and clenching in my body come and go, but I decided to sit with it. Stay open and engaged. I questioned whether I was just doing the polite female thing indulging him, and in part that was initially true.
‘I am safe.’ I kept reminding myself. ‘You can handle it if it goes sideways. ‘ And inherent in that reminder is the underlying issue with women’s experience. Because we so often are not safe. Sometimes in more subtle but equally toxic ways, such as being dismissed, disbelieved, minimized, negatively labelled for sharing our view or experience.
But we sat together and shared and listened for an hour. Then we parted ways. A little Lighter.
I am grateful for brave, open hearted men. And I thanked him for taking a risk.
I heard the geese splash across the sky this morning
i saw the spider patient in the center of her web
i watched the ant cross quietly along the window, meandering like a river through heavy silt
(as i sat and ate toast)
these are moments; fleeting. Ordinary. captured by my eye,
while spirit whispers to my hip hopping mind, gently imprinting their fossils on my life breath
the ant hypnotized me-- transforming thoughts into captured words, as though the spider
spun her web to weave a tale
the geese call to winter coming
the familiar bugle trumpeting the change of season clearly
all of these moments,
my cat's crushed whiskers like a rumpled garment as she rises startled from a deep sleep
the vegetables left carefully by the neighboring farmer at the door
(bouquets of grand expansive leaves i've never seen before,)
the trill of the red winged black birds echo summer's ghost, as I slide the window closed
these primordial matters call me from my preoccupation with the internet (with 'important work' and 'urgent priorities' )
within a few mere decades, modern life heralding massive rapid change and disconnection,
from these tiny treasured calls of the wild.
My inhale has forgotten them, but my exhale remembers well
and gently coaxes my flesh and senses to recall.
These tiny things reclaim my breath.