Nehara is a word for the light that shines from your face when you are happy.”

Struggling with the question of whether to venture up to 191st street to the lady who runs the Mister Softy truck for my cherry-dipped chocolate soft serve cone, I wander out of my apartment, up in the elevator and through the lobby.  On the radiator where people often leave things they no longer want someone has deposited three books.  They are all New York guides: one for free stuff, one for nightlife, and I don’t pay attention to the third but scoop up the first two.  First come first served.  I continue out the door and around the corner to my neighborhood park, J Hood Wright Park and settle on a bench in the sunshine.  People are barbecuing on this Father’s Day, an activity that is expressly prohibited by metal signs placed in the park.  As with many ordinances here, it is ignored.

I continue debating the question of whether I truly want an ice cream cone.  Ultimately, I know I won’t stop thinking about it till I have one so off I go, into the subway station, where an uptown train arrives as I descend the stairs.  I take this as a sign that I have made the right decision.

My underlying thought is that I just don’t want to walk anymore.  At this point I think it’s just habit, as I’m not feeling quite as beat as I have for the last week.  Maybe my vitamins are kicking in or maybe I ate the right thing, but I feel a little less tired than I have since starting this new waitressing job and returning to dance.  I round the corner at Cabrini Boulevard after coming out of the subway station and am thrilled to see the Mister Softy truck and hear it’s generator humming away.  I smile as I approach the wagon and the lady in the truck window.  She turns her back to me.  She turns back as I arrive at the window and smiles when I order from her.  I am happy to have my bright red swirl topped cone in hand.

Working with the drips of chocolate leaking through the red shell, I contemplate that there must be some kind of wax product in this confection to give it it’s wonderful, crackly texture.  Probably not entirely good for me, but hey, life’s short and sacrifices must be made.

I wander onto the Heather Garden path with my dripping cone, stopping at certain flowers to study them.  A woman is letting her dog sniff a  low lying salvia plant and I just know she’s going to let that dog pee on those flowers.  Some people.

There is a gentleman with his gentleman friend on the path and they are discussing the name of a flower and how lovely this combination is together, or that they have that flower in their garden.  We engage in conversation about the plantlife, and I mention that I think I have seen a hummingbird here.  I also mention the lady who let her dog pee on the flower, but after some discussion choose to feel that there are decidedly more important things in life to be concerned about than a dog peeing on some flowers.

The gentleman introduces himself as Christopher and tells me there is an Oriole’s nest in ‘that tree over there’.  He describes the Oriole as a bright orange bird with a black stripe and assures me I would know if I had seen it.  He wonders if the bird still inhabits that nest or if it has fledged or been shooed out.

I let Christopher and his friend travel on away from me as I study other flowers on the path.  We  meet and separate again a time or two.  Towards the end of the path we see some dancers in white ponchos floating and prancing towards us.

“They look like Isadorables,” I say.  Dara, a friend of Christophers who had joined along the path laughs and says ‘Is that what they are?”  I ask if she knows what Isadorables are.  She does not.  “It’s what Isadora Duncan’s progeny were called,” I educate her.

There is a tour guide with the dancers, and a small group following him.  He is talking about how all of Fort Tryon used to be covered in ice.  A scientific tour!!!  I leave Christopher and Dara and the other gentleman, and join up with the tour group.

The guide, a lovely young man with cafe au lait skin and dark eyebrows brings us to an archway and tells us we must be brave if we are to continue on this journey with him.  The dancers join us, no longer in their ponchos and we are brought to a large rock wall where we are instructed to place a hand on the wall and one of the dancers talks about , well, I don’t remember what, but it had something to do with feeling the curves and spirit of the rock or something, and then he tells us to touch our faces and feel the curves there, which I don’t do.  I mean, we just put our hand on this rock and it is Manhattan after all.  Ewwww.

As the tour continues, we are brought to different people who give us different spiritual experiences to try; one has us remove our shoes and feel the grass and ‘the worms and ants and beetles moving beneath your feet’.  Another has us hold the wrist of the person to our right, close our eyes and suggests, “you are on a mountain top.  What do you see?”

Once I get over wanting to giggle at all the earthy-crunchy, touchy-feely stuff it’s kind of cool and I decide to kind of go with it and I feel a companionship with the tour group.

After the last woman, above us on a staircase, tells us we will eventually embrace all of our cracks and scars, she gives us each a marble.  We follow her around a corner and when we get there all the actors and dancers have evaporated.

I strike up a conversation with a woman named Susan.  She is a student of acting and has two daughters, one of whom is a dancer in LA with her own company. When I get home and on the computer,  I go to the website that Susan has given me and see her daughter, Nehara’s website and bio.  The final line of her bio is  “Nehara is a word for the light that shines from your face when you are happy.”

Indeed.

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Relaxed with Pep

Somehow, wiping the sweat off of my iced coffee was really important to me a minute ago.  My energy is really charged today.

After work yesterday, on the way to my voice lesson, I just started feeling really strranngggeee.   If I was still fertile, I would’ve said I was getting my period.  I swear I still get PMS.  Sometimes I feel like I’m pregnant.  It would be immaculate conception, though.

In the past, I think I may have tried to discern anxiously where this chaotic energy was coming from.  Yesterday, I didn’t really care about finding out where from or why.  I went with it and it’s like a cover has been taken off of a shaken bottle of pop.  My fizz runneth over!

At the same time, I’m more relaxed than I’ve ever been in my life.

I suffer from C-PTSD, which is a form of Post Traumatic Stress that is most easily understood as that being suffered by those who have been subjected to long-term,seemingly inescapable abuse or imprisonment.  A segment of the characteristics involves a lack of personal identity and hypervigilance. Add to that my natural tendency toward teaching, my overly organizational brain and a Mary Poppins attitude  (“Well begun is half done!”), and you get an uptight chic who has to have all  ducks in very neat rows and wants to know what’s happening when and why!

Flash forward to this summer.  In April I was ‘separated’ from another office job.  I was uptight there.  I wanted to know why!? everything was so disorganized and how come they did it like that?! and why was everyone so rude?!

There is a book by Dr. Joe Spinoza called Breaking The Habit of Being Yourself, How to Lose Your Mind and Create a New One .  My daughter sent me a screen shot of a page that described some neuroscience of changing your brain.  It came at exactly the right time, as these things are wont to do.

The premise in the book that worked for me is that your neurotransmitters are hardwired through emotional memory.  If there is a recurring, strong emotion that you would like to change, first sit with it – even if it’s uncomfortable, disturbing or frightening,  (ESPECIALLY if it’s those things!) so that you can try to see why it’s such a persistent thought.  Perhaps it indicates something you are missing, a hurt you haven’t healed or an anger that has not been dealt with.

When you have some awareness of what the issue is about, you can move into CHANGING it.  Whenever the emotion comes up and you find yourself revisiting the emotion, events and memories simply say, outloud, “CHANGE!”.  When that neurotransmitter loses it’s power and chemical connection, it will release, opening up a new transmitter for a Positive! thought!

Sounds so simplistic, and it is!  For me the physical sensation and visceral shift when doing this was notable.  I practiced this over the summer.

Here we are now, about to enter Autumn.  Lately, I find myself forgetting to tend to things.  Little things that aren’t going to cause anyone’s death or dismemberment, but things I used to be vigilant about tending to.  I find it amusing.  I’m uber relaxed.

I’m reminded of  Whatta Man by Salt N Peppa; “and when he comes home, he’s relaxed with Pep”.  The more relaxed I find myself, the more I find a youthful energy returning.  This is after the last six or so years of a kind-of death of my old life.

I stopped running, which I had done every day for seven years.  I stopped taking dance class. I stopped working out.  I watched movies and TV in all of my free time, lying on my bed, for the most part.  I wondered when, or if, I would come back to life.

Now I’m ready to move into a new life which I had previously given up hope of ever having the ambition for.

I’ve always been most charged in the morning; choreographing, singing, my mind zinging around ideas, being its most brilliant.  This is even more true now.

I’m ready to be teaching you Adult Ballet in the morning, choreographing my next combination or production number, singing songs and working out.  I’ve started running again and working out.  I woke up absolutely intent on a run on Sunday, threw on some gear, ran to the park, did lunges, squats, pushups and a Jazz Technique warm up!  Yay for being too sore to walk!!!

Follow me on Twitter @WickedTuff for science based fitness advise and notices about classes I’m teaching!

In the meantime, I’ll just be chillin’ over here.

 

 

 

 

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You can’t understand Depression

Robin Williams had success and wealth. He was loved by many, but clearly, he was not understood on the level he needed to be to feel that staying on this plane was tolerable.

The fact that the topic is being discussed is hopeful. However – we have a very long way to go . .

DEPRESSION: If you don’t suffer from it you can’t understand it. I know people are trying to because they care, but what’s not being talked about is the self-loathing and belief that there is no future, no hope, to fill the well of grief that many suffer.

Living in our society, where people have many layers of defense in public, which often expresses in anger and disdain, is a huge trigger for many.

Living in our society where value is placed on personal net worth, career success and relationship longevity, for someone already struggling with their own self-worth these criteria can be devastatingly oppressive. If one hasn’t achieved these benchmarks, the cycle of self-loathing and inability to try – for fear of failing, again, is debilitating.

The constant barrage of messages to ‘be happy’ and ‘go for it’ and that – if you’re not going for your dream you’re somehow wasting your life, dismisses the personal stories of a huge segment of the population.

The truth is, some people will talk about it, some will care, but very few will actually change the way they operate with people they don’t know to take an attitude of kindness and understanding.

I’ve made attempts in the past to share the truth about ‘where I live’ with people when it’s become relevant. The lesson I’ve learned (and, clearly, I was sharing with people who hadn’t the imagination to empathize) is that it is a rare and intelligent breed of human that truly ‘gets it’ and isn’t afraid to look at it.

I have been lucky in that I’ve had a highly gifted counselor, and a friend or two who knows this country a little bit. I have been given tools to evolve up the spiral of my psyche to a place where I understand that many of the beliefs I was given about myself and my life were truly inappropriate to reality.  I think it’s nothing short of miraculous that I’ve had these insights, and to someone who has less qualified and competent guidance, and a less innate optimism and joy (which I have discovered under the mountain of detritus piled up by a childhood of neglect, abuse and crazy-making messages) will be hard pressed to come up from the deep cone of despair without a great bit of help.

 

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#lysistrataproject

As with most problems in our world, there really are simple answers; people just keep getting in the way.

In a recent interview, Stephen Soderberg, the director, mentioned that people who dig in their heels against new ideas with the defense of “I don’t believe in that”, will stop a creative process dead.

Women are embattled. This is indisputable fact.  There is a War on Women.  This is not news to anyone who’s paying attention and sees women as people.

Men in government (which to me has become synonymous with despotic, mean, cruel and vindictive, not to mention pompous, condescending and disdainful of the general public) are working their hardest to make sure that the majority of us can’t have nice things; women especially,

I believe there is an extremely, almost embarrassingly simple remedy for this.  It is as old as time, and it is classic, written about in Greek mythology and recently given a musical theatre treatment that, in my not-so-humble opinion would have been saved from total turkeydom with a John Water’s treatment and some Julie Taymor production values.  If you haven’t guessed it by the hashtag header, I’ll ‘splain.

I suggest the Lysistrata Project.  Lysistrata, the title character in Aristophanes comedy, “…persuades the other women to withhold sexual privileges from their menfolk as a means of forcing them to end the interminable Peloponnesian War.”  I propose that the Women of America withhold sex from their men until legislation stops being anti-woman.  Of course, sex workers would have to be on board with the whole thing.  As a matter of fact, considering the behavior of the boys in DC, they would be the most important players.   I may have to do a kickstarter so that I can compensate these Generals and make it worth their while.

The majority of the population in America is female.  Many of them are heterosexual and in relationships; committed or otherwise.  I would be interested to see what would happen if the bargaining chip for a man’s pleasure became a call to a legislator insisting that women’s issues stop being abused and start being respected.  No blow jobs, no hand jobs, no pussy.  Unless they make a phone call.  ONE. PHONE. CALL.

I hope you’ll join me.  #lysistrataproject

 

 

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I do not like the sight of hipsters in my neighborhood.  It actually causes my lip to curl in a sneer, involuntarily.  Lately, there’ve been more than a few up here in the Heights and I tell you, it’s just wrong.  This is not the place for that attitude.  Nobody here gives a shit about obscurity.  Au contraire mon fraire.  I’m pretty sure up in here the more popular something is, the more it has street cred my nigga.

Not that I really care.  About anything right now (except my daughter’s success.  THAT is AlwaYS paramount).  I’m supposed to be training this week to get ready for next week’s rehearsals for my dream-come-true choreography premiere at City Center.  I’m really, really excited about it, but I am so exhausted I don’t want to move.  It is entirely possible that my fatigue is due to a killer respiratory infection that I was sporting last week while I worked full time, took dance class every evening and had a 9PM performance every night.  By Friday of last week, my motivation decided to go walk-about.  it makes perfect sense in light of my schedule, but I just can’t with this. (GREAT grammatical bastardization, BTW, whoever came up with that one.  That’s what I call word efficiency).

This damp, chilly, foggy shitty weather is great for staying home and sleeping or surfing netflix and that is the extent of my motivation.  I’m not getting any work, although I’m submitting to everything.  I have no desire to commute to class in this.  And I bought a Steps dance card the day before I discovered that two of my more-well-liked teachers are at BalletArts on alternating days 7 days a week.  AND their class card is $20 cheaper.  Grrrrr.  So I need to motivate my ass out of the house in crappy weather that’s just begging me to nap, to take a class that I am really quite ambiguous about.

I hoped that writing about this would give me a clue or perspective on my lack of motivation, but that ain’t happenin.  As a matter of fact, I’m just getting groggier as I sip my Berry Zinger-laced-with-ginger tea.  More and more the idea of leaving the house to go and try and exert myself physically just seems blatantly WRONG.

When I was younger – as few as three years ago, you couldn’t hold me down from going to class.  Sick or tired or hungover or depressed, I’d be in my ‘tards and tights and a half hour early.

I want to buy yarn  Knitting scarves is appealing to me.  Watching movies and knitting.  That sounds just lovely.  Crafts.  Arts and crafts. and Movies.

I’m going to stay in today.  But just today, because I’m 11 days away from performance, and motivation or no, I’m not getting up on that stage unprepared.  Oh!  Look at that.  I found my motivation.

 

 

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Dark and Dirty-Is it like that for you, too?

Apparently, I’m not the only one slogging through some pretty deep shit right now.

It appears that there’s a lot us coming around to the dark side of their spiral again, and we’re not finding the cushiony, accepting affection that we know we need to feel some healing.  Still.  Patterns are repeating themselves and our belief systems are stuck in place.

According to the mystic, cosmic sources I look at, this is a time of paradigm shift.  We have the opportunity to truly change what we believe about the world, to open ourselves up to what, in the past, may have seemed like fantasy, and to create real change for ourselves and others on a soul level.

This all makes me slightly disassociative, if not completely schizoid.  I want desperately to believe that I can change my deep beliefs so that I can show to myself the kind of support that I give to others.  I’ve changed lives.  I’ve seen people pursue their dreams because I’ve been in their lives.  But because I don’t have the ability to step outside of myself for myself, I continue to come around the cycle to the place of self-loathing, hopelessness and desperation.

People are always talking about pursuing your dreams, and posting trite little positivisms about how you should believe in order to achieve that.  There are blogs and books about how to survive financially and emotionally when you’re trying to achieve that dream.

One of the things those advice columns, articles and books talk about is having a good network of support.

This isn’t something that’s a realistic option for me. My basic ability to trust people is completely compromised.  See my previous blog entry  Your Brain on C-PTSD .  The fear centers in  my brain are physiologically distorted.  Reasonable social situations are threatening to me.  I am hyper-vigilant, overly-sensitive to sensory stimuli and unable to trust.

I’m pretty sure my purpose on earth is to teach people how to to love and accept themselves, how to see their own glistening star, and to have an understanding of the behavior of others in relation to their needs so that they can move towards their true soul expression.  I am able to separate my distortions of perception from how others exist in the world.  I know this is a gift.

However, until I find someone who can stand by my side, have a deep understanding of this condition and shore me up, it looks like this teacher will not be practicing what she’s preaching.  I think about possible avenues to make a career for myself all the time: go back to school for journalism or creative writing or social work, start a dance company of audition for a show.  These are terrifying ideas.  Why bother because there is no chance of my success.  That’s my brain on C-PTSD.  It’s too terrifying to consider trying because of the lifelong lessons of  failure and punishment.  The most recent foray into that world sent me into this spiral in the first place.

All of this crap is no fun to share, but a part of me believes that shedding light on something makes it lose it’s power.  I’m at the despair point in my cycle; that point in my spiral where focusing on what’s going on and trying to make some sense of it deepens my self-loathing and despair.  I suppose that could be interpreted as a sign that I should not think about  it; I should ‘get over it’ and get on with my life.  If I do that it won’t make this problem go away, though, will it?  It will rear it’s ugly head again. Again and again and again.  And again and again and again.

Being positive in your outlook is all fine and good, but if the underlying sewage that’s clogging the system isn’t dealt with, it’s going to continue to impede progress.

Here’s something, though:  there was a time when my way of dealing with this despair was with destructive behaviors.  Ironically, I find myself going in the opposite direction now; I don’t want a glass of wine, a beer, a cigarette.  I want healing.  I want financial security.  I want artistic environments to work on my talents.  Naming those desires starts the cycle again because I don’t have those things and despite having brought them to myself before, there are missed opportunities because I focused on other things that I thought were opportunities before me, so I didn’t take the long-term office assignment because I had an interview! that was for a job that would fit perfectly into my plan but then the  devastation that ensues  after putting myself out there and running into narcissists or power hungry apes sends me deeply back into my cave.

I’d like to pretend I’m writing this so that anyone else who’s going through the same thing won’t feel alone, but the truth is I feel alone and hope that people reading this will have some empathy for me.  One of the immature symptoms of C-PTSD sufferers is rescue fantasy.    It’s no accident that Cinderella’s rescue is a story I truly wish I could live.  The telling thing is that I believe in Astral Projection and Telekinesis, teleportation and Quantum physics more than I believe that something like that could ever be a truth for me.

Beam me up Scottie.

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Incomplete Journalism, The Fast Food Worker’s Strike and Armchair Economics

It’s really exciting to see that there is coverage of the Fast Food Worker’s strike on CNN.  A public outcry for a living-wage-as-minimum-wage is something I kind-of never expected to see. Unfortunately, I’m not terribly hopeful about the response of the employers and lawmakers to this, in part because of the shoddy, slanted reporting that’s going on.

Obviously, no one can live on the current minimum wage.  The fact that the restaurant organization is claiming that paying people a livable wage will  drive up their costs, forcing them to raise prices, especially on their dollar menu, and hire fewer workers, is not being countered by the truthful statement that if workers make more money, more money will go back into the restaurant owner’s pockets.  Currently, workers cannot afford to eat out.  Maybe they can afford the dollar menu?  I have a hard time believing that a fast food joint wouldn’t benefit from most workers being able to afford a meal deal, that usually costs upwards of $6, rather than ordering something that only brings in a dollar.  (I haven’t eaten fast food in a very long time, so I’m guestimating here.  I don’t dare eat at those places).

I view the elimination of the dollar menu as a positive sign all around.  First of all, the dollar menu’s main target is people who barely have a dollar in their pocket to spend on food, isn’t it?  If people aren’t taking advantage of it, perhaps it’s because they don’t have to; they can afford to buy a real meal.  Secondly, if everyone is making a living wage, the only people who’ll miss the dollar menu are the real bargain hunters.  I believe that if people can afford it, they’re going to choose healthy, organic food.  There’s free range fried chicken and burgers, after all, but that’s not something you’re likely to ever see on a dollar menu.  Honestly, who wouldn’t choose humane, organic food if they could afford it?

So let’s see.  On a living wage, people can afford to take their families out for a healthy meal.  Who benefits from this?  Obviously, the restauranteur and everyone who works for her; waiters, dishwashers, bussers, bartenders, chefs, prep cooks, hosts, if not with the cash from the increased tips, then at least from job security; all of the restaurant suppliers: produce, meat, dry goods, beverage and spirit, utilities suppliers, landlords (or the bank if the owner can afford to own the building, the likelihood of which is much higher in my scenario), etc.  All of those employees and suppliers now have more money to put back into the economy by buying more, likely higher-end, products and services.  You get my point.

What I want to know, and I asked this same question over a decade ago, is why isn’t  this the main stream rhetoric of economists?  Why isn’t this the agenda of business owner everywhere?  

The only thing that occurs to me, regarding CEO’s and billionnaires, is that they’re already making so much money, they don’t care if their businesses do better?  But that doesn’t really make sense, now, does it.  So why are they so greedy; ultimately at their own expense?

It would be a miraculous salve to the economy if minimum wage were to be catapulted to the $15/hour living wage that the workers are asking for, but until my armchair economics are public opinion, I’m not holding my breath on that one.

I’d love any feedback on the economics of this, but keep it intelligent, decipherable and polite.  I took the time to articulate my arguments.  If you claim to be an economist, make your points something understandable or don’t bother.   Attacks will not be tolerated.  I still mediate this blog.

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