Thursday, November 30, 2017

January Playshop: Dance Wild -- Reflexive Conditioning

On the first Sunday of 2018, January 7, JAG is going to throw a "Wild" party at Balance Studio in Fremont. We'll meet at 9:00am and go through all of the moves of the routine.

photo by Sandra Caldwell
NiaSeattle teacher Jam, Fall 2017
First we'll Learn them and then Move them. This will all be done without music so that we can take our time and really appreciate the structure of each move and kata. We will also be having a conversation about reflexive conditioning as we go through the routine.

And then, at 10:30 we'll do the Wild routine all the way through with music and enjoy the opportunity to Energize all of the movements. The focus of the routine is on Reflexive Conditioning.

Reflexive Conditioning is one of the four types of conditioning that Nia offers and one that is often overlooked. Nia encourages us to exercise with fluid ease, softness and gentleness, but it's also just as valuable and important to engage the nervous system with suddenness, surprise, sharpness and intensity. Life isn't always gentle and easy, and if we're only conditioned for that, we'll be taken by surprise when life throws something unexpected at us. The sudden, explosive movements that show up all throughout the Wild routine, condition our ability to act quicker than we can think so that we can immediately recover when we slip on the ice or misjudge the height of a step or to react when something falls on us or we have to catch something. If we have been conditioning our reflexes, we can gracefully maneuver through those situations as a part of life, but if our reflexes are slow and soft, they could spell injurious disaster.

This playshop will teach us how to engage and sharpen our reflexes and will be a great primer for the Wild routine for any student of Nia or any teacher as well. No prior experience is needed, but if you are learning the routine, this experience will certainly help cement it in your body.

Debbie Rosas will be in town the day before, teaching the very same work in an afternoon workshop at Blue Heron Ranch in Sammamish. That event goes from 2pm - 5pm and costs $99. The one on Sunday with JAG is 9am - 11:30am for $20 and can stand alone or would be a wonderful supplement to spending the previous afternoon with Debbie. It'll be a WILD weekend! Contact Randee Fox or click here to register for the Saturday playshop with Debbie Rosas, co-creator of Nia and choreographer of the Wild routine.

Use the PayPal button below to register for the Wild Party the 'day after' with JAG on Sunday, January 7. You can also pay at the door. JAG's students can use their class card and just pay $5 for the playshop.


Nia with JAG

Thursday, November 16, 2017

December Playshop: Martial Arts of Nia

Nia draws from the influence of several Martial Arts, Healing Arts and Dance Arts.  For the December Playshop of the Month, JAG will focus on the three Martial Arts that Nia borrows from:

Tai Chi - "The Slow Dance"

Tae Kwon Do - "The Dance of Precision"

Aikido - "Harmonious, Spherical Action"

If you think that the Martial Arts is just about throwing blocks and kicks, then you will definitely benefit from this playshop that discusses and explores how we get the power of moving slowly, shifting our weight, traveling in directions, stabilizing, grounding, centering, conditioning and healing our bodies form the Martial Arts.

In addition to a brief overview of proper body mechanics, we will also have a visceral experience of many aspects that make Nia such a unique and powerful practice.

The first 90 minutes of class will focus on each of the three Martial Arts, and the final hour will be a class in which we can appreciate all of the Slowness, Precision and Harmony that we have learned from Martial Arts.

This is not advanced, athletic, level 3 or high-energy. This is an informative, instructional playshop. Anyone, of any fitness level, is welcome and will benefit from attending. Do not be alarmed by the prospect of 2 1/2 hours of Martial Arts. If that concerns you and you fear you may not be able to keep up, then it is a good indication that you need this information and will benefit from learning what Martial Arts energy actually is and how it related to our everyday Nia practice.

If you have a class card with JAG, you can use one chit and pay an extra $5 for the playshop, or you can pay the very low price of $20 which includes the 90 minutes of instruction and the one-hour class.  Feel free to pay at the door or use PayPal to pre-register.

Cash, check and credit cards are accepted at the door.


Nia with JAG


Friday, October 20, 2017

November Playshop: How to FreeDance




Have you ever felt lost when the teacher calls out "FreeDance!" in the middle of a Nia class?  Are you one of those that escape by getting a sip of water or hiding in the the back corner of the room until the choreography returns? Then you need this playshop. JAG has gone into the mind of a FreeDancer and will break down, step by step, what happens inside someone to allow them to FreeDance creatively for hours.
Learning these very simple tools will transform anyone into a passionate, creative, unstoppable FreeDancer. After this morning, you will no longer wonder what to do when the only direction is "FreeDance Everybody!" You will no longer run out of ideas and you will relish the opportunity to break into spontaneous FreeDance once you've learned these 'secrets'.
This is not the 8 Stages of FreeDance (which is for creating choreography) and it's not the Nia FreeDance class format which rellies on your ability to pull moves out of your back pocket. But this is literally the tools and techniques that are going on inside someone who loves to FreeDance.
Teachers: although this playshop is designed to address the needs of a student in a Nia class, it has proven to be invaluable information for any teacher hoping to inspire FreeDancing in their students. Using these tools, someone could easily guide themselves to FreeDance for hours, and similarly, the tools can also help teachers give a more supportive and inspirational experience of FreeDancing to their students in a classic Nia class or in a Nia FreeDance class. 
The first 90 minutes consists of JAG spelling out the ABCs, the "Nuts and Bolts" of the art of FreeDance. And after learning those, the last hour gives the students a wonderful opportunity to practice the art of "Anything Goes Movement Wise" in the context of a super-fun Nia class.
We'll be doing JAG's original "Woodstock Experience" routine which students all across the USA have been enjoying for years. It is a classic format Nia class, with the Focus on FreeDance, so there is plenty of opportunity to both enjoy JAGs choreography and break into FreeDance. 
If you already love FreeDance, you'll also really appreciate this work. It will undoubtedly give you more inspiration and increase your creative output.

The Playshop takes place at Balance Studio in the Fremont neighborhood of Seattle.

Balance Studio
418 N 35th St.

Sunday, November 5
9:00 am - 10:30am = Learn the Tools
10:30am - 11:30am = Practice the Tools in the classic format Nia routine, Woodstock Experience, created by JAG

You can either pay at the door or use the PayPal button below to pre-purchase, or to purchase JAGs Nia class cards.

Nia with JAG

Thursday, October 12, 2017

What is the Real Problem?

Pardon me while I rant for a bit:
If I meet violence with violence, then I've solved nothing but have simply continued the problem. When someone insults me, and my first reaction is to top them with a better, sharper barb, I stop and remind myself that I want to return love to them as they are showing me how much pain and conflict they have inside. Any retaliation would only make everything worse. I just got called a despicable apologist (and worse) for suggesting that to kill a Nazi makes one no better than the Nazi. I wish they could hear themselves saying "Killing Nazis? Count me in!" (Just substitute the word 'jew' or 'fag' for Nazi and you can start to hear yourself how I hear you.) One person was so deaf to his own rants that when he said that Nazis "deserved to die" because "they killed my people" he could not appreciate the reality that I pointed out, "by your logic, once you kill a Nazi, their families are completely justified in killing you." Where does it end?
It ends when someone decides to take the higher road and stop killing. It will be reliant on the more intelligent, the stronger and the more evolved among us to bring this to an end by refusing to lower themselves to the levels of the basic, ignorant, fearful murderers. We need to educate and nurture those that are so frightened that they forget that we're all humans and we all deserve to live in peace our own way, as long as we don't encroach on the life and liberty of others. And I'm talking about BOTH sides.
The people I was debating with today are otherwise decent, liberal people who seem to have lost their way and are so blinded by their rage that they actually believe it is OK to end the life of someone else as long as that person belongs to a group that has committed the same heinous crime of murder. I did my best to explain to them that anger, hatred and killing was the problem, not the solution, but I sadly bowed out when they saw my arguments as being sympathetic to Nazis and the attacks on me got personal.
So I am imploring all sane-minded liberals to keep their wits about them. Please avoid debasing yourself to epithets and, even worse, threats of physical violence. Otherwise you have no platform to stand on when you are behaving exactly like the people you claim to be in disagreement with.

Image result for peace sign begins within

Saturday, September 30, 2017

Day Off in The Valley

First thing I did when I woke up was chase the cockroaches out of the kitchen.  It warmed my heart as this was a tradition during the several years I was a valley guy.  It's something I learned to live with.  They seem to have an agreement that once day breaks, they all go back to their hiding places. And any food that I've left out overnight is fair game.

I had spilled a tiny drop of chili on the counter and there was one particularly persistent critter that kept feasting, even after I turned the light on and got my face really close to him so I could watch the fascinating creature. It almost seemed like he was so involved in his meal that he didn't notice me.  Until he did. And then suddenly, he bolted away and hid between the wall and the cabinets.

After having my coffee and walking River, I went into the office to pay for two more nights here. I had reserved my stay here several months earlier so I locked in what turned out to be an old rate. Last night was a last minute reservation, so I paid the current rate. It took a little bit of convincing to get the clerk to honor my reserved rate, but I did prevail and am happily enjoying my room having paid the July rates in September!!

Something important to note is that my tooth does not hurt today. It is so strange, how yesterday I was in great pain. The pain was severe enough to be a distraction and I took two aspirin and went to bed at nine pm just so I wouldn't have to deal with it. I was NOT looking forward to suffering for the next few days. So imagine my delight to wake up pain free. I'm not sure if the aspirin is working or what could be going on, but I know that I need to have it looked at.

So far I haven't heard back from the dentist in Santa Barbara.

I took River with me as I went to the Sprouts market to restock my cooler with food. The first thing I did was refill some of my water jugs in the vending filter. As I did a woman approached me and asked if I knew that the city was now putting potassium in our water supply. I didn't know that and I engaged her to get more information. I get a kick out of having conversations with crazy street people sometimes. It is interesting to note that if you talk to them long enough you realize that they are on a loop. I tend to talk with them until they start to repeat themselves, then I know I've gotten it all and I wish them a great day and move on.

Driving through the valley is nostalgic. I spent many formative years here and it's amazing how much it still has that 'home' feeling. And I find myself being flooded with sense memories on certain corners. I feel like the valley is similar to Manhattan, if you took it and spread it all out into one story and replaced the subway with parking lots and car washes. It has that never-ending always-going, something-for-everyone quality. It feels like you could just go and go and go and never reach the end, and on every block there is enough activity to keep you busy for a month.

After writing up a press release and catching up on my messages for several hours, River rescued me from my own reclusivism and forced me to get some sunshine. Filled with thoughts and feelings, mostly fond memories, I walked my dog on the streets of the San Fernando Valley on a beautiful,  hazy day. We crossed over the LA River on Sherman Way in what I gather is the floor coverings district? Tiles marble, carpets, acrylics, doors too! Up ahead was a considerable ruckus, so I herded River off the main street.
This late Saturday afternoon the particular side street we found ourselves exploring was fairly deserted. We passed the pot store and then the chick smoking outside. There was a flurry of activity at the outdoor costume bazaar, "Facebook me tomorrow if you just can't do without that alligator." Only speaking Spanish, someone tried to tell me I had left my phone in the wall, but I could not understand; I finally discovered that the gesture was toward an iPhone with a light pink case on it. When I saw it, I immediately assumed it belonged to a young girl, but this passing bike rider thought it was mine and the kind soul didn't want me to forget it or have it stolen. We shared a laugh of wonder as we both surrendered to the fate of the phone. Shrug, "that's a beautiful dog", thanks.
Isn't it funny how we create these pictures of people with so little evidence?  Like how did you picture the person in that last story? I was careful not to describe the person; but do you create a person in your head? BOOM! 
We passed the hobo jungle and everyone kept to themselves. I led River to the outside of the encampments which meant for us, the streets were  more about staying a respectful distance from people's homes. Fortunately there was no traffic.
And finally to the acme of our journey. I so wish I had brought my phone, although I'm sure even a video couldn't capture the intensity of the corner of Mayner and Greenbush Sts. A combination of memorabilia and garbage in perfect balance. I don't know what I was looking at... the back of an abandoned train platform? Grain silo? Warehouse? No trees, all corrugated metal, rusted and faded into a patina of use and neglect. Any of the trucks parked nearby could be someone's home. There's no turning left or going straight; this is a L shaped intersection. And down Greenbush St was a long walk between two high fences on either side. An obvious turning around point, but not before profound appreciation for the splendor of this moment in deep Van Nuys.

I'd go back and take a picture of this spot for you, but I'm not going back there at night.

The tooth started to threaten to hurt again as I was eating some corn chips with my soup. But I chewed gingerly and washed thoroughly and so far, it hasn't started up again. The dentist never wrote back to me, so maybe she couldn't fit me in on Tuesday. I had told her if she couldn't see me Tuesday not to bother because I'd be gone. So I guess I'll just make an appointment for when I'm back in Seattle.



Friday, September 29, 2017

Needles to Van Nuys

We took our time getting out of Needles and pretty much drove straight through to Van Nuys. I stopped once to break up the monotony and another time to refuel, but other than that I tore up the Interstate.

When I stopped for gas, I was following CA-18, and I didn't realize it until after I gassed up and was getting back on the highway but I was at the junction with US-395, another one of my favorite highways. I didn't go off course, though. I only drove on US 395 for about 100 yards in between the gas station and CA-18. One day I still want to take 395 from one end to the other.

The main thing on my mind today was incredible tooth pain. It started mildly yesterday. So mild that I quickly forgot about it. But today it wasn't so easy to ignore and forget about. I thought I had something lodged in my teeth, so I fussed with it with my tongue and swished water around in my mouth, but nothing helped.

I've had my suspicions about this one spot in my upper right back molars. There's what seems to be a widening gap between them, and it catches food a lot. I've told dentists about it before and they haven't found any decay or anything wrong. But now this is the spot where the pain is coming from. I think. It's kind of hard to pinpoint. But it's strong. It feels like there's a spike in my cheekbone. I am considering making an emergency dentist appointment for Tuesday, when I'm in Santa Barbara. It's really the only time I can think of that I would be able to leave Rive somewhere while I went to the dentist.

If the pain goes away, maybe I can wait until I get home. It's only ten more days. Maybe, if I call now, ten days from now would be the earliest I could get, anyway. I just hope I don't have to deal with this pain constantly. It takes so much energy.

I left a message for a dentist that has an office literally around the corner from my aunt's house. It might work out that I could leave River in her house while I have the tooth worked on. I hope she gets back to me and says that she can fit me in on Monday or Tuesday.

In the meantime, I'll be applying Thieves Oil.

I'm so glad I was traveling west today. There were three separate traffic jams going the opposite direction. Two, on one lane highways, due to road construction, and one that looked more chronic, as I was entering L.A. around 4:30 on a Friday afternoon, LOADS and LOADS of cars were very slowly leaving.

I'm staying in my second Studio 6 of the year. It seems so luxurious having a separate bathroom and separate kitchen. It's a suite! Suite 6.

This is in the heart of the San Fernando Valley. There's nothing quite like it. It's urban sprawl for as far as the eye can see. Activity is around every corner. After checking into our room, I took River around the block. Suite 6 is on Sherman Way, a busy, major street. (I don't hear anything; my room faces the pool.) But right around the corner is a quiet residential neighborhood. River found enough to smell in half a block and was ready to saunter back to the room.



Thursday, September 28, 2017

Santa Fe to Flagstaff


It was a beautiful day as I left Santa Fe, but by the time I hit Prewitt, NM the sky was filled with dark clouds. It was a beautiful sight.

It was raining as I crossed the state line into Arizona, but almost immediately cleared up and stayed pleasant; dry and windy in Arizona.

As I passed through Chambers, as I drove past the exit for Pinta Rd, my trip odometer read 8888.8.
And later on, as I was near Winslow, AZ my trip hit the 9000 mile mark.

The room at the Motel 6 in Flagstaff smelled so strongly of bleach that I could barely walk in. I turned on the two fans and left the door open before moving any of my stuff in from the car. I took River for a walk for an hour. I didn't walk for an hour; we hung out in the parking lot, exploring the grassy area and walked clockwise and then counter clockwise around the whole property.

It was tolerable by the time I got back into the room again. I sprayed all over with essential oils diluted in water and left the fans on. As I sat there, my throat started to burn and my eyes would sting occasionally. The severity lessened as the night went on.