Southern California Fun

On Friday, the day started with a nice long walk in the sunshine with River around the parking lot and vacinity of the studio in Campbell where we were going to gather for my FreeDance Playshop.

It was a thrilling few hours as we addressed what FreeDancing is, why we do it and how we do it. It is so rewarding to see lightbulbs go off and boundaries be challenged by playing around with the wonders of FreeDance.

A couple of the students were loath to accept the notion that FreeDance could be guided. They insisted that it was only FreeDance if they could do whatever they wanted. I first assured them that they could do anything they wanted in a FreeDance and not be incorrect, but that in a Nia class, the majority of the time there is some form of guidance being given. And that is also FreeDance because the choice of movement is ultimately up to the student to make.

In my Frankie Say Nia routine, there are two instances where I will establish a movement kata and then after a while say that it's time to take the movement through the room. That, too, is a form of FreeDance, as the student chooses how and where to do the movement. As a teacher, my intention when offering guidance is to assist and stimulate the student, not to prohibit anything or to consider anything the student is doing as being wrong. 

And to top off the experience, I like to teach my all FreeDance routine. One of the participants was a long-time teacher with many older routines under her belt and she recognized many of the FreeDance songs that Carlos has crafted over the years. The first song from Mantra, the swordplay song from Bliss, the fool dance from Universal Mind, the flounce from AO, etc.

Immediately after the playshop ended, I packed River up and we drove all the way down to Santa Barbara. I stayed at my Aunt Dorothy's house, which is a house I have frequented for as long as I can remember. Every year in August for an Old Spanish Days celebration, she and my Uncle Tommy would host a big Spanish feast. My favorites were the enchiladas. I looked forward to them every year. And so of course, I had plenty of enchiladas while I was there. I had some for dinner, and then, for breakfast, I had a few more with fried eggs on top had then I had a cooler full of them when I left the next day.

Five months ago (since the last time I saw her) she retired from a long-term stressful job in a law office and from that time until now she has lost a lot of weight and feels terrific. She exercises several times a week and knows it has benefits, but also feels strongly that she lost the weight because of the reduction of stressors in her life. Namely, her job. I tend to agree with her assessment. I'd say it sounds like the M.O. of a hormone called cortisol, which she's no longer pumping herself with every day, 24 hours a day.

River can certainly feel the difference between being in a live house and in a motel room. I wanted to leave River in the car and set up a crate for him in 'my room' so I could just scoot him right into it. She seemed to think it was sad, but I explained to her that it wasn't because when I brought River into the giant house, he'll want to fill it with his nervous energy and that invites people to react to him and it becomes a vicious circle of excitement. It was a cat house, too. And the cat was nowhere to be found, but River was constantly on the lookout for the source of that ubiquitous odor.

Having the crate ready and ushering him straight into it, gives him a chance to relax and acclimate to the 'buzz' and the scent of the house before he reacts. 'He's not in trouble', I explained, 'I'm helping him relax'.

The next day, Dorothy, River and I took a long walk to a park where River and I played a few good rounds of Bite and Carry. After that, River spotted a dog waiting to cross the street at the corner and stretched down into a slow bow that collapsed into a sideways heap. Much better than his typical old response which was to go on high alert, and possibly escalate to defensive tactical action.

Next stop was San Diego.

I arrived early enough in SD that I couldn't check into my motel, so River and I went to the food co-op store to refill our water jugs and then hung out at Robb Baseball Field. We hung out in the sun for a long time, I did some of my exercises and snuck in some for him.

At one point, we ran too far astray from the soft grass and found some grass prickly enough to make us both wince and slowly step backwards and turn around and walk lightly with thorns in our feet. By the time we were done, he lied down for a while, calmly panting with big open face.

I lost track of time and ended up sitting and playing in the sun for about two hours. I ended up with a sunburn, but it was worth it. I met up with my facebook friend and Nia sister, Audrey in the mall for some like totally cool and awesome good for you food. I got a squash pizza with a generous heap of arugula and ate half of it before class and the other half as a midnight snack.

I taught Frankie Say Nia with an enthusiastic group, many of whom had gone all out eighties with hair scrunchies and bright neon! It was right in the flightpath for the nearby airport. So about four times during class, all we could hear was the jet engine. The funny thing is that afterwards, at dinner a student in class explained that they were so used to the regular jets that they don't even hear them anymore. That helps explain why my jokes about the jet noise didn't get any laughs.

After having dinner with some folks from the class we got back on the highway and headed up north to L.A. where we spent the night.

First thing in the morning, I was back in traffic on my way to teach a class in Santa Monica. So much traffic, in fact, that I was at one point wondering if  maybe I had underestimated the time it would take to get to the studio, find parking and get set up. As it turns out, I got there in plenty of time and found parking right by the door.

Frankie Say Nia was off the charts in L.A! The energy from Santa Monica did not disappoint. Much singing, much smiling, joyful moving and bright neon colors. Very creative and inspiring energy.

Tomorrow, I'm excited to be getting together with some of the LA Nia teachers and putting together my first collaborative song for the community synergy routine before I take off for our next destination; Tempe.


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