Art made of me…

After loads of hours spent behind my computer, I just finished my series of fliers in which I announce the dance workshops I will offer between now and next summer holidays. Dance… I never thought the core of my life would consist of offering dance…

Art has always been close to me, I created since I could walk and talk, I made all kinds of art from drawings, paintings and soft sculptures to sculpting clay and stone, building video installations and creating haptic spaces… all kinds of art that I had to bring into the world, they all had to be shown, to be sold; I worked really hard to get all those objects, all those manifestations of me into the world… it was a quest to get recognition… it never brought me any satisfaction…

And now there is dance… another discipline… at this moment I enjoy sitting with my face in the sun after a hefty autumnal downpour, like a lazy cat I savour light and warmth… I ponder about how dance became my way of living, my form of art to express and communicate, to convey and to share… a form of art that cannot be saved, cannot be touched… though dance touches…

A floor is my home base now, a playground, a safe place where I can move who I am and turn all my suffering into art… my dance disappears at almost the same moment as it comes to being… art I cannot keep, cannot hold and show, cannot stick to… I move, breathe and let go, move, breathe, let go… my dance is a precious expression of the present, of who I am right in that moment, of how I feel just in that second, already moving and changing into a next…

I sculpt time, from moment to moment going with the flow I sculpt space, I create art in a form that is constantly in a state of dissolving. I find it strangely beautiful to be creating art that is made of me – made of my breath, blood and bones, coming from my heart, mind and soul… from all parts of my body…

I love dance… I trust dance… dance is my safe haven.

 

It takes courage…

I am still under the spell of England where we visited such beautiful and romantic places… places I know from Pride and Prejudice, Sense and Sensibility, Mrs. Brown and The Crown… places I know from my daughter’s thesis about the chantries of Winchester cathedral… places I saw on iconic pictures before and now I had the privilege of experiencing them live…

I deeply enjoyed roaming the white cliffs,  sensing Jane Austen’ s feet strolling through the fields around Chawton and sleeping next to Stonehenge… it was an experience beyond words…

Sounds lyrical, doesn’t it? The thing is… there’s 5 rhythms and inevitably me and my own mr. Darcy danced them ALL, in all flavours, in all colours of the rainbow, from bright to dark, from full shadow back into the light…

We were not the dream couple… we quarelled, we struggled, we worked hard these last four weeks…

We lived the difference between strength and courage… and finally found each other again… We are more intimate than ever… that’s worth everything…

This poem from an unknown author tells a bit about our journey and our all rhythms explorations…

It takes strength to be firm, it takes courage to be gentle. 

It takes strength to conquer, it takes courage to surrender.

It takes strength to be certain, it takes courage to have doubt. 

It takes strength to fit in, it takes courage to stand out. 

It takes strength to feel a friend’s pain, it takes courage to feel your own pain. 

It takes strength to endure abuse, it takes courage to stop it. 

It takes strength to stand alone, it takes courage to lean on another.

It takes strength to love, it takes courage to be loved. 

It takes strength to survive, it takes courage to live.

 

Yes, for sure, it takes courage to live! Thank God, we can dance this ALL!

 

Feet first: Feet on earth know, feet up in the air know too!

Wow, one moment I am down and out and the next I am in the midst of new adventures… I was in New York last month to join, support and cheer the new trainees on their way to become 5Rhythms teachers. So, I was back at the Garrison Institute, a former monastery, now an inspiring spiritual centre, beautifully situated on the banks of the Hudson. Being there again brought up sweet memories of my own teacher training some years ago…

The module of this recent teacher training was about embodiment. Focus on the body; we practised our rhythms, we moved and danced for hours and hours, day after day; bodyparts, bodyparts, bodyparts… emphasis on feet, where it all starts… feet first… feet on earth know…

All our body wisdom comes from feet… I began the training with stiff ankles and rusty calfs, rigid feet, strained muscles… but after some days of feet first, letting the dance start from feet, some miles of walking meditation and barefoot walks outside, I developed new connections with my feet… the quality of my foot tissue changed, my feet softened and opened… I experienced more space, more mobility, more sensations, vibrations, more information coming through; I started listening with my feet, breathing through my feet, following my feet, trusting my feet; amazing what my feet did tell me, how lively they became … I didn’t know my feet had all of that in them… my feet felt released and reborn…

At some point during this teacher training Erik Iversen, member of the teaching staff, stated that our feet generally are bored, because of spending so much time in shoes… and yes… I must admit… that was exactly what occurred to me after some days…. sorry dear feet, for neglecting you for such a long time…

Now that I am attuned to these stunning vivid connections in all 52 bones of my feet,
their 33 joints, 107 ligaments and 19 muscles and tendons, I am in awe of the complex movements my feet are able to make, so that I can walk, go everywhere, take in information from earth, nourish my whole body with sensitivity and mobility… feet on earth know… feet up in the air know too…

A next step for me is to orient on buying barefoot shoes… another adventure…

We dance… that’s life!

While preparing for my trip to New York, where I go dancing to refresh and to cheer others on their path to become a 5Rhythms teacher, I had some reflections on how life treats us and how we treat life…

These meditations brought me to Charlie Chaplin’s speech at his 70th birthday on April 16th, 1959. I like it, because it tells us something about how we develop growing older, it tells us something about the practice of life…

To me what he says resonates deeply with what I experience from practising the 5Rhythms, all the threads that we dance, all the threads that we move, all the threads that we weave; weaving wave after wave, hour after hour, day after day, year after year, a life-time… All the threads that we weave into our endlessly creative, own designed, unique fabric; retrieving our amazing body, our dear heart, our beautiful mind, and authentic soul… our pure essence…

I would like to share his words with you… as an inspiration for our dance, for beginners and oldies, for teachers and teachers to be…

“As I began to love myself I found that anguish and emotional suffering are only warning signs that I was living against my own truth.
Today, I know this is AUTHENTICITY

As I began to love myself I understood how much it can offend somebody as I try to force my desires on this person, even though I knew the time was not right and the person was not ready for it, and even though this person was me.
Today I call it RESPECT

As I began to love myself I stopped craving for a different life and I could see that everything that surrounded me was inviting me to grow.
Today, I call it MATURITY

As I began to love myself I quit steeling my own time, and I stopped designing huge projects for the future. Today, I only do what brings me joy and happiness, things I love to do and that make my heart cheer, and I do them in my own way and in my own rhythm.
Today, I call it SIMPLICITY

As I began to love myself I freed myself of anything that is no good for my health-food, people, things, situations, and everything that drew me down and away from myself. At first I called this attitude a healthy egoism.
Today I know it is LOVE OF ONESELF

As I began to love myself I quit trying to always be right and ever since I was wrong less of the time.Today I discovered that is MODESTY

As I began to love myself I refused to go on living in the past and worry about the future. Now, I only live for the moment, where EVERYTHING is happening.
Today I live each day, day by day, and I call it FULFILLMENT

As I began to love myself I recognized that my mind can disturb me and it can make me sick. But as I connected it to my heart, my mind became a valuable ally.
Today I call this connection WISDOM OF THE HEART

We no longer need to fear arguments, confrontations or any kind of problems with ourselves or others. Even stars collide, and out of their crashing new worlds are born.
Today I know THAT IS LIFE”

 

Soulfood!!!

There’s people who wake up on Monday morning, who have a coffee for breakfast and go for another day at the office, come home around six, do some sports in the evening, watch some telly, and go to bed a bit later than planned. The Monday an exact copy of the rest of the week… a routine…

That was one of my thoughts this Monday morning, when I woke up at 9am, in a tired but vibrating, tickling, bubbly body, pulsing all over the place, like butterflies fluttering from flower to flower…

While looking back at last weekend’s SOULFOOD 5Rhythms heartbeat workshop, I followed the deeply nourishing energy travelling through my heart and lungs, muscles, bones and veins; from top to bottom receiving richness from being alive…

These are my true colours for now: Tickling, bubbling, vibrating beneficial tiredness… down and out on the sofa this Monday morning, down and out… and… fully enjoying this benefaction… ruminating … marvelling the Soulfood we received from movement and dance and sharings…

I am in awe for the amazing dancers, more and more trusting their movements; digging deep and flying high, opening up, not holding back, courageously exploring empty space in all its possibilities, shapeshifting effortlessly in all the colours of the rainbow… Soulfood… that is exactly what it was and is…

I am utterly grateful for these dancers, for their generosity and their trust in the 5Rhythms…

Yes, these rhythms do work miracles…

I know, sometimes I feel like it would be easier for me to just have another day at the office, I also feel that nothing of that would align with my true colours…

With ALL that it takes to offer these workshops, today… I sense in every cell of my body that it is worthwhile…

Teaching is an honour and a blessing… today is a day of sheer bliss…


When your fire starts to burn out …

A month ago I wrote a blog about me dancing on the edge of a burn-out again; sharing that place which is so familiar to me… a place I have to pay attention to and take care of… also ten years later… still an on going dance…

I put this blog online on my website, posted it on facebook and put the first part in my newsletter with an optional link to read the rest of it…

I never before got so many responses to a blog… likes, sympathy, support, stories of recognition, people giving me advise, others saying I was brave to share this personal experience so openly, while being a teacher and last but not least more than ever before people unsubscribed from my newsletter…

Okay, this was not just a blog… this one really talked to people…

What happened to me ten years ago was that I saw a documentary on television about burn-out which annoyed me and made me feel rather sceptical: really… is that a burn-out? I know all these symptoms, I have them all, and I am still working… is this what they call a burnout? These people really are overreacting… To put in short: I was in my phase of denial…

Later I went to the GP because of an increasing amount of physical complaints… I started my list of 25 and after five minutes my GP stopped me from talking and said to me she was ready with her diagnose: total burn-out… I had to pull the plug immediately, let go of all my activities… I was totally surprised and disbelieving… it was just two weeks before my summer holidays…

I went home and called my boss – I was a coordinator, running a European exchange network at a medical university – and told him about the GP’s diagnose and that the next two weeks I would round off my work and then take a long holiday, starting with three weeks and maybe prolong them with another three… My boss was very determined and made it crystal clear to me: “Pulling the plug, is pulling the plug… I don’t want to see you at work, pulling the plug means NOW.”

I can’t say that it dawned upon me then… that only happened in the week that followed, doing nothing… my heartbeat went up to almost 200 per minute, I got really ill and scared and panicked and the only thing that seemed to keep me together turned out to be laying myself down and sleep…

I alternated panic and sleep for more than three months, three horrible months, a hard lesson that is in all my cells and that I will never forget. Sleeping, being up, going into panic again and back to sleep… After three months there was a moment I sensed in my body I really went all the way to the bottom… I was on the bottom now… I wouldn’t fall any deeper… time would come to get back on my feet again…

It was in that very moment that I sensed moving would be healing and sports were out of the question, so I started dancing the 5Rhythms. Actually, they danced me while I was lying on the floor… after three classes I knew I wanted to become a teacher and that I would quit my job at university… a crazy insight considering the situation I was in, but I never gave it any doubt. It took me three years to get back on my feet, three years of baby steps… reinventing me… discovering another world… my world… my needs and my wishes… my desires, my dreams, my qualities…

This blog is to cheer all the burnouters out there. You know you are not alone, hope you can feel it too… Take your time to rest, then turn your suffering into art, step by step transform this disaster into a huge chance… the chance to reinvent yourself, to live your life like you!


Slow dancing in chaos…

In December I noticed I was in a place again I know so well… on the edge of a burnout… Ten years ago it cost me three years to regain my life energy and it feels like once having experienced a severe burnout I’ll stay prone to exceeding my daily energy levels…

The difference is, I am more aware now… dosing my energy level is my teacher… why not fit in a kind of hibernation? So I skipped a class, went to my second home on Terschelling, had a small break ‘to reflect on my life’ (like Loretta in Moonstruck 🙂 ) and came back with the decison to slow dance in chaos for a while.

I skipped the january newsletter, I skipped writing a blog, I focused on what I tell my dancers all the time: take care of yourself, self care is the most important spiritual task one has… I have to practice what I preach… self care it is…

It’s so obviously the key to find the discipline to be a free spirit…

I sleep 10 hours a night, and in the afternoon another hour. I let go of contacts that only cost me energy, I am so much more aware of my boundaries and go for what brings energy instead of what slurps energy…

And what happens on this journey is that I connect more and more again with how precious I am, how precious my life is, how beautiful, how wonderful, how amazing it is that I breathe, that I live, that I have so many qualities to bring into this world… enveloped with self love… mildness…. warmth…

Realising all this brings back energy, tickling, aliveness, bubbles, life force… ideas coming up, plans, an urge to get back into creative action, to make dreams become alive….

Oh oh…. here I go again…

It isn’t easy… it’s a dance… slow dancing in chaos….

 

A place to just be…

A week ago we were on Terschelling, our second home, our place to recharge, to share quality time.

This beautiful isle in the north of the Netherlands offers so much, we deeply enjoy the cycle path along the Waddenzee, the wide beaches at the Noordzee, the clean air, so full of oxygen… this is a place to fully open, a place to comfortably hide, a place to move, a place to rest, a place to just be…

A place to just be… in touch with the elements… turbulent, freezing wind easily dancing with the sun still offering nurturing warmth, playfully dancing with beach grass drawing the most beautiful pictures in the sand, fiercely dancing with the sea, that deep salty water offering its magnificent sounds of endless waves and subtly dancing with the all-time composition of scents; salty, windy, oxygenated blended with fragrances of pine and heather…

A place to just be…

Just being in the centre of all these elements is a dance in itself… in this wideness, this endlessness; I feel my own dance with these elements, my own dance through the waves, through the rhythms, through life…

Being in the centre of all these elements touches me deeply, inspires me fully, brings me down on my knees, opens my heart overflowing with gratitude for this life, for my being alive and for the chance to have been on this beautiful isle of Terschelling so many, many times; this place where I can rest, this place that holds me, this place where all elements hold me; they ground me, centre me, soften me, they let me grow and expand, they let me come home… over and over again…

A place to just be…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The way out…

Saturday I was on the dance floor, not as a teacher, not as an assistent, not as a crew member, not even for creating a visual… I was on the dance floor as a dancer…

The last time was three months ago… such a long time…

Though the floor was cold, it felt warm to me, the ground welcomed my body, my muscles and my bones, my blood and my breath, received all that I brought, my ins and outs, my thoughts, my worries, my tender heart and my tiredness… all of it…

Being received by this floor was like being received by Mother Earth…

I rolled and wallowed myself through the space, praying, wishing, longing; my body being a begging bowl for spirit… fully ready to surrender, deeply longing for some 5Rhythms medicine…

I danced my anger when someone bluntly stepped on my foot, in the midst of a shy-feet dance… I celebrated my body dancing across the floor through all the rhythms, from flow into staccato, chaos and lyrical; in stillness I slowed down and followed the teacher’s invitation of going slower… still slower… even slower… even more slower… slowly gliding into emptiness…

Emptiness…

Wow, that is really a place I don’t want to be… there is nothing…

I felt my fear of going there, felt all the tricks I have to avoid this place, like empty=full, nothing=all, dark=light… very spiritual… yeah…

Empty is black, raven black… blacker than black… it stirrs loss, mourning, letting go, letting go endlessly, nothing to hold on to… there is nothing to do anymore in this darkness… nothing I can do… travelling into emptiness merciless shook up my fear of being powerless…

The invitation kept on going… even slower… go there… into emptiness…

I felt a twitch, a change… a tickle of courage dropping in my moving being, a sparkle from the depth of my belly, the onset of a meltdown, a profound surrender to slowing down, my body found the way in… seduced me to explore emptiness, to face endlessness, nothingness, to really be in that deep deep black universe…

Empty… empty…

It’s beyond words… I am not able to convey in words what happened… there was a shift… a shift in me of coinciding puzzle pieces… disappearing stories… a sense of dissolving… a deep sensation of awareness and insight… my mind having no clue what this all was about… my body fully taking in this new perspective… other sensitivity, new possibilities… a life changing experience…

5Rhythms medicine…

The way in, is the way out…

 

 

 

 

 

Throwing a party…

Today is a very special day… my partner just arrived home from his half years journey through Europe and it’s also exactly 25 years ago that we got married…

Reasons enough to throw a party…

We sent out our invitations for a Flower Power swing party, a swing party like 25 years ago; we even managed to track down the DJ from back then, the one who started of that dance party with September by Earth, Wind and Fire… and yes, though he’s a CEO nowadays, he’s also still in business as a DJ once in a while, only playing vinyl. He will join our party again; a party without 5Rhythms, without ET Bodywork and with soul, funk and disco dancing, swinging and celebrating!!!

Amongst all the invitees there’s one woman, who already for some time would like to dance the 5Rhythms with me, but up to now couldn’t find the courage… She has a fear of being ridiculed, when she shows her way of dancing. Once she was laughed at and since then she gets easily frozen, already from the thought of dancing…

She had been struggling with this for quite a while, not daring to participate in a 5Rhythms class and now she received this invitation for our Flower Power swing party…

Her partner was thrilled! He is totally into the sixties and the music of this hippie era. The dress code Flower Power and the prospect of dancing on hippie music all night long brought him over the moon… I teased her, saying she was his ticket to come to the party… she was the one we invited… she of course could bring her partner, but he could not come without her…

A couple of days ago she approached me, with a radiant smile: “I come to your class Sunday”.  At first I thought I misunderstood. “I come to your class. I told my partner about my fear and he invited me to dance with him in the living room. We danced and he showed me some moves and it was so safe and cosy… I come to your class and next week I come to your party”.

I was touched by her words… love and connection were so tangible and there was a huge release in her… this was a different woman standing in front of me…

And yes, Sunday she was in my class… a bit shy at the beginning, drawn into the wave bit by bit; more and more enjoying her dance …

A beautiful prelude for our Flower Power swing party!