Hello, beautiful readers!
Before you go your next movement class, job interview, wedding day, and ANY activity that requires you and your body to be fully present, take 15 minutes to do the following.
- Go to a comfortable location with a pen and paper.
- Take few deep, slow breaths to relax and calm your mind.
- Visualize the sensations that make you feel most alive, most loved, most well.
- Start writing! Without self-editing, whatever "loves" and joy that comes up, capture your thoughts on paper.
- If a thought arises about something you dislike, explore and write about the opposite.
- SIGHT: Colors, brightness, contrast, shadows, highlights
- TOUCH: Temperature, textures, materials, flooring, clothing, bedding, pressure, proximity
- SMELL: aromas, odors, air, perfumes, nature, cooking
- TASTES: salty, sweet, savory, sour, umami, bitter, refreshing, surprising, bursting, soothing
- SOUNDS: gentle, percussive, fluid, tense, relaxing, uplifting; music genres/eras/artists, pitch, tone, melody, volume...
You can begin vague but add depth and detail.
If two people both say "I Like Rain"
I can share my version of "rain"
and they will may say
That's It! OR That's Not It!
Because one descriptive person might truly mean THIS
"I love a gentle rain, the tiny patter of drops on the window in near silence and I sit and gaze at the moisture rising from the heat on the ground, and the sky is a gentle hue of blue melted by wisps of soft white and grey clouds...."
And the other descriptive person means THIS
"I love rain that explodes from the sky as I stand on the middle of an empty road, the pressure pounding down on my body and seeping through my clothes! I feel massaged to my core, energy bursting in reply through my hardened muscle tone as I cry out open-mouthed toward the thick, dark sky in the pitch black of night, thriving when a sharp burst of a lightening at my feet jump-starts my soul..."
Rain is not simply rain, is it?
are a person with details
and all your loves and preferences
combined into a unique YOU.
The more specific and detailed you can express yourself in words
The more specific and detailed you can express yourself in movement
and then YOU will be expressed
in every motion,
in every moment!
YOU will bring
expression and depth
to the world.
Driving to work at UNM, I felt overwhelmed to draw awareness to two natural occurrences:
1. The tendency for us to easily follow as we leave adolescence and transition to an adult, and
2. The need to reveal the invisible walls we place around ourselves so we are less limited.
So when I arrived at UNM Ballroom, I wrote these words on the board:
THE UNITED NATION OF BALLROOM
Everyone sat in one a two rows, both rows facing the board.
I explained how the last five weeks, we have enjoyed a peaceful and celebratory union. One leader and everyone with the freedom to contribute, lead, follow, or simply watch. As a United Nation, there was support, resources, and overwhelming guidance.
But today: we divide into states of birth.
Every student counted of "1, 2, 3, 4" and was assigned to either "Disco 1", "Disco A", "Samba 1", or "Samba A" groups (aka: States). They were given three minutes to share their strengths in their State, which included 1. relationships (each other), 2. resources (wifi), 3. knowledge (class experience and journal notes), related to their state of Disco or Samba.
Then all groups rose and had five seconds to choose a "Quadrant" of our United Classroom; large blue mats divided the room in a cross (horizontally and vertically) so four floor sections were visible.
Now within their quadrant, each group had 3 minutes to discuss there dance style and share words related to that dance. Then three minutes to put together an 8-count phrase of that dance style. Then a few minutes more.
What happened during this time?
Everyone then was asked to grab their pens and papers and move toward the center lines, and privately and confidentially write down the "self-talk" in their minds throughout the experience.
Love, or hate?
Faith, or fear?
Excitement, or anxiety?
What do you say to yourself when your leader leaves and you enter a new experience?
Are YOU ready to rise up?
The stronger your knowledge, resources, and relationships are within and around YOU, the stronger your family, your community, your state, our world.
The truth of dance is not in your ability to follow, but in your realization that YOU decide how much to learn, write, watch, experience, teach, share, and MOVE.
May your mentors walk behind you, as you find your place on your journey.
And I asked them if anyone had crossed the lines to communication with another group.
ONE student out of 32 cheered out: I DID!
The walls were invisible.
Class was just a game.
Our states were always united.
Reveal the Invisible
The more possibilities you envision beyond your own boundaries, the more possibilities there are for us all.
I see a world full of dancers.
Self-responsible, self-loving, contributing, dream-seeking, goal-achieving.
What do you see?
What do you do?
- Megan Merchant
This post is not about the many causes of Depression, or the quick guide to seek treatment with modes such as therapy, medication, and exercise (for highest outcomes).
These are Dramatic Wellness tricks for elevating heavier moments.
1. Be altruistic, because inner peace is created by doing loving things for others. The size of these acts covers a huge range but the smallest acts bring elevation. Make eye contact and smile at a stranger, donate a can of food, check on a neighbor: share what feels best for you.
2. Touch. Hygiene to personal space has made us decrease contact with one another but we were meant to touch and be touched... this is partly why we own so many pets, comfortable clothes, and stuffed animals (snuggle, snuggle). Bring touch back to one another: give anyone today a high-five, try a social dance class with simple hand holds, and lean in and snuggle back up to your family and friends.
3. Move with positive music which touches our brain through our heart (rhythm and tempo), our mind (words and lyrics), and our emotions (instrumentation). Turn OFF dark, angry, and anxious music because it turns equal thoughts, emotions, and sensations ON: oh my!
Visit Spotify for a Hopeless to Hopeful Playlist that strengthens my heavier days.
For a dramatically well voting experience, consider these three things:
1. Candidate Selection without Bias: Did you ever receive an email and the misinterpret the emotion behind it? Written word takes on the tone of our own mind, not always the tone of the author, and just as likely body language and gestures can all interpreted in our frame of mind.
WHAT TO DO: Look at each candidate and vote option from a point of fact (objective) rather than opinion and emotion (subjective).
2. Question with Equality: if we start with our own preferences, then next we unconsciously seek out the information that supports our preference.
WHAT TO DO: Equally ask the same question of both candidates, such as "what is their factual position and plan for environmental health?". For bonds, what are the facts of this funding cost and distribution if I vote For versus Against?
3. Innocent until Proven Guilty: Especially in the days before Election day, anyone can say anything about anyone, and claims rapidly becomes global. Does this urgency sway your research?
WHAT TO DO: Seek to check if a claim has been proven, and consider through what process.
Tuesday, September 20 was a particularly emotional Ballroom class at UNM. Before the last dance, I shared a piece of my health story.
So many people have issues in their lives. Relationships. Work. Resources. Stress. Religion. My health has always been... complex.
Five years ago I asked my dermatologists and eye doctors to monitor a spot on the tissue in the corner of my right eye. Six months ago, my eye doctor said "Wait... How long has it been like THIS?" meaning that the spot now extended throughout my lower eye lid. I did not know...
So they referred my to a surgeon and said to take care of it within six months. The eye surgeon was retiring, but he said "Get in to this doctor. Email. Call. Get it done in three months. Top of the list."
I was able to see this doctor within two months, and he asked me to schedule surgery asap. He said if it was positive, I would have to go to Denver or Philadelphia to see the top doctors in ocular oncology. I went upstairs and sat in the surgery department awaiting that schedule. They brought me in and offered a date the very next week.
But the date of that week was tricky... seriously tricky. I had my first recorded interview for a Fitness show. I had an Open House for new students at a facility I adore. I had my first conference presentation. We planned to take our daughters to the State Fair. And all that took place first. One more week.
The day before surgery, September 20, I asked my friend and pro photographer to come in and take pictures. I wanted to capture my students joy. My students bravery and courage. My students trials, success, and laughter. And that I had waited one more week to savory this last moment, together. Dancing.
For our very last dance, I shared the above story. I promised to be back the next week. I thanked them for dancing, no matter what. No matter what. And then we waltzed. (Private clip, recreated October 14).
The next week on September 27, I came back to Tuesday class. We had a strong class; we danced more, learned more. It would be nearly three more weeks before I found out my pathology results, and they waited with me. Dancing.
And one student turned in this...
On September 20, my dear photographer friend Basil Steele came for a visit at UNM. On the fifth week of our twice-a-week Ballroom class with LaBlast curriculum, I was introducing Samba, Paso Doble, and Disco.
In honor of all my loving students who open their bodies, hearts, and minds to dance each week, please enjoy the following!
Go ahead and google images for the "J-Curve". Used in learning to leadership, employment to grief, the model is based on the reality that in all things: a period of failure comes before success, or you fall before you rise.
And, it's ironically true. A rare mom absolutely adores the nine-month route through pregnancy before giving birth. A rare entrepreneur enjoys market research in the pursuit of giving the world an innovative product. A rare person jumps for joy at the end of the first week of an exercise program in dreams of reaching an ideal fitness level. Remember that "end goal" part...
Today the J-Curve is hitting me twice: starting a business, and cancer.
On the occupational side, anyone who has ever started a business can relate to the grind of hours, weeks, months, and even years required to create a viable "plan". What is my brand? What is my niche audience? What are my exact products? How should I market? What are my expenses and revenue sources? As a teacher, I want to shout "Let's get on to TEACHING!" But I task it out, one bite at a time, and keep pointing forward.
And on the physical side, this summer a routine eye check up became "You need to see a surgeon within six months." Which led to a meeting with the best eye surgeon in NM, who was retiring and referred me to top surgeon #2. Which led to more waiting for an appointment and when it arrived, he said "You need surgery as soon as possible." Which led to surgery last week, and now we wait for pathology results. This is not my first bout with cancer; I followed the same experience with thyroid (malignant) at 19.
- If it is not cancer: the worst is over, woop-woop!
- If it is cancer: DEEPER J-CURVE! Things will get worse before they get better.
It's the faith that things will curve, that things could get better, that drives us to change. Or in this case, seek treatment.
In the short-term fall of the J-Curve, I rely on my Dramatic Wellness strategies to bring light: enjoying peaceful nature walks, moving and growing with my students when teaching, making time at home cozy with my family, learning new things from positive books and podcasts... Everyone is different or maybe we are similar: I would love to know what makes you Dramatically Well!
|My girl reading me a story post surgery = feeling lighter and brighter!|
Having had cancer at 19, I struggle with the long-term. Since then, life literally and gratefully comes ninety days at a time from the pharmacy. I have unconsciously been living a 90-day plan: What can I do within three months? Who can I help within three months?
My today goal is to shine more light on that upward part of the J-Curve which most often extends beyond 90 days. Please email me if you have this part nailed down in your life! :D As a start, my new vision board this week reads:
What if you could meet your instructors, make friends, and ask questions before committing to a new class?
- What do I wear? Low tread sneakers and your normal comfy attire!
- What music do you play? From traditional to popular, ALL artists and genres, AND if you bring in a song, we can show you how to dance to it!
- Where are classes held? In the main lecture room of OASIS, located just West of Carlisle off Menaul.
- What if I have two left feet? If you walked in this room, not to worry, you have one left and one right foot.
- What if I have never danced before? PERFECT! Classes are designed for absolute beginners. We start with no music, clapping basic rhythms, and moving in place, then build up.
- What if I danced for years? PERFECT! Classes include demonstrated variety to get the fitness and knowledge you seek.
This past weekend it was my honor to present on the topic of "Psychological Wellness" at the Albuquerque Strength and Conditioning Clinic, held annually for fitness professionals and interested public at the JCC of Greater Albuquerque.
With research from more than 25 sources ranging 200 years, participants in my 45-minute presentation received knowledge and techniques in five Dimensions of Wellness. We also did the Wave, learned Salsa Dance in 15 seconds, and considered "What if Michael Jackson was our training client?" (attend my next live events and read on for those perks!)
Dimensions of Wellness models range from 6-8 parts of your life that accumulate into each unique person. BUT use the model in reverse: is WHAT you do in your life, such as your fitness program of choice, supporting your wellness?
1. Emotional Dimension: Does your fitness program feel great, and at all times?
2. Mental Dimension: Does your fitness program educate you? What are the thoughts your program creates in you about own abilities, success, and growth?
3. Social Dimension: Does your fitness program allow time and opportunities to meaningfully connect with others, such as your trainer and fellow clients?
4. Spiritual Dimension: Does your fitness program enhance your greater purpose?
Then I revealed how to create YES responses in these and more wellness dimensions in ALL fitness programs.
As a person seeking wellness, you can find activities or programs that compliment your needs:
- Emotional: Do you want to feel challenged, energized, or relaxed?
- Mental: Do you want to learn about yourself or a skill, or follow guidance?
- Social: Do you want to workout alone, with a group, or be part of a team?
- Spiritual: What physical abilities do you need to achieve your life purpose?
- And much more!
Looking at all the wellness dimensions, from personal performances and candid interviews, perhaps he had huge strength in his life purpose (Spiritual), conveyed that purpose in his Emotional, Mental, and Physical performances, yet key negative Social, Occupational, and Environmental aspects revealed themselves in his music evolution, and those stressors ultimately compromised his overall wellness.
What if he had different social support? Decreased occupational and environmental stress? More quality recovery time?
Could a fitness program have supported these solutions? Absolutely.
This post is in honor of the fitness professionals and clients who strive for Dramatic Wellness.
Join me live September 16 at the FREE Taste of OASIS open house to receive the answers to your wellness questions and learn about my preferred fitness program, LaBlast.
With love and gratitude,