How is the Feldenkrais Method(R) like an Art Museum?

The subject line for this post may not be the most burning question you’ve ever entertained. You know that my mind can make strange associations sometimes, and this past weekend I attended an event that got my synapses firing! Here’s the short video about my mini-epiphany from the Menil Collection. (It’s a little under 5 minutes long.)
The Best of Feldenkrais with MaryBeth Smith, GCFP photo array
In fact, this is probably a good time to announce our new YouTube channel. TA-DAH! We have a new YouTube Channel! If you’re so inclined, give the video a “thumbs up” to show you liked it. Click “Subscribe” and click the little bell to get notifications about future videos. All of those tiny actions are important for the algorithm pixies, who ultimately make it easier for others to find videos about the Feldenkrais Method – including our videos. If you’ve ever wondered, “Why don’t more people know about the Feldenkrais Method?” you can help to increase those numbers with just a few clicks! Our channel is just a few days old, so our subscriber stats and views are still in the single digits. If you’ve ever wanted to get in on the “ground floor” of something, here you go, welcome aboard, and thanks.

As a student of the Feldenkrais Method, you know that tiny actions and small but noticeable differences add up to something big! Words can sometimes be elusive when your friends want you to explain this strange thing you do. Perhaps our videos will get your synapses firing as well. We hope our new content will be helpful and inspiring to you in your personal practice of the Method, as well as in feeling confident to share your experiences with others.

Our videos will fall into three main categories:

  • short demonstrations of mini-movements to help ease discomfort and/or improve function
  • conversations with other Feldenkrais teachers about how they help clients with specific movement issues
  • testimonials from happy students

And, we reserve the right to take flights of inspiration and whimsy when the spirit moves. I hope you’ll stick around for the fun!

A short read, and then to work.

This is for you. Yes, YOU.

I love you.

Even if we don’t know each other well, I love the idea of you. I love your “YOU-ness,” “U”-ness, uniqueness, and all that you have to offer to the world. I just wanted to say that first.

The killings in Orlando early Sunday morning have knocked the wind out of me. As an ally of the LGBTQ community, and as a conscious human being, I grieve for the senseless waste of life, vitality, intelligence, skill, creativity joy, love, and potential.

Many of my friends and clients are struggling right now. When under acute stress and distress, the sympathetic nervous system (fight/flight/freeze/faint state) takes over. The powerful neurotransmitter acetylcholine runs the show, overtaking the brain. In response, the hormones cortisol, adrenaline, and norepinephrine flood the body. Effects range from anxiety and panic attacks to shortness of breath, hypervigilance, muscular tension, pain, insomnia, depression, digestive distress, and emotional dysregulation or “roller coaster” feelings. In other words, they are experiencing trauma. In times of national tragedy, we are all affected to some extent. None are more severely affected than those who feel targeted, hunted, hated, erased, eliminated, and realistically in mortal danger.

There will be a continuing debate about possible courses of action and responses to the massacre. One overlooked reality is that trauma has physiological effects, and it changes the brain. Your brain. Think about that.

No matter how close you are to recent events or those most affected by them, now is a time for self-care and recovery. There is nothing more healing than LOVE. We observe that in Feldenkrais lessons and classes, the parasympathetic nervous system is activated, which allows the process of recovery to begin. Heart rate and blood pressure normalize, body temperature drops, metabolism temporarily slows to allow the human system to restore itself. Feel-good neurotransmitters, seratonin, dopamine, and oxytocin, move life in a positive direction again, and enable trust and human connection. Physical improvement and a sense of emotional well-being return. Recovery takes time. We must create conditions where this overall healing can occur. Recovery, restoration, and improvement are possible. That’s the great hope that the Feldenkrais Method can offer to EVERYONE.

As a Feldenkrais teacher, I’m in the human potential business. My practice is driven by love. We can’t afford to waste the vast potential of human resources – not yours, not mine, not anyone’s. People are hurting. All I have to offer is a practice of self awareness for intelligent action in the world. That’s it! If you think that commodity is valuable and in short supply, come to a class. We all have work to do.

If I could eat anything right now

Many types of sushi ready to eat.
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My favorite food?

Hands down — it is sushi.

I could eat sushi three meals a day.  I’ve never tried it (three meals a day, for an extended time), but in my foodie fantasy land, that is God’s truth.

Sushi is my celebration and special occasion treat.  For birthdays, holidays, beginnings and endings, anniversaries, landing a big client or contract, or focusing on new business at lunch — sushi is my first choice.  Sushi is special.  Even if I had it three meals a day, I think it would still be special.  Maybe that’s what is missing in our fast-food, rush-rush, drive-through world: nothing special about meal time.  Perhaps that is the challenge:  how to make each meal, each moment, special. . .

In the sushi world, I’m not terribly adventurous.  No spiny or slimy stuff for me.  One seaweed sushi or ikura is plenty.  No blowfish or other life-threatening choices:  I have responsibilities and a full schedule tomorrow, thank you. But baby, bring on the yellowtail, the seabass, the fresh salmon.  I’ll even go red snapper, fresh scallop, and tuna.  Hand rolls, frankly, I can take or leave.  Spare me anything cooked.  No smoked salmon or weird shrimp. Gimme raw, raw, raw.

Anything with edamame is great.  The agodashi tofu is to die for.  Avocado — fugeddaboudit.  Add a cold Kirin, or a hot sake, or a slushy cosmo, and I’m your’s.

My favorite sushi place in Houston is Myako, on Westheimer.  Happy Hour sushi is a gift of the gods to be savored and enjoyed as often as possible.

I love the clean, fresh, energized sense of being alive that follows a meal of wonderful sushi.  Breakfast, lunch, dinner — sushi would be divine.

Any meal, eaten with gratitude and appreciation, provides profound nourishment for body and soul, the deepest elements of our humanness.  I thank the fish for their sacrifice.  I am grateful for their naked beauty and succulence. I celebrate the skill of the chefs who prepare and present the feast.  I thank my body for the energy that food provides, that I may serve my community with strength and skill — and with love.  THAT is the secret ingredient in any food, any meal, any gathering, which nourishes, heals, and connects — LOVE.  Let all your eating and sharing and providing be acknowledged with love and connection, and gratitude.  It’s all we have, really.

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The unusual rhythm of the past several days has taken its toll.  Although it is now 7:30 p.m. on a Saturday evening, I am about to call it a day, get in bed with a book, and I hope to be asleep within the hour.

Yesterday Houston had an unusual ice storm.   Although I spent the day lounging and surfing the web, I also did some writing, put together a workshop handout, and rescheduled cancelled appointments.

Today, Saturday, was a half-day of work, presenting at a workshop.  Tomorrow, Sunday, I’ll be working for a couple of hours on a project I enjoy.  But work it is.

The work of a solo entrepreneur is to take advantage of opportunities. Opportunities don’t always come on a convenient schedule.  The ability to be nimble, to respond, and to excel is part of makes me successful at what I do.

I am grateful to have work. I am grateful that I work at something that I enjoy, and that I am compensated well for that work.  I am grateful that I have personal autonomy to set my own schedule.  I am grateful that I did not have to skate dangerously on treacherous, ice-coated freeways yesterday to go work for someone else.  Most of all, I’m grateful that I pay attention to my physical sensations and emotional cues that say, “If you’re going to do all of this, and be all of this, it is time to rest for awhile.”

As a culture, we drive ourselves to exhaustion to gain the approval and avoid the judgment and disdain of others.  Our Puritan heritage values industry and abhors laziness.  We have internalized the mistaken idea that unless we are relentlessly and slavishly busy, we are on the slippery slope to laziness and oblivion.  Our epidemic of stress, depression, preventable illness, and injury is the result of this world view.

My wish for everyone:  find work that you enjoy for its own sake. Work when you are working.  Play when you are playing. Do all the work you can for one day, and then rest.  Whatever is left undone will be waiting tomorrow.


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Snow Days

Skyline of downtown Houston, TX in the United ...
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Last night I wrote about the impending cold snap and severe weather for Houston.  Since I grew up in Chicago, I still smile that in Housotn, the mere thought of a snowflake is enough to send the gravel and de-icing trucks out onto the highways as the city grinds to a halt.   As I’ve watched people whine and marvel on Twitter and Facebook, I have come to appreciate this weather as an opportunity to recalibrate, so to speak.  Three day weekend?  Commute too dangerous? Schools closed?  Rolling blackouts?  The cold weather is a chance for people to do what they would REALLY like to be doing, but don’t have permission — or courage — or opportunity — to do ordinarily.

I’m amazed at how many of my former students, now teaching in public schools, seem to want nothing more than to NOT be teaching. I’m amazed at the amount of complaining that gainfully employed people do — as if they are ashamed to have the amazing provision of a job, and a wage or salary, a means of exchanging time or expertise for money.  I am fairly certain that entrepreneurs and independent business people complain for a different reason.  A day of bad weather means a day when people aren’t walking through the door. Entrepreneurs, like me, never really have a day off.  Even if clients can’t get to me, I’ll be working to create new offerings, creating content for the web, and otherwise creating value for existing clients, and enticements for new clients to find value.  I may sleep in a bit tomorrow, or take extra time to make a nice breakfast, but I will be working tomorrow — and happy and grateful that I have work to do.  I have a few problems to solve tomorrow to be in service to my clients.  I have reading and research to do, which I love — and a long day with no set appointments is a wonderful way to get that done in an easy and thorough way.

I think that once a month, at least, everyone should take a day to do exactly what they want to do.  Get your nails done, do some serious (not recreational) shopping, tie up loose ends, get into pajamas, get some rest, work on some kind of project that makes you feel really good about yourself and the real contribution you make.  We’re running on an energy deficit, and an extra day once a month to get caught up on personal stuff would be advantageous for employers in the long run.

As businesses increasingly devote themselves to maximum return on investment for stockholders,  and ever less to the well-being and long term loyalty of the people who work for them, entrepreneurship becomes a better option for growing numbers of people.  What you give up in security, you gain in autonomy and self-determination.  Tomorrow, snow or no-snow, the life I want to live goes on.

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Weather Report

Everyone is talking about the weather.  In Houston, this morning we had 19F near the Galleria, 21F officially at the airport.  We were surprised by a sudden loss of power at about 7:45 a.m.  Luckily, my iPad was charged up and ready to go.  Since I didn’t have access to the wifi, I fired up the 3G and checked my feed of people in Houston.  There I quickly found out about the rolling blackouts that were adopted as a strategy to conserve power.  Even after a press release this afternoon saying there would be no more rolling blackouts, another report this evening says to prepare for outages tomorrow.  It is going to be interesting.

We were without power for 82 minutes this morning.  It was another opportunity to notice how habituated I have become to my preferred routines.  The coffee, the shower, the sitting down at my computer to write.  We sat around in our pajamas looking at the iPad while we drank our coffee this morning, then sprung into action to make up for “lost time” as soon as power was restored about 9:07 (but who was counting?).  We didn’t lose the time, we just spent it differently than we are accustomed to doing.

It looks like things may get nasty tomorrow as sleet and freezing rain hits.  Our pantry is pretty well stocked with supplies to get us through until it warms up a bit on Saturday.  This is extreme weather for Houston, but all you have to do is turn on the TV –if your power is on — and see reports of places where things are so much worse.

Getting into pajamas now.  Making sure that phone and devices charge.  Planning to wait until after 8 to try for coffee and a shower.  Everything will get done.  I’m sure we can all dig down and find enough resilience to muddle through two days of winter weather.  We’ll be complaining about the heat soon enough.

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Snowed In!

Snowflake. Small microscope kept outdoors. Sna...
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In Houston?  I think not!  However, it is a rainy afternoon, I’ve spent the day in my PJ’s catching up on some projects, and the question came:  what would I do to amuse myself if I were snowed in for several days?

I remember those times as a kid, growing up in the Chicago suburbs, and we actually had snow days — days off from school — almost every year.  If we still had our electricity (which we usually did), it was a day of watching TV, or reading.  I had a stamp collection that I really enjoyed and could be absorbed for hours in it.  Sometimes my Mom would decide to bake cookies or something to warm up the house.  and mostly, we just watched it snow.

We had a few days of being stranded and without power after Hurricane Ike devastated the Houston area a couple of years ago.  We listened to the radio for updates.  We grilled our rapidly thawing food from the freezer, with our wonderful upstairs neighbors.  We napped and read actual books. We rejoiced when the power came back on.  Even without having our computers or any electricity, we managed to entertain ourselves.

So, if I were snowed in, I’d be okay.  A little cooking, a little reading, straighten drawers or clean out closets.  Paper and pen, the power to daydream — there seems always to be plenty to do! But how about you?  How do you entertain yourself, in a stretch of unplanned and unexpected time?

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More with the Blogging

The last three days have felt strangely empty after the end of the fabulous #reverb10 reflective blog-a-thon in December.  I blogged  absolutely every day for three weeks, then lightened up a bit, and finished the year off with a summary post. Even though I did not blog every day, I improved drastically over my previous frequency — once a week in good times, once a month during dry spells.

What kept me going, however, was a daily practice to write on — and today was my 39th day straight!  I am racking up the badges and enjoying the process of dumping all the random floating thoughts jumbled in my brain out onto paper — or screen, actually — at the beginning of each day.  I’ve gotten more done in the past month than I would ever have expected!

I had been looking for another good source of writers prompts.  I looked at a few of the top listings on Google and was faintly dissatisfied, in that Goldilocks kind of way.  I also crowdsourced an answer, asking for suggestions from my Twitter and Facebook peeps.  Today, a friend came through:  thanks to #reverb10 pal Noël Rozny and her recommendation, I’ll be participating in The Daily Post via WordPress.

So, my intention is to keep on keeping on.  I intend to post something every day, or nearly every day, of 2011.  I know it won’t be easy, but I fully expect it will be fun, inspiring, awesome and wonderful. Therefore I’m promising to make use of The Daily Post, and the community of other bloggers with similiar goals: to help me along the way, including asking for help when I need it, and encouraging others when I can.

What will I write about?  I have no freaking clue, seriously.  I just write about whatever is interesting to me at the time.  As a person who has always had a keen appreciation for the “next shiny thing,” my interests are wide-ranging: art, music, theater, and all the performing arts: culture at large; education; learning; food and cooking and eating; friends and their creative expressions; and of course, my beloved adoptive city, Houston, Texas, USA; and the work that keeps me curious, playful, and eager to get up each morning:  The Feldenkrais Method.  And that’s just the stuff I can predict!  As the page says, I am “open to possibilities.”  The most interesting content, for both of us, is that thich cannot be predicted at this time.

If you already read my blog, I hope you’ll encourage me with comments and likes, and good will along the way.  The gift of your time and attention are most appreciated.

cheers —

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