Who Am I?

Welcome to this healing blog.  This site focuses on personal writing; the content related to my professional healing practice has its own space.  Click here to enter that space. 

I practice as a Feldenkrais teacher, TARA Approach practitioner, and counselor who is trained in EMDR. I teach various forms of shamatha meditation as I learned them under the instruction of my teacher, Thrangu Rinpoche. In August of 2014 I began shamanic initiation and training.  Essentially, I'm an indigenous American healer, born and raised in Austin, Texas, with many healing threads that weave together into a tapestry as unique and complex as the people I help

I dance with Julie Nathanielsz and Heloise Gold, both recipients of Austin Critics' Table awards for their work.  In addition to dance, I studied Cuban, Brazilian, and Puerto Rican percussion for a number of years.

My nickname/stage name for many, many years has been La Pistola. All I'm going to tell you about that is that you'd better believe it.

I hope that your visit here finds you something to laugh about, something to think about, something to dream about. 

You can subscribe to the blog through the boxes on the right. 

Peace to all, and thanks for visiting.

To Be Free.

Yesterday was a strange day. A lot of weirdness happening in the body and mind. I finally realized I must be triggered and experiencing those shadowy PTSD symptoms that can arise out of nowhere. When I finally took some time to lie down and check in and see what was happening, I suddenly realized that February 8, 2014, was the day I decided to silently escape from the terrible, abusive relationship I was in. And I remember so well how that felt, that decision and the logistics of following it through, what that time was like.

I feel so grateful today to be free--to have made the decision to get away from someone who would have systematically applied himself to ruining my life across the board. He was still approaching and bothering friends of mine as recently as a few months ago. I feel immensely grateful to know that I never ever have to have a connection with this person again and that I'm free forever from his malicious and persistent ill will toward me. I'm so grateful for my friends, who have my back and watch out for me; for all that has happened to help me grow as a woman and clinician from what happened, a deep understanding of how insidious and tricky emotional abuse and manipulation really is and how sometimes even trained professionals can't see it and play into the helplessness of the victim and the games of the abuser. All of that happened to me, and I got out of it, and learned and grew from it.

I feel no forgiveness toward the crazy ex--simply an ongoing determination to protect myself at any cost, and a deep wish that he would just vanish from planet Earth or at least my little section of it, along with an acceptance of the fact that maybe he won't. I'd like nothing better than for him to move back to the East Coast like he always talked about doing, or quite possibly simply fall into a deep manhole, but such is life. There are ugly people around among us and we have to know they are there and be aware. It has certainly been a journey around understanding some pretty heinous things.

Looking back I do feel forgiveness toward myself for my struggles around trying to date in late 2014 and last year, 2015. I had changed so much since the last time I'd been out in the dating pool that I had no idea what I was doing. It wasn't easy but I learned a lot and at this point I know what's right for me and what's not right for me. I have a good life, though it has its little struggles like everyone's does, but fundamentally, I have no complaints. 

I'm free. And it's good. And I look back on that brave woman who made the decision to escape in any way she could, and I feel proud of her today.

Recovering. Grateful.

The body is starting to finally feel more normal. Did a bit of TRX and CdS work yesterday. Mysterioso came by the office and I gave him a Feldy lesson; I was in a Feldy-giving mood and had a break and thought I'd answer his question about the work by just showing him. He found it interesting and enjoyable, so he said, and it was fun for me, too, to get to share it. Feldenkrais is one of those things that, again, you really can't explain; you just have to kind of experience it; and he was willing to get into the experience, so that's pretty good stuff. 

Makes me once again reflect on how the guys I've dated, including Crazy Ex, were so completely unwilling to give up that insecure controlling stuff and experience something new or let me teach them anything. I think I'm really done with that kind of weak machismo, ya know? It's just no fun for me, and as a smart woman who knows a lot of things deeply, it's really stifling to date someone who is so controlling or insecure that he cuts off knowing about you, about the things you do, the things that interest you and make a difference in the world, just because he's fearful of not being in control in the relationship. I'm sorry, but what I do with my time is a lot more interesting and engaged than anything those guys were doing, their beer, sports, TV, dumb hipster interests or whatever it was. To not be willing to learn from a smart person with sophisticated interests says a lot about the person unwilling to learn. It's just not really cool or fun for me at all. 

So it was really nice to share something that's so much a part of my life with a guy taking it in and really appreciating it. Meant a lot to me. I really like that he's so open to taking in new information and experiences. Most men my age aren't; they're set in their ways or starting to get there, fearful, guarded, dismissive, or just downright rejecting of anything new or different. That is just not a match for me at all, I've come to understand that pretty directly, finally. 

Good stuff.

Space this week over the next couple of days, deeply needed after the last week; looking forward to that, to time not spent at the office, with the bike hopefully, a breath before launching into the next few weeks of Gorillas and all that entails. I was thinking this morning how incredibly lucky I feel to be 47 and still be dancing and working at the professional level, especially after all my body has been through over the last handful of years. Just so grateful, to the bottom of my soul.

I also definitively decided to ask Chris to create one more section of the artwork; I know what it is and where it needs to go, and am looking forward to talking to him about it next week. 

Just, all good, so glad for my life right now.

Sneaky BaliHai.

Well, I was pretty out of it in Gorillas rehearsal today. Not knowing what side to come in on. Confused about basic notes. Losing my place over and over again. In short, the girl is tired, folks, and the fact that she got fed too many vegetables over the last 24 hours doesn't help either. The only solution was to go and eat pizza with meat on it with Julie afterward, which completely set everything right, as it always does when I get into these weird, spacey spots. I just needed food, and a friend, and something familiar.

The body wants something familiar too, in fact I'm craving getting back to my CdS sequences and TRX, all of which went away during the butoh process because it was just too much and didn't make sense in the context. Right now, home again, I'm also feeling like the familiar of putting on a pair of high heels and smoking a Bali Hai might be the ticket, along with a shot of Fortaleza. Yes, I know I'm not supposed to, but damn people, I just did a full on week of butoh and performed a show that got made in three rehearsals. 

And as it happens I do have this pack of Bali Hais I picked up in South Texas last time I was there. There's one place on the island that sells them and I found it. 

I've been thinking that maybe I shouldn't tell Mysterioso so much about my performing life. It can't make much sense, all this business about butoh and gorillas and the safari outfit I'm trying to put together. If I wasn't actively in a performance cycle right now you can bet your sweet ass I wouldn't really be saying that much about it, just at the outset of knowing someone, because let's face it, it's kinda hard to understand even for me, and I'm right in the middle of it. I was watching during part of rehearsal today and thinking about how it's pretty much impossible to explain what 1000 Forest Gorillas is, as a show. You just kind of have to experience it. You can't really tell someone about it. 

And all of this leads to some pretty odd text conversations when asked "what are you doing today?" I really like that he asks what I am doing today every day, but I'm thinking maybe I should be more vague, like, "Oh, hanging out with some colleagues" or "Running errands" instead of talking about gorillas. I mean, I don't know. I should maybe try to be more normal, or something. Just for a while you know. 

I thought about just starting over and re-introducing myself but at this point I think he already knows too much and suspects even more, and all of that is pretty much my fault for being so honest about everything I'm doing right now.

Well, what are you gonna do. It is what it is. 
I'm gonna go find those Bali Hais and my Gwen Stefani stilettos. And let's have some applause while we're at it.

the journey.

Last night. Difficult. Scared. I told Momo afterward that I was terrified during most of the show, which is not a typical experience for me. Disoriented, scared, not knowing what was happening in many places. But also--exposed, raw, real, and in the struggle of what it was in an authentic way.

She said that it sounded like I had gone through a butoh initiation--apparently something that happens at some point when you are beginning to enter the form at a deeper level and it really gets into your system. Apparently everything I described was part of that--the hallucinatory, dreamlike quality of the experience, the disorientation, the warping or disappearance of time. It was so good to sit with someone with so much experience on this path and listen to what she had to say, to understand that this is a normal part of the process, that it means that a door has opened and I've stepped into a new and deeper place with this dance form. Not something I knew would happen, thought would happen or expected would happen, and it happened.

Audience: going through it with us; deeply moved, scared, crying, joyous, full of wonder and mystery. They had so much to say to us afterward. It was deeply touching to see the tears in their eyes and hear where they went with us. It was very beautiful. They really found something in what we did that shifted their worlds. 

I resolved before leaving last night that this will not be the only time I work with Momo. I so appreciate her transmission, her choices, and the way she challenged me to go for something I would not have found or believed I could attempt on my own. It was very, very hard, on a lot of levels, and I grew enormously because of it. She said that she hopes I will continue to work this dance that only just began to grow within me, and shared how Kazuo Ohno made his first dance, about war, at 47, the age I am now. 

So much, just so much, to take in and absorb in coming days and weeks.

Afterward, the body felt almost in a state of dissolution, breaking down; so fragile and vulnerable and loose between the cells. I went home and rested and am going to rest all day before my Gorillas rehearsal at 3. The places this process and performance brought to my body are unfamiliar and need nurture and time to shift on their own, to be integrated. Momo firmly reinforces the value of long, deep rest in this form, and I understand that now. 

And one of the dancers in the cast gave me this beautiful kimono style red dress. She said she had to give it to me after seeing me in the orange and red Japanese wedding kimono we used in the piece. It actually went to Momo first, and then Momo gave it to me. Everyone agreed it was meant for me. A beautiful memento of this process, this journey, these dancers, this dance.

All good.

Almost There. Reflecting.

Just two more rehearsal chunks til tomorrow night. I decided to accept Momo's challenge. It's a tough one. Truthfully, not completely sure how to manifest it, but last night's first attempts were OK-ish. There's a little more time. Very grateful, right now, for all the training in improvisation and performance I've gotten with Julie and Hel--invaluable in this situation, along with the gems of wisdom from Abel Coelho last fall. It all helps as new territory is explored.

Mysterioso has to work so can't come to the show, which is fine--he wishes he could. I really enjoy spending time with him, even if it's in these little segments of a couple of hours here and there due to my schedule right now. He said yesterday that he's amazed I'm finding a way to spend time with him at all given how many balls are in the air at the moment. But of course that's a testament to how much I enjoy that time and want to continue getting to know him. He's really sweet to me, so much so that it really makes me realize what jerks many other guys have been. It's all light and sweet and unhurried and kind of great.

I think about how glad I am that I walked away from all those other situations. No matter what happens with this, whether it turns into a friendship or something more (I find him quite attractive so of course, hope for the "something more," but anyway), I'm already a ton happier than I was in those relationships. He's definitely raised the bar back to where it should be for how I like and want to be treated. I hear from him every day. He wants to know how I am and keeps track of how I'm feeling given my heavy schedule. He takes me out. He accepts me and listens to the things I have to say with interest, and when I want something from him, he makes an effort to give it. It's all very unexpected and very sweet and just, I don't know, non-stressful and nice. 

Which, I guess, is really how it should be, right?

Okay. Only, like, 10 more hours of rehearsal to go, or something. Almost there.

Don't Date That Guy.

Interesting experience this week.

For the first time, I got to meet and talk with a woman who has done cosmetic surgery. She told me openly that she did it due to insecurity and that she doesn't necessarily feel that good about it. It was a great talk. I was so honored that she shared her journey around that with me.

It also turned out that she is dating That Guy. The one who has to constantly comment on how good-looking other women are, flirt, all that. It's really stressing her out. 

Oh boy. As we all know, I just had my own experience of dating That Guy, and breaking up with That Guy. Listening to her story, I was thinking all kinds of things, as you can imagine. One, I was thinking that she had put so much into making herself pretty, and she still ended up with That Guy. Two, I was thinking that she's lucky she isn't married to That Guy. Like most women would, she had a lot of questions about what might be going on with him, what's driving that behavior, how can she not be insecure, etc.

Finally I looked into her pretty eyes. I said, "You know what sweetie? It's not about how you cope with it. The real question is this: Do you see yourself with someone who's so needy and insecure that he has to suck all the air out of the room every time there's an attractive woman in it? Is that what you want for your life? 

"If it's this obnoxious now, what do you think it's going to feel like two, five, 10 years from now? Is that really what you want for yourself? Some guy who's so self centered and rude that he makes his partner look like a dope every time he opens his mouth? There are men in the world who will love you who will never act that way. Not once."

She looked back into my eyes for a long long moment. 

Finally she said, "Can I come back next week?"

Yes, sweetie.
Yes you can.
Glad to help.

Tomb. Sepulcher. Sanctuary.

Rehearsal tonight. Long. Rich. I walked in rather confused about what we are doing, how the performance is going to come together. I left with a deep understanding of what is happening here, and so much gratitude and appreciation for Momo, her strength, her vulnerability, her direction, her fearlessness about going for something beautiful when it's hard to get there.

Momo asked me tonight if I would consider making part of my dance from my experience of being a child of war. My mother's story. I am sitting with it. It is a big thing to ask especially with so little time to work with. I ask myself if I can dance the tombs of those I never knew, all those lost in the jungles and streets of Vietnam, my mother's family. I think of all the wondering I did about who they may have been as a child; my longing to ask her about her family, my family, and yet, even then, always knowing not to.

I think of seeing the vets in the grocery store, how their faces changed when they saw me, their fear, their sheer panic and reactive anger. They, too, are part of my story and how I eventually became a trauma therapist. I understand now what was happening. Then, I didn't know what it meant to be Vietnamese American, or why people reacted to me the way they did. I didn't understand the world I was in and the larger picture of that world, or what it meant to be me, a symbol of that horror to those who would never forget what happened there.

I know now, so much more. 

Still, I ask myself, who am I to dance the tombs of the dead I have never known? Is it my place?

But my mother will never dance that dance. So perhaps it is.
I have a few days left to sit with it and see what my body says.

Slipping In. Ready Enough.

I didn't get the rest yesterday that I'd hoped for. Lots of change and stuff moving around, which is OK. A busy Monday. Then time with Mysterioso which was just lovely. I got to see the bachelor pad, which is just about as nice as I thought it would be. I can tell we're getting more comfortable around each other, laughing more, being less shy, more open. What a lovely man he is in so many respects. I think I'm still a little in disbelief that I met someone like this at this point in my life; just enjoying the experience as it unfolds, learning about who he is a little at a time. 

I really love the feeling that there's no rush, that we can just hang out and take time, because we are both here, both have careers here, both liking living in Atown, not going anywhere. Neither one of us is caught in some compulsive schedule around caretaking kids which means that we can find time to spend together, though we're both busy with work. It's been so long since I dated a man without children that I'd forgotten how nice it is to feel that attention on me, instead of pulled in 150 different directions by all these obligations to other people. It just makes me realize how much I was affected by the constant anxiety and stress of the men I dated who had children and exes to contend with. He has none of that, and it makes for this space for us that is so enjoyable. And then on top of that, he's just a great guy, a special person, someone anyone would want to know; thoughtful, patient, gentle, kind, and articulate. 

How good is that? I mean really.

I ask myself if I'm ready to start rehearsal tonight. Same answer as before the retreat: ready enough. That's all one can do. I would like to ride today but there are many things demanding my attention in the house due to the weekend away, so don't know if that will happen before work. I have a handful of new clients this week, amazing people, just the kind of person I love to work with--complex, creative, engaging, incredibly bright people who traverse many worlds. 

Just so good. This week is going to be a very intense thing. I'm OK. Slipping in. Doing my best. Appreciating all of it so deeply, this life, this dance, this love.


It's done. Phase One: the retreat. I thought I was doing pretty well with the body and all that, but when I just now tried to get up from kneeling down to get some stuff, I was like, ooooh, uh, wow, ow. 

I can tell that I will be spending all of my time between clients tomorrow lying down in my back room at the office on the Feldenkrais mat and resting. I'm just really glad there is a day off before rehearsal on Tuesday. This next week is going to be a very intensive process. Hours of rehearsal compressed into a few days and then a show. No rehearsal tomorrow and Wed but that's it. It is a thing. Just glad to have a little space in there for the joints and muscles to gain some recovery. 

Mysterioso drove out from Austin to see our little informal works from the retreat. I thought that was so amazingly sweet, especially since he's not necessarily into dance. When I expressed to him how much it meant to me that he did that, all he said was, "Oh, I like taking little trips." Of course, as luck would have it, that nice black BMW earned him a speeding ticket, although strangely he got it only a few miles from where he lives and not out in the boonies. But he was like, "Eh, it's about time I got caught, my car automatically goes about 80 miles an hour from jump street." 

I'm sure it does. I hope the experience he had today was worth it. Showing up at an in-process butoh offering when you don't know anything about the form is a lot like going swimming with Great Whites your first time in the ocean. It's a very brave thing to do. He rolled with it just fine and enjoyed it from what I could tell, and had dinner with us in the house afterward. He also made a joke about inviting me to the "bachelor pad" in the future, at which point I firmly told him that if he's one of those committed bachelor guys, the clock is ticking on his less than 60 days in my life.

"What do you mean?" he asked, amused.

"You know what I mean," I said firmly. "Look at you. Good job, nice car, no kids, healthy, good looking, I'll bet you have a nice place. I'm just letting you know that you officially become a loser in my book at the point where we've dated two or three months and then you say you really care about me and want to keep on seeing me but you don't know about a relationship. Just so you know, at that point I pretty much write you off."

"Well, I hope that's not going to happen," he said, with actual real concern in his voice. Probably the only time I've seen that calm, affable character waver for a second. I wasn't trying to get on his case at all; just letting him know what the deal is. A girl has to lay that kind of thing out so that if it's not for him, he can go. Wouldn't want to waste anyone's time. I also told him that he needs to start telling me about what's inside the mystery man because, ya know, that's kind of what this is all about. 

He laughed and I think he took it in. He also suggested we have dinner tomorrow night. So, that's all good, I hope.

And, of course, I forgot to take my cell today, and when I got home everyone's world had exploded and now I'm trying to figure out where to fit everyone into the next two weeks for a session. Weird how that happens when you go off radar for even less than a day by accident.

February looks like it's shaping up to be an interesting month, for sure.