Dance Away Dementia

I love to dance. Always have. In our family’s Super 8 home movies the camera pans around the guests at a birthday party, and then suddenly my face pops up, and I twirl and cartwheel to show off my moves. In one segment, I’ve coordinated a routine involving the lawn sprinkler, gracefully leaping through the spray. Then my little brother joins me and we run through the water from opposite directions, crossing in the middle. For a finale we leap together, holding hands.

Teaching my little brother to dance

Teaching my little brother to dance

I’ve taken ballet, tap, belly dance, hula, jitterbug, ballroom, Zumba, and a host of other dance classes. But the way I love to dance the most is with total abandon, no set rules or steps to coordinate. I’ve taken to dancing in my living room as a way to get some exercise without having to go to the pool or the gym, or lace up my hiking boots. I put my ear buds in because I like to listen to the music loud, and so as not to offend my neighbors or my bunny’s ears. I put on a playlist of my favorite grooves, and then just start moving. I dance for an hour with a little cool down and stretch afterwards.

There’s something magical about moving in a way that’s spontaneous and free. I feel euphoric after I’ve danced my hour. My body’s warm and tingling and my skin glows. My lungs expand. And I feel more creative–it’s a great exercise to do before writing or crafting or even cooking.

Out of curiosity I looked up how many calories I was burning in an hour of free-form dance. According to Harvard Health Publications, you burn about 180 calories in 30 minutes of fast dancing if you weigh 125 pounds. If you weigh 155 pounds, fast dancing for 30 minutes burns about 223 calories.

While researching calories burned, I came across a slew of statistics about how dancing can prevent dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease. Apparently, moving spontaneously helps the brain stay active, as it quickly processes decisions about movement and coordination. Just today I saw this article at NPR  which talks about how the brain processes rhythm and its role in coping with Parkinson’s Disease and other neurological diseases.

Bonus! Not only does dancing burn calories and feel great, but it can help your brain as you age! Sometimes I wonder what would happen if the UPS man showed up while I was dancing, as I usually have my doors and windows open. For a moment I fear that I might look foolish, but then I remember that I’m dancing to keep my faculties intact. And perhaps I’d just invite him to join me…





Learning to Fly

I thought it was interesting, after my last post about changing the energy around my home, that other creatures began taking up residence there, too. Mostly birds began to nest in the eaves and the trees around the house. It was as if they, too, felt the change in vibration, and decided it was a good place to raise a family.

A house finch even took over an abandoned nest outside my kitchen window and began sprucing it up with new twigs and bits of fluff. It made me smile, knowing we were both doing a little redecorating. When mama finch began to spend a lot of time in the nest I knew she must have laid a few eggs.

A couple weeks later I heard high-pitched peeps coming from the nest, and saw the mom coming and going with insects and worms in her beak. The babies were too small to see, but I could just make out a beak over the lip of the nest, always open in anticipation of being fed. Then I counted three beaks and began to see little feathered heads reaching upward.

Another week passed and soon the little birds were looking back at me as I watched from the window, cocking their heads this way and that, taking in their new world. They had already grown in their pin feathers. I knew it wouldn’t be long before they flew away.

One day I looked out the window and saw one of the babies perched on the edge of the nest. “Oh my god! This is it!” I thought to myself. “He’s going to make his first flight!” And then, he did.

It happened so quickly. He just dove out of the nest, into a landscape he’d never seen, and soared away over the neighbor’s roof. I still stood in the window, thinking he might come back and do it again. But he didn’t.

I stood for a long time in the window, contemplating what I’d seen. The bird didn’t sit in the nest saying, “I wish I could fly. Yeah, I’ll do that next year, when the kids are grown, when I retire, when I’m rich…” He just did it. He didn’t perch on the edge, worrying about failure. “What if I can’t do it? What if I fall?” He just did it.

Somehow, the little finch just KNEW. He was born knowing how to fly, even though he’d never experienced it. He didn’t have to take lessons. When his time came to spread his wings, he just clicked into that innate knowledge and soared.

What if we were more like the birds? We’re born knowing that we are perfect, whole, and complete, that we can do anything. Yet, somehow we get separated from that truth as we grow. We let worry and doubt and fear take over. We forget that we have wings of imagination, that we can do anything we set our minds to.

Is there a part of you that has forgotten how capable you are? Spend a few minutes in nature, observing how the birds know how to fly. See the trees, steady in their roots. Watch as flowers grow toward the light and blossom. You are a part of all that. Now, FLY!


Making a House a Home

“Neighbors keep you up again?” said my co-worker, noticing the dark circles under my eyes.

“Yes! Ugh! They are driving me crazy with their noise,” I replied. “I’m still thinking about moving.”

“It seems a shame for you to have to move when you haven’t even been there a year,” she said. “It’s such a cute place, so convenient and affordable. And you have that great little yard for your bunny.”

Yes, my house had a lot going for it, except for the neighbors that I’d been at war with for months. Tired of sleepless nights, and sick of waiting for my landlord to make some promised upgrades, I began looking for a new home. For months I checked the ads online, but didn’t see anything suitable in my price range. Once a possible lead came up and I went to see it, but it wasn’t nearly as nice as what I already had. I told this to my co-worker the next day.

“Well, if you like your current place so much, why don’t you just change the energy around it? You know, do some feng shui stuff, put a cactus by your neighbors.”

I knew she was right, that the energy had to change, but I failed to see how putting a cactus in the yard would change anything significantly.

Then I caught a virus and had to stay home for a couple weeks recovering. I spent a lot of time lying on the couch, looking out the window at my sweet little yard. I enjoyed the beauty of it, how the sun played across it throughout the day, and the contrast of the orange tree against the purple morning glories growing on the back fence. I also spent a lot of time staring at my four walls, and began to get ideas on how I might improve the space. “You know,” I thought to myself, “I could put a shelf there above the kitchen sink for my cookbooks. And if I consolidated these files, I could get rid of this cabinet and use that nicer one instead.” Ideas began to percolate around my head.

As soon as I felt better, I began to change the energy in and around the house. I opened all the doors, drawers, and windows and let the breeze sweep through. I lit some sage and wafted it around every room. Then I walked around the outer perimeter of the property, saying aloud, “This is my space. I claim this as my home. I am safe here. I enjoy peace and quiet and prosperity now.” I waved my hands around an invisible fence, setting my boundary between my neighbor’s house and mine.

I put up mirrors on the front door, the back gate, and one in my bedroom window, all facing outward toward my neighbors. Then I put up an actual fence, just some bamboo reed, but it created another physical boundary.

Then I had a sudden urge to start rearranging my furniture, realizing that certain pieces would work better in a different place. As I pulled the furniture out I gave everything a good spring clean, vacuuming and dusting and washing blankets and linens. I put up shelves and a rack to hang my pots and pans in the kitchen. I reorganized my closets and drawers. I bagged up old clothes and books to give away to charity. I repotted plants and brought some new herbs into the yard. I made small repairs that I’d been meaning to get to for months, and threw out junk that had been accumulating on the side of the house.

And then miraculous things began to happen.

My landlord suddenly appeared and made all the repairs and upgrades that I had been nagging him about. I discovered that another neighbor whom I’d never met was also a rabbit lover, and was delighted to find a bag of carrots by my door one day. And to my utter astonishment, the neighbors who had given me such grief suddenly moved out. My attempts to shift the energy had worked better than I ever imagined.

This new energy extended into other parts of my life. After months of uncertainty about which new career path to take, I suddenly felt clear about the direction to go. New friends appeared. Income flowed in easily. I even had a party, something I hadn’t felt like doing since I moved into this space.

Feng shui mirrors and a cactus in the yard are just outer tools that represent a shift in mental energy. If I hadn’t put my positive thought behind my actions, all the sage in the world wouldn’t have shifted the energy. I know it was literally changing my thoughts that helped my outer world come into alignment with what I wanted. And as my co-worker commented as we toasted glasses at my party, “And all you had to do was put a little love into it!”

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