Boulder dance

I compiled this below list of regular dance events around Boulder, CO as a reference for a friend who recently moved to the area. Hope it's useful, if you live in or visit this area! 

 dance schedule
(as of May 2014) 

WEDNESDAY- conscious dance 

THURSDAY- rhythm sanctuary 

FRIDAY- 1rst and 3rd friday= contact improv jam
2nd and 4th friday= dances of universal peace

SATURDAY- ecstatic dance 

SUNDAY- contact improv lab 


Giraud preparations: Physical training

I almost died in 2006. I had a climbing accident from near the summit of Giraud Peak, plummeting 30 feet through the air, and rolling another 300 feet down... to a whole new life.

I was lucky to wake up again, after losing consciousness from the fall. I was helicoptered away with relatively meager injuries: 2 broken wrists, a broken skull, the left side of my face ripped off, and scratches and bruises all over my body.

Spurred by my close-to-death experience, I decided to live life to the fullest. To me, that meant travel. I’ve been traveling now, for most of the past eight years. I started off this journey unsure of what I was doing. Now, I understand that I was (and still am) seeking answers: who am I? Why am I here? What is my place in this world?

Questions lead to answers, which just lead to more questions. I feel blessed to Quest, and am returning to Giraud again this August... but this time, to safely summit. It’s time to wrap up this circle, and continue onto the next chapter of my life.

I just committed to this journey a few days ago, and am further committing to a physical training regime, to prepare. Mind, body, heart, and spirit are all interconnected. Nature and physicality are my favorite ways to connect with the Divine. Besides preparing my body for returning to Giraud, the physical training thus also engages my entire being.

My physical training is primarily inspired and informed by my friend and teacher, Josh. My other teacher, Lisa, suggested that I share my journey on my blog, as it may be interesting for many, and helpful for people considering starting physical training for mountaineering.

My starting point:
I have strong legs, but a weak core. My upper body strength has not been restored yet, after 2 wrist surgeries. I can climb up mountains and walk all day easily, but run out of breath quickly when I run.

My goals:
I want to increase my lung capacity, to hike with ease at high altitude. I want to increase general body strength, balance, and grace. I want to restore strength and flexibility to my wrists, and strengthen my core muscles.

My daily regimen:
I’m jogging for 10 minutes every morning (pre- breakfast) and night (pre- dinner). I’m sprinting until I can no longer keep up my breath, then jogging at a steady pace for the whole 10 minutes, with my breath at the place where it’s not quite comfortable, but manageable. I am pushing myself. After the run, I practice sun salutations then longer stretches, to cool down and lengthen out. My post-run yoga routine lasts anywhere from 10-60 minutes, depending on the day. I’d like to equalize it to about 20-30 minutes of a solid asana routine, for efficiency.

Sometime during the day, I’m doing 10 minutes of posting (basically a meditative held squat, from chi-gong fundamentals) and at least 30 calf-raises (whenever I am just standing around, I go up and down on my toes, or practice standing with one leg lifted, for more subtle balance exercises). I try to integrate these exercises into my life, such as squatting or doing calf-raises while brushing my teeth

I still need to figure out how to add lunges with weights and box jumps into my daily schedule.

At night, I practice just 3 yoga asanas right before sleep: I hold plank position (dandasana) sometimes with variations, do boat position (navasana) crunches, hold bridge position (setu bandasana) with variations, then crawl off to sleep.

My weekly regimen:
I’m hiking a larger mountain (day hike) once a week. I’m also doing 10 minutes of interval sprints once a week, where I go as far and fast as I can go, rest for 1-2 minutes, then do it again.

I might also start fasting once a week, for a little spring cleanse, and to prepare my body for 4 days of fasting, come August.

Tonight, after I described the current state of my upper body strength and physical training goals, my dad asked, “So you are working to make your wrists normal?” I replied, “No. I want to make my wrists better than normal. I want my body to be better than normal. My wrists will be stronger than ever before. My body, too.” That is my intention with this training, in preparation to summit a mountain that I fell from, which has sculpted a lot of my life, and who I am ready to renew my relationship with, in a new, respectful, and powerful way.


Tao and the Art of Hitchhiking

First, patience. Most cars drive by. Most drivers don’t give eye contact, or they look away, or even shake their head. Get over your ego. Get over your sadness, disappointment in humanity, and exhaustion. Reconnect with your inner peace, and enjoy the journey. You’re walking. Maybe you’ll walk just for a few minutes. Maybe you’ll walk for an hour or more. Maybe you’ll (my favorite) just sit there and read or write, stopping to stick your thumb out at each passing car (I do this on slow roads).

A car finally stops. Check out the driver. What’s your instinctual reaction? Trust that. Trust your intuition, your gut reaction, your innate primal knowing. And if you can’t trust that, then it’s over. Go home. Walk home. Don’t catch that ride, or any other ride, to boot. Your instincts will tell you all about this person. Hone your instincts by breaking physical patterns: write with your opposite hand. Take a different route home. Watch people in social situations and make guesses about them, then go meet them. And for hitchhiking: your instincts will potentially save or destroy you. Listen.

Be aware. Use your senses. Notice what’s in the car, besides the person. Are there beer cans strewn around? Does it smell like alcohol? Are there pornographic magazines? Any other potential red flags? How about positive red flags? Notice small details, and respond accordingly.

As ye putteth forth, so shall ye receive. Many people will try to frighten you with all the dangers of hitchhiking, and stories of terror, mutilation, molestation, and even death. I usually ask folks to withhold their gory details. I am aware of the risks. I am also aware of all of the less reported/ media-touted stories of all of the beautiful connections made via hitchhiking, getting where one needs to go, and making friends and having adventures along the way. Sometimes, shit happens. And this is a part of life. But, it’s rare. And, you get to choose a lot of your path. In a huge way, you write your own story. I am a believer of manifestation: that if I put forth fearful energy, then I will receive that in turn. If I put forth loving and bright energy, then I will receive that in turn. Watch what you exude. I pray before and during hitchhiking for smooth, easy, and quick rides and awesome new friends. I also carry pepper spray and a knife, that I know how to use, if I must.

Be prepared. Be prepared to say yes, no, or even maybe. Ask for what you want and need, and don’t be afraid to say, “No thanks” or shout a “YES!” with a huge grin and jump right in. Be self-assertive. Stick your thumb out. Wave it around. Be bombastic. Make signs that make people laugh. Make eye contact with drivers. Ask for what you want. Say “yes” when you mean it. Say “no” as often and and with as much honesty and ferocity as you must, too. Be clear in your communication. And always remember to say “thank you,” from your heart. I like to bring little gifts for my rides.

Often, there is no financial exchange. Your presence and your conversation are the gift. A good hitchhiker doubles as a psychotherapist and temporary best friend. It’s amazing clinician training. Ask clear questions that are directive, and make the best use of your time with your driver. Forget your assumptions and judgments, and just be present and open to your driver’s ways of thinking and being, which may be radically different from your own. Explore different world views, and your own relationship with such. Establish quick connections. Listen. Be present, and supportive. Offer your own diverse world-views, when appropriate to do so. Open mental and emotional doors of perception.

Enjoy your journey. You’ll make it to your destination... eventually. Maybe something new and better will come along the way, and your destination changes. Enjoy that, too. Create manageable goals, and be open to shifts and changes. Be self-sufficient. Carry what you need, and always be ready to jump, run, or dive as needed. Scream when you must. Make yourself heard. As a hitchhiker and traveler, let yourself be your driver’s story of the day. Turn heads. Create excitement, something out of the ordinary. Notice what your driver needs, and respond to that. If you must be weird and stand out, then let it be incredible. And don’t forget to take rest, as needed. I rarely sleep when I am riding with a stranger, but easily find comfortable natural roadside nooks to nap in, as needed. Listen to your body. Be aware of your needs, and what you accept from strangers. Be humble. Don’t impose your world-views on anyone, or try to change anyone. Allow your curiosity and sense of possibility to expand with each person that you meet, each ride that you accept, each new road that you set foot upon. Be bold. Then, be bolder. Take calculated risks, open doors you never even knew were doors, and stick that thumb out, tossing your head back and laughing into the winds that blow across the open roads.

(The pre-story):

“How do you hitchhike?” I asked my friend Tank, eight years ago. It was my final year of college, and my understanding of the world was finally cracking open. “Well, you just stick out your thumb,” said Tank. A brief pause. “That’s it?” I’m incredulous. “...And you wait. And then, you get picked up. That’s it.”

I hitch-hiked for the first time in Hawaii, right after college. My first day in Hawaii, I went hiking up the first trail that I encountered, and got myself lost in the beauty. I descended the mountain right after sunset, sprinting out of the clacking bamboo stands, reaching the trail-head right after dark, far from home, and too late to catch a bus. Much to my own surprise, I stuck out my thumb at the first passing car. And, it stopped. Three people my age sat inside, music blasting. I climbed in.

Eight years later, I am traveling less and staying put more, but am still traveling more often than not. But, my self-understanding has changed. Instead of being a perpetual gypsy and thinking of myself as only ever being nomadic, I am now actively seeking a home: a piece of land to make beautiful, call home and love and be loved by my community.

Hitchhiking through a lonely section of southwestern New Mexico last week, I sat under the hot sun with my sunglasses, hat, and body fully covered. Sweating and uncomfortable while feeling wildly happy and free, I stared deeply into the eyes of the dusty road, and examined myself. “Tao and the Art of Hitchhiking” came to mind. How can I feel such physical discomfort, yet simultaneously feel such joy inside? And, why am I--- almost 30, now--- still hitchhiking?

I just got a car, after 7 years of living without one. I’ve been walking, biking, hitchhiking, bussing, training, flying, and catching rides with friends, strangers, and acquaintances of all stripes, for almost a decade. Not having a car forced me to fully utilize my resources, ask for help, develop self-reliance, and be okay with not being able to do everything or go everywhere that I wanted. Last year, while apprenticing with herbalist 7song, I lived in the forest outside of town. Wild-crafting on a bicycle in a hilly environment where everything is far from each other was difficult. Always asking friends for rides--- who would often have to come out of their way to pick me up in the boonies--- was difficult. Not being able to have a job, because I couldn’t pack my schedule as tightly without a car, was also difficult. This year, transitioning back into living in “civilization,” I have finally conceded to having a car again. Now, I am juggling a variety of part time jobs, school, and play. Life is a crazy whirlwind, and part of that is because I have a car, and am able to pack activities back to back, driving from one actvity to another. I often double-take while driving, at just how easy it is: I can just pick up and go. No need to ask anyone for anything, book tickets, or even stick out my thumb and wait.

Now that you understand my backdrop, perhaps you can also understand why I chose to take the bus down to southern New Mexico. Driving long-distance is exhausting, whereas public transportation allows for reading, drawing, dreaming, and drooling as wished, instead of driving, stressing, and focusing for a whole day. However, public transportation in the USA (pathetic) doesn’t go many places. Thus, hitchhiking. Sometimes, hitchhiking is faster than public transport, as I proved in a previous experiment (blessed by the gods of luck, though). Hitchhiking hearkens back to a time of community interdependence, and getting to know and help your neighbors. Although it’s energetically exhausting, I enjoy the human connection, diversity of humans that I meet, and adrenaline rush when I get picked up. After eight years of travel, hitchhiking all over this country and a fraction of Asia, I am grateful to have a car again, amused by the familiarity of sticking my thumb out and going when I choose or must.. and hope you enjoyed this small piece of my hitchhiker’s reflections, as presented above. Onwards, intrepid adventurer! Travel forth!

(Reference manuals: inspiring hitchhiking reads):

“On the Road” and “Dharma Bums,” by Jack Kerouac
“Even Cowgirls get the Blues,” by Tom Robbins
“Into the Wild,” by Jon Krakauer

Southwest RadHerb Gathering: reflections

We started the RadHerb Gathering (in the Rincon Mountains near Tucson, AZ) by circling up and sharing our names and preferred gender pronoun: he, she, or they. It is so American: this is who I am, this is what I choose, please address me in this way. Self-affirmative and expressive, individualistic and proud. Almost a celebration of the weird and underrepresented. Imagine a gathering of about 200 black-clothed, kind-hearted, bad-assed, people in a desert forest, sitting in circles discussing various aspects of herbal medicine, health-care, and life itself. Welcome to RadHerb.

I appreciate the grassroots nature of this event, and the inspiration that I received from hanging out with like-minded new friends in a natural environment for 3 nights. I was inspired by the format of the event in general. Everyone is welcome to teach. Classes are primarily taught by peers. There is a feeling of empowerment in sharing what you know, with a supportive community. Classes were offered in 1.5 hour segments, from 10-11:30, then lunch, then 1-2:30, 3-4:30, dinner, and evening discussions. The second night, we had a Talent Show. The final day, there was a trade circle.

The “schedule of events” was a blank sheet of large cardstock paper with time slots in columns. It was placed under a tree in the center of the Gathering, with rocks laid on top to keep it from flying away, and permanent markers placed next to it. At the initial gathering circle, people were encouraged to sign up to teach classes on this sheet, and given a basic introduction to where things are. There were also co-creative lists for people to add to, such as a list of “Stuff I want to learn,” and “Stuff I can teach.” Classes were simultaneously offered in several places. Teaching slots were left blank, for whoever wanted to teach to just sign up for a time slot and place to teach. Somehow, all of the slots got filled up, and there were actually more classes that needed to be added onto another board!

In the main area, there was a map of the area, with camping areas, latrines, and class areas laid out. Paths were cleared from the gathering spot to four primary “classrooms,” which were shaded clearings with flat areas to sit. These “classrooms” were cleared of brush and spiky things, and demarcated with little signs. People camped where they wished. There were two main camps: one right next to the main circle, and another one further down the road. Two main “outhouses” were dug: long trench pits for people to poop into, piling ashes and dirt onto their feces afterwards. These pits were filled after the event. Some people also offered discussions at a “Chill Space” during lunch time. I offered yoga classes in the morning. The entire event was donation based. The donations bucket was also in the Main Area. People were encouraged to donate $10 per day, with a goal of raising $400 for the event. By the end of the event, they had made over $1000, entirely from donations. Funds for organizing the event were deducted from that total, then the remainder (most of the money) was donated to a local free clinic.

I especially enjoyed a plant walk that I went on, led by Michael Cottingham. He spent about 20 minutes discussing each plant that we stopped to focus on, on the walk. We discussed Oak, Datura, Prickly Pear, Red Dock, Yerba Manza, and Silk Tassel. He discussed traditional and modern uses, and lore of each plant. We would taste, touch, and sit with the plant. I asked him about his teaching style, after our Silk Tassel talk. He explained that the energetic interconnection of us ingesting, sitting with, and discussing Silk Tassel--- all while sitting under the tree--- energetically imprinted the memory of that plant with us. As he sat with and spoke about the plant while in a group setting, more information would flow through his mind, directly from Source, the plant Spirit itself. The plant is actually involved in the discussion of its properties, rather than just us talking about it. He inspires me to spend more time with the plants that I am studying, and leading more plant walks in the future. (I still haven’t led a formal plant walk with adults yet, though I often do it with youth... with much gusto!)

Michael gave a 1.5 hour talk on Yerba Manza, which was one of the first classes that I went to. He brought a potted Yerba Manza plant that he was propogating/ caretaking, Yerba Manza hydrosol, essential oil, infusion, and tincture. We tried all of these medicines, passing them around the circle while he talked ad nauseum about the various uses and lore of this plant. I appreciate the attention to just one plant, while directly experiencing and getting to know the plant. Inspiring!

Another class that I especially enjoyed was “Desert Plants Attunement,” with Mimi Kamp. The format of this class was very simple, yet profound. It is helpful for those who are new to flower essences, and for using flower essences for a group experience, sharing, and discussion. I may try a similar teaching format in the future, perhaps with flower essences, but more likely for experiencing various other plant medicine and/ or food preparations. We sat in a circle, created sacred space in a quick way, then proceeded to pass around a bottle of Desert Essence that Mimi made. Each person took a few drops, then either sat, laid down, or went elsewhere to lie down. We experienced each Medicine for about 5 minutes solo, then reconvened to share our experiences. After the group shared, Mimi told us about the plant and its uses: the plant’s growing conditions and ways, how the Essence is traditionally used, and how she uses it. We tried about 5 Essences in this way, one after another. It was elucidating to see how the same Essence would affect people in similar and different ways, and compare that with Mimi’s personal and clinical experience. I appreciate the deep respect for and understanding of the Medicine that Mimi cultivates, and how she shared this love with us.

We had two large group discussions. We started off sitting in a large circle around the fire at night, with the facilitator explaining our topic of discussion: cultural appropriation in health-care. Then, we numbered off into groups of four, and went to sit with our group. The facilitator started by giving us more personal questions to discuss, such as “What brought you to herbal medicine?” And then slowly broadening our perspective with questions like, “Where did you get your information regarding herbal medicine from? What cultural traditions?” And “What do you think about cultural appropriation in herbal medicine? Do you hear discussion of these things within your community?” And other questions. We held discussions within our small groups. Large group sharings were briefly held between each question. I enjoyed getting to know my group better, through these discussions, and hearing each person’s voice, and diverse perspectives. We concluded with a large group discussion of what our individual groups had discussed. I like that we explored from the personal to the global viewpoint, and everyone got to share their experiences in a very welcoming fashion. The questions were well asked, well organized, and well timed. I feel like these kinds of questions are often considered, but rarely discussed in a group setting. And, they are important questions. On the last day, we had a panel group discussion (mostly experienced teachers speaking) about wild-crafting ethics.

My friend and fellow student Kat Shaw and I co-taught an Herbal First Aid class at this gathering. It was both of our first times teaching adults herbalism, outside of a classroom setting with peers. It was scary, exciting, and fulfilling. I prefer to prepare better before teaching (we winged it, inspired by others’ classes, and a desire to share), but enjoyed sharing what I know, and learning even more than what I can share. Teaching is truly the greatest form of learning. Our students came away with a practical and broad understanding of the use of herbs in first aid situations, but more importantly, an understanding of the first aid mindset, how to mentally and attitudinally approach first aid situations.

Herbal medicine is people’s medicine. I like that herbalism was made accessible, and teaching (even by new or less experienced teachers) was encouraged in this Gathering. Inspired from this Gathering, I am starting weekly herbal skill-shares during school lunches. In the future, I would like to create a similar Herb Gathering wherever I live long-term: an informal gathering with an open invitation to teach what you know and discuss what you’d like to know, for learning, sharing, and growing together as a community. Welcoming classes, discussions, plant walks, and more... Community herbalism. Grassroots herbalism. Hands-on, experiential, people’s-medicine, take-it-into-your-own-hands, get-dirty herbalism. Yes, yes, yes!!! 

(See http://radherbsw.wordpress.com/ for more info about the Southwestern RadHerb Gathering)