When I emerged from my monastic life I felt newly born as a human in a post modern western world. I didn't know how to use a CD player, could not tolerate urban noises, did not own a cell phone, and lacked skills for relating to people unfamiliar with the value of silence and stillness.
As I made my way into the new world I found myself drawn to dance. After years of sitting still, along with a fierce Iyengar Yoga practice, my body yearned to express through waves rather than lines, freedom rather than form, spontaneity rather than predetermined poses. I began to attend Five Rhythms classes. Then I discovered Nia. I loved that Nia offered a middle ground. It’s definitely a movement practice, but one akin to my meditation practice, meaning that it’s mindful, intentional, and devoted to the full expression of the body in connection with the spirit. The realms of physical, emotional, mental and spiritual in Nia are synthesized into a coherent system that nourishes individuals in beautiful ways.
The first time I met Debbie was when she walked into the Nia Headquarters studio in Portland during my first week-long Nia training. She wore calf-high black leather boots with four-inch heels, snug fitting jeans, and a white turtle neck that hugged her fit body in dramatic and soulful ways.Her rosy checks and sparkling eyes amplified her shaved head. She walked with commitment and grace. I found her stunning and startling all at once. I loved her from that moment forward.
Over the years I’ve come to deepen in friendship with Debbie. After that first training I went on to study and practice Nia for over ten years, teaching in my hometown and using the work to grow myself. Many times Debbie was the witnessing eye offering me a perspective on myself that I could not see, gently tipping me into a new level of self awareness. She still does this.
Just the other day we were sipping martinis together. Belvedere vodka. Her favorite. She sat on the tall bar stool wearing a dynamic black and white patterned dress and a black cowboy hat. We were catching up on all things Nia and Selfistry, marriages and kids, health and the state of the world. As I’m still in the startup phase of Selfistry as a business and she has been running hers for more than thirty years, she offered me some hindsight advice. I can't tell you the specifics of what she said, but I can say that her words impacted me deeply. I’m still metabolizing the gravity of what she shared, deeply grateful to receive such counsel at this stage of my business development. But mostly I’m awed by her exquisitely intuitive perception and the pure Joy she brings to the world.
Debbie is an endless force of creativity. Besides running Nia and continuing to develop creative content for the work, Debbie has recently given birth to a body of work separate from Nia and dear to her heart. Though one could say this work is embedded into everything Nia already is, it’s uniquely Debbie now. In addition, it’s a gift that is timely for the world.
“I feel like this project is what’s most important to me now. It’s what I need to complete before I die,” she said after a long sip of her martini. I looked at her through tearful eyes and felt the depth of our sisterhood and the respect we have for one another. Soon she was off to meet her beloved and I was jumping into an Uber to rush to another meeting. Each of us ignited our time together.
I want to share with you this new work that Debbie has just birthed, and invite you to partake. If you are seeking a journey inward, a monthly grounding and guiding, a creative way bring you more deeply into your relationship with the feminine and your capacity to let the feminine birth herself through you, then the Awakening Project is for you In my last blog I wrote about emergent leadership as having a quality of attention to both self and others. I suggest that sovereign and authentic individuals within a community are what provide the alchemy for the community to cohere and do dynamically wonderful stuff in the world. One of the fundamental principles of Nia is to free up our uniqueness, to celebrate it, to awaken it as a light unto the whole world. I honor Debbie as one of those lights, those leaders, and an exquisitely powerful awakener of the feminine.