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--"Izzy, how did you start dancing?"

--"What got you into martial arts?"

--"What kind of dancer/martial artist/writer are you?

--"How do you deal with brain damage, bodily injury and 

     C-PTSD, yet still dance, write, train, live the way you do?"

--"How do you still find joy and beauty amidst pain and loss?"

--"Wow, you should write your memoirs!" 

    This Is My Story

NSFW, 18+

  • Writer's pictureBella Dancer

AFFIRMATIONS - From Acceptance to the Zero Point Potential of Creation

Image by Dennis Nejtek

I really wanted to dance tonight, but my body is not ready. It's too busy healing a new tooth implant and regrowing bone into the hole from where they took the first one out. Dad and I also did gutters, leaf-blowing, deck repair, and home defense stuff today. All super awesome and necessary stuff, but it didn't leave much energy for dancing.

It's been nearly two weeks since I truly danced. The spirit soars. The heart yearns. The muscles twitch and drum their fingers on horizontal surfaces, pacing impatiently.

The rest of the body wants chamomile-and-honey tea, fuzzy blankets, and the loveseat. It wants to keep lying on the studio carpet after baking my neck on the Denner roll to meditative tracks.

My mission tonight: to give everybody what they want.

While doing the neck therapy, I had my meditation playlist on random and had enjoyed a few tracks from an old album that has played an extremely important part of my journey. It's this one:

You can get it for your very own here.

I found this brain-rewiring, heart-purring, soul-searching collection at Celebration in Old Colorado City. Many of the greatest healing tools I found while I lived there came from that store. I miss that store.

When I used to travel for dance, I would replace sleep with this album when my body refused to shut down for the night after landing on the other side of the ocean, and the melatonin hadn't done its job yet. I would also play it on the plane when I couldn't get comfortable enough to sleep, but I wasn't alert enough for reading, writing, or even watching a movie. If you've followed my dain bramage adventures, then you remember how crucial sleep is for me. Jet lag is a beast for anybody, and meditation was one of the only ways I found to combat it enough to function in that career with TBI.

This is also the album that marked the transition alarms between elements while I was first creating my Elements System. I had made a playlist called Love To Dance and filled it with all the songs in my iTunes that made me want to move, but had no memories attached. I only wanted songs I'd never performed to and that didn't evoke images of teaching, relationships, or any past circumstances.

They purely made me excited to dance.

Then I grouped them by the predominant element each one evoked. But I know myself. If I wasn't careful, I wouldn't realize that it was time to switch element and I would be likely to keep moving the way I had been moving, especially if I was supposed to be switching to an element that was uncomfortable. Back then, it would have been either Earth or Air.

As recommended by my mentor, Mona N'wal, this was the whole point of the exercise--to bust out of the movement quality ruts I'd been stuck in. So in order to tell myself, "Oi! Change elements!" I inserted one of these affirmation tracks between each of the elemental collections.

As a result, once I started sharing this system with my students, these affirmations wound up being topics we worked with and discussed in the circle at the start of each class as we handled the objects or drank the blessed water from the springs at Glastonbury or gazed into the fire.

This album holds a sacred place in my heart, so when I needed to move tonight but wasn't ready to truly dance yet, that's what I put on. I started at "A is for Acceptance" and let them all play in order. Whichever stance an affirmation evoked, that's how I stood. However my hands and body were inspired to move once the instrumental music came on, that's what I did.

We got to "J is for Judge Not Today." This is always the first affirmation I use any time I work with the full elemental sequence, starting with Earth. That has never changed since the initial time I played with it myself. As Deepak Chopra says on the J Track: "Creativity and Judgment don't go together," and I have found this to be true.

Feeling judged, either by myself or others, is one of the fastest ways to jar me out of my creative flow or prevent me from even getting in.

By the time I got to J, my body was tired. All it wanted was to lie down again. So I did. And that is one of the essences of the Air Element. Deep listening. Not pushing when what I really need is to heal. My healing goes a thousand times faster and smoother when I only push after receiving the absolute Fuck Yes! There's a time and a place for whupping ass.

Tonight was the time and the place for lying down and letting words wash over me.

Then the tea craving happened. The air conditioner is going gangbusters because it's Arkansas in June and I have a house full of carpet. I would be content to marinate in damp heat, wearing nothing but a sports bra and a sarong but noooo. Homes don't like damp heat, so fuzzy socks, sweaters, and throw-blankies abound all summer long. I also drink hot tea at night, just like I do all winter, because I'm tired and chilled.

So into the kitchen went my phone and I. We were up to "O is for Letting Go of Opposition," which is what I had just done. My muscles have been huffing and snorting for days. So has Little Miss Tidy-kins with her too-tight bun, cat-eye glasses, pursey lips, clickity-clackity heels, and riding crop. "You need to work out," she's been snipping at me, scrolling through the app she's downloaded to keep track of all my stats. (It's replaced the old-school clipboard and is far more accurate.) "You've lost all that momentum you had going before this surgery. This is the four-thousand-one-hundred-and-ninety-third time you've lost your momentum. You realize that, don't you?"


Covid has not been my friend in this respect. I don't think it's been many people's friend in this respect. Neither is dain bramage. Neither is living in a body, really. Doesn't matter. Right now, my body needs me to resssssst. Sloooooow down. Chillll... I mean, I might not be busting ass right now, but my body is.

I reminded my inner Lucy Liu of that today. One of her eyebrows lifted. She swiped to a different screen that tracks energy expenditure, bodily resources, and the list of things taxing them. "That is accurate," she agreed. "Respite required. Engage."

It took a long time and a lot of diligent work with this aspect of myself, but now she is one of the former ravaging Beasties who used to run amok around here, and who has been returned to her original purpose: self-regulation. We get along now. Mostly. Affirmations play a big part in getting her to do the job I need her to do, in healthy, productive ways. She still has the riding crop, but she only uses it in moderation, because I've asked her to.

Hey, man, these things are all about consent.

So, no shit, there I was--cold and tired. I put the tea kettle on and cozied up to the stove as I listened to the next affirmation. P reminded me to be Present, so after the water boiled and my tea steeped, I hovered over the burner and baked some more. It's one of my tiny luxuries, like relishing in an orange and letting the juice run down my chin. Like taking my morning coffee on the patio and watching the Bird and Squirrel Show. (That's different from Moose and Squirrel.) Like getting fresh cherries when they're in season and eating each one as though it's the last one I'll ever get. Like leaving the stove burner on after the water is done heating to warm my hands like I'm lurking around a raging fire.

That's something else I do all winter--and thus all air conditioning season. I'm such a freeze baby, constantly cold, so it's a little gift to myself that makes my day.

I grinned when Q came on. He started talking about that thing we've been delving into with the She-ros and Villains series: the importance of Questions over Answers, which really made my day the first time I heard this album. It was just a little ping of synchronicity. "You're on the right track." It pinged me again today.

So did the Muse. Amidst "R is for Relationship" she demanded kitchen dancing. Over my glowing burner, the hands wafted and spiraled and curled and rippled. The warmth helped. It felt great, which is how dancing is supposed to feel, in contrast to conditioning or training, which is supposed to feel wonderfully horrible. Or is that horribly wonderful?

After that, tea happened, and now here we are.


Affirmations first came into my life as an official practice through the Artist's Way, back in 2000, just before the Fates chuckled, twisted their mustaches, and asked me, "Ohhhh, did you really mean all that groovy healing stuff? Cool. Let's upgrade. Crash course!"

Those assignments were very personal, full of internal work with the foundation layer: relationship with myself. Later, the Deepak Chopra affirmations and other tools in a similar vein expanded that into relationship with others, and with Life.

They are a tool I reach for over and over and over again.

  • I listen to them in meditations

  • I speak them aloud

  • I journal them

  • I write repetitions of them

  • I make playlists of them

  • I make bright, shiny art of them

  • I make dorky, stick-figure art out of them

  • I collage them and plaster them on vision boards

  • I paste them into art books

  • I leave myself stickies around the house

Am I ridiculous? Prolly. But c'mon. You've seen those misfit and trauma series--and we're only up to the start of college so far. There's a lot of shit in there telling me that I'm varied breed of awful. For a long time, I used to repeat these negative affirmations more often to myself than they'd ever been hurled at me. If I'm not vigilant, I sometimes still do. All those mean words and dirty looks are still gouged into deep mental ruts. Some of them live in my cells from when they were slammed into my body. I'm sure you have your own.

This was one of the main ways I stopped believing all that crap that the Slam Book had branded into "facts" that my brain took, ran with, and honed for decades.

It's a constant process, and just like Little Miss Tidy-kins said, it's easy to lose momentum. It's a muscle like any other, just in the brain. It takes longer to build its strength than it does to lose it, but once I do the work of regaining momentum and rewiring it, it's easier to restart the next time.

And here you thought the Self-Defense sections of Metal were going to be all punchy-kicky-sword slashing, roaring, middle-finger goodness, didn't you? Hahahahah!

We'll get to that. But this is the foundation layer of self-defense. Self-love. The understanding that I am valuable enough to protect. Because standing up and saying, "NO," and then having to defend that boundary can sometimes be hazardous to one's health. Of course, being a doormat and a punching bag is intrinsically hazardous, so I have found learning the arts of self-protection to be more than a worthwhile pursuit to learn. It takes skill, grace, discipline, and discernment to do it with compassion and as much safety as can be acquired in such an activity.

But first, I have to BELIEVE that I'm worth it to make it worth the risk.

This is another way that I ingrain the kinds of thoughts that I want to have about myself, other people, and life. I listen to them, I breathe them in, and then I move my body in the ways those words and ideas make me feel. We believe in being holistic around here, because it takes tackling it from every possible angle to gain any balanced footing.

That's why one of the other essences of the Air Element is Balance. It is the place of dichotomy. It is yin and yang. Like with every art I pursue, it's equally important for me to approach it from the two extremes of discipline and technique vs. creativity and inspiration. Raging and clenching fists, slashing swords and beating the snot out of the bag, speaking out about atrocities and exposing long-buried secrets...that's one angle of approach.

This is another.


--UP NEXT: GOTTA WHIP IT OUT - How I Practice Mindfulness With My Camera

--OR if you want to dive into more of my writing on Creativity, Healing, Dance, and Artristy, you can find it all here:



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