This is a story of the power of a timely Yes and the creative void initiated by a No.
Now that we are about to celebrate the 7 year ReBirthday of Still & Moving Center on March 18, 2018, I’m musing back to how I came to start this place… Here’s how it went:
My Black Belt Dilemma
When I took my Nia Black Belt training in 2009, the co-founder of Nia, Carlos Rosas, told us that he would give us our Black Belts if we simply made it through the week-long intensive to graduation day. He also reminded us that the Black Belt represents ‘mastery’. Indeed, I made it through that amazing, challenging, life-transforming, sweat-drenched, 75-hour-plus-homework week, and it was time for our graduation ceremony.
The Nia Black Belt incorporates and alchemizes all 13 principles of every Belt that has led up to it. That’s 39 principles in total. And although I had studied and moved through all the principles, I did not feel that I had achieved the level of mastery that the Black Belt represents. I was in a quandary. Carlos would give me my Black Belt, but did I deserve it?
I reflected on the time I had spent preparing for and participating in the Black Belt, and how I had really done my best, which is something we consent to do at the beginning of every Nia intensive training. I considered that this opportunity might not come again. Who knew how much longer Carlos and the other co-founder Debbie Rosas would continue their decades of Nia work? I wanted to say Yes… with a clear conscience.
So I made a deal with myself. I decided to accept the Black Belt by promising myself to re-take all previous Belt trainings as quickly as possible – hopefully within about the next year. I said YES! After gratefully accepting my Black Belt from Debbie and Carlos, I went home and signed up for the next White Belt training with them.
Over the succeeding 15 months, folks at Nia Headquarters in Portland, Oregon saw a lot of Renée Tillotson, flying in to take four intensive trainings. By the time I re-took my Brown Belt training, Carlos had decided to retire from Nia. Whew! I had just fulfilled my self-promise in time and now felt satisfied that I had truly earned my Black Belt. I was so glad to have found a way with integrity to say Yes when I had the chance!
A Black Envelope Arrives
A few months later, I went to our mailbox and found a mysterious black envelope from Nia headquarters, inscribed with silver ink, hand-addressed to me. I took it into the house, sat down, and carefully plied open the envelope, intensely curious. I recall the sensation of almost falling off my chair at what I read: Debbie Rosas was inviting me to become a Next Generation Nia Trainer.
At that time, there were only 14 Nia Trainers in the whole world, and thousands and thousands of Nia teachers. And Debbie was asking ME to become an international teacher Trainer!
The letter invited me to attend a weekend event several months later called Courting Your Destiny to determine for myself whether I was cut out to become one of the new Nia Trainers. It was an honor with responsibilities I had never sought, and though the invitation was flattering, I was inclined to write back with a flat ‘No thank you.’
However, my close friend Marta offered a different perspective: This is a really big opportunity and choice; I should really give it a lot of consideration before turning it down. And so I did.
I considered what it would be like to leave my dear, newfound home in Hawaii. I imagined traveling to all different corners of the world at least 4 times a year, training people to teach Nia, and all the effort it would take to drum up students in places I had never been to before. It would be a radical change from working in our construction office and teaching Nia 2 or 3 times a week at the Y, or rec center or health club.
Just breaking out of the mental construct of my life pattern and visualizing a sea change made me wonder: “Wow! First I became a school teacher because I didn’t know what else to do when I got out of college. Then I got into the construction business with Cliff because I could work from home while the kids were little. What do I REALLY want to want to be when I grow up?” Mind you, I was 54 at the time!
Courting My Destiny
I arrived at Courting Your Destiny event in Portland really open to what my inner promptings might tell me. Debbie gave us a precious 3-day weekend with times of moving and times of inspirational dialogue and poetry. On the morning of the last day, we all entered the Nia dance space in silence. Crimson cushions ringed the room – one for each of us who had been invited to become a next generation Trainer. In the center of the circle was a beautiful golden statue and vase of long stemmed roses, plus a lovely wooden box.
Debbie assured us that she would support us in whichever choice we made – there was no ‘right’ answer. Her assistants handed us a slip of paper on which we were to mark our choice: ‘Yes, my destiny is to become a Next Generation Nia Trainer,’ or ‘No, I my destiny is to remain a Nia teacher.’ We also received stationery for writing a letter to ourselves with the reason for our choice.
That was the time when my choice became clear to me: I said NO. I placed my written answer it in the box in the middle of the room. It was not my destiny to become an international Nia trainer roving the world. I did not stop with that No, however. The No had revealed a creative vortex of possibilities swirling around me. I wrote in my letter to myself that in fact, my path was create to a studio of my own in Hawaii with a beautiful dance floor where we could do Nia 7 days a week. It would be a studio for moving meditation of all sorts and would serve as a hub in the middle of the Pacific for teachers and students from around the world.
From that No, I went home in August of 2010 and told Cliff that I was not going to become a Nia trainer. Instead, I needed to create a studio. It was imperative. I wouldn’t be working much in our construction company any more. The studio was something I just had to do. And without really understanding why this was so important to me, Cliff supported my decision and helped me to find and build out a venue. Seven months later, on March 18th, 2011, we opened a studio at 1024 Queen Street in Honolulu.
I am forever grateful to Debbie Rosas for instigating my paradigm-shifting inquiry. And true to her word, she supported my choice, attending our first birthday and leading a number of Nia intensive trainings in our new studio.
With a Yes and a No and a lot of soul searching, Still & Moving Center came into being! Perhaps it’s not the final yes or no answer but the deep pondering of our life questions that makes the difference.
And you, dear reader?
Just hit reply – I always love hearing from you.
Welcoming Impact Hub Honolulu, our new, just-down-the-block neighbor! This shared office/event/community space makes itself available for everything from one-off events to full time office work, in shared or private areas. It’s a great place to meet clients or do some power computing. Fortunately for Still & Moving folks, Impact Hub provides easy grab-and-go food items, including vegetarian selections.
Impact Hub Honolulu offers a wide array of space set-ups for work share, with your first visit being free. The many types of membership start with 2 visits at $30/mo and go up to unlimited hours/mo at $200. Their motto is “CoWorking is the Better Way: Building community. Making impact.”
Before Impact Hub Honolulu began, Anne Weber was teacher at Maili Elementary School who thought there should be more teachers and students interconnecting with business. Now that Anne is managing the Impact Hub, she’s pioneering an Intern pipeline that Impact Hub will organize to interface willing students with welcoming businesses.
Two of Anne’s favorite moments so far at Impact Hub:
- Seeing the State Superintendent of Schools sitting in a beanbag chair during an all day workshop for teachers
- Shopping in the Keiki Marketplace with 27 businesses run by students ages 3 – 16 years old, who were even taking credit cards!
This last week Still & Moving Center’s yoga teacher Justin Bolle helped Impact Hub’s coworkers to stretch out between power business sessions.
Anne is looking forward to the Impact Hub hosting an event called Building Community with Women Entrepreneurs this coming Tuesday, March 13th, 12-1:30 pm, with lunch sponsored by American Savings Bank: Building Community with Women Entrepreneurs
1050 Queen St. #100 Honolulu, HI 96814
If I am the mother, Cliff is certainly the father of Still & Moving Center. Once we found the space in 2010 and I asked Cliff whether we should lease the upstairs or the downstairs, he answered: “BOTH! Your studio is going to be growing anyway and it’s easier to remodel everything all at once.” And with that statement he doubled my visualization, and then he launched the 6,000 sq ft build-out.
The original space at 1024 Queen Street had 6 support posts upstairs interrupting what was supposed to be our biggest dance room. To fix the problem, Cliff installed four steel columns up through the back and the center of the building, from the ground level to the roof, supporting two 24” steel beams to support the ceiling. No small feat! Then he devised a unique design and constructed a sprung, mango wood dance floor. Voila, he created our beautiful Barefoot Ballroom.
Allowing me to design the rooms, the fixtures and the decor, Cliff built a lovely place for us to fill with mindful moving arts coming from around the world. With our company, Prometheus Construction, he continued to support Still & Moving Center financially as she got onto her feet… just as a dad would his child.
The word ‘patron’ comes from the Latin word pater, meaning “father,” and the Greek word patēr giving us the root pater or patr. Cliff definitively deserves the title “patron”, meaning benefactor, or even defender, of the arts.
Contributed by Cliff Tillotson
Identify yourself with a greater whole. Keep your antennae up for opportunities to be of true service to others, even in small, unnoticed ways. Gift people around you in a way that uplifts their lives. Join a team, volunteer your time. Help to promote a cause you believe in. Find more ways of fitting in than standing out. Live the Golden Rule: “Do unto others…’
Contributed by Alice Inoue.
Every thought you have directly impacts your experience of life. We think we see the world through our eyes but in fact, we see the world through our thoughts. When we use the power of our mind to affirm and focus on the direction we truly want to go, we alter our internal world, which in turn makes us see our external world differently. Here three of my favorite affirmations that you can use to nurture the seeds of positive thoughts within you.
AFFIRMATION: My perspective is completely in my control. My power lies in seeing my challenges as a positive benefit.
Alice: When we are challenged by something, all we can think about is how bad it is. This prompts us to look for all the disadvantages of the situation and find more things to support the negativity we are feeling. This leads to a very warped view and horrible feeling inside and you end up suffering. You may think you can’t help it but you actually can. By being conscious. During challenging times, it helps to remember that you can look at it from other perspectives. Choose the ones that make you feel better, rather than worse.
AFFIRMATION: My whole life has prepared me for what lies ahead. Everything I experience propels me towards my highest purpose.
Alice: Life does not always go the way we want. We have disappointments, let downs, and extremely challenging situations that don’t make sense in the moment. We often wonder, “WHY did this happen to me?!” This affirmation is to remind you that no matter what you experience, whether a good experience or bad challenge, that it’s leading somewhere and “naught for not.” Life gives us what we need to move towards our highest purpose which is to be the best person we can be with all our skills honed, our fears released and our greatest potential shining before us as we move our lives toward more love, inspiration and joy.
AFFIRMATION: Rather than the part of me that fears a negative outcome, I allow the enlightened part of me to be my guide.
Alice: We all have two parts to us. The core of who we are is trusting, loving, fearless, visionary, balanced and is the pure essence of love. We have another part of us that protects us. Some call it the ego, but it likes to look at the downside, and will bring up all the things that could go wrong, that might go wrong, and that needs to be protected and defended. When we live our life listening to this voice in our head, we limit ourselves. We play safe and small and it doesn’t feel good. Use this affirmation to remind yourself to listen to the voice of possibilities and love.
Salt at Our Kaka‘ako
675 Auahi Street, Suite E3-205
Honolulu, HI, 96813
This conviction motivates my way of being in the world: We have the power, as human beings, to choose, create, shape our own lives. We are not victims.
Don’t get me wrong: there are things in our lives we can do absolutely nothing about. Exhibit A: Cell phone text of a nuclear missile heading our way. Real or unreal as that threat might be, for most of us, all we had was our power to choose a response. And that’s a HUGE choice.
Like lots of people I know, our family stayed fairly calm, made rational decisions and plans on how to reunite should the missile actually strike and we all survived. That’s not to say that we didn’t feel the gravity of the situation – I definitely noticed my heart racing once the false alarm was called off. Our kids came over with the baby, and we were all relieved and glad to be safely in our loved ones’ company. And we went on with life. No big blame game… Let’s just say we weren’t the ones sending death threats to the government employee who pushed the alarm button by mistake!
If we had fallen to pieces, or succumbed to wild, panicked reactions, we would have been letting an external event break into our internal environment where our peace of mind and heart reside. In the 9 second video clip I saw of a father sheltering his young girl by helping her into a manhole, he seemed to maintain a calm demeanor and came up with what I thought was a pretty ingenious protective strategy on the spur of the moment. It not a matter of what we do on the outside that makes us choosing responders or hysterical reactionaries – it’s what going on inside that counts. That man seemed to retain his clarity in the moment.
I think of Gandhi chanting the name of God as he was felled by an assassin’s bullet. This heroic human being had trained himself in nonviolent action, speech and thought for most of his 78 years. Of course, without all that training, we don’t really know how we might have spent our last moments if we had gone up in a nuclear mushroom. Would we manage to keep a peaceful vision in our mind’s eye, a song of love in our hearts? I don’t know, but I was pleased at how well we held it together in the face of a dire threat, as did many others I know.
I’m aware of living in an internal world inside an external world. Imagine something like a living spacesuit that has its own internal environment controls, coordinated by my mind/heart/will. That’s what I envision myself living in. The health of my spacesuit depends on me. What do I need to do to keep my spacesuit resilient, pliant and unpoppable?
Whenever I shine out from my spacesuit, extending joy and friendship through its living surface, my suit becomes stronger, lighter, and more elastic. Its boundaries extend further out, able to emit and receive light and warmth. Love is the most powerful sustainer of a healthy spacesuit.
On the other hand, whenever I go into anger bursts or blame fests, pity parties or fear freezes, I’m weakening my suit from the inside. Blaming myself about doing so makes it even worse. It’s as if I’ve created a dark, sticky cloud around myself that just lets in more bad stuff. Indulging in this kind of personal drama is like setting off fireworks inside my own spacesuit: not a good idea. I find that I even succumb to sickness much more easily after these little episodes. And – unsurprisingly – nobody wants to be around me!
So I need to be make peace with myself inside my suit and turn the light back on. When I do that, I feel more loveable.
To a certain extent, I can impact my external world by means of the choices I make from within my internal world. When I’m balanced, strong and clear, I have the chance to positively impact someone I can touch outside. I can lend support, advice, a quietly listening ear; I can lead a crusade, build a business designed to help others, extend love to those around me. Each of those things could make a difference to someone’s life.
Or maybe I won’t make the difference I hope. Although I can take actions, I cannot control the results of those actions. I can’t live others’ lives, can’t make their choices, for them. (Thank heavens! That’s their kuleana!) In any case, my internal life earns the satisfaction of knowing that I’ve made the effort and, hopefully, learned for the future how to be more effective. As long as I’m not attached to certain results happening from my actions, I can keep my happiness level fairly even-keeled, my spacesuit more vibrant and springy.
So do I want my spacesuit to bounce or collapse? It’s up to me.
It’s always up to each of us to choose.
Resting in stillness and moving in Joy with you in this new year,
And you, dear reader?
Email me – I always love hearing from you.
Lani, a life coach and our steadfast Golden Circle Member, has been taking herself to a whole new level. She just completed her 200 Hatha Yoga teacher training at Still & Moving Center with Claudia Castor! Yay! 7 days a week for 3 weeks: it was intense. She will go to New York to take the MELT. Method training in March, which is a technique designed to reduce chronic pain. Already trained in Nia’s White and Blue Belts, Lani will take Nia FreeDance training in California and then Nia Green Belt Training here in September. Whew!
I’m really impressed that Lani maintained her attendance at our Nia mentorship series even in the midst of the demands of her yoga teacher training. She is one determined, energetic gal!
All of Lani’s trainings signify her ongoing commitment to cultivating skills that she shares abundantly with others. She already subs Nia classes at Still & Moving, and we look forward to her teaching some of these other practices in months to come! She is already bringing both Nia and yoga into her teaching at Quantum Institute International.
As a life coach, Lani specializes in transformation and life re-design for optimism, self-compassion, goal-setting, meaningful work and success. She utilizes cutting-edge positive psychology research, as well as intuitive techniques, to provide balanced clarity to clients during times of change.
An author, Lani publishes articles regularly in the monthly periodical Natural Awakenings Hawaii. Her CoPowerment Workbook has been described as raw, gritty, transparent, and personal. Currently Lani is writing a new transformative book: Creating YOUR Calling®: How to Discover Your Authentic Life Mission©.
She is not just an inspirational speaker and writer. Lani walks her talk!
Contributed by Jesse Cohen
Located across from SALT, at 670 Auahi Street, in the heart of a rapidly developing Kaka’ako, Ideas Music and Books is the cool-before-it was-cool epicenter of a neighborhood in the midst of a renaissance. Boasting the largest selection of new and used records, books, CDs, cassettes, vhs, dvds, and comics on the island (and, I would imagine, all of Hawaii) Ideas is an essential destination for all connoisseurs, collectors, and casual consumers of creative media. The poster-lined walls, overflowing shelves, crates and cardboard boxes invite visitors into a veritable treasure trove of artistic outpouring. In many ways the store reflects the wild beauty of the Hawaiian hillsides where untold magic reveals itself around every corner and behind each surface.
The guides on our exploration through this archive of sight and sound are Norm Winter and Shirley Neeley; veterans of the vanguard of arts and culture here in Honolulu. Both were involved in the store during its previous incarnation as Jelly’s which was founded in 1983. Shirley who heads up the book department has been there since 1985. Norm, whose resume is equally impressive, was one of the forces behind the revolutionary Radio Free Hawaii (whose triumphs and travails he recently documented in a new book—available at the store). Walt is the purveyor of all things music; every medium every genre. In some ways they are an odd couple: quirky, quixotic, and kind with complimentary senses of humor and serious sentiments for their respective areas of expertise. When I ask Norm the mission of the store he responds without hesitation or hyperbole, “to make everyone happy.” His tone is, soft, self-assured and sincere, as if it’s obvious, and I suppose by the expanse of Ideas Music and Books’ collection, it really should be.
If the familiar scent of pages well turned and LPs well played excites your senses then Ideas is your sanctuary. Every last Saturday of the month they hold their famous sidewalk sale, lining the storefront with $1 records and $2 ads, and offering specials on everything inside the store. They will be celebrating their two year anniversary as Ideas on Saturday, January 27, so make sure to stop by for some extra-special deals. They also buy books and all medium of music.
In an era where the internet offers art as endless auto-play algorithms through the sterility of screens and compressed digital sound, Ideas is an important bastion for those who still appreciate the qualities inherent in intentional album composition, cover art, liner notes, print on paper, and the joys of discovering something new, or savoring something well used.
670 AUAHI ST A-6
HONOLULU, HAWAII 96813
Store Hours: Monday-Saturday 10-7, SUNDAY 10-6
Letter from the Director
Writing this letter to you on New Year’s Day, 2018, I am taking stock of last year and of many years ago. The Romans dedicated January 1st to the god, Janus, whose two faces looked both to the past and future. Janus, namesake for January, oversaw time— its endings and new beginnings, gates and doorways. As we stand here on the precipice of a new year, do we not look to the past to get our bearings for where we are aiming?
I’ve always found January to be an important time on the personal, local and national levels, for looking behind to see ahead. I see us transforming our past in the present, creating our future. We do so gradually, sometimes seeming to lose ground, in Nature’s spiralling progression.
On the personal front, I remember a formational beginning in January 1st of 1979, when my beloved boyfriend of four years, Cliff, asked me to marry him. Recalling how our engagement unfolded 39 years ago, I see changing balances in our relationship that always manage to maintain our equality.
For a few months prior to our engagement, I had been playing around with different surname possibilities for us – such as hyphenating our last names, combining our last names, etc. – to keep parity between us. Tillotson + Auker… Tauker? Tillotker? Aukerson? They all felt ‘Aukward’!!! Then on New Eve, I listened to Cliff deliver a beautiful, poetic, philosophical talk at a gathering we attended. Wow. Shortly before the fireworks went off that evening, I told him, “You know, I am so inspired by what you said tonight, I would be honored to take your last name.”
Unbeknownst to me, Cliff was already planning, in the normal masculine lead fashion, to propose in the upcoming week. However, given my little pronouncement, Cliff suddenly felt the timeliness of the moment. So he proposed, just after midnight, on January 1, 1979. Of course I was ready with a definitive answer, “Yes, I would love to!”
Since that time, we regularly swing back and forth in who’s leading what part of our relationship. I feel as if I rely on him greatly for confidence and support – I certainly have for Still & Moving Center. Then 2017 required me to rely on some cool-headed yang (masculine) elements of my own nature to see us both through trying times. Based on our initial engagement, way back on January 1, 1979, our balance as true equals will no doubt reassert itself in another way in the future.
Remodeling Still & Moving
On the local community level, I recall January of 2011, when Cliff had already gutted the building at 1024 Queen Street and was now vigorously remodeling it for us to open Still & Moving Center. We were rebuilding the stairway, creating new studios and showers, replacing the upstairs support posts with a steel beam across the ceiling, laying the mango floors, etc. This year, 2018 will significantly mark the 7th birthday of Still & Moving Center, and the beginning of a new era.
Saturn goes through 7 year cycles, as Alice Inoue, an insightful Honolulu astrologer, recently noted to me; hence businesses need to renovate themselves every seven years. Looking back to our Still & Moving Center mission statement from 2011, equality and inclusiveness in terms of gender, gender preference, ethnicity, faith and economic background have been built into and practiced at our Center from the beginning. I have no doubt that we will stay true to the foundational principles of our inception as we progress onward. I still look to the Institute of World Culture in Santa Barbara and its 1976 Declaration of Interdependence, as part of the lineage that I follow with Still & Moving Center.
Hawaiians See Backwards
Here on the islands, I’ve learned from our kumu hula Mālia that native Hawaiians interpret their backs as symbolizing the future, and their fronts as facing the past – similar to the two-headed Janus concept. When we remember with gratitude those who in earlier times have cleared the path for us, we help pave the way for ourselves and those to follow us. According to kupuna Clifford Nae’ole, “By taking care of the past, the past will take care of the future. In Hawaiian thinking, the seventh generation behind you has made you what you are today, so it is important to focus on the future by thinking of the past.”
Hang with me here, dear readers. I think I’m seeing some important, hopeful threads weaving from the past into the present and future. And there’s another wedding in the offing!
History is predictive… if we are patient
On the national and global stage, last year in January America saw the incoming of a president, the likes of which almost none of us expected. But perhaps we could have foreseen it by gazing backwards. Looking to our history actually allows us to see that social evolution and progress do occur, building upon the past, even if it’s at a 3 steps forward and 2 steps back rate. If human progress mirrors natural evolution, it will always be cyclical, never a straight line upwards.
Going back to the American colonists’ revolutionary Declaration of Independence from King George in 1776, we find the assertion that “all men are created equal,” meaning that the common man had rights to self-government that even a king could not abrogate. Thomas Paine, a leading American patriot, tried to do away with slavery in his first proposed version of the Declaration of Independence, but that change was too radical at the time, too far ahead of the cyclic curve of progress. So in the Declaration sent to King George, “all men” was taken to mean all white men. We had to wait almost a hundred years for Abraham Lincoln and the Civil War to get the the slaves freed.
From Slavery to Presidency
On New Year’s day we can always celebrate the Emancipation Proclamation back on January 1, 1863. But again, progress sometimes doubles back upon itself. There were many seeming setbacks for blacks along the way from slavery to presidency. The Jim Crow laws enacted after Emancipation were designed to keep the free African Americans and other people of color segregated from the white Americans, until the Civil Rights movement forced an end to those laws by 1965.
Equal opportunity has since suffered resistance from all those who feel that their place in society is threatened by others lifting themselves up. We could again celebrate a great advance when, 9 years ago, we ushered in an African American president, heralding a new milestone of success in the integration of our society. After electing our first black president for two terms, the choice to elect our first woman president (Hillary) or our first Jewish president (Bernie) was such a shock to our nation’s system, we evidently needed to go around the other side of the spiral to elect the president we now have, perhaps to accommodate many non-black, non-female, non-Jewish people who nevertheless feel they have missed out on their part of the American Dream.
As Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. asserted: “Man’s mind stretched to a new idea never goes back to its original dimensions.” What was a new, mind-stretching idea of the equality of all men at the founding of our nation in the 1700’s, cannot be undone. In fact, in spiraling motion, it is being further stretched! Since that time, we have increasingly affirmed that all HUMAN BEINGS are created equal. We can see our American notions of freedom and equality rippling out into the Arab Spring, for example, setting off all the expectable reactionary responses, and bouncing back now with Iran’s current uprisings.
Looking backwards helps us to see our trajectory and propel ourselves forward. So we can see beyond this next year, or 3 years, or 7 years into a future where multi-racial, multi-ethnic, multi-faith, multi-gender and multi-economic leadership of this country, and eventually the world, truly becomes the norm. Transforming our past in the present, we create our future… in Nature’s gradually ascending cycle.
Returning to our family circle, Cliff and I watch this January as our son and his new fiancee DD (Diedra) create their wedding plans together. Her parents also seem to have a strong, committed and balanced relationship. I trust anything successful Shankar and DD have seen in our marriages will strengthen the life that they will envision and create together for themselves.
As navigators at sea look back to the last-sighted land to chart their course forward, may we all fruitfully cast our gaze to the past to get our bearings, then boldly travel forth into our new tomorrows.
I wish you a 2018 of continuing light from your yesterdays, new foundational beginnings, and bright promise for the future!
Resting in stillness and moving in Joy with you in this new year,
And you, dear reader?
I love hearing from you – simply reply to this email.