32 Life at the Center: Plans for growing up and a thousand classes – Vol 32, March 2016
Link to the article with photos: https://drive.google.com/open?id=0B0ugiRQ4Zr6CaFJJVHBRTk1XQmc
Did I ever tell you my two great plans for when I grew up?
First I wanted to be an elevator operator – ‘cause I loved that funny feeling I got in my tummy every time I went up and down! That was when I was about 3 or 4 years old.
Long after I had given up that ambition, I went on a ride up the elevator of the iconic Sather Tower on the UC Berkeley campus. The elevator operator had been there for decades and had made a meaningful career out of it. He cheerfully hosted visitors from throughout the globe every day, asking each of them to send him a postcard of some other famous, tall building that they visited. Indeed, his elevator was wall-papered with postcards of the Eiffel Tower, the Leaning Tower of Piza, the Empire State Building, and so on, all addressed to him. Meeting that man taught me that there’s no such thing as a menial or meaningless job if we put our heart into it.
My second life goal in childhood arose after I observed that people had lots of problems in life – you know…wars and stuff like that. I thought somebody should make the bad things stop, so I asked my mom who the president of the world was. She said there wasn’t such a thing, but that there was a Secretary General of the United Nations. Of course I decided that would be a good job to have – you know, so I could fix the problems.
I’m not sure when that goal faded out of picture, as too grand or too unlikely, I suppose. Or maybe I began to realize that even a person in that job couldn’t fix all the problems in the world.
By the time I was supposed to choose a college, and then a major in college, I just didn’t know any more what I wanted to be when I grew up. I thought that I did NOT want to become a teacher, which about half of all my relatives were. So of course, once I graduated from college, that is precisely what I became! I got my teaching credential and a job in a small private school. Isn’t it funny how our psyches simply don’t hear the “not” part of our wishes?
Teaching English and Drama to kindergarten through 9th graders was fine until we had all three kids of our own that I wanted to raise myself, not farm out to childcare keepers. So I joined Cliff and worked in our construction company from home for most of the next twenty years. I was pretty good at my administrative role, and I never minded doing it.
Then all of a sudden at age 54, something well up in me that I just had to do. I’d been teaching Nia a few times a week for a number of years along with my construction job, and all of a sudden that just wasn’t enough. All of a sudden I realized that kids were grown up and Cliff could get along just fine without my being in the office. All of a sudden I KNEW that I just had to create a movement studio. And I had to do it right then.
People often ask me about Still & Moving Center being a life-long dream. Not really. Or at least not consciously. My first glimpse of idea of having a studio was on July 13 of 2010. On August 14, 2010, at a Nia event appropriately named Courting Your Destiny, I got a pretty full-blown vision of what I needed to create, and I determined that day that I would make it happen.
As I may have mentioned before, Cliff is a pretty good guy. Once he heard my vision and how intent I was upon it, he gave up having me as his right arm in the office, put aside his plan to re-build our house, and poured himself into creating a space for this new dream of mine. We found a building, drew up blueprints, tore out most of the walls in the existing building and constructed a gorgeous place. Meanwhile, I found a faculty of talented teachers to come work here. We opened Still & Moving Center on March 18 of 2011, mere 8 months after it was a twinkle in my eye!
It was a strange experience being at our grand opening…maybe because I’d been running on about 4 hours of sleep a night in the final stages! Anyway, here I was with all the lights on in our brand-spanking new center with the paint barely dry on the walls and the mango floors shining. We had dancers moving in beautiful costumes, an aerialist hanging from the ceiling, an incredible yoga performance, live music, all our guest dancing and a lei around every neck. It was spectacular. Sparkling. I looked around myself and it was absolutely surreal…I was living in the bubble of my own dream.
Since our Grand Opening, I’ve felt my bubble pop over and over again, and keep learning new ways to blow it back up again. Sometimes I’m more aware of all the things I can’t do, or can’t do well, than of the ones I can. Directing Still & Moving has stretched me in ways never asked of me before. For example, I’ve never had more than one employee to direct prior to taking on Still & Moving. Now I do my best to manage about 40-50 teachers, therapists and staff members, not counting all the outside presenters who pass through to give trainings, workshops and performances. I’m sometimes boggled.
One thing I’ve definitely learned about myself is that I tend to bite off more than I can possibly chew, and it’s only by having a great staff that I can begin to successfully handle the complexity of it all.
All of those challenges pale in significance when I consider how many wonderful people of the heart I’ve met, taught, worked with and learned from since opening this place. People I simply was not meeting before Still & Moving Center magically attracted them. People incredibly gifted and inspired. People from every corner of the world. People hungry for learning and community.
Most importantly, I’ve had the privilege of watching many individuals find and follow their own powerful life visions. Watching and encouraging their dreams and potential to unfold has been the most satisfying part of this wonderful job of mine.
So that’s what it has been like over the last five years, since I finally found out in my mid-fifties what I was supposed to do when I grew up.