Women and Guns

I am making 2 ginormous assumptions about the 400 or so of you who read this newsletter every week.

I assume that each and every one of you respects, cares about, and is kind to women.  True, yes?

I assume that you feel the same way about guns that I do.  I have no idea if this is true or not.

I am bringing this up because two things happened on my vacation last week related to these assumptions.

Assumption #1 happened the first day Glen and I were there.

Glen has a friend who lives in the area of Colorado we were visiting.

We ended up hiking with him, as well as one of his friends, who was visiting too.

I felt it the minute I met him  —  this friend of a friend who was visiting too.

When friend of a friend dictated the outcome of our breakfast destination, I felt it.

When friend of a friend placed himself at the head of our hiking pack, taking up too much space for anyone to pass by, I felt it.

When friend of a friend launched into an on-going monologue, with no curiosity about anyone else, I felt it.

I brought it up to Glen when we had a moment on the trail to ourselves:  “Does it feel a little odd to you that friend of a friend is monopolizing our space and time?”

“He seems like a nice guy to me.  I wouldn’t worry about it.”

I tried hard to radically accept the disappointing situation I found myself in with friend of a friend.

On the way home from our hike, friend of a friend said something so old school and disparaging of women, that I cannot repeat it here.

My normal response in those types of situations is to freeze.

To clam up and say nothing.

I didn’t have that response this time around though, and instead I said something along the lines of:

“Not okay to say.  We are talking about humanity here.  It appears that in your world, half of humanity is not welcome.”

He got defensive and we stumbled our way to an ungraceful conclusion that left the air in the car THICK.

When we dropped the two others off, I looked at Glen without saying a a word.

He looked at me and he said:

“You’re right.  He’s a schmuck.”

We discussed how to move forward with the rest of our vacation that would unfortunately be spent with friend of a friend.

We didn’t have to worry though, because friend of a friend had a bit of a “Come to Jesus Moment.”

Though he never directly apologized for his sexist remark and space grabbing ways, he turned into a huge puppy dog who spent the rest of the week being overly considerate toward everyone, and making too many comments about how much he loved and respected women.

My assumption regarding incident #1 is correct I think:  You get it, right?

You’ve been through it before in your own way, with your own thick air in the car.

But assumption # 2…the gun thing.

That one might be a bit more prickly, but here goes:

Glen’s friend that we were hanging out with loves guns.

He has a conceal carry permit so he carries a gun with him almost all of the time.

We immediately began discussing guns after learning about this, and the conversation was civil, though bewildering.

Glen’s friend is totally prepared to use a gun to protect himself and his family, if he needs to, and to kill someone if he is threatened.

That blew my mind.

Has my woolly world view and the the bubble I live in become even more woolly than I ever could have imagined?

Like Glen, this friend is a hippie/mountain living/woodworking/off-the-grid kind of guy, and the word GUN just doesn’t fit into that description, at least for me.

We went back and forth about guns, both holding our views close, but doing so kindly.

Finally I said:  “Let’s go shoot some guns.  Let me get a sense of what this whole thing is about.”

I got a lengthy lecture on gun safety, which was good, and I have no complaints.

I also got an even more lengthy lecture on the mechanics of a gun, and that one — though I appreciated it — put me off in a way I didn’t expect.

This was a machine that was made to kill people.

I pointed the gun at the target and pulled the trigger, 3 times, and that was all I could abide by.

I could not continue to handle a piece of machinery that was made — with incredible care, innovation, and finesse — to kill people.

I sat in the car as everyone else took their turn shooting bullets into the target, and again tried to radically accept a situation that seemed unacceptable to me.

On our last night there, the topic of guns came up again.

Though the conversation ended up going okay, as it did before, and though we all hugged good-bye and said “come visit anytime” something felt a little off because I don’t know how to truly understand and appreciate something that is so foreign to me.

I do want to make my way out of my woolly bubble — I really do — but it sure does make more sense in here than out there.

There are varying views on the subject of guns, of course, and I imagine I will be told about ways of looking at this issue in ways I have never thought of or considered, which I welcome.

Maybe I will hear something similar to this: 

Awhile back I took a self-defense class for women.  There was a woman in the class with a young child who was being stalked and terrorized by an ex-husband. She was doing everything she could to keep herself and her child safe:  Taking the self-defense class, installing new locks on the doors and windows, investing in a state-of-the-art alarm system, and yes, carrying a gun with her everywhere she went. She even kept an extra gun under her pillow.

Would I do the same thing in her situation?  

You know what, I bet I would.

So tell me what you think and how you feel about all of this here, and then move on to your dance mission for the week.

Let the dust settle, and allow a different part of your brain take over:

Imagine that you are a fish in the ocean and for the first time in your fish life you realize that you are swimming in WATER and that not everyone swims in water. Base your dance on this idea, and feel the substance that is encasing your body, that you are dwelling in every single moment of every single day and dance, knowing that not everyone swims in the same ocean.

With Warmth, Curiosity, And A Deep Dive Into Dancing,
Joanna and The Agitators
sweetly agitating/persistently upending


what if you danced more?

Like, everyday?
10 minutes, right after you wake up perhaps.
Roll out of bed, find your way to the floor.
Notice your breath, see what arises and follow the thread, first thing in the morning.
Two students of mine have been doing this for awhile now.
They made a pact with each other — a simple nod when they see each other in class — “I’m dancing every morning…you?”
What’s happened is that they are able to “drop-in” more quickly, with more depth, and for longer periods of time.

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2017-03 Adult Class Thu 26s

Looking for Legs

My mom started taking a cocktail of medications for nerve pain in her lower back a few months ago.

Because of the mix of meds she’s on, she’s hallucinating now and then.

She’s clear and bright eyed when she re-counts her latest sighting:

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2017-03 Adult Class Thu 13s

i’m nervous that i’m not sweating

I know that’s weird, but it’s true.


I thought dancing was about sweating and breathing hard:  hands on knees after a long and complicated sequence of movements, or a melt to the ground to rest and recuperate after spinning and leaping, catching and falling.


That’s what I’ve known and loved for many many moons, and yet it isn’t what I’m following these days.


Even if I try to make that happen, I can’t seem to find it right now.


Even when I’m pulled into a current of sweat and breath and balance, I step out at some point to follow my weight instead, bringing myself back down and into gravity.




I thought I was one way, and now I’m another.


I thought I understood, and now I don’t.


I thought I inhabited this human form with a set of rules and expectations when it came to dancing and yet…this isn’t so.


I can’t seem to settle and rest, until I do.


And when I do — rest — I become curious about the body in space, carving through earth and air, as others also carve, draw, push through, and emerge.


I’m a mistake maker.


I make mistakes multiple times throughout each day:  small ones that nobody notices but me, bigger ones that get a side glance from time to time, and then the gigantic ones, where I have to clean up the mess I’ve made.


Is this one of those mistakes?


Have I made a mistake by turning my attention to the interior when I dance?


Have I made a mistake by opting out — at least for now — on the bigger, grander, more understandable way of dancing?


Have I made a mistake by not working harder, longer, faster?


Sometimes my mind does that thing where it wraps around itself.

When that happens, I can’t find the quiet of what I know.


I search and grab and search and grab, and then the dancing is flat and mundane, no matter how big, or how fast, or how strong.


But when I come up and out for air, I can feel it:   The outside is the same as the inside when the inside is given the time to slow down.


Then it doesn’t matter if it is a spin or a fall, a roll or a jump, a balance on one leg, or a crumple to the ground.


It’s all coming from the same place:  the body as animal — sniffing around, scratching at the earth, digging a hole, running through the woods, being still, and burrowing in.

Your dance mission for the week is to do just that:

Be still
And burrow in.


Dog Dance is happening this Friday Joanna.
There’s a workshop called “Learning Dog Dance” the very next day.
Let me know if you are interested in joining me for one or either of these weekend events, and I’ll send you all the info.


With Warmth,
Joanna and The Agitators
sweetly agitating/persistently upending

2017-03 Adult Class Thu 22s

Dancing and Aging

“To be astonished is one of the surest ways of not growing old too quickly.”
— Sidonie-Gabrielle Colette


Immediately after reading this,  I received an email from Johannah discussing her experience in class this past Friday.


Johannah has been taking class with me since I started teaching in 2003, and the Friday class has been a struggle for her at times:   I don’t always use music, there is very little instruction, and sometimes there is a minimal amount of big muscle movement  (i.e.. leaping, jumping, locomoting, spinning, swooping).


A question that continually comes up for Johannah about this particular class is, “Is this really dance?”

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2015-05 Adult Class Tue 06s

What Happens When You Dance?

What happens when you dance ?
When you are in motion, what do you feel, sense, perceive?


What about stillness?


What about the in-between?


Just yesterday I was dancing with my class and a new pattern emerged.


I felt the thrill of new and old laying ground.


As I sat on the sidelines later on to watch, long moments of fullness and ease moved in, and stayed for awhile.


I felt, sensed, and percieved awe.

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2015-08 Adult Class Thu 07s

Trisha, Angela, and Helen

Getting ready for Dog Dance after hearing Dr. Angela Davis speak this weekend about undoing structures and re-thinking assimilation.

Getting ready for Dog Dance after hearing the incredible Judge Helen Whitener speak about understanding the codes — the rules of conduct — and advocating from within.


The opposite of what Dr. Davis was speaking of perhaps?


Not sure, though the back and forth between these two women had me sitting at the edge of my seat.


Getting ready for Dog Dance after a weekend spent in Florida listening, learning, and struggling to understand the systems that have shaped a world that is not fair or just.


Getting ready for Dog Dance and wondering about the fate of the NEA, the EPA, PBS, NPR and all of the things that I care about and participate in.
Getting ready for Dog Dance and paying attention as best I can, so as not to miss any steps.


Getting ready for Dog Dance and feeling lost sometimes, found at others.


Getting ready for Dog Dance and reading about Trisha.


I wonder what she would have said on that panel with Dr. Angela Davis and Judge Helen Whitener.
Would she have steered the conversation in an entirely new direction that we can’t begin to imagine, or would she simply have started to dance?


Warmth, Love, and Wonder,
Joanna and The Agitators
sweetly agitating/persistently upending


DSC_0103 (1)

i’ve been thinking about you

I wonder how you are choosing to walk through the world after reading the news or not reading the news.
I wonder how you are doing, hearing the first 12 minutes of this, as you hang the laundry.

I wonder and hope that you are going to dance class — because you must continue to go to dance class — even as you hear these first 12 minutes, and want to run, screaming into the streets.

Do run — screaming into the streets — but also:

Go to dance class.

We cannot let him take that away from us.

I wonder how you are moving in the world right now, in this moment in history.

I wonder where, and how, you are finding stillness.

I wonder if you are spinning.

I wonder if you are spiraling.

I wonder if you are sensing your weight — in space — as it shifts and drops, and then rises.
It is difficult

to get the news from poems

Yet men die miserably every day

for lack

of what is found there

~ William Carlos Williams
Katharine sent this me when I said “I don’t have time for poems right now.”

I decided, then and there, to make time for poems.
I’ve been thinking about you.
I wonder how you’ve been doing.
Joanna and The Agitators
sweetly agitating/persistently upending


are you awake?

I am.

The wind is blowing the house down.

So I’m up,

I’m giddy and unable to sleep because something woke up in me last Wednesday — right after I sent you that last newsletter.

That something has been groggily waking up for a long time now, but last week it got me sitting up straight, eyes wide open.

This thing I asked us to imagine?

It’s taking shape, in a way I couldn’t have imagined, and it’s moving fast.

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